井の中の蛙

4/10/2008

Donald Keene’s Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World, 1852-1912

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 4:17 am

What follows are my notes on Keene’s biography and study of Meiji, chapter by chapter. I make no guarantees for their accuracy or usefulness to anyone else. English translations of the French passages in Chapter 62 are at the bottom of the page. My commentary on the book is here.

Chapter

pages

Dates

brief notes

1

1-9

1831-1852

Introducing Emperor Kōmei. “the official record for November 3, 1852, states laconically that a prince was born.” (9)

2

10-19

1852-1853

Birth of prince; arrival of Perry.

3

20-27

1854-1855

Arrival of Russians. Shimoda tsunami. Beginning of Ansei era.

4

28-36

1856-1858

Townsend Harris arrives. Kōmei’s anti-foreign views harden. Early childhood of Prince Sachinomiya (aka future Emperor Meiji).

5

37-45

1858-1859

Kōmei threatens to abdicate; Kōbu gattai attempted. Ii Naosuke becomes Tairō; Ansei purge affects court. Sachinomiya begins participating in court ritual.

6

46-55

1859-1860

Education of a young prince; questions of character. Attempt to marry princess to shogunal heir fails.

7

56-64

1861-1862

Foreign encroachment. Rising violence, especially from Mitō partisans. Princess marries shogun.

8

65-73

1863

Assassinations and infighting within court, while Kōmei and Shogunate move closer. Imperial power rising. Mutsuhito (aka future Emperor Meiji) uncle Tadamitsu implicated in jōi plots; flees court.

9

74-82

1863-1864

Satsuma and Chōshū clash with foreigners; Chōshū radicals clash with Satsuma and Aizu forces in effort to seize Emperor.

10

83-90

1864-1866

Keiō era begins. Chōshū expeditions; Shogun Iemochi dies and is replaced with Yoshinobu. Foreigners discover that Emperor outranks Shogun in practice as well as law. Kōmei worries Sachinomiya getting too much sonnō jōi education from “palace ladies.”

11

91-98

1866-1867

Kōmei dies of smallpox. Mutsuhito had been vaccinated earlier. Meiji takes throne Feb. 13.

12

99-108

1867-1869

Meiji suffers sleep disorders; classical education continues. Nengō to remain in place until 1868; one nengō per reign decision. Meiji maintains Kōmei’s refusal to open Hyōgo port. Marriage to Empress Haruko, 11 January 1869.

13

109-117

1867-1868

Hidden Christians. Satsuma-Chōshū-Tosa alliance ordered to overthrow Tokugawa; Tokugawa Yoshinobu returns power (taisei hōkan) to Emperor, Jan. 4, 1868.

14

118-127

1867-1868

Yoshinobu continues to attempt to resign; Imperial court struggles with procedure. Imperial rule formally declared 4 January 1868 but Yoshinobu refuses to surrender actual power. Battle of Toba and Fushimi.

15

128-136

1868

Foreign relations: Yoshinobu attempts to leverage French support; new Imperial government gives assurances, audiences, to foreign ministers. English representatives attacked in attempt to prevent polluting Imperial presence. Shinagawa Yajirō’s “Tokoton’yare” becomes popular pro-Imperial song.

16

137-146

1868

Shinto and Buddhism. Public statements: Five Article Charter Oath and Imperial Rescript, five injuction signboards. Emperor travels to Osaka, sees Inland Sea. Edo Castle finally surrenders; Emperor returns to Kyoto.

17

147-156

1868-1871

The adventures of Prince Rinnōjinomiya (a.k.a. Kitashirakawanomiya), Enomoto Takeaki and other anti-government conspiracies and uprisings.

18

157-167

1868-1869

Coronation ceremony 12 September 1868 redesigned by Iwakura Tomomi to enhance Shinto aspects, eliminate Chinese borrowings. Emperor’s birthday declared National Holiday; Meiji nengō announced. Imperial visit to recently renamed Tōkyō; Emperor sees ocean. Aizu and Enomoto surrender. Emperor returns to Kyoto; Ichijō Empress Haruko enters palace.

19

168-177

1869, etc.

Yokoi Shōnan assassinated. Emperor’s education: adding Samuel Smiles to Confucianism, horseback riding; later added European history, law, German; good memory. First lady-in-waiting appointed: eventually fifteen children by five women, few of whom survived. Heavy drinker, but responsible about work (if not studies); valued simplicity, frugality.

