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Hereditary commander-in-chief in feudal Japan. Because of the military power concentrated in his hands and the weakness of the emperor, he was regarded as the real ruler of the country until feudalism was abolished in 1867. chief military commanders from about the 8th century a.d. to the end of the 12th century, then applied to the hereditary officials who governed Japan, with the emperor as nominal ruler, until 1868, when the shogunate was terminated and the ruling power was returned to the emperor.
“country in chains” or “lock up of country”) was the foreign policy of Japan under which no foreigner or Japanese could enter or leave the country on penalty of death. It was a system in which strict regulations were applied to commerce and foreign relations by the shogunate, and by certain feudal domains (han). The policy stated that the only European influence permitted was the Dutch factory at Dejima in Nagasaki.
The Baku-Han System
the feudal political system in the Edo period of Japan. Baku is an abbreviation of bakufu, meaning “military government”—that is, the shogunate. The han were the domains headed by daimyō.
Sonno Joi
a Japanese political philosophy and a social movement derived from Neo-Confucianism; it became a political slogan in the 1850s and 1860s in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period.
Li Naosuke
Ii Naosuke, (born Nov. 29, 1815, Hikone, Japan—died March 24, 1860, Edo [now Tokyo]), Japanese feudal lord and statesman who was responsible for Japan’s signing the first treaty of commerce with the United States (1858), opening the country to Western influence, and for the last attempt at reasserting the traditional political role of the Tokugawa (the dynasty of Japan’s military rulers) before its fall in 1867.
The 1858 Harris Treaty
The Harris Treaty was an agreement signed on July 29th of 1858 that secured commercial and diplomatic privileges for the United States in Japan, and constituted the basis for Western economic penetration of Japan. Negotiated by Townsend Harris, first U.S. consul to Japan, it provided for the opening of five ports to U.S. trade, in addition to those opened in 1854 as a result of the Treaty of Kanagawa; it also exempted U.S. citizens living in the ports from the jurisdiction of Japanese law, guaranteed them religious freedom, and arranged for diplomatic representation and a tariff agreement between the United States and Japan.

Harris was aided by the fact that British and French squadrons were on their way to Japan to obtain new treaties by force; he persuaded the Japanese authorities that they would obtain better terms by first negotiating a new treaty with the United States. the Harris Treaty became the basis of agreements signed shortly afterward with most European nations. Although the treaty provided for the possibility of revision in 1872, the Iwakura Mission to the United States that year failed to secure modification of the agreements.

Extraterritoriality is the state of being exempted from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. During the 1880s the Japanese government raised the matter of treaty revision. A concerted attempt was made to secure tariff autonomy and the repudiation of extraterritorial privileges. However, after Japan agreed to include a clause for mutual exemption of laws relating to laborers and labor immigration, a new treaty was signed in November 1894. Early in 1895 the American-Japanese treaty was ratified by both nations. Japan fulfilled all of the conditions that had been specified within the prescribed period of time, and in 1899 extraterritorial jurisdiction in the Japanese Empire was abolished.
The ending of extraterritoriality in Japan coincided with Japan’s victory in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and its emergence as a major world power. However, the retreat of the Western powers in Japan did not immediately have an impact on other countries.
Most Favored Nation Clause
In international economic relations and international politics, “most favored nation” is a status or level of treatment accorded by one state to another in international trade. The term means the country which is the recipient of this treatment must, nominally, receive equal trade advantages as the “most favored nation” by the country granting such treatment. (Trade advantages include low tariffs or high import quotas.) In effect, a country that has been accorded MFN status may not be treated less advantageously than any other country with MFN status by the promising country. The ideas behind MFN policies can first be seen in US foreign policy during the opening of Japan in the mid to late 1850s, when they were included as a clause in the Commercial Treaty of 1858, which signalled the opening of the Japanese market.
Ito Hirobumi
Prince Itō Hirobumi was a Japanese statesman and genrō. A London-educated samurai of the Chōshū Domain and an influential figure in the early Meiji Restoration government, he chaired the bureau which drafted the Meiji Constitution in the 1880s. His political career changed decisively when Ōkubo, the most powerful man in the government, was assassinated in 1878, and Itō succeeded him as minister of home affairs. His advancement brought him into conflict with the equally talented and ambitious statesman Ōkuma Shigenobu. In a series of masterful political strokes, Itō forced Ōkuma and his supporters out of the government in 1881 and persuaded the government to adopt a constitution; by 1889 the emperor had proclaimed it, and in 1890 the national Diet was established. In October 1909 he was shot in Harbin in North China by An Chung-gŭn, a member of the Korean independence movement. Itō’s assassination was a factor contributing to Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910.
Home Ministry
After the Meiji Restoration, the leaders of the new Meiji government envisioned a highly centralized state to replace the old feudal order. Within months after Emperor Meiji’s Charter Oath, was revived in a modified form with an express focus on the separation of legislative, administrative, and judicial functions within a new Daijō-kan system. The government pushed forward a plan for the creation of an “Interior ministry” within the Daijō-kan, modeled after similar ministries in European nations, headed by himself. The Home Ministry was established as government department in November 1873, initially as an internal security agency to deal with possible threats to the government from increasingly disgruntled ex-samurai, and political unrest spawned by the Seikanron debate. In addition to controlling the police administration, the new department was also responsible for the Family register, civil engineering, topographic surveys, censorship, and promotion of agriculture. In 1874, administration of the post office was added to its responsibilities. In 1877, overview of religious institutes was added. The head of the Home Ministry was referred to as the “Home Lord” and effectively functioned as the Head of Government.
The Home Ministry also initially had the responsibility for promoting local industry, but this duty was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce in 1881.
Hei-common Min-people: the class of commoners consisting of peasants and laborers and traders in the Japanese social scale, the lowest rank
The Meiji Constitution
Meiji Constitution, constitution of Japan from 1889 to 1947. After the Meiji Restoration (1868), Japan’s leaders sought to create a constitution that would define Japan as a capable, modern nation deserving of Western respect while preserving their own power. The resultant document, largely the handiwork of the genro (elder statesman) Itō Hirobumi, called for a bicameral parliament (the Diet) with an elected lower house and a prime minister and cabinet appointed by the emperor. The emperor was granted supreme control of the army and navy. A privy council composed of the Meiji genro, created prior to the constitution, advised the emperor and wielded actual power. Voting restrictions, which limited the electorate to about 5 percent of the adult male population, were loosened over the next 25 years, resulting in universal male suffrage. Political parties made the most of their limited power in the 1920s, but in the 1930s the military was able to exert control without violating the constitution. After World War II, a U.S.-approved constitution stating that “sovereign power resides with the people” replaced the Meiji Constitution.
Yamagata Aritomo
Japanese soldier and statesman who exerted a strong influence in Japan’s emergence as a formidable military power at the beginning of the 20th century. As home minister from 1883 to 1889, he established local government bodies, modernized the police system, and perfected controls over both institutions. As always, he was intent on creating a strong executive in anticipation of a future challenge from the parties. He was created a count in 1884 and resigned as chief of the general staff. He was the first prime minister under the parliamentary regime, serving in 1889-91 and 1898-1900. Yamagata led Japan as a virtual dictator, backed by the military and the bureaucracy under his influence. He consistently opposed the creation of a genuine cabinet. When the Chinese revolution broke out in 1911, he endeavoured to help sustain the Qing dynasty, and soon after the outbreak of World War I he succeeded in transforming the agreement with tsarist Russia into the military pact. In 1921, however, he meddled in the crown prince’s marriage and was publicly censured. Yamagata died in disgrace the following year.
Triple Intervention
The triple intervention was a governmental and diplomatic intervention of Japan by Russia, Germany, and France on April 23rd, 1895. The invasion was sparked over the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed between Japan and Qing Dynasty China that ended the First Sino-Japanese War. Russia intervened due to the fact that they had already been slowly increasing its influence in the East. Had they been successful, a warm-water port and the Trans-Siberian Railway would enable Russia to solidify its power and further expand into Asia. France was obligated to join under the 1892 treaty, and Germany wanted to establish territory in China, and wanted Russia as an ally to assist. This intervention was one of the underlying causes of the Russo-Japanese War that followed in 1904.
Treaty of Portsmouth
The Treaty of Portsmouth formally ended the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. It was signed on September 5, 1905 after negotiations at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, in the United States. In accordance with the treaty, both Japan and Russia agreed to evacuate Manchuria and return its sovereignty to China, but Japan leased the Liaodong Peninsula (containing Port Arthur and Talien), and the Russian rail system in southern Manchuria with access to strategic resources. Japan also received the southern half of the Island of Sakhalin from Russia. Roosevelt first proposed that a neutral committee propose concessions that Russia would cede to Japan, but after the idea’s rejection, Roosevelt convinced Japan to lay down its demand for an indemnity and accept the southern half of Sakhalin rather than the island as a whole. The treaty confirmed Japan’s emergence as the pre-eminent power in East Asia, and forced Russia to abandon its expansionist policies there, but it was not well received by the Japanese public. The treaty was ratified by the Japanese Privy Council on October 4, 1905. Japan gained a great deal from the treaty, but it was not what the Japanese public had been led to expect, since Japan’s initial negotiating position had demanded all of Sakhalin and a monetary indemnity as well. The frustration caused the Hibiya riots, and collapsed Katsura Tarō’s cabinet on January 7, 1906
Kokutai (“national body/structure”) is a politically-loaded word in the Japanese language translatable as “system of government”, “sovereignty”, “national identity, essence, and character”, “national polity; body politic; national entity; basis for the Emperor’s sovereignty; Japanese constitution”
Literally a financial clique. Japanese referring to industrial and financial conglomerates who’s large influence allowed them to control a huge portion of Japan’s economy starting from the Meiji period to world war 2. They would buy up small or private businesses and make them their own, except with a much heavier governmental involvement than previously
Matsukata Masayoshi
Matsukata followed Yamagata Aritomo as Prime Minister from May 6, 1891 – August 8, 1892, and followed Ito Hirobumi as Prime Minister from September 18, 1896 – January 12, 1898, during which times he concurrently also held office as finance minister. Matsukata founded the Bank of Japan in 1882

