Viscount Enomoto Takeaki was an admiral and Samurai. He was known for his credibility as the navy of the Tokugawa Shogunate. He was faithful to his lord and fighting against the new Meiji government.
He founded the Imperial Japanese Navy under the Meiji government after the end of the Boshin War.
Enomoto Takeaki Early Life
Enomoto Takeaki was born to a Samurai family. This lineage served the Tokugawa Shogunate in Edo (present-day Taito, Tokyo). He studied at the Tokugawa Naval Training Center.
During this time, Commodore Matthew Perry tried to force Japan to get out of its isolation policy from the rest of the world.
When he was 26 years old, Enomoto Takeaki stayed in the Netherlands. During his stay, he studied western techniques in naval warfare. He stayed in Europe for 5 years, from 1862 to 1867. He became fluent in Dutch and English languages.
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Enomoto Takeaki At Boshin War
Sometimes referred to as the Japanese Revolution, Boshin War was a civil war fought for a year from 1868 to 1869. The battle was between the Tokugawa Shogunate and those who are after political power behind the Imperial Court.
There was a growing dissatisfaction over the Japanese elite and young Samurai because of how the Tokugawa Shogunate handled foreigners and its Western influence on their economy.
As a result, an alliance was formed to secure control of the Imperial Court. The purpose of this was to preserve its participation in the future Meiji government.
Enomoto Takeaki during Meiji Restoration
Enomoto Takeaki stood firm refusing to surrender his warships even when Edo surrendered to the Satcho Alliances forces. Takeaki hoped that Japan would be divided in order to have an independent country under the Tokugawa Shogunate.
However, this was declined since the new Meiji government did not accept dividing Japan. With that, the Tokugawa loyalists sided with Enomoto. They elected him President to be their leader for the Republic of Ezo.
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Naval Battle of Hakodate
Enomoto Takeaki’s forces were defeated and collapsed when the Meiji government forces tried to invade Hokkaido. He was arrested and accused of high treason. He was confined in prison.
When the government realized his talents and the knowledge he gained while studying as a navy, they pardoned him. Enomoto was one of the few men who were able to rise up as the government went into the transition from the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate.
The following year after he was sent to Russia, he negotiated as the special envoy for the Treaty of St. Petersburg. The negotiation was successful and Enomoto was praised for this accomplishment.
Being chosen to an important position sealed him as a trustworthy official even if he was once a foe of the Meiji government. He also encouraged emigration and finding new territories for Japanese settlement overseas.
Even when after his retirement, he was able to establish a private organization promoting external trade and emigration. Enomoto Takeaki died at the age of 72. His grave can be found in the temple of Kissho-ji, Bunkyo-ku in Tokyo.
Image Source: World Imaging [Public domain]