Taguchi Ukichi (田口卯吉)

Ukichi TAGUCHI (June 13, 1855 - 14 April 1905) was a Japanese economist and historian. He was a member of the Tokyo Assembly (December 1880 to July 1890) and a member of the House of Representatives (October 1894-February 1905). His name, meaning "Yin Wood Rabbit," is associated with the year he was born in the Chinese sexagenary cycle. His real first name was Mitsu. Ukichi was his common name. His Chinese style name (courtesy name) was Shigyoku (子玉). His pen name was Teiken which came from "I Ching" (the Book of Changes).

Brief Personal History

The child of a shogunate retainer, Taguchi was born in Mejirodai, Edo (Tokyo), in the residences of low class samurai (current day grounds of Japan Women's University in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo). His father's name was Kashiro, who was adopted from the Nishiyama family, and his mother was Machiko. The Taguchi family linage goes back to the founder Uemon TAGUCHI who served as a jushi (junior samurai) for Shogun Yoshimune TOKUGAWA, but the family later fell on hard times and in 1841 their assets were bought by Issai SATO to be inherited by his eldest son Shinzaemon. Shinzaemon's daughter Machiko, who initially married into the Inoue family but was later widowed, took Kashiro as her husband.

In 1859, his father Kashiro died and the following year his older brother died, making him head of the household. In 1866 he underwent his coming of age ceremony and began his jushi (junior samurai) training, but in January 1867 the jushi system was abolished through military reforms of the shoganate and he was assigned to the rifle corps. He also studied at the Shoheizaka School. In the same year his older maternal half-sister Toko married the Confucianist Kumaji KIMURA of Izushi Domain, Tajima Province, resulting in the Taguchi family and the Kimura family of Shimotani living together. He became close friends with Tarootsu OTSUKOTSU, a local metsuke (inspector). Resisting brother-in-law Kumaji's support of the Shogitai (former Tokugawa retainers opposed to the Meiji government) following the collapse of the shogunate and beginning of the Meiji Restoration, the Takguchi family escaped to Yokohama and started a business. Ukichi, on the advice of Otsukotsu, worked at an antique shop run by a former retainer of the shogun, and studied English under American Presbyterian missionaries. In 1868 when the Tokugawa family relocated to Shizuoka he moved to Numazu and lodged at the house of Otsukotsu who was working as an English instructor at the Numazu Officer Academy. He studied at the officer academy and also studied Sinology under Kiyoshi NAKANE. While at the officer academy he became acquainted with Saburo SHIMADA, and at Nakane's school became friends with people such as Sotaro IBA. In 1869 he was to be attached to the Seiikugata (生育方), but it was abolished in October of the same year, and at the recommendation of his bother-in-law Kumaji and his father's house, the Nishiyama family, he was assigned to the Numazu Kinbangumi. In September 1870 Taguchi passed the sixth class exam at the officer academy and in January 1871 received an official appointment to study medicine at Shizuoka Hospital. Also, his brother-in-law Kumaji left for abroad at this time putting Ukichi at the head of the family.

In 1871 Shizuoka Domain was dissolved at the Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), and many men of talent, Ukichi and Otsukotsu, moved to Tokyo. He set his sights on running a pharmacy with Shimada and applied to a science academy that was soon to be opening, but the opening was suspended so he entered a university preparation school but soon after dropped out. He entered Shinpachi SEKI's private school, and in the following year (1872) after Otsukotsu and Seki were hired by the Ministry of Finance translation bureau - an office conceived by Minister of Finance vice secretary Kaoru INOUE and Eiichi SHIBUSAWA for training talented individuals - Ukichi and Shimada applied and were accepted there as first class students. At the translation bureau he took classes on economics and the history of Western civilisation, and in this time was influenced by the works of men such as Francois GUIZOT, focussing his attention away from medicine, and also coming into contact with Christianity. However, in 1873 Inoue and Shibusawa resigned, and when the Shigenobu OKUMA took office as Minister of Finance the translation bureau was curtailed through a ministry reorganisation and abolished the following year, forcing Ukichi to transfer to the ministry's department for currency. In 1876 he married Chiyo, the daughter of a former retainer of the shogun. In 1877 he began self-publishing with his publication "Nihon Kaika Shoshi" (Short History of Japanese Civilization). The following year in 1878 he published "Jiyu Koeki Nihon Keizai Ron" (A study of free trade and the Japanese economy). The same year he participated as an activist with Shimada in the Omeisha, an organization to promote liberalism established by Morikazu NUMA.

In 1879 he left the Ministry of Finance and wrote editorials and articles for newspapers while working as a translator, eventually launching his own magazine, the liberally aligned "Tokyo Keizai Zasshi" (Tokyo Economics Magazine) modelled on the British "Economist" magazine in the same year. In 1880 he became a Tokyo Prefectural councilor, often giving speeches on political issues such as the constitution and the revision of treaties. He also worked as a guest columnist for the "Jiyu Shinbun" (Freedom Newspaper), the official publication of the Liberal Party.

As a businessman he became active in a South Seas trading venture at the suggestion of Tokyo governor Goroku (Itsumu) TAKASAKI, which was funded by shizoku jusan kin (grants for the retraining of samurai), and in 1890 formed the Nanto (South Sea Islands) Company, voyaging to the South Seas on the Tenyu Maru (Heaven's Help) trading vessel. In 1887 he worked at the Tokyo Stock Exchange and in railway administration, becoming the president of the Ryomo Railway Company, and in 1888 served as director of the Odawara Tramway Company (now the Hakone Tozon Railway Company).

In 1890 Taguchi became deputy chairman of the Tokyo assembly, and in 1894 formed a council for reform of imperial financial affairs (the Teikoku Zaisei Kakushin Kai) with Saburo OZAKI, and was also elected a member of the House of Representatives the same year. In 1896 he formed the Shinpoto (Progressive Party), and in 1897 set up a council for financial adjustment with Saburo SHIMADA. In 1898 he participated in the foundation of the Kenseikai political party. In 1899 he received a doctorate in judicial studies. In 1900 he went to China to observe the Boxer Rebellion. He compiled the "Kokushi Taikei" (Compendium of Japanese History) and the "Gunsho Ruiju" (Classified Collection of Books). He died at the age of 51.

Literary Work

"Jiyu Boeki Nihon Keizairon" (A Study of Free Trade and the Japanese Economy)
"Nihon Kaika Shoshi" (Short History of Japanese Civilization), Iwanami Bunko, Academic paperback library, Kodansha Ltd.

"Nihon Kaika no Seishitsu" (the Nature of Japanese Civilisation)
"Nihon no Isho oyobi Joko" (Design and Connection of Japan)
"Rakutenron" (A Study of Optimism)
"Dainihon Jinmei Jiten" (Dictionary of Japanese Biography)
"Nihon Shakai Jii" (Classification of Japanese Society)

[Original Japanese]