Matsukata was the 4th Prime Minister of Japan from 6 May 1891 to 8 August 1892. He was also the 6th Prime Minister from 18 September 1896 to 12 January 1898.

Matsukata was also a Privy Councilor and Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan.

Sankin Kotai
Alternate attendance. This is the routine of the Daimyō’s alternate-year residence in Edo. It was a policy of the Tokugawa shogunate during most of the Edo period of Japanese history. The purpose was to strengthen central control over the daimyōs (major feudal lords). If the Daimyo’s were in the constant presence of the emperor for an entire year, it would bar them from attempting to overthrow or divert from the emperors plan. the requirement was that the daimyōs of every han move periodically between Edo and his fief, typically spending alternate years in each place. His wife and heir were required to remain in Edo as hostages while he was away. The expenditures necessary to maintain lavish residences in both places, and for the procession to and from Edo, placed financial strains on the daimyo, making them unable to wage war. The frequent travel of the daimyo encouraged road building and the construction of inns and facilities along the routes, generating economic activity.
literally “Dutch learning”, and by extension “Western learning”) is a body of knowledge developed by Japan through its contacts with the Dutch enclave of Dejima, which allowed Japan to keep abreast of Western technology and medicine in the period when the country was closed to foreigners, 1641-1853, because of the Tokugawa shogunate’s policy of national isolation (sakoku).
Through Rangaku, some people in Japan learned many aspects of the scientific and technological revolution occurring in Europe at that time, helping the country build up the beginnings of a theoretical and technological scientific base, which helps to explain Japan’s success in its radical and speedy modernization following the forced American opening of the country to foreign trade in 1854.
Fudai Daimyo
Fudai daimyō was a class of daimyōs who were hereditary vassals of the Tokugawa in Edo-period Japan.[1] It was primarily the fudai who filled the ranks of the Tokugawa administration. Many of the families who formed the ranks of the fudai daimyōs were families which had served the Tokugawa clan since before its rise to national primacy. Some of these include the Honda, Sakai, Sakakibara, Ii, Itakura, and Mizuno clans. Tokugawa Ieyasu’s “Four Great Generals”—Honda Tadakatsu, Sakakibara Yasumasa, Sakai Tadatsugu, and Ii Naomasa—were all pre-Edo period fudai, and went on to become fudai daimyōs. In addition, some branches of the Matsudaira clan (from which the Tokugawa clan originated), while allowed to retain the Matsudaira surname, were fudai.As Tokugawa Ieyasu rose to power in the 16th century, his domains increased, and as his domains increased, he began to hand out landholdings to his vassals, so that one by one, many of them became daimyōs. This was the birth of the fudai daimyō class. In contrast to the tozama, the fudai typically ruled small fiefs, many in strategic locations along the principal roads or in the Kantō region near the headquarters of the shogunate at Edo.[2] High posts in the shogunate, such as Rōjū and wakadoshiyori, normally went to fudai. In addition, the post of Kyoto Shoshidai almost always went to a fudai daimyō.
Samurai (侍?) were the military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan. “those who serve in close attendance to the nobility”. associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. The samurai were usually associated with a clan and their lord, and were trained as officers in military tactics and grand strategy. They diminished in 1867 after Fukuzawa Yakishi began to push his reforms, as he saw the old culture of Japan as uncivilized and barbaric
Fukoku Kyohei
“Rich Country, Strong Army” – a slogan that summed up the ideals of the Meiji Era. Fukoku Kyohei became the principle that led to the modernization and transformation of Japan. When the Tokugawa Shogunate fell and the Meiji era began in 1868, Fukoku Kyohei embodied what Japan needed at that time: Japan had to be rich in order to have a strong army to defend itself. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the Meiji Era’s Fukoku Kyohei appeared in Japan’s first major war. In 1894 up to 1895, Japan fought China in the Sino-Japanese War. Japan showed its new and modern military capability in the field of Korea against Chinese troops. In the end of the war, Japan received new territories and rights from China under the Treaty of Shimonoseki. It won the recognition of western countries and they began to see Japan as an equal nation. A decade later, Japan fought a familiar western power of Russia. With its brilliant admirals and modern ships, Japan scored great naval victories causing a huge blow in the prestige of Russia and cemented Japan as major power, at least in Asia. By the end of the Meiji Era, Japan had become a powerful and wealthy nation.
Fixed Tariff Rates
A tax imposed on imported goods and services. Tariffs are used to restrict trade, as they increase the price of imported goods and services, making them more expensive to consumers. A specific tariff is levied as a fixed fee based on the type of item
The Charter oath of Five Articles
Charter Oath, also called Imperial Oath Of Five Articles, Japanese Gokajō No Goseimon, in Japanese history, statement of principle promulgated on April 6, 1868, by the emperor Meiji after the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of direct participation in government by the imperial family. The Charter Oath opened the way for the modernization of the country and the introduction of a Western parliamentary constitution. The five articles of the Charter Oath were the following: (1) “Deliberative assemblies shall be established on an extensive scale, and all governmental matters shall be determined by public discussion.” (2) “All classes, high and low, shall unite to carry out vigorously the plan of government.” (3) “All classes shall be permitted to fulfill their just aspirations so that there will be no discontent.” (4) “Evil customs of the past shall be discontinued, and new customs shall be based on the just laws of nature.” (5) “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world in order to promote the welfare of the empire.”
Bunmei Kaika
Japan’s Civilization and Enlightenment Movement. Japan realized they were behind the Western Progress only comes with reform and knowledge. The new Meiji government, established in 1868, set as one of its principal goals the reversal of this status and international recognition of Japan as an equal among civilized nations.

