Meiji History
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Subject: [Kurotokage] Modern Emperors: Meiji, part 1
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 01:00:57 -0800 (PST)
From: Dave Farnell <>
To: Kurotokage <>

Modern Emperors: Meiji, part 1

1) Emperors have two names: their birth name, and their reign name. Some
emperors, such as Meiji, are commonly refered to by their reign name,
while others, such as Hirohito, are better known outside Japan by their
birth name. I'll try to follow a convention of using the birth name for
more personal points, and the reign name for more "imperial" points.
Following is a list of the modern emperors, their names, years of birth
and death, and periods of rule:

Mutsuhito, the Emperor Meiji, 1852-1912 (Meiji Era: 1867-1911)
Yoshihito, the Emperor Taisho, 1879-1926 (Taisho Era: 1911-1925)
Hirohito, the Emperor Showa, 1901-1989 (Showa Era: 1925-1989)
Akihito, the Emperor Heisei, 1933- (Heisei Era: 1989- )
Naruhito, the Crown Prince, 1960-

The eras also serve as a dating system, and are as commonly used inside
Japan as the more universal Western system. Thus, this year, 2001, is
also Heisei 13. My year of birth, 1967, is Showa 42.

2) This is a very bare-bones summary. I've mainly included the most
important bits, and things that seemed to have possible Mythos/Kurotokage
hooks. If you spot something that was left out, by all means bring it up.
My own Mythos/Kurotokage ideas and other personal commentary are in
brackets. Feel free to add others. Anyway, if something's not in
brackets, it's real, as far as the historians can tell, anyway. The main
source is *The Yamato Dynasty*, by Sterling and Sterling.


The future Emperor Meiji was eight months old when Admiral Perry's "Black
Ships" steamed into Tokyo Harbor. Mutsuhito's father, the Emperor Komei,
was a powerless, almost unknown figure in Japan, the common people having
mainly forgotten that Japan still had an Imperial line. Although some
members of the aristocracy played political games, the Imperial Family
had been kept secluded and powerless for centuries, even before the
beginning of the Tokugawa Dynasty. Because they were so isolated and
inbred, the Imperial Family suffered worse infant mortality than even the
poorest classes (assassination of infants was also a factor); Mutsuhito
(or Prince Sachi, as he was called for hs first eight years) was the only
child of his father's six to survive. Like the vast majority of Emperors,
his mother was not the Empress, but rather a concubine from the
aristocratic Nakayama family.

As custom (and the Shogun's law) required, Mutsuhito spent his early
years apart from his parents, with his mother's father. Lord Nakayama was
indulgent and predictably overprotective of the sole heir; Mutsuhito was
a delicate child with a great tendency toward throwing tantrums. Although
he became more physically robust over the years, his health was never
very strong, and his tantrums continued into adulthood.

At the age of five he returned to the palace, where he was surrounded by
nearly three hundred women, who controlled his schedule, who could see
him, and who he could see. They had great control over the flow of
information, of course, and these concubines had, over a period of
millenia, developed into the Emperor's own intelligence force, with
contacts stretching to the farthest reaches of Japan, and even beyond, to
the mainland of Asia. The problem, of course, was that of intelligence
services the world over: they were more interested in maintaining their
own position than advancing the Emperor's. So Prince Mutsuhito usually
only learned what they wanted him to learn.

[The concubines, while not actually "at the table" in the Kuromaku, are
nevertheless important players at the time and for many centuries
preceding. While not actually acknowledging them as part of the Kuromaku,
they had to be treated as a member would be. More important, they were
the core of an Amaterasu Cult, making their secret power even greater. It
was they who contacted and were contacted by Amaterasu herself, learning
the secrets that had to be preserved over the long period when the
Emperors were kept powerless by the Shoguns. They jealously guarded these
secrets, using them as a threat to prevent the Shoguns from disbanding

Emperor Komei was dead-set against opening up to the West. One of his
poems reads, "Perish my body beneath the cold clear wave of some dark
well, but let no foreign foot pollute the water with its presence here."
However, many Japanese who were at all involved in the question were in
favor of at least some degree of opening up to trade and learning. Japan
had suffered long under the increasingly corrupt and incompetent Tokugawa
Shogunate. Without significant outside trade, famines had been
devastating, the economy had been on a roller-coaster ride, and many
could see that what had happened to China would soon happen to Japan
unless Japan took the initiative. Thus, in 1854, a few months after his
first visit, Perry returned to a Shogun ready to deal. The Shogun signed
treaties with America, and later other nations, that opened the door to
foreigners. The treaties were unequal--they allowed foreigners to be
exempt from Japanese law, and biased trade greatly in favor of the
foreigners, at Japan's expense--but they saved Japan from being split up
into colonies, as China had been. However, they also provided the
ammunition for a revolution.

