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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:40 pm    Post subject: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
The Shinsengumi basically started out as a band of Ronin who accompanied the Shogun to Kyoto as his entourage/body guards (the Roshigumi). This was the first time that a Shogun had gone to Kyoto to meet with the emperor since Tokugawa Ieyasu (and may be indicative of the troubles Japan was facing). The emperor was demanding the expulsion of foriegners, yet the Bakufu knew this was not really feasable (and had in fact opened ports to teh foriegners due to this fact). Ii Naosuke, the man held responsible for kaikoku (opening the ports to the foreigners) was assassinated 3 years prior, in 1860), and ronin opposition to the Tokugawa Bakufu was growing, hence the need for the Roshigumi.

We should probably start with a discussion of the reasons the Bakufu "opened the gates" to the barbarians, and why there was such opposition to it by the Emperor and growing numbers of ronin.

Was it simple xenophobia? Did the loyalists believe that the foreigners could easily be defeated and booted out? Why did the Emperor decide to decree the expulsion of foreigners - was it to undermine the bakufu, who, as the political power, were forced to deal with the foreigners? (did the emperor and kyoto know that the bakufu would fail, and were banking on it?)
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:44 am    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
This was the first time that a Shogun had gone to Kyoto to meet with the emperor since Tokugawa Ieyasu (and may be indicative of the troubles Japan was facing).


Iemitsu was actually the last Shogun to meet with the emperor in Kyoto before the 1860's (in the neighborhood of 1625, and most of the structures you see at Nijo Castle date from this time as he wanted to overwhelm the Emperor with the Tokugawa's power and wealth and forcing them to come to the Tokugawa-a far cry from the visit in the 1860's that was seen as the Shogun bowing down to the Emperor).
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I am curious, how American schools teach kids about the Blackships?
(Or not even mentioned?)
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
I am curious, how American schools teach kids about the Blackships?
(Or not even mentioned?)


I'll need to refresh my memory some more, but what I remember was pretty much typical of American policy toward the teaching of history - whitewash everything and omit as much of the facts as possible. Briefly, in grade school - Perry's trip had no context. He was here, Japan was there, let's go visit! America was the first country to trade with Japan.

Later on in high school we were taught that there were economic interests and military concerns as America grew westward and now had ports on the Pacific. Perry realized that Japan would be crucial to any American interests in the East. He brought a proposal to President Filmore and was given free reign to accomplish the opening of Japan. Given his personality and background, and from what Americans knew about Japan, the method Perry used was considered brilliant.

The terms used were is you'd probably expect. The Japanese thought the ships were monsters or something because they were a superstitious, backward people without any modern technology of their own. Although later it was acknowledged that the Japanese culture was extraordinary. Little was taught about the actual trips themselves. He sailed in one year, came back the next, got a treaty. But explicitly implied was taught we brought big guns in big ships and scared the Japanese into giving us what we wanted.

This for me was in the 1950s. Much of what we were taught was still somwhat colored by WWll. But I doubt it has changed much. Americans are taught euro-centric history. The East exists only as footnotes.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:24 am    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
We should probably start with a discussion of the reasons the Bakufu "opened the gates" to the barbarians, and why there was such opposition to it by the Emperor and growing numbers of ronin.


I'm trying to get a picture of the culture and political views at that time. If I understand correctly, the Japanese historically debated the adoption of external trade - as with the Dutch and Portugese - but that was considered too dangerous in terms of the feudal structure at that time. Jared Diamond mentions the conscious decision of the Japanese to not adopt/employ certain technologies as harmful to the political structure - or political status quo - take your choice.

So opposition would come from the "Conservative" elements in Japan. Clearly they and those that agreed with them can be characterize correctly in that manner?? If that is true, I fail to see any "Progressives" or "Liberals" in this picture. My understanding so far is that the people who supported trade did so only because they thought the military capacity of the Americans was so far above Japan's that any attempt to fight them off would be disastrous. And in fact there was some concern that the Americans themselves would initiate a conflict and attempt to conquer them.

Am I understanding this correctly?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
I am curious, how American schools teach kids about the Blackships?
(Or not even mentioned?)


