CHAPTER XIII. THE RESTORATION OF THE MEIDJI
THE great political change which took place in the year 1867-1868 is generally called the Restoration, in the sense that the imperial power was restored by this event. In truth, however, the prerogative of the Emperor has never been formally usurped, and none has dared impudently to declare that he had assumed the power in His Majesty's stead. All the virtual potentates, courtnobles as well as Shogun, who, each in his day, held unlimited sway over the whole country, had been accustomed to style themselves modestly vicegerents of the Emperor. On the other hand, the change was more than a mere restoration, for never in the course of our national history had the resplendent grandeur of the Imperiality reached the height in which it now actually stands. In this respect the Restoration of the Meidji can by no means be taken in the same sense as the two Restorations famous in European history, that of the Stuarts in 1660 and of the Bourbons in 1814. Renovation, perhaps, would be a more adequate term to be used here than Restoration, to designate this epoch-making event in our history. We have reconstructed new Japan from the old materials, the origins of some of which are lost in remotest antiquity.
If, however, we should consider the range and intensity of the momentous change which was caused by the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate, it is rather a revolution than a renovation. Just the same kind of disjunction which can be perceived in the transition of France from its an. cient régime to the Revolution may also be noticed in the Japanese history of the transition period, which divides the pre-Meidji régime from the present status. The difference is that we accomplished in five years a counterpart, though on a much smaller scale, of what they took in France nearly a generation to conclude; a difference which may be accounted for by the absence in our country of many circumstances which helped to make the French Revolution really a great historical event. That those circumstances were lacking in our history, however, is by no means the fault of our nation. No impartial foreign historian would grudge a few words of praise to the Japanese who achieved the historic thorough transformation of national life with little or no bloodshed, when they think of the tremendous difficulties which Bismarck had to encounter in his grand task of forming the new German empire, and which even he himself could not overcome entirely.
Then how did this momentous change happen to be achieved by the Japanese? It appeared a wonder even to the eyes of many contemporary Japanese. It surprises us, therefore, to say the least, that many foreigners not well-versed in Japanese history, however intelligent and otherwise qualified, should have believed almost without exception that the island nation had something miraculous in its immanent capacity, which had remained latent so long only from lack of opportunity to manifest itself. But to the contemplative mind, equipped at the same time with sufficient knowledge of the historical development of our country, there was nothing magical in the national achievement of the Japanese in the latter half of the nineteenth century, though it cannot be denied that the close contact with the modern civilisation of Europe at this juncture gave the most suitable opportunity to the people to try their ability nurtured by the long centuries of their history, and served efficiently to quicken the steps of national progress to a pace far more speedy than any we had ever marched before.
In other words, our national progress of these fifty years, whether it might be apt to be termed hurried steps or strides, was a thing organized by slow degrees during the long tranquil rule of the Tokugawa. As to the advancement of the general culture anterior to the Revolution of the Meidji, I have already touched on that in the previous chapter. Here I will limit myself to recapitulating the growth of the nationalistic spirit among the people, which bore as its fruit that memorable change in the political and cultural sphere of our country.
The tranquillity restored to the country by the powerful dictatorship of Hideyoshi and Iyeyasu, and the multiplication of books, Japanese as well as Chinese, reprinted in blocks or in type, remarkably enlarged the reading circle among the people. The liberal education of warriors had been earnestly encouraged by the Shogunate, mainly for the purpose of creating intelligent and law-abiding gentlemen out of rough and adventurous fighters. A great many of the daimyo followed the example of the Shogunate by founding one or more schools in their own territories for the education of their own samurai, and in these schools moral and political lessons were given, besides training in military arts. The samurai were taught to read and understand Chinese classics, with the purely pragmatic purpose of enabling them to follow the inexhaustible precepts preached by the Chinese philosophers of various ages, and at the same time to qualify them to govern the people according to the political theories of Confucius, when they were put in some responsible positions in the territorial government of their lord. The textbooks used in this curriculum of education had been, of course, Chinese literature of the sort which might be called political miscellanies, that is to say, those works pertaining to morals, politics, and history. This trio was to Chinese philosophers only the three different forms of the manifestation of one and the same principle, for to them politics was an enlarged application of that very principle, which when applied to personal matters made private morals, and history was only another name for the politics of the past, as many European historians still also believe. Their Japanese pupils, however, took up any one of the trio they fancied, and interlaced it with the national tradition, each according to his own taste. The metaphysical element of the Chinese moral philosophy of the Sung dynasty, the time in which Chinese philosophy reached its high flourishing scholastic stage, was thus mingled with Shintoism.
