Yoshikawa Akimasa

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Yoshikawa Akimasa
Akimasa Yoshikawa.jpg
Born (1842-01-21)January 21, 1842
Awa Province, Japan
Died January 10, 1920(1920-01-10) (aged 77)
Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Occupation Cabinet Minister
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Yoshikawa".

Count Yoshikawa Akimasa (芳川顕正?, January 21, 1842 – January 10, 1920) was a bureaucrat, statesman and cabinet minister, active in the Meiji and Taishō period Empire of Japan.

Yoshikawa was born in Yamakawa, Awa Province (currently Yoshinogawa, Tokushima) as the son of a local samurai. After the Meiji restoration, he went to Tokyo and entered into service of the new Meiji government, rising to become head of the National Printing Bureau under the Ministry of Finance in 1872.

He was a close protégé of Yamagata Aritomo and at Yamagata’s urging, served as Governor of Tokyo from July 1882 to June 1885. As Governor, Yoshikawa submitted a plan for the complete redevelopment of Tokyo based on the redevelopment of Paris under Napoleon III. Yoshikawa’s plan called for a system of wide boulevards and canals radiating out from the Tokyo Imperial Palace.[1] He also called for the an expansion of the train system to a termius in an expanded Tokyo Station. Although some elements of the “Yoshikawa Plan” were eventually implemented, most remained on paper due to completing plans raised by other politicians, notably Inoue Kaoru.[2]

Yoshikawa then worked as Deputy Director of the Home Ministry from March 1886 to May 1890. When Yamagata became Prime Minister, Yoshikawa was appointed to his cabinet as Minister of Education, a post which he held from May 1890 to June 1891. Emperor Meiji expressed reservations over the appointment, but was convinced by Yamagata that the choice of the conservative Yoshikawa was suitable.[3] During this period, he played an important role in writing the Imperial Rescript on Education, which articulated government policy on the guiding principles of education in the Empire of Japan, and which had to be memorized by all students.

In 1893, under the 2nd Itō Hirobumi administration, Yoshikawa was appointed Minister of Justice. He continued in the same position through the 2nd Matsukata Masayoshi administration. In February 1896, while still holding the position of Minister of Justice, he was concurrently appointed Home Minister. He also served as a chamberlain in the Imperial Household.

In 1898, under the 1st Ōkuma Shigenobu administration, he was reappointed as Home Minister, and under the 2nd Yamagata administration in November 1898, was made Minister of Communications. That same year, he was elevated to the kazoku peerage with the title of shishaku (viscount).

In 1901, under the 1st Katsura Tarō administration, he was reappointed as Minister of Communications. After his term ended in July 1903, he announced that he would be leaving public service; however, he accepted the post of Home Minister again in February 1904, serving until September 1905. In 1907, he became the 1st chairman of the Japan Society for Prevention of Sexually-transmitted Disease. He was subsequently elevated to hakushaku (count).

In 1912, Yoshikawa became deputy secretary of the Privy Council. However, in 1917, he was forced to resign his positions and retire from public life over a major scandal caused by his 4th daughter Kamako.

Yoshikawa had four daughters but no sons, he adopted a younger son of Sone Arasuke, who married his Yoshikawa's 4th daughter Kamako. The son, Hiroharu, became a prominent businessman. However, Kamako had an affair with her chauffeur, with whom she attempted a double suicide by throwing themselves in front of a train. The chauffeur died instantly, but Kamako survived with serious injuries. The revelation of her adultery across class lines brought vehement condemnation from the press and Yoshikawa’s peers, and forced his retirement from public life.[4]

Yoshikawa's birthplace in Yoshinogawa, Tokushima is preserved as a house museum. His grave is located at Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fujitani. Splendid Monarchy. Pages 74-75
  2. ^ Fraser. Trains, Culture, and Mobility. Page 245-246
  3. ^ Keene. Emperor Meiji and his World. Page 434
  4. ^ Sato. The New Japanese Woman page 109-110
Political offices
Preceded by
Katsura Taro
Home Minister
February 20, 1904 – September 16, 1905
Succeeded by
Kiyoura Keigo
Preceded by
Hara Kei
Communications Minister
June 2, 1901 – July 17, 1903
Succeeded by
Hoshi Toru
Preceded by
Nomura Yasushi
Home Minister
February 3, 1896 – April 14, 1896
Succeeded by
Itagaki Taisuke
Preceded by
Inoue Kaoru
Minister of Education (acting)
August 29, 1894 – October 3, 1894
Succeeded by
Saionji Kinmochi
Preceded by
Itō Hirobumi
Minister of Justice
March 16, 1893 – September 26, 1896
Succeeded by
Kiyoura Keigo
Preceded by
Enomoto Takeaki
Minister of Education
May 17, 1890 – June 1, 1891
Succeeded by
Ōki Takatō
Preceded by
Hayashi Yūzō
Communications Minister
November 8, 1898 – October 19, 1900
Succeeded by
Sone Arasuke
Preceded by
Kabayama Sukenori
Home Minister
January 12, 1898 – June 30, 1898
Succeeded by
Itagaki Taisuke
Preceded by
Matsuda Michiyuki
Governor of Tokyo
July 19, 1882 – June 13, 1885
Succeeded by
Watanabe Koki