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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

zenphoenix

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It came so suddenly. Why were the generals so idiotic to have put their entire army in one city and let disease and starvation kill off most of them? They were so close to winning. And then came the communists and Atakshir and the surrender and the fall of Edo... Where did it all go wrong?

The Kempeitai found him at his father's shrine, about to commit seppuku. They overpowered him and took him away to their headquarters next to the shogun's castle, where Yamagata had taken up residence. They told him that his house and possessions that hadn't been taken out of Japan were to be "redistributed," or given over to Yamagata. As for him...death.

They tied him the the post as the soldiers formed a line in front of him. They put a bag over his head. "Take aim!" he heard the executioner shout.

The Kempeitai raised their rifles to their shoulders and pointed.

"Fire!"

He could not see anything, but he closed his eyes. "I die free!" he shouted.

There was a shout from the other side of the courtyard. Several minutes later, the Kempeitai were throwing him out the door of the headquarters. He was barely alive.

It was all over. Everything he had fought for, gone. His emperor, gone. His power, gone. The shogun, returned. It was unbelievable. Everything he had stood for had been trampled over and abandoned, and he was still alive. They had brought back the bakufu. They had abolished the prefectures. They had given the military the ultimate power. They had made Yamagata the modern shogun.

In those early years of the New Shogunate, he contemplated seppuku again but decided against it. He tried to send a letter to his friend Jun, but then he found out Jun had been conscripted and sent off to die in Taiwan. He didn't even reach Taiwan; the Kempeitai infiltrated his transport ship and planted and detonated explosives on it, killing all onboard. They went after his brother and sister who were in Korea; their remains were sent to him the next week, with the explanation that "subversive elements" in Korea had killed them, but he knew better. They tried to go after his wife and son, but they were in China. As soon as war broke out with China, he had them sent to the United States.

The years passed. Meiji grew older and older, sicker and sicker. Yamagata, though, grew stronger. He was a shogun in all but name. The Qing were crushed under the shogunate's modern samurai, partly fulfilling Toyotomi Hideyoshi's dreams of Asian domination. The Germans were loyal to Yamagata. He sent many letters to the Kaiser pleading for help. He doubted the letters even got out of Edo. He still participated in the Diet and the IAC, but he did not speak much, vote much, write much, or even as much as write a simple bill. What difference did it make if Yamagata would silence him anyways?

Life grew boring and even evil. Parades were held almost every month to commemorate Yamagata and the military, as if to rub in his face that he had lost. All because his side's leaders were stupid. WHY WERE THEY SO STUPID???!!!! he screamed at the walls of Edo castle, which was virtually a prison for him. He rarely left the castle now, and when he did, he looked over his shoulder, worried that the Kempeitai would be lurking in the shadows, ready to inflict more pain and torture on him. Life was hard.

He thought about the old days. He remembered watching his father fight the shogun in the Boshin War. There he was, sitting on a hill outside Edo, while his father and his loyal soldiers stormed Edo Castle and apprehended Yoshinobu. There he was, sitting at the table in Kyoto while he and his father helped write the Date Constitution. There he was, attending the first and last meeting of the Loyalists. There he was, with the rise and fall of the Jiyuto. There he was, watching his father die. There he was, lobbying for the rights of the people and for recognition of his father, fighting against the NLP and the military. But it was no use fighting the future. For 46 years after Edo Castle fell and Yoshinobu was dragged out, Edo Castle fell and Yamagata Hideyoshi enthroned himself inside it. He had hoped to work with Meiji to dispose of Yamagata, but Meiji was dead. So was Yamagata. Did Yamagata withhold physicians from the emperor to kill him and ensure that his successor would meet little to no resistance? Possibly. Whatever the case, the new Taisho emperor seemed to be fully loyal to Yamagata.

The funerals of Yamagata and Meiji were attended by thousands, if not millions, of Japanese, probably coerced into going. More attended Yamagata's. He only attended Meiji's. They gave Yamagata a huge shrine in Edo Castle, right in front of his own quarters, as if they were mocking him. Meiji's shrine was built in a secluded portion of the imperial palace. The Date and Sakamoto shrines were cordoned off and made off-limits to all. The shrines were guarded by Kempeitai day and night. Nobody paid their respects to Sakamoto Naotari and only a few paid respects to Date Munenari. Everybody else just went to Yamagata's shrine.

Did they not realize what they were doing? he thought. After all these years, they had destroyed any progress they had made. But what difference did it make? Yamagata had overturned everything that he had built and stood for. First the prefectures. Then the Privy Council. Then the limitations on the military. And then the end of the bakufu. He had eradicated his father's work. He had returned to the shogunate.

What difference did it make if he spoke up? After all, all of his family's achievements had been undone. If he spoke up, he would die. But at least he would die free? No, he died a slave to the bakufu.

The new adminstration system was basically a return to the daimyo of old. It wouldn't be long before the samurai returned. Then it would be as if nothing had happened since 1866 except that they had factories and colonies now.

