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Triumph of the Peace Party in Japan in 1873

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011

Nobutaka Ike
University of Washington
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The first major schism to rend the inner core of the ruling group which had been in control in Japan since the Restoration in 1868, occurred in 1873 through differences of opinion over the proposal to send an expedition to Korea. For several years previous to 1873 there had been a growing demand, particularly on the part of the ex-samurai group, to make war on Korea. The dynamics, in this case, were neither obscure nor occult; they simply represented another example of the intimate relation which often exists between domestic policy and foreign policy.

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1943

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1 Herbert Norman, E., Japan's emergerne as a modern state (New York: Institute Pacific Relations, 1940), especially pp. 8185.Google Scholar

2 Idditti, Smimasa, The life of Marquis Shigenobu Okuma (Tokyo, 1940), p. 154.Google Scholar

3 Mounsey, Augustus H., The Satsuma rebellion (London, 1879), p. 62.Google Scholar

5 Herbert Norman, E., op. cit., p. 86.Google Scholar

6 Pollard, Robert T., “The dynamics of Japanese imperialism,” Pacific Historical Review, 8 (March, 1939), 535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Also see the article by H. J. Timperley in this issue.

7 Dennett, Tyler, Americans in Eastern Asia (New York, 1941), pp. 433–34.Google Scholar

8 Treat, Payson J., “China and Korea, 1885–1894,” Political science quarterly, 49 (December, 1934), p. 507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

9 Kuno, Yoshi S., Japanese expansion an the Asiatic continent (Berkeley: Uníversíty of Calífornía Press, 1937, 1940) vol. 1, p. 234Google Scholar, vol. 2, pp. 334–43. Cf. Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., p. 429.Google Scholar Also references to Korean tribute missions are scattered through Murdoch, James, A History of Japan (London, 19031926)Google Scholar, Volume 3.

10 Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., pp. 434–35.Google Scholar

11 Ibid., p. 435.

12 Translated from the German in Foreign relations of the United States, 1871 (Serial Document, 1502), p. 75.

13 Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., footnote, p. 435Google Scholar; Hishida, Seiji G., The international position of Japan as a great power (New York, 1905), p. 163Google Scholar; Ariga, Nagao, “Diplomacy,” in Alfred Stead (ed.) Japan by the Japanese, p. 148.Google Scholar

14 There is some disagreement on the date of this expedition. Nagao Ariga (Ibid). and Tyler Dennett (op. cit., p. 435) who follows Ariga both give 1871, whereas E. Herbert Norman (op. cit., p. 85) gives 1872 and also says that Hanabusa “sent some ship-wrecked Koreans back by two Japanese warships. I have been unable to confirm the latter statement. Another reference which tends to throw the weight in favor of 1871 is found in Shuhsi, Hsu, China and her political entity (New York, 1926), p. 104Google Scholar which says that Japan's actions in Korea “were confined to a naval demonstration after the fashion of the Western Powers. This took place about the time of the Treaty of 1871 was being negotiated in Tientsin between the viceroy Li Hung-Chang and the Japanese plenipotentiary, Date Muneki.”

15 Ariga, Nagao, op. cit., p. 148Google Scholar, 159; Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., p. 439.Google Scholar

16 Foreign relations of the United States, 1871, p. 75.

17 Longford, Joseph H., “Japan's relations with Korea,” The Nineteenth Century, 55 (1904), p. 210.Google Scholar

18 Ariga, Nagao, op. cit., p. 148.Google Scholar American Minister to Japan De Long reported in November, 1872, that Japan was about to start a most ambitious military program, Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., p. 439.Google Scholar

19 From “Souvenirs” (Jikkwason) by General Torio in Ariga, Nagao, op. cit., p. 165.Google Scholar

21 Ichiro, Tokutomi, Koshoku Yamagata Aritomo-den [the biography of Prince Yamagata] (Tokyo, 1933), vol. 2, p. 308.Google Scholar

22 Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., p. 433.Google Scholar

23 Tsiang, T. F., “Sino-Japancse diplomatic relations, 1870–1894,” The Chinese social and political science review, 17 (April, 1933), p. 56.Google Scholar He says in part, “Although the talk on Formosa was later used as the basis for the expedition of 1874, Soyeshima probably had in mind more Korea than Formosa …” Also the United States Minister to China reported a conversation with Soejima in which among other things, the latter said that he wanted to determine the precise relations between China and Korea. This diapatch from Peking dated June 13, 1873 was sent by Frederick F. Low to Secretary of State Fish, Foreign relations of the United States, 1873, vol. 1, p. 188.Google Scholar

24 Ariga, Nagao, op. cit., pp. 165–66.Google Scholar

25 Tsiang, T. F., op. cit., p. 15.Google Scholar

26 Ibid., p. 17.

27 Ariga, Nagao, op. cit., pp. 161–62.Google Scholar However Professor Tsiang contends that “This version and Professor Ariga's comments thereon do not agree not only with Chinese contentions, but also with the contentions of Yanagiwara and Okubo in their notes to the Yamen in 1874 …” See Tsiang, , op. cit., p. 17.Google Scholar

28 Ichiro, Tokutomi, op. cit., p. 301.Google Scholar Smimasa Idditti's account differs slightly. See op. cit., pp. 151–52.

29 Idditti, Smimasa, op. cit., p. 155.Google Scholar

30 Ichiro, Tokutomi, op. cit., p. 304.Google Scholar

31 Idditti, Smimasa, op. cit., p. 155.Google Scholar Saigō's “idea seems to have been that in performing or rather trying to perform, his mission he would be murdered by a Korean mob and that his death would furnish a fair casus belli for his country.”

32 The government could not execute what it had decided because it was bound by a written agreement not to undertake major changes without Iwakura's approval. Article 2 required that the Iwakura mission and the stay-at-home members mutually report important incidents; article 5 provided that internal changes be avoided until after the return of the mission, and that if by any chance reforms were necessary, they must first ask Iwakura by letter. The complete text of this agreement is given in Tokutomi [chirō, op. cit., pp. 274–75.

33 Ichirō, Tokutomi, op. cit., p. 305.Google ScholarIdditti, Smimasa (op. cit., p. 155)Google Scholar however says that Sanjō reserved the right to submit the cabinet's opinion to the Emperor pending the return of Iwakura. Essentially the same view is presented in Uyehara, George Etsujiro, The political development of Japan (London, 1910), p. 74.Google ScholarHamada, Genji in his Prince lio (Tokyo, 1936), p. 68Google Scholar says the Saigō bloc had secured a tentative approval to dispatch an expedition to Korea.

34 There is a view that the envoys came hurrying home when news of the Korean development reached them. McLaren, Walter Wallace, A political history of Japan during the Meiji Era, 1867–1912 (New York, 1916), p. 98.Google Scholar

35 Nagao Ariga, op. cit., passim.

36 Ichiro, Tokutomi, op. cit., p. 306.Google Scholar

37 Ibid., p. 309.

38 Ibid., p. 306.

39 Ibid., pp. 306–07. Hamada, Gengi (op. cit., pp. 6869)Google Scholar says: When finally the Emperor gave his decision, it was to reverse his earlier one: the conquest of Korea was ordered abandoned.”

40 Ariga, Nagao, op. cit., p. 167Google Scholar, Dennett, Tyler, op. cit., p. 442Google Scholar, also Akagi, R. N., Japon's foreign relations, 1542–1936 (Tokyo, 1936), p. 116.Google Scholar