Courtesy Reuters

October 23, 1968, is the date on which Japan will mark the Centennial of its modern transformation. On that day one hundred years ago it was announced that the era designation would henceforth be "Meiji," enlightened rule. The régime of the Tokugawa shogun had fallen, but the new forces grouped around the boy emperor were still struggling to assert control; they had to promise and persuade, for they could not force. Yet it was soon clear that the Meiji Restoration was a political overturn whose consequences for Japanese history were incalculable. By the end of the century it was apparent that

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