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Old October 7th, 2017, 09:59 PM   #1
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What if the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Samurai class didn't fall in the 1860s?


What if the Tokugawa Shogunate had stayed in power, as well as the Samurai still staying as a privileged class, but modernization still occured under the Shogunate? In this alternate timeline, the Japanese Emperor's attempt to seize power had failed, so the flag of Japan would be the flag of the Tokugawa Shogunate. By the 1870s, the Shogunate orders a modernization program of not only the country's infrastructure, but military as well. The Shogun ordered a more western-styled military to be made with as much modern equipment and tactics as possible. The Samurai classed still exists and they have their privileges, but the only melee weapons they train with are the Katana, Wakizashi, Tanto, bayonet, and unarmed fighting, which play less of a role than pre-modernization in their training only to be used for CQC situations; most of the focus of the Samurai class is in rifles and artillery, maybe some trained to be great at naval roles. They are automatically officers within the military, unlike normal civilians who have to work their way up the ranks to become officers, and can walk around town with the Katana and Wakizashi or a rifle with a bayonet, and they wear their traditional armor for ceremonial purposes.

Given that it'd only be a change in leadership, I imagine that they'd still go to Russia, and even if they did, they'd win in this timeline as well. I also imagine that they'd still be on the Allies side in WWI. However, where would they be in WWII? With the Shogunate in charge, would they want to become an Empire, or would they stay more to themselves? Would they join the Nazis and probably lose again like in our timeline (I imagine that Samurai would probably be ace pilots, officers, or special forces if they fought in WWII), and if so, how would a deal between the Shogunate and the US go? Would it be easier to surrender for Japan given that the Shogun is a secular dictator, unlike the Emperor who has a much more important role? How would the US change this Japan if they won the war? Would they still bear the Tokugawa flag?

Last edited by Conquistador Samurai; October 7th, 2017 at 10:06 PM.
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Old October 7th, 2017, 11:51 PM   #2
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I think Japan would be more like China and remain behind the West with consequences including possible colonization. Japan worked very hard after the restoration to catch up with West and industrialize. They succeeded. That would not have happened IMO under your scenario. I don't think the Shoguns appreciated the dangers any more than the Chinese. They had been in power too long and were complacent.

Last edited by stevev; October 8th, 2017 at 12:02 AM.
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Old October 8th, 2017, 12:52 AM   #3

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We would probably still see samurai rebellions like the Satsuma one. For the modernization to succeed, the privileged status of the samurai would need to be abolished or at least minimized, which would obviously cause unrest among the samurai. However, I believe that the rebellion would be even bigger if the shogunate was still in power, since other anti-Tokugawa domains would help the rebellious samurai. BTW, the shogunate attempted to modernize its army after the defeat in the 1866 Summer War against the Choshu by inviting French military personnel into the country, and by eliminating old swordmen and pikemen units, and already there the bakufu was forced to recruit low-ranking members of society since they were more willing to go along with the new European-based reforms.

Last edited by Maki; October 8th, 2017 at 01:19 AM.
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Old October 12th, 2017, 03:37 PM   #4
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It is hard to tell. But I guess a lot of people in various eastern Asian countries would think that since Japan might be less militarily powerful at various dates that alternate history would be better than real history.
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