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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:12 am    Post subject: Ii Naosuke's Letter to the Bakufu , Oct 1, 1853 Reply with quote
As mentioned previously, Abe Masahiro petitioned all of Japan’s daimyō in 1853 for their opinions on how the Bakufu should respond to Perry’s demand that the country open itself up. From William Beasley’s Selected Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868 (Oxford University Press, 1955), I was able to find a translation of Ii Naosuke’s official reply to the Bakufu in compliance with Abe’s request.

I think it may be interesting to take a look at this, and keep in mind that he wrote this letter long before he was appointed Tairō.

Ii Naosuke to Bakufu, October 1, 1853
Before the year 1635 there were nine government-licensed trading vessels belonging to Nagasaki,
Sakai, Kyoto, etc., but with the prohibition of Christianity in the time of the Shōgun Iemitsu, the Bakufu put an end to the voyages of these nine ships and laid down laws closing the country. Commerce was entirely limited to the Dutch and Chinese, no others being allowed to participate in it. Careful consideration of conditions as they are today, however, leads me to believe that despite the constant differences and debates into which men of patriotism and foresight have been led in recent years by their perception of the danger of foreign aggression, it is impossible in the crisis we now face to ensure the safety and tranquility of our country merely by an insistence on the seclusion laws as we did in former times.

Moreover, time is essential if we are to complete our coast defenses. Since 1609, when warships of over 500 koku* were forbidden, we have had no warships capable of opposing foreign attack on our coasts with heavy guns. Thus I am much afraid that were the foreigners now to seize as bases such outlying islands as Hachijō-jima and Ōshima, it would be impossible for us to remain inactive, though without warships we should have no effective means of driving them off.

There is a saying that when one is besieged in a castle, to raise the drawbridge is to imprison oneself and make it impossible to hold out indefinitely; and again, that when opposing forces face each other across a river, victory is obtained by those who cross the river and attack. It seems clear throughout history that he who takes action is in a position to advance, while he who remains inactive must retreat.
Even though the Shōgun’s ancestors set up seclusion laws, they left the Dutch and Chinese to act as a bridge [to the outside world]. Might not this bridge now be of advantage to us in handling foreign affairs, providing us with the means whereby we may for a time avert the outbreak of hostilities and then, after some time has elapsed, gain a complete victory?

I understand that the coal for which the Americans have expressed a desire is to be found in quantity in Kyūshū. We should first tell them, as a matter of expediency, that we also have need of coal, but that should their need of it arise urgently and unexpectedly during a voyage, they may ask for coal at
Nagasaki and if we have any to spare we will provide it. Nor will we grudge them wood and water. As for foodstuffs, the supply varies from province to province, but we can agree to provide food for the shipwrecked and unfortunate. Again, we can tell them, of recent years we have treated kindly those wrecked on our coasts and have sent them all home. There is no need for further discussion of this subject, and all requests concerning it should be made through the Dutch.

Then, too, there is the question of trade. Although there is a national prohibition of it, conditions are not the same as they were. The exchange of goods is a universal practice. This we should explain to the spirits of our ancestors. And we should then tell the foreigners that we mean in the future to send trading vessels to the Dutch company’s factory at Batavia to engage in trade; that we will allocate some of our trading goods to America, some to Russia, and so on, using the Dutch to trade for us as our agents; but that there will be a delay of one or two years because we must [first] construct new ships for these voyages. By replying in this way we will take the Americans by surprise in offering to treat them generally in the same way as the Dutch.

We must revive the licensed trading vessels that existed before the Kanei period [1624-1644], ordering the rich merchants of such places as Osaka, Hyōgo, and Sakai to take shares in the enterprise. We must construct new steamships, especially powerful warships, and these we will load with goods not needed in Japan. For a time we have to employ Dutchmen as masters and mariners, but we will put on board with them Japanese of ability and integrity who must study the use of large guns, the handling of ships, and the rules of navigation. Openly these will be called merchant vessels, but they will in fact have the secret purpose of training a navy. As we increase the number of ships and our mastery of technique, Japanese will be able to sail the oceans freely and gain direct knowledge of conditions abroad without relying on the secret reports of the Dutch. Thus we will eventually complete the organization of a navy.

Moreover, we must shake off the panic and apprehensions that have beset us and abandon our habits of luxury and wasteful spending. Our defenses thus strengthened, and all being arranged at home, we can act so as to make our courage and prestige resound beyond the seas. By so doing, we will not in the future be imprisoning ourselves; indeed, we will be able, I believe, so to accomplish matters at home and abroad as to achieve national security. Forestalling the foreigners in this way, I believe, is the best method of ensuring that the Bakufu will at some future time find opportunity to re-impose its ban and forbid foreigners to come to Japan, as was done in the Kanei period. Moreover, it would make possible the strictest prohibition of Christianity. And since I understand that the Americans and Russians themselves have only recently become skilled in navigation, I do not see how the people of our country, who are clever and quick-witted, should prove inferior to Westerners if we begin training at once.

The national situation being what it is, if the Bakufu protects our coasts peacefully without bringing upon us permanent foreign difficulties, then even if that entails complete or partial change in the laws of our ancestors I do not believe such action could really be regarded as contrary to the wishes of those ancestors. However, I think it is essential to win the support of the country for Bakufu policy on this occasion, so the Bakufu should first notify the [Imperial] Court and then arrange to send Imperial messengers to the Ise, Iwashimizu, and Kashima shrines and a Tokugawa messenger to the Nikkō shrine, announcing there its resolve to secure tranquility at home and security for the country. Trust in the will of the gods, after all, is the ancient custom of our land; and I believe, moreover, that by so doing the Bakufu may be able to unite national opinion.

It is now no easy matter, by means of orders concerning the defense of Edo and the nearby coast, to ensure that all will be fully prepared for any sudden emergency, so not a moment must be wasted. However many firm walls we construct, they will certainly not be as effective as unity of mind if the unforeseen happens. The urgent task of the moment, therefore, is for the Bakufu to resolve on relieving the nation’s anxieties and issue the appropriate orders.

I am conscious of my temerity in putting forward views that conflict with the existing [seclusion] laws, but I have so reported in accordance with your orders that I was to do so fully and without reserve.

* 3.6 koku equal approximately one cubic meter.

