Ezo republic (蝦夷共和国)

The Ezo republic that was built in January 1869 was a familiar name of the Ezo Island Government, a political power belonging to Sabaku-ha which existed for a short time in Ezochi (inhabited area of Ainu) (Hokkaido). It ruined due to the end of the Battle of Hakodate on May 18, 1869.

Summary

In 1867 in the late Edo period, the Edo bakufu ruined due to the Taisei Hokan conducted by the 15th Seii Taishogun, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA, then through the mediation of Tetsutaro YAMAOKA, the bloodless surrender of Edo Castle was decided at a meeting of Takamori SAIGO, a general officer of the grand government general, and Kaishu KATSU, president of the Tokugawa family's army. Takeaki ENOMOTO, the Vice-President of Navy, who made sure that Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA left the capital for Shizuoka, went away form Edo for Ezo leading eight military ships on Kaiyomaru as a flagship from off Shinagawa on August 19, 1868, for the purpose of rescue of former retainers of shogun and protection of Hokuhen. On the way, in Sendai, he merged the remnants of Denshutai (Edo shogunate's army) which was put to rout in the Aizu War, Old Shinsengumi and Shogitai, then reached Kitakami and Morimachi (Hokkaido) where he suppressed each region, captured Goryokaku, got the Prefectural Governor, Kinnaru SHIMIZUDANI, on the run and put the whole Ezo Island under his control.

The Expression of 'the Ezo Republic'

The person who used the term Ezo 'Republic' for the first time was a foreigner. It was Adams, a diplomat of the British Legation, who accompanied the Captain of Anglo-French warship and met ENOMOTO in Nonvember 1868. In the book 'History of Japan' he wrote in 1874, he introduced Hakodate Seicho as a "Republic", and after that, the people who used his expression got the majority.

This political power is also just called Hakodate Government, but this naming is not appropriate because it did never aim at a sovereign independence nor defending local authority. ENOMOTO and others did not called it 'Ezo Republic', nor declared it was an independent sovereign state. There is also another theory that states that it should be called 'the territory of a group of surviving retainers of the Ezo Tokugawa Shogun Family', considering their purpose and the circumstances.

Truth of the 'Authorities De Facto''

It is often said that 'the Enomoto Government' was admitted as 'Authorities De Facto' by foreign countries, and here is the actual background.

On November 4, 1868 after the Enomoto's army occupied Hakodate, the British warship Satellite and the French warship Venius entered the Hakodate port together with Adams, Secretary of British Legation, on board, following the directive of Harry Parkes, British Minister. At this time, a salute was fired at Benten Daiba to welcome the both worships, but they ignored it. On November 5, the British and French consuls stationed on the spot and the captains of the two warships held a meeting, and at this this, the two captains were highly evaluating the Enomoto's Army. After a while, Naoyuki NAGAI, a Hakodate bugyo administering the Hakodate port, came over and asked them to wait for a while until Enomoto came back from his business trip to Matsumae. NAGAI had a lot of experience of diplomacy, and his attitude gave a good impression to not only the British and French consuls but also the captains of the British and French warships. During the meeting, Enomoto Fleet's flagship Kaiyomaru fired a twenty-one-gun salute to welcome the visit of guests. The American, Russian and Prussian consuls looked at this and made a courtesy call on Kaiyomaru without going to the British and French warships.

On November 8, Enomoto met the British and French consuls and the captains of the British and French warships. The claims of the British and French side were severe, but he could do nothing but accept it taking into account of the public law. After the meeting, Enomoto demanded a memorandom, and the captains of British and French warships accepted it. A few days later, they sent Enomoto a memorandam shown below.

We maintain neutrarity about this domestic issue.

We do not approve any privileges as a 'warring group'.

We approve it as Authorities De Facto.

That means, it was actually nothing but a mamorandam made freely by the captains of the British and French warshipsl, who had a good impression on Enomoto and ignored the intention of their countries (although the use of the terms as above was carefully avoided in the directive made by the British Minister Harry Parkes.)
An elementary mistake was made despite the presence of Secretary Adams. But, once Enomoto read it, he was delighted saying 'This is a useful description. We can take it in any way'. He thought about this memorandam as follows.

