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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:25 am    Post subject: Aizu & Shônai seek Prussian help Reply with quote
The Asahi Shinbun published today an article discussing the recent discovery in Germany of documents revealing that Aizu and Shônai sought aid, or friendly relations, from Prussia against the Satsuma-Chôshû pro-Imperial Army.

There are some good pictures on the Asahi page, so check out the link. Full text and my rough translation follow:

戊辰戦争での薩摩・長州を中心とした新政府軍との対決を目前に、会津・庄内両藩がプロイセン(ドイツ)との提携を模索していたことが東京大史料編纂 (へんさん)所の箱石大・准教授らの研究で明らかになった。ドイツの文書館で確認した資料は、両藩が北海道などの領地の譲渡を提案したが、宰相ビスマルク は戦争への中立などを理由に断ったことを伝えていた。
 ドイツの国立軍事文書館の資料で、10年ほど前にドイツ側の研究者が存在を紹介したが、詳細が不明だった。
 箱石さんらの調査で確認されたのは、1868年の文書3点。いずれも、ボン大のペーター・パンツァー名誉教授に依頼し解読、日本語に翻訳した。
 (1)7月31日付で駐日代理公使のフォン・ブラントがビスマルクへあてたもの。「会津・庄内の大名から北海道、または日本海側の領地を売却したいと内 々の相談を受けた。ミカドの政府も財政が苦しく南の諸島を売却せざるをえない模様」として判断を仰いでいる。(2)10月8日付で宰相からフォン・ローン 海相あて。「他国の不信、ねたみをかうことになる」と却下の考えを示し、海相の意向を尋ねている。(3)10月18日付で、海相から宰相への返事。
 この年は5月に江戸城が明け渡され、7月初めに上野で新政府軍と彰義隊との戦いが決着。戦争の舞台が東北へ移る緊迫した時期の交渉。両藩は武器入手の ルートや資金の確保を目指したとみられるが、ブラントは「北日本が有利になれば、この申し出は大変重要な意味を帯びる」とも記しており、政治的な狙いも込 められていたようだ。
 会津は京都を舞台に長州と激しく対立、庄内藩は江戸警備を担当して薩摩藩邸を襲撃したことがあり、両藩は同盟関係にあった。北海道の領地は北方警備強化のために1859年に幕府が東北の有力6藩に与えた。会津藩は根室や紋別を、庄内藩は留萌や天塩を領有していた。
箱石さんは「敗者の歴史は忘れ去られ、この交渉も日本にはまったく記録がない。会津と庄内は土地を提供することでプロイセンを味方につけようとしたのだろう。戦争が長引けば明治維新に違う展開があったかもしれない」。
 明治維新を研究する東京大の保谷徹教授は「会津・庄内両藩がよくぞここまで国際活動を展開させたなと驚いた。歴史にはまだまだ知らないことがたくさんあり、その答えが海外に眠っていることを示しているのだろう」と話している。(渡辺延志)

Research by Hakoishi Hiroshi and other researchers at the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo reveals that just as the new Imperial Army (centered on forces from Satsuma and Chôshû) clashed with the forces of Aizu and Shônai domains, the latter were seeking cooperation with Prussia. Documents from German archives that confirm this reveal that the domains proposed to give Prussia Hokkaidô, and that Prime Minister Bismarck refused, citing Prussia’s neutrality in wars, among other reasons.

As much as ten years ago, German researchers introduced the existence of these documents from the German National Military Archives, but the details were left unclear.

Hakoishi’s survey focused on three documents from 1868. At the request of the Japanese scholars, Dr. Peter Pantzer, professor emeritus of Bonn University, deciphered the documents and translated them into Japanese.

The first is a document dated July 31 and addressed to Bismarck from [Max?] von Brandt, charge d’affairs of the Prussian legation in Japan. “I received confidential communications that the daimyo of Aizu and Shônai are looking to sell territories in Hokkaidô and the Sea of Japan coast,” von Brandt wrote, judging that “It seems the finances of the Imperial government are in such straits that they might have to sell islands to the south as well.”

The second is from Bismark to Navy Minister von Roon, dated October 8. It expresses his thoughts on rejecting the Japanese proposal, as “it would invite the distrust and envy of other nations.” Bismarck asks for von Roon’s thoughts on the matter. The third document, dated October 18, is von Roon’s reply to Bismarck.

Edo Castle had already been vacated in May that year, and in July, the first battle between the new Imperial Army and the Shôgitai, in Ueno, had been decided. These were discussions that came during the tense period when the stage of battle moved to Tôhoku. Both sides seemed to be working to ensure their funding and routes to obtain weapons, and von Brandt wrote “if northern Japan is advantageous, then is proposal carries important meaning,” seemingly tying in political aims.

