** 27-Jan-2019 Japan's Tokugawa era (1603-1868) - before clash of civilizations with China
> It should be noted that none of these rebellions ever challenged
> the stability of the Tokugawa era or spread through all of Japan,
> though this doesn't mean they weren't crisis wars.
We've had several discussions about Japan's Tokugawa era (1603-1868),
and I think that I've mostly figured out what was going on.
As we discussed in the past, the Chinese won a major naval victory
over Japan that must have been well remembered by both the Chinese and
the Japanese. In the 1500s, Korea was a tributary state to China,
meaning that Korea paid gold and slaves to China in return for
guarantees of defense from outsiders (i.e., Japan). Japan attacked
Korea in 1592 and 1597 with the intention of using it as a stepping
stone to the conquest of China. In 1597, the Chinese won a brilliant
naval victory against the Japanese, using technologically advanced
"turtle ships," believed to be the world's first ironclad warship.
I now view the 1597 war as having been so climactic for Asia that it
may well be the most important battle in Asia for the entire
millennium (prior to WW II), just as the 1453 Ottoman conquest of
Constantinople was possibly the most important battle in Europe.
After the 1597 war, both China and Japan went into a kind of
"hibernation," with the Manchus taking charge in China, and the
Tokugawa clan taking charge in Japan.
Update: This was the Battle of Myongnyang, October 26, 1597
Here's some text from my book:
The Tokugawa period contains a bit of a puzzle, as historians
typically refer to it as two and one-half centuries of total peace.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's impossible.
The population always grows faster than the food supply, there is
increased competition for food, water and other resources, and larger
populations build houses on farmland, additionally reducing food
production. So over time, wars and especially crisis wars are
necessary to decide who will get the resources.
In fact, while Japan had no country-wide wars during this period,
there were many regional uprisings. There were one or two regional
rebellions or wars per year in the 1600s. The number kept increasing,
and by 1790, there were more than six of these regional wars per year.
The period 1477-1600 is known as the "Warring States" or "Sengoku" era
of Japan, characterized by political anarchy and battles between
warlords consolidating their holdings. The Warring States Era ended
with a crisis war climaxing with the Battle of Sekigahara (October 20,
The Battle of Sekigahara was won by the warlord Tokugawa Ieyasa, and
the victory initiated the Tokugawa era, uniting Japan, and ending the
Warring States era. In order to maintain peace and prevent a return
to warring states, in 1615 Tokugawa Ieyasa instituted a system of
political management known as the "baku-han" system. The "baku" part
refers to the Bakufu, which is the central Tokugawa government. The
"han" refers to the 244 autonomous han, or estates of daimyo
(landowners), sometimes called feudal fiefdoms. So the baku-han
system described a federal relationship between the central government
in Edo (Tokyo) and individual han fiefdoms across the country. It was
a complete system that ensured that no rival power could threaten the
supremacy of the central Tokugawa government, and contributed to its
In brief, the baku-han system was as follows:
- The emperor of Japan, living in Kyoto, was totally devoid of
power. The emperor and his court should confine themselves to
academic and cultural affairs.
- The han would be permitted no contact with foreigners.
- There was restricted social mobility and frozen social dealings in
the well-recognized shi-no-ko-sho system (samurai, farmers, artisans,
- The feudal lords (daimyo) in the hans could not build or repair
fortifications or contract marriages without the Tokugawa
approval. They were forbidden to harbor fugitives from other fiefdoms.
A crucial component of the baku-han system was the family "hostage"
At the core of Tokugawa strength was the armed might of some 60,000
armed vassals. The daimyo who were considered loyal to the Tokugawa
were given strategically significant lands, while those daimyo who had
been defeated in war had their fiefdoms confiscated or forced to
change provinces. Throughout the 1600s, more than 200 daimyo lost a
part of all of their territory for offences.
The central Tokugawa government maintained social control by means of
a family hostage system. It required the daimyo (warlords) to reside
in the capital city Edo (present day Tokyo) for defined periods. When
a daimyo was absent from the capital, he had to leave his family as
hostage to ensure his loyalty to the Shogun. This family hostage
system seems to have been successful in protecting the Tokugawa centrl
The baku-han system was backed by a complex administrative structure
that gave the Tokugawa control of crucial regions of foreign dealings,
coastal defense, and key urban centers as well as the sources of gold
and silver. There were still "uprisings" and rebellions in regions
across the country, and some of these must have been generational
crisis wars in those regions, but at least for the central government,
this system brought two and a half centuries of peace and stability.
The visit by American Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 forced Japan to
open its ports to the west. It particularly resulted in the end of
the restriction against contact with foreigners, and brought down the
baku-han system, leading to the Meiji Restoration -- the return to
government by the emperor.
The Chinese may have been smarter than Japan in the 1500s, and were
able to humiliate Japan repeatedly, but after 1870 the Japanese were
much smarter than the Chinese, and were able to humiliate them
repeatedly. This can be traced forward all the way to World War II,
and forward further to today's plans by Chinese to get revenge
https://www.thoughtco.com/the-joseon-dy ... rea-195719
(ThoughtCo(6/14/2017), The Joseon Dynasty in Korea [1392-1910])
http://www.eiilmuniversity.co.in/downlo ... 0_1949.pdf
(Eiilm University - History Of China And Japan 1840-1949)