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The Boshin War was the first major war to occur on Japanese land since the Mongol Invasion, and was the struggle between the Shogunate Tokugawa forces led by Tokugawa Yoshinobu and the Imperial forces led by Meiji Emperor.
Meiji Emperor wanted to return power to the imperial court after having it taken from them in the 12th century. The Tokugawa forces, however, wanted Yoshinobu to remain in power as his ancestors did since 1603.
The war began when disgruntled nobles in the south began supporting the emperor due to the Tokugawa's handling of foreign powers in the last four decades leading up to the war. The southern samurai entered an alliance and drove the Shogun from power, replacing him with the Emperor Meiji. Tokugawa Yoshinobu abdicated knowing the position he was in. By doing this Yoshinobu hoped that the house of Tokugawa would be able to participate in the future Imperial government.