The Sword Hunt: “Several times in Japanese history, the new ruler sought to ensure his position by calling a Sword hunt (刀狩 katanagari). Armies would scour the entire country, confiscating the weapons of the enemies of the new regime. In this manner, the new ruler sought to ensure that no one could take the country by force as he had just done. The most famous sword hunt was ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1588.”
From a different article, we read: “In the words of a Japanese scholar describing the significance of Hide yoshi’s policy, ‘These sturdy peasants who, taking their weapons, had actively stood forth with others on the field of battle, now became submissive and soft as we have already seen and the chief reason for this, beyond any doubt, was Hideyoshi’s Sword Hunt.’ However, Hideyoshi merely enforced on a national scale what lesser lords had been practising since the great uprisings of the Muromachi period.
The ruling class in Japan introduced the military draft (conscription) in 1872. The above article goes into its history.5:58 pm on June 3, 2013 Email Michael S. Rozeff