Shizoku rebellions

Shizoku rebellions were uprisings in the 1870s by former samurai against moves by the Meiji government to terminate samurai status, and in particular, samurai stipends.

While the former daimy├┤ maintained much of their prestige, status, and wealth as they were shifted from being the feudal lords of domains to being aristocratic governors of territories in service to a central government, the samurai, re-designated shizoku under the new class system, for the most part saw nothing but the loss of privileges. In 1873, following the abolition of the han in 1871, the government moved to reorganize or reduce stipend payments - the payment in rice from their lord which most samurai had relied upon as their chief or sole source of income throughout the Edo period. Many samurai sought to rebel against this reduction or elimination of their income, and of their elite status. However, stipends had always derived from one's lord, and from one's domain, and neither of these existed anymore, making it difficult to resist in the name of one's lord or one's domain, and difficult too to unite across regional boundaries with samurai who had received their stipends from a different lord.

Nevertheless, a few rebellions were sizable enough to be widely noted as significant. These include the Akizuki Rebellion, Shinp├╗ren Incident, and Hagi Rebellion of 1876, and the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, all of which were executed chiefly only by shizoku of a single former domain, who did not manage to unite with one another in their rebellions, and all of which were ultimately suppressed by the forces of the central government.


  • Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, Stanford University Press (1999), 206.