Enomoto Takeaki

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Meiji Restoration

During the Meiji restoration, after the surrender of Edo in 1868 during the Boshin War to forces loyal to the new Meiji government, Enomoto refused to deliver up his warships, and escaped to Hakodate in Hokkaidō with the remainder of the Tokugawa Navy and a handful of French military advisers and their leader Jules Brunet. His fleet of eight steam warships was the strongest in Japan at the time.

Enomoto hoped to create an independent country under the rule of the Tokugawa family in Hokkaidō, but the Meiji government refused to accept partition of Japan. On 25 December, the Tokugawa loyalists declared the foundation of the Republic of Ezo and elected Enomoto as president.

The next year, the Meiji government forces invaded Hokkaidō and defeated Enomoto's forces in the Naval Battle of Hakodate. On 18 May 1869 the Republic of Ezo collapsed, and Hokkaidō came under the rule of the central government headed by the Meiji Emperor.

As a Meiji politician

After his surrender, Enomoto was arrested, accused of high treason and imprisoned. However, the leaders of the new Meiji government (largely at the insistence of Kuroda Kiyotaka) pardoned Enomoto in 1872, realizing that his various talents could be of use. Enomoto became one of the very few former Tokugawa loyalists who made the transition to the new ruling elite, as politics at the time was dominated by men from Chōshū and Satsuma, who had a strong bias against outsiders in general, and former Tokugawa retainers in particular. However, Enomoto was an exception, and rose quickly within the new ruling clique, to a higher status than any other member of the former Tokugawa government.

In 1874, Enomoto was given the rank of vice-admiral in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Navy. The following year, he was sent as a special envoy, he was sent to Russia to negotiate the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875). The successful conclusion of the treaty was very well received in Japan and further raised Enomoto's prestige within the ruling circles, and the fact that Enomoto had been chosen for such an important mission was seen as evidence of reconciliation between former foes in the government.

In 1880, Enomoto became nihongo|Navy Minister|海軍卿. In 1885 his diplomatic skills were again called upon to assisting Ito Hirobumi in concluding the Convention of Tientsin with Qing China. Afterwards, Enomoto held a series of high posts with in the Japanese government. He was Japan's first Minister of Communications (1885-1888) after the introduction of the cabinet system in 1885. He was also Minister of Agriculture and Commerce in 1888 and again from 1894 to 1897, Minister of Education from 1889-1890 and Foreign Minister from 1891-1892.

In 1887, Enomoto was ennobled the rank of viscount under the "kazoku" peerage system, and was selected as a member of the Privy Council.

Enomoto was especially active in promoting Japanese emigration through settler colonies in the Pacific Ocean and South and Central America. In 1891 he established - against the will of the cabinet of Matsukata Masayoshi - a 'section for emigration' in the Foreign Ministry, with the task of encouraging emigration and finding new potential territories for Japanese settlement overseas. Two years later, after leaving the government, Enomoto also helped to establish a private organization, the 'Colonial Association', to promote external trade and emigration.

Enomoto died in 1908 at the age of 72. His grave is at the temple of Kichijo-ji in Tokyo.

ee also

* Jules Brunet
* Imperial Japanese Navy
* Naval Battle of Hakodate

References

* Kamo, Giichi. "Enomoto Takeaki". Chuo Koronsha ISBN 4-12-201509-X (Japanese)
* Yamamoto, Atsuko. "Jidai o shissoshita kokusaijin Enomoto Takeaki: Raten Amerika iju no michi o hiraku". Shinzansha (1997).ISBN 4-7972-1541-0 (Japanese)
* Hane, Mikiso. "Modern Japan: A Historical Survey". Westview Press (2001). ISBN 0-8133-3756-9
* Hillsborough, Romulus. "Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps". Tuttle Publishing (2005). ISBN 0-8048-3627-2
* Jansen, Marius B." Emergence of Meiji Japan, The (Cambridge History of Japan)." Cambridge University Press (2006) ISBN 0-521-48405-7
* Keene, Donald. "Dawn to the West". Columbia University Press; 2Rev Ed edition (1998). ISBN 0-231-11435-4
* Ravina, Mark. "The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori". Whiley (2003). ISBN 0-471-08970-2


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