Takekoshi Yosaburo (竹越与三郎)

Yosaburo TAKEKOSHI (November 22, 1865 - January 12, 1950) was a historian, critic and statesman, who lived during the Meiji to Showa periods. His pseudonym was Sansa.


He was born as the second son of Sensaburo KIYONO (清野), engaged in sake brewing industry in Honjoshuku, Musashi Province (present Honjo City, Saitama Prefecture). In 1881 he went up to Tokyo and after working at Dojinsha school founded by Keiu NAKAMURA, he entered Keio University founded by Yukichi FUKUZAWA then dropped out the following year. In 1883, he became the adopted son of his uncle Tohei TAKEKOSHI of Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture. In that year, he joined a newspaper company Jiji Shinpo-sha; however, he opposed the policy of kanmin chowa (the harmony between the government and people) in the Ad Hoc Commission on Administrative Reform, he retired his job the following year. Encouraged by Hiromichi KOZAKI, he started to give private English classes, living in the Takasaki Church in Gunma Prefecture. In August 1886, he get baptized by Hiromichi KOZAKI. In the same year, he was invited to be a teacher at Maebashi Eigakko school. Afterwards, he worked as a reporter of Kirisutokyo Shinbun (Christian newspaper) and Osaka Koron (newspaper advocating public opinions). Around that period, he came to know Soho TOKUTOMI, presented by Jiro YUASA, and assisted Tokutomi's work at Minyu-sha and helped Tokutomi to launch a new newspaper Kokumin Shinbun. In 1889, he formally joined Minyu-sha, and from February 1, 1890 when Kokumin Shinbun was first published, he took charge of the section of political criticism. In November 7 of the same year, he published a biography of Oliver CROMWELL, titled "CROMWELL," and impressed his debut as an unofficial historian. From July of the following year, 1891, he began publishing "Shin Nihon-shi" (New History of Japan), a book that was scheduled to be published in three volumes to analyze the history of the Meiji Restoration from the aspects of politics, diplomacy, economy and religion.
This book was outstanding as the first full-fledged book of modern history among the conventional chronicle books or those of historical investigations, although it was lacking an empirical criticism of historical materials (However, the third volume was unfinished.)
In this book he fiercely criticized the theories valuing the restoration of imperial rule, as well as, the supporters of bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), the pro-imperial, and the domain clique, positioning the Meiji Restoration as 'the revolution in a revolutionary time,' and in this revolution the citizens themselves demonstrated their vitality, facing at the critical situations within and outside of the country. In 1893, he took charge of the biography of Thomas MACAULAY, as one of the books compiled in a series published by Minyu-sha under the name of 'Juni Bungo' (Twelve great literary figures). He became intimate with Aizan YAMAJI, and he came to be known as the history commentator representing Minyu-sha.

However, the criticism that Takekoshi made to Soho's commitment to nationalism after the Sino-Japanese War caused a conflict between them, and Takekoshi left Minyu-sha in December 1895. Afterwards, he joined again Jiji Shinpo-sha, and he was accepted as the principle writer of "Sekai no Nihon" (Japan in the World) in 1896, recommended by Munemitsu MUTSU, Kinmochi SAIONJI and others. In the same year, his representative work, "Nisen Gohaykunen-shi" (The history of two thousand and five hundred years), an overview of Japanese history, was published from Kaitaku-sha. Based on "Shiseki nenpyo" (Chronological Table of Historical Events) by Nobutomo BAN, he wrote Japanese history of all through the period from the ancient and medieval times to the Meiji Restoration, and presented a view that the Emperor Jinmu's eastern expedition was an ethnic confrontation between the tenson jinshu (people descending from Ninigi no Mikoto, the grandchild of Amaterasu Omikami) and indigenous people. About the Nanbokucho-Seijunron (argument on legitimacy of either Northern and Southern Court), he argued that the transition, in which the North people (samurai class) overpowered the Ochoto group (the South people [survivors of the extinct Southern Song dynasty] or court noble class) who were inquisitive and contraction-minded people, became the spiritual backbone of the time. Thus, he wrote a Japanese history book from the perspective of the history of civilization, employing a point of view different from that of the Kokoku shikan (View of History of the Imperial Nation), and this book went through various editions. After the death of Mutsu, he played an important role as Saionji's close adviser, and when Saionji joined the third Ito cabinet formed in January 1898 as the minister of education, Takekoshi was assigned the post of secretary to the minister together with the additional post by the imperial order, the councilor of the Ministry of Education. However, Saionji retired as the minister at the end of April, his time in office lasted only four months.
Later, after the observation tour to Europe, he became a candidate of the Rikken seiyukai party in a local electoral district of Niigata Prefecture, when the 7th general election for the members of the House of Representatives was held in 1902, and from then, he was elected 5 times consecutively (In the 11th general election for the members of the House of Representatives, he changed the constituency and he filed his candidacy in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture to become a successful entrant, and for a while he was a member of Chuseikai party.)
Afterwards, he went on a study tour to Europe and the South Pacific Region and made efforts to establish the Franco-Japanese Society, and in 1906 he assumed the post of the chief editor at the Yomiuri Shinbun, and thus he continued critical activities.

Takekoshi, who lost to Nobutsune OKUMA (Shigenobu OKUMA's adopted son) and was defeated in the 12th general election of members of the House of Representatives held in 1915, set up 'Nihon Keizaishi Hensankai' (Compilation committee of Japanese history of economics), and from 1919 to the following year, he published "Nihonkeizai-shi" (Japanese history of economics) consisting of eight volumes.
Takekoshi advocated as: 'The primary cause that moves the history consists of the economic factor.'
In 1922, he was appointed Goyo-gakari (a general affaires official) of the special Imperial Compilation Bureau, the Imperial Household Ministry, and shortly after that, he was promoted to the chief official of the Compilation Bureau and played a central role in compiling the book "Meiji Tenno ki" (Chronicle of the Emperor Meiji) (However, the nephew of Takekoshi's wife, Akira NAKAMURA [political scientist] who read the manuscript written by Takekoshi, has pointed out that there is a big difference between the original manuscript and the existing text of "Meiji Tenno ki" edited by Kentaro KANEKO and Sanji MIKAMI.)
In this year (1922) he was appointed a member of the House of Peers and became a member of the Koyu club (a parliamentary group within the House of Peers) affiliated to the Seiyu Party. In 1930, he wrote "Toanko" (Marquis Toan), a biography of Kinmochi SAIONJI, in which he depicted Saionji's half a lifetime. In 1940, he was assigned to the privy council, but he received the military repression including the ban on sales of his book, "Nisen Gohyakunen-shi." Moreover, his book collection and manuscripts were all burned during the Great Tokyo Air Raids. After the war, with the abolition of the Privy Council, he retired from all the public posts that he had held until then. In 1947, he underwent the purge of public officials.

Takekoshi's literary works advocated the importance of understanding and analyzing the trend of thought formented among the national public and individuals, and finding out a certain principle in the relationship between the classification of each period of history and its change, and thus, he presented a developmental view of history from the standpoint of an ordinary citizen. He also considered that the perpetual security of private properties and the individual freedom was the final goal in the human history, from the bourgeois liberalism and Darwinian historical view point on the civilization; and after that this view became the basis of his political activity, based on which he was strongly opposed to the socialism and militarism.

[Original Japanese]