Many lords and samurai protested against the huge, barbaric aliens
invading their land. "Sonno Joi"--a slogan meaning "Revere the Emperor,
expel the barbarians"--was chanted everywhere. Led by the Choshu and
Satsuma Clans, conspiracies thrived, as public officials and foreigners
were assassinated and warehouses burned. The Choshu/Sastuma alliance
couldn't last long, however, as Choshu was isolationist, while Satsuma
wanted to open up (Satsuma had long been the top illegal trader with the
outside world during the period of isolation). After Satsuma men murdered
the Shogun's chief counseler, the Shogun (a 16-year-old boy) went to the
Emperor, promising to expel all foreigners and reorganize the government
if the Emperor would support him. The Emperor Komei agreed, and even gave
the Shogun his sister in marriage, tying the families together.

This caught the conspirators off-guard, as they had expected the Emperor
to support them, not the Shogunate which had kept the Imperial Line
prisoner for centuries. So, in 1864, Choshu troops attacked the Palace,
planning to capture the Emperor and "rescue" him from the "corrupt
elements." Mutsuhito, then eleven, fainted as the battle raged. Much of
the huge palace complex and surrounding noble mansions were burned down
in the fighting, along with a large part of Kyoto. In the end, Choshu was
repelled and the clan was thrown into great confusion. Satsuma, not
wanting Choshu to win too early, joined the Emperor/Shogun alliance, but
secretly supplied Choshu with guns to resist the Shogun's army. In 1866,
the army, heading out to punish Choshu, was ambushed and wiped out. The
Shogun died soon after, his spirit broken.

The Emperor Komei continued to oppose the end of the Shogunate, however,
despite the conspirators' desire to elevate him in power. [Perhaps he
knew that it would only be another cage, with different gilding.] Soon
after, at age 36, he suddenly contracted smallpox and died. Many
historians believe that Iwakura Tomomi, later vice-president of the State
Council, had arranged for the Emperor to use a smallpox-infected
handkerchief. [Possible Mythos explanations abound, of course.]

Several months later, after yet another Shogun had come to power and
resigned, Prince Mutsuhiro was declared the Emperor Meiji, the first
emperor in centuries to be restored to power. In reality, he was nearly
as powerless as ever.

[We would do well to figure out who was on the Kuromaku at this time, and
what the Green Dragons, etc, were doing during all the tumult.]

Subject: Re: [Kurotokage] Modern Emperors: Meiji, part 1
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2001 04:14:50 -0800 (PST)
From: Dave Farnell <>

I'll try to get Part 2 out tomorrow--I think I'll have enough time in the
morning before I have to give my first exams of Finals Week. Taisho and
the rest may have to wait until next week, though, as things will be
pretty busy once the tests actually start up. In the meantime:

--- Edward Lipsett <> wrote:
> Shinto Shrines in Japan always have women at them, and in olden days
> these
> included various sacred women (such as miko; prophetesses). It is worth
> having any connection?

I think it's quite likely. As you know, I'm planning to write up an
overview on religions in Japan, for the player's-info section. Women in
Shinto is something I've read a bit about, but I'm not sure whether the
ladies of the nobility were connected with the miko. I think they
were...but I'm not sure.

> And I did mention Ise Shrine as a source of various ancient manuscripts
> (remember that font I made?).

Of course.

> > secretly supplied Choshu with guns to resist the Shogun's army. In
> 1866,
> > the army, heading out to punish Choshu, was ambushed and wiped out.
> The
> > Shogun died soon after, his spirit broken.
> My recollection, however, is that the Tokugawa line continued, and just
> sort
> of disappeared. Is this another Kuromaku figure, working to restore the
> Shogunate? And if so, why hasn't he done anything since? Or has
> Tokugawa
> (and his untold billions in bullion) joined one of the other groups in
> a bid
> for power?

