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Ōshio Heihachirō

(1793-1837). Idealistic Confucian philosopher who led a rebellion in Ōsaka in 1837 (known as the Tempō Uprising) against the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867). In his teachings, Ōshio's main theme was that injustice was caused by men of wealth and rank who did not act in concord with the timeless ideal of a goodness that cut through social distinctions. In 1835 and 1836 famine spread throughout the Kansai region as a result of crop failure. After pleading futilely for government assistance, Ōshio called on the peasantry to rise up against oppression. On February 19, 1837 Ōshio attacked the shogunate's administrative offices and set fire to parts of Ōsaka, hoping to trigger popular peasant uprisings in neighboring areas. One-fourth of Ōsaka, including the shogunate's storehouse, was destroyed in two days of confusion and fire. The rebellion was crushed, and Ōshio, surrounded by shogunate troops, took his own life. The 20th century writer Mori Ōgai wrote a historical story of Ōshio entitled Ōshio Heihachirō. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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