On his wikipedia page, Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariyam, "the primary author of Ethiopia's July 1931 constitution" the article calls him a

politician and intellectual of the Japanizer school

The wikilink for Japanizer is red and is a dead link. Was this a widespread movement among Ethiopian elites? Were there those who opposed a Japanese model of development? Being that Ethiopia was in the process of modernisation in this period, how inspired were they by the rapid development of Japan?

  • Please cite all references.
    – MCW
    Nov 18, 2020 at 11:39
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    Japanizer school; the topic is also reference in the Wikipedia page you reference - within the same paragraph.
    – MCW
    Nov 18, 2020 at 11:41
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    – MCW
    Nov 18, 2020 at 11:42
  • @MarkC.Wallace and the Cambridge.org explains exactly what Japanizer means.
    – RonJohn
    Nov 18, 2020 at 22:00
  • @MarkC.Wallace. Thanks for the link. I assume you are referring to the end of sentence I was quoting, which notes that the 1931 constitution was inspired by the meji constitution. This is the only other reference to Japan in the article. I did finish reading the sentence that I was quoting, I didn't quote that because I believed that the influence was implied by me referring to him as the Wikipedia did; as "the primary author" of the constitution. With the exception of that, the japanizer school is not referenced outside of the parts I quoted. Were you referring to an earlier iteration? Nov 19, 2020 at 10:34

1 Answer 1


Addis Hiwet first used the term 'Japanizer' to one group of modernisers in post-WWI Ethiopia who took the example of Meiji Japan as giving a model for development away from feudal forms. The model emphasized the forced development of capitalism, education, military modernisation and many similar ideas perceived as those used by Meiji Japan to develop quickly from feudal forms of society.

You find a similar movement in Turkey based on similar concerns.

Those who saw Japan as the model saw that Japan had moved from being essentially a victim of the West and Eurasian powers to being able to defeat some of them as a result of forced modernisation.

The victory of Japan over the Russian state in 1905, the earlier defeat of China and the initiation of a Japanese empire, was seen as providing proof that forced modernisation and the adoption of European technics would allow Ethiopia to rapidly emerge from its feudal past and be able to defend itself adequately against its enemies. That this was possible against its arch-foe, Italy, was seen as credible since Ethiopia had defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adowa in 1896. That Europeans were not invincible was the message that Japanizers drew from all these historical developments.

The Japanese Foreign Office became interested in Ethiopia, too, during the inter-war period, as Japanese discussed imperial systems and its own influence overseas.

One of the adherents of the Japanizing tendency was none other than Ras Tafari who became Emperor. The Japanizing tendency continued to exist as one model of Ethiopian development even after WWII.

You may wish to consult for details:

From Marxism-Leninism to Ethnicity: the Sideslips of Ethiopian Elitism by Messay Kebede at



The Evolution of Development Oriented Ideas in Ethiopia 1900-1991 at



Japan and Ethiopia: An Appraisal of Similarities and Divergent Courses by Messay Kebede

  • Thank you very much for this answer. That was very helpful Nov 18, 2020 at 18:14
  • This is a bit of a side question, don't feel obliged to respond, but I'd be interested in your response. I assume Shadowa is an alternative spelling of the battle of Adwa. In my school, we were taught that the Russo-Japanese war was the first example of a non-european country defeating an industrialised European power. Surely Ethiopia's victory in the Italo-Ethiopian war would make Ethiopia the first country to defeat a European power? Is this just an example of schools doing oversimplified history, or is there a reason for this? Nov 18, 2020 at 19:02
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    I suspect the difference was that Japan was able to win against forces it did not outnumber significantly.
    – user15620
    Nov 18, 2020 at 21:38
  • Battle of "Sadowa"? Did you mean Adwa or am I missing some obscure history?
    – PTwr
    Nov 18, 2020 at 21:46
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    It may well, but it wasn't as obvious as the Japanese case, which involved the Russians sailing half-way across the world over a period of months with a fleet the Western nations expected to make short work of the "inferior" Japanese only to see that fleet completely annihilated. I know less about Adwa, but it seems to me that it was easier for people to excuse/explain away.
    – user15620
    Nov 19, 2020 at 23:16

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