Up to that time we had Shintoism imbued with Buddhism. Now having repudiated the Indian elements out of it, we introduced in their stead the Confucian philosophy. As the philosophy introduced was that expounded by Chutse, who was an intense rigorist, the Shintoism resulting from this mixture was rather narrow and chauvinistic, though fervent enough to inspire people of education. One of the most conspicuous founders of this kind of new national cult was Ansai Yamazaki, who was born in 1619. On account of his hair-splitting doctrines, tolerating none which deviated the least from his, his disciples were always in very bitter controversy with one another, each asserting himself as the only true successor of his master, and dissension followed after dissension. Many of them were so pigheaded as to make it a rule not to serve publicly in any official capacity under the Shogun nor the diamyo, and exerted themselves strenuously to spread their propaganda among the intelligent classes of the people.
Fuel was added to the flame of the national spirit already in a blaze by the assiduous study of the ancient literature of our country. The old Japanese literature studied and imitated during the Ashikaga period had not gone back farther than the Tempyô era. If we except some novels produced in the prime of the courtiers' régime, such as the Genji-monogatari, the literary works of old Japan highly prized by the courtiers and enlightened warriors of the Ashikaga were limited to the anthologies of short Japanese poems by various poets, the oldest of which was called the Kokin shû, said to have been compiled in 905 A.D. under Imperial auspices. The Mannyô-shû, which is another collection of Japanese poems, older than those gathered into the Kokin-shû, and to which I referred in my former chapter as the oldest collection of all of that kind in Japan, though not entirely abandoned, could not cope with the latter in popularity, being considered as too much out of date. A few of the commentaries or interpretations of trivial topics sung or celebrated in the poems in the Kokin-shû; had become matters of great importance in the art of Japanese versification, and had been handed from one master to a favourite disciple as an esoteric literary secret not to be lightly divulged to the hoi polloi. The resuscitated national spirit of the early Tokugawa period, however, induced men of the literary circles of the time no longer to be contented with such trivialities, and stimulated them to push their researches backward into the literature still more ancient, that is to say, to launch themselves upon the difficult task of interpreting those more archaic poems contained in the Mannyô-shû. The foremost of these philologists was a priest by the name of Keichû, born in 1640 in the vicinity of Ôsaka. His celebrated work, the Commentaries on the Poems of the Mannyô-shû, is said to be the first standard hoisted in the philological study of old Japan by Japanese, a study the inauguration of which almost corresponded in time with the establishment of durable peace by the Tokugawa Shogunate. A succession of savants followed in his wake, and the most noted among them were Mabuchi Kamo and his disciple Norinaga Motoöri. It was the latter of the two who brought the study of Japanese antiquities to its highest point in the Tokugawa age.