I think the Tokugawas are not entirely extinct, but they lost just about
all their holdings and money after they were deposed. That's in the next
installment. :-) Basically, the Three Heros (you gotta love these guys)
took from the rich and the rich. They redistributed the massive
Tokugawa wealth (Tokugawa directly and indirectly held most of the land
and wealth of Japan) to the rich and powerful. The common folk, of
course, got nothing, although they did benefit from opened trade.

And Mark McFadden <> wrote:
> Dave, we are going to have to discuss what happened to the concubine
> network(s) during the Occupation. Can you say Recreation and Amusement
> Association? Whoo hoo, I see yakuza and Japan Inc hooks aplenty.
> Amaterasu
> cultists! Oh yes, and women's suffrage not long after the Occupation
> with
> the new constitution. Would anyone be discussing putting a woman on the
> throne if it wasn't for some recent changes in Japanese culture?

Heh-heh! Yes, sounds good! However, keep in mind that the Emperor's
concubines were all drawn from aristocratic families--they were quite far
from being prostitutes. That doesn't mean that they didn't have
connections leading down into the depths of the Floating World,
though--prostitutes could certainly be part of the network (in fact, they
well may have been, in reality--can't see why not, as prostitutes have
always been an excellent source of information). After being disbanded
(again, see next installment) the actual concubines were most likely just
sent home to their families, but some may not have been able--or
willing--to return to their families, especially as some of their
families would have been bankrupted or destroyed in the Restoration. They
could have joined the Floating World, while others, back home, continued
to pull strings and make long-range plans for revenge...

Women's suffrage would be just a means to an end for these dark ladies,
though. In traditional societies, the most powerful (and even many
less-powerful) women tend to take the strongest stance against social
change, even when it means more (apparent) power for women. It's not, as
Western feminists sometimes claim, that they've been brainwashed. Often,
they've got their own program going along pretty much how they want it,
and don't want to see it derailed. Many aspects of gender equality are
still opposed by a lot of women in Japan. They see the traditional family
structure (in which they have a lot of power) as more important than the
"right" to work themselves to death, just like men.

Of course, it's much more complicated than that.

So the question is, what would the Amaterasu Cult get from women's
suffrage and equalization measures? What's in it for them? And how can we
make it sinister? :-)

Something I didn't mention: an early member of the Concubine Network is
Lady Murasaki, the writer of *The Tale of Genji*, the very first novel
ever written (as novels are typically defined by lit profs). It's a bit
heavy to plow through, especially if you're trying to read the complete
12-volume version (I haven't tackled that one yet, and I'm not even sure
if there's a complete English translation), but even the condensed 1- or
2-volume translations carry a distinct whiff of the Vibe. In fact, art,
as you might imagine, is big with the Ladies in Waiting.

And I've been considering how to reconcile the Azathoth (sun goddess,
nuclear blasts) and Hastur (malleable reality, sinister Dreamlands,
byakhee) sides of Amaterasu. How about this: While Amaterasu primarily
drew upon the direct power of Azathoth to fuel her attempt to save her
tribe/Japan/the world from a GOO (or whatever it was), the *technique* of
her attack, the method of channeling that power, was from secret
disciplines that ever after linked her to Hastur, and it is this that led
to her eventual madness.

Hey, maybe that's what brought the byakhee--maybe she summoned a WHOLE
LOTTA the critters. She may even have been the first to summon a byakhee
to Earth, setting it up as a place a lot of byakhee have been to, and
return to regularly (or just hang around in the Oort Cloud or the upper
levels of Jupiter's atmosphere).