Questions: How does this compare to Tokugawa Nariaki’s letter? Does anybody want to do a detailed analysis? It’s clear that the thinking of both men are on a collision course, but I think a little analysis may be helpful here. I also believe that the policies Naosuke advocates are a reasonable course of action that foreshadows his policies as Tairō. What do you think?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow-the clear thinking of this letter impresses me almost 200 years after the fact. While I don't have the time to do a detailed analysis now, the overall impression is that Nariaki's letter was more of an appeal to emotions and Ii's more of an appeal to the mind. Both had their points, but Ii's is by a large margin the most far sighted and in fact seems to be the plan that all the factions-bakufu or loyalist, sonno joi or defend the Shogunate-eventually used in the end, even through the Meiji period. At this point in time, though, the truth hadn't sunk in for most Japanese-that 'it is impossible in the crisis we now face to ensure the safety and tranquility of our country merely by an insistence on the seclusion laws as we did in former times'. They simply couldn't, or wouldn't, believe it-and weren't ready to take realistic steps to deal with the foreigners.

Last edited by Tatsunoshi on Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Wow-the clear thinking of this letter impresses me almost 200 years after the fact. While I don't have the time to do a detailed analysis now, the overall impression is that Nariaki's letter was more of an appeal to emotions and Ii's more of an appeal to the mind. Both had their points, put Ii's is by a large margin the most far sighted and in fact seems to be the plan that all the factions-bakufu or loyalist, sonno joi or defend the Shogunate-eventually used in the end, even through the Meiji period. At this point in time, though, the truth hadn't sunk in for most Japanese-that 'it is impossible in the crisis we now face to ensure the safety and tranquility of our country merely by an insistence on the seclusion laws as we did in former times'. They simply couldn't, or wouldn't, believe it-and weren't ready to take realistic steps to deal with the foreigners.
You are absolutely right, Tatsunoshi. Very good analysis. Very Happy

This letter left my lower jaw on the keyboard after I found it and read it about six weeks ago. It was actually this letter that finally changed my image of Naosuke from a one-dimensional "Momo Taro ame" to that of a an "iron-willed near-visionary"! It is just amazing how the Cho-sat gang came full circle and pretty much adopted Naosuke's policies and used them to steer the ship not only up through the Meiji period, but also through the early Showa era as well.

I'd really love to see somebody do a detailed analysis of Naosuke's policies as laid out in this letter versus those of Nariaki's. Any takers? Also, more thoughts and opinions about this letter are most welcome.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wow, I have not seen this letter before. This is really interesting. I'd like some more time to read it over a few times, but I think indeed there are some comparisons that can be made at first read.

I used the word clairvoyant before and indeed one particular passage strikes me as exactly that.

Quote:
We must revive the licensed trading vessels that existed before the Kanei period [1624-1644], ordering the rich merchants of such places as Osaka, Hyōgo, and Sakai to take shares in the enterprise. We must construct new steamships, especially powerful warships, and these we will load with goods not needed in Japan. For a time we have to employ Dutchmen as masters and mariners, but we will put on board with them Japanese of ability and integrity who must study the use of large guns, the handling of ships, and the rules of navigation. Openly these will be called merchant vessels, but they will in fact have the secret purpose of training a navy.


This is fascinating because here Ii is stating suggestions of how to appropriately deal with the foreign question that is far less bravado then Nariaki's letter and grounded without Nariaki's panic of subsequent disaster. Considering the shock to the system Perry's arrival was (even though high officials knew it was coming) its even more impressive that Ii was able to take this all in stride as indicated by the calm nature of this letter when compared to Nariaki's.

While Nariaki's letter is very militant toward the foreign question, this letter is very open and diplomatic. Honestly I would have expected someone like Katsu Kaishu to have written this letter, not Naosuke... But there we have it.

Of course our hindsight is 20/20, but its striking that at that time Ii was able to put aside whatever passions he had and calmly evaluate the real threat (not perceived) and formulate an opinion accordingly as Tatsunoshi said is so clear and well laid out.

It also happens to be a remarkable piece of history because, I think it was Obenjo who said it, this particular course of action was more or less adopted outright 6 years after this was written by folks like Katsu Kaishu, Mutsu Munemitsu, Ryoma, and others. I'm really amazed.

EDIT:
I also think that this passage is very interesting:
Quote:
I am conscious of my temerity in putting forward views that conflict with the existing [seclusion] laws, but I have so reported in accordance with your orders that I was to do so fully and without reserve.


In how he finishes his letter, he is clearly aware that he is putting forth opinions that are not in line is the popular vote. (He was 1 of only 4 that opposed seclusion correct?) So this passage indicates in my mind a good example of that resolute side of him that we've been speaking of.

I'm going to read this more and look into it and grab a reference from this for my project. Very fascinating.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Ichi gô, ichi e 一合一会 is extremely famous as a tea saying (as proved by the fact I know it), but I had no idea that Naosuke originated the phrase.

Isn't it 一期一会?
一合一会 sounds like heavy drinker.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm away from home for a couple of weeks so am not able to take much part in these discussions for the time being. But there are points I would like to make about this very interesting letter, and I'll try and get some thoughts together.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:

Isn't it 一期一会?

You are right! Embarassed
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'll leave things as is for a little longer to give people a chance to comment on Ii Naosuke's letter to the Bakufu before moving on to the next topic. And the next topic will be about Naosuke's appointment to the position of tairō and the critical issues he had to immediately deal with.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm trying to think of the mindset of the times the letters were written in. On the one hand, both strike me as somewhat impulsive. Well, that's not quite the right word--hurried. There is a sense of urgency to both--and no wonder, considering what is going on outside.

While not as severe, they remind me of the swirl I've seen in projects where a deadline has suddenly materialized. The one thing you can't do is nothing, but nobody quite knows what to do, fully. Do you shoot from the hip, go with your gut instinct, and try to ride out the consequences, or do you try to delay and give yourself time, possibly leading to collapse if you can't think of something fast enough? This is just human nature, but it is interested to see how it comes out at times of crises, whether large or small.

Let's start by examining the two letters. First, the one by Nariaki:

I. The annals of our history speak of the exploits of the great, who planted our banners on alien soil; but never was the clash of foreign arms heard within the precincts of our holy ground. Let not our generation be the first to see the disgrace of a barbarian army treading on the land where our fathers rest.

He definitely opens with an emotional plea. He apparently also neglects the historical facts, but those would clearly get in the way (two Mongol invasions, and lets not forget how Japan had, by this time, lost most of the land where they had previously 'planted our banners'.

2. Notwithstanding the strict interdiction of Christianity, there are those guilty of the heinous crime of professing the doctrines of this evil sect. If now America be once admitted into our favour, the rise of this faith is a matter of certainty.

Frighten the people. How much does anyone know about Christianity at this time? They just know that they see Christianity as the harbinger of Western colonialism. Still, he's not yet appealing to logic, but to 'must stop the big scary monsters'!

