Akizuki Rebellion

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Akizuki Rebellion
Part of Shizoku rebellions of the Meiji period
Date 27 October-24 November 1876
Location Akizuki, Fukuoka Prefecture
Result Government victory; rebellion crushed
Belligerents
Imperial Japanese Army shizoku rebels of former Akizuki Domain
Commanders and leaders
Nogi Maresuke Iso Jun , Toki Kiyoshi , Masuda Shizukata , Miyazaki Kurumanosuke , Imamura Hyakuhachirō 
Strength
Unknown 200
Casualties and losses
At least two soldiers killed, two civilians, one policeman 26, incl. suicides and executions

The 1876 Akizuki Rebellion (秋月の乱 Akizuki no ran?) was one of a number of uprisings by members of the former samurai-class which took place in the early Meiji period in Kyūshū and other parts of western Japan against the new Meiji government.

Meiji kunen no henn Senkaku resshi no hi in Hakozaki Shrine

Background[edit]

Following the 1868 Meiji Restoration, many members of the former samurai class were disgruntled with the direction the nation had taken. The abolition of their former privileged social status under the feudal order had also eliminated their income, and the establishment of universal military conscription had eliminated much of their raison d'etre. The very rapid modernization (Westernization) of the country was resulting in massive changes to Japanese culture, dress and society, and appeared to many samurai to be a betrayal of the joi (“Expel the Barbarian”) portion of the Sonnō jōi justification used to overthrow the former Tokugawa shogunate.

The revolt[edit]

The Akizuki Rebellion began on 27 October 1876, in the former Akizuki Domain (now part of Asakura city Fukuoka Prefecture, in response to a call to action by the leaders of the Shinpūren Rebellion, an attack on Kumamoto castle, three days earlier. The Akizuki rebels were led by a number of former samurai retainers of Akizuki domain who had formed a political society called the Kanjōtai. Its leadership included Iso Jun, Toki Kiyoshi, Masuda Shizukata, Imamura Hyakuhachirō and Miyazaki Kurumanosuke. Their main points of contention with the new government were the ban on carrying swords, the government's refusal to follow Shimazu Hisamitsu's advice to halt the westernization of the country, and especially the outcome of the Seikanron debate over invasion of Korea. The Kanjōtai's strong advocacy of overseas expansionism was rooted in the belief that such a war would restore the former samurai class to its former prominence and prestige.

Iso, Miyazaki and the other leaders of the rebellion sought to enlist support from other shizoku in the area, and eventually gathered a band of roughly 400 men. However, not all agreed with Miyazaki's plan to march to the aid of the Shinpūren rebels, and eventually only 200 men set off, under a white banner with the kanji Righteous Country (報国 Hōkoku?). The revolt began with the killing of police officers at their post at Myōgan-ji, a local Buddhist temple; this was the first time in Japanese history that a member of the modern police force was killed in the line of duty. The rebels meant to rendezvous with a band of shizoku from the former Toyotsu Domain under Sugyu Jūrō, and arrived at the rendezvous point on October 29 only to learn that their compatriots had already been arrested and imprisoned.

The rebels were then attacked by the Kokura garrison of the Imperial Japanese Army, under the command of Nogi Maresuke. Seventeen rebels were killed, and two government soldiers. The rebels were chased into the hills, where, on October 31, Iso, Miyazaki, Toki, and four others committed suicide.

Meanwhile, Imamura led twenty-six warriors back to Akizuki, where they raided the elementary school and killed two government officials. They then burned down a liquor shop's storehouse where rebels had been previously detained, but by November 24, all the rebels were apprehended.

Masuda Shizukata had left for the former Saga Domain in an attempt to raise support among the warriors there, but was apprehended on his way back to Akizuki on October 26, even before his compatriots began their uprising.

The surviving rebels were brought before a temporary military tribunal in Fukuoka on December 3. Imamura and Masuda were beheaded the same day, and 150 of their compatriots were sentenced to hard labor. Akizuki castle was torn down shortly afterwards.

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