Aizu battled Chôshû in Kyoto, and Shônai took the duty of defending Edo, attacking the Satsuma han mansion there, the two (Aizu and Shônai) in an alliance. In order to defend the north, the shogunate had given Hokkaidô to six powerful Tôhoku han in 1859. At that time, Aizu took Nemuro and Monbetsu, while Shônai claimed Rumoi and Teshio.

Hakoishi said, “the losers’ history is left behind and forgotten, and there are no records in Japan of these negotiations [with Prussia]. Aizu and Shônai sought to become friends with Prussia by offering territory. If the war had drawn out longer, the Meiji Restoration might have developed differently.”

Hôya Tôru, a University of Tokyo professor who specializes in the Meiji Restoration, said “I was surprised that Aizu and Shônai had so admirably extended international activities in this way. There are many things which history does not yet know, and the response is that much may be sleeping overseas.”
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
HOLY SMOKE! Shocked This information is truly remarkable--yet I fear the Northern daimyo may be villified all over again when it becomes common knowledge they were ready to hand Hokkaido over to European interests.

MANY THANKS for translating & posting this!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Makes the Kuril Island dispute almost seem moot.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Agree, the new discovery is interesting. However, let's dissect the situation a little to help put Prussia's decision not to intervene into perspective.

The offer of Ezo to the Prussians in exchange for military assistance against the Sat-Chō gang was clearly an act of desperation. The northern alliance of Pro-Tokugawa Han had lost the war before the first Satsuma troops arrived on the Aizu border. Bismarck was no dummy. He, as well as the Prussian legation (which contained a number of military attaches) in Edo knew this. They all must have seen this offer, from a diplomatic point of view, as one made by two domains that were seen by most of the international community to be in rebellion against the new, legitimate Imperial government. The Prussians must have also scene the plight/fight of the northern alliance as a lost cause.

In the eyes of most contemporary observers at the time, the Shogunate's legitimacy crumbled the moment Keiki resigned and decided to give power back to the Imperial Court. The surrender of Osaka Castle (probably the second strongest castle in all of Japan--and it was directly under Tokugawa rule) and the evacuation from Edo Castle also had huge symbolic meaning not just on the Japanese, but the international community as well. It verified that the Bakufu was basically a non-player anymore. This was reinforced again when the Shōgitai dilly-dallied before taking action, allowing Satsuma to get reinforcements into the city, sealing their fate at Ueno. The Shōgitai's failure conveyed a message that the tide of the Meiji restoration was irreversible.

The Boshin War was not about who had the ultimate mandate to rule Japan from the top, but it was considered a war of preservation by the Tokugawa and their allies to keep their domains and holdings against the Sat-Chō gang who wanted to not just remove the Tokugawa from power, but also to just simply destroy the sources of their feudal power. The Prussians knew this. Therefore, again, in their eyes, the offer of Hokkaido must have looked very unrealistic, and I don't think Bismarck was ready to create a diplomatic crisis in Europe over Japan. He had other fish he wanted to fry, most notably, Napoleon III.

So anyway, Shinsendo, how does this make the Kuril Island debate almost seem moot? Especially if Hokkaido was being offered by rebels who were not seen to have a legitimate chance of taking power or winning the war?

Owarikenshi, why do you think that the northern daimyo may get vilified all over again in 21 century Japan? Do you really think today's Japanese are going to get riled up by such "unpatriotic and traitorous" actions against the sacred land of the gods and his highness, the Emperor?" I don't think so.

Also, please keep in mind that historically, Hokkaido wasn't even really considered a part of Japan's geographic polity until the 1700s when Japan started to worry that Russia was going to grab it.

Enough said. I need a cup of coffee. It hurts the brain to think and write like this before 9 AM on a Sunday.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
“I received confidential communications that the daimyo of Aizu and Shônai are looking to sell territories in Hokkaidô and the Sea of Japan coast,” von Brandt wrote, judging that “It seems the finances of the Imperial government are in such straits that they might have to sell islands to the south as well.”
It sounds like von Brandt might have been confused over what constituted the "Imperial" army if he thought that Aizu and Shônai were part of the Imperial forces. I agree, Obenjo, that the date of the document, having postdated the handover of power from Tokugawa to the Emperor (Sat-Cho) would constitute support of a "rebel" faction. What irony for the Tokugawa, eh?

