|Born||September 26, 1830|
Kagoshima, Satsuma Province, Japan
|Died||May 14, 1878 (aged 47)|
|Cause of death||Assassination|
|Resting place||Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan|
Hayasaki Masako (m. 1858–1878)
|Known for||One of the three great nobles of the Meiji Restoration|
?kubo was a samurai of the Satsuma Domain and joined the movement to overthrow the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate during the Bakumatsu period. ?kubo became a leading member of the Meiji Restoration, and upon the founding of the Empire of Japan was a prominent member of the new Meiji oligarchy. ?kubo joined the Iwakura Mission and led the creation of the Home Ministry in 1873, overseeing numerous major reforms in Japan, including the controversial Hait?rei Edict. ?kubo was an opponent of the Seikanron and participated in the Osaka Conference of 1875 with disillusioned members of Meiji oligarchy. ?kubo was assassinated in Tokyo by former samurai of the Satsuma Domain after the "Shizoku Rebellions" for his involvement against the Satsuma Rebellion.
?kubo was born on 26 September 1830 in Kagoshima, Satsuma Province (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture) to ?kubo Juemon (1794-1863; also known as Toshio and Shir?), a low-ranking retainer of Shimazu Nariakira, the daimy? of the Satsuma Domain, later given a minor official position, and his wife Minayoshi Fuku (1803-1864), daughter of a physician. Although the ?kubo family were not of high status, they were of distinguished origin, thought to descend from the noble Fujiwara clan. The eldest of five children, ?kubo studied at the same local school as Saig? Takamori, who was three years older. In 1846, ?kubo was given the position of aide to the Satsuma Domain's archivist.
Shimazu Nariakira recognized ?kubo's talents and appointed him to the position of tax administrator in 1858. When Nariakira died that year, ?kubo joined the plot to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate, the de facto military dictatorship that had ruled Japan as a feudal state since 1600. Unlike most Satsuma leaders, ?kubo favored the position of t?baku (, overthrowing the shogunate), as opposed to k?bu gattai (?, marital unity of the Imperial and Tokugawa families) and hanbaku (opposition to the shogunate) over the Sonn? j?i movement.
The outcome of the Anglo-Satsuma War of 1863, along with the Richardson Affair and the September 1863 coup d'état in Kyoto, convinced ?kubo that the t?baku movement was doomed. In 1866, ?kubo met with Saig? Takamori and Ch?sh? Domain's Kido Takayoshi to form the secret Satch? Alliance to overthrow the Tokugawa through the mediation of Sakamoto Ry?ma of Tosa Domain.
On January 3, 1868, the forces of Satsuma and Ch?sh? seized the Kyoto Imperial Palace and proclaimed the Meiji Restoration. The triumvirate of ?kubo, Saig? and Kido formed a provisional government. Appointed as Home Lord ([note 1]), ?kubo had a huge amount of power through his control of all local government appointments and the police force.
Initially, the new government had to rely on funds from the Tokugawa lands (which the Meiji government had seized in toto). He then was able to appoint all new leaders for this land. Most of the people he appointed as governors were young men; some were his friends, such as Matsukata Masayoshi, and others were the rare Japanese who had gained some education in Europe or the United States. ?kubo used the power of the Home Ministry to promote industrial development building roads, bridges, and ports--all things that the Tokugawa shogunate had refused to do.
As Finance Minister in 1871, ?kubo enacted a Land Tax Reform, the Hait?rei Edict, which prohibited samurai from wearing swords in public, and ended official discrimination against the outcasts. In foreign relations, he worked to secure revision of the unequal treaties and joined the Iwakura Mission on its round-the-world trip of 1871 to 1873.
Realizing that Japan was not in any position to challenge the Western powers in its new present state, ?kubo returned to Japan on September 13, 1873, just in time to take a strong stand against the proposed invasion of Korea (Seikanron). He also participated in the Osaka Conference of 1875 in an attempt to bring about a reconciliation with the other members of the Meiji oligarchy.
However, he was unable to win over former colleague Saig? Takamori regarding the future direction of Japan. Saig? became convinced that some of Japan's new policies of modernization were wrong and in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, some Satsuma rebels under the leadership of Saig? fought against the new government's army. As Home Minister, ?kubo took command of the army and fought against his old friend Saig?.
With the defeat of the rebellion's forces, many Satsuma samurai considered ?kubo a traitor. On May 14, 1878, ?kubo was assassinated by Shimada Ichir? and six Kaga Domain samurai on his way to the imperial palace, only a few minutes' walk from the Sakurada gate where Ii Naosuke had been assassinated 18 years earlier.
?kubo was one of the most influential leaders of the Meiji Restoration and the establishment of modern governmental structures. From November 1873, when he was made Home Affairs Minister also known as the Lords of Home Affairs (a newly created post), until his death in 1878, he was the most powerful man in Japan. A devout loyalist and nationalist, he enjoyed the respect of his colleagues and enemies alike.
?kubo married Hayasaki Masako (d. 1879), with whom he had four sons and a daughter. His children from this marriage were Toshikazu, the 1st Marquess ?kubo (1859-1945), Makino Nobuaki (1861-1949), Toshitake, later the 2nd Marquess (1867-1943), Ishihara Takeguma (1869-1943), who was adopted by his wife Yaeko's family, and Yoshiko, who married Ijuin Hikokichi.
?kubo's second son, Makino Nobuaki, and his son-in-law Ijuin Hikokichi served as Foreign Minister.Tar? As?, the 92nd Prime Minister of Japan, and Princess Tomohito of Mikasa are great-great-grandchildren of ?kubo Toshimichi.
In 1884, Toshikazu was ennobled as a marquess in the new peerage in honour of his father's achievements. He married Shigeno Naoko (1875-1918), but had no children and relinquished the title in 1928 in favour of his younger brother Toshitake (1865-1943). A graduate of Yale and Heidelberg universities, Toshitake successively served as governor of Tottori (1900), ?ita (1901-1905), Saitama (1905-1907) and Osaka (1912-1917) prefectures. He married Kond? Sakae (1879-1956) and had three children, Toshiaki (1900-1995), Toshimasa (1902-1945) and Michitada (1907-?). Toshiaki became a prominent professor of Japanese history and succeeded as the 3rd Marquess in 1943, holding the title until the peerage was abolished in 1947. He subsequently became the librarian of the National Diet Library from 1951 to 1953 and then taught as a lecturer and professor of history at Nagoya University (1953-1959) and at Rikky? University (1959-1965). He was awarded the Asahi Prize in 1993, two years before his death. He married Yoneda Yaeko (1910-?) and had two children, Yasushi (b. 1934) and Shigeko (b. 1936). Yasushi married Matsudaira Naoko (b. 1940) and had a daughter, Akiko (b. 1965).
?kubo also had four illegitimate children by a mistress.
In the manga/anime series Rurouni Kenshin, ?kubo Toshimichi appears to seek Himura Kenshin's assistance in destroying the threat posed by the revolt of Shishio Makoto. Kenshin is uncertain, and ?kubo gives him a May 14 deadline to make his decision. On his way to seek Kenshin's answer on that day, he is supposedly assassinated by Seta S?jir?, Shishio's right-hand man, and the Ichir? clan desecrates his corpse and claim they killed him. (Watsuki makes a comparison to President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, with ?kubo in his notes).