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  • The modernization of the Japanese army and navy during the Meiji period and until the Mukden Incident was carried out by the newly founded national government, a military leadership that was only responsible to the Emperor and the help of French, British, and later German military advisors. When Western powers began to use their superior military strength to press Japan for trade relations in the 1850s, the country's decentralized and, by Western standards, antiquated military forces were unable to provide an effective defense against their advances. After the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867 and the restoration of the Meiji Emperor, de facto political and administrative power shifted to a group of younger samurai who had been instrumental in forming the new system and were committed to modernizing the military. They introduced drastic changes, which cleared the way for the development of modern, European-style armed forces. Conscription became universal and obligatory in 1872 and, although samurai wedded to the traditional prerogatives of their class resisted, by 1880 a conscript army was firmly established.