To accomplish this goal, the Meiji government faced the formidable challenges of modernizing the Japanese government, economic structure, and industry, and developing a level of knowledge of science and technology to accomplish these tasks. Integral to the process of modernization was the creation of a national identity and mobilization of the Japanese people behind this identity. Throughout the early Meiji period (1868 through the mid-1880s), the government employed a variety of slogans as emblems and instruments of national policy.

The Japanese government’s policy of aggressive modernization in the Meiji period was captured in the slogans Bunmei Kaika. These slogans translate as “Civilization and Enlightenment. During this period, the path to civilization, enrichment, industry, and a modern army was through heavy study, selection, borrowing, and adaptation of previously tested Western models and technologies. As Meiji leaders sought appropriate models for government, education, industry, transportation, and social structures in the West, they rallied Japanese people behind unprecedented changes through a variety of public education and motivation efforts.

The Saigo Rebellion
The overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate, led by Saigo Takanori in 1868, which became the Meiji Restoration. on Jan. 3, 1868, troops under Saigō’s command seized control of the palace gates. A council of notables was summoned to which the young emperor read the Imperial rescript that was to inaugurate a new era for Japan. This ensured the supremacy of the Imperial court over the nation.
The Sat-Cho Clique
House of Peers
Treaty of Shimonoseki
Between Japan and China when they fought for Korea (japan) and Tawain. agreement that concluded the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), which ended in China’s defeat. By the terms of the treaty, China was obliged to recognize the independence of Korea, over which it had traditionally held suzerainty; to cede Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, and the Liaodong (south Manchurian) Peninsula to Japan; to pay an indemnity of 200,000,000 taels to Japan; and to open the ports of Shashi, Chongqing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou to Japanese trade. The Triple Intervention (1895), secured by Russia, France, and Germany, subsequently required Japan to retrocede the Liaodong Peninsula to China in return for an additional indemnity of 30,000,000 taels.
Liaodong Peninsula
The Anglo-Japanese Alliance
(1902-23), alliance that bound Britain and Japan to assist one another in safeguarding their respective interests in China and Korea. Directed against Russian expansionism in the Far East, it was a cornerstone of British and Japanese policy in Asia until after World War I. alliance that bound Britain and Japan to assist one another in safeguarding their respective interests in China and Korea. Directed against Russian expansionism in the Far East, it was a cornerstone of British and Japanese policy in Asia until after World War I.

The alliance served Japan in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) by discouraging France, Russia’s European ally, from entering the war on the Russian side. It was renewed in 1905 and again in 1911 after Japan’s annexation of Korea. On the basis of its tie with Britain, Japan participated in World War I on the side of the Allies.

After the war the British no longer feared Russian encroachment in China and wished to maintain close ties with the United States, which tended to view Japan as its rival in the Pacific. Following an unsuccessful attempt to bring the U.S. into the alliance at the Washington Conference of 1921-22, Britain allowed it to lapse. It was specifically terminated by the Four-Power Pacific Treaty (1921), a vaguely worded agreement that left the Japanese without allies until the conclusion of their Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in September 1940.

