Shimazu Hisamitsu (島津久光)

Hisamitsu SHIMAZU (December 2, 1817-December 6, 1887) was a person in paramount authority in Satsuma Province in the last days of the Edo period.
The first head of the Tamari family
Ranks and orders: Junior First Rank, Orders of the Chrysanthemum, Prince
Other names: Kunki and Kuniyuki
Gago (pseudonym): Tokuyo (in childhood), Taikan, Soumatsu, Gankodojin, Mushio (later)

Fifth son of Narioki SHIMAZU (twenty-seventh family head)
Real mother: Oyura no Kata, a concubine of Narioki
Nariakira SHIMAZU, the twenty-eight family head, was an older paternal half-brother. Tadayoshi SHIMAZU, the twenty-ninth family head, was Hisamitsu's first son. The Miyanojo family was succeeded by Hisaharu SHIMAZU, the second son, the Shigetomi family by Uzuhiko SHIMAZU, the forth son, and the Izumi family by Tadakane SHIMAZU, the fifth son, respectively.
The Empress Kojun was his Great-grand child
The Emperor Akihito is his great-great-grand child.

Early Age

In 1817, he was born in Kagoshima Castle in Kagoshima County, Satsuma Province (present Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture), as the fifth son of Narioki. His childhood name was Kanenoshin. On April 6, 1818, he became an adopted child of Hisamichi TANEGASHIMA, the Tanegashima clan, and was treated as a child of the domain lord. In April, 1825, he returned to the original family, Shimazu and assumed a new name, Matajiro, in May. On December 10, he was engaged to Chioko, a daughter of Tadakimi SHIMAZU who was the next family head of the Shigetomi family, the head family of the Shimazu clan, and became his adopted son. However, in the "orthodox genealogy of the Shimazu clan," the fact that he became an adopted child of the Tanegashima clan is excluded.

Taking the opportunity of becoming an adopted child of the Shigetomi family, he moved to the Shigetomi residence in the castle town from the Kagoshima Castle. On March 1828, he celebrated his coming of age and was given the name Tadayuki by Narioki, his ceremonial father. In March 1836, he held a wedding ceremony with Chioko. In December 1839, he succeeded the family estate of Shigetomi family and changed his common name to Yamashiro on January 1840. On November 1847, he changed his common name to Suho from Yamashiro.

Concerning the position of successor to Narioki, Oyura-sodo (family troubles over Narioki SHIMAZU's heir) occurred between the two parties supporting Nariakira or Tadanori, which invited an intervention of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). As result, in 1851, Narioki retired and Nariakira became the lord of Satsuma Province. Although Nariakira and Tadanori superficially contended with each other for the family estate of the Shimazu clan, it can be said that Tadanori was only put up by the anti-Nariakira group and that their personal relationship had not been so bad consistently. In addition, Tadanori was also very fond of learning as well as his elder brother Nariakira. However, unlike Nariakira who liked Western learning, Tadanori was versed in the study of Japanese classical literature.

Seizure of the Highest Authority of the Clan

In the process of expanding his power, he promoted central members of Seichugumi Organization, a volunteering group of middle and lower ranked feudal retainers including Toshimichi OKUBO, Sadaka IJICHI (Chuzaemon HORI), Michihira IWASHITA, Nobuyoshi KAIEDA, and Tomozane YOSHII as well as Kiyokado (Tatewaki) KOMATSU and Chuzaemon NAKAYAMA. However, he could not get along with Takamori SAIGO, the central person of the Seichugumi Organization throughout his life. When Hisamitsu raised an army and went to Edo in 1862, he accused Saigo of going to Edo without permission and exiled him to the Tokunoshima Island, and when he pardoned Saigo as the result of his sympathizers' pleas in 1864, Hisamitsu left his teeth marks on his pipe due to his bitter decision, as this anecdotes show, there had been a large disparity between them later.

