Iba Teigo (伊庭貞剛)

Teigo IBA (February 19, 1847 - October 22, 1926) was the second Director General of Sumitomo. He was a businessman who lived during the Meiji period. Regarded as a restorer of the Bessidozan Copper Mine, he actively worked on environmental restoration by solving a smoke pollution caused by the Sumitomo refinery in Niihama in the Meiji period. The Besshidozan Copper Mine and the Ashiodozan Copper Mine were considered two major copper mines in Japan and people said the Ashiodozan Copper Mine from the east and the Besshidozan Copper Mine from the west at the time. Thus, he is considered to be a pioneer in the promotion of corporate social responsibility.

He came from the Iba family, a branch line of the Omi-Genji (Minamoto clan) Sasaki family.


He was born a son of a local governor of the Hakata Domain in 1847, and he served as a judicial officer during an upheaval of the early Meiji period. Soon afterwards, he decided to leave this legal career, and he joined Sumitomo in 1879 at the recommendation of his uncle Saihei HIROSE, who worked as Director General of Sumitomo. He was appointed head office manger three months after joining the company, and from that time on, he assumed various positions as Sumitomo recognized his resourcefulness. In 1880, he founded the Osaka Commercial Training Institute together with Tomoatsu GODAI and Tatsuo YAMAMOTO. The institution was a predecessor of the Osaka Prefectural Commercial School and the present Osaka City University. He was called on to assume many public positions as well as director of the Osaka Boseki Co., Ltd. (later became Toyobo Co., Ltd.), as he took part in the establishment of the company. He also took part in the reconstruction of the Osaka Shosen (OSK Lines). In 1890, he was elected to the House of Representatives from the Shiga third district.

In 1894, he visited Niihama to solve an air pollution problem caused by smoke, which intensified during the 1890s and led peasants to petition directly to the prefectural government. Iba approached this problem by relocating the refinery to Shisakajima Island. Shisakajima Island was owned by people who lived in Oshima Island (present-day Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture) and Yugeshima Island at the time. Iba ordered his trustworthy assistants to buy the Shisakajima Island under his name and relocate the refinery so that the local residence would not know Sumitomo was maneuvering behind closed doors. He was also devoted to restoring nature by planting trees on the Nishiakaishiyama mountain range that had become bold due to copper mine development, believing that it was their responsibility to restore greenery and nature's blessing there. Later, Sumitomo Forestry was established as a company managing the mountain range, and this area has been handed down as the Sumitomo mountain until today.
Shozo TANAKA, who was trying to pin down the pollution caused by the Ashiodozan Copper Mine, valued Iba's achievements and referred to the Besshidozan Copper Mine as the 'roll model that every Japanese copper mine should follow.'

In 1895, he served as the chair (there was no Director Chair due to the resignation of Saihei HIROSE) in the Sumitomo directors' meeting held in Onomichi City, which was accessible both from Osaka and Besshi, and he promoted the modernization of business management by introducing a council system. They decided to establish the Sumitomo Bank in this meeting (Hirose is said to have been reluctant to go into bank business). In January 1897, he was promoted to the Assistant of Director General, and in 1897, he left Niihama after making sure that the company began construction at Shisakajima Island. He read the following poem when he was leaving. There is a snow mountain as I look back the trace of this past five years.

In 1890, he was appointed Director General. He left his post of Director General in 1904, giving way to younger generations in accordance with his belief that what was most harmful to business progress was not mistakes of the young but infestation of the old (however, he continued to serve as an adviser to Sumitomo's businesses at request of Tomoito SUMITOMO, the head of the Sumitomo family at the time). He also had a firm belief that Sumitomo should always keep a spirit of serving the nation before everything else, and Sumitomo should be willing to join hands with other major capitalists all over Japan if necessary, without being caught up in their small pride, in order to accomplish great businesses that should need more than Sumitomo's capital to be completed but would definitely contribute to Japan. After his retirement, he lived at the Sumitomo Kakki-en in Ishiyama (present-day Otsu City), Shiga Prefecture. He died at his residence on October 22, 1926. He was 80 years old. His gravestone is in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]