20

178-187

1869

Second visit to Tokyo, by way of Ise and Atsuta shrines. Reforms mixed. Return of land and population registers to Emperor ordered, 25 June 1869. English Alfred, duke of Edinburgh first member of European royalty to visit.

21

188-197

1869-1871

Empress Haruko moves to Tokyo; Meiji won’t return to Kyoto until 1877, but change in capital never formally announced. Neo-Confucian Motoda Nagazane becomes Imperial tutor 30 June 1871, emphasizes jitsugaku and Western studies for science, but Classics for “human relations.” (193). Blackening of teeth and sword testing prohibited in 1870; swords and hairstyles optional in 1871. “Father of the Japanese Army” (196) Ōmura Masajiro assassinated by former Chōshū samurai in late 1869.

22

198-209

1871

Abolition of domains and establishment of prefectures (haihan chiken) declared 29 August 1871. Imperial Household Ministry reorganized, masculinized. Beginning of negotiation with Russians regarding Sakhalin, Hokkaido; Franco-Prussian war. Iwakura Mission debated, departs 23 December 1871; fails to achieve treaty revision, but otherwise very educational.

23

210-221

1872

Six-week Imperial tour of southern Japan “triumphant from beginning to end.” (213) “He seems to have decided that Japan’s future as a modern nation would depend on these three factors: industry, education, and the military.” (215) Souvenirs from his visits “used as talismans to ward off misfortune.” (216) National education policy announced; solar calendar introduced at end of year. Maria Luz incident leads to end of indenture in Japan. Korean refuse new relations; Ryūkyū kingdom sends ambassador, accepts investiture.

24

222-234

1873

Conscription, separation of Buddhism and Shinto. Soejima Taneomi mission to China establishes Japanese equality. Meiji moves to summer residence. Koreans intransigent: seikan [invading Korea] debate resolved by Emperor in favor of delay; Saigō Takamori, Etō Shimpei, Gotō Shōjirō, Itagaki Taisuke and Soejima resign.

25

235-248

1873-1874

Meiji’s first son and daughter both stillborn; concubines Hamuro Mitsuko and Hashimoto Natsuko die. Edo Castle burns 5 May 1873. Cosmetic changes: clothing, hair. Resistance: anti-conscription uprisings, rice riots, attempt on Iwakura’s life, Saga uprising (Etō fails to get Saigō’s Takamori’s support). Taiwan expedition led by Saigō Tsugumichi; treaty negotiated by Ōkubo Toshimichi recognizes Japanese sovereignty over Ryūkyūs.

26

249-262

1875-1876

Princess Shigeko born to gon no tenji Yanagihara Naruko (who will later bear the son who becomes Taishō emperor), dies mid-1876. Smallpox epidemic: Imperial family vaccinated. Russian relations better; Kanghwa incident in Korea; response delayed by Shimazu Hisamitsu-Sanjō Sanetomi dispute; treaty of friendship signed 27 February 1876. “The emperor showed a firmness indicating that his period of youthful inexperience had come to an end. … the decisions were his own.” (255) Weekends legislated; swords prohibited; Imperial tour of northeast Japan.

27

263-272

1876-1877

Nativist Shinpūren attacks Kumamoto garrison; Akizuki and Hagi uprisings also suppressed quickly; peasant uprisings in several places; Kido blames Satsuma influence. Emperor visits Kyoto. Satsuma samurai from “private schools” associated with Saigō Takamori seize Kagoshima arsenal 29 January 1877; preparations for government response begin early February.

28

273-284

1877

Satsuma Rebellion does not disrupt heavy schedule of Kansai visit; Emperor remains in Kyoto throughout. Rebels besiege Kumamoto garrison; Acting Major Nogi Maresuke loses regimental flag in clash. Kumamoto Castle seige lifted in April; 7500 casualties and most of Kumamoto destroyed; fighting continues to late September. Kido Takayoshi dies 26 May 1877; Yanagihara Naruko bears son.

29

285-296

1877-1878

Meiji responsive to remonstration, emotional relationship with subjects and close officials. Ōkubo Toshimichi assassinated 14 May 1878, “first state funeral in Japan … religious ceremonies were entirely Shintō.” (295) Assassin’s statement regarding personal rule by emperor, immodesty of officials, reflected in policy; Meiji calls for end to Satsuma/Chōshū/Tosa monopoly on high posts.