The Land Tax
The Japanese Land Tax Reform of 1873, or chisokaisei (地租改正?) was started by the Meiji Government in 1873, or the 6th year of the Meiji era. It was a major restructuring of the previous land taxation system, and established the right of private land ownership in Japan for the first time. The government initially ordered individual farmers to measure the plots of their land themselves, calculate their taxes, and submit the results to local tax officials. However, difficulties arose with the honesty of the measuring system when the 1874 budget showed that collected taxes fell far below projected values.
The government responded by establishing a land tax reform department in 1875, and began aggressive efforts to install the system. Under the direction of the new department, each prefecture was assigned a set amount of taxes it was required to collect. The department forcefully changed land values to meet the set amount if values reported by farmers did not meet projected values. This caused widespread resentment among farmers, and several large-scale riots erupted around the country. In January 1877, the government lowered the tax rate from 3% to 2.5% in an effort to regain support for the land tax.
The department’s aggressive system continued through 1878, but the strictness of rules gradually decreased as it became clear that required amounts would be met. The reforms had taken complete effect by 1880, seven years after the start of the reforms.
Iwasaki Yataro
Iwasaki Yatarō (岩崎 弥太郎?, January 9, 1835 – February 7, 1885) was a Japanese financier and shipping industrialist, and the founder of Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi was a member of the Zaibatsu
Genrō (元老?) was an unofficial designation given to certain retired elder Japanese statesmen, considered the “founding fathers” of modern Japan,[citation needed] who served as informal extraconstitutional advisors to the emperor, during the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa periods in Japanese history.
The institution of genrō originated with the traditional council of elders (Rōjū) common in the Edo period; however, the term genrō appears to have been coined by a newspaper only in 1892. The term is sometimes confused with the Genrōin (Chamber of Elders), a legislative body which existed from 1875-1890; however, the genrō were not related to the establishment of that body or its dissolution.
Experienced leaders of the Meiji Restoration were singled out by the Emperor as genkun, and asked to act as Imperial advisors. With the exception of Saionji Kinmochi, all the genrō were from medium or lower ranking samurai families, four each from Satsuma and Chōshū, the two former domains that had been instrumental in the overthrow of the former Tokugawa shogunate in the Boshin War of the Meiji Restoration of 1867-1868. The genrō had the right to select and nominate Prime Ministers to the Emperor for approval.
The first seven genrō were all formerly members of the Sangi (Imperial Council) which was abolished in 1885. They are also sometimes known to historians as the Meiji oligarchy, although not all of the Meiji oligarchs were genrō.
The institution expired in 1940, with the death of the last of the genrō, Saionji Kinmochi.
Great Learning for Women
The Onna Daigaku, (女大学?, or “The Great Learning for Women”) is a 17th-century Japanese educational text advocating for neo-confucian values in education. It is frequently referred to as the work of Japanese botanist and educator Kaibara Ekken. The Onna Daigaku teaches the moral need for total subordination of women to the needs to the husband and family.[1] The book suggests that women are too stupid to trust themselves, and must “distrust herself and obey her husband.”
It is cited as Ekken’s most popular book, which was often gifted to new brides due to its accessible tone and a lack of general instructional materials for new families.
Scholars point to the wide circulation of the text as reflective of Tokugawa-era misogyny. It was roundly criticized by advocates of women’s education during the Meiji era.
The book encourages several grounds for a husband to divorce his wife, including disobedience to her in-laws, infertility (unless a barren woman allows for adoption of a concubine’s child), lewdness, jealousy, leprosy, talking too much, or compulsive thievery.
the iwakura mission
The Iwakura Mission or Iwakura Embassy (岩倉使節団, Iwakura Shisetsudan) was a Japanese diplomatic voyage to the United States and Europe conducted between 1871 and 1873 by leading statesmen and scholars of the Meiji period. Although it was not the only such mission, it is the most well-known and possibly most significant in terms of its impact on the modernization of Japan after a long period of isolation from the West. The mission was first proposed by the influential Dutch missionary and engineer Guido Verbeck, based to some degree on the model of the Grand Embassy of Peter I.
The aim of the mission was threefold; to gain recognition for the newly reinstated imperial dynasty under the Emperor Meiji; to begin preliminary renegotiation of the unequal treaties with the dominant world powers; and to make a comprehensive study of modern industrial, political, military and educational systems and structures in the United States and Europe.[1]
The Iwakura mission followed several such missions previously sent by the Shogunate, such as the Japanese Embassy to the United States in 1860, the First Japanese Embassy to Europe in 1862, and the Second Japanese Embassy to Europe in 1863.
Aizawa Seishisai
Aizawa Seishisai (会沢 正志斎?, July 5, 1781 – August 27, 1863), born Aizawa Yasushi (会沢 安?), was a Japanese nationalist thinker of the Mito school during the late shogunate period.
In 1799 he became involved in the compilation of the Dai Nihon-shi (Great History of Japan) being undertaken by the Mito school.
In 1825 he wrote his Shinron (“New Theses”), a collection of essays that dealt with issues such as Tokugawa defence policy and the perceived threat that Western ships presented to Japan. Aizawa also tried to describe conditions in the West and theorize why Western states had become so powerful; in his opinion Westerners used religion to enforce conformity of the masses. He believed that Japan would need to take up its own state religion and discussed the concept of kokutai (“national polity”), in this context. The Shinron would become an important work for the sonnō jōi movement and his theory of the Kokutai would be developed by future thinkers.
In 1840 Aizawa became the first head of professors of the Mito school’s Kōdōkan but was forced to resign in 1844 when Tokugawa Nariaki resigned as domain leader. He later returned to the Kōdōkan.
Little Brother, Do not die
Anti War Poem Please do not die, my little brother. A letter from a sister to her brother in a war.
Author : Yosano Akiko, 1904, September.
The Tokugawa feudal system.
The Tokugawa political system was perhaps the most complex feudal system ever developed. It was similar to the European feudal system (pope, emperor or king, feudal barons, and retainers in Europe compared to emperor, the shogun, the daimyo, and samurai retainers in Japan), but it was also very bureaucratic, an attribute not associated with European feudalism. The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府 ?) and the Edo bakufu (江戸幕府 ?), was the last feudal Japanese military government, which existed between 1600 and 1868. The head of government was the shogun, and each was a member of the Tokugawa clan.It was structured very similarly to the English setup with a few changes of names and positions. The most powerful positions in society were the Emperor, Shogun, Daimyo and Samurai. Although these 4 positions were the most powerful in Japan at the time, they made up only roughly 10% of the total population, while roughly 90% were peasants and below.
The Emperor was looked up to by all of his people as the supreme ruler but held little political power and was seen as more of a ‘puppet figure’.

The Shogun was probably the most important figure in Japanese society. He was seen as ‘second in line’ but did the most work. He was a military leader, so he was in charge of many of decisions to do with their armies, battles etc..

The Daimyo was a very powerful figure who served the shogun. His job control a large area of land. He was also in charge of their samurai, whom he paid to work and protect him.

The Samurai were Japanese warriors (similar to the European knight). They served and protected their Daimyo with respect. They also fought for their people and protected them, bringing justice and order to the community. Their followed a code of conduct called Bushido, meaning ‘Way of the warrior’ which told them how to live their lives.

Ronins were samurai warriors who had either been ‘expelled’ from their allegiance or their daimyo had died.

Peasants were farmers and fishermen. They were actually considered a higher class in Medieval Japan than in Medieval England because the Japanese believed that the peasants produced food, which was depended on by all classes, therefore, they worked harder.

