Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What was the charter oath and why is it significant?
The Charter Oath was promulgated at the enthronement of Emperor Meiji of Japan on 7 April 1868. The Oath outlined the main aims and the course of action to be followed during Emperor Meiji's reign, setting the legal stage for Japan's modernization. It remained influential, if less for governing than inspiring, throughout the Meiji era and into the twentieth century, and can be considered the first of modern Japan. The Charter Oath opened the way for the modernization of the country and the introduction of a Western parliamentary constitution.
The five articles of the Charter Oath were the following:
(1) “Deliberative assemblies shall be established on an extensive scale, and all governmental matters shall be determined by public discussion.”
(2) “All classes, high and low, shall unite to carry out vigorously the plan of government.”
(3) “All classes shall be permitted to fulfil their just aspirations so that there will be no discontent.”
(4) “Evil customs of the past shall be discontinued, and new customs shall be based on the just laws of nature.”
(5) “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world in order to promote the welfare of the empire.”
Although the articles in the Oath were not laws or legally binding in any way, the promulgation of the Oath was nevertheless an epoch-making event because it implied a complete overthrow of the established social structure and promised a new path for Japan based on modernization, westernization, and democratization.
To conclude, the various Meiji reform programmes could be interpreted as the fulfilment of the promises inherent with the Charter Oath. In point of fact, the goals set out in the Charter Oath were achieved rather successfully to a great extent by the end of the Meiji era.
Posted by Fredrik at 4:00 AM