My school never mentioned it at all that I remember. Apparently didn't think it was important enough. But grade schools are notoriously bad about teaching any detail. Normally it goes - American Indians, Pilgrims, Revolutionary war, WWI, WWII the end.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:49 am    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:


Iemitsu was actually the last Shogun to meet with the emperor in Kyoto before the 1860's (in the neighborhood of 1625, and most of the structures you see at Nijo Castle date from this time as he wanted to overwhelm the Emperor with the Tokugawa's power and wealth and forcing them to come to the Tokugawa-a far cry from the visit in the 1860's that was seen as the Shogun bowing down to the Emperor).


Oops - wanna go into the roshigumi article and modify it?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:46 am    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
...Was it simple xenophobia? Did the loyalists believe that the foreigners could easily be defeated and booted out? Why did the Emperor decide to decree the expulsion of foreigners - was it to undermine the bakufu, who, as the political power, were forced to deal with the foreigners? (did the emperor and kyoto know that the bakufu would fail, and were banking on it?)
Actually, there were two distinct types of sonno/joi adherents. To speak in very (perhaps overly) generalized terms):

One group consisted mainly of xenophobes and those who believed that the foreigners could be easily defeated and booted out. They believed in preserving the Japanese feudal system, only having the Emperor rule rather than the Shogun (who they perceived as being "pro-foreigner").

The other group consisted of people such as Sakamoto Ryoma, a Tosa ronin, and Katsu Kaishu, who ironically enough, was a bakufu official. Sakamoto and his adherents believed in abolishing the feudal class system and having Japan set up to be more democratic. However, they did believe that first, the Tokugawa regime had to be overthrown, and also that foreigners had to be expelled, so they would not take over Japan. So they too, were "anti-foreigner" as such, though they were much more anti-Tokugawa bakufu. They did believe in setting up free trade with the foreigners, after assurances that the foreigners would not come in to conquer Japan. Sakamoto believed in "cleaning up Japan," both "cleaning up" conquering foreigners and "cleaning up" decrepit, corrupt Tokugawa bakufu officials.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:10 am    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
Wave Tossed wrote:


The other group consisted of people such as Sakamoto Ryoma, a Tosa ronin, and Katsu Kaishu, who ironically enough, was a bakufu official. Sakamoto and his adherents believed in abolishing the feudal class system and having Japan set up to be more democratic. However, they did believe that first, the Tokugawa regime had to be overthrown, and also that foreigners had to be expelled, so they would not take over Japan. So they too, were "anti-foreigner" as such, though they were much more anti-Tokugawa bakufu. They did believe in setting up free trade with the foreigners, after assurances that the foreigners would not come in to conquer Japan. Sakamoto believed in "cleaning up Japan," both "cleaning up" conquering foreigners and "cleaning up" decrepit, corrupt Tokugawa bakufu officials.


I've never read about Ryoma, but I've seen a few dramas. At the time I never really thought about his position though. Wasn't he/they for full modernization in order to get the foreigners out - which would mean putting up with them until they had the power to get rid of them? That seems more rational than "lets get rid of them first, and then modernize" - and Ryoma did set up the tosa/choshu alliance, but it seems that they were far more anti-foreigner than ryoma was. What was the deal there?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi is correct.
Actually, I wrote that on Tokugawa Iemochi's page.

Quote:
In 1863, Iemochi visited Kyoto at the request of the Imperial Court, which was the first time since Tokugawa Iemitsu visited Kyoto.
http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Tokugawa_Iemochi
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 5:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Wave Tossed wrote:


The other group consisted of people such as Sakamoto Ryoma, a Tosa ronin, and Katsu Kaishu, who ironically enough, was a bakufu official. Sakamoto and his adherents believed in abolishing the feudal class system and having Japan set up to be more democratic. However, they did believe that first, the Tokugawa regime had to be overthrown, and also that foreigners had to be expelled, so they would not take over Japan. So they too, were "anti-foreigner" as such, though they were much more anti-Tokugawa bakufu. They did believe in setting up free trade with the foreigners, after assurances that the foreigners would not come in to conquer Japan. Sakamoto believed in "cleaning up Japan," both "cleaning up" conquering foreigners and "cleaning up" decrepit, corrupt Tokugawa bakufu officials.


