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The Meiji Unification through the Lens of Ishikawa Prefecture

The Meiji Unification through the Lens of Ishikawa Prefecture

James C. Baxter

ISBN 9780674564664

Publication date: 05/06/1995

Credit for the swift unification of Japan following the 1868 overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate is usually given to the national leaders who instigated the coup and formed the new Meiji government. But is brilliant leadership at the top sufficient to explain how regional separatist tendencies and loyalties to the old lords were overcome in the formation of a nationally unified state? On the contrary, argues James C. Baxter. Though plans were drawn up by policy makers in Tokyo, the efforts of citizens all over the country were required to implement these plans and create a sense of national identity among local populations.

Drawing on extensive archival resources, Baxter describes the transformation of the Tokugawa domain of Kaga into the Meiji prefecture of Ishikawa. The result is a richly detailed study that helps explain how Japan achieved national unity without the bloody struggles that have often accompanied modernization and nation-building.


  • The historical process in mid-nineteenth century Japan is known as the Meiji Restoration was a major revolutionary change… Less well known is how decisions at the centre were transmitted to the provinces and especially to those provinces which were not involved in the great events at Kyoto or Edo. This is the world that James Baxter examines… By the time Japan became a constitutional monarchy in 1889, a major revolution had taken place throughout the country built up from the local level as much as from the centre down. This book will be required reading for all those who wish to understand that process. It is well written and well argued.

    —J. E. Hoare, Asian Affairs


  • James C. Baxter is a vice president of the Yasuda Trust and Banking Company, Ltd.

Book Details

  • 394 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/8 inches
  • Harvard University Asia Center