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14th Dalai Lama

The true value of existence is revealed through compassion. – Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935, with the name Lhamo Thondup. He took power in the year that the People's Republic of China invaded to "liberate Tibet from British imperialism" - at the tender age of 15.

The Dalai Lama in prayer
The Dalai Lama
A search party was sent to locate the new incarnation when the Lhamo Thondup was about two years old. Apparently, the head of the embalmed body of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, which had been previously facing south-east, had turned to face the northeast, which indicated the direction in which his successor would be found.

The Regent, Reting Rinpoche, shortly afterwards had a vision at the sacred lake of Lhamo La-tso. This made Amdo the region to search. In particular, they were to look for a one-story house with distinctive guttering and tiling. After extensive searching, the Thondup house, with its features resembling those in Reting's vision, was found.

Thondup was presented with various relics, including toys, some of which had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama and some of which had not. He had correctly identified all the items owned by the previous Dalai Lama by saying, "That's mine! That's mine!"

On the other hand, the Chinese Muslim General Ma Bufang did not want the 14th Dalai Lama to succeed his predecessor. Ma Bufang stationed his men to place the Dalai Lama under effective house arrest, saying it was needed for "protection", refusing to permit his leaving to Tibet. He did all he could to delay the transport of the Dalai Lama from Qinghai to Tibet, by demanding 100,000 Chinese silver dollars.

Lhamo Thondup was recognised formally as the reincarnated Dalai Lama and renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, which means Holy Lord, Gentle Glory, Compassionate, Defender of the Faith, and Ocean of Wisdom. He was not formally enthroned as the Dalai Lama until the age of 15; instead, the regent acted as the head of the Kashag until that time.

In 1950, at the age of 15, Tenzin took the reins of government as the 14th Dalai Lama. In October of that year, the People's Republic of China invaded Tibet. In 1954, the Dalai Lama went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders.

However, in 1959, continued suppression of the Tibetan people by Chinese troops led to the Tibetan Uprising of 1959. At the same time, the People's Republic of China considered the Dalai Lama to be a symbol of an obsolete religious movement, not in line with communist philosophy. The Dalai Lama and his closest advisers believed the Chinese government was planning to assassinate him. Finally, the Dalai Lama and several thousand followers fled to Dharamshala in northern India and established an alternative government there.

In September 1987, the Dalai Lama set forth the Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet as a step in a peaceful solution to reconcile with the Chinese government and end the humanitarian situation there. The plan proposed that Tibet would become a sanctuary where enlightened people can exist in peace and the environment can be preserved.

The Dalai Lama requested talks between Chinese representatives and representatives of Tibetans that would lead to a self-governing democratic political entity for Tibet. The entity would be associated with the People's Republic of China, and the Chinese government would be responsible for Tibet's foreign policy and defense.

The Dalai lama has written numerous books and conducted hundreds of conferences, lectures and workshops at major universities and institutions throughout the world, discussing engaging in wisdom, compassion and, more recently, environmental sustainability. Unlike his predecessors, the Dalai Lama has met with many Western leaders and has visited the United States, Europe, Russia, Latin America and many countries in Asia on a number of occasions. Known as an effective public speaker, the Dalai Lama is often described as charismatic. His message is always one of peace and compassion for people all over the world.

He has made numerous appearances at interfaith services and has met with several heads of other religions, including Pope John Paul II; Dr. Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Patriarch Alexius II, of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent efforts for the liberation of Tibet and his concern for global environmental problems.

The Committee stated, "The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people."

Dalai Lama: Peace, Compassion, and HarmonyIn the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, unrest broke out in Tibet in anticipation of media attention and increased repression by the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama pleaded for calm and condemned Chinese violence. This was met with frustration by many in Tibet, who considered his comments ineffective, and allegations by the Chinese that the Dalai Lama incited the violence—an accusation that he strongly denies.

On March 10, 2011, on the 52nd anniversary of his exile from Tibet, the Dalai Lama announced that he would give up his role as Tibet's political leader. He said the decision came from a long-held belief that the Tibetans needed a freely elected leader.

More recently, the Chinese government alleges that he is a separatist and a traitor for advocating Tibetan self-rule, and a terrorist for inciting Tibetan rebellion.