Artisans were workers skilled in a particular trade. These included: sword-maker, dressmaker, woodblock print making etc.

Merchants were considered the lowest class in Medieval Japan unlike Medieval England. Their job was to trade/sell goods and shop-keep.

The Meiji Restoration.
Meiji Restoration, in Japanese history, the political revolution in 1868 that brought about the final demise of the Tokugawa shogunate (military government)—thus ending the Edo (Tokugawa) period (1603-1867)—and, at least nominally, returned control of the country to direct imperial rule under Mutsuhito (the emperor Meiji). In a wider context, however, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 came to be identified with the subsequent era of major political, economic, and social change—the Meiji period (1868-1912)—that brought about the modernization and Westernization of the country. When the Meiji emperor was restored as head of Japan in 1868, the nation was a militarily weak country, was primarily agricultural, and had little technological development. It was controlled by hundreds of semi-independent feudal lords. The Western powers — Europe and the United States — had forced Japan to sign treaties that limited its control over its own foreign trade and required that crimes concerning foreigners in Japan be tried not in Japanese but in Western courts. When the Meiji period ended, with the death of the emperor in 1912, Japan had

· a highly centralized, bureaucratic government;
· a constitution establishing an elected parliament;
· a well-developed transport and communication system;
· a highly educated population free of feudal class restrictions;
· an established and rapidly growing industrial sector based on the latest technology; and
· a powerful army and navy.

Japan had regained complete control of its foreign trade and legal system, and, by fighting and winning two wars (one of them against a major European power, Russia), it had established full independence and equality in international affairs. In a little more than a generation, Japan had exceeded its goals, and in the process had changed its whole society. Japan’s success in modernization has created great interest in why and how it was able to adopt Western political, social, and economic institutions in so short a time.

One answer is found in the Meiji Restoration itself. This political revolution “restored” the emperor to power, but he did not rule directly. He was expected to accept the advice of the group that had overthrown the shôgun, and it was from this group that a small number of ambitious, able, and patriotic young men from the lower ranks of the samurai emerged to take control and establish the new political system. At first, their only strength was that the emperor accepted their advice and several powerful feudal domains provided military support. They moved quickly, however, to build their own military and economic control. By July 1869 the feudal lords had been requested to give up their domains, and in 1871 these domains were abolished and transformed into prefectures of a unified central state.

The feudal lords and the samurai class were offered a yearly stipend, which was later changed to a one-time payment in government bonds. The samurai lost their class privileges, when the government declared all classes to be equal. By 1876 the government banned the wearing of the samurai’s swords; the former samurai cut off their top knots in favor of Western-style haircuts and took up jobs in business and the professions.

The armies of each domain were disbanded, and a national army based on universal conscription was created in 1872, requiring three years’ military service from all men, samurai and commoner alike. A national land tax system was established that required payment in money instead of rice, which allowed the government to stabilize the national budget. This gave the government money to spend to build up the strength of the nation.

Resistance and Rebellion Defeated

Although these changes were made in the name of the emperor and national defense, the loss of privileges brought some resentment and rebellion. When the top leadership left to travel in Europe and the United States to study Western ways in 1872, conservative groups argued that Japan should reply to Korean’s refusal to revise a centuries old treaty with an invasion. This would help patriotic samurai to regain their importance. But the new leaders quickly returned from Europe and reestablished their control, arguing that Japan should concentrate on its own modernization and not engage in such foreign adventures.

For the next twenty years, in the 1870s and 1880s, the top priority remained domestic reform aimed at changing Japan’s social and economic institutions along the lines of the model provided by the powerful Western nations. The final blow to conservative samurai came in the 1877 Satsuma rebellion, when the government’s newly drafted army, trained in European infantry techniques and armed with modern Western guns, defeated the last resistance of the traditional samurai warriors. With the exception of these few samurai outbreaks, Japan’s domestic transformation proceeded with remarkable speed, energy, and the cooperation of the people. This phenomenon is one of the major characteristics of Japan’s modern history.


In an effort to unite the Japanese nation in response to the Western challenge, the Meiji leaders created a civic ideology centered around the emperor. Although the emperor wielded no political power, he had long been viewed as a symbol of Japanese culture and historical continuity. He was the head of the Shintô religion, Japan’s native religion. Among other beliefs, Shintô holds that the emperor is descended from the sun goddess and the gods who created Japan and therefore is semidivine. Westerners of that time knew him primarily as a ceremonial figure. The Meiji reformers brought the emperor and Shintô to national prominence, replacing Buddhism as the national religion, for political and ideological reasons. By associating Shintô with the imperial line, which reached back into legendary times, Japan had not only the oldest ruling house in the world, but a powerful symbol of age-old national unity.

The people seldom saw the emperor, yet they were to carry out his orders without question, in honor to him and to the unity of the Japanese people, which he represented. In fact, the emperor did not rule. It was his “advisers,” the small group of men who exercised political control, that devised and carried out the reform program in the name of the emperor.

Social and Economic Changes

The abolition of feudalism made possible tremendous social and political changes. Millions of people were suddenly free to choose their occupation and move about without restrictions. By providing a new environment of political and financial security, the government made possible investment in new industries and technologies.

The government led the way in this, building railway and shipping lines, telegraph and telephone systems, three shipyards, ten mines, five munitions works, and fifty-three consumer industries (making sugar, glass, textiles, cement, chemicals, and other important products). This was very expensive, however, and strained government finances, so in 1880 the government decided to sell most of these industries to private investors, thereafter encouraging such activity through subsidies and other incentives. Some of the samurai and merchants who built these industries established major corporate conglomerates called zaibatsu, which controlled much of Japan’s modern industrial sector.

The government also introduced a national educational system and a constitution, creating an elected parliament called the Diet. They did this to provide a good environment for national growth, win the respect of the Westerners, and build support for the modern state. In the Tokugawa period, popular education had spread rapidly, and in 1872 the government established a national system to educate the entire population. By the end of the Meiji period, almost everyone attended the free public schools for at least six years. The government closely controlled the schools, making sure that in addition to skills like mathematics and reading, all students studied “moral training,” which stressed the importance of their duty to the emperor, the country and their families.

The 1889 constitution was “given” to the people by the emperor, and only he (or his advisers) could change it. A parliament was elected beginning in 1890, but only the wealthiest one percent of the population could vote in elections. In 1925 this was changed to allow all men (but not yet women) to vote.

To win the recognition of the Western powers and convince them to change the unequal treaties the Japanese had been forced to sign in the 1850s, Japan changed its entire legal system, adopting a new criminal and civil code modeled after those of France and Germany. The Western nations finally agreed to revise the treaties in 1894, acknowledging Japan as an equal in principle, although not in international power.

