Although historical accounts of Yoshinobu's life differ, all agree that he was extremely uninterested in becoming Shogun in the first place. Once he was selected for the office, he managed to open the port of Hyogo and keep the Bakufu afloat despite strong opposition from radical elements. However, his political skills could not prevent the end of Tokugawa rule nor dissuade those same elements from a political stance he believed impossible to uphold. All the same, despite his reluctance to be Shogun and the very brief period he held the office, Yoshinobu played a key role in the relatively peaceful transition of Japan into a modern state.
Despite his extreme reluctance to take on the politically risky role of Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu nonetheless focused on his job. Although he had flaws, he succeeded in keeping the Bakufu government together in its last days—at least for a while—and outmaneuvered his enemies for long enough to avoid a return to the bloody days of pre-Tokugawa Japan. His relatively short time in office was a key point in time for Japan as it moved from a heavily bureaucratic, pre-modern state towards a modern state that could be the equal of any Western country.