I've never read about Ryoma, but I've seen a few dramas. At the time I never really thought about his position though. Wasn't he/they for full modernization in order to get the foreigners out - which would mean putting up with them until they had the power to get rid of them? That seems more rational than "lets get rid of them first, and then modernize" - and Ryoma did set up the tosa/choshu alliance, but it seems that they were far more anti-foreigner than ryoma was. What was the deal there?
Gak!!! You NEED to read about Sakamoto Ryoma. Shocked Go get Hillsbourough's book RYOMA, A RENAISSANCE SAMURAI. Or else get Marius Janus's book SAKAMOTO RYOMA AND THE MEIJI RESTORATION. Don't count so much about all of the "reel" sources; they're not necessarily accurate.

If nothing else, read this article:

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-17743.html

This article by Hillsborough explains well about what Sakamoto believed. The article states (excerpts):
Quote:
But how could Ryoma - who had plunged from the status of "nobody," to that of outlaw, and one of the most wanted men on a long list of Tokugawa enemies - be of sufficient consequence to force the abdication of the generalissimo of the 267-year-old samurai government? And what were his reasons for doing so, even at the risk of his own life? To answer the second question first, and to put it quite simply, Ryoma was a lover of freedom - the freedom to act, the freedom to think, and the freedom to be. These were the ideals that drove Ryoma on his dangerous quest for freedom - which, of course, was nothing less than the salvation of Japan. But the greatest obstacle to this freedom, and to the salvation of Japan from foreign subjugation, was the antiquated Tokugawa system, with its hundreds of feudal domains and suppressive class structure, which men like Katsu Kaishu and Sakamoto Ryoma meant to replace with a representative form of government styled after the great Western powers, and based on a free-class society and open commerce with the rest of the world.

...Ryoma devised a preposterous plan of convincing Satsuma and Choshu to join forces with one another as the only means to topple the shogunate.

...After a year of planning and negotiation, in January 1866, Ryoma, now an indispensable "nobody," successfully brokered a military alliance between Satsuma and Choshu, which more than anything else hastened the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
Wave Tossed wrote:
Gak!!! You NEED to read about Sakamoto Ryoma.


Silly me, I have Ryoma's article right here:

http://www.samurai-archives.com/rin.html

I'll read it, and so should everyone else.

And I wasn't taking "reel" history as "real", but it does give one a background with the material.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Studying about Sakamoto Ryoma and his views is indespensible in studying Bakumatsu events, including what happened with the Shinsengumi, who were some of Sakamoto's opponents).

People need to understand that the anti-bakufu side, that the Shinsengumi fought, included many different viewpoints -- not just militant royalists who were just as militant as the Shinsengumi.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku,

Much like kitsuno I never learned about Commodore Perry in grade school. Japan was not mentioned until we started studying World War II.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:52 am    Post subject: Satsuma /Choshu Reply with quote
The actual inovator of this Satsuma /Choshu alliance was not Sakamto but a scotsman Thomas Blake Glover who was angry at the Bakafu for their import /export tarrifs which they refused to change ,Glover was also the man who sent the Choshu 5 to England and gave both Sakamoto and Takasugi their pistols .So Sakamoto was involved but more as a go between it was Glover and Ernest Satow that had (A)Money (B)Seapower and of course (C)Weapons .I Always treat Hillsbourough as a historical novelist heavy on drama but lacking in facts.Even Katsu Kaishu in his memoirs states it was Satow and Glover who were the alliance architechts.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:58 am    Post subject: Bakufu Reply with quote
I think people should also realise the Bakufu was divided too in Edo you had the old guard the Rojo ,Council Of Elders and in Kyoto there was the reformist group under Yoshinobu and these two sides were bitterly divided and sought to undermine each other .Also after the "Tengu To No Ran" many loyalists like Ito Kashitaro actually joined the Shinsengumi .
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Satsuma /Choshu Reply with quote
Wicked Iemon wrote:
,Glover was also the man who sent the Choshu 5 to England .