But what is your opinion on this matter? Is the Dalai Lama correct?


  1. "Dalai Lama Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
  2. Craig, Mary. Kundun: A Biography of the Family of the Dalai Lama. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1997. Print.
  3. Ulrich, David, and Laura Dunn. Spirit of Aloha: His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Hawai‘i. Digital image. The Slender Thread. Creative Guide, 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
  4. "Your Favorite Dalai Lama Photos?" NewBuddhist.com. New Buddhist, Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
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Tibet has a rich history of independence, religion, subservience, and foreign intervention. But in the present day, should it be independent?
Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire at its greatest extent

Tibet is now a part of the People's Republic of China, and it is known as the Autonomous region of Tibet. Tibet has a government in exile, which is technically led by the 14th Dalai Lama. This made the government in exile a theocratic republic. But later, the Dalai Lama gave up his political power, making him a purely spiritual leader.

The Tibetan Empire was founded in the 7th Century AD, ranging from Bengal and Burma in the South to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in the West. From Mongolia in the North to the Eastern parts of China Proper.

It encompassed the 11 modern countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The Empire was believed to have been created when Namri Songsten took control of the Yarlung Valley area.

On the other hand, Namri Songsten was able to extend his control to Central Tibet. He gained control of the lands around Lhasa right before his assassination in 618 by a rebellion that failed (and was crushed by his son).
Yarlung Valley
Songtsän Gampo was the next "emperor" of Tibet. He was a great leader for Tibet. In the 620's, he defeated the Sumpa (people in north-eastern Tibet).
He is widely accredited to taking Zhang Zhung, and conquered multiple Qiang tribes. He then threatened Songzhou with 100,000 to 200,000 soldiers. After a campaign against China, he demanded a Chinese princess to marry.

Songtsän Gampo is accredited with creating the Tibetan language. He sent his minister Thonmi Sambhota to India in order to devise a language. This eventually led to the first Tibetan literature, translations, and a constitution. Songtsän Gampo moved the capital from Yarlung Valley to Lhasa. He was quite the warmonger, taking much territory for Tibet, but he still introduced Buddhism to Tibet by building multiple Buddhist temples. Nonetheless, when he died in 650 A.D., the Tang attacked and occupied Lhasa. According to Tibetan records, they left after experiencing harsh resistance.

Under the rule of Mangsong Mangtsän, Khotan was defeated by the Tibetans between 665-670, and a long string of conflicts ensued with the Chinese Tang Dynasty. In the spring of 670, Tibet attacked the remaining Chinese territories in the western Tarim Basin. With troops from Khotan they conquered Aksu, upon which the Chinese abandoned the region, ending two decades of Chinese control.

He married Thrimalö, who would become "regent" after Mangsong's death. The emperor died in the winter of 676–677, and Zhangzhung revolts occurred thereafter. In the same year the emperor's son Tridu Songtsen  was born.

Emperor Tridu Songtsän ruled in the shadow of his powerful mother Thrimalö on the one hand and the influential Gar clan on the other hand. Gar Thridringtsändrö defeated the Chinese in battle in 696, and sued for peace. 2 years later, in 698 emperor Tridu Songtsän invited the Gar clan (over 2000 people) to a hunting party and had them executed. Gar Thridringtsändrö then committed suicide, and his troops joined the Chinese. The emperor died while he was invading Mywa (a place with Miao people).

King Tride Tsuktsän was born in 704. Upon the death of Tridu Songtsen, his mother Thrimalö ruled as regent for the infant Gyältsugru. Gyältsugru was officially enthroned with the royal name Tride Tsuktsän in 712, the year that dowager empress Thrimalö died. By 750 the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian possessions to the Chinese. In 753, even the kingdom of "Little Balur" (modern Gilgit) was captured by the Chinese. However, after Gao Xianzhi's defeat by the Caliphate and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas (751), Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence began to increase again. In 755 Tride Tsuktsän was killed by the ministers Lang and ‘Bal. They were then killed by the army.

