Sonnō jōi


Sonnō jōi

is a Japanese political philosophy and a social movement derived from Neo-Confucianism; it became a political slogan in the 1850s and 1860s in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa bakufu.

Origin

The slogan "sonnō jōi" ( _ja. 尊王攘夷 or _ja. 尊皇攘夷, "zūnwáng rǎngyí" in Chinese) had its origins in China with Lord Huan of Qi, the ruler of the state of Qi in the Spring and Autumn Period. During that time, the Zhou Court lost control to the feudal states and foreign invasion was frequent. Lord Huan of Qi first used the slogan ostensibly in an attempt to make rulers of other feudal states respect the Zhou court, although in reality he used it to seize hegemony over other feudal rulers and brush aside the Zhou court's supremacy.

In Japan, the origin of the philosophy can be traced to works by 17th century Confucian scholars Yamazaki Ansai and Yamaga Soko, who wrote on the sanctity of the Japanese Imperial house and its superiority to the ruling houses of other nations. These ideas were expanded upon by "Kokugaku" scholar Motoori Norinaga, and seen in Takenouchi Shikibu's theory of absolute loyalty to the Emperor (尊皇論 "sonnōron"), which implied that less loyalty should be given to the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate.

Mito domain scholar Aizawa Seishisai introduced term "sonnō jōi" into modern Japanese in his work "Shinron" in 1825, where "sonnō" was regarded as the reverence expressed by the Tokugawa "bakufu" to the emperor and "jōi" was the proscription of Christianity.

Influence

With the increasing number of incursions of foreign ships into Japanese waters in the late 18th and early 19th century, the national seclusion policy came into increasing question. The "jōi" portion of "sonnō jōi" (expelling the barbarians), changed into a reaction against the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened Japan to foreign trade in 1853. Under military threat from Commodore Matthew Perry's so-called "black ships", the treaty had been signed under duress and was vehemently opposed in "samurai" quarters. The fact that the "bakufu" was powerless against the foreigners despite the will expressed by the Imperial court was taken as evidence by Yoshida Shōin and other anti-Tokugawa leaders that the "sonnō" portion of the philosophy was not working, and that the bakufu must be replaced by a government more able to show its loyalty to the Emperor by enforcing the Emperor’s will.

The philosophy was thus adopted as a battle cry of the rebellious provinces of Chōshū and Satsuma. The Imperial court in Kyoto unsurprisingly sympathized with the movement. The Emperor Kōmei personally agreed with such sentiments, and–breaking with centuries of imperial tradition–began to take an active role in matters of state: as opportunities arose, he fulminated against the treaties and attempted to interfere in the shogunal succession. His efforts culminated in March 1863 with his "Order to expel barbarians" ( _ja. 攘夷勅命). Although the Shogunate had no intention of enforcing the order, it nevertheless inspired attacks against the Shogunate itself and against foreigners in Japan: the most famous incident was that of the English trader Charles Lennox Richardson, for whose death (which was the result of allegedly disrespecting a daimyo) the Tokugawa government had to pay an indemnity of one hundred thousand pounds sterling. [Jansen, pp. 314-5.] Other attacks included the shelling of foreign shipping in Shimonoseki. [Hagiwara, p. 35.] Masterless samurai ("ronin") rallied to the cause, assassinating Shogunate officials and Westerners.

But this turned out to be the zenith of the "sonnō jōi" movement, since the Western powers responded by demanding heavy reparations and then bombarding the Satsuma capital of Kagoshima when these were not forthcoming. While this incident clearly showed that Japan was no match for Western military might, it also served to further weaken the shogunate, permitting the rebel provinces to ally and overthrow it in the Meiji Restoration.

It is worth noting that the slogan itself was never actually government or even rebel policy; for all its rhetoric, Satsuma in particular had close ties with the West, purchasing guns, artillery, ships and other technology.

Legacy

After the symbolic restoration of the Meiji Emperor, the "sonnō jōi" slogan was quietly dropped and replaced with another: "fukoku kyōhei" (富国強兵), or "rich country, strong military", the rallying call of Japan's wildly successful Meiji Era and the seed of its actions during World War II.

ee also

*This phrase is specifically featured and examined in James Clavell's ""

References

Notes

Printed sources

*Akamatsu, Paul. "Meiji 1868: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Japan." Trans. Miriam Kochan. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.
*Beasley, W. G. "The Meiji Restoration." Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972.
*Craig, Albert M. "Chōshū in the Meiji Restoration." Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.
*Jansen, Marius B. and Gilbert Rozman, eds. "Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji." Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.
*Jansen, Marius B. "The Making of Modern Japan." Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000.
*Shiba, Ryotaro. "The Last Shogun: The Life of Tokugawa Yoshinobu". Kodansha 1998, ISBN 1568362463


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