30

297-307

1878-1879

1878 Imperial tour of Hokuriku and Tōkai reveals slow progress, difficult travel; Meiji endures in good spirits. 1879 annexation of Ryūkyūs by ordering king and crown prince to Tokyo; Okinawans slow to give up attachment to monarchy, unexcited about status as Japanese subjects.

31

308-319

1879

Former US president and General Ulysses S. Grant arrives at tail end of two year world tour. Meiji particularly friendly: shakes hands, private conversations. Grant relays Chinese concern about Ryūkyūs, but also evaluates Japan’s military as more powerful. Grant expresses sympathy for Japan’s position internationally, disdain for European powers. Positive popular reception and Grant interested in Japanese culture: kabuki portrayal of Grant’s career at which “seventy-two geishas danced, wearing kimonos derived from the American flag.” (318); praise of Nō bolsters Iwakura’s preservation program.

32

320-330

1878-1880

Yanagihara Naruko bears sickly son Yoshihito (Harunomiya) 31 August 1879. Soejima Tameomi becomes target of rival advisors but is retained. Motoda Nagazane key advisor on education, strongly advocating Confucian values; Emperor concerned about excessive Westernization in education. 1879 education reform fails due to over-liberalization; 1880 reforms stress central control, moral education.

33

331-342

1880

“This was the first year in which Meiji might be said to have routinely exercised his powers as emperor.” (331) Inflation crisis: proposal to switch back to taxes in kind rejected. Imperial Tour of central Japan sparks debate about value and cost. Discussion of written constitution proceeding and political parties rallying.

34

343-354

1881

Increased attention to state affairs; decreased attention to other things (except rabbit hunting). Foreign women permitted Imperial audiences with diplomat husbands. Hawaiian King Kalakaua visits — first foreign head of state — to sign treaty, promote Japanese immigration, propose Asian/Pacific League and marriage alliance. Extraterritoriality almost eliminated. English princes also visit. Hokkaido tour coincides with 1881 Political Crisis: Hokkaidō Development sales and expulsion of Ōkuma Shigenobu over constitution; promise of parliament in 1890. “Meiji seems to have disliked most of the politicians involved.” (353)

35

355-365

1872-1884

Political leadership and structure: Ōkuma’s proposal and short life of Rikkenkaishintō, problem of military men in civil administration, Ueki Emori’s push for parliaments and equal rights and creation of Jiyūtō. Jiyūtō’s Itagaki Taisuke and Gotō Shōjirō convinced to go overseas.

36

366-378

1882

Imperial Rescript for Military Men: “hands and feet” and Confucian values. Treaty revision fails again. Korean military uprising targets Japanese legation: Chinese claim Korea as vassal state but Japan refuses; Chinese kidnap King’s father; Japanese get substantial indemnity, concessions. Japanese concerns about military preparedness; patriotism spikes.

37

379-390

1883-1884

Two princesses die; Meiji suffers beriberi. Itō Hirobumi gets advice from German, Austrian scholars, returns. Iwakura Tomomi dies 20 July 1883; British envoy Harry S. Parkes transfered to China after 18 years. Emperor relatively uninvolved through mid-1884; illness? Japan-sponsored coup attempt in Korea stymied by Chinese forces (under Yuan Shikai!) despite distraction of Sino-French war; Inoue Kaoru sent to negotiate solution, preferably one which acknowledges Korean independence.

38

391-402

1883-1888

Rokumeikan completed 28 November 1883: ballroom dancing and banquets; Europeans unimpressed, treaties remain unchanged to 1899. Meiji’s disengagement from state affairs continues through 1885; illness and bad weather (Yamaguchi tour in stifling heat). Yoshihito turns seven, but sickly; modernized education. Li-Itō agreement settles Korea questions temporarily. Kuroda Kiyotaka returns to government; creation of Cabinet.

39

403-415

1886-1887

Meiji’s continued illnesses lead to rise in Empress as public figure; gon no tenji Sono Sachiko becomes Meiji’s favorite, eventually bears eight children (four daughters survive). Emperor adopts nephew, just in case sickly and undisciplined Yoshihito fails to pan out. Nishimura Shigeki lectures, publishes Essays on Japanese Morality: re-Confucianization of public education under Mori Arinori; Motoda Nagazane, Katsu Kaishū supportive. Normanton incident and treaty revision fails again.