Andrew Cobbing states in The Japanese Discovery of Victorian Britain (Japan Library 1998) 'Contrary to popular belief the escape of Ito Hirobumi and four other Choshu students ...in 1863, was not the work of Glover . Nevertheless he may well have known of their plans...Their passage from Yokohama was arranged by SJ Gower, Jardine Matheson's representative there.' He also states that Glover did arrange other later escapes, including the abortive attempt by Kondo Chojiro who was forced to commit seppuku for betraying his comrades.

Two persistent legends seem to cling to Glover - 1) he was the inspiration for Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and 2) this one, that he helped the Choshu Five escape.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
Dennis wrote:
kitsuno wrote:
We should probably start with a discussion of the reasons the Bakufu "opened the gates" to the barbarians, and why there was such opposition to it by the Emperor and growing numbers of ronin.



So opposition would come from the "Conservative" elements in Japan. Clearly they and those that agreed with them can be characterize correctly in that manner?? If that is true, I fail to see any "Progressives" or "Liberals" in this picture. My understanding so far is that the people who supported trade did so only because they thought the military capacity of the Americans was so far above Japan's that any attempt to fight them off would be disastrous. And in fact there was some concern that the Americans themselves would initiate a conflict and attempt to conquer them.



My understanding of the situation is that 'progessives' or 'liberals' did not exist yet in Japan. We know that Sakamoto met the socialist thinker Nakae Chomin in Nagasaki (see Nada Inada's bio TN-kun), but Nakae did not read philosophers like Rousseau until he himself was in France, and did not translate Rousseau into Japanese until 1882. So where did Sakamoto get his ideas on 'democracy' from? He studied what he could of international law in Nagasaki, probably to help with his struggle for compensation with the Kii han after the Iroha maru incident. I'd like to know more references for his progressive ideas.

Other influential thinkers like Kido Takayoshi and Fukuzawa Yukichi did not crystallize their ideas until the 1870s. The Meiji Restoration set in motion desires for yonaoshi (a new world order) (and their lack of fulfilment is one of the tragic stories of 19th century Japan), but I'm not sure to what extent the main players of the bakumatsu shared these desires. Not much I suspect.

Generally speaking it would be really helpful in a discussion like this if people would reference their posts from historical sources. Otherwise we are just going to be exchanging opinions. Not that I don't value these opinions - they are always interesting - but I like to know what they are based on.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
I am curious, how American schools teach kids about the Blackships?
(Or not even mentioned?)


I've just received George Feiffer's book, Breaking Open Japan, and his first chapter is about different perceptions of Matthew Perry and the black ships and Pearl Harbour. He points out that there are only two books about Perry in print in the US , saying: "Surely that's emblematic of our, generally speaking, costly lack of interest in history and popular ignorance of foreign perceptions" and later on "in Japan, Pearl Harbour is scarcely mentioned and Perry's intrusion is treated as seminal".

Would you agree, Shikisoku?
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:

I've just received George Feiffer's book, Breaking Open Japan, and his first chapter is about different perceptions of Matthew Perry and the black ships and Pearl Harbour. He points out that there are only two books about Perry in print in the US , saying: "Surely that's emblematic of our, generally speaking, costly lack of interest in history and popular ignorance of foreign perceptions" and later on "in Japan, Pearl Harbour is scarcely mentioned and Perry's intrusion is treated as seminal".

Would you agree, Shikisoku?


I am not sure which textbook you mentioned.
There are more than 8 kinds of history textbooks in Japan.
From my memory, (I think it was Shimizu Shoin's textbook) the textbook just mentioned what happened.
"The Black ships appered in Uraga and demanded to open the post" "The Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbour, the Pacific War started."
There was nothing like "Barbaric somebody" "Scary something". Such emotional adjectives lead hatred.

