Komura Jutaro (小村壽太郎)

Juntaro KOMURA (小村 壽太郎) (October 26, 1855 - November 26, 1911) was a diplomatic official. He filled posts such as diplomat and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was a marquis. His name is also written as 小村寿太郎 (Jutaro KOMURA). The first vice-minister of the Department of Overseas Affairs, Kinichi KOMURA was his adopted child.

Career

He was born as a son of a lower-ranking samurai in Obi Domain, Hyuga Province (Nichinan City, Miyazaki Prefecture). He entered Daigaku Nanko (literally, the Southern College of the University) (the predecessor of the present Tokyo University) in 1870. He was chosen for the first batch of students sent oversea by Ministry of Education and he studied law at Harvard University.

After returning home, he entered the Department of Justice and was transferred to Ministry of Foreign Affairs after filling a post of judge in Daishin-in (Predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan). He was thought highly of by Munemitsu MUTSU and served as an acting minister of Qing. He filled posts of a minister in Korea, a vice-minister of the Foreign Affair, a minister in America and a minister in Russia successively after Japanese-Sino War. He took charge of saving the situation after Boxer Uprising (the Righteous Harmony Society Movement) in 1900 as Peace Conference representative.

In 1901, he took office as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the First Katsura Cabinet. He actively promoted the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which was concluded in 1902. He took charge of wartime diplomacy in Russo-Japanese War. In 1905, he negotiated with Russian plenipotentiary Sergei Yul'jevich WITTE, as Japanese plenipotentiary, and signed Treaty of Portsmouth. However his evaluation is divided as regards his act of rejecting a proposal from HARRIMAN, the railway magnate who offered the joint management of railway in Manchuria, despite opposition of Prime Minister and Genro (elder statesman).

He was reappointed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Second Katsura Cabinet established in 1908. He negotiated for treaty revision to break off unequal treaty since the end of Edo period. In 1911, he signed the Japan-US commerce and navigation treaty and recovered tariff autonomy. He consistently promoted continental policy, and concluded Russo-Japanese Agreement and took part in the annexation of Korea.

In the same year, following the resignation of the Katsura Cabinet en masse, he retired from the political world, after leaving the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Three months later, he died of tuberculosis. His graveyard is placed at Aoyama Cemetery in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

Episodes

He was nicknamed "Nezumi (a mouse) minister" from his appearance of having a big head, small stature and shabby beard, and agile power of action.

It is said that he did not keep a diary as he believed that one's achievements would be judged by the future generations.

When he was stationed in Russia, he continued reading massive amount of books in a dark room and a doctor warned him that 'if you continue using your eyes in that way, you will lose your eyesight'. However his passion for study did not die and he did not stop reading.

When he met with Li Hung Chang, Li who was a man of gigantic stature teased him about his small stature, as follows.
It seems that you are the smallest man in the banquet.'
Are all Japanese people small like you?'
He replied as follows.
Unfortunately all Japanese people are small.'
Of course, there are some who are big like you.'
However in my country those people are called "Dekunobo" (literally; a boy of wooden doll, meaning: a blockhead) and they are not trusted for important matter.'

Reuters' and 'Times' reported news in favor of Japan and therefore pro-Japanese public opinion was formed in America in 1905. Being tossed about in society, Witte rolled out with maneuvering for public opinion such as deliberately leaking information about on-going negotiation, which was suppose to be the secrets between the two countries, to American newspaper reporters in expectation of receiving a favor in return, but Komura kept the secret as a representative of the country. However there is still an argument that he should have secured the interests of the nation, even though he had to carry out an unscrupulous maneuver.

In the middle of the night of the day Treaty of Portsmouth was concluded, a guardsman heard a strange cry coming from a room of the hotel and when the guardsman in his suspicions visited the room, he found Komura weeping loudly. It is believed that signing of the treaty was a very hard decision to make for Komura. On returning home, he was hissed loudly by furious right-wing group. It is said that Hirobumi ITO and Aritomo YAMAGATA carried Komura, who collapsed in tears, in arms from both side to Shushokantei (prime minister's official residence).