January 3 - 1868 - The Emperor Meiji Declares His Authority
For 250 years, Japan was shut off from foreigners, ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate, and revered the Emperor as a figurehead and symbol. That all changed in the mid-19th century, when the Emperor Meiji declared that the authority and powers of the shogun now belonged to him. This was largely accomplished through minor lords who wished to Westernize and modernize Japan against the Tokugawa shogun's policies, especially the Satsuma and the Chosu. Really, the teenaged, recently crowned Emperor was simply a vessel for these changes, but he embraced it wholeheartedly and took his own authority. After a civil war and negotiations with the Tokugawa power structure, the Emperor Meiji was able to take all of the powers accumulated by the shogunate under his own authority.