This week, we take a look at the new balance of power now that the Tokugawa are gone. Who’s calling the shots? What do they want? And most importantly of all, now that the war is over, will we all be resolving our differences with calm discussion like a bunch of grownups?
Listen to the episode here.
Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History, Vol. II.
Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.
Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.
Saigo Takamori in a French-inspired military uniform. Saigo’s status as a war hero made him possibly the most widely known and respected of the Meiji leaders.
Okubo Toshimichi some time during the 1860s. Okubo functionally ran Satsuma after 1868 alongside Saigo, but his ideas were far more in line with the technocrats in Choshu than with Saigo’s traditionalism.
Itagaki Taisuke was the highest ranking loyalist left in Tosa after the death of Sakamoto Ryoma. He served as Tosa’s military liason to the loyalists during the Boshin War.
Okuma Shigenobu of Hizen will become one of Japan’s leading liberals, though his advocacy for the ideas of the French Revolution was tempered by his preference for power, position, and the good things in life (like this swag jacket).
Eto Shimpei of Hizen was a traditionalist in the mold of Saigo Takamori. That’s really all you need to know about him; think Saigo but without the street cred and you’re more or less there.
The development of Hokkaido was a priority for Meiji leaders who wanted to secure the island against Russian aggression. Huge numbers of samurai, mostly from Tokugawa-aligned families, were moved north to the island with offers of land grants. Groups like this one discovered up on their arrival that the work was difficult, dangerous, and that more often than not these development projects would fail. In the end, however, they did secure the island for Japan, and Russia never made a serious attempt to claim it.