chapter  2
15 Pages

The Meiji period

Establishing modern traditions

The Meiji period (1868-1912) was a period of enormous change in Japan, which transformed itself from a closed late-feudal society to a modernising state which was increasingly integrated into the world economic and political system. Although it is clear that urban planning was not the top priority of a government concerned primarily with the creation of new national administrative, military and economic institutions, a significant focus of government energy was on efforts to redesign Japanese cities, particularly the capital Tokyo. The story of the development of modern city planning in Japan thus begins in the Meiji period, as state interventions in processes of urban development were prompted both by the changing demands on urban areas arising from modernisation and industrialisation of the economy, and by the government’s desire to project a modern and civilised aspect to the outside world in order to persuade the Western powers that Japan was a country to be treated with respect.