Subject: Kurotokage] Modern Emperors: Meiji, part 2
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001 05:30:49 -0800 (PST)
From: Dave Farnell <>

Modern Emperors: Meiji, part 2

[Once again, sorry for the long delay.--Dave]


"...the Court is everwhere filled with devils..."
--Lady Nakayama Yoshiko, mother of the Meiji Emperor

After the death (and probable assassination) of his father, the young
Emperor Meiji, all of fourteen years old when he inherited the throne,
was troubled by nightmares. Lord Nakayama, his grandfather, wrote, "He
has mysterious visions.... Every night, a monkey appears before him and
torments him." [This certainly has potential! And what other nightmares
are unrecorded--dreams of a beautiful goddess offering unimaginable
power?] Nightmares were to haunt him all his life, as well as a fear of
drowning and a hatred of ships and the sea. [Deep Ones? Cthulhu?] After
months of dreadful uncertainty about his future at the hands of the
revolutionaries, the announcement of the Meiji Restoration must have
provided some relief. However, while the ruling coalition claimed that
the entire nation would submit to the Emperor's rule, he must have known
quite early that he would be a puppet.

The new regime embarked on what amounts to an advertising campaign,
desiring to "sell" the Emperor to the public. They dusted off rituals and
symbols that had not been used for centuries, but acted as if the rituals
had never stopped. They masterfully "spun" an image of the Emperor (both
the person and the office) that made it seem as if the Emperor had always
been in charge, except for quite recently, when he was unjustly
controlled by bad leaders.

[In a sense, they were changing consensus reality in an attempt to change
Reality, and thereby playing the King in Yellow game. This, at least, was
the hope of certain members of the regime, part of a
worldwide-yet-unconnected conspiracy to reestablish monarchy as the
standard, and only, form of government--indeed, the only form of
government in human memory: rule by sacred bloodlines that extend into
the forgotten past. Once history was rewritten to suit their aims, once
humanity had forgotten all lesser attempts at profane rule, the past and
future would actually shift to match that history, the True King will
arrive, and humanity will always have been ruled by Him, eternally. Or so
it is promised.]

The campaign worked, although it took time. The Emperor became, for the
rulers, what he had often been in the past: a distraction that allowed
the real rulers [the Kuromaku] to have their power-struggles and corrupt
deals behind the scenes, while appearing to be unified in service to the
Emperor. Any pronouncement they made was made in the name of the Emperor
(who often was not consulted, or was expected to "rubber stamp" decisions
already made for him), and to question or object to these handed-down
rulings was to be against the Emperor, and thus a traitor.

Not only that, but a blasphemous traitor, as the Emperor was a god. This
was not a new idea, but the emphasis was stronger than it had been in
seven centuries. [The use of the term "god" can be confusing here, as
its definition is fundamentally different from that in Judeo-Christian
belief. In Japanese culture, a god can be your grandfather's spirit, or
the spirit of the small mountain behind your house, or the spirit of the
Sun. In Buddhism, boddhisatvas (roughly analogous to saints in
Catholicism) are called "gods" (*kami-sama*) in Japan. So it's not that
"The Emperor is God," but "The Emperor is a god," in a land of hundreds
of thousands of gods. The only thing special about this particular god is
that he's alive.] This emphasis, that the Emperor was not a god but
rather God (or at least one of the most important ones), in a Pharoanic
sense, was to grow until the end of World War 2.

[For Kurotokage's purposes, this whole godhood thing takes on more
sinister implications.]

The Imperial Throne moved from Kyoto to a Shogunate palace in Tokyo in
November, 1868. (This was, of course, put forth as an "Imperial
decision," in which Mutsuhito had no part.) This was symbolic, both as a
break with the past and as an official "taking over" of the reins of
power from the Tokugawas. [This month's issue of National Geographic has
a story on the Imperial Palace, with wonderful pictures, of course. I'm
not sure, but they seemed to imply that it was the first time journalists
had been allowed to take pictures inside the Palace.] In 1869, Mutsuhito
married Princess Haruko, who was two years older than the 16-year-old
boy, but tiny and delicately child-like in appearance. Many, Japanese and
foreign, were later to describe the Empress as unattractive at first
sight, but astonishingly pretty in conversation, due to her energetic and
charming personality.

Meiji began to meet with foreign dignitaries such as Sir Harry Parkes and
Prince Alfred. In his earliest meetings, he was painfully shy and dressed
traditionally (which included full makeup--think Queen Amidala from Star
Wars I), but he became more confident, and more Western, with each
audience. Eventually, his handlers had him wearing a spade-beard (when he
could grow one) and a modern full-dress military uniform. Although he
filled out to look robust and healthy, his health would always be
delicate, and his movements would be accented with nervous, twitchy
jerks, which would be passed down to his grandson, Hirohito.

