The man who assumed chief encounter with the west 247

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Unformatted text preview: s,” concepts taken from British liberal democracy, which absorbed the thinking of Japanese officials and intellectuals during the first decade or so of the Meiji period. But, although a few extreme Westernizing enthusiasts suggested that Japan establish a republic, no one of importance went so far as to advocate that a “free” people should also have the right to select their own government. The new political and intellectual leadership of Meiji Japan came almost entirely from the samurai class; and, while vociferously attacking the evils of Tokugawa feudalism, they retained the feudalistic attitude that the masses were by nature inert and stupid. It was their purpose to enlighten the people, not to make them politically active but to “enrich the country” and thereby strengthen it vis-à-vis the nations of the West. Even the iconoclastic and utilitarian-minded Fukuzawa was not prepared to en- Encounter with the West 245 courage a critical attitude on the part of the people toward the government. When political opposition did arise in the 1870s, it was the result not of a movement from without but of a factional dispute within the government itself. The leaders of the Meiji Restoration were primarily samurai from the domains of Satsuma, Chòshû, Tosa, and Hizen. From the outset, however, the Satsuma-Chòshû men formed a separate clique, based on the pact between their two domains that had been so important in the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate, and increasingly they monopolized real power in the new government. The dissatisfaction that this created among the samurai of Tosa and Hizen was transformed into a national issue in the Korean invasion crisis of 1873. The ostensible issue in the 1873 crisis was how to deal with a rebuff by Korea to Japanese overtures to open diplomatic and commercial relations. Most of the Tosa and Hizen leaders in the government urged a hard line, including the possibility of invading Korea; but the Satsuma-Chòshû clique, with the no...
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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 The University of British Columbia.

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