Hirosawa Saneomi (広沢真臣)

Saneomi HIROSAWA (広沢真臣: February 7, 1834 - February 27, 1871; his name is also written in the prescriptive orthographic style as 廣澤眞臣) was a samurai (a feudal retainer of the Choshu clan) and statesman in Japan. His childhood name was Suenoshin. His common names were Kingo, Toemon and Hyosuke (兵助). His original name was Naoharu (直温), and pseudonym was Shogaku (障岳).


He was born as the fourth son of Yasutoshi KASHIWANOMURA, a feudal retainer of the Choshu clan. In December 1844, he became the adopted son-in-law of Naotada HATANO, who was also a retainer of the Choshu clan, and called himself Kingo HATANO.

He studied at hanko (a domain school) Meirinkan, and at the arrival of Matthew (Calbraith) PERRY, he was stationed at Omori Fort to stand guard. He played an important role as a member of sonjo party (royalists), such as the involvement in the military policy reform of the clan in 1859. After that, he went to Kyoto with the heir of the clan, Motonori MORI, and under Kogoro KATSURA and Gisuke KUSAKA, he made efforts as a person in charge of the administration affairs staying in Kyoto.

In 1864, the Choshu Domain was consecutively hit by troubles, such as the Kinmon Incident, the Shimonoseki War, and the Choshu-Bakufu War, and this series of misadventures lead the belligerent war faction (mainly formed by the "Choshu Justice Party" [reformists of the Choshu clan]) to lose in a power struggle with the deference faction (mainly formed by conventional party). Affected by the tug of war, Kingo HATANO was also incarcerated in Noyamagoku jail, however, he escaped execution since he was not a member of the Choshu Justice Party.

In 1865, Shinsaku TAKASUGI, who was living in exile, launched a military coup d'etat, persuading Shunsuke ITO, Kyosuke YAMAGATA and others to join, and the Justice Party succeeded in regaining the control of the Choshu clan. As a result, Kingo HATANO, who had the closest ideology to that of the Justice Party among the moderate supporters of Sonno Joi (the doctrine of restoring the emperor and expelling the barbarians), came to take part in the pivot of the clan as an official in charge of the policy affairs, taking the place of the principal members of the Justice Party, who had been already executed. On April 4 of the same year, he changed his name to Toemon HIROSAWA by the order of the clan, and in the following month, on May 6, he once again changed his name to Hyosuke (兵助) HIROSAWA.

In the peace negotiation of the Choshu-Bakufu War held at the end of August 1866, he negotiated with Kaishu KATSU of the bakufu side, at Itsukushima in Aki Province. He also worked actively as a deputy and colleague of Koin KIDO, such as formulating ' Shosha jidan kajosho' (agreement on the joint enterprise project) after having a talk with Ryoma SAKAMOTO and Saisuke GODAI of the Satsuma Domain. In October 1867, he accelerated the activities to overthrow the shogunate, including the efforts to gain a secret imperial order of anti-shogunate cooperating together with Toshimichi OKUBO and others.

After the restoration government was inaugurated, he held various posts, such as Sanyo, Gunmu-gakari (military commander) of the Army and Navy, a staff officer of Daitokufu (grand government general), and later, Naikoku jimu-gakari (extraordinary councilor of affaires of State), Kyoto-fu Goyo-gakari (extraordinary councilor of affaires of Kyoto Prefecture) and Sangi (councilor). Same as Koin KIDO, he was an advocator of the lenient policy and in the Boshin War; he had a meeting with Seiichiro MIYAJIMA of the Yonezawa Domain to make him commit the facilitation of the Aizu Domain's 'Kisho' (rectification and reinsertion). He was granted a Eiseiroku (perpetual premiums) of 1,800 koku yield crop as a meritorious retainer, the same benefice that Koin KIDO and Toshimichi OKUBO received in 1869, and he held important posts such as Minbu-taifu (Senior Ministerial Assistant of Popular Affairs) and Sangi (councilor).

On January 9, 1871, he was attacked and assassinated by an assassin (or assassins) in the middle of the night, after having a banquet with visitors at his private residence in Fujimi-cho, Kojimachi, Tokyo Prefecture. He was 39 years old when he died. He was posthumously conferred Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank).