The time of Motoöri covers the whole of the latter half of the eighteenth century, for he was born in 1730 and died in 1801 in the province of Ise. Before him the scope of researches into old Japan had been limited to the literary products of our ancient poets and novelists. Though the Nihongi had been talked of by the scholars of the Ashikaga period and an edition reprinted before the advent of the house of Tokugawa, that part of the work which had been most widely read and commented on was its first volume, treating about the age of the gods and the mythical beginning of the Empire. In other words, the book had been prized not as an important historical work, but as a sacred book of Shintoism. It was Motoöri himself who first studied ancient Japan, not only from the Shintoistic point of view, but also philologically and historically. Classical literature, which became the object of his indefatigable research, was not restricted to books of mythology, but included also the ritual book of "norito," several collections of poems, and historical works. First of all, however, he concentrated his efforts upon the study of the old chronicle, Kojiki. He was of the opinion that the Kojiki was more reliable as a historical source than the Nihongi, as it might, according to him, be easily judged from its archaic phraseology and syntax, in contrast to the latter, the historical veracity of which must have been surely impaired by its adoption of the Chinese rhetoric. He made the most minute, critical study of the text of the Kojiki, phrase by phrase, and word by word. The famous Kojikiden, or "The Commentaries on the Kojiki," is the choicest fruit of his life-long study. In it the history, religion, manners, customs, in short, all the items concerning the civilisation of ancient Japan are expounded from the text of the chronicle itself, frequently corroborated by what is stated in other authentic sources. He had always in view, and laid great stress on the fact, that Japan had possessed from her beginning what was to be called her own, purely and entirely Japanese, quite apart from the culture which she introduced afterwards from abroad. It was to this unique and naïve state of things in primeval Japan taken as a whole that he applied the term Shintoism. According to him, therefore, naturalness, purity and veracity were the cardinal virtues to be taught in Shintoism, from which he thought not only Indian, but Chinese elements also should be eradicated. Thus Shintoism was stripped of its religious apparel, with which it had been invested during the long course of our history, and by his endeavours it approached again its original status as a simple moral cult with primitive rituals; but at the same time it gained immensely in strength, for it now found its main support in the nationality deeply rooted in the daily life of the ancient Japanese. By him the Japanese were reminded of their national beginning.
This philological study of ancient Japan owed much, in its early stage, to the stimulus given by the growth of historiography in the seventeenth century. This study of and the endeavour to write down the national history came of course from the political necessity of the time. As early as the fourth decade of the seventeenth century, the Shogunate is said to have ordered its court literati to compile the history of our country from the earliest times, but it was suspended afterwards for a while. A little posterior to this, a memorable historiographical institute was initiated by Mitsukuni Tokugawa, one of the grandsons of Iyeyasu and lord of Mito. For the first time in our country, the collection of historical materials was undertaken on a grand scale. Collectors were despatched to many provinces where a rich harvest was expected. Kyoto and its vicinity were ransacked with special attention. The material thus rummaged and collected, varying from those of authentic kinds such as memoirs of ancient courtiers and court-ladies, chronicles kept in shrines and temples, and documents concerning the transactions of numberless manorial estates, down to less reliable sorts of materials such as stories, legends, tales, novels, and various other writings current in successive ages, had been criticised in their texts with tolerable scientific conscientiousness. The Dai-Nihon-shi, or "The History of Great Japan," which is the result of the coöperation of the historians of the Mito school engaged in researches under the auspices of Mitsukuni and his successors, consists of two hundred and thirty one volumes, and has taken two centuries and a half for its completion, the last volume having been published in 1906. In its form the grand history is an imitation of the Shih-chi by Ssumachien of the Han dynasty, the whole system being divided into the three sections of the annals of the emperors, biographers of noted personages, and miscellanies, with various tables. It is by no means a complete history of Japan, for it comes down only to 1392, the year in which the two rival houses of the Imperial family were united and put an end to the long civil war. Moreover, it was only in the middle of the nineteenth century, that the first two sections were put into print, though as manuscripts those parts had been finished much earlier. It is not, therefore, on account of the publication of the history, but of the researches themselves and their by-prodducts, that the historiography of the Mito school greatly influenced the rise of the nationalistic spirit of the Japanese. The long arduous labours of these historians were consummated in expounding the doctrine that the Japanese nation had something unique in its civilisation which was worthy to be guarded carefully and fostered, and that the only bond which could unite the nation spiritually was fidelity towards its common centre, the Emperor, whose family had continued to reign over the country since time immemorial. The history is often criticised as being too pragmatic, narrow, and subjective, therefore not scientific. If we consider, however, that even in those countries in the West where the study of history is boasted of as having reached a high stage of scientific investigation, most of the historians, if not the histories they have written, have been also decidedly pragmatic, so that few of them can be called perfectly objective, then we should not much blame the historians and the history of the Mito school. That the school was entirely free from any sort of superstition must also be mentioned as one of its chief merits. This may be attributed to the rationalistic influence of the doctrine of Chutse, and the fact that the history was written in orthodox Chinese shows how these historiographers were imbued with Chinese ideas. It might be said, however, to their credit that the task was first undertaken in an age in which the literary language of our country had not yet become entirely independent of Chinese, and that, notwithstanding the adoption of that language, in committing the result of their researches to writing they had never fallen into the self-deception which might come from sinicomania. Since the inception of this ever-memorable historiographical undertaking, the town of Mito had continued to be the hearth of nationalism and patriotism, and thinkers devoted to these ideas had been very glad to make their pilgrimage from all parts of Japan to the centre of the pure Japanese culture, and to converse with these historians of the noted institution. It was indeed the early groups of these historians who first stirred up the nationalistic spirit in the later seventeenth century, and their successors it was who accelerated and most strongly reinforced the national movement just before the Revolution. No school of learning in Japan had even been so powerful and effective as that of Mito in influencing and leading the spirit of the nation.
