The Saga Rebellion, 1874
This was indeed a change in behaviour as the Koreans had regularly sent emissaries to Japan’s capital during the Edo period (1603 – 1868) to offer their respects to each Tokugawa Shogun.
Letting this snub stand was unacceptable to the Samurai. Saigō Takamori proposed a military force be dispatched to the Korean peninsular but this was rejected due to the perceived weakness of its new army and the potential that war would bankrupt the nation.
For the former Samurai looking to be employed in this endeavour, there was now little hope of the once-mighty warrior class ever regaining any significant influence or that the government would reinstate their lost privileges.
Shimpei used his time in Saga to rouse up thousands of like-minded folk via his political party, the Aikoku Kōtō. The groups three main aims:
- War with Korea
- Reinstatement of the Daimyō
- Expulsion of foreigners
On February 16th, 1874 launched an attack on Saga castle. He and his army of 3,000 were successful, though this success would prove to be short-lived. By the 1st of March, the castle was back in imperial hands, but Shimpei wasn’t to be found. He had headed south to Kagoshima hoping they too would rise up.
They didn’t, and Shimpei was soon captured. On March 18th, 1874, Shimpei’s head and those of 11 co-conspirators were separated from their bodies, the gruesome photographs of which ended up circulating on the streets of Tōkyō.