Mishima Michitsune (三島通庸)

Michitsune MISHIMA (June 26, 1835 - October 23, 1888) was a Japanese samurai who was a feudal retainer of Satsuma clan and a bureaucrat in prewar Ministry of Home Affairs. He was a viscount. His kemyo (assumed name) (common name) was Yahei. When he was at office of Kenrei (prefectural governor), he was called with a familiar name of 'Kenrei of public work' or 'Oni (ogre) Kenrei', as he aggressively pushed public works (engineering works) ahead over residents' opposition.


He was born as the eldest child of Michizumi MISHIMA who was a feudal retainer of Satsuma clan. The Mishima family had a long tradition of being the domain's instructor of tsuzumi (drum) for generations but it was unsatisfactory for Michitsune, and he studied military science under Masaharu IJICHI as well as learning Jigenryu school (one of ancient kenjutsu (swordplay) styles passed down in Satsuma Domain and neighboring area). He was involved in the Teradaya Incident and ordered to be confined to his house. However, he was selected for Jinba Bugyo (Magistrate of inspection of battleground, and deployment and positioning of military capability) by the lord of the domain, Tadayoshi SHIMAZU and he showed remarkable service in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, leading konidatai (caravan of men and animals carrying supplies). After the Boshin War, he filled posts of Minji Bugyo (Magistrate of civil affair) and Jito (manager and lord of manor) of Miyakonojo City, Hyuga Province and he participated in reformation of domain duties and performed great services in society controlling fuhei shizoku (former samurai with gripes). His achievements won confidence and he attended at the new government with arrangement of Toshimichi OKUBO.

Starting with a personnel in Tokyo-fu Prefecture (a councilor) to a Taijo (Senior Secretary) in Kyobusho (the Ministry of Religion), he successively filled posts of Kenrei of several prefectures, including Sakata Prefecture, Yamagata Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture, the head of engineering bureau (served concurrently as Kenrei) in prewar Ministry of Home Affairs (Japan) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police commissioner. He carried out a great task of constructing Ginza Renga-gai (brick town or brick street) in Tokyo-fu Prefecture. In 1887, he received rank of viscount for his service during the Restoration.

Kenrei of Yamagata Prefecture

In 1874, he was appointed to Kenrei of Sakata Prefecture. The immediate issue he had to attend when he was appointed to the post was to take a measure towards Wappa Disturbance, which was a protest of peasants. The protest was against Kenrei and government officials from former feudal domain, who imposed tax and royaku (labor service) no different from former feudal domain period, ignoring a proclamation by the central government. He challenged at the issue by reshuffling government officials completely and oppressing peasants. Next year, the issue came to an end in court by returning overpayments to peasants.

In August 1875, Sakata Prefecture became Tsuruoka Prefecture and in the next year Tsuruoka Prefecture merged with Yamagata Prefecture and Okitama Prefecture to become Yamagata Prefecture. MISHIMA was appointed Kenrei of Tsuruoka and Yamagata Prefecture. The focus of the policies established when he was the Kenrei of Yamagata Prefecture was road and bridge development and construction of public facilities. Yamagata region had stronger connections with Osaka rather than with Tokyo until the end of Edo period, through ship transportation via the Sea of Japan and Mogami-gawa River. However, when land transportation became important in Meiji period, land routes to Tokyo were developed.

Construction of Kuriko-kaido Road, called Bansei Tairo (a main thoroughfare) that connected Yonezawa and Fukushima was finished in 1880, and Sekiyama-kaido Road that connected Yamagata and Sendai was finished in 1882. Both roads were build conforming the standard that allowed buggies to pass through. Products of Yamagata were transported to Fukushima and Sendai via land transportation and then transport routes to Tokyo, such as Oshu-kaido Road and railway, were established. As a result, economics of the prefecture grew lively. MISHIMA also constructed many other roads that horse-drawn buggies could pass, connecting Yamagata to neighboring prefectures. Tunnel construction works, including Kurikoyama-zuido Tunnel (later Kuriko Tunnel) and Sekiyama-zuido Tunnel (Sekiyama Tunnel), and many bridge construction works were carried out. Also Tokiwa-bashi Bridge (Yamagata Prefecture) was constructed over Su-kawa (酢川) River (present Su-kawa (須川) River (Yamagata Prefecture)) at Ushu-kaido Road. These roads are national highways today.