The torch, however, which had succeeded in giving blissful light to illumine the whole nation, burned at last the torch-bearer himself with its blazing flame. Not to mention that the finances of the territorial lord had been miserably drained by this undertaking, which is said to have swallowed up about one-third of the whole revenue of the territory, and therefore proved too heavy a burden for the small income of the lord. Narrow-mindedness, which is the necessary consequence of rigorism, tended to nurture an implacable party spirit among the samurai of the territory educated in this principle. Internal strife thus ensued which implicated not only the whole samurai but people of all classes. In short, the territory was divided against itself. Both parties appealed to arms at last, and fought against each other, until both had to lie down quite exhausted. So the culture which the historians and the samu rai of Mito raised to a high pitch proved to be disastrous to their own welfare, yet the good which it did to the country at large should remain as a glory to those who sacrificed themselves for what they regarded as their ideal.
We see now that several forces had coöperated in accomplishing the final unity and consolidation of the nation. In giving the finishing touch, however, to the task of many centuries, the enigmatic relations between the Emperor and the Shogun had necessarily to be cleared. Though the Shogunate had continued to transact the state affairs as if he had been the sole regent of the Emperor, the legal status of the former had never been created by any ordinance issued by the latter. No emperor had ever formally confided his political prerogative to the Shogun. The basis on which the jurisdictional power of the Shogun had rested was nothing but the fait accompli connived at and acquiesced in by the Emperor. If the prestige of the Emperor, therefore, which had once fallen into decadence, should be revived, the position of the Shogun was sure to become untenable. The historians of the Mito school tried their best to make the Emperor the nucleus of the national consolidation. Their political theory had been strongly influenced by the legitimism entertained by the historians of the Sung dynasty, and this principle of legitimacy, when applied to the history of Japan, must have led only to the conclusion that the only legitimate and therefore actual sovereign of the country could be none other than the Emperor himself. Needless to say, such an argument was injurious to the political interests of the Shogunate, so that it seems very strange that the theory had been upheld and loudly heralded by these historians who were under the protection of the lord of Mito, the descendant of a scion of Iyeyasu. It was not, of course, the intention of the hereditary lords of Mito and their historians to undermine the structure of the Shogunate from its foundation. Having been, however, too sharp and fervent in their argument, they had been unable to rein themselves in, before the interests of the Shogunate were thereby jeopardised, and as a logical consequence they brought unconsciously to a terrible catastrophe the whole edifice of the military régime, in which alone they could find a reason for their existence.
The spirit of the nation had thus been under the increasing notion that the coexistence of the sovereign Emperor with the omnipotent Shogunate would be ultimately impossible, and such a trend of thought had been highly welcomed in those parts of Japan where militarism had the least hold. So far, however, it had been the more logical pursuance of a political ideal, and if no opportunity had presented itself to these idealists to put their theory into execution, it would have remained for long the idle vapouring of romantic and irresponsible politicians. That Japan was saved from this inaction, and that the virile movement in favour of the revival of the imperial prestige was at last undertaken, must be attributed to the shock and stimulus which came from without, that is to say, to the coercion on the part of the Western nations to open to them our country, which had been so long secluded from the rest of the world.
