Late Tokugawa shogunate

From Academic Kids

The late Tokugawa shogunate or last shogun (幕末; Bakumatsu) is the period between 1853 and 1867 during which Japan ended its isolationist foreign policy called sakoku and modernized from a feudal shogunate to the Meiji government. It is at end of the Edo period and preceded the Meiji era. The major ideological/political factions during this period were divided into the pro-imperialist Ishin Shishi (nationalist patriots) and the shogunate forces, including the elite Shinsengumi (newly selected corps) swordsmen. Although these two groups were the most visible powers, many other factions attempted to use the chaos of Bakumatsu to seize personal power. The turning point of the Bakumatsu was during the Boshin War and the Battle of Toba Fushimi. The Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu decided to deceive his own men and sailed for Edo from Osaka Bay. That was the main reason for the imperial army's victory.


Contents

End of seclusion

Commodore .
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Commodore Matthew C. Perry.

When Cmdre Matthew C. Perry's four-ship squadron appeared in Edo Bay in July 1853, the bakufu was thrown into turmoil. The chairman of the senior councillors, Abe Masahiro (1819–1857), was responsible for dealing with the Americans. Having no precedent to manage this threat to national security, Abe tried to balance the desires of the senior councillors to compromise with the foreigners, of the emperor who wanted to keep the foreigners out, and of the daimyo who wanted to go to war. Lacking consensus, Abe decided to compromise by accepting Perry's demands for opening Japan to foreign trade while also making military preparations. In March 1854, the Treaty of Peace and Amity (or Treaty of Kanagawa) opened two ports to American ships seeking provisions, guaranteed good treatment to shipwrecked American sailors, and allowed a United States consul to take up residence in Shimoda, a seaport on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Edo. A commercial treaty, opening still more areas to American trade, was forced on the bakufu five years later.

The resulting damage to the bakufu was significant. Debate over government policy was unusual and had engendered public criticism of the bakufu. In the hope of enlisting the support of new allies, Abe, to the consternation of the fudai, had consulted with the shinpan and tozama daimyo, further undermining the already weakened bakufu. In the Ansei Reform (1854–1856), Abe then tried to strengthen the regime by ordering Dutch warships and armaments from the Netherlands and building new port defenses. In 1855 a naval training school with Dutch instructors was set up at Nagasaki, and a Western-style military school was established at Edo; by the next year, the government was translating Western books. Opposition to Abe increased within fudai circles, which opposed opening bakufu councils to tozama daimyo, and he was replaced in 1855 as chairman of the senior councillors by Hotta Masayoshi (1810–1864).

At the head of the dissident faction was Tokugawa Nariaki, who had long embraced a militant loyalty to the emperor along with antiforeign sentiments, and who had been put in charge of national defense in 1854. The Mito school—based on neo-Confucian and Shinto principles—had as its goal the restoration of the imperial institution, the turning back of the West, and the founding of a world empire under the divine Yamato Dynasty.

In the final years of the Tokugawa, foreign contacts increased as more concessions were granted. The new treaty with the United States in 1859 allowed more ports to be opened to diplomatic representatives, unsupervised trade at four additional ports, and foreign residences in Osaka and Edo. It also embodied the concept of extraterritoriality (foreigners were subject to the laws of their own countries but not to Japanese law). Hotta lost the support of key daimyo, and when Tokugawa Nariaki opposed the new treaty, Hotta sought imperial sanction. The court officials, perceiving the weakness of the bakufu, rejected Hotta's request and thus suddenly embroiled Kyoto and the emperor in Japan's internal politics for the first time in many centuries. When the shogun died without an heir, Nariaki appealed to the court for support of his own son, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (or Keiki), for shogun, a candidate favored by the shinpan and tozama daimyo. The fudai won the power struggle, however, installing Tokugawa Yoshitomi, arresting Nariaki and Keiki, executing Yoshida Shoin (1830–1859, a leading sonnō-jōi intellectual who had opposed the American treaty and plotted a revolution against the bakufu), and signing treaties with the United States and five other nations, thus ending more than 200 years of exclusion.

Bakumatsu modernization and conflicts

During the last years of the bakufu, or bakumatsu, the bakufu took strong measure to try to reassert its dominance, although its involvement with modernization and foreign powers was to make it a target of anti-Western sentiment throughout the country.

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Kanrinmaru.jpg
Kanrin Maru, Japan's first screw-driven steam warship, 1855.

The army and the navy were modernized. A naval training school was established in Nagasaki in 1855. Naval students were sent to study in Western naval schools for several years, starting a tradition of foreign-educated future leaders, such as Admiral Enomoto. French naval engineers were hired to build naval arsenals, such as Yokosuka and Nagasaki. By the end of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867, the Japanese navy of the shogun already possessed eight western-style steam warships around the flagship Kaiyō Maru, which were used against pro-imperial forces during the Boshin war, under the command of Admiral Enomoto. A French military mission was established to help modernize the armies of the bakufu.

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TokugawaYoshinobu.JPG
Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Shogun, in French military uniform, c.1867

Revering the emperor as a symbol of unity, extremists wrought violence and death against the Bakufu and Han authorities and foreigners. Foreign naval retaliation in the Anglo-Satsuma War led to still another concessionary commercial treaty in 1865, but Yoshitomi was unable to enforce the Western treaties. A bakufu army was defeated when it was sent to crush dissent in the han of Satsuma and Choshu in 1866. Finally, in 1867, the emperor died and was succeeded by his minor son Mutsuhito.

Keiki reluctantly became head of the Tokugawa house and shogun. He tried to reorganize the government under the emperor while preserving the shogun's leadership role. Fearing the growing power of the Satsuma and Choshu daimyo, other daimyo called for returning the shogun's political power to the emperor and a council of daimyo chaired by the former Tokugawa shogun. Keiki accepted the plan in late 1867 and resigned, announcing an "imperial restoration". The Satsuma, Choshu, and other han leaders and radical courtiers, however, rebelled, seized the imperial palace, and announced their own restoration on January 3, 1868.

Following the Boshin war (1868–1869), the bakufu was abolished, and Keiki was reduced to the ranks of the common daimyo. Resistance continued in the North throughout 1868, and the bakufu naval forces under Admiral Enomoto Takeaki continued to hold out for another six months in Hokkaido, where they founded the short-lived Republic of Ezo.

See also:

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Bakumatu.png


Prominent figures:

Less known figures of the time:

Foreign observer:

International relations:

External links

ja:幕末

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