This week, we explore the beginnings of opposition against the bakufu. The Harris Treaty will prove deeply divisive, and before long two factions of daimyo will develop opposing and supporting it. Locked in a stalemate, the two sides turn to a place that had been isolated from politics for nearly 1000 years: the imperial court and its young emperor Komei in Kyoto.
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The Meiji Restoration
Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.
Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.
Hotta Masayoshi, as head of the roju, negotiated the treaty with American consul-general Townsend Harris. However, thanks to the meddling of Shimazu Nariakira and Tokugawa Nariaki, the treaty was condemned by the Emperor. Hotta was forced to resign in disgrace.
Caught in the middle when politics came to Kyoto in 1858 was young Emperor Komei. Komei was generally sympathetic to anti-treaty ideas, but also politically naive and inexperienced.
Young Tokugawa Iemochi, the favorite of the fudai daimyo, became the new shogun in 1858 with the help of Hotta Masayoshi. Pliant to his advisors, Iemochi will be a relative nonentity for his time in office.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu was the favorite for the position of shogun among the tozama and shimpan daimyo in 1858; as a bright 20 year old in the prime of his life, he was felt to be far preferable to the 12 year old Iemochi. He would lose out this time, but this is not the last we will see of young Yoshinobu.