In 755 China had been greatly weakened by the An Lushan Rebellion, which would last until 763. In contrast, Trisong Detsän's reign was characterized by the reassertion of Tibetan influence in Central Asia. Early in his reign regions to the West of Tibet paid homage to the Tibetan court. From that time onward the Tibetans pressed into the territory of the Tang emperors, reaching the Chinese capital Chang'an (modern Xian) in late 763. Tibetan troops occupied Chang'an for fifteen days and installed a puppet emperor while Emperor Daizong was in Luoyang. The year of his death is disputed - it is believed to be either 797 or 804.

After a short reign, Muné Tsenpo was supposedly poisoned on the orders of his mother. After his death, Mutik Tsenpo was next in line to the throne. However, he had been apparently banished to Lhodak Kharchu  near the Bhutanese border for murdering a senior minister. The youngest brother, Tride Songtsän, was definitely ruling by 804 CE.

Under Tride Songtsän there was a protracted war with the Abbasid Caliphate. It appears that Tibetans captured a number of Caliphate troops and pressed them into service on the eastern frontier in 801. Tibetans were active as far west as Samarkand and Kabul. Caliphate forces began to gain the upper hand, and the Tibetan governor of Kabul submitted to the Caliphate and became a Muslim about 812 or 815. The Caliphate then struck east from Kashmir, but were held off by the Tibetans. In the meantime, the Uyghur Khaganate attacked Tibet from the northeast. Strife between the Uyghurs and Tibetans continued for some time.

Tritsu Detsen is important to Tibetan Buddhists as one of the three Dharma Kings who brought Buddhism to Tibet. He was a generous supporter of Buddhism and invited many craftsmen, scholars and translators from neighbouring countries. Finally, a treaty established a 20 year truce between the Tang and Tibet. Nonetheless, Detsen was apparently murdered by two pro-Bön (a religion) ministers who then placed his anti-Buddhist brother, Langdarma, on the throne.

The reign of Langdarma, was plagued by external troubles. The Uyghur state to the north collapsed under pressure from the Kyrgyz in 840, and many displaced people fled to Tibet. Langdarma himself was assassinated, apparently by a Buddhist hermit, in 842. The Tibetan Empire then collapsed when multiple people wanted to become emperor (a succession crisis). The assassination left two possible heirs, Yumtän and Ösung, to fight for the throne, leading to a civil war. The civil war is known as the beginning of the Era of Fragmentation.

The successors of Osung controlled the region of Ngari, while the successors of Yumtän controlled Ü region. The decentralized empire was then split up when numerous peasant rebellions created new kingdoms and warlords. The Era of Fragmentation is depicted as a low point in the development of Tibetan Buddhism, with the Buddhist monastic order facing persecution and exile.
Tibet in the Yuan Dynasty
Displays Tibet before and during Mongol rule.
Dark red are parts that were under
both Tibetan and Mongol rule.
Red is parts only under Mongol Rule.

The Yuan Dynasty (Mongols) invaded Tibet in 1240 with an small army. Led by a Buddhist general, the army only burned one Buddhist monastery - the monastery of Rwa-sgreng. They withdrew in 1241 to prepare for the succession of Ogedai Khan, but returned in 1244. They invited a Tibetan lama, Sakya Pandita, to Godan's camp, where he agreed to capitulate Tibet, after the Mongols threatened a full-scale invasion of the region.

Between 1346 and 1354, the Yuan dynasty was weakening from uprisings in the main Chinese provinces. As the Yuan dynasty declined, in Tibet, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen toppled the Mongol puppets and founded the Phagmodrupa dynasty, the rulers of which belonged to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Nonetheless, by the late 16th century, the Mongols were successful armed protectors of the Gelug Dalai Lama, after increasing their presence in the Amdo region.

The next couple of centuries are highly disputed in history.

For example, the Yuan was recognized as the successor state of the Ming. This much is known. But here's the problem - people argue that Tibet is or is not independent based on its history with China - which makes things so much more complicated.

While most people concur that Tibet was de facto independent under the Ming, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China digress. They claim that the Ming implemented a policy of managing Tibet according to conventions and customs, granting titles and setting up administrative organs over Tibet. Apparently, the Ming Dynasty's Ü-Tsang Commanding Office governed most areas of Tibet. It also states that while the Ming abolished the policy council set up by the Mongol Yuan to manage local affairs in Tibet and the Mongol system of Imperial Tutors to govern religious affairs, the Ming adopted a policy of bestowing titles upon religious leaders who had submitted to the Ming Dynasty. For example, an edict of the Hongwu Emperor in 1373 appointed the Tibetan leader Choskunskyabs as the General of the mNgav-ris Military and Civil Wanhu Office.

