Quest for Japan • Marco Polo wrote a book “The Description of the World” while in prison in 1298 after being caught in the middle of the Venetian-Genoese conflict. • This book was the basis for Columbus’ quest for “Zipangu” which led him to America instead. • Commodore Perry, in 1853, sought to complete Columbus’ interrupted voyage. The Perry Expedition is probably of equal importance to the history of the world.
Matthew Calbraith Perry • Commodore Perry’s naval career spanned nearly 50 years. He first went to sea at the age of 15, his first command was the Shark that sailed to Africa to help stop the transatlantic slave trade. • Perry had been studying Japanese history and had determined that Japan’s isolation was due to a set of peculiar circumstances that had long since passed and was, in fact, in direct opposition to what historically had been the temperament of Japan.
Landing in Japan • Edo was just 27 miles up the bay from Uraga. The city was in an uproar over the reported “foreign invasion”. • Knowing that the Japanese loved ceremony, Perry was determined to either set all ceremony aside or to outdo the Japanese at their own game. • He refused to give audience to any officials of inferior rank. When dignitaries suggested he go to Nagasaki, he refused.
Audience with the ShŌgun • Perry demanded an audience with “the Emperor”, as he called the ShŌgun, Ieyoshi, the 12th of his line. He marched, with great ceremony, to a hall which had been erected for their meeting. • He was flanked by two black body guards and preceded by two boys carrying Perry’s credentials as well as a letter from President Fillmore.
Letter from the President • “Our steamships, in crossing the ocean, burn a great deal of coal, and it is not convenient to bring it all the way from America. We request your Imperial Majesty to appoint a convenient port where our vessels may stop for this purpose. • The letter went on to request that any Americans shipwrecked on Japanese soil be returned unharmed.
“I’ll Be Back” • Perry stayed only 8 days and then left for China, promising to return the following spring for an answer. Before he left, Perry sailed up the bay to Edo with his “four black ships of evil mien”. • Ieyoshi fell ill following his encounter with Perry and died 5 days after he left, leaving his son Iesada as 13th ShŌgun. It is said by some that Iesada was mentally unfit to be ShŌgun.
Divided Council • The new ShŌgun was unsure what to do next, so he sent a copy of the letter to the 276 daimyŌs to ask for advice. • A majority of them, lead by the house of Mito, urged action. “Is not the present an auspicious moment to quicken the sinews of war?”, they said. • A minority, lead by Baron Ii, urged him to trade with America in order to acquire naval skills and weapons to build up the navy and fortify the coasts.
DaimyŌ of Mito Ii Naosuke
Perry’s Return • The minority view held out, with the stipulation that Christianity did not accompany the foreign trade. • Perry returned in February of 1854, this time with 10 ships. On March 31, Japan signed their first treaty every with the West. • Perry brought the following gifts to the ShŌgun: a sewing machine, a telegraph outfit, and a miniature locomotive. His officials took turns riding the latter, which was barely large enough to carry children.
A Time of Unrest • An earthquake hit Edo the year after the Perry treaty was signed which killed about 15,000 people. Many took this as a punishment from the gods. • A 2nd treaty was signed in 1858 to clarify some of the material in the 1st. This was signed by the ShŌgun and by Ii, but the Emperor wasn’t even consulted. • The daimyŌof Mito denounced the Tokugawa line for their insubordination and had Ii assassinated.
Problems with the British • The slaying of a British man named Richardson had far-reaching effects. • This Shanghai merchant rode a horse up to the daimyŌ of Satsuma’s procession as he was traveling home from Edo, and was instantly slain. • The British dispatched a squadron of warships to Kagoshima who sunk 3 steam boats the daimyŌ had purchased, dismantled his shore batteries, and set fire to the city.
Other Problems with Foreigners • Another powerful daimyŌ was the ruler of ChŌshū. He had the habit of firing upon American, French, and Dutch ships as they passed through the strait of Shimonoseki. These powers retaliated, with the help of England. • Both daimyŌs, instead of turning against these foreign powers, recognized the need to acquire the foreigners’ equipment and skill in order to contend with them. They urged the emperor to trade with and to learn from these foreign powers.
