Hijikata Hisamoto (土方久元)
Hisamoto HIJIKATA (November 23, 1833 - November 4, 1918) was a shishi (patriot) and statesman from the late Edo period (the last days of Tokugawa Shogunate) to the Meiji and Taisho periods. He was given the peerage of Count. His childhood name was Daiichiro. His common name was Kusuzaemon. His go (pen name) was Jinzan.
Activities as a Shishi
In 1833, he was born as an oldest son of Hisamochi HIJIKATA who was a Joshi (superior warrior) of the Tosa clan and his mother Tokiko. In 1857, he left his hometown to study in Edo as a Joshi, and he became a student of Confucian Totsuan OHASHI and got to devote himself to the thought of Sonno Joi (19th century slogan advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners). After he returned to his country, he took part in Tosa Kinnoto (clique of Tosa with reverence for the Emperor) which had been organized by Zuizan TAKECHI and his group. In 1863, he went up to Kyoto under the order of the domain, and after that, he associated with Kinno no shishi (patriots with reverence for the Emperor) of the domains such as Choshu Domain which was the stronghold of Sonjo-ha party (people supporting the principle of 'Sonno Joi' advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners). Soon he got to be known by a radical Kuge (Court noble) Sanetomi SANJO, and he was ordered to attend at Choshi Gakushuin (school for the candidates of high officials selected by the Court), but as a result of Coup of August 18 (in old lunar calendar, and September 30 in new calendar) of the same year, Choshu Domain, SANJO, and their comrades lost their positions and expelled from Kyoto. Hijikata followed 'Shichikyo-ochi' (the exile of the Seven nobles from Kyoto), and went down to Choshu with Sanjo, Nobuyoshi SAWA, and so on.
When the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) started the Choshu Conquest, he went overseas to the Kyushu region (the Fukuoka domain) with Sanjo and others, and escaped to Dazaifu (Government Headquarters in Kyushu). Cooperating with Shintaro NAKAOKA, Mitsuaki TANAKA, Ryoma SAKAMOTO and others who were Tosa roshi (masterless samurai) and sympathetic to Choshu just like Hijikata himself, he made an effort to mediate the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance.
He made arrangements for the meeting of Takayoshi KIDO and Takamori SAIGO at Shimonoseki (but it ended in a mere attempt because of wrong crossing of the communications.)
After the Meiji Restoration
After the Meiji Restoration was accomplished, Hijikata served for the new government, and in 1868, he was appointed as Tokyo-fu (Tokyo government office) Hanji (judge), and then Chinsho-fu (pacification commander government office) Benji (official). Since then, he had held successively various posts such as Kunai shoyu (Junior Assistant Minister of the Sovereign's Household), Naimu taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of the Interior), Dajokan (Grand Council of state) Naikaku Shokikan (Secretary of the Cabinet), Jiho (Assistant and Instructor of the Emperor), Kyuchu Komonkan (Imperial Court Councilor), Genroin Gikan (Councilor of Chamber of Elders or Senate), and so on. His career included a lot of jobs relating to the Imperial Court, and he advocated the expansion of Emperor's power (the direct rule by the Emperor) together with Nagazane MOTODA, Takayuki SASAKI and others, so that they were regarded as the conservatives in the Imperial Court. In 1884, he was raised to the peerage of a viscount.
In 1885, when the cabinet system was inaugurated, he joined the Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture and Commerce of the First Ito Cabinet. And then he was changed to the post of Minister of the Imperial Households, and he continued to fulfill the duty for 11 years after that. In 1888, he was appointed as Sumitsu komonkan (Privy Councilor) who would argue about the draft of the constitution in Sumitsu-in (Privy Council) founded to consider the Constitution of the Empire of Japan, and disputed as Chusei-ha (the sect aiming at the direct rule by the Emperor) against Hirobumi ITO and others who attempted to restrict the monarch's power in order to establish the constitutional monarchy. After the establishment of the constitution, he managed the affairs of state as Minister of the Imperial Households who were responsible to support Emperor Meiji on various occasions, such as the ceremonial of investiture of the Crown Prince for Imperial Prince Yoshihito (later Emperor Taisho) in 1889, the inauguration of the Imperial Diet in the next year, the Sino-Japanese War which broke out in 1894, and so on. In 1895, he was advanced in peerage to the count.
In 1898, he resigned the position as Minister of the Imperial Households, and yielded it to Mitsuaki TANAKA
In his later years, after Hijikata held the positions such as the Acting Director General of Imperial Household System Researchers and the Chief of the Research Institute for Shinto sect, he was engaged in the jobs related to education. He made every effort to edify the public by delivering the lecture on sacred virtue, and served as the president of Kokugakuin University, the principal of Tokyo Jogakukan School, and so on. And after Emperor Meiji demised and the Taisho era began, he held the post of the Provisional Director General of Imperial Household Editorial Bureau and made possible effort to compile "Meiji Tenno Ki" (Chronicle of Emperor Meiji). He wrote and left "Kaiten Jikki" (Volume 7 of New Edition "Bakumatsu Ishin Shiryo Sosho" [a series of historical materials of the end of the Edo period and the Meiji Restoration] published by Shin-Jinbutsuoraisha Co., Ltd. in 1969).
He died in 1918. His age at death was 86. He was buried in a grave in Somei Bochi (a cemetery, now called Somei Reien). One of his grandchildren was Yoshi HIJIKATA involved in Shingeki Undo (the movement of New Play).