Since the so-called "closing of the country" the Japanese had enjoyed a peaceful national life, undisturbed for more than one century and a half, and during this period of long tranquillity Japan had been able to prepare herself for the hardships which she was about to encounter, by replenishing her national culture and transforming it so as to be able to take in as much of the Western civilisation as she was in need of, without fear of thereby endangering her own national existence. But at the end of the eighteenth century the insistent knocking of foreigners at the door began to be heard, first at the back-door of the Island Empire. It was only the Russians who, having already annexed the vast tract of Siberia, were now ready to make a jump forward, and loitered on the northern coast of our Hokkaidô, called the island of Yezo at that time. This was the beginning of new national troubles. It was not, however, the same kind of foreign troubles as those which we had tried and succeeded in getting rid of in the early days of the Shogunate. There was no fear now of suffering from the religious intrigues of foreign missionaries. The danger, if there were any, was purely of a political nature.
Needless to say, the nation had had no voice in determining the Shogunate's policy of "shutting up the country", and had not understood well the merit or demerit of the policy itself, but having been accustomed for a long time to the isolated national existence, and puffed up not a little into self-conceit by the growth of the nationalistic spirit, they were unconsciously induced to believe that the status they were in must be the only normal condition of the country. The people at large, though relieved of the overdue influence of China, yet had a very scanty knowledge of the condition in which Europe and America were at that time, and did not wish, in the least, to be deranged by the intrusion, however well-meant, of any foreigner into their quite abode, in spite of the utter impossibility of continuing such a national life ad infinitum in the face of the changed circumstances of the world, caused by the eastward expansion of various European nations, and by the rise of a new power on the American continent, the power which had just acquired access to the shore of the Pacific. Those who were then at the helm of state, that is to say, the statesmen of the Shogunate, shared nearly the same opinion with the nation at large. Not only for the national welfare, but in the interests of the Shogunate itself, they thought it best to keep up the status quo as long as possible. Unfortunately, the foreigners who now knocked at our doors were not unarmed like those who had come two centuries before, neither were they so humble and docile as the Dutchmen at Deshima were accustomed to be. In order to keep them off in spite of their importunate wish to the contrary, we had to provide for emergencies. So the Shogunate tried to make military preparations, to defend the country in case of necessity and drive away the intruders by force of arms. The more, however, the Shogunate tried to arm the nation against the foreigners, the more difficult it found the task it had in view. As the result of the long enjoyment of peace, the people had become inured to ease and luxury, and had lost much of their martial spirit, of which they had been exceedingly proud as their characteristic attribute. Moreover, the country having been parcelled out into nearly three hundred territories, it was very hard for the Shogunate to mobilise the warriors of the whole empire at its sole command. On the other hand, the material progress of the Western nations, achieved during the time of our seclusion, had been really astonishing. The difficulty of coping with them now became far greater for us than it had been at the end of the sixteenth century. Notwithstanding these overwhelming difficulties, the Shogunate persisted in its endeavour to strengthen the national defences. The martial spirit of the nation was gradually reawakened, but new internal difficulties were created by thus mobilising the nation, divided as it was into motley groups. The martial spirit which the Shogunate aroused was turned against itself, and the Shogunate proved unable to steer through the crisis at last.
At first the opinion of the educated class of the nation was conflicting, but a few were eager to see the necessary overthrow of the régime of the Shogun. The great part gradually concurred in denouncing the incapacity of the Shogunate to fulfil by itself the task which it was called upon to accomplish. Still many were in favour of supporting the Shogunate in order to enable it to carry through its traditional policy of seclusion. Some advocated even the closer union of the Shogunate with the Imperial court, which was now beginning to become again the influential political centre of the nation in opposition to the power at Yedo, so that there might have been a fear of the two powers coming into collision. The conclusion, however, of the treaty with the United States in 1858, and subsequently with other powers, bitterly disappointed these sincere friends of the Shogunate and emboldened its adversaries. Hitherto those who had diametrically opposed the Shogunate were men who had never been in any position politically responsible. In other words, they were doctrinaires, and not men of action, so that there could be no serious danger to the Shogunate so long as they contented themselves only with arguing about national affairs in highflown language. But the disappointment which the Shogunate gave to its friends, turned them into sympathisers with the radical opponents. The danger was thus shifted from foreign relations to the serious internal