As he grew into adulthood, he spent his days playing go, writing poems,
riding horses, drinking prodigiously, and enjoying the company of his
wife, his five principal concubines, and his three hundred-odd
ladies-in-waiting. He had fifteen children, none by his wife; only one
male child survived infanthood. Meiji also had an interest in botany, and
bred a new iris.

"I do not mind the bitter cold of winter;
What fills my heart with fear is
The cold hearts of men."
--General Saigo Takamori

The throne was controlled by the State Council, which was controlled by
the top agents of the Satsuma, Choshu, Hizen, and Tosa clans. The masters
of those top agents were known as the "Three Heroes": Saigo Takamori (the
Sword), Kido Takayoshi (the Pen), and Okubo Toshimichi (the Despot).
These three effectively ruled Japan. [And we can safely say that they, or
shadowy forces controlling them, were part of the Kuromaku.] Saigo,
larger-than-life in both physique and personality, was a sincere (but
ruthless), back-slapping, bear-like samurai of the Satsuma clan. Kido, of
the Choshu clan, was a charismatic scholar, handsome, young, and eloquent
with both pen and speech. Okubo was a natural spymaster, a manipulator
fundamentally opposite his clanmate, Saigo.

They set about remaking Japan. Saigo took charge of the armed forces and
turned them into a modern military. Kido restructured the government
after Western models, purging the old guard and creating a new system of
prefectures and governors. Okubo went after finance, confiscating assets
and making sure the Imperial Family had plenty of luxuries, so that they
could be more easily controlled (which was suggested to Okubo by the Iron
Chancellor himself, Bismark). All three, despite great differences in
opinion on many matters, were firmly elitist--to them, "democracy" was
something to pay lip-service to, but never actually enact.

The Three Heroes also remade the Emperor. Although they wanted to keep
him happy and pliable, they also wanted him to command respect from other
world leaders, and he was well on his way to alcoholic dissipation. So
they created the Imperial Household, an agency divided into the Inside,
responsible for daily life, palace staff, managing the life of the
Emperor and Empress, and the Outside, responsible for protocol,
audiences, public appearances, and maintaining the public image of the
Emperor. The duties of the Inside were traditionally held by the
ladies-in-waiting, who vehemently protested. They had spent centuries
building their power, and would not lose it without a fight. But when
they tried to deny Saigo an audience with the Emperor, he simply
disbanded them, dismissing all of them and bringing in manly, sober
samurai as the Emperor's personal attendants. In a stroke, the atmosphere
of the palace changed drastically.

This also brought Saigo into greater contact with the Emperor,
particularly when Kido and Okubo went on a two-year mission to Europe and
America to study government and industry. Saigo became Mutsuhito's close
advisor, and came up with a plan to solve the "samurai problem." Saigo
was modernizing the military, but he couldn't just dismiss the samurai,
who certainly didn't fit into the modern world. Putting them out to
pasture would be a terrible dishonor (and would create a lot of angry,
out-of-work former samurai), so he devised a plan to go to Korea (which
was insulting Japan by refusing to recognize the Japanese government),
act in a very offensive manner, and get himself murdered. Then Japan
could invade Korea in reprisal, with the remaining samurai at the
forefront. The samurai would all get killed, dying honorably, while
weakening Korea's military to allow Japan's regular forces to succeed.
Any surviving samurai would be given jobs in Korea.

Mutsuhito agreed after long hesitation, long enough that Kido and Okubo
returned just in time to stop it. They had plans and didn't want Saigo to
screw things up by moving too quickly. Saigo was humiliated when the
Emperor retracted his agreement, and retired. However, he became a magnet
for disaffected samurai all over Japan, and when he opened his own
military academy in Kagoshima, they flocked to his banner.

This was Saigo's private army, and was seen as a very real threat,
especially by Okubo, who had switched from finance to home affairs, which
gave him command of the national police and secret police. Okubo built up
his power, also managing to insult and embarrass Kido, forcing him, too,
to resign, although Kido hung around Tokyo to make trouble for Okubo. But
Okubo was now the sole real ruler of Japan.

