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Meiji Restoration

The Meiji Restoration (明治維新; Meiji Isshin) describes a chain of events that led to a change in political power and the social structure of Japan; it occurred from 1866 to 1869, a period of 4 years that transverses both the late Edo (often called Late Tokugawa shogunate) and beginning Meiji Era.

The formation in 1866 of the Satcho Alliance[?] between Saigo Takamori[?], the leader of the Satsuma domain, and Kido Takayoshi, the leader of the Choshu domain, marks the beginning of the Meiji restoration. These two leaders supported the emperor and were brought together by Ryoma Sakamoto[?] for the purpose of taking on the Tokugawa Shogunate (bakufu) which effectively ruled the country in the hope of restoring the emperor to power.

The Tokugawa bakufu came to an official end on November 9th, 1867 with the resignation of the 15th Tokugawa Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the "restoration" (Taisei Houkan) of imperial rule.

Shortly thereafter in January 1868, the Boshin War[?] (War of the Year of the Dragon) started with the Battle of Toba Fushimi with the defeat of the old shogunate's army by the army of the new government, the armies of Choshu and Satsuma. In this year, the Meiji Era also began with 14-year-old Mutsuhito succeding his father, Emperor Komei, and taking the title Meiji (明治) meaning "enlightened rule". Shortly thereafter, the Meiji emperor signed the Five Charter Oath.

The 16 month Boshin War ended in early 1869 with the siege of Hakodate, Hokkaido. The defeat of the armies of the former shogun (led by Hijikata Toshizo) marked the end of the Meiji Restoration; all defiance to the emperor and his rule ended.

The Meiji Restoration, as the revolution came to be known, was ostensibly brought about to restore the emperor's powers from the previous regime. This is not in fact true. The power simply changed hands from the Tokugawa Shogun to a new oligarchy of the daimyo who defeated him. These oligarchs were mostly from the Satsuma province (Okubo Toshimichi and Saigo Takamori[?]), and the Choshu province (Ito Hirobumi, Yamagata Aritomo, and Kido Koin[?].)


(明治) These were leading figures in the Meiji Restoration when the Japanese emperors retook power from the Tokugawa shoguns. Some of them went on to become Prime Ministers of Japan.

1 Okubo Toshimichi (1830-1878)
2 Kido Takayoshi (1833-1877)
3 Saigo Takamori[?] (1827-1877)
4 Iwakura Tomomi[?] (1825-1883)
5 Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909)
6 Kuroda Kiyotaka (1840-1900)
7 Matsukata Masayoshi (1835-1924)
8 Oyama Iwao (1842-1916)
9 Saigo Tsugumichi[?] (1843-1902)
10 Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922)
11 Inoue Kaoru[?] (1835-1915)
12 Saionji Kinmochi[?] (1849-1940)

See also: shogun -- bakufu -- Cloistered rule -- History of Japan -- Lists of incumbents -- Meiji-era leaders

Reference and further reading The names of the Meiji Oligarchists were taken from: Murphey, Rhoades. East Asia: A New History. Addison Wesley Longman, New York 1997.

For more, see a paper I wrote on the Japanese industrialization process, here: (http://www.simons-rock.edu/~seckstu/JapanIndus ). My bibliography got lost somewhere along the way, so sources aren't cited. I don't know if that's illegal or not. There aren't any quotes, I know that. Well if it is illegal, then feel free to remove the link. "Link Deleted as of March 3, 2003"

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