Tani Tateki (谷干城)

Tateki TANI (March 18, 1837 - May 13, 1911) was a feudal retainer of the Tosa clan, a military man and a statesman who lived from the end of Edo period to the Meiji period. His given names were Shintaro and Moribe. His pen name was Waizan. He was the second president of The Gakushuin School Corporation. His official rank was the lieutenant general, and was ennobled with the rank of viscount under the kazoku peerage system.


He was born in Kochi castle town in 1837 as the fourth child of Manshichi TANI, a feudal retainer of the Tosa clan. He went to Edo and became Sokken YASUI's disciple to learn in 1859. Later, he returned to Tosa, and became an assistant professor of history at a domain school named Chido-kan (Confucian school). He got to know Hanbeta TAKECHI and became friends at this time, and he became committed to Sonno Joi Movement (the Movement advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners). However, it is said that when he inspected Nagasaki by the command of his domain in 1866, he met Shojiro GOTO and Ryoma SAKAMOTO there, and he realized that the expulsion of foreigners was impossible, so he gradually got into overthrowing the Shogunate. When he went to Edo again to meet Takamori SAIGO in 1867, he formed an alliance between the Satsuma Domain and the Tosa Domain, and he aimed for the anti-shogunate movement. In the Boshin War in 1868, he was active on the North Kanto and Aizu fronts as daigunkan (senior commander), and in 1870, he committed to the reformation of domain duties as Han shosanji (second to a governor).

After the abolition of feudal domains in the following year, 1871, he served the new government as Hyobugon no daijyo of the ministry of military. In 1872, he became Army Major General, and from the following year, he served as General of the Kumamoto Chindai Army for some time. After the Shinpuren-no-ran War (turmoil of Shinpuren, dissatisfied warrior group), he became General of the Kumamoto Chindai Army again. It is said that the reason of this appointment was that Tani was expected not to join Saigo's army because his ancestor was a great scholar, Jinzan TANI, who was Ansai YAMAZAKI's disciple, and the teachings had been hammered into his head. During the Seinan War in 1877, he defended Kumamoto-jo Castle at all cost from the attacks by Saigo's army for 52 days, which contributed to the victory of the government army.

Because of his military contribution to the Seinan War, he was promoted to lieutenant general, and also became president of the Army War College. However, in 1881, he found out the fact that the government and the Army leaders had been leaving the fact that some local officials had roughly handled the corpses of officers and men who had died in battle or of illness in the prior Taiwan expedition, so he resigned in protest. At this time, Emperor Meiji valued Tani's opinion and tried to stop him from resigning, and also asked Takayuki SASAKI to tell him to postpone his returning home and offer the Emperor his allegiance.

Later, he changed from the president of The Gakushuin School Corporation to a statesman. Although he joined the First Ito Cabinet as the first minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce in 1885, he criticized the cabinet's policy of Europeanization (the Foreign Minister at the time was Kaoru INOUE) as a member of the Kokken faction (a group advocating a state's right vis-a-vis foreign powers) in the cabinet, and he resigned because of the treaty revision issue. Afterwards, he became a member of the House of Peers, and carryed on his own political campaigns such as opposing a plan to increase land taxes. From the standpoints of nationalism and agricultural fundamentalism, he took a conservative moderate policy that was different from the Satsuma-Choshu domain clique and the Freedom and People's Rights Movement led by Taisuke ITAGAKI, and he was thought highly as a leading figure of the Tosa School. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out, he opposed the start of the war from his political standpoint that emphasized a balanced budget plan and defense-centric armaments.

He died at the age of 75 in 1911.

Respect for Ryoma SAKAMOTO

Tateki TANI deeply respected Ryoma SAKAMOTO, who was also from the Tosa Domain, and it is said that when Ryoma was assassinated in 1867, he rushed to the scene first to get the detail of the assassination of Ryoma out of dying Shintaro NAKAOKA, and then he continued to hunt for Ryoma's assassin over his lifetime. It is also said that Tani labeled the Shinsengumi (a group who guarded Kyoto during the end of Tokugawa Shogunate) the criminal. It was Tani that sentenced the Shinsengumi leader Isami KONDO, who had been caught in Nagareyama, to cruel punishments; beheading him and exposing his head at a prison gate, and for Tani, these punishments were revenge for Ryoma.

In 1900, Nobuo IMAI, a former member of Mimawarigumi (the unit of patrolmen in Kyoto in the Edo period), said, 'It was me that assassinated Ryoma', but Tani conversely criticized Imai by saying, 'There is no way Mr. Sakamoto could had been killed by you, who is performing a publicity stunt.'

[Original Japanese]