Unformatted text preview: table exception of Saigò Takamori (1827–77) of Satsuma, counseled restraint on the
grounds that Japan was still too weak to risk any foreign involvement.
When the views of the “peace” party prevailed, Saigò and other members
of the “war” party left the government.
Although the Satsuma-Chòshû clique had won a major victory and
had further strengthened its hold on the government, it now had powerful enemies on the outside. Some of these enemies turned to open rebellion, leading armies composed of samurai who were discontented with
the progressive policies of the Meiji government. The most serious of
these uprisings was the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, led by Saigò Takamori. More than any other Restoration leader, Saigò felt a continuing
attachment to the ideals of the samurai class. His bellicose attitude at
the time of the 1873 crisis was based largely on his belief that the samurai
of Japan could and should deal with a foreign insult by taking direct military action. In assuming leadership of the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877,
Saigò made a last gallant gesture for feudal privilege and became the great
romantic hero of modern Japan. At the same time, the failure of the
Satsuma Rebellion also marked the last attempt to oppose the Meiji government through force.
Of far greater historical significance was the demand made by other
samurai leaders, who had also been members of the war party in 1873,
that participation in government be expanded through the establishment
of an elected assembly. In 1874 a group of samurai, led by Itagaki Taisuke (1837–1919) of Tosa, submitted a memorial to the throne attacking
the absolutist Satsuma-Chòshû regime in the following terms:
Present political power does not rest with the Emperor, nor with the people.
It is monopolized entirely by one group of officials. If the absolutism of these 246 Encounter with the West officials is not corrected, it could mean the downfall of the nation. Moreover
the only means of correction would be to establish an assembly elected by the
people and to expand discussions concerning the country.12 The government...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13