Inoue Kakugoro (井上角五郎)

Kakugoro INOUE (November 30, 1860 - September 23, 1938) was a Japanese businessman and statesman. He was from the village of Nogami, Fukatsu Country, Bingo Province (present Furunogami-cho, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture).


He started to practice calligraphy at terakoya (a private elementary school in the Edo period) at the age of six and then started to learn Chinese characters from Kyuko YAMAMURO, a Confucian scholar in the Bingo-Fukuyama Domain in Bingo Province, but skipped grades to enter the Seishikan, a Fukuyama domain school as a special case by recommendation of Yamamuro because he was doing very well at school. After entering the Seishikan, he learned Sinology and mathematics and became a selected student (scholarship student) because he was specially excellent in mathematics.

In 1873, an elementary school was set up in the Inoue family's estate as the first one in the district, and Inoue, at the age of 14, became a teacher at the school by the request of the villagers. He entered the Fukuyama branch of Hiroshima Prefectural Ordinary Normal School at the age of 17. After the graduation at the age of 19, he taught at several elementary schools and in the following year he went up to Tokyo counting on Yoshinao KOBAYASHI who was from the same village and his senior at school. Three months later, he became Yukichi FUKUZAWA's shosei (a live-in student who performs domestic duties while studying) by recommendation of Kobayashi to enter Keio Gijuku (an educational institution) and he graduated from it at the age of 23.

When Inoue was invited by the Korean government along with his fellow pupils, Takuzo USHIBA and Masanobu TAKAHASHI, Fukuzawa, who was concerned about the Korean people's awareness-raising and felt it necessary to improve their literacy rate to achieve it, gave him instructions, saying 'it is necessary to issue newspapers written in Korean language to achieve Korean independence and Korean people's enlightenment.'
Ushiba and Takahashi gave up their intent and left Korea due to the stringent circumstance and returned to Japan, but Inoue stayed in Korea and in due time he came to assume the position of diplomatic advisor. Inoue was engaged in translation and editorial supervision of a Korean newspaper, "Hanseong Sunbo (Kanjo Junpo)" (Hanseong Ten-day Reports) issued by the Kaika group (advocate for civilization) including Yonghyo PAK (박영효) in 1883. "Hanseong Sunbo" was the first modern newspaper in Korea and all the text was written in pure classical Chinese when it was launched.

The Gapsin Coup broke out in December 1884, which is considered as a trigger for the annexation of Korea, and it is said that Inoue who was deeply involved in the coup, fled to Japan together with Ok-gyun KIM and Yonghyo PAK. When the newspaper published a negative article on the Gapsin Coup, Hung Chang LI (a Chinese leading politician who directed the Chinese policy in Korea) complained to the Korean government over its content, and Inoue resigned as a diplomatic advisor to take responsibility. The Hanseong Sunbo was obliged to cease its publication. "Hanseong Sunbo" (issued once every 10 days), which ceased its publication for a while due to the Gapsin Coup, restarted to be issued as the "Hanseong Chubo" (Hanseong Weekly Bulletins) (issued weekly) in 1886 and Inoue was employed again as the editorial supervisor. "Hanseong Chubo" was the first newspaper written in an eclectic style using Chinese characters and Hangeul. The part written in Hangeul in the newspaper was printed using the Hangeul type that Inoue made caste in Japan. It is said that the newspaper's writing style was created by a Confucian scholar Wi KANG (姜ウィ). Even after Inoue returned to Japan at the end of the year, the issuance of the newspaper was continued. The circulation of "The Hanseong Jubo" was about 3,000 copies. The newspaper was read mainly by government officials and its readership did not expand to the ordinary people, but this is considered as one of the important episodes of using Hangeul in Korea.

Right after he returned to Japan on January 1885, he was arrested for the involvement in the Gapsin Coup and convicted for contempt of government officials for insulting Hirofumi ITO and Kaoru INOUE, who were Genroin gikan (councilors of Chamber of Elders). He served a sentence in jail in January of the following year, and he was released in February under an amnesty.

In June 1887, encouraged by Fukuzawa to immigrate to the United States of America, he moved to the United States with some 30 persons from Hiroshima Prefecture. Around that time, Japanese immigrants into the U.S. mainland were mainly students and those who came to work were in the minority. While Inoue was engaged in farming in California, he contributed the articles about his foreign experiences to a Japanese daily newspaper, "Jiji Shinpo." It is said that quite a lot of people were inspired to immigrate reading his articles.

