Den Kenjirō

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In this Japanese name, the family name is "Den".
Den Kenjirō
田 健治郎
Den Kenjiro.jpg
Born (1855-03-25)March 25, 1855
Tamba, Hyōgo, Japan
Died November 16, 1930(1930-11-16) (aged 75)
Setagaya, Tokyo
Nationality Japanese
Occupation politician, cabinet minister
Known for Governor-General of Taiwan

Baron Den Kenjirō (田 健治郎?, March 25, 1855 – November 16, 1930) was a Japanese politician and cabinet minister in the pre-war government of the Empire of Japan. He was also the 8th Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan from October 29, 1919 to September 1923, and the first civilian to hold that position.


Den was born in Tamba-Kaibara Domain, located in Hikami District of Tamba Province (part of the modern-day city of Tamba, Hyōgo), where his father was a wealthy farmer and landholder. After the Meiji restoration, he sought his fortune in Kumamoto Prefecture (1874), followed by Aichi Prefecture in 1875. Entering service of the police department, he was subsequently assigned to Kochi Prefecture, Kanagawa Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture. Around 1890, he came to the attention of Communications Minister Gotō Shōjirō, who recruited him into the central bureaucracy of the Meiji government. He served on the board of governors of the Japanese Government Railways, and was then appointed president of the Kansai Railway Company. In 1901, under the sponsorship of Itō Hirobumi and the Rikken Seiyūkai political party, he was elected to the Lower House of the Diet of Japan. He served for two non-consecutive terms, returning each time to a senior post within the Ministry of Communications. In 1906, he was appointed to the House of Peers, and the following year was made a baron (danshaku) within the kazoku peerage system. In politics, he became closely aligned with the faction under the conservative genrō, Yamagata Aritomo, but later broke with Yamagata over issues pertaining to the Siemens scandal.

Den was also one of the founders of the Kaishinsha Motorcar Works in 1914. The “D” in the company acronym “DAT” was from “Den”. Later changed to “Datson”, the company was acquired by the Nissan zaibatsu in the 1930s.

Under Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake, Den was appointed Minister of Communications. He was subsequently appointed Governor-General of Taiwan. As Governor-General, he promoted a new policy of Doka, where Taiwan would be governed the same way as the Home Islands, and Taiwanese would be assimilated into normal Japanese society. Several major reforms were carried out during Den's tenure, including various administrative reforms, expansion of the public education system, the abolition of caning as a criminal punishment, construction of the Chanan Reservoir, and the legalization of Japanese-Taiwanese intermarriage. Under his tenure, then Crown Prince Hirohito made a state visit to Taiwan.

Following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, Den was recalled to Japan, and asked to take the posts of Minister of Justice and Minister of Agriculture and Commerce in the 2nd Yamamoto Gonnohyōe administration. Together with Home Minister Gotō Shimpei, he laid the foundations for the reconstruction of Tokyo after the disaster. However, along with the rest of the cabinet, he was forced to resign in the aftermath of the Toranomon Incident. After 1925, he served as a member of the Privy Council. Den died of complications following an Intracranial hemorrhage in 1930 at his home in Setagaya, Tokyo. His grave is at the Tama Cemetery in Fuchū, Tokyo.

Den kept a detailed diary from 1906 to his death in 1930, which forms an important source document for the history of politics during the Taishō period of Japanese history.

See also[edit]



  • Ching, Leo T.S. (2001). Becoming Japanese: Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22553-8. 
  • Rubensteen, Murray (2006). Taiwan: A New History. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-1494-4. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Akashi Motojirō
Governor-General of Taiwan
October 29, 1919 to September 6, 1923
Succeeded by
Uchida Kakichi
Political offices
Preceded by
Arai Kentarō
Minister of Agriculture and Commerce
Sept 1923– Dec 1923
Succeeded by
Okano Keijirō
Preceded by
Okano Keijirō
Minister of Justice
Sept 1923– Sept 1923
Succeeded by
Hiranuma Kiichirō
Preceded by
Minoura Katsundo
Minister of Communications
May 1932 – July 1934
Succeeded by
Noda Utarō