The International Climate: Colonialism and Expansion

In 1894 Japan fought a war against China over its interest in Korea, which China claimed as a vassal state. The Korean peninsula is the closest part of Asia to Japan, less than 100 miles by sea, and the Japanese were worried that the Russians might gain control of that weak nation. Japan won the war and gained control over Korea and gained Taiwan as a colony. Japan’s sudden, decisive victory over China surprised the world and worried some European powers.

At this time the European nations were beginning to claim special rights in China — the French, with their colony in Indochina (today’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), were involved in South China; the British also claimed special rights in South China, near Hong Kong, and later the whole Yangtze valley; and the Russians, who were building a railway through Siberia and Manchuria, were interested in North China. After Japan’s victory over China, Japan signed a treaty with China which gave Japan special rights on China’s Liaotung peninsula, in addition to the control of Taiwan. But Japan’s victory was short lived. Within a week, France, Russia, and Germany combined to pressure Japan to give up rights on the Liaotung peninsula. Each of these nations then began to force China to give it ports, naval bases, and special economic rights, with Russia taking the same Liaotung peninsula that Japan had been forced to return.

The Japanese government was angered by this incident and drew the lesson that for Japan to maintain its independence and receive equal treatment in international affairs, it was necessary to strengthen its military even further. By 1904, when the Russians were again threatening to establish control over Korea, Japan was much stronger. It declared war on Russia and, using all its strength, won victory in 1905 (beginning with a surprise naval attack on Port Arthur, which gained for Japan the control of the China Sea). Japan thus achieved dominance over Korea and established itself a colonial power in East Asia.

The Period 1912-1941

The Meiji reforms brought great changes both within Japan and in Japan’s place in world affairs. Japan strengthened itself enough to remain a sovereign nation in the face of Western colonizing powers and indeed became a colonizing power itself. During the Taishô period (1912-1926), Japanese citizens began to ask for more voice in the government and for more social freedoms. During this time, Japanese society and the Japanese political system were significantly more open than they were either before or after. The period has often been called the period of “Taishô democracy.” One explanation is that, until World War I, Japan enjoyed record breaking economic prosperity. The Japanese people had more money to spend, more leisure, and better education, supplemented by the development of mass media. Increasingly they lived in cities where they came into contact with influences from abroad and where the traditional authority of the extended family was less influential. Industrialization in itself undermined traditional values, emphasizing instead efficiency, independence, materialism, and individualism. During these years Japan saw the emergence of a “mass society” very similar to the “Roaring 20s” in the United States. During these years also, the Japanese people began to demand universal manhood suffrage which they won in 1925. Political parties increased their influence, becoming powerful enough to appoint their own prime ministers between 1918 and 1931.

At the end of World War I, however, Japan entered a severe economic depression. The bright, optimistic atmosphere of the Taishô period gradually disappeared. Political party government was marred by corruption. The government and military, consequently, grew stronger, the parliament weaker. The advanced industrial sector became increasingly controlled by a few giant businesses, the zaibatsu. Moreover, Japan’s international relations were disrupted by trade tensions and by growing international disapproval of Japan’s activities in China. But success in competing with the European powers in East Asia strengthened the idea that Japan could, and should, further expand its influence on the Asian mainland by military force.

Japan’s need for natural resources and the repeated rebuffs from the West to Japan’s attempts to expand its power in Asia paved the way for militarists to rise to power. Insecurity in international relations allowed a right-wing militaristic faction to control first foreign, then domestic, policy. With the military greatly influencing the government, Japan began an aggressive military campaign throughout Asia, and then, in 1941, bombed Pearl Harbor.


The most important feature of the Meiji period was Japan’s struggle for recognition of its considerable achievement and for equality with Western nations. Japan was highly successful in organizing an industrial, capitalist state on Western models. But when Japan also began to apply the lessons it learned from European imperialism, the West reacted negatively. In a sense Japan’s chief handicap was that it entered into the Western dominated world order at a late stage. Colonialism and the racist ideology that accompanied it, were too entrenched in Western countries to allow an “upstart,” nonwhite nation to enter the race for natural resources and markets as an equal. Many of the misunderstandings between the West and Japan stemmed from Japan’s sense of alienation from the West, which seemed to use a different standard in dealing with European nations than it did with a rising Asian power like Japan.

