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Title: The collapse of Tokugawa Japan and the role of Sir Ernest Satow in the Meiji Restoration, 1853-1869
Author: Sakakibara, Tsuyoshi
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 1298
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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The main argument relates to an analysis of the essays written by Ernest Mason Satow in 1866, known as Eikoku Sakuron in Japanese, and also to an analysis of British diplomacy at the time of the civil war and during the Meiji Restoration in 1868-69. The major reason why these two areas should be examined is that the common understanding of them, which Japanese historiography has traditionally defined as historical truth, turns out not to be true. The main idea, which it was planned to argue in this thesis, was to emphasise the efforts of Satow during the Meiji Restoration, because Japanese historiography has consistently defined Eikoku Sakuron as the milestone for Japanese political modernization. In other words without Satow, nineteenth-century Japanese could never have promoted their remarkable national transformation. This modernization was connected with British diplomacy. Japanese historiography asserts that thanks to the British, who had supported the anti-feudal forces, the Japanese could found their modern state in such a short period. These two historical assumptions are viewed as common sense even in present Japanese society. However, through this research, it must now be recognised that the tenets defined by orthodox Japanese historiography cannot be accepted in wider academic argument, because what the Japanese have always believed is largely refuted by British and other sources. Regarding Eikoku Sakuron, although it was read by some Japanese, it did not create a huge psychological impact in nineteenth-century Japan. Satow’s argument was revolutionary, but it can hardly be defined as the guideline for eventual modernization. So why has Japanese historiography clung to its ideas and definition? When this question was asked, the direction for this thesis became established. The Japanese interpretation of the Meiji Restoration was established not to pursue historical truth but to justify political actions. In Japanese historiography, there is a tendency that when historians discuss the Meiji Restoration, they revere it unconditionally, whereas when discussing feudalism, they do not analyse it fairly. The Meiji Restoration will be argued more objectively in this thesis. It will become the opportunity to challenge traditional Japanese historiography.
Supervisor: McLean, David A.; Readman, Paul Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available