And from what I'm reading in Totman's Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, it seems that dilly-dallying was pretty much the official bakufu policy, i.e., the "let's delay as much as possible and see if the problem goes away" policy. Rolling Eyes

Nice find, lordameth, and thanks bunches for the translation! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:


So anyway, Shinsendo, how does this make the Kuril Island debate almost seem moot? Especially if Hokkaido was being offered by rebels who were not seen to have a legitimate chance of taking power or winning the war?



Just a glib remark. Should have used a smiley for clarity.

I found it funny to imagine a world where Hokkaido belonged to a European country and the Kuril Islands remained a thorn in Russo-Japanese relations.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shisendo wrote:
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:


So anyway, Shinsendo, how does this make the Kuril Island debate almost seem moot? Especially if Hokkaido was being offered by rebels who were not seen to have a legitimate chance of taking power or winning the war?



Just a glib remark. Should have used a smiley for clarity.

I found it funny to imagine a world where Hokkaido belonged to a European country and the Kuril Islands remained a thorn in Russo-Japanese relations.
No worries. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Agree, the new discovery is interesting. However, let's dissect the situation a little to help put Prussia's decision not to intervene into perspective...


Nice summary of the situation. I might also add that based on Dan Free's book on Japanese railways the Germans were already cultivating a relationship with the emerging Meiji government on matters of trade and technology when contacted by the remnants of the Shogunal forces (the Shogunate had awarded the first railway contract in Japan to the USA, having rebuffed the Prussians and others-this contract was voided when the Imperial forces took over and given to the Brits instead).
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
onnamusha wrote:
Quote:
“I received confidential communications that the daimyo of Aizu and Shônai are looking to sell territories in Hokkaidô and the Sea of Japan coast,” von Brandt wrote, judging that “It seems the finances of the Imperial government are in such straits that they might have to sell islands to the south as well.”
It sounds like von Brandt might have been confused over what constituted the "Imperial" army if he thought that Aizu and Shônai were part of the Imperial forces. I agree, Obenjo, that the date of the document, having postdated the handover of power from Tokugawa to the Emperor (Sat-Cho) would constitute support of a "rebel" faction. What irony for the Tokugawa, eh?

And from what I'm reading in Totman's Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, it seems that dilly-dallying was pretty much the official bakufu policy, i.e., the "let's delay as much as possible and see if the problem goes away" policy. Rolling Eyes

Nice find, lordameth, and thanks bunches for the translation! Very Happy


I am not sure that really implies von Brandt was confused as to what constituted the Imperial Army. I am sure he as all the other foreign nations familiar with Japan had no trouble differentiating between the Imperial forces and those of the northern domains. I took it as he had also become aware that the Imperial forces (not Aizu or Shonai) were also in financial straights and might be willing to sell some southern islands in order to strengthen their military and government objectives. Maybe he was stating this in terms that the Prussians may be better off not accepting the offer from the northern domains as the more legitimate Imperial government may come with an offer of territory for sale instead.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
onnamusha wrote:
It sounds like von Brandt might have been confused over what constituted the "Imperial" army if he thought that Aizu and Shônai were part of the Imperial forces.
The "as well" in the translation modifies the whole previous sentence, not "southern islands." (I thought like you at first.)
The Japanese reads 「会津・庄内の大名から北海道、または日本海側の領地を売却したいと内 々の相談を受けた。ミカドの政府も財政が苦しく南の諸島を売却せざるをえない模様」
We received a private communication from the daimyo of Aizu and Shonai saying they would like to sell Hokkaido and the land on the Sea of Japan side. The Mikado's government also is in financial difficulties and it appears they may have to sell southern islands."
So, as Tornadoes suggested, he says both sides were having trouble.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm glad this has spurred such discussion!

Thanks for the analysis, Obenjo! I scarcely know anything about the complexities of the different factions of that period, and really couldn't think of what to say about it...

And thanks to Bethetsu for clearing up that little mistake in the translation. Cheers.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
The "as well" in the translation modifies the whole previous sentence, not "southern islands." (I thought like you at first.)
The Japanese reads 「会津・庄内の大名から北海道、または日本海側の領地を売却したいと内 々の相談を受けた。ミカドの政府も財政が苦しく南の諸島を売却せざるをえない模様」
We received a private communication from the daimyo of Aizu and Shonai saying they would like to sell Hokkaido and the land on the Sea of Japan side. The Mikado's government also is in financial difficulties and it appears they may have to sell southern islands."
So, as Tornadoes suggested, he says both sides were having trouble.
Sorry for the gaijin mistake I made! Embarassed That makes sense about the financial problems of both sides, though. Thanks for the clarification!
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Onnamusha, not your fault. I apologize for the misleading phrasing of my translation.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Darn, Japan missed oktoberfest.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
Darn, Japan missed oktoberfest.


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