HIST 218 Chapter Notes -Unequal Treaty, Military Science, Meiji Oligarchy

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4 Feb 2013
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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
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- merchants flourished
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- 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
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- 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
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