Meiji Restoration and Katyn Massacre: Historical Events in Japan and Poland

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Meiji Reforms

The Meiji Restoration, also known as the Meiji Reform, was an event that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan between 1866 and 1869 under Emperor Meiji. Although there were ruling Emperors before the Meiji Restoration, the events restored practical abilities and consolidated the political system under the Emperor of Japan. The goals of the restored government were expressed by the new Emperor in the Charter Oath. The Restoration led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure and spanned both the late Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period.

  • End of neo-confucianism and feudalism
  • Modernisation (railways, telegraph, universal education)
  • Widespread westernisation
  • Remodelling of public and private life
  • Economic modernisation: industrialisation (zaibatsu Mitsubishi, Sumitomo) and urbanisation
  • Military growth and rise of imperialism and Japanese nationalism

Katyn Massacre

The Katyn massacre was a series of mass executions of Polish intelligentsia carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. Though the killings took place at several places, the massacre is named after the Katyn Forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered. The massacre was prompted by NKVD chief Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all captive members of the Polish officer corps, dated 5 March 1940, approved by the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The victims were executed in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons, and elsewhere. Among the total killed were officers imprisoned during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, police officers, and Polish intelligentsia. As the Polish Army officer class was representative of the multi-ethnic Polish state, the killed also included Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Polish Jews including the Chief Rabbi of the Polish Army.

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