Advance into the National Political Arena

In 1862 he went to Kyoto, leading his army in order to promote Kobu Gattai (Union of Court and Camp) movement (he left Kagoshima on April 14 and arrived to Kyoto on May 14). It was said that Hisamitsu's movement to plan political cooperation among Imperial Court, Shogunate, and the major domains was to succeed the last wish of Nariakira, his elder brother. During his stay in Kyoto, he caused the Teradaya Incident on June 1, 1862 in order to subdue the extremist group of the Sonjo-ha party (supporting the principle of 'Sonno Joi' advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners) of his own domain including Shinshichi ARIMA who gathered in Teradaya Inn (present Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture).

Due to Hisamitsu's action towards the Imperial Court, it was decided on June 19, 1862 to dispatch an Imperial envoy to Edo in order to demand the reformation of the shogunate government and Hisamitsu was ordered to follow the envoy. As for the demands made to the Shogunate, the following three articles were decided (for the first item, the opinion of the Choshu domain; for the second item, Tomomi IWAKURA's opinion; for third item, opinion of the Satsuma domain were adopted, respectively).

The Shogun Iemochi TOKUGAWA's going to Kyoto

The establishment of the Council of Five Elders composed of representatives from five large domains of the coastal areas (Satsuma Domain, Choshu Domain, Tosa Domain, Sendai Domain and Kaga Domain)

Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI's assumption of Shogun Assistant and the assumption of the position of Tairo (chief minister) by Shungaku MATSUDAIRA (former lord of the Fukui domain)

After changing his common name to Saburo from Izumi on June 18 before leaving, Hisamitsu left Kyoto following Shigenori OHARA, the Imperial envoy, on June 30, and arrived in Edo on July 16th. In Edo he negotiated with the cabinet officials of Shogunate in cooperation with the Imperial envoy and succeeded in realizing Yoshinobu's assumption of Shogun assistant role on August 14 and Shungaku's assumption of political affairs president on August 17 (Bunkyu Reform).

On September 19, 1862, Hisamitsu started from Edo after the Imperial envoy achieved his aim to going to Edo, but on the way to Kyoto on Tokai-do Road his procession met with four English citizens at the Namamugi Village, Musashi Province (present Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture), and following feudal retainers of Satsuma killed and injured them because they obstructed Hisamitsu's procession (the Namamugi Incident). On September 5, 1862, Hisamitsu arrived in Kyoto, went to the Imperial Court and reported the success of the Shogunate government reformation on 8, then he left Kyoto on October 1 and returned to the domain (arrived at Kagoshima on October 16). Furthermore, the stabbing incident of Englishmen developed into the war between Anglo-Satsuma War in August of the following year, 1863.

The collapse of Kobu Gattai (Union of Court and Camp) movement

In April, 1863, he made the second visit to Kyoto (he left Kagoshima on April 21 and arrived in Kyoto on May 1), but he could not suppress the insistence of Sonjo-kyushinha (rapid group of Sonno-joi) supported by the Choshu Domain, and as a result, he returned to Kagoshima after only five days in Kyoto (he left Kyoto on May 5 and arrived at Kagoshima on May 28). However, after Hisamitsu returned to the domain, he received several requests to go to Kyoto by the Imperial Prince Asahiko KUNINOMIYA, Tadahiro KONOE and his son Tadafusa KONOE who were confronted with the Sonjo-ha party and the Emperor Komei who criticized the behavior of Sonjo-ha party. Then, after the success of 'the Coup of August 18' (September 26 in New calendar [solar calendar]) which was carried out mainly by the Satsuma and Aizu clans in order to expel the Choshu clan from Kyoto with gaining a support of the Emperor, Hisamitsu made the third visit to Kyoto (he left Kagoshima on October 24 and arrived at Kyoto on November 11).

