Mutsuhito, also known as Meiji Tenno, (Emperor of the Era of Enlightenment) (1852–1912), emperor of Japan, 1867–1912. Mutsuhito, the 122nd ruler of his line, succeeded to the throne when he was 14. The emperor at this time was a figurehead ruler and the real ruler of Japan was the shogun (military governor). Under the shogun, Japan had recently been opened to trade with foreign countries. Resentment caused by this concession enabled the emperor to abolish the office of shogun in 1868, ending the military government that had come into existence in the 12th century. This event, which restored authority to the emperor, is known as the Meiji Restoration.

Almost at once Mutsuhito and his advisers decided that Westernization of Japan was necessary. The feudal system was abolished in 1871, and in 1873 conscription was adopted; thus membership in the army, previously limited to the samurai, was broadened to include the peasantry. A rebellion in 1877 by the powerful Satsuma clan was put down. In 1889 a constitution was adopted and a parliamentary form of government established. Japan was rapidly industrialized, and by the close of Mutsuhito's reign had become a powerful modern nation.