Abe Masato (阿部正外)

Masato (Masatou) ABE (February 15, 1828 - April 20, 1887) was hatamoto (a shogunal retainer), daimyo (feudal lord), and roju (a senior councillor of the shogunate) in the Edo period. He was the lord of Shirakawa Domain in Mutsu Province. He was the 15th generation of the Abe family with ties to Tadaaki. He was the third son of Shozo ABE, hatamoto with 3,000 koku. His legal wife was the daughter of Masanao HASEGAWA. He called himself Kumesaku, Chokichiro or Hyogo. His (eldest) son was Masakiyo ABE. He was Echizen no kuni no kami (Governor of Echizen Province), Bungo no kuni no kami (Governor of Bungo Province) and jiju (chamberlain) with the official rank of Jushiinoge (the Junior Fourth, Lower Grade).

Biography

Taking over his father's post, he first became hatamoto with 3,000 koku. Starting from a court official, he served as bugyo (civil governor) of Kanagawa and Minami-machi as well as gaikoku-bugyo (a diplomat). In 1864, he took over the head family of the Abe family who held a fief of 100,000 koku in Shirakawa Domain in Mutsu Province under the shogunal command. Three months later he was appointed roju.

In 1865, the imperial court that was becoming more influential requested Seiitaishogun Iemochi TOKUGAWA to come to Kyoto again and expel the foreigners. In order to warn the court nobles and roshi (masterless samurai) in Kyoto who advocated the expulsion of the foreigners, Abe and Munehide MATSUDAIRA led an army of 4,000 soldiers to Kyoto. They negotiated with the imperial court. After the negotiation they returned to Edo to tell the court's request to Iemochi, who then went to Kyoto for a second time.

Accompanying Iemochi, Abe went back to Kyoto and then went to Osaka. He began negotiating with England, France and the Netherlands about the opening of the Hyogo port and the city of Osaka as had been requested by the three countries. He and Takahiro MATSUMAE discussed the matter with them. They said, 'We will no longer negotiate with the shogunate unless we are given a prompt and definite answer as to the opening of the port. We will directly talk to the Emperor at the Kyoto Imperial Palace,' they insisted. The two roju, Abe and Matsudaira, judged that they would not change their hard-line policy. Two days later they decided to go ahead with the opening of the port without asking the emperor's permission. On arriving at Osaka Castle the following day, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA insisted that he would not allow a treaty signed without the emperor's permission. However, Abe and Matsumae held on to their view that if the foreign countries directly started to negotiate with the imperial court bypassing the shogunate, the latter would collapse. In a heated discussion over the pros and cons of the signing of the treaty in the presence of the Emperor, Iemochi could not bear the tension and began to cry.

Condemning Abe and Matsudaira's disobedience to its order, the court issued the imperial edict that they should be deprived of their official ranks and dismissed from their offices. Shogun Iemochi dismissed them from the office of roju. In 1866, Abe was ordered to retire and be under house arrest with the reduction of 40,000 koku. His eldest son Masakiyo succeeded to the family estate. In the same year, the Abe family was transferred to Tanagura Domain in Mutsu Province which had less uchi-daka (real value of the yield).

Brief Personal History

1828: Masato ABE was born in Edo.

1848: He took over his father's estate and became hatamaoto with 3,000 koku.

December 12,1861: He became bugyo of Kanagawa.

1862

September 14: The Namamugi Incident took place.

August 28: He became gaikoku-bugyo.

June 9, 1863: He was appointed bugyo of Minami-machi.

1864

April 9: He was dismissed from the office of Minamimachi Bugyo to succeed Shirakawa Domain by the shogunal order.

July 25: He was appointed jisha-bugyo (magistrate of temples and shrines).

July 27: He was dismissed from his office of jisha-bugyo. He became roju.

1865

March 2: He and Munehide MATSUDAIRA took an army to Kyoto.

March 21: Abe returned to Edo.

June 15: Iemochi paid a visit to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Abe also went to Kyoto again.

November 11: He negotiated with England, France and Holland about the opening of the Hyogo port.

November 13, it was decided to open the port.

November 17: The Court Council issued the edict that Abe and Matsudaira should be dismissed from their offices and be under house arrest.

November 18: Abe was dismissed from the office of roju.

1866: He retired and was under house arrest.

1868: The Boshin War broke out.

1887: He died. He died at the age of 60.

His posthumous Buddhist name was Kokanin Boshin. He was buried in Saifuku-ji Temple (4 cho-me, Kuramae, Taito Ward, Tokyo Prefecture). In 1927, however, he was reburied in Tama Cemetery.