But the next part is disputed. Because although this would have been true for the eastern Tibetan regions of Amdo and Kham's "tribute-cum-trade" relations with the Ming, it was untrue if applied to the western Tibetan regions of Ü-Tsang and Ngari.

But regardless, we can look at the personal bias of these studies. The branches of the Chinese government are supposed to say that Tibet was historically a part of China - it legitimizes their rule. Likewise, pro-Tibetan scholars are expected to say that Tibet was independent to stop the legitimization Chinese rule of Tibet.

Tibet in the Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty after
the changes to Tibet.
But the next part of Tibetan history is the most crucial to the arguments about Tibetan sovereignty. The arguments that Tibet should be independent are based off the idea that China invaded a sovereign state in 1950. The arguments that Tibet is part of China are based off the idea that China was just subduing a troublesome region that was part of its country.

The Qing Dynasty put Amdo under their control in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728.

In 1750 the Ambans and majority of the Han Chinese and Manchus living in Lhasa were killed in a riot, and Qing troops arrived quickly and suppressed the rebels in the next year. The Qing dynasty exerted military and administrative control of the region, but still granted it a degree of political autonomy. The Qing restored the Dalai Lama to the position of regional leader once more.

Nepal attempted to invade Tibet. This prompted yet another Qing reorganization of the Tibetan government, this time through a written plan called the "Twenty-Nine Regulations for Better Government in Tibet" after the Qing sent a large army. Tibet was dominated by the Manchus, but there was no attempt to make Tibet a Chinese province.

In 1841, a Sikh army led by General Zorawar Singh invaded western Tibet from Ladakh, starting the Sino-Sikh War. This event coincided with the Opium Wars against Britain. Both sides stopped the war with a status quo ante bellum.

Because the Qing Dynasty was weakening, its control over Tibet waned. Nonetheless, Tibetans kept the empire's symbolic authority.

In 1904, a British expedition to Tibet, spurred in part by a fear that Russia was extending its power into Tibet, invaded Tibet, hoping that negotiations with the 13th Dalai Lama would be more effective than with Chinese representatives. When the British-led invasion reached Tibet, an armed confrontation with the ethnic Tibetans resulted in the Massacre of Chumik Shenko. They forced a treaty on Tibet that made Tibet a British protectorate. The British government did not recognize the treaty, and to be friends with the Qing again, they canceled the treaty. Note this for later on - this is very important in our present-day world.

In 1910, right before the demise of the Qing Dynasty, the Qing sent Zhao Erfeng to Tibet as an administrator. He crushed the Tibetan lamas and monasteries after the 1905 Tibetan Rebellion in Yunnan in Sichuan at the siege of Chantreng. The lamas had revolted against the Qing by killing Christian missionaries, native Christian converts, and Chinese officials.

In 1911, Sichuan rebelled, so Zhao brought in troops from Wuchang. Nonetheless, Wuchang rebelled soon after the troops left, leading to the Xinhai Revolution and the end of the Qing Dynasty.

Kashmir and the McMahon Line
The McMahon Line
The Republic of China apologized for the Qing actions and tried to restore the Dalai Lama's status. Nonetheless, the Dalai Lama refused any Chinese position and declared Tibet to be independent. By 1913, Mongolia, a place that was also de facto independent, recognized Tibet as an independent country. In 1914, Tibet signed the Simla Accord with Britain, giving away South Tibet up to the McMahon Line.

However, all of these legal documents created at the time are disputed. The People's Republic of China considers the Simla Accord to be an illegal document because it says that Tibet was not independent. The McMahon Line has been the reason for the 1962 Sino-Indian War because India claimed that the document gave them control of all of Kashmir (because they were the successor state of the British Raj).

After the Communist government kicked out the Republicans during the Chinese Civil War, Mao Zedong gave an order to invade Tibet to "liberate Tibet from the British".