3. What! Trade our gold, silver, copper, iron, and sundry useful materials for wool, glass, and similar trashy little articles? Even the limited barter of the Dutch factory ought to have been stopped.

Another pull at the heartstrings of latent nationalism. It also shows, however, that he underestimates the West. He doesn't feel they have anything superior to Japan. I would guess he probably feels this way in military matters as well. He has pre-judged his enemy without knowing him.

4. Many a time recently have Russia and other countries solicited trade with us; but they were refused. If once America is permitted the privilege, what excuse is there for not extending the same to other nations?

This isn't unreasonable. In and of itself, though, this paragraph would seem to hold little force--it is the fear generated in the preceding three articles that is being multiplied in his vision here.

5. The policy of the barbarians is first to enter a country for trade, then to introduce their religion, and afterward to stir up strife and contention. He guided by the experience of our forefathers two centuries back; despise not the teachings of the Chinese Opium War.

More good, historical reasons to worry. With blood pumping, he seems to now be getting into the heart of the matter. How can Japan expect to open to trade and yet not fall into the same trap as everyone else in the region? Perhaps the only way to win is not to play the game.

6. The Dutch scholars say that our people should cross the ocean, go to other countries and engage in active trade. This is all very desirable, provided they be as brave and strong as were their ancestors in olden time; but at present the long-continued peace has incapacitated them for any such activity.

This is actually surprising because he has been previously exalting the virtues of Japan in contrast to the West, but here he notes weakness. Nonetheless, I find his argument countered nicely in the arguments of Naosuke, who presents a plan to change this.

7. The necessity of caution against the ships now lying in the harbour (i.e. Perry's squadron) has brought the valiant samurai to the capital from distant quarters. Is it wise to disappoint them?

A thinly veiled call to attack the foreigners. But where is the planning and what are the consequences? He seems here to be throwing those away in favor of immediate action.

8. Not only the naval defence of Nagasaki but all things relating to foreign affairs have been entrusted to the two clans of Kuroda and Nabeshima. To hold any conference with a foreign power outside of the port of Nagasaki—as has been done this time at Uraga—is to encroach upon their rights and trust. These powerful families will not thankfully accept an intrusion into their vested authority.

Hmmmm... a call to precedent. Perhaps an olive branch to the Kuroda and Nabeshima. Certainly a warning to the Bakufu, who had to know how precarious their own internal situation was at the time.

9. The haughty demeanour of the barbarians now at anchorage has provoked even the illiterate populace. Should nothing be done to show that the government shares the indignation of the people, they will lose all fear and respect for it.

It has already been pointed out that this is an appeal to populism, but almost more pro forma than anything else, possibly a consequence of Neo-Confucian ideals of justification of the right to rule?

10. Peace and prosperity of long duration have enervated the spirit, rusted the armour, and blunted the swords of our men. Dulled to ease, when shall they be aroused? Is not the present the most auspicious moment to quicken their sinews of war?

One of the problems with peace is how it tends to magnify the romance of war. Nariaki is either a romantic, or appealing to those romantics who glorify the warriors of ages past. However, just as in WWII, it is assumed that the spirit of the warrior, once aroused, will be sufficient. This strikes me as a very Edo period concept, and something that works fine when you are talking about meeting an enemy on otherwise equal or near-equal footing.

So, with few exceptions, I have to agree that Nariaki's is an emotional plea, full of logical fallacies. In addition, he identifies the problem, and identifies a course of action, but he shows shortsightedness in that he seems to think that Japan can just remove the foreigners and then they will stay away. He doesn't express any acknowledgment of the new global nature of the world as a whole.

Let's look at Naosuke's letter, now:

Before the year 1635 there were nine government-licensed trading vessels belonging to Nagasaki,
Sakai, Kyoto, etc., but with the prohibition of Christianity in the time of the Shōgun Iemitsu, the Bakufu put an end to the voyages of these nine ships and laid down laws closing the country. Commerce was entirely limited to the Dutch and Chinese, no others being allowed to participate in it.


An acknowledgment of the situation in generations past...

Careful consideration of conditions as they are today, however, leads me to believe that despite the constant differences and debates into which men of patriotism and foresight have been led in recent years by their perception of the danger of foreign aggression, it is impossible in the crisis we now face to ensure the safety and tranquility of our country merely by an insistence on the seclusion laws as we did in former times.

...followed by a declaration of his intentions. Notice how he also ameliorates the feelings of his opponents by calling them "men of patriotism and foresight". He isn't attacking them, or claiming they are traitors, but opening a debate.

Moreover, time is essential if we are to complete our coast defenses. Since 1609, when warships of over 500 koku* were forbidden, we have had no warships capable of opposing foreign attack on our coasts with heavy guns. Thus I am much afraid that were the foreigners now to seize as bases such outlying islands as Hachijō-jima and Ōshima, it would be impossible for us to remain inactive, though without warships we should have no effective means of driving them off.

Here he acknowledges that, should it come to it, the Bakufu would take action, emphasizing that Japan is not simply rolling over. At the same time, he acknowledges Japan's weaknesses at this time.

There is a saying that when one is besieged in a castle, to raise the drawbridge is to imprison oneself and make it impossible to hold out indefinitely; and again, that when opposing forces face each other across a river, victory is obtained by those who cross the river and attack. It seems clear throughout history that he who takes action is in a position to advance, while he who remains inactive must retreat.

He is quoting (I'm not sure what), showing his erudition. At the same time, he is appealing to that same romantic samurai spirit, but in a less emotional manner than Nariaki had. He is still trying to put his audience in the mindset that they are the same feudal warriors as their ancestors, and are approaching the problem in the same way.

Even though the Shōgun’s ancestors set up seclusion laws, they left the Dutch and Chinese to act as a bridge [to the outside world]. Might not this bridge now be of advantage to us in handling foreign affairs, providing us with the means whereby we may for a time avert the outbreak of hostilities and then, after some time has elapsed, gain a complete victory?

Here he appeals to precedence and starts to lay out a plan. what strikes me is that he has a plan... Nariaki is fire and death and destruction, but his letter doesn't contain a real plan. Just 'attack now!'. I'll discuss this more in closing.

I understand that the coal for which the Americans have expressed a desire is to be found in quantity in Kyūshū. We should first tell them, as a matter of expediency, that we also have need of coal, but that should their need of it arise urgently and unexpectedly during a voyage, they may ask for coal at Nagasaki and if we have any to spare we will provide it. Nor will we grudge them wood and water. As for foodstuffs, the supply varies from province to province, but we can agree to provide food for the shipwrecked and unfortunate. Again, we can tell them, of recent years we have treated kindly those wrecked on our coasts and have sent them all home. There is no need for further discussion of this subject, and all requests concerning it should be made through the Dutch.

