・・・the Restoration led to a unified national state which struggled to achieve international equality and leadership in Asia. The successes of the Japanese leaders had an effect on neighboring Asian societies as stimulating as was that of revolutionary France on Europe. Sun Yat-sen, K’ang Yu-wei, Kim Ok-kiun, Emilio Aguinaldo, Subhas Chandra Bose, and many others dreamed of creating in their own countries something of the drive and unity that had first established in Japan the equality of Asian with European strength and ability. Many of these men credited the Japanese achievements to the colorful and dedicated nationalists who had led the Restoration movement, and as a result the Restoration activists became heroes for Asians who aspired to approximate their deeds. Within Japan the Meiji Restoration leaders also served as examples of a new and ideal type in politics: that of the idealistic, individualistic, and courageous patriot who gave his all for the Imperial cause―the shishi. In the days before World War Ⅱ in Japan the young officers of the armed services laid claim to this discipline in their efforts to carry out a twentieth century “Showa Restoration.” ・・・
In this book I have chosen to tell the Restoration story by examining the career and thought of Sakamoto Ryoma and, to a lesser extent, Nakaoka Shintaro. ・・・So few historians have concerned themselves this, one of the great themes of recent world history, that my subject, Sakamoto Ryoma, has hitherto been scarcely mentioned in the Western literature on Japan. In telling his story I have necessarily had to concern myself with the way in which the Restauration came about, instead of discussing, in the terms common in Japan today, why it had to come. No doubt some light on those reasons has nonetheless emerged; the idealism, dedication, and courage of the shishi was usually combined with a practically and desire for self-attainment that made for something of a pattern of response to the challenge that was brought by the West. The influences and opportunities of the day had first to work on individuals, however, and it has seemed to me that the late Tokugawa scene had in it enough variety and contrast in motivation and belief to make it unlikely that it could be summoned up in any single theory of causation.