He had some hope though. One day, somebody had to speak up. Maybe some modern samurai and daimyo would rise up in the future, as his father did, and overturn the Yamagata Shogunate. Maybe the cycle would repeat itself again. Maybe, just maybe, the shogunate could be defeated a long time from now. But not now. It was all over.

It was the end of 1912 now. A new emperor sat on the throne, powerless as Meiji's father was. A shogun sat on the throne, powerful as Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Oda Nobunaga were. He could not live here much longer.

His grandchildren were American citizens, he realized. If he couldn't bring down the shogunate from within as he had did with the NLP, he would bring it down from the outside. If he couldn't save Japan, he could at least escape it and hope to contain the fallout.

He began conducting secret negotiations with the American customs officials. Using his position as a prince and what wealth he had left, he managed to secure an immigration visa to the United States. He would settle in the city of San Francisco, where Akira had a residence.

One day in the 1920s, Sakamoto Ryoma packed his few clothes and possessions and his father's portrait and katana into his bag, put on the Western outfit he had worn when he was studying in Germany, and left Edo Castle for the last time. He boarded a steamer in Edo Harbor to Shanghai, where he boarded an ocean liner bound for San Francisco. Several weeks later, the former prince was walking the streets of San Francisco, among the gaijin he and his father once detested as barbarians, with his son Akira and grandson Nathan. He got a job at Stanford as a professor of German, Japanese history, and Japanese politics. In his spare time, he wrote haikus and his memoirs, which Akira compiled in a book and Nathan sold. Many Americans picked up the book eagerly, though many of the more racist ones, the majority, ignored it. Sakamoto wrote letters to the American government on the plight of the Japanese people and begged them to intervene against the shogunate. He knew that they would reach somebody in the government. Whether they would do what he begged them to do was another thing. He liked democracy. He liked the fact that there was no repression. He liked that he could say and write as he pleased and believe as he pleased within reason. Most simply, he liked that he was free now.

The decades passed. His grandchildren grew up. Wars happened, though he didn't follow them. Governments rose and fell, though he didn't pay attention. He had come to accept change, just as the Japanese did in 1866. Nathan grew up, married an American, became a successful man, and Ryoma forgot about him. His wife died, and he mourned. His son died, and he mourned. His children began dying, and he mourned. Yet he continued to live.

He didn't follow Japan much, but he saw Yamagata continue his expansion into Asia, conquering and destroying in the name of the shogunate. The Germans were being overrun by the French and Russians and British, but Japan was pillaging and looting its way through China. He wrote scathing denunciations of the shogunate, which were published in American newspapers. But the Americans refused to act. And so it seemed that the Japan he had fought for, and the people of Asia he had been fighting for, was gone for good...

Then it happened. The Weltkrieg began. Yamagata and his cronies miscalculated and hit Pearl Harbor with the might of their military, confident in victory. They had defeated everybody who had come their way and assumed America would be next. Like his grandchildren and the Americans, Ryoma condemned the sneak attack and lobbied for war. And his prayers were answered. The Americans invaded Japan.

And they won.

The Shogunate was utterly destroyed, and Yamagata was stripped of much of his power, though his family was still influential. But Ryoma had gotten his revenge at last. The Empire of Japan returned to what it was in 1866, although the Diet was more powerful and the emperor was much weaker. The colonies were gone. But Japan was free and Asia was in the balance now. That was all that mattered.

And so Ryoma passed away in the spring of 1946 at the age of 110, his honor and family's achievements finally restored.

The Sakamotos continued on without him, splitting into two branches, one Japanese and one American, founded by Ryoma's second son who was in the Japanese army and by Ryoma's grandson Nathan, respectively. Both participated in the new Japanese and American governments, with the Japanese Sakamotos inheriting Ryoma's titles and positions and the American Sakamotos lobbying for greater minority rights and for the freedom of Asians. The Japanese Sakamotos became known as peacemakers, diplomats, and human rights activists in their quest for fairness and equality that would have made Ryoma proud. The American Sakamotos had a deep commitment to democracy, freedom, and equality. This culminated in 2010 with the meeting of Sakamoto Shinzo, Prime Minister of Japan, and (half-Japanese) President William Sakamoto of the United States in Kyoto. President Sakamoto wanted to reaffirm his alliance with Japan and maintain the peace in Asia, and Prime Minister Sakamoto wanted to show Japan's role in the post-Weltkrieg world. They journeyed to Shikoku together and prayed at the Sakamoto shrine, where both Naotari and Ryoma were buried. The father and son who helped forge modern Japan would have been proud at what Japan had become (in light of what it was in 1900). All over the world, the Sakamotos are hailed as revolutionary scientists, visionaries, businessmen, politicians, diplomats, and activists. Naotari and Ryoma's secret Korean orphanage was made public after the Weltkrieg and expanded internationally, taking in orphans of all cultures and ethnicities from war zones and impoverished regions and raising them into productive world citizens. The orphanage eventually became known as the Sakamoto Foundation, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to bringing balance and stability to the lives of disadvantaged children and communities around the world.
In Japan, the Sakamoto Shrine is a top tourist attraction, like the Date and Meiji shrines, and parades are held to commemorate Sakamoto Naotari's role as the last and most influential modern samurai, the greatest warrior in modern Japan (up there with the Three Great Unifiers, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu). In America, Sakamoto Ryoma's "Memoirs of a former loyal Prince and Subject of Japan" is still required reading in many university-level Japanese history classes, and numerous buildings and awards in Stanford have been named after him. Where Naotari was a warrior, Ryoma became known as a pacifist. The Sakamotos had succeeded in their generations-long quest: Japan and the Japanese were free from the shoguns and NLP for good and would continue to be free. Balance had been restored to Asia at last, a goal which Ryoma and Naotari had pioneered and sought for decades. What their descendants would do now was up to them to decide. But as Sakamoto Shinzo said to William Sakamoto in 2012, "Anything's possible under the rising sun..."

