Ichikaiso Government (一会桑政権)

The Ichikaiso Government was a politically prominent group in Kyoto, the center of politics at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate; it was formed of Kinri-goshuei-sotoku (Governor-general of the inner palace's guard) Sekkai-bogyo-shiki (Commander of the coastal defense of Osaka-wan Bay) Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI, Kyoto-shugoshoku (Military governor of Kyoto) Katamori MATSUDAIRA from the Aizu clan, and Kyoto-shoshidai (Deputy for Governor-general of Kyoto) Sadaaki MATSUDAIRA from the Kuwana clan.


At first the group had been formed to counter the group of Sonno Joi (19th century slogan advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners) and the Choshu clan; after the Sonno Joi group had been purged by the August 18 Coup (the Bunkyu Coup of 1863), the powerful lords including the three of the Ichikaiso Government participated in the Sanyo-kaigi (the Councilor Council in the Court) which had been set up so that the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Imperial Court cooperate on dealing with impending matters; although the Sanyo-kaigi was unraveled soon, the three politicians had maintained their power and dominated over the politics in Kyoto until the Overthrow of the Shogunate and the Decree for the Restoration of Imperial Rule (1867).

Originally they were to represent the Tokugawa Shogunate, however, in Kyoto, far from Edo (present Tokyo, the hub of the Shogunate), they gained the Emperor's trust and didn't always speak for the Shogunate, but instead formed an original force of politics; for that reason recently there is a historian saying that they should be called the 'Ichikaiso Government.'

For a long time historians had considered that the conflict between 'Saccho' (the alliance between the Satsuma clan and the Choshu clan) and the Shogunate had driven the politics at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, however, recently Yoshiki IECHIKA, an assistant professor of Osaka University of Economics, proposed the new idea of 'the Ichikaiso Government' for the simple reason that it's impossible to grasp the whole political situation during the tempestuous period from only the past historical point of view. The three politicians of the government hadn't been considered important by the past historians who had followed the majority viewpoint (appreciating 'Saccho'), however recently the significance of their political works is being reconsidered due to the assistant professor's idea.

Process of forming the government

After the Perry Expedition and the Opening of Japan, the following of Sonno Joi greatly extended their influence, accordingly the Emperor and the Imperial Court rapidly gathered momentum, and the political center moved from Edo to a distant city, Kyoto (the Imperial Court and its vicinity). In the Sakuradamongai Incident (1860), extremists murdered Tairo (a councilor of the Council of Five Elders) Naosuke II who had conducted Ansei no Taigoku (the suppression of extremists by the Shogunate), soon after that, in 1861 the Shogunate offered the lawful marriage of Seii Taishogun (literally, 'great general who subdues the barbarians') the 14th shogun Iemochi TOKUGAWA with Kazunomiya (a younger sister of Emperor Komei) to the Imperial Family for the purpose of gaining the Imperial Court's cooperation; especially since then, statesmen of strong clans including the Satsuma clan, the Choshu clan and the Tosa clan aimed for advance to the political center, and the following of Sonno Joi came to Kyoto one after and another. In leap August 1862 (according to the old lunar calendar), the Shogunate appointed the head of the Aizu clan Katamori MATSUDAIRA to a newly established post, Kyoto-shugoshoku (Military governor of Kyoto), for suppressing increasing masterless samurai extremists whom Kyoto-shoshidai (Deputy for Governor-general of Kyoto) had been no longer able to control.

After the statesmen of the Aizu clan had come to Kyoto, the Sonno Joi movement gained additional strength, assassinations and threats by masterless samurai extremists became commonplace; even in the Court, sympathetic court nobles to Sonno Joi had a great influence, they often gave Imperial order without asking the Emperor's permission and demanded that the Shogunate immediately renounce the treaties with foreign countries following the Joi group's proposal (expulsion of foreigners), and what's more, in August 1863 (according to the old lunar calendar) they planned the Emperor's visit to Yamato for carrying out the Emperor's direct commitment to Joi. In the Choshu Domain, the extremists had dominated in the government; they had advanced to Kyoto, cooperated with other clans on those actions and gradually extended their political influence.

However, the Emperor disliked the strong connection between the Sonno Joi group and the Choshu clan, he suggested a purge to Kyoto-shugoshoku Katamori MATSUDAIRA (Aizu clan), then the Aizu clan and the Satsuma clan privately joined hands and on August 18 (according to the old lunar calendar) expelled the Choshu clan and sympathetic court nobles to Sonno Joi including Sanetomi SANJO from Kyoto (the August 18 Coup).

After the Coup, Nariyuki NIJO was appointed to Kanpaku (Chief adviser to the Emperor), and he and Imperial Prince Kuninomiya Asahiko led the Imperial Court. During the months from October to December (according to the old lunar calendar) the powerful lords agreeing to the political cooperation between the Shogunate and the Imperial Court, such as Hisamitsu SHIMAZU (the father of the head of the Shimazu clan), Shungaku MATSUDAIRA (the former head of the Fukui clan), Munenari DATE (the former head of the Uwajima clan), Yodo YAMAUCHI (the former head of the Tosa clan), and Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI came to Kyoto one after another, and they were appointed as members of the Sanyo-kaigi with Katamori MATSUDAIRA, then the political cooperation between the Shogunate and the Imperial Court began in the form in which the delegates of the Shogunate speak in the Imperial Court. The main agenda of the Sanyo-kaigi was punishment for the Choshu clan and exclusion of foreign ships from Yokohama-ko Port. However, conflict arose over the agenda of Yokohama-ko Port against the background of different purposes between Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI who aimed to protect the Shogunate and the Satsuma clan who aimed to take advantage of the Council to gain leadership, therefore, in February 1864 (according to the old lunar calendar) Yamauchi went back to his domain, and in the following March other members also resigned, consequently the Sanyo-kaigi was broken up.

After that occasion, Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI was appointed to Kinri-goshuei-sotoku and Sekkai-bogyo-shiki, Katamori MATSUDAIRA, who had retired from Kyoto-shugoshoku, was appointed to the previous post again, and Sadaaki MATSUDAIRA (a younger brother of Katamori and the head of the Kuwana clan) was appointed to Kyoto-shoshidai. The Ichikaiso Government' was practically formed, and afterwards the three lords and the members of the Imperial Court, Emperor Komei, Nariyuki NIJO, and Imperial Prince Nakagawanomiya (Kuninomiya) Asahiko led politics in Kyoto until the Restoration of Imperial Rule.

[Original Japanese]