Meiji Era

Conscription Law
1873 Jan 10

Conscription Law


Japan was dedicated to creating a unified, modern nation by the late nineteenth–century. Among their goals were to instill respect for the emperor, the requiring of universal education throughout the Japanese nation, and lastly the privilege and importance of military service. The Conscription Law established on January 10, 1873. This law required every able-bodied male Japanese citizen, regardless of class, to serve a mandatory term of three years with the first reserves and two additional years with the second reserves. This monumental law, signifying the beginning of the end for the samurai class, initially met resistance from both the peasant and warrior alike. The peasant class interpreted the term for military service, ketsu-eki (blood tax) literally, and attempted to avoid service by any means necessary.

The samurai were generally resentful of the new, western-style military and at first, refused to stand in formation with the peasant class. Some of the samurai, more disgruntled than the others, formed pockets of resistance to circumvent the mandatory military service. Many committed self-mutilation or openly rebelled (Satsuma Rebellion). They expressed their displeasure, because rejecting Western culture "became a way of demonstrating one's commitment" to the ways of the earlier Tokugawa era.