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Curse on This CountryThe Rebellious Army of Imperial Japan$
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Danny Orbach

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501705281

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501705281.001.0001

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Fatal Optimism

Fatal Optimism

Rebels and Assassins in the 1870s

(p.54) 4 Fatal Optimism
Curse on This Country

Danny Orbach

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on one episode in the history of Japanese military insubordination: the emergence of rebels and assassins in Meiji Japan. In October 1876, almost nine years after the Meiji Restoration, there were signs that people were unhappy and imminent rebellion seemed evident. As the Meiji reforms endangered and at times even destroyed the livelihood of many, they often encountered resistance from peasants, shizoku, and former shishi. The chapter examines early Meiji rebellions and conspiracies led by figures such as Takechi Kumakichi and Saigō Takamori in order to understand the patterns of escape to the front, reliance on the hazy center, and the optimism that gave rise to active rebellions. It also considers the failure of Shizoku rebellions and why this enabled the government to enjoy more than half of a century without further military uprisings.

Keywords:   Shizoku rebellions, assassins, Meiji reforms, Meiji rebellions, conspiracies, optimism, military uprisings, military insubordination, Takechi Kumakichi, Saigō Takamori

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