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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Saigo had any revolutionary intention


The

discussion was carried to the Emperor's presence; the peace-party prevailed, and Saigo with three other Cabinet ministers resigned. One of the seceders, Eto Shimpei, had recourse to arms, but was speedily crushed. Another, Itagaki Taisuke, from that moment stood forth as the champion of representative institutions. The third, the most prominent of all, Saigo Takamori, retired to Satsuma and devoted himself to organizing and equipping a strong body of samurai. It is not by any means clear that, in thus acting, Saigo had any revolutionary intention. Posterity agrees in thinking that he sought to exercise control rather than to inspire revolt. He had the support of Shimazu Saburo (Hisamitsu), former feudatory of Satsuma, who, although a reformer, resented a wholesale abandonment of Japanese customs in favour of foreign. The province of Satsuma thus became a seed-plot of conservative influences, where "Saigo and his constantly augmenting band of samurai found a congenial environment." On the one hand, the Central Government steadily proceeded with the organization of a conscript army, teaching it foreign tactics and equipping it with foreign arms. On the other, the southern clan cherished its band of samurai, arming them with the rifle and drilling them in the manner of Europe, but leaving them always in possession of the samurai's sword.

ENGRAVING: IWAKURA TOMOYOSHI

THE FORMOSAN EXPEDITION

justify;">Before these curious conditions bore any practical fruit, Japan found it necessary to send a military expedition to Formosa. That island was claimed as part of China's domains, but it was not administered by her effectively, and its inhabitants showed great barbarity in their treatment of castaways from the Ryukyu, or Loochoo, Islands. The Chinese Government's plain function was to punish these acts of cruelty, but as the Peking statesmen showed no disposition to discharge their duty in that respect, Japan took the law into her own hands. A double purpose was thus served. For the expedition to Formosa furnished employment for the Satsuma samurai, and, at the same time, assured the Ryukyu islanders that Japan was prepared to protect them.

The campaign in Formosa proved a very tame affair. It amounted to the shooting-down of a few semi-savages. No attempt was made to penetrate into the ulterior of the island, where, as modern experience shows, many great difficulties would have had to be overcome. Peking took serious umbrage on account of Japan's high-handed conduct--for such it seemed to Chinese eyes. In the first place, the statesmen of the Middle Kingdom contended that the Ryukyu Islands could not properly be regarded as an integral part of the Japanese empire; and in the second place, they claimed that, in attacking Formosa, Japan had invaded Chinese territory. After a long interchange of despatches the Tokyo Government sent an ambassador to Peking, and a peaceful solution was found in the payment by China of a small indemnity, and the recognition of Formosa as a part of the Middle Kingdom.*


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