The Boy Emperor • The emperor died in 1867, four years after the Kagoshima and Shimonoseki affairs. • A 15 year-old emperor, Emperor Meiji, assumed the throne. He was backed by the powerful Sat-ChŌ clan, who called themselves “The Loyal Army”, and duly surrounded his palace. This level of guard would normally have brought the emperor in direct conflict with Keiki, the 15th ShŌgun of his line, but the latter resigned in a surprise move.
The ShŌgun’s Letter: Though I fill the same office (as Ieyasu), almost all the acts of my administration are imperfect, and I acknowledge with shame that the present unsatisfactory situation is due to my shortcomings and incompetence. Now that foreign intercourse becomes daily more extensive, unless the government be directed from one central authority the foundations of the State will fall to pieces. I believe it my highest duty to give up entirely my rule over this land.
War of Restoration • Keiki soon realized that the Sat-ChŌ clan did not intend to restore all authority to the emperor, he advanced his troops against the “Loyal Army”. • He was soon defeated and forced to retreat to Edo. Eventually, he had to surrender his fortress there and move to Shizuoka, where his family was from. • A “War of Restoration” soon followed, where supporters of the Tokugawa line tried to set up a variety of leaders in opposition to the new emperor.
Competition for the Throne • First, the Lord-Abbot of a Buddhist monastery was set up as “Eastern Emperor” in Edo, but this didn’t last. • Next, Admiral Enomoto tried to establish a republic in Yezo. Since the admiral had control of all of the war-ships in Japan, he was the last to surrender to the Sat-ChŌs. To appease the resistance, they appointed him to an office in the new government.
Westernization • In 1868, the Sat-ChŌs announced that the emperor would come out of seclusion and move his capital to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo. The country was shocked at this bold move. • In another shocking move, all foreign ministers were invited to an imperial audience. Initially, the British envoy was attacked and kept from their meeting, but the next day they were able to make it. • The emperor then issued an edict protecting all foreigners and prescribing death for any who would molest them.
Ito Hirobumi Ito was the son of a lower class samurai from Hikari. He was chosen by the daimyŌ of ChŌshū to study in London in order to learn Western ways, he was to become one of the main molders of modern Japan. He is quoted as saying: “Japan is anxious to press forward. The red disc in the center of our national flag…the emblem of the rising son, (is) symbolic of the awakening of Japan, and
End of Feudal System of her wish to be found ever moving onward and upward amid the enlightened nations of the world” • Ito authored a document in 1869 that abolished the feudal system. In it, the daimyŌs, agreed to give up rights to their lands, possessions, and followers to the emperor and to allow him to make all law-making decisions. • The emperor accepted this proposal, but promised not to rule in the spirit of absolutism. Ito became his closest and most trusted advisor.
New Missions • As suspected, among the first foreigners to come to the reopened Japan were missionaries. A cathedral was dedicated in Yokohama in 1862, followed by one in Nagasaki (dedicated to the 26 Martyrs) in 1865. • Within a month, several thousand Christians had come forward who had kept the faith during the long years of persecution in what is known as “The Finding of the Christians”.
Guido Verbeck One missionary who arrived in 1859 was a Dutch-American named Guido Verbeck. Guido had a “liberal arts” education that included languages, philosophy and science. He thus laid the foundation for the Imperial University and translated classic works concerning politics and international relations into Japanese. He suggested that an embassy be sent around the world in 1872 that could pick and choose the best ideas from every nation.
Eclectic Mix of Influence • Because of their unique approach to modernization, Japan ended up with a mixture of influences: • France- army tactics and law codes • England- navy, lighthouses, railways & telegraphs • U.S.- postal service, agriculture & education • Italy- art • Germany- local government, medicine, training army officers
German Influence • Germany also served as a model for the new national constitution. Although the constitutions of the other countries were studied, Ito, which lead the special commission was impressed by the German system. • However, instead of adopting them outright, German principles were superimposed on the Chinese foundation responsible for Japan’s 1st transformation. • Japan’s constitution was put into effect on February 11, 1889.