40

416-428

1888-1889

Meiji continues to be too ill to work much, continues to refuse retreat to more comfortable locations. Chiossone portrait of Meiji becomes standard. Ōkuma Shigenobu becomes Foreign Minister; treaty with Mexico without extraterritoriality; US treaty, and German, conditional abandonment, but concessions create resistance in Japan; Ōkuma loses leg to assassination attempt, treaty revision fails again. Privy Council created to approve Constitution; Itō prepares drafts, translations, supporting legislation; promulgated 5 February 1889. New palace from January 1889; Meiji “indifferent” (420). Mori Arinori assassinated for rumored disrespect to Ise Shrine.

41

429-442

1890

Japan takes firmer line on treaty negotiations. Emperor views Grand Maneuvers, travels by rail to Kyoto. Yamagata Aritomo reorganizes, shuffles cabinet, goes beyond Sat-Chō-To-Hi. First Diet election 1 July 1890; Diet convenes 29 November. Imperial Rescript on Education, Imperial photographs distributed to schools.

42

443-458

1891

Influenza outbreak: Motoda Nagazane dies 22 January 1891; Sanjō Sanetomi dies 18 February 1891; Meiji “confined to his bed for forty days.” (443) Russan crown prince Nicholas (with Greek Prince George) visits Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Kyoto; Ōtsu assassination attempt “may have embittered Nicholas against toward the Japanese.” (450) Embarassing: public outpouring of support for Nicholas; debate over how to try assassin. Chief Justice Kojima Korekata resists pressure to make unconstitutional ruling; assassin recieves life sentence, dies shortly.

43

459-469

1891-1893

Chinese fleet visits; disconcerting. Second Diet elections 15 February 1892, “probably the most corrupt in Japanese history” (461) under Interior Minister Shinagawa Yajirō. Itō Hirobumi becomes PM, genrō make up cabinet. Emperor intervenes in budget dispute to support Diet cost-cutting but also increased military expenditures. Xenophobia hampers treaty revision; Diet dissolved to prevent resolution supporting non-revision; Emperor expresses doubts about parliament.

44

470-483

1894

Meiji-Yoshihito relationship warms; 25th anniversary of imperial marriage celebrated. Korean progressive leader Kim Ok-kyun killed 28 March 1894 on orders from Korean government; Japan outraged. Tonghak (Eastern Learning) uprising becomes increasingly anti-Japanese; China misunderstands democracy for disunity, reasserts Korea’s vassal status. Korean court favors China, but affirms independence; Japanese leadership shifts to war footing. Japanese troops enter Seoul; Korea abrogates treaty with China; engagements on sea and land precede 1 August 1894 declaration of war: “intense enthusiasm” (481) and “patriotic fervor” (482) result but Meiji oddly ambivalent.

45

484-496

1894-1895

26 August 1894 Korea and Japan sign anti-Chinese alliance. Meiji “quickly threw himself into his role as supreme commander of the armed forces. Because he alone combined political and military authority, his decisions were needed frequently.” (485) HQ moved to Hiroshima, but Meiji avoids interference; Diet session in Hiroshima votes generous financing. Japanese forces winning against superior technology, numbers. Japanese atrocities after fall of Port Arthur reported by foreign press, resulting in Japanese payments to foreign press, military censorship, blaming Chinese duplicity and coolies. Reports delay ratification of US-Japan treaty.

46

497-510

1895

Chinese attempts to negotiate treaty haphazard; Japanese refuse intermediaries. Chinese Admiral Ting surrenders fleet then suicides and is given honors by Japanese. Empress joins Hiroshima HQ, brings concubines. Attack on Chinese Minister Li Hongchang in Shimonoseki leads to Japanese concession on armistice, but still demand large indemnity, Taiwan, Pescadores, Liaotong. Triple Intervention and stiff Taiwanese resistance (hundreds killed, over 10K die of tropical disease) dampen enthusiasm.

47

511-522

1895-1896

Post-war in Korea: Inoue Kaoru argues for hands-off approach; replaced by Miura Gorō who organizes coup against Queen Min. Queen killed; King Kojong takes refuge with Russians; pro-Japanese cabinet installed. Japanese forced to investigate instigators (though Miura’s career rises); Kojong dismisses pro-Japanese cabinet and Russian influence dominates Korea.

48

523-534

1896-1897

Distant relationship with surviving princesses, another dies. Gakushū-in education modernized. Russians outmaneuver Japanese in Korea despite strong Japanese interest in alliance and coordination. Cabinet shuffling requires Imperial intervention: balancing parties and cliques. Journalistic attacks on imperial household minister Hijikata Hisamoto prompts freedom of speech debate; cabinet punishes publications. Empress Dowager dies; state funeral with Shinto ritual. Attempt to delay train returning from Kyoto “a rare instance of self-indulgence on the Emperor’s part, and (as in the other cases) he probably regretted it the next day.” (532) Ashio copper mine pollution scandal and costs of modernity.

