Politics and Society in Japan's Meiji Restoration A Brief History with Documents

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2016-12-30
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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In the history of nineteenth-century imperialism, Japan is unique among non-western countries for its ability to fend off foreign domination. In this volume, Anne Walthall and M. William Steele examine how the tumultuous events happening inside Japan in the early nineteenth century contributed to this resiliency against western supremacy. The Introduction familiarizes students with the political and social conditions that contributed to Japan's development in the 1800s and details the events and causes of the Meiji Restoration, known among historians today as the Meiji revolution. The documents, some translated here for the first time, provide students with a range of perspectives on how Japanese people in the nineteenth century thought and acted in dealing with foreign pressure and domestic discord. Document headnotes, a chronology, questions for consideration, maps, and a bibliography all enrich students' understanding of Japan on the brink of modernity.

Author Biography

Anne Walthall (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is a professor emerita of history at University of California, Irvine, where she taught courses on Early Modern and Modern Japanese History. Her publications include Japan: A Cultural, Social, and Political History; East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History, with Patricia Ebrey and James Palais; Recreating Japanese Men, edited with Sabine Frühstück; and The Weak Body of a Useless Woman: Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration.

M. William Steele (Ph.D., Harvard University) teaches history at the International Christian University College of Liberal Arts, where he has served as the Director of the Institute of Asian Cultural Studies. He has also taught as lecturer in Japanese history at Harvard University. He has served as editor for Tokushu: Kindai to Nosutarujia (Modernity and Nostalgia) and Kikan Nihon shisoshi, No. 77. His other publications include Alternative Narratives in Modern Japanese History and Japan and Russia: Three Centuries of Mutual Images.

Table of Contents

Maps and Illustrations

Introduction: Domestic Disorder, Imperialism, and National Consolidation
Sacred Rulers and Military Regimes
Foreign Affairs
Domestic Turmoil
The Coming of the West
Controversy and Purge
New Policies and Political Alignments
Recentering Kyoto
Fall of the Shogunate
Regime Change
National Consolidation
The Meiji Restoration in World History

The Documents
1. Setting the Scene: External Pressure and Domestic Turmoil
1. Aizawa Seishisai, New Theses, 1825
2. Ōshio Heihachirō, A Call to Arms, March 25, 1837
3. Ordinances Issued by the Shogunate, 1841-1842
2. The Coming of the West
4. Millard Fillmore, Letter to the Emperor of Japan, November 13, 1852
5. Debate on Opening the Country, August 1853
6. The President of the Foreign Temple of the United Mountains of America, 1854
7. Townsend Harris’s Advice to the Shogunate, 1857
8. Treaty of Amity and Commerce, July 29, 1858
3. Controversy and Purge
9. Kurosawa Tokiko, Appeal on behalf of Tokugawa Nariaki, April 1859
10. Yoshida Shōin, Letter to Kitayama Yasuyo on the Role of Dedicated Lower-Ranking People, May 9, 1859
11. Maki Izumi, Record of a Great Dream, November 18, 1859
12. To Kill the Wicked, March 24, 1860
13. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Woodblock Print of Assassination of Il Naosuke at Sakurada Gate, 1874
14. Yokoi Shōnan, The Three Major Problems of State Policy, 1860
15. Reform of Relations between Shogun and Daimyo, June-October 1862
16. Woodblock Print: The Way Things are Now, 1863
4. Radical Resistance
17. A Manifesto to punish traitors, April 10, 1863
18. Matsuo Taseko, Lamenting the useless body of a weak woman, 1864
19. Baba Bun’ei, Chōshū’s Attack on the Imperial Palace, August 20, 1864
20. Kyoto: The Fires of War, August 20, 1864
21. Satirical song on Current Events, 1865
22. Sketch of the July 10, 1866, Edo Riot
23. Outbursts of Popular Discontent, July 24-31, 1866
5. Meiji Restoration
24. Fukuzawa Yukichi, Memorial Proposing a Shogunal Monarchy, September 7, 1866
25. Sakamoto Ryōma, The Domain Question, December 1867
26. Ee ja nai ka, 1867
27. Scroll Depicting the Ee Ja Nai Ka Dancers, November 1867
28. On the End of the Shogunate, November 1867-January 1868
29. Katsu Kaishū, Argument against Civil War, January 17, 1868
30. Satirical Poem at the Time of the Surrender of Edo Castle, May 3, 1868
31. Shinagawa Yajirō, "Miya-san, Miya-san": A Popular Marching Song, 1868
32. Women of Aizu, October 1868
6. Toward a New Japan
33. The Charter Oath and Injunctions to Commoners, April 6, 1868
34. Kido Takayoshi, Abolition of Domains and Creation of Prefectures, 1871
35. Itō Hirobumi, Speech on Japan’s Future, January 18, 1872

A Chronology of events Related to the Meiji Restoration (1792-1871)
Questions for Consideration
Selected Bibliography


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