"To have lived through the transition stage of modern Japan makes a man feel preternaturally old; for here he is in modern times, with the air full of talk about bicycles and bacilli and 'containment of communism,' and yet he can himself distinctly remember the Middle Ages. The dear old Samurai who once held in great reverence the mysteries of the Japanese language wore a queue and two swords. This relic of feudalism now sleeps in Nirvana. His modern successor, fairly fluent in German, and dressed in a serviceable suit of dittos, might almost be a European, save for a certain obliqueness of the eyes and scantiness of beard. Old things pass away between a night and a morning. We Japanese boast that we have done in thirty or forty years what it took Europe half as many centuries to accomplish. Some even go further, and twit the Westerns with falling behind in the race. It is waste of time to go to Germany to study philosophy, said I to my father after returning from Berlin:—the lectures there are elementary, the subject is better taught at Kyoto."
-Sakamoto Ryoma, discussing his life, Memoirs of a former loyal Prince and Subject of Japan, 1935
 
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Keinwyn

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((Good game, everyone was enjoyable to play alongside. I had fun building up my economic empire.))
 

Michaelangelo

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The civil war was over, the Emperor safe, and the damned communists that had ruined it all eliminated. Yet despite it all, Ito Masaki felt empty inside. The war had been going so well. An Imperialist victory had seemed certain. Then the communists, a threat he had thought long gone, had devastated Imperial Japan, just as the Militarist army pulled off the most unexpected of victories. Masaki had watched the communists rampage through Edo before he finally decided to flee. In that time, he saw the brutality of the communists. How he hated those godless men. He knew that a victory for them surely meant an end to the imperial monarchy. There was no room for an emperor under a government ruled by the people. Worst of all, the only army left capable of defeating this threat was the Militarist army. Masaki knew what he had to do. He did not know what had become of his fellow Privy Council members, whether they were alive or not or if they had even escaped Edo before it burned, but that did not matter. He did not care what they desired, for he would do whatever it took to save the Emperor. Thus Masaki made the long trip to Kyoto, where the Militarists were reassuming control as the Imperialist military effort fell apart. He had sought out Yamagata, the very man he had defied, and begged him to save the Emperor. He had put himself at the mercy of this man, the man he feared would be shogun, for he knew this was the only way to save the Emperor.

The years had gone by and Masaki saw the fruits of his decision. Yamagata had made good on his promise, sweeping across Nippon and eliminating the communist threat. The Empire was saved, but at a price. Even as the Emperor was granted more power, Masaki could only watch helplessly as Yamagata slowly took on a shogun-like role. He had become the Emperor's equal in all but name. Perhaps it was better than the shogunate of old, but it saddened Masaki to see his dreams of a Nippon ruled solely by the Emperor dashed aside. He had feared the military for years as the only force that could truly oppose the Emperor and now he was witnessing that fear come to life. There was nothing Masaki could do either. He had survived, yes, but he had no power in this new Nippon. He was disgraced, a key figure in a failed coup. All his old allies and friends were either dead, imprisoned, or in exile. Kusaribe Kinzo had been murdered during the communist revolt and Nishimura Masaru was facing life imprisonment. He heard that Date and Sakamoto had been spared execution by the grace of the Emperor, perhaps the one positive sign that the Emperor still wielded some significant power.

Masaki decided the best path was to resign himself to his estate for the rest of his days. There was no life as a politician for him, for the government was nothing but a mockery now, run by the military. Not to mention he had been disgraced, a figure of mockery in Nippon. He was the man who had surrendered, the man who had given up on the Imperialist cause and allowed this quasi-shogunate to form. Half the country thought him a spineless coward and the other half a traitor. Self-imposed exile seemed best. Even as the world moved on around him, as Nippon expanded further into Asia and the Emperor and Yamagata clashed heads in a power struggle Masaki had allowed to start, the count resigned himself to his estate, to a life of quiet contemplation and remembrance. He would never forgive himself for his mistakes, but he could only pray that the Emperor would reign supreme one day. For now he'd settle for taking up a relaxing hobby or two, like gardening or taxidermy. Yes, that last one sounded just right....
 
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Ab Ovo

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Okay.
 
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