Back on topic, so the Black ship in Japan is not known in the states.
Then it is hard to understand why the Joi movement raised.
They would think it is simple xenophobia.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
The whole 'expel the barbarians' movement seems to have been exploited by some provincial lords as a convenient and effective way to remove the Shogunate from power and install themselves in its place (whether under the Bakuhan system or in positions of power in an Imperial government). It's no coincidence that the leading proponents of 'sonno-joi' were all from areas under tozama lords that found themselves on the losing side at Sekigahara (Satsuma, Tosa, Choshu). While there was no doubt real fear of the foreigners among all levels of Japanese society (fear of the unknown, especially of an unknown that appears to be effortlessly able to kick your ass, being what it is), it seemed the focus of the so-called 'Royalists' was upon displacing the government and putting themselves in charge (whereupon they would then worry about what to do with the foreigners). Over time, when it became obvious through foreign retalitory actions that 'samurai fighting spirit' was no match for well drilled, well equipped, and (generally) well led foreign troops the focus drifted away from 'expel the barbarians' even more. The Bakufu found themselves in a bad spot-they knew there was no way to keep the foreigners out of Japan forever, but to admit that was political suicide. They attempted to stall and give up as little as possible while trying to put together some sort of plan that would eventually push out the foreigners-a halfway measure that satisfied none of the parties involved. Many of the Royalist leaders were well aware that the foreigners were not going to be denied, but it was much easier to fan the emotions of the less well informed rank and file to put pressure on the Bakufu, criticize the guys in charge and promise that you could do better.
As for the Imperial family's role, it seems that they were latched upon as a way for the 'Royalists' to legitimize their claims-much as had been done for hundreds of years. When the Shogunate and Imperial family began to work together and attempt to reform the government during the Shogun's visit to Kyoto in (I think) 1863, the Royalists did their best to drive a wedge between the two-demonstraing that their real interest was in taking power, not in expelling the barbarians.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:07 am    Post subject: Re: Shinsengumi - Main Thread Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Tatsunoshi wrote:


Iemitsu was actually the last Shogun to meet with the emperor in Kyoto before the 1860's (in the neighborhood of 1625, and most of the structures you see at Nijo Castle date from this time as he wanted to overwhelm the Emperor with the Tokugawa's power and wealth and forcing them to come to the Tokugawa-a far cry from the visit in the 1860's that was seen as the Shogun bowing down to the Emperor).


Oops - wanna go into the roshigumi article and modify it?


I'll do so now (unless you've already gotten to it).
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you heron and Tatsunoshi, that clears up some things for me. Could you also give me some perspective on the country as a whole? Was there an equal amount of turmoil rurally, or was most of this confined to urban areas?

Tatsunoshi's comments suggest that there was a sophisticated communication system that allowed a reasonably rapid response to events. Which certain provincial lords, apparently able to work in consort, employed in their political intrigues in the capital?

To me this suggests the Shinsengumi suffered from a lack of perception, or at least political expertise.. But I'm still frantically trying to read the recommended texts and catch up..
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
Back on topic, so the Black ship in Japan is not known in the states.
Then it is hard to understand why the Joi movement raised.
They would think it is simple xenophobia.


But it *was* taught in the states, as I said above. Curriculums change. Just because none of this might be mentioned now doesn't mean it wasn't historically. The opening of Japan was a major event in the States at that time. It no doubt received wide coverage in the press, and it clearly had enormous political and economic ramifications with the governement.

In fact, it was in Political Science and in Economy where I was first introduced to the events when in school in the 1950s. It surely was a topic of great interest in the classrooms of the time it happened.

Keep in mind that this, as far as I know, is the first time the world was introduced to Gunboat Diplomacy. It's effectiveness was not lost on the U.S. government and it was employed throughout America's involvement in the East until the time of the Boxer rebellion. That showed America the policy was bankrupt - see The Sand Pebbles.

Today, Gunboat Diplomacy is an embarrassment in our history. It is used as an example in our institutions of what you should not do if you wish to make progress in your national dealings. It isn't surprising Perry would not be included in the curriculum today.

But I assure you when I was a lad just as we pretended to be Wyatt Earp when playing cowboys and indians, so did we pretend to be Commodore Perry when playing pirates. He was a famous American with, well, at that for us, a distinquished career. That he may not be taught today is just a reflection on how educators decide what is important to teach as history unfolds. Lots of stuff happened since I was in school.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:39 am    Post subject: Choshu Reply with quote
I think its either William Steele or Thomas Huber who stated Choshu's main motivation for the restoration was to escape the mountain of debts they had acumulated after decades of mismanaging the Han forcing them to borrow from the Bakufu to bail themselves out by 1858 they had no means of repaying said debt ,Or its something like that
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