After he came back from the United States in 1888, he joined the Great Merger Movement led by Shojiro GOTO, with whom he a long acquaintance since he was a student at Keio Gijuku. In 1890, he ran for the first general election of the members of the House of Representatives and won the election as a fill-in member. He supported the government on a budget issue in the first diet session, and he was expelled from the Liberal Party (during Meiji period). In 1892, he became a member of the Central Negotiation Society, a political party in favor of the government, and he joined the board of Hokkaido Colliery and Railway Company. As he gained a reputation as a 'lawmaker well-connected with the business world,' for his policy of proactively introducing foreign capital, he became an immediate target of the political activist who were critical about his policy and he was frequently assaulted by those activists. In 1891, those who assaulted Inoue were ordered to leave the Diet Chamber during the Imperial Diet session under the public security regulations. He carried a sword cane with him as a cautionary measure, and the following year, 1892, when he was attacked by a man who proclaimed himself a political activist of the Liberal Party, he fiercely fought against the aggressor. That same year, the following statement by a radical political activist appeared in the "Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun" (the 'Tokyo Daily Newspaper'): "if you see the emerging pattern, that the target of the parties' pro-democracy political activists must not be limited to Inoue, and the current situation demands that all the mayor conservatives in the Diet deserve violent treatment, you should perceive that riot and strife of any imaginable scale could occur at any moment, and so on." After that, he formed his own parliamentary group without joining the Kokumin Kyokai Party (of Japan), however afterwards, he joined the Kenseito Party which agreed with him on the railway nationalization policies. Although he belonged to the Seiyu Party subsequently, he confronted with the party on financial policies, and he was expelled from the Seiyu Party in 1901. Since he had an ugly face covered with pockmark, he was nicknamed "Kaiko shogun (a general with crab shell)". Around that time, political cartoons of Inoue drawn with a deformed crab-like face frequently appeared in newspapers, and a rumor spread that posting a slip of paper with the phrase 'Mr. Kakugoro INOUE is staying here' on one's house entrance could prevent smallpox; such treatment ensured he was one of the most well-known men of the age. He won the election for thirteen times in a row until 1924 and attended the first to the 47th Imperial Diet.

Furthermore, he had achievements in various field as a businessman. After involved in the establishment of Keifu Railways (connecting between Soul and Busan in Korea) and South Manchuria Railways, he promoted such activities as the organizational reform of railway operation, development of new coal mines, and the expansion of contingent businesses as the executive managing director (virtually the president) of Hokkaido Colliery and Railway Company (later Hokkaido Colliery & Steamship Co., LTD.). He reinforced railway transportation capacity by establishing a full-range coke plant and Wanishi Iron Works (later Nippon Steel Corporation Muroran Works) amongst others. He improved the Temiya Line, Sorachi Line, Muroran Line and Yubari Line. Moreover, in 1907 he established the Japan Steel Corporation--said to be the first Japanese company to accept foreign (British) capital--and contributed greatly to the colliery and railway industries in Hokkaido. In 1916, he became the president of Kyoto Electric Railway which was suffering financial problems, and rebuilt its business. In 1918, he handed over the ownership of the railway company to Kyoto City to settle the issues of Kyoto City Trams unification. He exercised his outstanding abilities in developing and establishing many coal mines, power plants and railways, including the foundation of Yasaku Hydroelectric (later Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc.) in 1920 and the construction of Nagoya Thermal Power Plant in 1923. His fifth son Goro INOUE, who served as the first president of Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc., was known for the construction of Igawa Dam and others. Momosuke FUKUZAWA was his subordinate and strategist when he was the executive managing director for Hokkaido Colliery and Railway Company. He succeeded in mass production of tin-plate for the first time in Japan, and served as a corporate manager or a director for many companies including financial institutions, such as the president of Hokkaido Jinzo Hiryo (Hokkaido chemical fertilizer), the chairman of Nippon Paint Co., Ltd., the co-representative of Kabuki-za Theater, the director of Shinagawa Bank, the first director of Chiyoda Life Insurance Company when it was founded, the director of Nichigas Inc. and the auditor of Nippon Jinzokenshi (Japan rayon yarn) (later Teijin Ltd.). He also held important posts such as the vice chairman of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Imperial Railway Association. When "The Kokumin Shinbun" (The newspaper of the national public) had a popular vote on who was the competent businessman in 1909, he topped the list.
He was ridiculed as 'Kaiko shogun' (a general with crab shell), but on the other hand, he was also affectionately called 'Inokaku-san.'
He also left a major mark on the educational world. As the administrative director of Kokumin Kogyo Gakuin (an institute for industrial education), he not only made efforts in establishing and managing the institute but also dedicated himself to promote industrial ethics.


Kanjo no zanmu (record on experience in Soul) (1892)
Koshiyoson (collection of speech, reports and opinions) (1907 - 1911)
Professor Fukuzawa's Korean Management and Korean Modern Culture (1934)

[Original Japanese]