Doctor Who: Stories From The Scrapheap - THE DARK SAMURAI

Christopher Morley discovers a scrapped Doctor Who story full of Eastern promise...

Come with us into the Land Of The Rising Sun as the Fifth Doctor goes to Japan & gets involved with The Dark Samurai- Andrew Smith presenting a fascinating ''what might have been'' for Season 20. You'll most likely know that Smith was the man behind Full Circle, the opening salvo of the E-Space trilogy. He's since revisited that territory thanks to the Big Finish audio range, beginning with 2010's The Invasion Of E-Space, and the January 2015 release of Mistfall began a trilogy of new trips into Full Circle territory.

Here, though, he intended to stick to Earth, and more specifically the Japan of the early nineteenth century. What was it about that period which drew him in enough to propose a storyline before the story was scrapped and he pursued a career as a police officer? It could be that in taking the TARDIS into Asia for the first time since the First Doctor's meeting with Marco Polo swept him into Cathay, Smith intended to explore a period of Japanese history which came to be known as the Meiji Restoration, after the first Emperor to return to power following the end of shogunate rule- a form of military government.

Meiji's Empire formally came into existence on January 3, 1868, imperialist rule ending with the death of Emperor Hirohito on January 7, 1989. Following Meiji's enthronement a Charter Oath was drawn up outlining five key principles of his reign, the document retrospectively considered the first modern-ish Japanese constitution! You might see why after having a gander:
By this oath, we set up as our aim the establishment of the national wealth on a broad basis and the framing of a constitution and laws.
1. Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by open discussion.
2. All classes, high and low, shall be united in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state.3. The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall all be allowed to pursue their own calling so that there may be no discontent.
4. Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature.
5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of imperial rule.
The Emperor's forward-thinking might be what led The Secret Of Japan's Strength, a German pamphlet written during the Second World War, to comment that:
"The rise of Japan to a world power during the past 80 years is the greatest miracle in world history. The mighty empires of antiquity, the major political institutions of the Middle Ages and the early modern era, the Spanish Empire, the British Empire, all needed centuries to achieve their full strength. Japan's rise has been meteoric. After only 80 years, it is one of the few great powers that determine the fate of the world."
Military and economy went hand in hand at the time, perhaps unsurprisingly! Meiji was keen to learn from other countries as well as attempt to renegotiate unfairly balanced ( in Japanese eyes) treaties signed by the previous rulers with the likes of Britain & the US- and so the Iwakura Mission was initiated. Here's an extract from a paper on their stop on our shores by Dr Andrew Cobbing of the University Of London......
"Towards the end of 1872, the Iwakura mission spent four months in Britain, the single longest stage in a journey around the world via America and Europe. Iwakura Tomomi and his entourage had enough time to embark on tours in the Midlands, the north of England and Scotland, but for more than half of their sojourn, the party was based in London.

One of the few officials to accompany; the ambassador throughout his stay was his personal secretary, Kume Kunitake, a thirty-three year old Confucian scholar from Saga in Hizen. He had been appointed keep a daily chronicle of the entire journey, with a view to preparing an official report of the mission's impressions of the West. During his travels, Kume compiled a detailed record of the party's research, including some vivid portraits of life in Victorian London."
And what did they learn of life in our nation's fair capital?
"Kume Kunitake and other members of the Iwakura mission were more acquainted with some of the harsher realities of life in Britain. Kido Takayoshi, one of the four vice ambassadors, for example, made a point of visiting some slums in the London docks, and after seeing 'six or seven lodging houses for the destitute in the district', he concluded that 'the poor people here are even more destitute than ours'.

As befitted an embassy of such eminent rank, Kido and his fellow travellers naturally spent much of their time being entertained by aristocrats and some of the wealthiest merchants in the land. Nevertheless, considering that overseas travel was still in its infancy, many of them already had a comparatively sophisticated awareness of Victorian society."
Not a great outlook for the Cockney tribe, as described by Leela in The Talons Of Weng-Chiang when she accompanied the Doctor's previous self in his bid to catch Little Tich at the Palace Theatre!

Within nine years the samurai classes would rebel against this new imperial direction- could The Dark Samurai have been part of what was known as the Satsuma Rebellion? Not because they used fruit as a weapon, either. As HistoryNet outlines.....
"On a muddy field outside Kagoshima on September 25, 1877, the feudal system that had dominated Japan for 700 years died, not with a whimper but with a defiant roar.

At 6 that morning, the 40 remaining warriors of the last traditional samurai army in Japanese history rose from their foxholes, drew their swords and charged into the guns of the 30,000-man-strong imperial army.

Twenty-three years earlier, Japan was officially ruled by a figurehead emperor, while the real power rested in the hands of the shogun, or 'barbarian-expelling commander in chief.'

Under the shogun, and answerable only to him, came the daimyo ('great lords'), who were clan heads and hereditary provincial governors."
And there's a good reason they'd come to be a bit miffed!
"That system began to come apart in 1854, when U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry sailed into Kagoshima Harbor and invited Japan to join the modern world — at gunpoint. Determined to prevent future humiliations, Japanese leaders decided that they needed a modern army equipped with the most up-to-date weapons, trained by the best officers of the day: the French and Germans.

In 1872, the imperial army was reorganized as a force of 46,000 conscripts from every social class. Suddenly, 2 million samurai found themselves ineligible for careers that had once been theirs alone."
War, what is it good for?

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