Matsukata Kojiro (松方幸次郎)

Kojiro MATSUKATA (January 17, 1866 - June 24, 1950) was a Japanese businessman and a statesman. He was the president of Kawasaki Dockyard, a member of the House of Representatives (belonging to Nihon Shinpo-to [Progressive Party]), and an art collector. He graduated from Yale University and Université de Paris. His father was Prime Minister Masayoshi MATSUKATA. His mother was Yoshiko MATSUKATA, the second daughter of Takayoshi KUKI.

Personal Profile

Matsukata was born in Satsuma Province, Kagoshima. He dropped out of The University of Tokyo in 1884 to enter Yale University the same year, and returned to Japan in 1890. In 1891, as the first Matsukata Cabinet was formed, he became the secretary to the prime minister, his father. After managing Kobe Shimbun Co., Ltd. and working as the government official for some time, Matsukata assumed the post of vice president of Naniwa Insurance in 1894, initiating the money management operation in the Kansai region.

In 1896, requested by Shozo KAWASAKI, the founder of Kobe kawasaki Zaibatsu(a financial clique or group, or company syndicate), Matsukata became the first president of Kawasaki Dockyard Ltd. Since then, he assumed the presidency of Osaka Seimi Kogyo (1898), Kobe Gas (1898), the Kobe Shimbun News (1899), Kobe Pier (1908), Kyushu Electric Tramway (1908), Kyushu Land Trust (1908), Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (1920), Kokusai Kisen (1920), Shinko Club, Velvet Soap, and Nihon Rubber horseshoe, and also worked as an executive of 11 other companies. In addition, he was the president of the Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 1912, being a magnate in the political and business world of Kobe.

However, he adopted no prudent measures to cope with the business slump during the prolonged recession period from 1920 to 1931, and instead implemented a diversification strategy that led to bankruptcy of Kawasaki Dockyard amid the financial crisis in 1927. Furthermore, Jugo bank, whose president was Matsukata's older brother Iwao MATSUKATA, also went bankrupt as it had made huge loans to Kawasaki Dockyard, resulting in the collapse of Kawasaki Zaibatsu, which Shozo KAWASAKI had built. This incident made him decide to resign all the companies he had served as corporate officer. Afterwards, Matsukata served as the member of the House of Representatives for three consecutive terms from 1936, and moved to the U.S. as a national ambassador to work internationally. Also, his collection of paintings, sculptures, and Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) which Matsukata had bought in Europe during the First World War, when he was prospering as president of Kawasaki Dockyard, had come to be known as "Matsukata collection," a part of which became a base of The National Museum of Western Art.