49

535-548

1897-1898

Tendency of Genrō to claim illness or absence: “For all the reiterated declarations of absolute loyalty to the throne, the emperor’s ministers disregarded his wishes when they found them inconvenient.” (536) Political crisis: increasingly powerful parties demand role in cabinet. Kenseitō leaders Ōkuma and Itagaki allowed to form government, fails quickly: Ozaki Yukio speech scandal results in party splits. Crown prince comes of age, health improving.

50

549-561

1899-1900

End of extraterritoriality and Boxer Intervention. Meiji gaining weight, working hard, drinking heavily. Busy finding wife for crown prince, who “was doing poorly in his studies … capricious and difficult to please …. infatuation with the West.” (552) Emperor Meiji: “Most present-day offficials who come from the samurai class are self-indulgent and undisciplined. They tend to use resignation as a means of evading some temporary crisis and ensuring their personal safety. I always find this reprehensible.” (p. 559)

51

562-575

190-1902

Itō Hirobumi forms first all-party cabinet; Katsura Tarō forms first non-genrō cabinet, but all Yamagata proteges. Meiji takes firm position against striking judges and prosecutors. Hoshi Tōru assassinated 21 June 1901: influential party activist and nationalist; time in prison and in Diet; Meiji involved in decisions about his appointments and removals. Anglo-Japanese alliance signed 30 January 1902, though some discussion of Russo-Japanese alliance.

52

576-590

1901-1903

Mount Hakkōda maneuvers disaster. Russo-Chinese alliance entrenches Russian positions; potential for Russo-Japanese war seen. Increased military spending, mostly naval, produces political problems; Meiji preference for Army hurts feelings in Navy. Banquet incident: “The commands that the emperor do this or that were phrased in reverential language, but they were commands all the same, and the emperor was greatly annoyed.” (584) Failure of Russians to abide by withdrawal timetable: war imminent.

53

591-604

1903-1904

Pressure for war from Japanese people; Emperors of Russia and Germany. Removal of Sergei Witte from power clears barriers to war from Russian side; Japanese attempt negotiation but sides far apart. Itō appointed to Privy Council: “esteem” but also Yamagata’s way of getting him out of Diet politics.

54

605-616

1904-1905

“Meiji’s name, unlike the czar’s, hardly appears in accounts of the war or the peace negotiations. During the war years, he of course performed his usual duties … he gave little overt sign of involvement. However … the emperor did not allow any heating in his rooms, and …. was at his desk the entire day.” (616) Meiji’s hands-off approach to military staff, attention to national needs instead of personality, praised by Keene. England supported Japan with information; French pro-Russian, but lacked faith in Russia’s power, hampered by concern with Germany, Great Britain; US largely supportive of Japan, esp. as good reports of Japanese treatment of prisoners become known. Russian losses produce unrest in Russia.

55

617-629

1905

Japanese victories and T.Roosevelt’s mediation to end the war. Lack of indemnity, half of Sakhalin, produces Hibiya Park riots, which agitate Meiji. Otherwise notable for restraint and dignity, respect for opposing forces and concern for welfare of his own.

56

630-643

1905-1907

Anglo-Japanese alliance renewed for five years; Meiji awarded Order of the Garter: “the emperor had come to dislike receiving foreign guests. He was always in a bad mood before an audience, and he often rebuked members of his staff for arranging it. But once the guest arrived, the emperor never revealed the slightest displeasure. On the contrary, those whom he received were invariably impressed by his sincere affability.” (634) Itō Hirobumi goes to Korea, forces Emperor Kojong to sign treaty of protection (and abdicate two years later), becomes first Governor-General.

57

644-655

1906-1907

Post-Russo-Japanese war generation alienated. Meiji showing signs of weakness. Foreign delegations: “These attentions from foreign governments undoubtedly pleased the emperor.” (647) Katō Hiroaki resigns as Foreign Minister, doesn’t claim illness. Meiji’s birth mother falls ill “but he could not visit his real mother because her status was insufficiently elevated.” (654)

58

656-667

1908-1910

Meiji shows concern about Korean administration, hospitable towards Korean crown prince Yi Eun studying in Japan, friendly to Emperor of Korea. Pressure for annexation growing. Itō resigns as Governor-General, becomes envoy to Russia; assassinated by An Chung-gun in Harbin. An not anti-Japanese, but clearly nationalist; honored even by Japanese for conviction, dignity.

