Fukuchi Genichiro (福地源一郎)

Genichiro FUKUCHI (May 13, 1841-January 4, 1906) was Shogun's retainer in the end of the Edo period and a journalist, writer and playwright in the Meiji period. His childhood name was Yasokichi. His go (byname) was Ochi. He is known as Ochi FUKUCHI.

In 1841 he was born as a son of Dr. Koan (苟庵) FUKUCHI in Nagasaki. He studied Western learning in Nagasaki and went to Edo in 1857, following Keizo YATABORI who was a learner of navy. After that, he had studied leanings of U.K. and English under Einosuke MORIYAMA for two years. Then he was in charge of translation as Gaikoku bugyo shihai tsuben goyoyatoi (an interpreter of the magistrate of foreign affairs). In 1861 and 1865, he visited Europe as a member of the envoy of bakufu and observed the Western world. He was deeply interested in newspapers published in London and Paris.

Fukuchi launched 'Koko Shinbun' in Edo on leap April 1868, after the surrender of Edo Castle. After shogitai (group of former Tokugawa retainers opposed to the Meiji government who fought in the Battle of Ueno) was defeated at Ueno in the following month, he announced 'Kyojakuron' (A theory of the strong and the weak) on that paper, severely saying as follows.
Although it is said that the society became better or this is the Meiji Restoration, it is only a change of government from bakufu to Saccho (the Satsuma domain and the Choshu domain).'
It is really just an appearance of another bakufu led by Saccho instead of (Edo) bakufu.'
This made the new government get angry and the newspaper was prohibited to be published. Fukuchi was arrested but released because Takayoshi KIDO made an intercession. This was the first incident of suppression of free speech in the Meiji period.

In 1870, he entered Okura-sho (Ministry of the Treasury) and in the following year, he visited various countries as the first secretary of Iwakura Mission. After he came back to Japan, in 1874, he entered a government-controlled newspaper company, Tokyo Nichinichi Newspaper (main writer, and later president) and became very famous as a journalist. In addition, he also appeared in the political arena as a member of Tokyo Prefectural Assembly.

In 1882 he established the Constitutional Imperialism Party (立憲帝政党) with Sakura MARUYAMA and Torajiro MIZUNO, holding the principles of policy such as sovereignty of the Emperor, enforcement of Constitution established by the Emperor and election among limited people. It aimed to become a ruling party which opposed to the Liberal Party or the Constitutional Progressive Party, and was supported by the warrior class and the merchant class. However, since the government adopted the doctrine of superiority, it lost the significance of existence, so it dismissed in the following year.

In 1888 he resigned Tokyo Nichinichi Newspaper company because of the slumping business. After that, while Fukuchi became an adviser of Yamato Shinbun (newspaper company) of Saigiku JONO and continued critical activity, he had gradually devoted himself to Engeki kairyo undo (theatrical performance improvement movement) and establishment of theaters where it would be played.

In November 1889, he opened Kabuki-za Theater at Kobiki-cho, Tokyo with Katsugoro CHIBA. Fukuchi soon left the management and devoted himself to writing scripts for Kabuki-za Theater. He wrote many scripts of katsurekimono (a kind of history play) and dance, which were played by a famous actor Danjuro ICHIKAWA (ninth) and so on. His major works were "Hikoshichi OMORI," "Otokodate Harusame Gasa (A Chivalrous Commoner and a Spring Rain Umbrella)," "Kagamijishi" (The Lion Dance), "Kasuga no tsubone" and so on.

After Danjuro ICHIKAWA died in 1903, he left the stage. He run for the election of House of Representatives in 1904 and won a seat, but he had already lost influence on society in the past.

In 1906 he died at the age of 64.

Literary works

Genichiro contributed much to culture and left many literary works. He was called 'Sofuku of Japan' along with Yukichi FUKUZAWA.

"Bakufu Suiboron" (the collapse of bakufu) (1883) Heibonsha, Toyo bunko No.84 published in 1967, on-demand edition is available.
"Kaio-jidan" (Reminiscences)(1895)

"Bakumatsu Seijika" (Politicians in the end of the Edo period) (1900) Heibonsha, Toyo bunko No.501 published in 1989, Iwanami bunko, published in 2003. "Meiji Bungaku Zenshu 11" (The Collection of Literature in the Meiji period) 'The collection of Ochi FUKUCHI' edited by Izumi YANAGIDA, published by Chikuma Shobo Publishers in 1966, which includes 'Bakufu Suiboron,' 'Kaio-jidan' and so on.

[Original Japanese]