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Japan is a society whose culture is steeped in the traditions and symbols of the past Mt Fuji the tea ceremony and the sacred objects of nature revered in Shintoism Two of the most important traditions and symbols in Japan the Emperor and Confucianism have endured through Shogunates restorations of imperial rule and up to present day The leaders of the Meiji Restoration used these traditions to gain control over Japan and further their goals of modernization The Meiji leaders used the symbolism of the Emperor to add legitimacy to their government by claiming that they were ruling under the Imperial Will They also used Confucianism to maintain order and force the Japanese people to passively accept their rule Japanese rulers historically have used the symbolism of the Imperial Institution to justify their rule The symbolism of theJapanese Emperor is very powerful and is wrapped up in a mix of religion Shintoism and myths According to Shintoism the current Emperor is the direct descendent of the Sun Goddess who formed the islands of Japan out of the Ocean in ancient timesFootnote1 According to these myths the Japanese Emperor unlike a King is a living descendent of the Gods and even today he is thought of as the High Priest of Shinto Despite the powerful myths surrounding Japans imperial institution the Emperor has enjoyed only figure head status from 1176 on At some points during this time the Emperor was reduced to selling calligraphy on the streets of Kyoto to support the imperial household but usually the Emperor received money based on the kindness of the ShogunateFootnote2 But despite this obvious power imbalance even the Tokugawa Shogun was at least symbolically below the Emperor in status and he claimed to rule so he could carry out the Within this historical context the Meiji leaders realized that they needed to harness the concept of the Imperial Will
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