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He
therefore conceived the idea of repairing to Hyogo with a powerful
naval squadron for the purpose of seeking, first, the ratification of
the treaty; secondly, the reduction of the import tariff from an
average of fifteen per cent, ad valorem (at which figure it had been
fixed by the original treaty) to five per cent., and, thirdly, the
opening of the ports of Hyogo and Osaka at once, instead of nearly
two years hence, as previously agreed.

Among the penalties imposed upon Choshu by the four powers which
combined to destroy the forts at Shimonoseki was a fine of three
million dollars, and the Bakufu, being unable to collect this money
from Choshu, had taken upon themselves the duty of paying it and had
already paid one million. Sir Harry Parkes's plan was to remit the
remaining two millions in consideration of the Government endorsing
the three demands formulated above. It need hardly be said that the
appearance of a powerful squadron of foreign warships at the very
portals of the Imperial palace threw the nation into a ferment. The
eight vessels cast anchor off Hyogo in November, 1866, and it seemed
to the nation that the problem of foreign intercourse had been
revived in an aggravated form.

Once again the anti-foreign agitators recovered their influence, and
inveighed against the Bakufu's incompetence to avert such trespasses
even from the sacred city. Under the pressure brought to bear by
these conservatives, the Emperor dismissed from office or otherwise
punished the ministers appointed by the shogun to negotiate with the
foreign representatives, and in the face of this humiliating
disavowal of Bakufu authority, the shogun had no alternative except
to resign. He did so. But the Imperial Court hesitated to accept the
responsibilities that would have resulted from sanctioning his
resignation. The Bakufu were informed that the Emperor sanctioned the
treaties and that the shogun was authorized to deal with them, but
that steps must be taken to revise them in consultation with the
feudatories, and that Hyogo and Osaka must not be opened, though the
proposed change of tariff-rate would be permitted. Nothing definite
was said about remitting the two million dollars remaining from the
Choshu fine, and Sir Harry Parkes was able to say triumphantly that
he had obtained two out of three concessions demanded by him without
having given any quid pro whatever.

THE LAST OF THE TOKUGAWA SHOGUNS

The measures against Choshu were now recommenced, but with complete
unsuccess, and thus a final blow was given to the prestige of the
Yedo Government. It was at this time (1866) that the fourteenth
shogun, Iemochi, passed away and was succeeded by Yoshinobu, better
known, as Keiki. Whatever the political views of this nobleman may
have been when he was put forward by the conservatives, in 1857, as a
candidate for succession to the shogunate, he no sooner attained that
dignity, in 1866, than he became an ardent advocate of progress.
French experts were engaged to remodel the army, and English officers
to organize the navy; the shogun's brother was sent to the Paris
Exposition, and Occidental fashions were introduced at the ceremonies
of the Bakufu Court.

SATSUMA AND CHOSHU

When Keiki assumed office he had to deal speedily with two problems;
that is to say, the complication with Choshu, and the opening of
Hyogo. The Emperor's reluctant consent to the latter was obtained for
the beginning of 1868, and an edict was also issued for the
punishment of Choshu. The result was two-fold: fresh life was
imparted to the anti-foreign agitation, and the Satsuma and Choshu
feudatories were induced to join hands against the Tokugawa. Alike in
Satsuma and in Choshu, there were a number of clever men who had long
laboured to combine the forces of the two fiefs in order to unite the
whole empire under the sway of the Kyoto Court. Saigo and Okubo on
the Satsuma side, Kido and Sanjo on the Choshu became leading figures
on the stage of their country's new career. Through their influence,
aided by that of Ito, afterwards prince, and Inouye, afterwards
marquis, the two great clans were brought into alliance, and when, in
1867, the shogun, Keiki, sought and obtained Imperial sanction for
the punishment of Choshu, Satsuma agreed to enter the lists on the
latter's side.

