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Mutsuhito (1852-1912)
This emperor of Japan succeeded in retrieving the authority and power of his position from the shoguns, who were forced to cede power after being defected in a civil war. This was no small feat since the shoguns had exercised virtual dictatorial control over Japan for about seven centuries. During his 45-year reign, Mutsuhito oversaw fundamental changes in Japan including the abolition of the feudal system, the opening of Japan to foreign trade, the creation of modern military forces including an army and navy, and the formation of an Imperial Diet, as provided for by a constitution. Mutsuhito saw his armies victorious against the Chinese in 1894 and 1895, and in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5). He was succeeded by his son, Yoshihito.