In the diplomatic terms, 'strict neutrarity' can be used only in case of 'outside neutrarity', and in case of 'domestic issue', it means 'nonintervention of domestic affairs' (that means, it is strange to say 'strict neutrarity' for 'domestic affairs').

A 'warring group' can be used in case of attempting separation and independence from Japan or overthrow of the government, therefore, any use of the force for a demand such as taking away someone's land is not serious and is not applable (Enomoto had no intention to attempt 'separation and independence' from Japan nor 'overthrow of the government', so his group did not need to be certified as a 'warring group'.)

Authorities De Facto' means the one which has completed occupation, settled down sufficiently and nearly formed a country. In this case, it had not got there yet, so probably they used these terms because of not getting used to the terms and their good impression on Hakodate that made them careless about it.

A bid (election)

The first 'public bid' in Japan took place in order to organize Ezo Island Government.

表現を変更しました。
Furthermore, it was separated into two groups, 'Army group' and 'Navy group', and the 'Army group' was further divided into small groups such as 'Shogitai' and 'Sho-shogitai (small Shogitai)', therefore, the entire army was not a monolithic organization. Because of this, the first 'public bid' in Japan was decided to take place modeling after the oversea political system such as America. The persons who took part in the vote were the leaders (commissioned officers) and the higher ranking officials of the Old Bakufu Deserters' Army, and noncomissioned officers and soldiers were excluded, and of course, Hakodate residents did not take part in it, neither. On December 15, 1868, the first 'bid (election)' of Japan took place when the New Government was established.

Poll

The details of 856 votes at total were as follows.

Takeaki ENOMOTO : 156

Taro MATSUDAIRA : 120

Naoyuki NAGAI : 116

Keisuke OTORI : 86

Shirojiro MATSUOKA : 82

Toshizo HIJIKATA : 73

Sadaaki MATSUDAIRA : 55

Saemon KASUGA : 43

Emon SEKIHIRO : 38

Makino Bingo No Kami : 35

Katsukiyo ITAKURA : 26

Nagamichi OGASAWARA : 25

Michiaki ENOMOTO (Tsushima) : 1

As it is shown, Takeaki ENOMOTO obtained the largest number of votes. However, it was less than 20% of the entire votes, not a majority, and the votes were dispersed to each group.

Cabinet members

Referring to the results of the 'bid', primary cabinet members were selected as follows.

President, Takeaki ENOMOTO

Vice-President, Taro MATSUDAIRA

Navy Bugyo, Ikunosuke ARAI

Army Bugyo, Keisuke OTORI

Army Bugyo Nami, Toshizo HIJIKATA

Hakodate Bugyo, Naoyuki NAGAI

Hakodate Bugyo Nami, Saburosuke NAKAJIMA

Esashi Bugyo, Shirojiro MATSUOKA

Esashi Bugyo Nami, Masanoshin KOSUGI

Matsumae Bugyo, Katsutaro HITOMI

Reclamation Bugyo, Tarozaemon SAWA

Accounting Bugyo, Michiaki ENOMOTO (Tsushima)

Accounting Bugyo, Rokushiro KAWAMURA

Head of warship, Gengo KAGA

Head of infantry, Sakuzaemon FURUYA

Trial Chief of Army and Navy, Shigekata TAKENAKA

Trial Chief of Army and Navy, Nobuo IMAI

Not all of the candidates who gained the votes could become the cabinet members, and the poll was not entirely reflected on the selection.

