Ume Kenjiro (梅謙次郎)

Kenjiro UME (July 24, 1860 - August 26, 1910) was a Japanese jurist. On August 25, 1910, he was conferred the Decoration of Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure.

Personal Profile

He studied in France and Germany, and his doctoral thesis written in French "De la transaction" (Japanese title: Wakairon) was highly evaluated even by locals. He was one of the three scholars who drew up the Japanese Civil Code, together with Nobushige HOZUMI and Masaakira TOMII, and he was also a drafting member of the Commercial Code. In addition, he also participated in writing the draft of the Korean legal codes.
Because of these significant achievements, Ume is called 'the father of Japanese Civil Code.'
He also contributed to the establishment of Hosei University.

Dr. Ume is a real Benkei (tough man)'

According to "Hoso Yawa" (a night talk about the legal circle) written by Nobushige HOZUMI, Kenjiro UME had a clear head and he drew up the draft of the code very quickly, and in addition, he was ready to listen to the other two members of the drafting committee, Nobushige HOZUMI and Masaakira TOMII, and accepted their criticisms with open mind, even willing to change his own idea. However, once he made out a draft as the final plan of the drafting committee, he obstinately maintained the original plan during the discussions held in the Investigation Committee of Codes, making bold and eloquent counterarguments and persuasive explanations. On the other hand, Masaakira TOMII dedicated himself to write up the text of the code after a thorough deliberation and he did not easily accept the arguments against his idea during the discussion between these three members of the drafting committee. However, he was tolerated towards the opposite views proposed in the Investigation Committee of Codes. Hozumi looked back on that time and commented that they showed contrasting characters, as Masaakira TOMII was uchibenkei (bossy at home, submissive outside), while Kenjiro UME was sotobenkei (arrogant outside, timid at home), although Hozumi thought that each of the two had a point.

Brief Personal History

He was born as the second son of a doctor working at a public clinic in the Matsue Domain (present Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture), and after studying at Shimane Prefectural Matsue Kita Senior High School and others, he graduated from the department of French Language of Tokyo School of Foreign Language (of the old system) (present Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) at the top of the class. In 1884, he graduated from Shihosho Hogakko (a low school affiliated to the Ministry of Justice, which was later absorbed into The University of Tokyo) at the top of the class (the second year of graduation from it). In 1889, he finished a doctorate at University of Lyon, France, and he was awarded Vermeil Medal (Medaille de Vermail) from Lyon City. In 1891, he earned PhD in law (Docteur en Droit). In 1894, he became a teacher at Tokyo Law School (present Hosei University), and studied abroad at University of Lyon and Humboldt University of Berlin. In 1890, he became a professor at Imperial University School of Law (present Faculty of Law at The University of Tokyo). He successively held various important posts such as the councilor at the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce (Japan).

In 1897, he became the president of Tokyo Imperial University, School of Law, and in parallel with this, he took up additional posts as the director of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and the Cabinet Pension Bureau.

In 1899, he became the principal of the Japanese-French Law School Foundation (present Hosei University). In 1900, he became the director general of the Ministry of Education. In 1901, he took up the post of the professor at the School of Law, Tokyo Imperial University. From 1903 to 1910, he assumed the presidency of Hosei University. In 1906, invited by Hirobumi ITO, who was Kankoku Tokan (inspector general of Korean Protection Agency; an agency established by the Japanese government to control Korea), he assumed the position of the judicial supreme adviser to the Korean government, and he took part in the compilation of the country's legal codes. In 1910, he suddenly died from typhoid at the age of 51 in Keijo (old name of Seoul City in the period of Japan's rule). His grave is located in Gokoku-ji Temple.


"Shohan Minpoyogi Kan no Ichi: Sosokuhen" (Essential of the Civil Code: the first edition, Vol. One - general rule) (Shinzansha, 1992) ISBN 4882614812

"Shohan Minpoyogi Kan no Ni: Bukkenhen" (Essential of the Civil Code: the first edition, Vol. Two - real right) (Shinzansha, 1992) ISBN 4882614820

"Shohan Minpoyogi Kan no San, Saikenhen" (Essential of the Civil Code: the first edition, Vol. Three - obligatory right) (Shinzansha, 1992) ISBN 4882614839

"Shohan Minpoyogi Kan no Shi, Shinzokuhen" (Essential of the Civil Code: the first edition, Vol. Four - family) (Shinzansha, 1992) ISBN 4882614847

"Shohan Minpoyogi Kan no Go, Sozokuhen" (Essential of the Civil Code: the first edition, Vol. Five - inheritance) (Shinzansha, 1992) ISBN 4882614855

"Nihon Shohogikai [reprinted edition]" (Commentary guide to the Japanese Commercial Code) (Shinsei-shuppan publication, 2001) ISBN 9784915995538

"Nihon Baibaiho [reprinted edition]" (Japanese purchase and sale law) (Shinsei-shuppan publication, 2001) ISBN 9784915995545

"Nihon Minpo Shokohen Kogi [reprinted edition]" (Japanese Civil Code: lecture on evidences) (Shinsei-shuppan publication, 2001) ISBN 9784915995576

Tokuji HIGASHIKAWA: "Hakase UME Kenjiro" (Doctor of Laws Kenjiro UME) (Ozorasha: 1997) ISBN 9784756804853

Young-Me LEE: "Kankoku Shihoseido to UME Kenjiro" (South Korean judicial system and Kenjiro UME) (Hosei University Press: 2005) ISBN 9784588635106

[Tokushu]: Minpo 100-nen to Ume Kenjiro' ([Special Feature]: Centenary of the Civil Code and Kenjiro UME), "Horitsujiho" Vol. 70 - 7 (1998)