Meiji Restoration: The lessons of economic reform

On 22nd November 2018, the international symposium "The 150 years anniversary of Meiji Restoration: Vietnam's Perspectives" was held at the International Conference Center, 11 Le Hong Phong, Hanoi. The symposium was co-organized by four universities.

The symposium was co-organized by VNU University of Economics and Business, VNU University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam - Japan University, Waseda University (Japan) to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Japan (21/9/1973 - 21/9/2018), 150 years of implementing the Meiji Restoration of Japan.

Overview of the symposium

Attending the symposium, there were Ambassador of Japan in Vietnam, Mr. Umeda Kunio; together with many scholars from Vietnam and Japan: Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Hong Son - Vice President of Vietnam National University, Hanoi; Prof.Dr. Vu Minh Giang - Chairman of Science and Training Council, VNU; Prof.Dr. Nguyen Van Kim - Vice Rector of VNU University of Social Sciences and Humanities; Prof. Tran Van Tho - Waseda University, Japan; Prof. Furuta Motoo - Rector of Vietnam Japan University; Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Anh Thu - Vice Rector of the UEB.

Mr. Umeda Kunio  - Ambassador of Japan in Vietnam gives the opening speech
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Hong Son - Vice President of VNU
Prof.Dr. Nguyen Van Kim - Vice Rector of VNU University of Social Sciences and Humanities 
Prof. Tran Van Tho - Waseda University
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Anh Thu - Vice Rector of the UEB
Mr. Tetsu Funayama from Mitsubishi Corp in Vietnam
The symposium was divided into two sessions. The first session taking place in the morning was chaired by Prof. Nguyen Van Kim and Prof. Furuta under the theme of "Looking back at the Meiji Restoration”. This session focused on the historical context of the Meiji Restoration in Japan and the context of Vietnamese history during the Nguyen dynasty. Three presentations on history, social sciences and humanities were made by Prof.Dr. Nguyen Van Kim, Prof. Furata Motoo and Assoc.Prof.Dr. Hoang Anh Tuan.

In the morning session, the presentations clarified the causes, preconditions, and motivations for the reform movement and success. It can be said, Meiji period played a crucial part in the course of development of Japanese history. Thanks to the achievements of this reform, Japan developed rapidly on the path of industrialization and modernization and become the first capitalist power in Asia. The Meiji Restoration, with its historical significance and role, has become an essential element in promoting the development of modern Japan. From Asian view, the achievements of the reform have had great impact on the region. Many Asian countries have followed the development path of Japan. The scholars also gave different views on Meiji Restoration and made comparison with development in Vietnam.


Being a historian, Prof.Dr. Vu Minh Giang analyzed the cultural perspectives between the Japanese and the Vietnamese to raise many interesting questions: what is the real value to Vietnamese? The proof is that Japan did not hold feudal examination, the talents were often selected directly by the king after many jobs. Meanwhile, Vietnam had so many exams and degrees, which shows that diplomas are more important to Vietnamese than talents. This is one of real problems for Vietnam in development.

Prof.Dr. Vu Minh Giang 

In the second session, the presentations focused on “Significance of Meiji Restoration and economic development in Vietnam”. The session was chaired by Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Anh Thu and Prof. Tran Van Tho. Thes ession included four presentations by scholars in the field of economics: Prof. Tran Van Tho from Waseda University, Japan; study of Prof. Kenichi Ohno from GRIPS presented by Assoc.Prof. Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh from the UEB, Dr. Karikomi Shunji from Waseda University and Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Anh Thu - Vice Rector of University of Economics and Business.

The session focused on achievements of Meiji Restoration. It began with changes in mindset of Japanese leaders, the Japanese have embraced the advancement of human thought and knowledge to develop their country. In the field of economics, the lessons from this period remained valuable to the course of industrialization and economic development of other nations.
Commenting on the presentations, Dr. Luu Bich Ho - Former Director from the Institute for Strategic Studies said, Vietnam and Japan both suffered from consequences of wars but Japan has risen strongly by national unity to become a world economic power. Vietnam war has ended for over 40 years, but we are still left behind. The biggest difference might be the consensus and determination.

Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh presents at the symposium  

After presentations of scholars and experts, the symposium received various comments from participants. Many attendants highly appreciated research and effort of the presenters in giving such valuable information to the symposium.

The symposium opened new cooperation in research between member universities of VNU and Japanese universities as well as Japanese organizations and enterprises, aiming to solve major problems in economic development in Vietnam, Japan and Asia.
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Thanh Tu

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