Katsu Kaishu - Page 3

by Romulus Hillsborough

Katsu Kaishu - Page 3

exclusionism. But neither side offered a constructive means for realizing their proposals. In contrast, the memorial submitted by one unknown samurai was clear, brilliant, progressive, and included concrete advice for the future of Japan. In his memorial Kaishu pointed out that Perry had been able to enter Edo Bay unimpeded only because Japan did not have a navy to defend itself. He urged the shogunate to recruit men for a navy. He dared to propose that the military government break age-old tradition and go beyond birthright to recruit men of ability, rather than the sons of the social elite < and certainly there was nobody in all of Edo more poignantly aware of this necessity than this impoverished, brilliant young man from the lower echelons of samurai society. Kaishu advised that the shogunate lift its ban on the construction of warships needed for national defense; that it manufacture Western-style cannon and rifles;that it reform the military according to modern Western standards, and establish military academies. Pointing out the great technological advances being achieved in Europe andthe United States, Kaishu challenged the narrow-minded traditionalists who opposed the adoption of Western military technology and systems.

Katsu Kaishu & Admiral Perry

Within the first few years after the arrival of Perry, all of Kaishu^(1)s proposals were adoptedby the shogunate. In January 1855, Kaishu was recruited into government service. In Japanese chronology this corresponded to the second year of the Era of Stable Government, to which purpose Kaishu dedicated the remaining forty-four years of his life.In September, Kaishu sailed to Nagasaki, as one of a select group of thirty-seven Tokugawa retainers to study at the new Nagasaki Naval Academy, where he remained for two and a half years.

Katsu Kaishu 1860

In January 1860 Katsu Kaishu commanded the famed Kanrin Maru, a tiny triple-masted schooner, on the first authorized overseas voyage in the history of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Captain Katsu and Company were bound for San Francisco. They preceded the Japanese delegation dispatched to Washington aboard the U.S. steam frigate Powhattan to ratify Japan^(1)s first commercial treaty. After the arrival of the Powhattan, they would return to Japan to report the safe arrival of the delegation. But more significantly forCaptain Katsu and Company was the opportunity to demonstrate the maritime skills they had acquired under their Dutch instructors at Nagasaki, ^(3)for,^(2) as Kaishu emphasized, ^(3)the glory of the Japanese Navy.^(2)

Katsu Kaishi in San Francisco

Kaishu remained in San Francisco for nearly two months, observing American society,culture and technology. He contrasted American society to that of feudal Japan, where a person was born into one of four castes ? warrior, peasant, artisan, merchant ? and, for the most part, remained in that caste for life. Of particular interest to Kaishu, who wasdetermined to modernize and indeed

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