In 1879, for his service during the restoration, the Hirosawa family was raised to the peerage, along with the bereaved families of Kido and Okubo, both of whom died sometime before. The conferment of the peerage of that time was only limited to the former feudal domain heads and court nobles, and except for these three examples, nobody from shizoku (family or person with samurai ancestors) achieved to ascend to the peerage before the Peerage Law was enacted. In 1884, his legitimate son, Kinjiro HIROSAWA was conferred the title of count.

"Diary of Saneomi HIROSAWA" is highly evaluated as a first class material for the end of the Edo period comparable with those of Kido and Okubo.

Assassination Incident

According to the autopsy by a doctor, there were 13 wounds in total including 3 stab wounds in the throat. After the crime, many unnatural points were found at the scene, including the fact the his mistress received only minor injury although she had been tied in the same room.
This was the third magnicide against the restoration government leaders, after Shonan YOKOI and Masujiro OMURA, and the Emperor Meiji, who highly trusted in Hirosawa, gave an exceptional imperial order to urge the capture of the criminals as ''to ensure the arrest of the perpetrators.'

As a result of severe investigation into the Hirosawa family's butler and Hirosawa's mistress, it was revealed that these two had illicit intercourse and misused the Hirosawa family's private money. Although a trial was held with the presence of jury members in 1875, but at last, they were found not guilty and released.

While many people accepted that this case of assassination would remain unsolved, only Koin KIDO continued urging further investigation.

In the course of the investigation, around 80 people were interrogated as suspects, including Kazutoshi OGO, Tatsuo KUMOI and their remnants, but even the identification of the murderer was not attained, and the truth is still known today.

As this has been an unsolved case, there are various theories about the possible murderers and the mastermind of the assassination; it is commonly thought that fuhei shizoku (former samurai with gripes) of the former bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) side, who felt uncomfortable with the restoration government, or the remnants of the former army of bakufu must have been the assassins and its mastermind.

Some people also take advantage of the situation, in which the case went unsolved, and make opportunistic inferences as follows; because Kido and Hirosawa were opposing each other, or it was a conspiracy of old-guard party, including Okubo, who wanted to drag Kido, the giant of the Kaimei (enlightenment) group, to the public, etc. However, at the time, the principal figures of Saccho (Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa Domains) (Koin KIDO, Toshimichi OKUBO, Takamori SAIGO, Taisuke ITAGAKI, Aritomo YAMAGATA, and others) had left Tokyo leaving their complete trust in Sangi (councilor) Saneomi HIROSAWA and others, to recruit the members Goshimpei (army to convoy the emperor) and gather them in Tokyo as a preparatory measure prior to the Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), and to promote further reform of domain duties of their respective provinces. And, they had been drifting from place to place during months, starting from Kyoto to Osaka, Choshu, Tosa and Satsuma. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to think that someone of the Satsuma Domain or the Choshu Domain was involved. If it was true that some discontented elements of Satsuma or Choshu were involved such as the disaster of Masujiro OMURA, it would have been revealed spontaneously and prosecuted. However, such information has not been discovered, therefore it is quite unnatural to suppose their involvement. Moreover, if someone of Satsuma or Choshu had been involved, those of Dohi (the Tosa and Hizen Domains), who wanted to weaken the influence of Saccho (the Satsuma and Choshu Domains), would not have just looked on it with their arms folded.. However, in reality the people of Tosa and Hizen were not able to find any single suspect among the people of Saccho, and it is quite unnatural to arrive at such a conclusion. Therefore, it is impossible to think that someone of Saccho was involved in this case. Especially, the involvement of Kido and Okubo, who had been brothers-in-arms with Hirosawa after the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance was concluded, was extremely unlikely. Accordingly, more than the disasters of Toshimichi OKUBO and Tomomi IWAKURA, it is probable that the crime was committed by fuhei shizoku (the former samurai with gripes of the former bakufu side).


First son: Kinjiro (his wife was the daughter of Viscount Yozo YAMAO)

Grandson: Shingo (his wife was the daughter of Nobutsune OKUMA, the adopted heir of Marquis Shigenobu OKUMA)

Granddaughter: the prime minister's wife: 'the list of wives of the prime ministers' (she married into Hayato IKEDA, but died in 1929)

[Original Japanese]