The Meiji Imperialism.
pan had a dearth of raw materials and was importing raw materials from elsewhere in Asia and exporting finished products. By industrializing, Japan was able to dominate in the sale of manufactured goods, especially textiles, to those areas abroad that it was closer to geographically than were the Western powers. And Japan remained determined to assert itself as a great nation and not to suffer domination by the West as was China. One of the oligarchs running Japan in the name of Emperor Meiji, Fukuzawa Yukichi, in 1885, described Japan’s need to be a leading power in Asia and to behave “in the same way as the civilized countries of the West are doing.” He added: “We would do better to treat China and Korea in the same way as do the Western nations.”
Militarily, Japan benefited not only from its rapid industrialization but also by being an island nation, and by having as a neighboring military rival a crippled power – China. And Japan had an advantage over Europe and the US regarding Asia by being geographically closer to targets of imperial interest.
Japan had another ingredient useful for imperial expansion – arrogance – a view of their country as the land favored by the Gods, the land that others should recognize as superior. This was expressed as early as 1868 when Japan sent to Korea an announcement of the Meiji restoration. The announcement implied that Japan’s monarch was superior in status to Korea’s monarch. Diplomacy would have been served by Korea smiling at Japanese arrogance and accepting the announcement. Instead the Koreans rejected it, and Japan’s militant patriots and supporters of Meiji rule considered Korea’s response an affront to Japan’s national dignity, and exchanges in the months that followed failed to mollify the irritation felt by both sides.
In the 1870s, Japanese warships, with troops, threatened the Koreans and struck at Korea’s port city of Pusan and at Kanghwado island. Japan was proving its perceived superiority militarily, and in 1876 Korea signed a treaty, drafted by the Japanese, that granted the Japanese in Korea extraterritoriality (exemption from the jurisdiction of local law), exemption from tariffs and recognition of Japanese currency at ports of trade.
In 1878 a branch of Japan’s Daiichi Bank was established in Pusan, which encouraged more Japanese merchants to do business in Korea. Japanese merchants purchased rice, soy beans, cattle hides and alluvial gold at low prices and sold these in Japan. Exports from Japan to Korea were mainly Japan’s reselling of European, especially English, and American commodities.
By the 1890s, with Russian expansion in mind, Japan’s military strategists were looking upon Korea as a zone of defense. In 1894, a war was approaching between Japan and China regarding Korea. Korea had xenophobes as did Japan, and in July in southern Korea a peasant and anti-foreign rebellion, the Tong-hak rising, occurred. note97
Korea’s king called on China for help in suppressing the riots. China landed a force of 2,000 in Korea. Japan objected, claiming that this violated an agreement in 1885 – the Tianjin Convention. In Japan, patriotic activists claimed that Japan’s national honor was at stake, and public opinion in Japan agreed with the super-patriots. Japanese soldiers took control of Korea’s royal palace. By the end of September, 1894, Japan’s army was in control of most of Korea and its navy was in control of the Yellow Sea (Huang Hai). Korea’s king, Min, found refuge in the Russian legation. Some Japanese were involved in the assassination of Queen Min, who had been making overtures to China and Russia. And the Japanese forced out of Korea’s government those who favored China.
Japanese army divisions crossed northward from Korea into Manchuria. Three divisions moved southward in Manchuria and captured a Chinese naval arsenal and fortress at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, at what is today Lushun – to be known as Port Arthur. Japan’s army occupied Weihaiwei, on the Shandong Peninsula. China’s antiquated military was overwhelmed by Japan’s modern forces, and China in 1895 signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki. This ceded to Japan control over Lüshun (called Port Arthur by Westerners) and nearby Dalian on the Liaodong peninsula, at the southern tip of Manchuria. It ceded to Japan the island of Taiwan and permitted the Japanese to live and trade in China.
A group of leading Taiwanese, aided by rebellious Chinese officials, defied the Japanese and declared Taiwan a republic – Asia’s first independent republic. Japan sent in troops and within a few months crushed that independence, Taiwan becoming part of Japan’s empire.
Meanwhile, in 1894 in London, Japan had signed a new commercial and navigation treaty – the Aoki-Kimberley Treaty – with Britain. Power had brought Japan respect from a fellow imperial power. The treaty abolished extraterritorial rights for the British in Japan and provided reciprocity in most favored nation treatment. The US followed this with a similar agreement, and Russia and Germany established similar agreements in 1895, with France and the Netherlands joining them in 1896.
Britain welcomed Japanese imperialism as a counter to Russian expansion. The US government instructed its representatives to make no statement unfavorable to Japan. France and Germany supported Russia, and Russia saw Japan’s gains as a threat to her rail line through Manchuria to China.
Pressure from Russia, France and Germany – the so-called Triple Intervention – resulted in Japan returning its gains in Manchuria and the Shandong peninsula to China, but China was also a loser in the transactions. With some bribing of Chinese officials, Russia acquired a 25-year lease at Lüshun (Port Arthur), Germany acquired control over Jiaozhou Bay at the south of the Shandong Peninsula. Britain leased Hong Kong for 99 years and took control of Weihaiwei in the north on Shandong, agreeing to stay there as long as the Russians remained at Lüshun. France also took control of a piece of the Shandong peninsula and took control of Guangzhou (Canton) in southern China. The Japanese public went from exultation over their country’s victories to bitterness. And the Triple Intervention inspired the Japanese to further build the strength of its military and to improve its manufacture of military equipment.
Russia improved its ties with Korea, including the sending of a military mission there. In 1898, Russia and Japan agreed to refrain from interference in Korean politics and to consult with each other before sending military or financial advisors to Korea – seven years before the outbreak of war between these two countries.
Tokugawa system 2
The Tokugawa political system was perhaps the most complex feudal system ever developed. It was similar to the European feudal system (pope, emperor or king, feudal barons, and retainers in Europe compared to emperor, the shogun, the daimyo, and samurai retainers in Japan), but it was also very bureaucratic, an attribute not associated with European feudalism.

This political system was called the bakuhan system. Baku comes from bakufu which was the government the Tokugawa leaders used to administer their private affairs inside their own fief. Han means domain and refers to the 250-plus domains that existed throughout the Edo period. Thus, bakuhan refers to the co-existence of the Tokugawa government with separate, independent governments in each of the fiefs. Since each daimyo was a retainer of the shogun, the bakufu or shogunate had some power across all of Japan. This was not a federal system or even a centralized hierarchy of political authorities; rather, it was a system in which two levels of government existed with a high degree of independence.

The Tokugawa shogunate was very much like any domainal government in that it was responsible first for the administration of a limited territory, the fief of the Tokugawa house. As such, it concerned itself with controlling the samurai class, collecting taxes (primarily on agriculture), maintaining civil order, defending the fief, controlling the cities, encouraging commerce and manufacturing which were required by the fief, limiting undesirable types of commerce and so on. In most domains, the scope of government was similar. In fact, as the Edo period wore on, most domains copied the system of the shogunate.

The Tokugawa shogunate also had responsibilities and concerns which went beyond those of ordinary domains; the Tokugawa shoguns were, after all, hegemons presiding over a whole country.

The Tokugawa government alone dealt with the imperial court, the imperial nobility and the emperor himself. The emperor was the source of legitimacy since the office of shogun was an imperial appointment. Furthermore, Confucianism which was the official ideology of the Tokugawa house during the Edo period focused attention on the emperor. Thus, the Tokugawa shogunate established a monopoly on access to the imperial court. As the period wore on, the monopoly was breached, but it is essentially true that the Tokugawa controlled and manipulated the court for its own purposes.

The shogunate held a near monopoly over foreign trade and foreign affairs. The trade monopoly was important because significant profits were available to the Tokugawa alone. Foreign trade was also permitted through Satsuma domain to the Ryukyu kingdom (Okinawa) and through Tsushima domain to Korea, but generally speaking diplomatic matters were closely controlled by the Tokugawa.

Foreign relations were crucial because control of them made a statement to the political public that the Tokugawa house was in control of all aspects of government; it was an additional source of legitimacy. In line with this, the Tokugawa shogunate restricted diplomatic contact by prohibiting any Europeans except the Dutch from coming to Japan after 1639; this was the policy of national seclusion (sakoku). But even seclusion was an exercise of power which impressed observers and encouraged submission.

Perhaps the most important role of the shogunate was control of the domains, the han. This was precisely what had been lacking in the Warring States period, the ability of central authority to enforce peace. During the forty years before the Edo period, the three unifiers, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, evolved a system which proved increasingly capable of ensuring the loyalty and obedience of vassals. The Tokugawa shogunate took this previous experience and honed it to perfection.

Elements of this system included a police and spy network which reported any suspicious activity by samurai or daimyo. Daimyo were required to report any proposed marriage alliances between domains to the shogunate for approval. Contact between domains was prohibited to reduce opportunities for plotting against the shogunate. The number of castles, their size and their strength were very strictly limited.