Yes, this was their casus belli. Even though the British had given up India on August 15, 1947, Communist China decided that it was all because of the British that Tibet was a British colony.

So, Communist China was behind world events by 3 years. No biggie, right?

Apparently not.

So in July 1949, in order to prevent a Communist invasion of Tibet, the Tibetan government expelled the Republican Chinese delegation. In November 1949, it sent a letter to the US State Department and a copy to Mao Zedong, and a separate letter to Great Britain, declaring its intent to defend itself "by all possible means" against PRC troop incursions into Tibet.

Starting from 1919, Tibet had de-emphasized its military. They thought, "Well, why do we need this?" Instead, 85% of their budget went to education. Don't you wish modern countries were like that? No war, just peace?

On March 7, a Tibetan delegation arrived in Kalimpong to open a dialogue with the newly declared PRC and to secure assurances that the PRC would respect Tibetan "territorial integrity", among other things.

"Tibet will remain independent as it is at present, and we will continue to have very close 'priest-patron' relations with China. Also, there is no need to liberate Tibet from imperialism, since there are no British, American or Guomindang imperialists in Tibet, and Tibet is ruled and protected by the Dalai Lama (not any foreign power)" - Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa

After months of failed negotiation, Communist China commenced its invasion of Tibet. The People's Liberation Army defeated the Tibetan Army at the Battle of Champa. According to the 14th Dalai Lama, the PLA (People's Liberation Army) was well behaved and generally did not attack civilians.

Tibetan negotiators were sent to Beijing. They were not allowed to communicate with their government, and although they did not have the authority to sign documents, they agreed to the Communist Chinese demands. The PRC stated it would allow Tibet to reform at its own pace and in its own way, keep internal affairs self-governing and allow religious freedom, it would also have to agree to be part of China.

Tibet therefore has a government in exile.

China has been condemned for the many human rights abuses that have occurred under Chinese governance.

What do you think? Should Tibet be independent? Comment below!

Here are some enlightening quotes on the situation in Tibet:
"Whatever the Dalai Lama is doing, no matter in what name, is aimed at seeking independence of Tibet." - Padma Choling, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress.
" Since the age of 16, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been working for Tibet and made the world know about Tibet and Tibetans." - Tibetan Prime Minister Losang Sangay.
"It's a very rare occasion, especially after he devolved his political power to the elected leader, to hear him and see him in the parliamentary building. I didn't want to miss this opportunity. Hence, I came all the way from Bangalore to be a part of this," - B. Tsering, a Tibetan parliamentarian-in- exile.
"On Feb. 27, 2009, three days into the Tibetan New Year, a 24-year-old monk in his crimson and yellow robe emerged from the confines of the Kirti Monastery into the streets of Ngawa, in a the Tibetan area of southwestern China. There, in the shadow of a 98-foot-tall monument to the gods of longevity, the man burst into flames — thus sparking the first of many self-immolations that spread across the Tibetan regions of China." - Tsering Woeser, a reporter for the New York Times.
"On March 10, 1959, hundreds rose up against the occupation, demonstrating outside the Dalai Lama's residence in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, until their rally was brutally quashed by the army. The Dalai Lama, then the political leader as well as the Tibetan spiritual leader, fled on foot over the snow-covered Himalayas to India." - Ashwini Bhatia, a reporter for ABC News. 
  1. Tibet Situation : Critical - Full Documentary. Perf. Jason Lansdell. JsanDJ001, 2013. Youtube.
  2. Beckwith, Christopher I. The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia: A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1987. Print.
  3. Hanrahan, Clare. Tibet. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2009. Print.
  4. "Tibetan Official Slams Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting." Peopledaily.com.cn. People's Daily Online, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
  5. Yangchen, Phuntsok. "Tibetan PM Declares 2014 as His Holiness the Dalai Lama Year - Www.phayul.com." Phayul.com. Phayul, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
  6. "Dalai Lama Asks Followers to Preserve Tibet's Cultural Heritage." Http://aninews.in. Aninews, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
  7. Woeser, Tsering. "Tibet’s Enduring Defiance." The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
  8. Press, Ashwini Bhatia Associated. "Leader-in-Exile: Youths Lead Tibet Freedom Fight."ABC News. ABC News Network, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
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Boshin War

After the American Commodore Matthew Perry opened Japan by opening Edo (Tokyo) Bay, Japan rushed to change from its feudal government. In fact, this was one of the first times in all of Japanese history that an American stepped on Japanese soil.
Commodore Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry established the Treaty of Peace and Amity (or the Treaty of Kanagawa), which was considered an Unequal Treaty with "gunboat diplomacy", which was diplomacy with a cannon.