Prime Minister Ito • Under the constitution, Japan became a constitutional monarchy, lead by a Prime Minister that is named by the emperor. • This restored the dualism that had existed in Japan for so long, with the PM taking the place of the ShŌgun. Ito was appointed the 1st PM of Japan. • One thing that had definitely changed was, with the abolishment of the feudal system, 29 million people had been given a political status as free subjects of the emperor.
Shinto vs. Buddhism • The Meiji government had ridden into power during a Shinto revival and soon supported this religion at the expense of Buddhism. • Buddhist priests were stripped of their privileges and ousted from Shinto shrines they had inhabited for 1000 years. • The morning the constitution took affect, the Minister of Education was stabbed to death because he had lifted a Shinto curtain with his walking stick to see into the courtyard.
Modernized Military • A foundation for national progress was laid by the introduction of taxation and a system of compulsory military service. • Samurai, like the daimyŌ, became obsolete. Sword-wearing became optional, and then prohibited, as the modern army assumed their former duties. • Their source of income dried up as well, where before they were paid in bags of rice by the daimyŌ, now they were issued government bonds as pensions.
Korea’s Insult • Samurai discontent came to a head in 1873 when Korea cut off all relations with Japan and called it “a renegade from the civilization of the Orient”. • Four members of the emperor’s cabinet resigned in protest that the government did not retaliate and one of them headed a local rebellion that was speedily crushed. • Another, General Saigo of Satsuma, was more successful in his protest.
Satsuma Rebellion • Saigo withdrew to Satsuma and surrounded himself with 40,000 samurai, armed with rifles and field-guns, in addition to their swords. • The Tokyo government tried to appease the group by forcing Korea to sign a treaty after it fired on Japanese ships and making China pay Japan for misuse of Formosa as well as give up rule in the Ryukyu Islands. • This failed, so 66,000 soldiers fought the samurai for 8 months, until their leaders had fallen.
Different Means of Opposition • With outright rebellion ruled out for many, remaining samurai turned to two very Western means of opposition to the government: political parties and the press. • Itagaki of Tosa started the Seiyukai party which is now conservative and has its strength in rural areas. Okuma of Hizen started the Kenseikai party, which is liberal and has its strength in urban areas.
Founding Universities • Okuma also started a university in Tokyo, Waseda U., to help produce Japanese journalists. Literary weapons were now used in attacks on the government. • Fukuzawa was a scholar who founded Keio University, known for its business school. He wrote a book called “The Condition of the West” which has been summarized by the slogan “Young men, poverty and ignorance are hobbling your country- master Western science, make money, free her!”
Tsuda University Ume Tsuda was sent to the U.S. when she was 7 by the Empress of Japan, along with 5 other girls, to learn English and act as an interpreter. She attended Bryn Mawr College learning not only English but democratic principles as well. Upon her return, she was put in charge of a school for noblewomen and given a title of nobility but she gave these up in order to found her school to teach English to girls of all social classes. Tsuda U. soon became the main source of English teachers in Japan.
Swift Change • Within one decade, from 1860-1870, Japan had gone from a medieval feudal society to a thoroughly modernized one. • Foreign goods were for sale throughout the country to people of all social classes. Bookstores stocked with French and English books abounded. • Steamer, stage coach, and telegraph lines connected Yokohama and Tokyo, and a railroad was being build to Osaka. • The Mitsubishi Steamship Company became one of the first corporations in Japan.
More Changes • Western medicine had largely replaced the old Chinese system, vaccination against common diseases was introduced. Foreign physicians were employed in hospitals and medical colleges. • The introduction of meat-eating was further proof that Buddhism was starting to lose hold. • The European calendar was accepted, with Sunday being observed as a holiday. Christianity, once shunned, was now embraced with a passion.
