The Korean crisis--movement for representative government--
Press Law--repression of liberalism--the bureaucracy--the
Meiji constitution

THE DISPUTE over policy towards Korea, which split the Meiji leadership towards the end of 1873, had far-reaching repercussions on Japanese politics. Several of those who resigned office proved irreconcilable, despite conciliatory gestures from the government, and some had recourse to armed revolt. Eto Shimpei, for example, led an uprising in Hizen early in 1874, though it was easily suppressed. His colleagues from Satsuma and Tosa proved at first more cautious, but they, too, began to organize the discontented samurai in their former feudal territories, a process made all the easier by the moves towards commutation of stipends which soon followed the Korean crisis. In Tosa this brought the formation of political parties and a demand for representative institutions. In Satsuma it led eventually to a major rebellion under the leadership of Saigo Takamori.

Saigo was a romantic figure, almost destined, one might think, to be a leader of lost causes. He was more powerfully built than most Japanese, an excellent swordsman, an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman, a man with all the samurai virtues: courage, generosity, lack of ostentation, a contempt for money. With them went an impatience with routine that made him a poor administrator, a loyalty towards his subordinates that made it easy for them to sway him. He was traditional in outlook, if not always in policy, and was pledged above all to the


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The Modern History of Japan


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