French military mission

French military mission

Meiji Era

French military mission
Reception by the Meiji Emperor of the Second French Military Mission to Japan, 1872 ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1872 Jan 1 - 1880

French military mission


The task of the mission was to help reorganize the Imperial Japanese Army, and establish the first draft law, enacted in January 1873. The law established military service for all males, for a duration of three years, with an additional four years in the reserve.

The French mission was essentially active at the Ueno Military School for non-commissioned officers. Between 1872 and 1880, various schools and military establishments were set up under the direction of the mission, including:

  • Establishment of the Toyama Gakko, the first school to train and educate officers and noncommissioned officers.
  • A shooting school, using French rifles.
  • An arsenal for gun and munition manufacture, equipped with French machinery, which employed 2500 workers.
  • Artillery batteries in the suburbs of Tokyo.
  • A gunpowder factory.
  • A Military Academy for Army officers in Ichigaya, inaugurated in 1875, on the ground of today's Ministry of Defense.

Between 1874 and the end of their term, the mission was in charge of building Japan's coastal defenses. The mission occurred at the time of a tense internal situation in Japan, with the revolt of Saigō Takamori in the Satsuma rebellion, and contributed significantly to the modernization of Imperial forces before the conflict.

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