The Taisho era (1912-1926) 大正時代

Japan's second modernization

The Taisho era is less known in the West, yet it represented Japan's first attempt at democratization, aka "Taisho Democracy". It was a period of time in Japanese history when an ideology of democracy flourished as westernization grew from the Meiji era. 


Japan outside the war


The Taisho era (1912 - 1926), meaning "great justice", begins with the accession of Emperor Yoshihito, the son of Emperor Meiji, barely two years before the first war. world war, in which Japan was only a marginal player.

This position allowed it to suffer only very small losses, while its economy, a debtor to the Western powers during the first decades of Meiji modernization, became a creditor, and benefited from the orders of the allies in equipment to diversify.

At the end of the war, Japan was one of the 5 great powers to obtain a permanent seat on the Council of the League of Nations.

The country sees the increase of its influence on Manchuria and Mongolia recognized, while the German possessions in the Pacific and the rights on Shandong are transferred to him.


Emperor Taisho

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An attempt at democratization


This new prominent role obtained by Japan during the Taisho era propelled Japan to a more prominent role in global politics. 

Furthermore, the emperor, who suffered from meningitis, proved unfit to occupy the functions of a head of state.

The great advisers of the Emperor who had hitherto led the boat (the genro, or "deans") lost part of their power to the benefit of the Imperial Diet, where conservatives and liberals clashed over political tension.

Tokyo Station in 1919

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A more westernized culture


Japanese culture continues during the Taisho era to draw on the still very new breeding ground for its Western production.

It was the time of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, a major novelist of the time who would give his name to Japan's most important literary prize, who had graduated from Todai in English literature and was strongly influenced by French authors.

Junichiro Tanizaki, very marked by Allan Edgar Poe, Baudelaire, or Sade is another of these figures of the Taishô era.

The ukiyo-e knows a new life with the Shin Hanga, influenced by impressionism, and which integrates Western features in its productions such as the personal expression or the play of light.

The Sosaku Hanga pushes the Western influence even further with figures that are difficult to differentiate from those of Western arts.

Ryunosuke Akutagawa


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