Naganuma affair (長沼事件)

Naganuma affair is a case of Naganuma disposal over concession of Naganuma which occurred in Naganuma village, Inba Prefecture (present-day Naganuma, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture).


There was an about 230 hectare of bottle-gourd-shaped marsh called Naganuma in the land adjacent to Naganuma village, and people in the village had gained the possessory right of the marsh by paying nengu (annual tribute, land tax) to the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) from Edo period, and most of the people in the village earned their living by fishery. In the end of Edo Period, people in neighboring villages filed lawsuits in order to make Naganuma a common land which Naganuma village had monopolized. Capitalizing on the chaos after the Meiji restoration, conflict of interest between villages around Naganuma further intensified. Naganuma affair began at this time.

From the beginning of the affair to recovery of concession

In 1872, 15 neighboring villages applied for governmentalization (nationalization) of Naganuma to Inba Prefecture, and it was confirmed at the prefecture's own discretion, without asking the opinions of Naganuma village. Forfeiting the exclusive concession of the marsh, people in Naganuma village who had relied on fishery fell into poverty.

Naganuma village tried to recover of concession, a representative of the village Buhei OGAWA went to prefectural government office to petition, but it was hard to be granted. Meanwhile, Buhei Ogawa purchased a book 'Gakumon no susume' (recommendation of studying) written by Yukichi FUKUZAWA at a night stall when he went to Chiba town to petition. Ogawa was impressed by the book, and he went to Tokyo, trying to entrust Fukuzawa with handling the matter. It is said that he met face-to-face with FUKUZAWA, and FUKUZAWA also sympathized with the concession recovery movement by the Naganuma village. After that, FUKUZAWA had supported the movement, making a draft of a petition, or sending letters enlightening the matter to the vice governor (prefectural governor) at that time Yawara SHIBAHARA and a senior government official Tsugumichi SAIGO and others. Those effort resulted in a tentative settlement of the Naganuma affair in July 1876. However, the marsh became a government-owned land, Naganuma village was granted leasehold with contracts renewed every 5 years.

But, Naganuma village had carried on a movement aimed at privatization of Naganuma. FUKUZAWA had kept supported people in Naganuma village through 'Jiji Shinpo' which he hosted, finally, granted disposal without charge officially by a Minister of Home Affairs, and Naganuma village recovered the concession in March 1897. The year after settlement of Naganuma affair, Yukichi FUKUZAWA was struck down by cerebral hemorrhage and passed away.

Aftermath on Naganuma
On March 29,1918, 'Naganuma disposal monument' was erected in Naganuma, Toyosumi mura, Inba County (present-day Naganuma, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture) to honor Yukichi Fukuzawa's great achievement. After that, in 1934, the bottom part of the bottle-gourd-shaped Naganuma (front marsh) was reclaimed under the reclamation project, and in 1942, the upper part of the marsh (back marsh) was reclaimed under the national increase food production project, the construction was completed in 1953, gathering 1000 members of Volunteer Pioneer Youth Army of Manchuria and Mongolia and 1000 local people for the construction of drainage ditch,. Today, there is a vast paddy field there. In October 1998, 'centenary monument of Naganuma disposal' was erected, which passes down the history of the affair to us.

[Original Japanese]