Subsequently, the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty was signed between the United Kingdom and Japan, the Treaty of Shimoda was signed between the Russian Empire and Japan, and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between France and Japan was signed.

With all these factors set up for an internal dispute in Japan about the foreigners, it comes as a surprise that the Boshin War didn't happen earlier.

In fact, the shogunate was reaching an all-time high unpopularity rate with its people as a result of the treaties. People began to say "sonnō jōi", or "Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians". Many people began supporting an eventual restoration of the Emperor.

Debate over government policy was unusual and had engendered public criticism of the shogun. In the hope of enlisting the support of new allies, the Chief Senior Councillor Abe Masahiro had consulted with the shinpan and tozama daimyo. In the Ansei Reform which lasted from 1854 to 1856, Abe then tried to strengthen the regime by ordering Dutch warships and armaments from the Netherlands and building new port defenses.

In 1855, with Dutch assistance, the Shogunate acquired its first steam warship, Kankō Maru, which was used for training, and opened the Nagasaki Naval Training Center with Dutch instructors, and a Western-style military school was established at Edo. In 1857, it acquired its first screw-driven steam warship, the Kanrin Maru. Scientific knowledge was quickly expanded from the pre-existing foundation of Western knowledge, or "Rangaku".

Emperor Meiji
Emperor Meiji
Foreigners arrived in Yokohama and Kanagawa in great numbers, giving rise to trouble with the samurai. Violence increased against the foreigners and those who dealt with them. Murders of foreigners and collaborating Japanese soon followed. On 26 August 1859, a Russian sailor was cut to pieces in the streets of Yokohama. In early 1860, two Dutch captains were slaughtered, also in Yokohama. Chinese and native servants of foreigners were also killed.

Japanese Prime Minister Ii Naosuke, who had signed the Harris Treaty and tried to eliminate opposition to Westernization with the Ansei Purge, was himself murdered in March 1860 in the Sakuradamon incident. A servant of the French Minister was attacked at the end of 1860. On 14 January 1861, Henry Heusken, Secretary to the American mission, was attacked and murdered. During this period, about one foreigner was killed every month.

When Tokugawa Yoshinobu become Shogun, Emperor Kōmei finally ordered the imperial decree "Order to expel barbarians", which ended up attacking the Shogunate as well.

An alliance of western samurai, particularly the domains of Chōshū, Satsuma and Tosa, and court officials, secured control of the imperial court and influenced the young Emperor Meiji. The shogun hoped to continue influencing politics and abdicated to preserve the prestige of his house.

Nonetheless, Satsuma and Chōshū issued the imperial decree that abolished the House of Tokugawa. Yoshinobu attempted to take the Imperial Palace at Kyoto, but failed.

This culminated in the Boshin War. Through a series of military defeats, the Tokugawa Shogunate was forced onto Ezo (Hokkaido). It declared that the emperor was deposed, and established the Ezo Republic.

Although the Tokugawa lost the Boshin War, Yoshinobu was not killed. Shogunate administrators were allowed back into the Imperial government after the "Meiji Restoration".

The Boshin War would account for the popular support for the Emperor. When Emperor Hirohito came to the throne, it culminated in the deadly World War II.

In all, the Boshin War had 120,000 mobilized soldiers, but 3,500 of them died.


  1. Matthew Calbraith Perry. Digital image. Perry In Japan. Brown University, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
  2. "People: Matthew Calbraith Perry." Perry In Japan. Brown University, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
  3. Watkins, Thayer. "Meiji Restoration/Revolution." Sjsu.edu. San José State University, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
  4. "1750-1919: Japan and the West: The Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) afe.easia.columbia.edu/. Columbia University, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
  5. "Meiji Restoration (Japanese History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
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