question, whether the Shogunate should be allowed to exist any longer or not. Those who wished for the revival of the imperial prestige or the overthrow of the existing régime, whatever form the revolution might take, wielded as their forcible weapon to attack the Shogunate the denunciation that the sacred Land of the Gods had been opened to the sacrilegious tread of hairy barbarians, and their slogan was so persuasive that it led the imperial court at Kyoto to issue an order urging the Shogunate to repudiate the already concluded treaties and to return to the time-honoured seclusion policy, a task of utter impossibility. To this august command from Kyoto, the Shogunate could but respond very obsequiously, being intimidated somewhat by the loud clamour of these conservative patriots. Or it may be said that the military government succumbed to the combined force of the court-nobles and the territorial politicians. The marriage of the fourteenth Shogun to one of the sisters of the Emperor Kômei, in the year 1861, though concluded for the sake of the rapprochement of the Imperial court and the Shogunate, did not prove so serviceable in saving the tottering edifice of the Tokugawa régime as had been expected. Finding that the power and the resources of the Shogunate were inadequate to perform the duty which it had pledged itself to accomplish, Yoshihisa Tokugawa, the fifteenth and last of the Shogun, resigned all the power he had, political as well as military, into the hands of the Emperor Meidji, who had just succeeded his father the Emperor Kômei. This happened in November of the year 1867. A little previous to this the proposition of the Shogunate to open the port of Hyogo, now Kobe, to foreign trade was agreed to by the Em peror, a fact which proves how difficult it was to maintain the out-of-date seclusion-policy. From this it can be seen that the Shogunate of the Tokugawa fell, after the lapse of two hundred sixty four years from its beginning, not from lack of foresight on the part of their statesmen, but solely from loss of prestige.
The prestige of the Shogunate was lost, simply because the system, such as it was, had become anachronistic in the face of the altered conditions of the country, which had been steadily progressing during these centuries. In other words, the Tokugawa Shogunate had been undermining itself for a long time by having courageously undertaken the honourable task which it was destined to perform in our national history, and it collapsed just in time when it had accomplished its mission. The fall of the Shogunate, therefore, must be said to have taken place very opportunely. The overthrow of the Shogunate, however, did not mean the mere downfall of the House of the Tokugawa; but it was the final collapse of the military régime, which had actually ruled Japan for nearly seven centuries, and the demolition of such a grand and elaborate historical edifice as the Shogunate could not be expected to be carried out without a catastrophe. That catastrophe came in the form of a civil war, which raged over the country for more than a year.
After the resignation of the last of the Shogun, the new government was instantly set up at Kyoto, at the head of which an imperial prince was placed, who had to control all the state business in the name of the Emperor. The councillors under him were chosen not only from court-nobles, but also from the able samurai who belonged to the party antagonistic to the Shogunate. This exasperated the partisans of the last Shogunate. Though the ex-Shogun had renounced his hereditary rights as the actual ruler of Japan, he still remained a daimyo even after his resignation, and as a daimyo he was the most powerful of all, for he had a far greater number of the samurai under him in his hatamoto than any other of his colleagues. Besides, he had many sympathisers among the daimyo. These vassals and friends of the ex-Shogun were discontented at the turn which the course of events had taken, and wished at least to rescue him from a further decrease of his influence. Induced at last by these followers to try his fortune, the ex-Shogun asked for an imperial audience, which was refused. Then he attempted to force his entrance into the city of Kyoto, escorted by his own guards and the forces of the friendly daimyo, and was met by the Imperialist army, composed of the forces of the lords of Satsuma, Nagato, Tosa, Hizen, and other daimyo, the greater part of whom had their territories in the western provinces of Japan. At the end of January, 1868, the two opposing armies came into collision at Fushimi and Toba, villages in the southern suburb of the old metropolis, and the forces of the ex-Shogun gave way. Yoshihisa hurriedly retreated to Osaka with his staff, and thence by sea to Yedo, whither the imperial army pursued him by the land-route.
At Yedo some of the vassals of the Tokugawa could not make up their minds to submit complacently to the unavoidable lot of their suzerain and of themselves, and insisted on making their last stand against the approaching Imperialists by defending the city. But the wiser counsel prevailed, and the castle was surrendered to the Imperialists without bloodshed at the end of April. A handful of desperate samurai, who fortified themselves in the precincts of the Temple of Uyeno, the site of the present metropolitan park, was easily subdued by the Imperialists. The ex-Shogun, who had been interned at Mito on account of his having fought against the Imperialists, was released soon afterwards. By an Imperial grace, a member of a lateral branch of the Tokugawa was or. dered to succeed the ex-Shogun as daimyo, and made the hereditary lord of Suruga. The first phase of the Revolution thus came to an end.