In January 1877, Okubo sent assassins for Saigo. Saigo's men, however,
got wind of the plot and armed themselves, marching on Tokyo with Saigo
at their head. They knew they were doomed. They faced a modern army of
60,000 men, led by General Yamagata Aritomo, a Choshu man and Okubo's
disciple [and we'll hear much more of him later].

Kido was frustrated by all this. To inspire the populace, and perhaps to
lay the ground for popular support for Saigo, he persuaded the Emperor to
ride with him through the streets of Tokyo. It was rainy, but Kido showed
no illness afterward. Still, a few weeks later he mysteriously contracted
"brain fever" and died at age 43.

[Assassination by disease seems a recurring theme...what cults practice
disease magic? Could Okubo have been working for the Green Dragons? The
Cthulhu Cult?]

Saigo kept the civil war going for six months, but he had no chance in
the long run. On September 24, his troops making a last stand on a hill
above Kagoshima, Saigo was mortally wounded in the fighting and, at his
request, beheaded by one of his men. The head was washed and sent to
Yamagata, who said, "Ah, your face looks so were one of the
greatest heroes of our land...What a pity that this should be your fate."
The Emperor honored Kido and Saigo with noble patents, thus elevating
their families to the new system of aristocracy.

Okubo was the lone leader now. However, on May 14, 1878, his carriage was
set upon by assassin's from his own (and Saigo's) Clan Sastuma. He raised
his hand in defense, but they cut through his arm and into his skull.
Enraged, they sliced him to pieces.

[Were they really avenging Saigo? Or was the Hastur Cult trying to
release the Emperor from the wrongful control of a profane commoner? Or
had Kurotokage discovered Okubo's Mythos backing?]

Meiji also raised Okubo's family to the nobility. The stage was set for a
new generation of strongmen.

Subject: [Kurotokage] Modern Emperors: Meiji pt 3
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 21:38:50 -0800 (PST)
From: Dave Farnell <>
To: Kurotokage <>

Modern Emperors: Meiji pt. 3

"Ito is my drinking companion...Yamagata is my soldier."
--Emperor Meiji

The deaths of the Three Heroes left a vacuum that was filled by the
Genro, or Elder Statesmen. Like the Three Heroes, they presented a public
face of service to the Emperor and cooperation for the good of the
nation, while behind the scenes they constantly schemed against each
other, and used the Emperor as their *inkan* (rubber--or more accurately
ivory--stamp). Even more than before, they intensified the cult of
Emperor-worship, making any criticism of the rules he handed down, or of
the Genro itself (with whom those rules actually originated), to be
treason and blasphemy at once. They also made extensive use of the
recently established peerage system; if a critic was too popular to
silence by death or financial ruin, he could be co-opted into the

The two most important members of the Genro were Generals Ito Hirobumi
and Yamagata Aritomo, both Choshu men. Ito excelled at personal
relations--he was an amazing drinker, womanizer, and public-relations
expert. He made friends--and enemies--easily, and became the Emperor's
confidant. Although in personality he seemed to be the inheritor of Saigo
(the Sword of the Three Heroes), he was also quite the schemer, and had
been (the Despot) Okubo's protege, inheriting Okubo's position after the
assassination. The Emperor Meiji would loudly proclaim "Ito is my
drinking partner!" and they did indeed drink prodigious amounts together,
so much that many began to worry about the Emperor's health. Ito made
sure that the Emperor met often with foreign dignitaries, and that he
conduct himself more and more like a Western monarch, except in ritual
capacities, when he would wear traditional garb.

Fascinated by women and well aware of their influence upon public
opinion, Ito did not ignore the Empress in his campaign to raise the
apparent importance of the Emperor. Empress Haruko stopped blackening her
teeth, took to wearing the latest Paris fashions, and charmed everyone
with her "refreshingly open and friendly" manner. She sponsored the
establishment of the Japanese Red Cross, and Ito asked her to preside
over the newly-created Peeresses School (est. 1885), which existed for
the education of the daughters of the swelling ranks of nobility. Both of
these strengthened the inroads that Christianity was making into the
heights of Japanese society, for some of the most important teachers at
the Peereses School were Christians, particularly Quakers, as were top
members of the Red Cross. There was even a rumor that Ito, in his fervor
to Westernize the Emperor, was trying to get Meiji to convert to
Christianity (this was to prove a recurring rumor for later Emperors),
which he hotly denied, and which prompted him to distance himself from
the Peeresses School.

