Dissolution of the Samurai Class

In the years leading up to and following 1873, the government of Japan worked to gradually dissolve the Samurai class. The government at this point in Japan’s history was working to unite the upper and lower classes and create a system where all were equal, sentiments displayed in the Meiji Restoration’s Charter Oath, a sort of founding document for the new government. So, the government began to merge ex-Samurai into the rest of society. They did so at times with incentives, such as providing lots of opportunities for ex-Samurai to find employment in government projects like land reclamation and the railway industry. They also did so at times with mandates, such as abolishing their pension system, preventing them from carrying swords, discontinuing old styles of Samurai garb, and making rulings to end their once-held legal privileges. While many were able to adjust to their new way of life, many found their new lives a poor trade for what they once had. But hey, what could a group of highly trained, proud men who were suddenly stripped of their entire identity possibly do in retribution? Oh, wait . . .


  • “The Charter Oath (of the Meiji Restoration), 1868.” Columbia University Asia for Educators
  • Harootunian, Harry. “The Progress of Japan and the Samurai Class, 1868-1882.” Pacific Historical Review 28, no. 3 (1959): 255-266. doi: 10.2307/3636470.

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