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Public respect was steadily undermined by these displays of
impecuniosity, and the feudatories in the west of the empire--that is
to say, the tozama daimyo, whose loyalty to the Bakufu was weak at
the best--found an opportunity to assert themselves against the Yedo
administration, while the appreciation of commodities rendered the
burden of living constantly more severe and thus helped to alienate
the people.

SUMPTUARY LAWS

While with one hand scattering abroad debased tokens of exchange, the
Bakufu legislators laboured strenuously with the other to check
luxury and extravagance. Conspicuous among the statesmen who sought
to restore the economical habit of former days was Mizuno Echizen no
Kami, who, in 1826 and the immediately subsequent years, promulgated
decree after decree vetoing everything in the nature of needless
expenditures. It fared with his attempt as it always does with such
legislation. People admired the vetoes in theory but paid little
attention to them in practice.

FAMINE IN THE TEMPO ERA (1830-1844)

From 1836 onward, through successive years, one bad harvest followed
another until the prices of rice and other cereals rose to
unprecedented figures. The Bakufu were not remiss in their measures
to relieve distress. Free grants of grain were made in the most
afflicted regions; houses of refuge were constructed where the
indigent might be fed and lodged during a maximum period of 210 days,
each inmate receiving in addition a daily allowance of money which
was handed to him on leaving the refuge, and this example of charity
was obeyed widely by the feudatories. It is on record that twenty
thousand persons availed themselves of these charitable institutions
in Yedo alone. One particularly sad episode marks the story. Driven
to desperation by the sight of the people's pain and by his own
failure to obtain from wealthy folks a sufficient measure of aid,
although he sold everything he himself possessed by way of example, a
police official, Oshio Heihachiro, raised the flag of revolt and
became the instrument of starting a tumult in which eighteen thousand
buildings were destroyed in Osaka. In a manifesto issued before
committing suicide in company with his son, Heihachiro charged the
whole body of officials with corrupt motives, and declared that the
sovereign was treated as a recluse without any practical authority;
that the people did not know where to make complaint; that the
displeasure of heaven was evinced by a succession of natural
calamities, and that the men in power paid no attention to these
warnings.

The eleventh shogun, Ienari, after fifty-one years of office,
resigned in favour of his son, Ieyoshi, who ruled from 1838 to 1853.
Ienari survived his resignation by four years, during which he
resided in the western castle, and, under the title of o-gosho,
continued to take part in the administration. As for Ieyoshi, his
tenure of power is chiefly notable for the strenuous efforts made by
his prime minister, Mizuno Echizen no Kami, to substitute economy for
the costly luxury that prevailed. Reference has already been made to
this eminent official's policy, and it will suffice here to add that
his aim was to restore the austere fashions of former times. The
schedule of reforms was practically endless. Expensive costumes were
seized and burned; theatres were relegated to a remote suburb of the
city; actors were ostracized; a censorship of publications checked
under severe penalties the compilation of all anti-foreign or immoral
literature, and even children's toys were legislated for.

At first these laws alarmed people, but it was soon found that
competence to enforce was not commensurate with ability to compile,
and the only result achieved was that splendour and extravagance were
more or less concealed. Yet the Bakufu officials did not hesitate to
resort to force. It is recorded that storehouses and residences were
sealed and their inmates banished; that no less than 570 restaurants
were removed from the most populous part of the city, and that the
maidservants employed in them were all degraded to the class of
"licensed prostitutes." This drastic effort went down in the pages of
history as the "Tempo Reformation." It ended in the resignation of
its author and the complete defeat of its purpose.

TOKUGAWA NARIAKI

Contemporaneous with the wholesale reformer, Mizuno, was Tokugawa
Nariaki (1800-1860), daimyo of Mito, who opposed the conciliatory
foreign policy, soon to be described, of Ii Naosuke (Kamon no Kami).
Nariaki inherited the literary tastes of his ancestor, Mitsukuni, and
at his court a number of earnest students and loyal soldiers
assembled. Among them were Fujita Toko (1806-1855) and Toda Tadanori,
who are not less remarkable as scholars and historians than as
administrators.

RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES

Japan now began to make the acquaintance of American citizens, who,
pursuing the whaling industry in the seas off Alaska and China,
passed frequently in their ships within easy sight of the island of
Yezo. Occasionally, one of these schooners was cast away on Japan's
shores, and as a rule, her people were treated with consideration and
sent to Deshima for shipment to Batavia. Japanese sailors, also, were
occasionally swept by hurricanes and currents to the Aleutian
Islands, to Oregon, or to California, and in several cases these
mariners were sent back to Japan by American vessels. It was on such
an errand of mercy that the sailing ship Morrison entered Yedo Bay,
in 1837, and being required to repair to Kagoshima, was driven from
the latter place by cannon shot. It was on such an errand, also, that
the Manhattan reached Uraga and lay there four days before she was
compelled to take her departure. It would seem that the experiences
collected by Cooper, master of the latter vessel, and published after
his return to the United States, induced the Washington Government to
essay the opening of Japan. A ninety-gun ship of the line and a
sloop, sent on this errand, anchored off Uraga in 1846, and their
commander, Commodore Biddle, applied for the sanction of trade. He
received a positive refusal, and in pursuance of his instructions to
abstain from any act calculated to excite hostility or distrust, he
weighed anchor and sailed away.

GREAT BRITAIN AND OTHER POWERS

In this same year, 1846, a French ship touched at the Ryukyu
archipelago, and attempted to persuade the islanders that if they
wished for security against British aggression, they must place
themselves under the protection of France. England, indeed, was now
much in evidence in the seas of southern China, and the Dutch at
Deshima, obeying the instincts of commercial rivalry, warned Japan
that she must be prepared for a visit from an English squadron at any
moment. The King of Holland now (1847) intervened. He sent to Yedo a
number of books together with a map of the world and a despatch
urging Japan to open her ports. This was not done for Japan's sake.
The apparent explanation is that the trade at Deshima having ceased
to be worth pursuing, the Dutch East India Company had surrendered
its monopoly to the Netherlands Government, so that the latter's
advice to Japan is explained. But his Majesty's efforts had no
immediate result, though they doubtless augmented Japan's feeling of
anxiety.

Twelve months later, the Preble, an American brig under Commander
Glynn, anchored off Nagasaki and threatened to bombard the town
unless immediate delivery was made of fifteen foreign seamen held by
the Japanese for shipment to Batavia. The castaways were surrendered,
and Commander Glynn found evidence to prove that Japan was by no
means ignorant of American doings in Mexico, and that she was
beginning to comprehend how close the world was approaching her
shores. Once again in the following year (1849), the King of Holland
wrote, telling the Japanese to expect an American fleet in their
waters twelve months later, and to look for war unless they agreed to
international commerce. This was no empty threat. The Washington
Government had actually addressed to European nations a memorandum
justifying an expedition to Japan on the ground that it would inure
to the advantage of all, and the King of Holland appended to his
letter a draft of the treaty which would be presented in Yedo. "All
these things render it obvious that in the matter of renewing their
relations with the outer world, the Japanese were not required to
make any sudden decision under stress of unexpected menace; they had
ample notice of the course events were taking."

THE 121ST SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR KOMEI (A.D. 1846-1867)

The Emperor Ninko died in 1846 and was succeeded by his son, Komei,
the 121st sovereign. The country's foreign relations soon became a
source of profound concern to the new ruler. Among the Court nobles
there had developed in Ninko's reign a strong desire to make their
influence felt in the administration of the empire, and thus to
emerge from the insignificant position to which the Bakufu system
condemned them. In obedience to their suggestions, the Emperor Ninko
established a special college for the education of Court nobles, from
the age of fifteen to that of forty. This step does not seem to have
caused any concern to the Bakufu officials. The college was duly
organized under the name of Gakushu-jo (afterwards changed to
Gakushu-iri). The Yedo treasury went so far as to contribute a
substantial sum to the support of the institution, and early in the
reign of Komei the nobles began to look at life with eyes changed by
the teaching thus afforded. Instructors at the college were chosen
among the descendants of the immortal scholars, Abe no Seimei,
Sugawara no Michizane, and others scarcely less renowned. The Emperor
Ninko had left instructions that four precepts should be inscribed
conspicuously in the halls of the college, namely:

Walk in the paths trodden by the feet of the great sages.

Revere the righteous canons of the empire.

He that has not learned the sacred doctrines, how can he govern
himself?

He that is ignorant of the classics, how can he regulate his own
conduct?

A manifest sign of the times, the portals of this college were soon
thronged by Court nobles, and the Imperial capital began to awake
from its sleep of centuries.



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