- When the American Commodore Perry arrived and forced the Japanese to open up trading with the Americans in 1853 it caused a massive shift in the way Japan was run. The shogun could not deal with the looming threat and began a campaign of anti-foreignism “’Toi!’ (Expel the Barbarians!)” . The shogun eventually capitulated and began to allow foreign ships into Japan; this sparked the anti-foreign element, created by the shogun, to remove the shogun and reinstate the Emperor into power: “’Sonno’ (Revere the Emperor) was added to their mantra of ‘Toi’ to represent the old system where the Emperor was like a god. The Emperor took power back into his hands and renamed himself Meiji ...view middle of the document...
Confucian ideals such as these were the basis for the moral code of the samurai” .
- The samurai became the dominant class in Japan led by the Shogun (military dictator), in 1185. Minamoto no Yoritomo, the brother of the Minamoto clan leader and general of the clan’s army, defeated the Taira samurai clan and killed the infant emperor, allowing his clan to use take control of the government using “a unique organization that was capable of assuming all functions of the government… the samurai feudal system.” They applied the system to the entire nation and solidified the samurai above the aristocratic classes as the ruling class. With the shogunate in power, feudalism flourished in Japan along with economic growth and a highly isolationist policy.
On Military Reforms
- The decline of the samurai can be seen as the rise of the Imperial Japanese Army. As with the other reforms implemented, the government incrementally reduced the rights of the samurai until they were almost non-existent. In 1873 Emperor Meiji abolished the samurai’s right to be the only armed force in Japan and began the conscription of men for the Imperial Japanese army. The army was modelled on western European armies, the army based on the Prussians, and the navy based on the British navy . But in the beginning the conscript army was not planned to help defend the nation’s shores, but “in suppression of the final efforts of some samurai to assert themselves” , or in other words: to kill the last of the rebellious samurai who wouldn’t accept the reforms.
- The next series of blows to the samurai was in 1876 when a new reform was put in place: the samurai lost the right to carry a sword in public, and their stipends were abolished too, leaving them without weapons or income.
- The samurai were left with one chance to redeem their honour and place within Japanese society; they attempted to convince the government to go to war and invade...