Again, very diplomatic. Careful and reasoned. I'm not sure enough about the actual demands to know how well this meets with them, but it strikes me as the kind of diplomacy that could be accepted by the foreign powers of the time.

Then, too, there is the question of trade. Although there is a national prohibition of it, conditions are not the same as they were. The exchange of goods is a universal practice. This we should explain to the spirits of our ancestors. And we should then tell the foreigners that we mean in the future to send trading vessels to the Dutch company’s factory at Batavia to engage in trade; that we will allocate some of our trading goods to America, some to Russia, and so on, using the Dutch to trade for us as our agents; but that there will be a delay of one or two years because we must [first] construct new ships for these voyages. By replying in this way we will take the Americans by surprise in offering to treat them generally in the same way as the Dutch.

An interesting concept. He is breaking with tradition, but offering it in a way that is, well, traditional. He's building off the previous 'bridge' that had been left with the original restrictions on trade and using it to meet the current demands. I doubt Japan could have kept up such a course indefinitely, but as long as they realized that (and I think Naosuke does, based on what he says) then they have time to plan for the future.

We must revive the licensed trading vessels that existed before the Kanei period [1624-1644], ordering the rich merchants of such places as Osaka, Hyōgo, and Sakai to take shares in the enterprise. We must construct new steamships, especially powerful warships, and these we will load with goods not needed in Japan. For a time we have to employ Dutchmen as masters and mariners, but we will put on board with them Japanese of ability and integrity who must study the use of large guns, the handling of ships, and the rules of navigation. Openly these will be called merchant vessels, but they will in fact have the secret purpose of training a navy. As we increase the number of ships and our mastery of technique, Japanese will be able to sail the oceans freely and gain direct knowledge of conditions abroad without relying on the secret reports of the Dutch. Thus we will eventually complete the organization of a navy.

More on his plan. He's offering solutions, not just rhetoric. His solution could be debated, but he isn't really riling people up. Instead he is showing that the Bakufu is in control and has a plan.

... Moreover, it would make possible the strictest prohibition of Christianity. And since I understand that the Americans and Russians themselves have only recently become skilled in navigation, I do not see how the people of our country, who are clever and quick-witted, should prove inferior to Westerners if we begin training at once.

He continues with more points for his plan, but I want to address to things in the latter part of this paragraph. First, he acknowledges the fear of Christianity and suggests a prohibition is possible. I wonder how much the Bakufu was worried about Christianity itself and how much of it was just an appeal to the fears of the people.

Second, his statement "the Americans and Russians themselves have only recently become skilled in navigation." Does he mean 'in the last several hundred years' or what? It does make me wonder about Naosuke's impressions of America and Russia. It does not, however, invalidate his point that Japanese can become good sailors.

The national situation being what it is, if the Bakufu protects our coasts peacefully without bringing upon us permanent foreign difficulties, then even if that entails complete or partial change in the laws of our ancestors I do not believe such action could really be regarded as contrary to the wishes of those ancestors. However, I think it is essential to win the support of the country for Bakufu policy on this occasion, so the Bakufu should first notify the [Imperial] Court and then arrange to send Imperial messengers to the Ise, Iwashimizu, and Kashima shrines and a Tokugawa messenger to the Nikkō shrine, announcing there its resolve to secure tranquility at home and security for the country. Trust in the will of the gods, after all, is the ancient custom of our land; and I believe, moreover, that by so doing the Bakufu may be able to unite national opinion.

Here he makes his appeal to garner the support of the Imperial court and powerful daimyo. He also appeals to the same sense of the past and kami and ancestor worship.

It is now no easy matter, by means of orders concerning the defense of Edo and the nearby coast, to ensure that all will be fully prepared for any sudden emergency, so not a moment must be wasted. However many firm walls we construct, they will certainly not be as effective as unity of mind if the unforeseen happens. The urgent task of the moment, therefore, is for the Bakufu to resolve on relieving the nation’s anxieties and issue the appropriate orders.

This sounds so much better than 'crush those who oppose us!' Wink Seriously, though, I think I can see the beginnings of the Ansei Purge here. Naosuke see national unity as a prerequisite to overcoming the Western powers. While he would likely prefer a peaceful solution, he is ready to do what it takes to ensure that the nation come together.

I am conscious of my temerity in putting forward views that conflict with the existing [seclusion] laws, but I have so reported in accordance with your orders that I was to do so fully and without reserve.

I would say this last is another pro forma addition--a declaration of humility, whether truly felt or otherwise.


These two letters are apples and oranges, almost. Nariaki is delivering a sermon--almost religious. Everything about it is arguing for agitation. Naosuke is putting forward a reasoned debate. Now, one could argue that Naosuke's is the wrong choice, but you have to argue it point by point. Nariaki, on the other hand, proposes little more than 'storm the castle'! A good rallying cry, but what does he actually propose to do to achieve his goal?

On the other hand, Naosuke's letter comes off as rather, well, boring. It isn't really a 'hearts and minds' kind of letter. It is reasoned and well thought out, but it doesn't pull much at the emotional side of things. If he could have delivered the same message with more fire, could he have won more converts over to his way of thinking? On the other hand, was he worried about that? In a feudal age, do you worry about what your inferiors think, or do you simply propose that your own logic should suffice to comfort them? I think this letter was meant for his peers, while Nariaki was more of a populist and stirring up the emotions of the lower-ranking samurai as well as the romantics.

I don't feel like I've done justice to this, but I've tried to hack it apart a little ways. Hopefully someone can add their comments in a more lucid fashion than my own.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
I don't feel like I've done justice to this, but I've tried to hack it apart a little ways. Hopefully someone can add their comments in a more lucid fashion than my own.


I think you've done an excellent job of taking it point by point.

As far as Christianity, I feel that it was looked at by the Japanese (during this period) as being part of the process of foreign conquest, and would be seen no differently than armed soldiers strolling the roads would. All they would really have to look at would be the reasons it was squelched by Hideyoshi, Ieyasu, Hidetada, and Iemitsu-along with the example of the Shimabara rebellion. As you point out, aside from a handful of hidden Christians that were practicing something that had mutated into a whole new religion by this point, Christianity was a great mystery to Japanese at this point. I feel in Ii's case he sees it as a real threat rather than just invoking it to cause panic (but of course, that's impossible to prove).
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:

These two letters are apples and oranges, almost. Nariaki is delivering a sermon--almost religious. Everything about it is arguing for agitation. Naosuke is putting forward a reasoned debate. Now, one could argue that Naosuke's is the wrong choice, but you have to argue it point by point. Nariaki, on the other hand, proposes little more than 'storm the castle'! A good rallying cry, but what does he actually propose to do to achieve his goal?