The country, however, which had once been set astir could not be pacified so easily. The next to be chastised was the lord of Aidzu, a daimyo who, remaining faithful to the Shogunate to the last, fought desperately in the battle of Fushimi and Toba, and retired to his territory in northern Japan after his defeat. Though he found supporters among the daimyo of the neighboring territories, the forces of the Imperialists were in the meanwhile immensely reinforced, for the diamyo of middle Japan, who had hitherto been neutral, now joined their colleagues of the south. The war began anew in the middle of June in the northern part of Honto. The combined forces of the northern diamyo had to fight against fearful odds, and were successively defeated. The castle of Aidzu was closely invested, and capitulated at the beginning of November. The supporters of the lord of Aidzu also surrendered one after another to the Imperialists. It was soon after this that the adoption of the name of Meidji, as the designation of the opening era, was promulgated at Kyoto.
The last chivalrous feat in behalf of the Shogun was performed by the fleet which belonged to the former Shogunate. Before the Revolution the Shogunate had kept a fleet consisting of eight ships, commanded by Admiral Yenomoto, who had received his naval education in Holland. This was the only navy worthy of its name in Japan at that time. After the capitulation of Yedo the Imperial Government ordered half of the men-of-war belonging to the fleet to be given up to itself, allowing the rest to be kept in the hands of the Tokugawa. The admiral was, however, too sorrowful to part with his ships, so that a little before the capitulation of Aidzu, he sailed out with all his fleet from the harbour of Yedo, and occupied Hakodate, a port at the southern end of the island of Yezo. But the forces he was able to land were no match for the victorious Imperialists, who became now quite free in all other quarters. The harbour of Hakodate was soon blockaded, and the Pentagon Fortress was besieged and taken. In June of the following year the whole island of Yezo was subdued, and the new name of Hokkaidô was given to it.
With the surrender of Hakodate the military history of the Revolution of the Meidji came to its close, but the political transformation was not yet consummated. What was already accomplished concerned only the elimination of the Shogun from the political system of the country and the establishment of the direct rule of the Emperor over the daimyo. The latter, not reduced in number and undiminished in extent of territories, except a few who had forfeited the whole or a part of their territories by their resistance to the imperial order, still continued to hold their hereditary rights over their land and people as in the time of the Tokugawa. In short, the national question had only been partially solved, and there remained much to be done before the attainment of the final goal, the complete reconstruction of the whole empire. Various important changes necessary for it were put into pracice during the next four years.
In the year 1868, the city of Yedo changed its name to Tokyo, which means the eastern capital, and was made henceforth the constant residence of the Emperor instead of Kyoto. This was the beginning of the new era. In July 1869, the feudal rights of the daimyo over their territories and people were abolished, after the voluntary renunciation of their privileges on the part of the latter, who now became hereditary governors salaried according to the income of each respective territory. If the Revolution had stopped short at this, then the prestige of the territorial lords might have still remained almost intact, for they still resided in the same territories which they had owned as daimyo, and they had still under them standing forces, consisting of their former samurai. The juridical transformation of what they owned as their private property into objects of their public jurisdiction was a change of too delicate a nature to manifest to the multitude of the people a political aspect totally different from that of the time of the Shogunate. It needed three years more to sweep away all these feudal shackles. In August of the year 1871 the division of the empire into territories was replaced by the division 'into prefectures, which were far less in number than the territories of the daimyo, the jurisdiction of the hereditary governors was suspended, and to each of the prefectures a new governor was appointed. The allowances of the samurai, which had still been hereditary, were also suspended, and their compensation was rendered in form of a bond, with gradations according to their former income. The new decimal monetary system was adopted. The Gregorian calendar was adopted. The military service which had been the exclusive calling of the samurai class was now extended to people of all classes. The conscription system was introduced after the examples of the Western countries, and this reform naturally led to the loss of the privileges of the samurai. All people were now made equal before the law. Japan was at last clothed in quite modern attire.