Kajima Fusajiro (鹿島房次郎)

Fusajiro KAJIMA (25 October, 1869 - 29 July, 1932) was a Japanese businessman and a politician who was born in Shobara Village (currently Shobara City), Hiba District, Hiroshima Prefecture. He was the 4th mayor of Kobe City.


He was born into a rich farming family, and after studying at Keio Gijuku, he entered Tokyo Higher Commercial School (now known as Hitotsubashi University) where he became the outstanding boat racer. After the graduation, he transferred to the University of Michigan and studied law and economics. After returning to Japan, he became an adopted son-in-law of the Kashima, a wealthy family in Kobe. Although the wealthy lifestyle was guaranteed, he was dissatisfied and started working as an intermediary in the water department of Kobe City Hall. However, the second mayor of Kobe City, Heitaro TSUBONO brought drastic personnel changes and fired him for taking part in the extension work of water pipe line in 1904. In order to fight against the Tsubono administration, he ran for municipal council with support from others and was elected in the same year. He played the role in the Tsuboi's resignation with his severe criticism toward the administration during his term.

He became the assistant mayor in 1906 and was inaugurated as the fourth mayor of Kobe in 1910 after the resignation of the third mayor Hiromi MINAKAMI
At around this time, although a new city Kobe developed drastically as one of the leading heavy industry cities, Kashima took next steps to revitalize the city. Kobe required a lot of workers due to the advancement of various companies along the coast and acquired many workers from the neighbor Prefectures. At that time, approximately 40% of residents were from Osaka Prefecture, Tokushima Prefecture, Okayama Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture, Kyoto Prefecture, and the population rose to about 400,000 which was three times its number in a little more than 20 years. Due to this change, he put the focus on public service. He promoted the extension work of Kobe Port which was started off by the previous governor Minakami and made street lights and railway projects publicly owned in order to have the tram functional. He was given the nicknames 'water mayor', 'electricity mayor' and 'railway mayor' for his contributions toward the construction of Sengari Dam and other water and electricity related projects.

However, this urban growth caused many problems. The development of heavy industry due to the World War 1 helped to increase population as well as the number of children. Since primary schools were operated by each ward, it began creating education gap between wards with resources and the ones without. In order to solve this problem, Kobe was the first city to abolish the school district system. This enabled to increase the number of primary schools as well as well-equipped educational facilities. The primary school was rebuilt with concrete for the first time in Japan.

In 1918, the rice riots erupted throughout Japan.
Suzuki Shoten, which had developed with the city over time, was burnt down since violence increased in the harbor city where many residents had weak financial stability,
Kashima increased the number of public markets to provide household goods and food at affordable prices. He accomplished various projects during his 11 years of term which included the construction of Higashiyama Hospital, Kobe City Library, Minatogawa Park, Kobe Sailors' Home, the land reclamation for residential purposes like Nagata Ward, and starting publicly owned businesses as well as abattoir business. The stories of his personality and competence as a mayor were passed on to future generations.

In 1920, although he was offered to run for a mayor for the third time, he resigned when his second term in office ended by saying 'I did not deserve to be given such an important position twice.'
After becoming the chief director of the Kawasaki Sohonten in the same year and holding executive positions in related companies like the Toa Cement, he took part in the establishment of Japan Radio Company and Japan Air Transport. Also, when working as the director of Kobe Shimbun Co., Ltd., he became the chairman of the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1928. In 1924, he established the Kobe Yamate Gakushuin (now known as Kobe Yamate Girls' Junior and Senior High School). In 1928, he became the president of Kawasaki Shipbuilding (now known as Kawasaki Heavy Industries) and Kawasaki Kisen after the resignation of the first president Kojiro MATSUKATA due to the Great Depression which led to the bankruptcy of Kawasaki Dockyard in 1927. He tried to rebuild the company by separating Kawasaki Heavy Industries Rolling Stock Company; however, he passed away during his term in 1932.

[Original Japanese]