征伐, せいばつ, seibatsu
An old Japanese friend suggested that 征伐, “conquest,” has a moral tone to it and might be better translated as “righteous conquest,” however, most dictionaries simply define it as a "conquest, invasion, subjugation, overcoming, or punitive expedition." Similarly, ukiyo-e titles in various museums translate 征伐 as "conquest."
A few notes:
In Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney's Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History (University of Chicago Press, 2002), mention is made that: "In 1894, the year when the Sino-Japanese War started, Sasaki Nobutsuna [...] a highly regarded scholar of classical poetry, composed a lengthy song entitled The Song of the Conquest of the Chinese (Shina seibatsu no uta). The song is replete with references to mountain cherry blossoms fragrant in the morning sun and to the sacrifice of the Japanese for the country/emperor." The text goes on to say that the word seibatsu has a "special meaning: it is used for conquests of those who deserve to be vanquished, such as ogres or barbarians."
Though my Japanese is poor, when I was looking at Japanese Wikipedia entries on the Battle of Ōshū (Ōshū kassen, 奥州合戦), I gleaned the following: the Battle of Ōshū is a general, collective phrase used to describe Yoritomo’s invasion of the province, and is a modern, neutral term used in preference to moral and 'biased' descriptions of the battle as Ōshū tsuitō (奥州追討, the “chase and defeat” at Ōshū, a "tracking down and killing; a punitive expedition" in Ōshū), and Ōshū seibatsu (奥州征伐, the “righteous conquest” of Ōshū).
So can anyone shed light on the word 征伐, seibatsu, its etymology and/or the subtleties of its use? If one is looking at C19th and pre-C19th texts is it better to translate the word as 'righteous conquest' (or similar) so there is a historically moral emphasis?