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Meiji, Emperor

The 122nd sovereign in the traditional count, which includes several legendary emperors; reigned 1868-1912. The son of Emperor Kōmei, he became Crown Prince in 1860 as Mutsuhito (his personal name) and succeeded to the throne at age 14. With the Meiji Restoration (1868), the dual system of government (under which the shoguns were de facto rulers) was destroyed, and the emperor was once more made the supreme authority. Emperor Meiji's long reign was marked by momentous events: the Diet was founded; Japan's industrial revolution was carried out; the Unequal Treaties were revised; the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 took place; and Korea was annexed (1910). Throughout his reign, the supreme power of the state and command of the military were increasingly concentrated in the emperor's hands; however, it is difficult to clarify how much direct rule the emperor enjoyed. His death in 1912 symbolically brought to an end the era of Japan's successful transformation into a modern state. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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