Hirotsu Hironobu (広津弘信)

Hironobu HIROTSU (1819 - 1883) was a Japanese diplomat. He is known for his involvement in Japan's diplomatic negotiations with Korea in the early Meiji period. He was the father of Ryuro HIROTSU, a novelist.

Brief Personal History
Hironobu's former name was Shunzo. Hirotsu started his career as a physician of the Kurume clan. In March 1870 he accompanied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' mission (to have preliminary negotiations with Korea to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries) including Hakubo SADA. Then, at the end of the same year he joined the first official mission with Hirotake YOSHIOKA and Shigeru MORIYAMA. He helped the mission's negotiations with Korea on practical levels.

In April 1871, however, he had to return to Japan as the mission made little headway in negotiating with Korea. He put forward the strategy of appointing Yoshiakira SO, the feudal lord of the former Tsushima Fuchu domain as Gaimu-taijo to let him negotiate with Korea. Entrusted with a letter by the name of the Gaimu-taijo So, he and Moriyama arrived at Busan Metropolitan City by steamboat in February 1872. They began taking over the Wakan (consulate and settlement of the former Tsushima domain). However, the steamboat was exactly what the Joseon dynasty, which advocated the expulsion of the foreigners, disapproved of. Coupled with the attacks by the U. S. naval forces on Ganghwa Island (the Shinmiyangyo or the U. S. Korean Expedition), it hardened Korea's attitude. Consequently, Japan's diplomatic negotiations with Korea failed.

Later, in 1873, Mitsui-zaibatsu's secret trade with Korea to which the Japanese government gave its silent consent was discovered. It was strictly 'banned' by Korea. Hirotsu notified the government of the Korea's 'Instructions' which was reportedly posted at the time. The text of his notification (which appeared to be inaccurate and was not without exaggeration) immediately triggered the proposal of the Seikanron (subjugation of Korea) debate within the government. Yet Hirotsu himself assumed a cautious attitude to military action.

Hironobu was the father of the writer Ryuro HIROTSU and the grandfather of Kazuo HIROTSU, also a novelist.
(However he had been dead when Kazuo was born.)

[Original Japanese]