Meiji Period (1868 – 1912)
With the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the final defeat of Tokugawa loyalists in the Boshin War (1868 – 1869), the Emperor Meiji was restored to direct suzerainty and the imperial court (and national capital) was moved to Edo, renamed Tōkyō (“Eastern Capital”). The new imperial government set about rapidly modernizing the country to bring it in line with the already industrialized Western world, as well as in an effort to forestall any imperial designs that the Western powers, which had already carved China up into spheres of influence, might have on Japan. The country quickly modernized, and though Japan continued to be treated unequally by many Western nations, it managed to avoid the colonial fate suffered by China.
It was also during the Meiji Period that Japan began its own imperialist expansion, expanding northward to subdue the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido, and acquiring Korea, Taiwan and the southern half of Sakhalin Island in the first Sino-Japanese (1894 – 1895) and Russo-Japanese (1904 – 1905) Wars. The portions of the map in red indicate Japan’s territorial holdings by the end of the Meiji’s reign.