In his youth, Ito had been a "Sonno Joi firebrand," but had then embarked
(or rather escaped) to Europe where he studied government and aspects of
culture. He had personal discussions with Otto von Bismark, whom he
seemed to regard as a mentor, even growing a "Bismark" mustache. He
followed Bismark's philosophy with regard to democracy--when the
democracy movement became too strong, he pre-empted it by having the
Emperor call for a constitution and a Diet (parlaiment), and then
organized them himself so that the Constitution established the Emperor
and Genro as above the law, and made the Diet nothing but a debating
society where politicians could blow off steam and earn a comfortable
living by pretending to represent their districts. He also made the
military answerable only to the Emperor, or rather, the Emperor's
personal representatives (the Genro), thus creating an autonomy in the
military that was to have major consequences down the line.

Yamagata, Ito's public partner and private rival, was the other head of
the Genro. While Ito was publicity-oriented, Yamagata avoided the public
eye. While Ito was hearty, Yamagata was "austere, humorless, bloodless."
But Ito was also poor at delegating responsibility, while Yamagata was a
networking master, and thus had a far stronger power-base than Ito in the

Yamagata came from a poor branch of the Choshu clan, and his parents died
early. He was raised by his grandmother, who, supposedly, drowned herself
in order to assist the advancement of his career. He became the Army
chief, and it was Yamagata who cradled Saigo's head and spoke words of
pity over it. During his tenure, he created the *Kempeitai*, the dreaded
military police, who infiltrated the ranks fo the military and spied on
their own men, as well as the Japanese public. Later, in the Genro, he
built up the secret police to increase spying on the public, and he also
helped Toyama Mitsuru, a former lieutenant of Saigo's, to found the
Genyosha (Black Ocean Society), along with many other secret societies.
He had the services of the Yamaguchi Gumi, the most powerful branch of
the Yakuza, when he needed to use bully-boy tactics.

Yamagata invited Prussians to come to Japan as military advisors and
teachers at the War College, and completed the modernization of Japan's
military. [I wonder if this is when Japanese schoolboys started wearing
Prussian-military-style school uniforms?] He used Genyosha to provoke
numerous incidents in Korea, giving Japan the excuse to invade Korea.
When China sent aid to Korea, Japan sank the ship and invaded Manchuria,
taking the southern part, and forcing China to give Taiwan as part of the
peace settlement. The shocked Western powers, unhappy to see a non-white
nation becoming a player in the colonial game, forced Japan to give back
Manchuria. Soon after, however, Japan brokered a treaty with Britain, and
then fought the Russo-Japanese War, stunning the world by defeating
Russia. In the aftermath, the USA made a secret deal not to contest
Japan's ownership of Korea if Japan would do the same for the USA's claim
to the Philippines.

Ito, growing old, was pressured by Yamagata into taking on the role of
Viceroy of Korea. Yamagata sent a retinue with Ito, most of whom were
members of the Black Dragon Society. In Korea, Ito was unhappy and
overbearing, and was thus easily framed by the Black Dragons as they
proviked the Korean populace with terrorist attacks. In 1909, Ito's
bodyguards allowed a group of armed Koreans onto the train platform where
he was to meet a Russian dignitary. Ito was gunned down.

Emperor Meiji took the death of his old friend badly. Already in poor
health after years of hedonistic living, he deteriorated rapidly, and
died in 1912.

Empress Haruko had no children. However, the Emperor had several children
by concubines; most of the children, and some of the concubines, died
soon after the births. The survivors were four girls born to Lady
Sachiko, who later married "the four most important princes of Japan,"
and one boy born to Lady Naruko in 1879. This boy, who barely survived a
case of "brain fever" (meningitis) soon after his birth, became the
Emperor Taisho upon his father's death.

A few links for the Meiji Period

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