On the other hand, Naosuke's letter comes off as rather, well, boring. It isn't really a 'hearts and minds' kind of letter. It is reasoned and well thought out, but it doesn't pull much at the emotional side of things. If he could have delivered the same message with more fire, could he have won more converts over to his way of thinking? On the other hand, was he worried about that? In a feudal age, do you worry about what your inferiors think, or do you simply propose that your own logic should suffice to comfort them? I think this letter was meant for his peers, while Nariaki was more of a populist and stirring up the emotions of the lower-ranking samurai as well as the romantics.

I don't feel like I've done justice to this, but I've tried to hack it apart a little ways. Hopefully someone can add their comments in a more lucid fashion than my own.


I left my PC on, went to get a bite to eat and watch some TV, and came back and saw that Josh has rejoined the discussion with a vengeance! Laughing This is an excellent effort that must be commended! Way to go! Smiling Sammy Smiling Sammy Smiling Sammy Smiling Sammy

I do have some comments, and rather than go point by point through your analysis, I thought I’d just zero in on your closing remarks as you got to the heart of the matter very nicely. Nariaki’s letter is an appeal to emotion and his words, in my opinion, portray the man to a “T” as an exciteable and impulsive person. He’s like a flying spark in a tinderbox, as I like to think of him. Naosuke’s letter and its style are also representative of its author’s personality, and the content is unfolded in a logical, well-thought out way that is resolute in bringing a balanced means to an end.

Naosuke’s letter may seem boring, but as you mentioned, these letters weren’t for public consumption and the audience was Abe, the rest of the rojū and senior members of the Bakufu’s bureaucracy. An excited piece, like Nariaki’s letter isn’t going to sway the men who are deciding the fate of the nation. Nariaki, as a mere advisor on defense issues, and although he is a Tokugawa, is a Bakufu outsider, a man looking in from without. As he beats his tom-tom drum, dancing a madman’s warpath trying to get the Bakufu’s attention, he must have looked like a total buffoon to many, including Abe. Nariaki used to be a confidant of Abe’s, but keep in mind that Abe became increasingly anxious about Nariaki as the “black ship crisis” deepened.

I think it may be useful to go back and briefly take a closer look at Nariaki again. Nariaki’s outspokenness had already earned him a heap of scorn and a nasty reputation with the establishment during the Tempō era troubles of the 1830s that also involved issues pertaining to foreign affairs. This is according Harold Bolitho of Harvard University’s chapter the “The Tempō Crisis” which appears in Marius Jansen’s edited The Emergence of Meiji Japan (a collection of chapters from Vol. 5 of the Cambridge History of Japan). Bolitho writes:
    Reformers naturally saw themselves as the “men of talent” known to appear whenever a reform was begun; they customarily considered their opponents thoughtless at best or, at worst, stupid and corrupt. To their critics, on the other hand, the self-styled reformers, if radical, seemed power drunk and doctrinaire, or, if conservative, sycophantic and self-seeking. Politics was a super-heated business during the Tempō crisis, as many, given time to ponder their mistakes in jail cells, came to understand. Not even the daimyo always escaped unscathed, and Tokugawa Nariaki of Mito was one who came perilously close to being repudiated by a domain unable to countenance either his personality or his politics.

I like this passage as the same can also be applied to the Bakumatsu period and characters like Yoshida Shōin come to mind, but I digress. Very Happy Back to Nariaki—he may have survived the Tempō upheavals without long-term censure and with his head still connected to his body, but his calls for throwing the Dutch and Chinese out of Nagasaki, the blocking of Korean embassies and his bellicose and militant anti-foreign rhetoric was becoming one repeat performance too many. Things got so bad that the Bakufu ordered the removal of Nariaki from his position of daimyō in 1844 and he was placed under a form of house arrest. His arrest was later rescinded by the man who initially ordered it—Abe Masahiro. Therefore, I believe that Nariaki was just being himself and his letter is indeed reflective of that—this wasn’t an impulsive shoot from the hip-style letter.

That being said, I think it is safe to assume that Naosuke was well aware of Nariaki’s positions, long before Perry showed up. I think we can also assume that Naosuke knew the allure that Nariaki had among a certain segment of the population and how Perry’s appearance with a squadron of warships presented an opportunity for Nariaki to grow his support base. To me, it appears that Naosuke’s letter is the antithesis to Nariaki’s, both in style, form and content. Both men disliked the fact that superiorly armed foreigners had showed up off the shores of Japan and were making demands. This was an affront that roused the samurai fighting spirit among the entire warrior class who were still indeed living in a feudal society that glorified past military achievements. Ii Naosuke was not immune to these emotions. However, I think he just had a different battle plan that was aimed at winning the struggle with the West over a longer term, rather than go down in a blaze of glory in a futile stand against the Americans or British. I also think that Nariaki was not totally stupid and realized what Japan was up against, but was trapped by his own rhetoric. When faced with this, Nariaki likely reasoned that rather than alter his beliefs, it would be better to urge his followers to "drink the Cool-Aide” and spark a confrontation that would plunge the country headlong into a suicidal war with the West—something that would be eventually played out 88 years later.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I know it is outside of our study, but I had never before truly noticed how Japan's role in WWII is so dramatically foreshadowed in the Bakumatsu period.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
[VERY Astute analysis and comparison of Nariaki's and Naosuke's letters]

I don't feel like I've done justice to this, but I've tried to hack it apart a little ways. Hopefully someone can add their comments in a more lucid fashion than my own.
I haven't been contributing to this discussion before. Mainly because of my own vast ignorance and the vast store of information of the people here who have filled my own mind with more knowledge. Very Happy

I'm still quite ignorant. However, reading through Naosuke's letter, in many ways, the views express many of the views that Sakamoto Ryoma would also express in some of his letters and comments. Though if my dates are correct (and they problably are NOT, as usual Just Kidding ), at the time that these letters were composed, Ryoma was still a Tosa "sonno-joi" nationalist.

However, it might not be a bad idea to compare and contrast the views expressed by Ii Naosuke and those of the more mature Sakamoto Ryoma (after he had allied with Katsu Kaisho).

