The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period

The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period

The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period

The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period

Excerpt

The Japanese monarchy survived a thousand years of neglect and the atrophy of its political functions to emerge in the nineteenth century as a powerful instrument of state. From the Meiji Restoration of 1868 until the adoption of the 1946 constitution the emperor was described as the ruler of the country, or at least as the head of its government. The Restoration, almost universally acknowledged as the dividing point between traditional and modem Japan, comprised a variety of changes in the different social spheres; one of the most basic of these was the creation in the political sphere of a new kind of monarchic government which tended to centralize and strengthen the state.

The purpose of the present study is to shed light on the origin of this new conception of the monarchy by examining the last, most obscure, and feeblest phase in the history of the imperial institution before its reemergence. During this period, when the effective central government of Japan was headed by shoguns of the Tokugawa house, the emperors were not only politically impotent, they were virtually imprisoned. Imperial weakness was not a new condition, for the strong, Chinese-style imperial office of early times had already begun to atrophy in the ninth century. However, the process of atrophy was not fully accomplished for many centuries. Power clung to the emperor's office for years after it had left his person; imperial influence persisted in the capital when it had disappeared in the provinces. Even in the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.