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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

This edict startled the Bakufu


INTRIGUES

IN KYOTO

About this time there began to assemble in the Imperial capital a number of men who, though without social or official status, were at once talented; patriotic, and conservative. At their head stood Umeda Genjiro, who practised as a physician and wrote political brochures under the nom de plume of Umpin. He soon became the centre of a circle of loyalists whose motto was Son-0 Jo-I (Revere the sovereign, expel the barbarians), and associated with him were Rai Miki, a son of Rai Sanyo; Yanagawa Seigan; Yoshida Shoin; Saigo Kichinosuke--better known as Saigo Takamori, the leader of the Satsuma rebellion of 1877,--Hashimoto Sanae, and others who have been not unjustly described as the real motive force that brought about the Restoration of 1867.

These men soon came to exercise great influence over the Court nobles--especially Konoe, Takatsukasa, Ichijo, Nijo, and Sanjo--and were consequently able to suggest subjects for the sovereign's rescripts. Thus his Majesty was induced to issue an edict which conveyed a reprimand to the shogun for concluding a treaty without previously referring it to the feudatories, and which suggested that the Mito and Owari feudatories should be released from the sentence of confinement passed on them by Ii Kamon no Kami. This edict startled the Bakufu. They at once sent from Yedo envoys to remonstrate with the conservatives, and after a controversy lasting four months, a compromise

was effected by which the sovereign postponed any action for the expulsion of foreigners and the shogun declared that his tolerance of international commerce was only temporary. This was regarded as a victory for the shogunate. But the Yedo envoys, during their stay in Kyoto, discovered evidences of a plot to overthrow the Bakufu. Great severity was shown in dealing with this conspiracy. The leaders were beheaded, banished, or ordered to commit suicide; the Mito feudatory being sentenced to perpetual confinement in his fief; the daimyo of Owari, to permanent retirement; and Keiki, former candidate for the succession to the shogunate, being deprived of office and directed to live in seclusion. Many other notable men were subjected to various penalties, and this "Great Judgment of Ansei"--the name of the era--caused a profound sensation throughout the empire. The nation mourned for many sincere patriots who had been sentenced on the flimsiest evidence, and the whole incident tended to accentuate the unpopularity of foreign intercourse.

ENGRAVING: II NAOSUKE

THE SECRET EDICT

The compromise mentioned above as having been effected between Yedo and Kyoto had the effect of stultifying the previously drafted edict which condemned the shogun for concluding a treaty without consulting the feudatories. The edict had not been publicly promulgated, but it had come into the possession of the Mito feudatory, and by his orders had been enclosed in the family tomb, where it was guarded night and day by a strong troop of samurai. The Bakufu insisted that to convey such a document direct from the Throne to a feudatory was a plain trespass upon the shogun's authority. Mito, however, refused to surrender it. The most uncompromising conservatives of the fief issued a manifesto justifying their refusal, and, as evidence of their sincerity, committed suicide.


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