The only real differences that I can see in the views of these two men were that Ryoma distrusted the Tokugawa Bakufu. He believed that the Bakufu had to be overthrown because of its deep corruption and weaknesses. Then a new government could strengthen Japan's defenses and engage in trade with the West. In constrast, Naosuke believed that the Bakufu could be strengthened rather than overthrown. He believed that a Japan united under the Bakufu could engage in trade while protecting Japan from any foreign aggression.

Please, PLEASE correct me if I mis-stated anything here. Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
In 1853, at the time that Ii Naosuke wrote the letter we have been discussing, Ryoma was still a very young samurai who had just come to Edo to train at the Chiba dojo. As Tosa had been given responsibility for strengthening the shore batteries around the Shinagawa area of Edo, he did his share of manual labor in helping to build the fortifications around what is now Tennozu. He was not a shi-shi at the time. In 1854, Ryoma returned to Tosa and studied under Kawada Shoryo. Ryoma did not become a shi-shi until he joined Hanpeita's Tosa Loyalist Party in 1861--a year after Ii Naosuke was assassinated.

As has already been pointed out, the Sat-Chō oligopoly, along with a handful of former Bakufu leaders who made up the early cabinets of the Meiji government (such as Katsu Kaishu-not ‘Kaisho’) full-heartedly deployed the strategy that Naosuke advocated. It was really the only reasonable course of action to take in terms constructing a foreign policy that would preserve Japan's independence and buy it the time it needed to strengthen its military forces and economy. The Meiji period slogan for this policy was called "fukoku kyōhei”, meaning “rich country, strong army". Katsu was a firm believer in this policy from the get-go, and he definitely benefited from Naosuke's patronage. Now as Ryoma was a disciple of Katsu Kaishu's, how do you suppose like-minded ideas got implanted in his head?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Interestingly enough, as we have been talking about Ii Naosuke's policies proving to be the way forward for Japan, I stumbled across the below site as I was checking out the Hikone Castle Museum's page.

http://www.hikone-150th.jp/

There is a celebration going on called "Ii Naosuke -Gateway to the Future" in Hikone as this is the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the US and Japan.

I was already planning on stopping by Hikone in August, and now I am really looking forward to it. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
As has already been pointed out, the Sat-Chō oligopoly, along with a handful of former Bakufu leaders who made up the early cabinets of the Meiji government (such as Katsu Kaishu-not ‘Kaisho’) full-heartedly deployed the strategy that Naosuke advocated. It was really the only reasonable course of action to take in terms constructing a foreign policy that would preserve Japan's independence and buy it the time it needed to strengthen its military forces and economy. The Meiji period slogan for this policy was called "fukoku kyōhei”, meaning “rich country, strong army". Katsu was a firm believer in this policy from the get-go, and he definitely benefited from Naosuke's patronage. Now as Ryoma was a disciple of Katsu Kaishu's, how do you suppose like-minded ideas got implanted in his head?
By Ryoma's association with Katsu Kaishu (sorry for the typing error). Kaishu (a Tokugawa official) greatly influenced Ryoma's thoughts and ideals.

Now I'll sit back again, keep my reading glasses on, and continue reading and learning from the discussion. Cool
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Great analysis, Josh. And interesting about thinking into the mindset of the time. Plus excellent stuff from OK as usual Very Happy

I don't think Ii shows much insight into the Americans and their demands. The idea that Japan would only supply coal if they have enough and that the Americans can take their turn with the Dutch at Nagasaki does not indicate a full appreciation of the situation. I think in the letter Ii is showing his wiliness and is playing for time - as Harris was to find out this was the classic Bakufu form of negotiation: offer something miniscule, obfuscate, deceive etc etc. I think a case can be made for the argument that Ii hardly even intended to keep the details of the treaty he had signed. He did not understand the demands of international law, as did few Japanese at that time. A lot of his letter seems almost pro-forma to me, playing for time, sounding rational, at the same time revealing an underlying note of urgency, as Josh says.

The argument that a fight is sometimes necessary (sorry I am paraphrasing here due to shortage of time and being on webmail) to break up a stalemate is very common in military theory of the time and I think definitely foreshadows some of the thinking before WW2: you should go to war in the spirit of leaping of a veranda. (Sometimes it works against reason, as for Takasugi against the conservatives in Choshu later in the period, which is why the reckless keep on using it as a strategy.)
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Regarding International Law--I could just as well argue that *we* didn't understand International Law; or rather that the Americans tended (and still do) to be very much Legalists regarding laws and treaties. Up through WWI, at least, it could be shown that many countries viewed treaties as marriages of convenience, to be dropped as soon as one party or the other felt it was no longer in their best interests.

So I'd say it isn't so much that he didn't understand International Law (in this situation) as he didn't understand the Americans--but how could they? Efforts had long been focused on the Brits, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russians. Americans had been out and about, but were still working on figuring out where the borders of their own country were, and I wouldn't say we were a powerhouse in the international politics of the times.

In many ways, even if it was a stock tactic, delaying until they could learn more about the Americans, at least, was the only rational option that I could see. I think this is why Perry was assuaged by the initial answer he received--because he probably realized it was too much to ask someone to come to the negotiating table with a complete stranger.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
I don't think Ii shows much insight into the Americans and their demands. The idea that Japan would only supply coal if they have enough and that the Americans can take their turn with the Dutch at Nagasaki does not indicate a full appreciation of the situation.


It's hard to say if Ii had much insight into Americans and their demands based on how he would handle them (even though, obviously, given the lack of previous interaction with the USA and the fact that he was not yet part of the Bakufu 'loop' indicate that he would be pretty much in the dark). No matter what their demands were or his knowledge of their history/psychology, it's a good bet his recommended action would have been the same-trying to mollify them and stall for time by opening trade (throwing them a bone, in essense) at a location where facilities and government offices were already in place to oversee, control and limit it.

I think what separated Ii's version of 'negotiate and delay' from the rest of the Bakufu's 'negotiate and delay' is that the Bakufu delayed hoping that they could through this process get the foreigners to accept smaller concessions and, hopefully, eventually get tired of the whole mess and leave on their own (like the English did early in the Edo period). Ii, on the other hand, wanted to use the delay to gain time to start doing things differently-he had a far reaching and long term plan in mind.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
It's hard to say if Ii had much insight into Americans and their demands based on how he would handle them (even though, obviously, given the lack of previous interaction with the USA and the fact that he was not yet part of the Bakufu 'loop' indicate that he would be pretty much in the dark). No matter what their demands were or his knowledge of their history/psychology, it's a good bet his recommended action would have been the same-trying to mollify them and stall for time by opening trade (throwing them a bone, in essense) at a location where facilities and government offices were already in place to oversee, control and limit it.



