Shishi (Patriot) (志士)

Shishi is a historical term describing a commoner in the late Edo Period who actively contributed to the country. The term Shishi is derived from a phrase in 'The Analects (of Confucius)' that was 'Shishi, a person of virtue accumulates virtues by killing himself'. It describes a character who places his life on the line for what he believes is right for his country. The term was frequently used for the political activists who held to ideal of "Sonno-joi (Reverence of the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners)". They were also referred to as "Somo (non-government citizens)".

It is also used figuratively for people in different eras and countries. Subhas Chandra Bose, a leader in the Indian independence movement who fled to Japan during the World War 2, was also called a ""Shishi' of the Indian independence movement".

Acts by the Sonno (advocate of imperial rule) Shishi

During the late Edo Period, the "Sono Shishi" pioneered the structure for the Meiji government while the Shogunate was still in a state of tumult over the expulsion of foreigners and anti-foreign sentiments. In the beginning they adhered to the ideal of "Sonno Joi ("Sonno"is the principle of revering the emperor, while "Joi" stands for anti-foreigner sentiments)", opposed all interactions with foreigners, believed that it was imperative to establish a emperor-centered government, and believed that the government should implement this ideal. But when the Edo Shogunate began to rapidly lose it's power to unify the country, they hoped to overthrow the government and replace it with an integrated government centered around the emperor. The Bakucho War, in which the Edo Shogunate fought against the Choshu Domain, caused deep rifts between the Shogunate and the Yuhan, a powerful daimyo family. The alliance between the Satsuma Domain and the Choshu Domain resulted in the fall of the Shogunate at the Boshin War.

The term "Shishi" came to symbolize a person who puts his life towards political activity, such as the activists for Civic Rights, and Meiji Period socialists.

[Original Japanese]