Fukuzawa Momosuke (福澤桃介)

Momosuke FUKUZAWA (June 25, 1868 - February 15, 1938) was a businessman and a statesman in Japan. His former family name was Iwasaki.

He was born as a son of a farmer in Arako-mura, Yokomi County, Musashi Province (present Yoshimi-machi, Saitama Prefecture) and raised in Kawagoe City. While studying at Keio gijuku, he was adopted by Yukichi FUKUZAWA and later, married Fusa, the second daughter of Yukichi. In 1888 he went to the United States, and after working as an apprentice at Pennsylvania Railway, he returned to Japan. Momosuke worked at several companies such as Hokkaido Tanko Kisen and Oji Paper Company, Limited.

But he became infected with tuberculosis and had to spend a period of recuperation from 1894. While he was recuperating, he was absorbed in the stock investment with the fund he raised by stock trading. At that time Japan was fighting the Japanese-Sino War, and coupled with the soaring stock prices as a result of Japan's victory over the war, it is said that he made a huge profit of as much as 100,000 yen at the time (about 2 billion yen at current value). His condition from the illness much improved with the recuperation, and he entered into the business world with the money he made by stock trading as the seed money. The stock market prices plunged after that.

In 1906 he founded Seto Kozan Mine and assumed the position of president. Having acquired the right of water supply of Kiso-gawa River, in 1911 he built the Yaotsu Electric Power Plant in Kamo County, Gifu Prefecture. Starting with those mentioned above, he built power plants and companies one after another, as in 1924 Oi Dam which was the first full scale dam power plant in Japan, Ochiai Dam in Nakatsugawa City in 1926, including Yahagi Suiryoku (current TOAGOSEI) and Osaka Soden (Osaka Power Line). The bridge built for the construction of Yomikaki Electric Power Plant later came to be called Momosuke-bashi Bridge, and in 1993 it was restored as a heritage on modernization, then was designated a National Important Cultural Property with the power plant in 1994.

In 1920, he founded the Daido Electric Power Company (it changed its name to Kansai Haiden by the war time integration, and to the Kansai Electric Power Company later) which was one of the five largest electric power enterprises and Toho Electric Power (current Chubu Electric Power Company), as reorganizing the electric supply of Osaka, and assumed the position of president of both companies.
With those achievements he accomplished, he came to be called 'the king of the electric power in Japan.'
In 1922 he founded TOHO GASU (current TOHO GASU). He was also involved in the management of Aichi Electric Railway (later it merged with Meiki Railway and became Nagoya Railroad). In addition, he founded the leading companies one after another including DAIDO STEEL and Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. Later he became a Diet member and belonged to the Seiyu Club.

There is a 'commemoration monument' on the Sando (approach to the temple) to the Shariden hall of Nittai-ji Temple in Kakuozan, Chigusa Ward, to commemorate the great achievements of Momosuke. The inscription of the stone monument reads as follows.
Momosuke FUKUZAWA was a genius that the heaven sent to us, and he changed the electric power supply that only depended on thermal power to hydraulic power by utilizing the water of rivers that runs valleys in Owari and Shinano Provinces and was just wasted in the past 40,000 years.'
With the electric power, it became possible to provide millions of households with electricity and to invite and establish hundreds or thousands of corporations, which made Nagoya the third largest city in Japan.'

In later years, he lived with 'the first Japanese actress' Sadayakko KAWAKAMI as if the husband and wife.

When Japanese economy came to a standstill in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake, he bravely visited the United States where sentiment toward Japan was deteriorating, and he succeeded in introducing the foreign capital of as much as 25,000 dollars, which was unheard of. He made a speech in front of the influential people of the political and business world, including the former President William H. TAFT, and ラモンド, the great general manager of the plutocrat of Morgan; praised the United States that boasted of its largest economy in the world.
Then, he started a improvised speech by saying: 'However, the United States is on the path to decline and fall by the poison of gold like the Roman Empire in the near future.'
He went on to say: 'I, who try to draw a little poison of gold from the United States, may actually be appreciated by your country,' and received ovation.

Momosuke has been evaluated extremely high on his electric power business. Thomas EDISON, the master of invention, the former French prime minister Georges CLEMENCEAU and Guglielmo MARCONI who invented wireless telegraph have given praising messages to the stone monument at the power plant, as well as Genro (elder statesman) Aritomo YAMAGATA and Kinmochi SAIONJI.

[Original Japanese]