Kojima Korekata (児島惟謙)

Korekata KOJIMA (March 7, 1837-July 1, 1908) was a judicial officer in Meiji Period. At Otsu Incident described later, he, as the chief justice of Daishin-in (Predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan), persisted in the independence of judicature from governing section and was highly evaluated as "the God of protecting the Constitution". Later he became a member of the House of Peers and a member of the House of Representatives.

He was called Masajiro in his childhood, then Gorobei, or Kenzo. The name, Korekata KOJIMA was a kemyo (assumed name) he began to use when he left the domain described later and he used this name until the end of his life. Besides "Korekata", he was also called "Iken", "Korekane", and the like. His go (pen name) was 天赦園 and azana (adult male's nickname)was 有終.

Career

He was born as the second son of Koreakira KANEKO, a feudal retainer of Uwajima Domain, in Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture in1837. His childhood days were not easy, as he was separated from his real mother, put out to nurse, and apprenticed to service at a sake brewery. In 1865 he went to Nagasaki and became good friends with Ryoma SAKAMOTO, Tomoatsu GODAI and others. In 1867 he left the domain to conceal himself in Kyoto and became active as pro-Imperialist. He also participated in the Boshin War.

In 1868 he entered the government service, experienced Goyogakari (a general affairs official of the Imperial Household) of Niigata Prefecture and Syosanji of Shinagawa Prefecture, and then joined the Ministry of Justice in December 1870. He experienced the president of Nagoya Court and so forth, and became the chief justice of Osaka kosoin (Osaka court of appeal) in 1883, then in 1886 he supported the establishment of Kansai Horitsu Gakko (Kansai Law School), the predecessor of Kansai University, and became a honorary member of the school.

Soon after he assumed office as the chief justice of Daishin-in in 1891, the Otsu Incident occurred. Sanzo TSUDA, the accused, was prosecuted for high treason and the case was brought to Otsu District Court. The Prime Minister, Masayoshi MATSUKATA, and other senior Japanese governmental officials strongly insisted on the application of high treason, so the Daishin-in decided to deal with the incident by themselves. On the other hand, KOJIMA, under a belief that TSUDA's act did not constitute high treason (cf. the principle of "nulla poena sine lege"; the principle of legality), tried to persuade the judicial officers in charge to support him one by one. In the end Daishin-in applied attempted murder to TSUDA's act and sentenced him penal servitude for an indefinite term. KOJIMA, by his contribution toward maintaining the independence of the judicature, earned an excellent reputation from the Japanese public as "the God of protecting the Constitution". The allied western powers at that time also evaluated his act as an indicator of Japan's advanced modernization.

However, independence of the judicature does not simply mean the independence of judicature from the outside, that is, it does not mean that the court decision should not be interfered by the governing section (legislation and administration). It includes independent judgment of judges as well, that is, individual judges are capable of forming a judgment independently without being interfered by their fellow workers and his superior. From this point of view, while Kojima kept the independence of judicature from the outside, he violated the principle of the independent judgment of the judges. Kojima's handling of the Otsu Incident should be evaluated from both of those points of view.

In 1892 Kojima and others were suspected of entertaining themselves with "flower cards" gambling (Hokan-Roka Incident). Although Kojima was acquitted of the criminal punishment on the ground of insufficient evidence, he resigned the post. After that he filled various posts such as a nominated member of the House of Peers (1894-1905) and a member of the House of Representatives (1898-1902) successivly. He died in 1908. He died at the age of 72 (age by the traditional Japanese system).