I think it might be worth while to post a warning letter the Japanese received from the Dutch simply for context of events prior to Ii's rise to power.


Correspondence between William II of Holland and Tokugawa Ieyoshi,the Shogun of Japan, 1844


"It is an extraordinary fact that the crushing humiliation suffered by China in her defeat in the Opium war, of which the Japanese government was aware, made little impression on that government insofar as making preparations to avoid untoward confrontations with the Western powers then active in Asian waters was concerned. It is true, of course, that the Bakufu (the shogun's central military administration) relaxed the policy of refusing aid to ships in distress in 1842, but that hardly served the main motive of Western intrusions in the area, namely, the opening up of the country to trade. The Opium war waged by Britain had as much, if not more, to do with extending British trade in China in the face of severe restrictions long imposed by the Chinese as it had to do with exacting compensation from China over the aggressive actions of Commissioner Lin. As is evident from the Bakufu's reply to King William's timely warning, Japan insisted on clinging to her ''ancestral customs." As a consequence, she too had to endure humiliation, though at the gentler hands of the Americans a decade later.

The Dutch government would surely have been justified in regarding the reply as an implied insult. After all, one sovereign writing to another might have expected the courtesy of a personal reply, rather than at second-hand through bureaucrats. Moreover, the inferior position of Holland is signaled in the assumption of King William's "sincere loyalty," hardly an expression to be used between sovereign equals. Of course, the Dutch representatives and traders in Japan were used to Japanese assumptions of superiority; they had endured at Nagasaki--in the interests of their exclusive trade--over two hundred years of personal humiliations and crippling restrictions without demur.

We, William the Second by the Grace of God, King of the Netherlands, (etc.) . . .write this our Royal letter with a faithful heart to our Friend, the very noble, most serene, and all powerful sovereign of the great Empire of Japan, who his seat in the Imperial Palace of Yedo, the abode of peace.

May this epistle be duly delivered into the hands of our Imperial Friend and find him in good health and peace. . . .

This unfaltering goodwill exhibited towards our subjects fills us with kindly feelings towards Japan and the desire to do all that is possible for the furtherance of peace within Your Imperial Domain and for the prosperity of Your subjects.

There never has been any correspondence between the sovereigns of the Netherlands and Japan . . . . But now we feel drawn to terminate this silence. There are important matters worthy of communication. They do not concern the trade of our subjects with Japan, but the political interests of the Empire. They relate to matters worthy to be treated of between King and King.

The future of Japan causes us much anxiety. May we succeed in averting imminent disaster by our good counsel.

From the communications that our vessels bring from year to year to Nagasaki, Your Majesty will have learnt that the King of England has lately been waging a violent war against the Chinese Empire. . . . The mighty Emperor of China after a long but fruitless resistance, was finally compelled to succumb to the superior power of European military tactics, and in the consequent treaty of peace, agreed to conditions by which the ancient Chinese policy has undergone great alteration, and whereby five Chinese ports have been opened to European trade. . . . quarrels occurred between the English merchants and the Chinese officials at Canton. From that quarrel war arose. That war was fatal to China, for many thousand Chinese were killed, many cities were taken and devastated, many millions in treasure were yielded as indemnity to the conquerors.

Such disasters now threaten the Japanese Empire. A mere mischance might precipitate a conflict. The number of all sorts of vessels sailing the Japanese seas will be greater than ever before, and how easily might a quarrel occur between the crews of those vessels and the inhabitants of Your Majesty's Dominion!

The thought that such quarrels may end in war fills us with solicitude. The wisdom that characterizes Your Majesty's Government will, we hope, know how to avert these dangers. This wisdom was already evident in the mandate (of 1842) ordering the kindly treatment of all foreign vessels. But is that mandate sufficient ?

Only such vessels are mentioned, as are driven on to the Japanese coast by hurricane or lack of provisions. What will be done with vessels that come for other and friendly reasons to visit the Japanese coast? Are these to be repulsed by force or unfriendly treatment? Will quarrels arise? Quarrels lead to war, and war leads to destruction. Those are the disasters which we wish to avert from Japan. It is our desire as a token of gratefulness for the hospitality enjoyed by our subjects for more than two hundred years. The philosopher says: "In security, we must guard against danger ; in peace, against confusion."

We have watched the course of events with serious attention. The intercourse between the different nations of the earth is increasing with great rapidity. An irresistible power is drawing them together. Through the invention of steamships distances have become shorter. A nation preferring to remain in isolation at this time of increasing relationships could not avoid hostility with many others.

We know that the laws of Your Majesty's serene Ancestors were issued with a view rigorously to restrict intercourse with foreign nations. . . . (But) when in the strict observance of old laws, peace might be disturbed, wisdom will succeed in smoothing difficulties.

This, Allpowerful Emperor, is our friendly advice; ameliorate the laws against the foreigners, lest happy Japan be destroyed by war. We give Your Majesty this advice with honest intentions, free from political self-interest. We hope that wisdom will make the Japanese Government realize that peace can only be maintained through friendly relations, and that these are only created by commercial relations.

Should Your Majesty be desirous of receiving further information in this matter so important for Japan, then we shall be pleased, after receiving a letter from Your Majesty's own hand, to send an Envoy to Japan ; one who possesses our entire confidence, and who might be able to explain to Your Majesty all particulars which we have roughly outlined in this letter.

. . . For the courtesy continually shown to our subjects, we offer You our thanks. We further commend them to the protection of the Japanese Government.

We wish Your Majesty, that the Almighty, who blessed Your serene father with so long a reign, will permit Your Majesty to enjoy the same prosperity. May blessing, rest, and peace be granted to the great Empire of Japan for all time.

Given at our Royal Palace at the Hague the 15th day of February 1844 . . .

(Signed) William"

The Reply, via the Bakufu, to the Dutch Government:

In the seventh month of the last year a letter from Your Excellencies' Sovereign dispatched by a Dutch vessel arrived at the port of Nagasaki in our province of Hizen. The chief magistrate of that port . . . on receipt thereof forwarded it to Yedo and it has been attentively read by our Lord.

That Your Excellencies' Sovereign in view of the trade relations which have subsisted for the past two hundred years should from so great a distance take into consideration the interests of our country and offer suggestions was most certainly evidence of hearty good will. Moreover, our Lord gratefully appreciates and returns thanks for the various precious gifts which have been presented.