59

668-678

1906-1910

Annexation of Korea: idea supported by many elite Koreans for some time; finally achieved as result of Itō’s assassination, promises to preserve Korean national identity and royal privileges. Crown prince Yi Eun marries Japanese princess.

60

679-692

1911

Meiji learns of Great Treason Incident only when trial ends? Life of Kōtoku Shusui: gradual radicalization under influence of Katayama Sen, Tanaka Shōzō, Nakae Chōmin, Abe Isoo, repeated imprisonment and suppression; Kōtoku goes from liberal to left, to socialist to anarchist, but actually rejected anti-Emperor plot.

61

693-703

1911-1912

Anglo-Japanese alliance renewed, though weaker. Meiji views his first motion pictures in November, attends last Grand Maneuvers. Qing dynasty falls. Meiji refuses to promote Gen. Nogi Maresuke from Gakushū-in to head of General Staff; reasons unclear. Medical condition goes downhill rapidly from May, but stoic; late July Court Medical Bureau releases report of chronic diabetes since 1904, hepatitis since 1906, acute problems in July. 30 July 1912: Meiji dies; Taishō accedes to the throne.

62

704-715

1912

Shock, sadness, ritual, international reaction (mostly in French). Gen. and Mrs. Nogi’s junshi criticized by many, but quickly becomes iconic loyalty.

63

716-723

epilogue

“It is the task of the biographer to make his subject come alive again. … Meiji seems almost to repel attempts by a biographer to come closer.” (717) Stoic, concerned with dignity and tradition of office. Gracious to foreigners, close to non-aristocrat aides like Itō, but “a streak of sadism” (720) towards retainers. Strong memory, but limited interests; humor “of masculine heartiness.” (721) “Indifferent or even hostile to Buddhism” (720) and devoted to Shinto mythology. Pleasures included martial tunes, poetry, kemari, archery. Resisted overmanagement but “highly responsible and seldom went against the advice of his ministers.” (722) Desire for peace seems genuine; distaste for war certainly consistent.

Translations

Keene includes several extended reminiscences of Meiji published immediately after his death. Unfortunately, some are in the original French (pp. 707 and 709). Translation was generously and meticulously provided by Nathanael Robinson of Brandeis.

Ito Hirobumi:

Whatever might be the causes which helped Japan in its progress, and whatever part we might have had in its success over the years, all that is insignificant when compared with what the country needs from his majesty, the emperor. The imperial will has always been the light that guides the nation. Whatever could be the contributions of those, like myself, who are trying to help his enlightened government, it would have been impossible to obtain such remarkable results had it not been for his great, wise and progressive support that is always behind every new reform.

Suematsu Kencho:

His Majesty provides the steadiest attention to each area of the affairs of the state. Every day, from the early morning till the late hours, he works with his cabinet on public affairs. He knows what matters concern each department, above all that which affects the army and navy. . . . Sometimes he astonishes [us] with his knowledge of events among his people. He takes a keen interest in everything that happens in the major countries of the world, his only desire being to learn from other nations.

The comment of the French editorialist was astute:

The emperor was able, at certain times, to influence the policy of his ministers, because his ability to act and his intelligence were not in doubt. But his main work, which he achieved with remarkable wisdom, was to be the head of state, the living symbol of national life and the public interest . . . . The great kings are not those who, like Philip II, want to manage the affairs of state by themselves, but those who, having placed their trust in great ministers, support them with all the prestige of the monarchy.

Reporter for The Journal (G. de Banzemont)

Mutsu-hito was not only one of the most celebrated emperors of Japan, but also one of the greatest monarchs of the modern world. One need only recall the anguish that gripped the Japanese nation at the first news of the sovereign’s illness. Over several days, the tearful crowd marched, without concern for the torrid heat, under the windows of the imperial palace. On their knees, their foreheads covered in dust, in a common voice, they pleaded with the gods. And as soon as a dull lamp, illuminating the room of the deceased, announced that the monarch passed away in agony, there came the most violent explosion of sorrow that can be imagined.

One Response to “Donald Keene’s Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World, 1852-1912

  1. This is great. Thanks very much for providing it. Though the book has an Index, even so, this will come in quite handy for making use of this massive tome.

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