The 1860s was a time of uncertainty and political unrest in Japan. Finally, in 1868, the situation became so serious that Emperor Mutsuhito took control from the last Shogun (Military Dictator). Mutsuhito became known as the Meiji emperor, and this event is called the ‘Meiji Restoration’.

Under the emperor’s authority, Japan embarked on a program of modernization. In 1872, a group of Japanese politicians went on a tour of Europe and North America to learn more about industry, education and ways of life in the West. As a result, factories were built in Japan and the country started to change from agricultural to industrialized nation. This also included the establishment of a national railway system. During the period of Meiji rule, education was introduced for all Japanese people. The Meiji emperor also gave farmers ownership of their lands and changed Japan’s army and navy into modern military forces.

In 1870, a movement calling for Home Rule was founded in Ireland. Supporters of Home Rule wanted a separate parliament to deal with Irish affairs in Dublin. Although the British government was forced to introduce many reforms, two bills to introduce Home Rule were defeated in parliament in the 1880s and 1980s.

William Gladstone was Prime Minister of Britain four times during the reign of Queen Victoria. He believed that the Irish should run their own affairs and was a staunch supporter of Home Rule Bill. But he failed to get his Home Rule Bill approved by the parliament. During World War I, the issue of Home Rule continued to cause conflict in Ireland. The third Home Rule Bill had been passed by the British parliament in 1914, but the outbreak of war in the same year delayed the start. Irish protestants, however, were bitterly opposed to Home Rule. They were in the majority in the northern province of Ulster, and believed that they would be treated unfairly by a Dublin parliament. They formed the Ulster Volunteer Force to protect themselves if Home Rule was introduced