Although the suggestions offered are worthy of adoption, there are reasons why this can not be. When the founder [Tokugawa Ieyasu] of our dynasty entered upon his career, intercourse and trade with countries beyond the sea were in an unsettled condition. Later when the time came for determining with what countries intercourse should be permitted, intercourse was limited to Korea and Loochoo [i.e., the off-shore Ryukus Is.), and trade to Your Excellencies' country and China. Aside from these countries all intercourse was entirely disallowed. If now it were desired to extend these limits, it would be in contravention of the ancestral law.

Hence we communicate this decision to Your Excellencies and thus inform Your Excellencies' Sovereign. Although this may appear discourteous, such is the strictness of the ancestral law, that no other course is open to us.

. . . . Now since the ancestral law has been once fixed, posterity must obey. Henceforth, pray cease correspondence. If not, although it should be attempted a second or a third time, communications can not be received. Pray do not be surprised at this. Letters from Your Excellencies also will have the same treatment and will receive no response.

Nevertheless, the trade of Your Excellencies' country will remain unchanged. In this also the ancestral law will be carefully observed. Pray communicate this to Your Excellencies' Sovereign.

Notwithstanding what we have stated, our Lord in no wise fails in respect toward Your Excellencies' Sovereign, but on the contrary deeply appreciates his sincere loyalty. . . We may have inadequately expressed Our Lord's real purpose, but we trust Your Excellencies will understand it.

(Signed) Abe Masahiro (et al.)

Source: [Ref.: Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. XXXIV, 1907]
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I am aware of this exchange of letters, but dismiss it only as it is, in my opinion, an attempt by the Dutch to keep/expand their precarious monopoly on Western trade with Japan. In reality, trade volume between Holland and Japan was miniscule and the Dutch were treated as garbage. Again, this is nothing short of an attempt by Holland to improve their standing in the eyes of the Bakufu and to use this as a means to improving their situation and influence.

Of course, you can't blame the Dutch. They viewed England's gains in Asia as a threat to their unique position, which of course, the Dutch wanted to preserve and grow. Holland was not the first rate power it once was in the 17th and early 18th centuries and was looking for a way to keep it’s “ticket to the big show”.

Japan's response is a typical polite, "thanks, but shoganai and butt out" answer. If anyone else seems anything else interesting in this, please go ahead and post it within the next 18 hours or so, as I intend to move on to the next topic in the Naosuke saga as previously stated.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
If I may, I think its a good time to go to the next topic as this has been covered fairly well in my opinion. As the water flowers, so they say.
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Obenjo Kusanosuke
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ii Naosuke Takes Charge

Moving on from the discussion on the letters, and before we move into the problems that Ii Naosuke faced as tairō, it may be a good idea to review how Naosuke found himself appointed to this position.

Although there has been discussion on another thread about the intellectual capabilities of Shogun Iesada, I’d like us all to take a leap of faith and consider that the man had some intellect and was aware of what was going on around him, but was simply weak-minded when it came to being decisive about settling issues of brevity. One of Iesada’s advisors who apparently realized this, a man named Hiraoka first suggested Naosuke’s name as a possible candidate for the position of tairō. The Shogun took this under consideration, although nothing seemed to happen for awhile—typical for Iesada!

Then on June 4, 1858, the Shogun sent a messenger to the Ii yashiki in Edo with a note conveying that it was Iesada’s wish to appoint Naosuke as the Bakufu’s tairō. The following day, Naosuke officially ascended to the post in a ceremony at Edo castle and a new chapter to the history of the Bakumatsu was about to start.

Questions:
1. What is the definition of “tairō” and what is the scope of the position?
2. Is this a “normal” position within the history of military rule in Japan (Kamakura, Muromachi and Tokugawa shogunates)?
3. What was the event that finally convinced Iesada (or his closest advisors) to name Naosuke as tairō? Just please describe it without too much detail, as this event will play a major role in kicking off the next topic in this discussion group.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Questions:
1. What is the definition of “tairō” and what is the scope of the position?
2. Is this a “normal” position within the history of military rule in Japan (Kamakura, Muromachi and Tokugawa shogunates)?
3. What was the event that finally convinced Iesada (or his closest advisors) to name Naosuke as tairō? Just please describe it without too much detail, as this event will play a major role in kicking off the next topic in this discussion group.


Tairo means 'first minister' or 'great elder' under the Shogun and the officeholder was also sometimes called Genrou or Otoshiyori. The office was a construct of the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo period, not having a direct antecedent in the Kamakura or Muromachi ages. It was usually filled by a member of the Sakai, Ii, or Hotta families (no tozama daimyo need apply). The office was not always kept filled-usually, a Tairo was appointed when there was an immediate crisis facing the government and decisions needed to made quickly and decisively, bypassing the normal debate of the Roju council. It was also used when the Shogun was ill or when he didn't feel like making a decision himself.
The immediate cause of Ii being appointed Tairo had to do with the failure of Hotto Masamutsu (might have the spelling wrong on this) to gain the Imperial Court's cooperation in the matter of treaty negotiations with Towsend Harris in the spring of 1858.
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Dash101
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tairo was a position in Government that was only to be filled during "times of great urgency".

On page 13 in Agitated its said that there are very few in the history of the Tokugawa that were ever appointed Tairo but there are a fair number if one compares to how many Tokugawa Shoguns ruled. (EDIT: 12) men took up the position of Tairo during the Edo period compared to 15 shoguns over the same period.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/大老

EDIT: I've removed this paragraph for fact checking.


I am not aware of any Tairo positions being held in the Kamakura bakufu but there was a council of Go-Tairo (five elders 五大老) during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's reign of which Ieyasu was one. This is the first ever occupation of a position of this nature that I am aware of. Perhaps others could fill in further detail on this?

EDIT:

With regards to Ii's appointment, Tsuzuki Chushichi in the book 'The Pursuit of Power in Modern Japan' says that it was Hotta's failure with dealing with Emperor Komei that lead to his political downfall and directly lead to Ii Naosuke's appointment. Essentially the head of the Roju council, Hotta Masayoshi "suffered an open rebuff" (Beasley, Meiji Restoration p. 114) and because of that needed to be replaced for the good of the Shogunate.

Here is a quote from Page 42 of Tsuzuki's book:

"What the court achieved by its intransigence was not a reappraisal and revision of the Bakufu's policy but the downfall of Hotta, who was replaced in his job by Ii Naosuke, who had come to the same conclusion but with greater force: 'Better', said Ii 'to act against the emperors wishes than to fight a losing war'.


Last edited by Dash101 on Tue Jul 22, 2008 3:57 am; edited 2 times in total
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