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HIST 218 - Chapter Seven: Japan from Tokugawa to Meiji.docx

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McGill University
HIST 218
Gavin Walker

Chapter Seven: Japan from Tokugawa to Meiji (1787-1873) Similar to themes of last chapter: internal crisis and Western intrusion. Internal stresses in Tokugawa system were evident even before external challenges. However, the dynamism of these forces helped Japan to develop into a modern country. The Bakufu 1787-1841 Kansei Reforms (1789-1791) - encouraged return to simpler times - reform against corruption - improve public services in Edo - mandated lower prices for rice - restricted merchant guilds - cancelled samurai loans - rent control - freeze foreign policy; reduce contact with Dutch and proposed leaving Hokkaido undeveloped to serve as buffer to foreign intervention - sought „men of ability‟ - made Neo-Confucianism official doctrine - hardening of censorship - by 1800 budget showed small deficit - government could not borrow, because there is no system of deficit financing Economy and Society - major differences between localities in economy and society Samurai - main losers - burdened daimyos usually resorted to cutting samurai stipends - some married daughters of wealthy merchants - most lived in desperation and poverty - severe dissatisfaction with discrepancy between high theoretical status and impoverished reality - harboured deep resentment against corruption in bureaucracy --------------------- - merchants flourished - many peasants left fields in hope of better life in industry - proliferation of religious leaders and cults (Fujiko, etc.) - increased peasant uprisings during famines - gap between rich and poor reached point where interests too different for village to speak with single voice Reforms Took place at both domains and centre. Bakufu - large doses of economic retrenchment, bureaucratic reform, and moral rearmament - Mizuno Tadakuni: recoinage, forced loans, dismissal of officials to reduce costs, and sumptuary laws intended to preserve morals and save money - harsher censorship - forced peasants back to land - bakufu control around Edo and Osaka; too ambitious and could not be carried out - merchant monopolies broken to fight inflation Han - reform of government machinery - stipends and other costs were cut - promoted some merchants who assisted in community to samurai status - encouraged agriculture; changed commercial practices - most reforms did not take hold, though this had two exceptions: Satsuma - because their holdings were reduced following Tokugawa supremacy, they were left with high samurai-to-land ratio - this led to class of samurai that worked the land - no peasant uprisings experienced - less erosion of samurai values - special family ties with court in Kyoto - built up finances through sugar monopoly, imported from Ryukyu, a Satsuma dependency - Ryukyu also acted as source of Chinese goods Choshu - similar to Satsuma in that they were far from centre, suffered from Tokugawa supremacy, and harboured anti-Tokugawa traditions - also had family ties to Kyoto court - built up finances through rigorous cost-cutting - reformed land tax - abolished most monopolies, which were not profitable for either government nor people Reforms in both Choshu and Satsuma required strong leadership, as they ran contrary to interest of merchants. Both raised young samurai of lower/middle rank, who tended to be more innovative and energetic. This intra-samurai division also led to antagonism and turbulence. The success of reforms in these peripheral regions suggests it‟s easier to enact reforms here than in the centre, where economic changes most advanced and political pressures far greater. These two hans will play crucial role in eventual overthrow of Tokugawa. Intellectual Currents - Shinto Revivalists - School of National Learning - Mito school (centrality of emperor) - Dutch Learning All ate at foundations of Tokugawa rule. Yamagata Banto - Osaka financiers - based ideas on astronomy; viewed world that allowed for achievements to occur anywhere - great regard for utility and trust - recommended making Japanese more accessible by using only phonetic kana script; eliminating all Chinese characteristics Mito School - emphasized that emperor ruled by virtue of unique descent - shogun‟s legitimacy came from mandate received from emperor Dutch Learning - interest in Western sciences (astronomy, medicine, mathematics) - „Eastern ethics, Western science,‟ - strategy of compartmentalization: basic framework left intact, with native and foreign traditions assigned to different functions Opening of Japan - China opened as result of opium wars - Japan opened as result of armed mission from Commodore Matthew C. Perry - resulting treaties undermined Tokugawa seclusion, which then undermined entire Tokugawa system - prior to 1853, Japan was regarded by Europe as poor and remote - China‟s defeat and opening of new ports increased pressure on Japan - lessons of Chinese weakness and Western strength not lost on Japanese observers - Japanese received information from Dutch Learning scholars, the Dutch at Nagasaki, and from China - were making guns using Western methods by 1840s - with US acquisition of California in 1848, Japan became a valuable fueling stop for ships traveling to Shanghai - thus US, rather than Britain or Russia, whose interests remained marginal, went first - Perry reaches Japan in July 1853; forced Japanese to accept letter from American president; would return for answer the following spring - Tokugawa, facing unmatchable American fleet, solicited opinion of daimyo - miscalculation: instead of support, bakufu received divided/unhelpful advice - seriously undermined Tokugawa exclusive right to determine foreign policy - Perry returns February 1854; initial treaty signed that opened Shimoda and Hakodate to ships seeking provisions; US allowed consul to Japan - treaties with Britain and France followed in 1855; Dutch and Russians negotiated broader agreements in 1857 - more treaties followed - at end, Japan‟s position was essentially that of China under unequal treaty system - foreigners given extraterritoriality; Japan lost tariff autonomy; limited to relatively low import duties; most-favoured-nation treatment obliged Japan to extend concessions to all Domestic Politics - each concession by bakufu gave ammunition to domestic enemies - bakufu itself divided by factions - death of shogun in 1858 led to secession crisis: - one was boy; strongest claim by descent; backed by house daimyo - other was Tokugawa Yoshinobu; seen as threat to continued control over shogunate by house daimyo - bakufu officials inclined to make concessions to foreigners - great lords demanded vigorous defence policy; powerful hans envisioned important roles in building up military strength - thus, strong foreign policy consistent with han desire to strengthen own domain - crisis of 1858 resolved when Ii Naosuke took charge of bakufu - signed US treaty without imperial approval; reasserted bakufu power; purged enemies; punished court nobles and MIto loyalists - Ii assassinated by group of samurai, who were advocates of Sonno (“Revere the Emperor”) and Joi (“Expel the Barbarians”) Sonno Joi - Mito home to emperor-centric school of historiography and political thought - advocated strong military policy to expel barbarians Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859) - son of low-ranking Choshu samurai - influenced by bushido; military science; Confucianism; the West - tried to stow away on Perry‟s ships - caught; started school in Choshu - condemned bakufu for handling of foreign proble
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