The shogunate could punish daimyo for transgressions in a variety of ways; a domain could be reduced in size, the daimyo could be shifted to an entirely different domain, or, the ultimate sanction, suicide could be demanded, perhaps with the additional punishment of his lineage being reduced in status to a non-daimyo level.

The most important aspect of the system of controlling the han was the sankin-kotai system, or the system of alternate residence in Edo. This grew out of the Warring States period practice of demanding high-ranking hostages from vassals or allies to guarantee good behavior. The founder of the shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was himself a hostage for nearly 13 years as a young boy.

The Tokugawa, however, formalized the keeping of hostages. They established rules which specified for each daimyo a period of time every year (or two or three) during which the daimyo must live in Edo. The daimyo’s family would have to live in Edo when the daimyo returned to his domain, so that the one stood hostage for the other.

Not only did this provide hostages, but it also placed an economic burden on the daimyo which drained away resources that otherwise might have gone into military preparations against the shogunate. The daimyo had to maintain a large residence and support facilities in Edo as well as in their domain. They also had to travel to and from Edo along a route dictated by the shogunate. Most traveled on the Tokaido because the Nakasendo was used by the imperial court, but the overall burden was spread between the two roads. The whole system consumed about 25% of the income available to most daimyo.

The shogunate was only one part of the bakuhan system, however; the domains were the other. The domains were independent with regard to their internal arrangements as long as there was no conflict with the shogunate’s interests. In practice, the domains voluntarily duplicated the shogunate’s system of government to a large degree because the interests and problems of a daimyo at his level were similar to those of the shogunate: how to maintain stability and order. Furthermore, the powers which the shogunate exercised over the domains had the effect of forcing the domains to behave in much the same manner since they were facing the same requirements.

For example, all substantial domains maintained commercial operations in Osaka, the national market, in order to sell rice and other commodities so as to raise the cash required by the alternate attendance system. This standardization did much to reduce regional differences and potential antagonisms throughout the Edo period.

Like the shogunate, the daimyo had a high interest in pacifying and controlling their subjects and the samuraiin general. During the late 16th Century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi disarmed the peasants through a series of sword hunts with the intention of reducing their contribution to turmoil and to pin them to agricultural activity alone. In the years after 1588, samurai were progressively removed from their independent fiefs in the countryside and brought into the daimyos’ castle towns to live. The samurai became separated from the peasantry both in social role and place of residence.

Fukuzawa Yukichi’s “Datsua ron”
“Datsu-A Ron” (Japanese Kyūjitai: 脫亞論, Shinjitai: 脱亜論) was an editorial published in the Japanese newspaper Jiji Shimpo on March 16, 1885 arguing that Meiji Japan should abandon the conservative governments of Qing China and Joseon Korea and align itself with the West. The title “Datsu-A Ron” has been translated in a variety of ways, including “Good-bye Asia,” “De-Asianization,” “Shedding Asia,” and “Leaving Asia.”
It was written anonymously, probably by author and educator Fukuzawa Yukichi. The editorial was included in the second volume of Fukuzawa’s complete works in 1933, and in 1996, Shinya Ida used forensic linguistic methods to analyze “Datsu-A Ron” and concluded the writer was Yoshio Takahashi or Fukuzawa.[1]
The Imperial Rescript on Education
The Imperial Rescript on Education (教育ニ関スル勅語 Kyōiku ni Kansuru Chokugo?) was signed by Emperor Meiji of Japan on 30 October 1890 to articulate government policy on the guiding principles of education on the Empire of Japan. The 315 character document was read aloud at all important school events, and students were required to study and memorize the text. Following the Meiji Restoration, the leadership of the Meiji government felt the need to emphasize the common goals of rapid modernization (westernization) with support and legitimization of the political system centered on the imperial institution. In the 1870s and 1880s, Motoda Nagazane and other conservatives pushed for a revival of the principles of Confucianism as a guide for education and public morality; however, Inoue Kowashi and other proponents of the ‘modernization’ of Japan felt that this would encourage a return to the old feudal order, and pushed for an “emperor-centered” philosophy. Prime Minister Yamagata Aritomo authorized the drafting of the Rescript, which was a compromise written largely by Inoue Kowashi with input from Motoda Nagazane and others.
After it was issued, the Rescript was distributed to all schools in the country, together with a portrait of Emperor Meiji.
Taro Memorandum
The Taft-Katsura Agreement (Japanese: 桂・タフト協定 Hepburn: Katsura-Tafuto Kyōtei?, also known as the Taft Katsura Memorandum) was a 1905 discussion (not an agreement) between senior leaders of Japan and the United States regarding the positions of the two nations in greater East Asian affairs, especially regarding the status of Korea and Philippines in the aftermath of Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War. It was not an “agreement” and did not set out any new policies, but a memorandum. The memorandum was not classified as a secret but no scholar noticed it in the archives until 1924.
The discussions were between United States Secretary of War William Howard Taft and Prime Minister of Japan (Count) Katsura Tarō on 27 July 1905. The Japanese leader stated Japan’s reasons for its making a protectorate of Korea. He repeated that Japan had no interest in the Philippines.[1] The US had acquired the Philippines following its victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898. In 1924, Tyler Dennett was the first scholar to see the document; he described it as containing “the text of perhaps the most remarkable ‘executive agreement’ in the history of the foreign relations of the United States”.[2] The consensus of historians is that Dennett greatly exaggerated the importance of a routine discussion that changed nothing and set no new policies. Historians pointed out there was no formal agreement on anything new.[1] The word “agreement” in the documents merely means the two sides agreed that the English and Japanese versions of the meeting notes both accurately covered the substance of the conversations.[3] President Theodore Roosevelt later agreed that War Secretary Taft had correctly stated the American position.[2]
When Dennett first discovered the notes he assumed they indicated a highly significant “secret pact” between the US and Japan in creating a basis agreement whereby the two formerly isolationist nations became world powers.[2] The conversations regarded the extent of the spheres of influence of Japan and the United States, and maintaining peace between them, in the event of victory of Japan over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.
Some Korean historians have assumed that, in the discussions, the United States recognized Japan’s sphere of influence in Korea; in exchange, Japan recognized the United States’ sphere of influence in the Philippines. However, American historians examining official records report no agreement was ever made—the two men discussed current events but came to no new policy or agreement. They both restated the well-known official policies of their own governments. Indeed, Taft was very careful to indicate these were his private opinions, and he was not an official representative of the U.S. government (Taft was Secretary of War, not Secretary of State).[1][4]
Yorozu Choho
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