Kawamura Sumiyoshi (川村純義)

Sumiyoshi KAWAMURA (December 18, 1836 - August 12, 1904) was a Japanese samurai who was a feudal retainer of the Satsuma clan, a naval officer ranked full admiral and Count, Junior First Rank and holder of the First Order Merit. Born in Kagoshima Prefecture. His common name was Yojuro.


In 1855, Sumiyoshi entered the Kaigun Denshu-sho (Japanese Naval School) established by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) through the selection from the Satsuma Domain. Partially because his wife was a cousin of Takamori SAIGO on his mother's side, he was well-treated and given good positions, and fought bravely in the various battles in the Boshin War which started from January 1888, as the captain of the fourth unit of the Satsuma Domain, especially in the Aizu War.

After he returned to Satsuma triumphantly from the Boshin War, he led the movement to stop the ruling based on the pedigreed vassal families. In spite of the fact that Sumiyoshi was originally a kashi (lower class samurai), he cross-examined Hisaharu SHIMAZU in front of his brother, who was the lord of the domain, Tadayoshi SHIMAZU, and finally Hisaharu died in depression.

After the Meiji Restoration, Sumiyoshi exerted himself to modernize the navy of the Meiji Government and was appointed as kaigun taifu (vice-minister of the navy) and vice admiral, the second highest position in the navy in 1874.

At the time of the Seinan War, Sumiyoshi went to Kagoshima immediately after the attack of Shigakuko-to (a party made up of students of military academy founded by Takamori SAIGO) on an arsenal, and he had meetings with Tsunayoshi OYAMA, a prefectural governor, to prevent further conflict, but he ended up failed partially due to a sabotage by the Shigakuko-to and returned to Tokyo. After the war broke out, Sumiyoshi led the navy together with Aritomo YAMAGATA as Sangun (Commander in chief) and transport soldiers and goods by sea, and bombarded shores to put down the war.

After the war ended, he assumed the post of Sangi (councilor) and Kaigunkyo (Minister of the navy) and continued to modernize the navy, but he took a distance from the political circles unlike Aritomo YAMAGATA. Sumiyoshi held key positions under the Dajokansei (System of Departments of States), but he was chased away from the position with the transition to the Cabinet system. It is said that his personality was partially a cause of it. Subsequently he became a privy councilor.

Sumiyoshi was deeply trusted by the Emperor Meiji and given responsibility for the upbringing of the emperor's grandson (who was to become the Emperor Showa), and he was posthumously promoted to full admiral. Kawamura is the only person in the Imperial Japanese Navy that was posthumously promoted to full admiral for the reason other than death in battle.

[Original Japanese]