TOSA MEMORIAL

An incident of a most striking and unexpected nature now occurred.
Yodo, the Tosa feudatory, addressed to the shogun a memorial exposing
the helpless condition of the Bakufu and strongly urging that the
administration should be restored to the Emperor in order that the
nation might be united to face the dangers of its new career. It is
necessary to note here that, although the feudatories have been
frequently referred to in these pages as prominent figures in this or
that public drama, the feudal chiefs themselves exercised, in
Tokugawa days, very little influence on the current of events. A
modern historian speaks justly when he says:

"In this respect the descendants of the great Tokugawa statesman
found themselves reduced to a position precisely analogous to that of
the emperor in Kyoto. Sovereign and shogun were alike mere
abstractions so far as the practical work of the government was
concerned. With the great mass of the feudal chiefs things fared
similarly. These men who, in the days of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and
Ieyasu, had directed the policies of their fiefs and led their armies
in the field, were gradually transformed, during the lone peace of
the Tokugawa era, into voluptuous fainéants or, at best, thoughtless
dilettanti, willing to abandon the direction of their affairs to
seneschals and mayors, who, while on the whole their administration
was able and loyal, found their account in contriving and
perpetuating the effacement of their chiefs. Thus, in effect, the
government of the country, taken out of the hands of the shogun and
the feudatories, fell into those of their vassals. There were
exceptions, of course, but so rare as to be mere accidental. . . The
revolution which involved the fall of the shogunate, and ultimately
of feudalism, may be called democratic with regard to the personnel
of those who planned and directed it. They were, for the most part,
men without either rank or social standing."*

*Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition; article "Japan," by
Brinkley.

Keiki himself, although the memorial was directed against him, may
fairly be reckoned among these longsighted patriots. The Tosa
memorial appealed so forcibly to the convictions he entertained that
he at once summoned a council of all feudatories and high officials
then in Kyoto; informed them of his resolve to adopt the advice of
the memorialist, and, on the following day, handed in his resignation
to the Emperor. This memorable event took place on the 14th of
October, 1867; and the answer of the Emperor before the assembly of
December 15th marked the end of the shogunate.

THE 122ND SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR MUTSUHITO (A.D. 1867-1912)

The throne was occupied at this time by Mutsuhito, who had succeeded
on the 13th of February, 1867, at the death of his father, Komei, and
who himself died on the 29th day of July 1912. At the time of his
accession, the new monarch was in his fifteenth year, having been
born on the 3rd of November, 1852.

IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCE OF THE RESIGNATION

Undoubtedly Keiki's resignation was presented in all good faith. It
deserves to rank among the most memorable incidents of the world's
history, for such a sacrifice has seldom been made by any ruler in
the interests of his nation. But by the Satsuma and Choshu
feudatories, the sincerity of the shogun was not recognized. Through
their influence the youthful Emperor was induced to issue an edict
calling Keiki a traitor, accusing him of arrogance and disloyalty,
declaring that he had not hesitated to violate the commands of the
late Emperor, and directing that he should be destroyed. In obedience
to this rescript the Tokugawa officials were treated with such
harshness that Keiki found it impossible to calm their indignation;
it culminated in an abortive attack upon Kyoto. Thereupon, Keiki
retired to Yedo, which city he subsequently surrendered
unconditionally. But all his former adherents did not show themselves
equally placable. An attempt was made to set up a rival candidate for
the throne in the person of the Imperial lord-abbot of the Ueno
monastery in Yedo; the Aizu clan made a gallant and unsuccessful
resistance in the northern provinces, and the shogun's admiral,
Yenomoto (afterwards viscount), essayed to establish a republic in
Yezo, whither he had retired with the Tokugawa warships. But these
petty incidents were altogether insignificant compared with the great
event of which they were a sequel.

THE MEIJI GOVERNMENT AND FOREIGN INTERCOURSE

The year-name was now changed to Meiji (Enlightened Government), from
January 1, 1868, a term fully justified by events. One of the
earliest acts of the new Government was to invite the foreign
representatives to the Imperial city, where the Emperor himself
received them in audience, an act of extreme condescension according
to Japanese canons of etiquette. Thereafter, an Imperial decree
announced the sovereign's determination to cement amicable relations
with foreign nations, and declared that any Japanese subject guilty
of violence to a foreigner would be acting in contravention of his
sovereign's commands, as well as injuriously to the dignity and good
faith of the country in the eyes of the powers with which his Majesty
had pledged himself to maintain friendship. So signal was the change
that had taken place in the demeanour of the nation's leaders towards
foreign intercourse! Only two years earlier, the advent of a squadron
of foreign war-vessels at Hyogo had created almost a panic and had
caused men to cry out that the precincts of the sacred city of Kyoto
were in danger of desecration by barbarian feet. But now the Emperor
invited the once hated aliens to his presence, treated them with the
utmost courtesy, and publicly greeted them as welcome guests.



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