Relation with local residents

Thus, they could make a form of government, but the financial situtation deteriorated, and the war funds they had raised were running short.
So, Michiaki ENOMOTO, Accounting Bugyo who had ever been in charge of fund raising at the Old Bakufu, and Taro MATSUDAIRA, Vice-President, counterfeited money for circulation, and they became notorious for 'Deserter's money' for this reason,
Furthermore, they even did bad things, such as demanding unreasonable commissions to stall keepers at fairs, pestering hush money in exchange of tolerating gambles, imposing tax on prostitutes and collecting passage fee from women and children at the gates set up in the city, all of which provoked residents' antipathy. When the financial situation finally got to the deadend, the leaders of the Old Bakufu planned to collect money and valuables from wealthy merchants in Hakodate, but Toshizo HIJIKATA was strongly againt it, and the plan was turned down. However, residents' antipathy to the Old Bakufu was increasing, and some of them joined the 'Yuguntai', a guerrilla standing on the new government side, or worked as spies for the new government army.

Military Organization

The Old Bakufu was separated into Army and Navy taking the organization as follows. For your information, rejiman ("列士満" (レジマン)) means 'Regiment' in French, and Japanese phonetic-equivalent characters were used.

Army (Army Bugyo: Keisuke OTORI, Army Bugyo Nami: Toshizo HIJIKATA)

The First Regiment: the First Battalion (Mitsutaro TAKIGAWA, four platoons, Troop of Denshu commissioned officers, Shoshogi-tai, Shinboku-tai), the Second Battalion (Hachiro IBA, seven platoons, Commando unit, Shinsengumi, Shogitai).

The Second Regiment (Koshichiro HONDA): the First Battalion (Shojiro OKAWA, four platoons, Denshu Infantry), the Second Battalion (Shirojiro MATSUOKA, five platoons, Ichiren-tai).

The Third Regiment: the First Battalion (Saemon KASUGA, four platoons, Kasuga-tai), the Second Battalion (Juntaro HOSHI, four platoons, Gakuhei-tai).

The Fourth Regiment (Sakuzaemon FURUYA): the First Battalion (Kakushinsai NAGAI, five platoons, Shoho-tai), the Second Battalion (Shintaro AMANO, five platoons, Shoto-tai).

Artillery unit: Hiroemon SEKI

Engineering Brigade: Shinnosuke KOSUGE, Yushiro YOSHIZAWA

Mechanic: Ichinosuke MIYASHIGE

Hospital service: Ryoun TAKAMATSU

Navy (Navy Bugyo: Ikunosuke ARAI)

Kaiyomaru (Tarozaemon SAWA, sank off Esashi in November 1868)

Kaitenmaru (Gengo KOKA, later Seikichi NEZU, self-burned at the Hakodate port in May 1869)

Takaomaru (Kenzo OGASAWARA, self-burned at the Kunohe port in March 1869)

Banryumaru (Bankichi MATSUOKA, self-burned at the Hakodate port in May 1869)

Chiyogatamaru (Hirosaku MORIMOTO, aground at the Hakodate port in April 1869)

Shinsokumaru (Shinzo NISHIKAWA, sank off Esashi in November 1868)

Transport Ship : Oemaru, Chogeimaru, Hoomaru, Nagasakimaru, Mikahomaru, Kaishunmaru

French Military Advisor

About ten soldiers including Assistant Chief Jules Brunet, Captain of Artillery Unit, deserted French Military Advisory Team which was giving a military drill to Bakufu Denshutai (Edo shogunate's army) at Ota Jinya (regional government office) in Yokohama City from 1867, and abandoned the French national army to join the Ezo Government. Jules Brunet was appointed as assistant of Keisuke OTORI Army Bugyo, and four 'brigades' were led by french commanders, Arthur Fortant, Jean Marlin, Andre Cazeneuve and François Bouffier. The French soldiers who got involved escaped to a French ship being at anchor off Hakodate calling for protection before the fall of the Goryokaku. For communication to the French soldiers, Masachika TAJIMA who had learned French at Yokohama Futsugo Denshu Sho (French school under direct control of Bakufu) and others were in charge of interpreters.

Keisuke OTORI left favorable comments in his Nanki Kiko, saying, Brunet is 'still young but quite smart', Cazeneuve is 'very brave and often showed a great performance in the military advance to Matsumae'.