The Last Samurai

In 1873, which traditional role was abolished in Japan?

And the answer is: The Samurai.

Samurai, the military officer caste of medieval Japan, were the stewards and chamberlains of feudal estates.  The Meiji Revolution, which consolidated the political system under the Emperor of Japan, ended their feudal roles.

When US Commodore Matthew C. Perry came to Japan in 1853 in large warships, Japan discovered they were far behind in the technologies of western countries. Consequently, Japan threw open its doors to foreign technology.

In the 1870s Samurai comprised five percent of the population of Japan. But they had become to represent an obsolete feudal institution. Because they had a practical monopoly of military force, and to a large extent of education, it became a priority of the Meiji government to gradually abolish the entire class of samurai and integrate them into the Japanese professional, military and business classes.

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