In accordance with Hisamitsu's proposal, a new position Chogi Sanyo (Court Council Councilor), who was eligible for attending a Court Council (Chogi), was established. On February 7, 1864, the five members of Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI, Shungaku MATSUDAIRA, Yodo YAMAUCHI who was the former lord of the Tosa domain, Munenari DATE who was the former lord of the Uwajima domain and Katamori MATSUDAIRA who was the lord of Aizu domain (Kyoto shugoshoku [Military governor of Kyoto]) were appointed to Sanyo by the Imperial Court. On February 22 of the following year, 1864, Hisamitsu who had been lacking rank at that time, was appointed to Sanyo as well as Jushiinoge (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade) Sakone gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) at the same time. In this way, the Council of Sanyo which realized the idea of kobu-gattai (integration of the imperial court and the shogunate) advocated by the Satsuma domain, was established. But over the issue on exclusion of foreign ships from Yokohama port, a political confrontation occurred between Yoshinobu who insisted the principle of limited expulsion of foreigners (in favor of exclusion) and Hisamitsu, Shungaku and Munenari who insisted reinforcement of armaments (against exclusion). In the end, the three Marquises including Hisamitsu conceded to Yoshinobu (bakufu) and agreed to the foreign ship exclusion policy from Yokohama port, but the discord between both parties was not settled, and the council of Sanyo did not work well and was disorganized, leading to the setback of Kobu Gattai movement. As a result, on May 27, 1884, Hisamitsu withdrew from Kyoto, entrusting Tatewaki KOMATSU, Saigo and others with future affairs (arrived Kagoshima on June 11).

Decision to Overthrow the Shogunate

For about three years while Hisamitsu stayed in the Satsuma Domain, central political situations underwent a lot of changes in such ways as the Kinmon Incident (August 27, 1865), First Conquest of Choshu, Shogun's departure to the front, an Imperial consent to the treaty with five countries during the Ansei era (March 7, 1866), Second Conquest of Choshu, the death of Shogun Iemochi (August 28), Acquisition of Shogun by Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA (January 13, 1867), the death of Emperor Komei (February 4, 1867), and the Imperial Prince Sachinomiya Mutsuhito (the Emperor Meiji) ascending to the throne (February 8, 1867). During this period, Hisamitsu, who was in the domain, greeted the English envoy Harry PARKS and his party at Kagoshima and entertained them with the lord of domain Shigehisa warmly from July 25 to 29 in 1866, by which a friendly relationship between Satsuma Domain and England after the peace treaty for Anglo-Satsuma War was confirmed.

During the fourth visit to Kyoto in 1867 (left Kagoshima on April 29 and arrived at Kyoto on May 15), he held a meeting with the four lords of Shungaku MATSUDAIRA, Yodo YAMAUCHI, and Munenari DATE and confirmed to hold talks with Shogun Yoshinobu cooperated with the four lords over the problems of the opening Hyogo (present Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture) port which was pressing the time to announce the schedule of opening and the punishment against the Choshu Domain which had been left pending after the ceasefire of the second conquest (virtual defeat of the Shogunate) in October of the previous year. But in the talk between four lords and Shogun at the Nijo Castle on June 14, 19 and 21, while the four lords called upon the prior settlement of Choshu punishment problem (intending a lenient treatment), Yoshinobu insisted on the prior settlement of the problem of Hyogo port opening on the pretext of external relationship importance. As the result of Chogi which were held for two days of July 1 and 2, it was decided to give an imperial sanction for these two problems at the same time, but the content of decision regarding the punishment of the Choshu domain was not clear, strongly reflecting the intent of Yoshinobu. As a result, Hisamitsu finally gave up having a chance to compromise with Yoshinobu politically, and the leading group in the Satsuma domain decided to overthrow the Shogunate with military power.