Problems in Korea • When riots in Korea were quelled by the Japanese, China declared that it didn’t want the peninsula to meet the fate of the Ryukyu islands, and sent their own troops. • A treaty was signed in 1885 where both countries agreed to assume a joint protectorate over Korea, which means “Land of the Morning Calm”, and that neither would send troops there without consulting the other.
Inequitable Treaties • Despite the changes, Western countries refused to revise their treaties with Japan. • According to original treaties, Japan could not impose more than a 5% tax on imports. In addition, any American or European that violated Japanese laws could not be tried by the Japanese, but in the nearest consular court. • In 1889, when diplomats failed to revise these treaties, there was a backlash against the West.
Okuma’s Close Call • During this backlash, Okuma lost a leg to a would-be assassin’s bomb. This, despite the fact that he was working on revising the treaties the moment he was attacked. • Okuma was enamored with the West but mainly as a means to advance Japan’s nationalistic tendencies, he had once declared that Japan, “as a matter of necessity must become a great power on the Asiatic continent”.
War with China • In 1894, riots had broken out in Korea, bringing it to the brink of civil war. Both parties ignored their previous treaty and rushed troops into the country. • Passions ran high and Japanese warships fired upon Chinese transports. • It was China who declared war on Japan saying, “the pygmies of Japan have on the other hand broken all the laws of nations and treaties, which it passes Our patience to bear with…hasten with all speed to rout the pygmies out of their lairs”.
Quality vs. Quantity • Ito replied to this declaration with Japan’s newly modernized army and navy. Although vastly outnumbered, it took Japan 7 months to beat China. • When Li Hung Chang, the Chinese general, came to Shimonoseki to sue for peace, he was attacked by a rogue warrior, scarring his features for life. • Peace was arranged quickly and equitably by Japanese leaders who were anxious about the opinion of the West.
New Treaties • China now agreed to Korea’s complete independence, and ceded Pescadores and Formosa to Japan. Japan was also allowed to lease the Liaotung Peninsula, thereby gaining a foothold on the Asian mainland. • Following the war, Western countries were much more inclined to revise their treaties with Japan, 7 months of warfare had accomplished more than 40 years of diplomatic wrangling.
An Elite Club An American clergyman summed it up after the war: All hail, Japan! We seven, the Sovereign Powers, Greet thee compeer; inscrol thy name with ours;- United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, Austro-Hungary, and Italy. Henceforth the world-estate we share with thee, Japan the Great!
Dividing Chinese Territory • No sooner had Japan acquired the Liaotung Peninsula that they were forced by Russia, Germany, and France to give it back. This was for “the preservation of the integrity of China”, they said. • Then, each of these countries, in turn, acquired their own foothold in China. • Russia took control of northern Manchuria. • Germany seized the Shantung Peninsula. • France took Cochin-China in the south.
Fate of China • China followed Japan’s example following the war. The emperor introduced the “Hundred Days” reforms in 1898. • This was not enough, for in 1904, Sun Yat-sen, who had studied in Japan during his youth, published his manifesto and started an association to spread his progressive ideas. This alarmed the Empress who hoped to appease the revolutionists by sending an envoy to foreign countries, much like Japan had.
Chinese Republic • When the mission returned and advised a setting up of a constitutional government under imperial protection, the revolutionists denounced the idea as a trick of the Manchus. • In 1911, the Chinese Republic was proclaimed, with Sun Yat-sen as provisional president. He soon stepped down and Yuan Shi-kai became president.
Egging Them On • In 1902, Japan made an alliance with England, the first between an Asiatic and European country on terms of national equality. • This angered Kaiser Wilhelm, who hated the English. He spent 10 years trying to get Russia to go to war with Japan. Wilhelm wanted Russia out of Germany’s way and he hoped a war with Japan would distract them from Europe.
War with Russia • After exhausting diplomatic resources, Japan went to war with Russia. • Learning that France and Germany intended to come to Russian aid, American President Teddy Roosevelt informed them that, if they did, America would fight on the side of Japan. He had concluded that a Japanese victory would serve American interests better than a Russian one. • After 16 months of fighting, Japan secretly asked America to intervene and end the war.