Hisamitsu, who was in poor health, moved to Osaka on September 23 and returned to the domain on September 29 (arrived on October 18). On November 22, the secret Imperial order to overthrow the Shogunate was given to Hisamitsu and Shigehisa, and on the following day, 23, the Imperial Court ordered Hisamitsu to come to Kyoto in order to cope with the petition for Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor) by Shogun Yoshinobu on the same day. However, Hisamitsu could not meet this because of his illness, and therefore, Shigehisa, instead of him, left Kagoshima with leading 3,000 domain soldiers on December 8, met Hiroatsu MORI, the heir of lord of the Choshu domain, at Mitajiri, Suo Province (present Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture) to conclude the agreement for dispatching troops in cooperation of the three domains of Satsuma, Choshu, and Hiroshima on the way to Kyoto, and went to Kyoto on January 1. After that, the central political situation developed towards the Restoration of Imperial Rule and the Boshin Civil War.

After the Meiji Restoration

Hisamitsu continued to keep power in the Satsuma domain (Kagoshima Prefecture), however, it is said that when Haihan-chiken (abolition of domains and establishment of prefectures) was declared by the Grand Council of State under the leadership of Takamori SAIGO and Toshimichi OKUBO participating in the central government on August 29, 1871, he got very angry and ordered to set off fireworks the whole day in Kagoshima as a message protest. Among former territorial lords, only Hisamitsu openly showed his antipathy to Haihan-chiken.
In addition, he was angry about the establishment of Miyakonojo Prefecture, saying that the division of Satsuma Province and the Osumi Province was 'a conspiracy of the Choshu clan.'

On October of the same year, he established a branch family of Tamari-Shimazu.

In 1873, he went to Kyoto and served for the government as Cabinet Adviser and he assigned Sadaijin (minister of the left) and made a petition for the restoration of old customs in the following year, 1874, but he was practically excluded from political decisions.

In 1875, he resigned Sadaijin. After that, he led a life of retirement and devoted himself to the compilation and collection of history books handed down from old Shimazu family.

Besides, he was opposed to the civilization and enlightenment policy of the government such as the decree banning the wearing of swords and did not cut his topknot, belted his sword on and dressed in kimono throughout his life.

It is said that he was at strife with Saigo even during this period, who left public office due to the political disturbance of 1873 and returned to Kagoshima. In the Seinan War in which Saigo rose against the central government, he took a neutral position and took refuge at Sakurajima for some time to evade the war.

He died at the age of seventy in 1887. He was accorded a state funeral, and since it was held in Kagoshima, not in Tokyo, new roads were built and troops of army were dispatched from the Kumamoto garrison only for his funeral. The Tamari family (Prince) was succeeded by Tadasumi SHIMAZU, the seventh son.

Hisamitsu's grave is located at the Fukusho-ji Temple in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture. His bronze statue stands at the Terukuni Shrine in Terukuni-machi Town, Kagoshima City.

The Career of the rank of a government post

The dates until 1871 are shown according to the old lunar calendar.

In 1864

On January 14, he was appointed to Jushiinoge Sakone gon no shosho.

On February 1 (New calendar: March 8) he was concurrently appointed to Osumi no Kami (Provisional Governor of Osumi Province).

On April 11 (New calendar: May 15) he was promoted and transferred to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) Sakone gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and remained in the position of Osumi no Kami.

In 1869

On March 3, he promoted to and assigned Jusanmi Sangi (councilor in the Junior Third Rank) and remained in the position of Sakone gon no chujo.

On June 2 (New calendar: July 10), he was ordered to be promoted and transferred to Junii (Junior Second Rank) Gon Dainagon (a provisional chief councilor of state), but refused it firmly.

On September 13, he was promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank).

In 1873

On May 10, he became Jako no ma shiko (emperor's personal attendant in Jako room).

On December 25, he was assumed a Cabinet Councilor.

On April 27, 1874, he was assumed Sadaijin.

In 1875

On October 27, he resigned Sadaijin.

On November 2, he became Jako no ma shiko.

On June 17, 1879, he was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank).

On July 15, 1881, he was awarded Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

On July 7, 1884, he was awarded Prince.

In 1887

On September 21, he was promoted to Juichii (Junior First Rank).

On November 5, he was awarded Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.

[Original Japanese]