For architectures, he constructed many buildings in large scale for the time, such as prefectural offices, hospitals and schools. The main building of former Saiseikan Hospital (important cultural heritage), former government office of Higashimurayama County and former government office of Higashitagawa County still exist today. Yamagata Prefectural office and Choyo-gakko School in Tsuruoka do not exist anymore. These buildings were built in Gi-yofu architecture (imitative Western-style architecture) style. There are many buildings built in Gi-yofu architecture in Tohoku region, as toryo (master builder) who engaged in the constructions followed the same style. Mishima supported a Western-style painter Yuichi TAKAHASHI and made Yuichi paint pictures of architectures and view of the city that he constructed to pride himself on his achievements.

MISHIMA was arrogant toward the people and the measures he took against criticism were nothing but oppression, such as forcible taxation, the imposition of royaku (labor service) and forcing donations.

Kenrei of Fukushima Prefecture

In 1882, he was appointed to Kenrei of Fukushima Prefecture where power of Liberal Party, which promoted Jiyu Minken Undo (Movement for Liberty and People's Right), was enormous and he started oppression. He promoted construction of three roads, Echigo-kaido Road, Aizu-kaido Road and Yamagata-kaido Road. He imposed heavy taxation and compulsory royaku and expropriated land for road construction. Although the construction of the roads were completed, the mainstay of land transportation had already shifted to railways and road development became out of date. However construction of roads became the excuse of oppression of Liberal Party. Mishima established Constitutional Monarchy Party and intensified confrontation against Liberal Party. The then chieftain of Liberal Party, Hironaka KONO banned outright confrontation, but he finally was arrested and imprisoned because of Fukushima Incident.

Many oppressions

While he was taking office as Kenrei of Tochigi Prefecture (1884), Kabasan Incident, where a Liberal Party member plotted assassination of MISHIMA, happened. The incident tells that Mishima's oppression was a formidable barrier to Jiyu Minken Undo (Movement for Liberty and People's Right).

On December 25, 1887, hoan jorei (regulations for the preservation of law and order), which aimed to remove 'security risk' from neighboring area of Imperial Palace was issued as an imperial edict, as Jiyu Minken Undo (Movement for Liberty and People's Right), including Daido Danketsu Movement and Sandai Jiken Kenpaku Movement, heated up. MISHIMA enforced it on the very day as Tokyo Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Prime Minister of the time, Hirobumi ITO was against the regulation and Minister of Home Affairs (Japan), Aritomo YAMAGATA was also taking passive stand, but Mishima actively promoted the regulation.
Targets of the oppression included Yukio OZAKI, Kenkichi KATAOKA, Chomin NAKAE and Toru HOSHI

Cultivation of Nasunogahara

He was enthusiastic about cultivation of provinces and he established Chokosha (later Mishima Farm) in Nasunogahara, Tochigi Prefecture. Making his eldest son, Yataro President and his 14 followers, who had close relationship with him, shareholders, he recruited immigrants who would live in the provinces and cultivate. He set up a villa in present Mishima, Nasushiobara City. Demarcation of the time still remains and many of residents, who lived there for long time, are descendants of immigrants from the start of the cultivation. Nasu canal, which was essential to the cultivation, was recreated in the premises of Nasunogahara Museum founded recently.

Presentation of Shiobara Goyotei (Imperial villa)

In 1884, while he was the Kenrei of Tochigi Prefecture, MISHIMA developed Shiobara-kaido Road and built a villa in Shiobara at the same time. In 1902, Emperor Taisho, who was still the Crown Prince then, visited Shiobara for the first time. He stayed in Mishima's villa and was profoundly impressed with hot spring and beautiful scenery. Taking this opportunity, Viscount Mishima presented the villa to the Imperial Family in 1904 and it came to be called 'Shiobara Goyotei' and used mainly for summer exodus of the Imperial Family. In 1948, the villa was granted as an Imperial gift for a welfare facility of Ministry of Health and Welfare, and presently the site is used as National Shiobara Visual Disabilities Institution. Only former Gozasho (a room for a noble person) was relocated and reconstructed as 'Emperor's Room Memorial Park' (a tangible cultural asset designated by Tochigi Prefecture) and is opened to public.

Death of Michitsune

In the summer of 1888, during his tenure as the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Commissioner, MISHIMA fell ill. Many friends and followers gathered to pay their last tribute to him and he passed away on October 23, 1888. MISHIMA is the only Tokyo Metropolitan Police Commissioner who died during his term of office. 12000 people attended his funeral and he was buried in Aoyama-bochi Cemetery. The names of every single person who visited him in the hospital from the day of hospitalization to the day of his death as well as every attendee of the funeral and the first anniversary ceremony of his death, are recorded.


His second daughter, Mineko got married to the second son of OKUBO, Nobuaki MAKINO (whose daughter, Yukiko got married to Shigeru YOSHIDA and therefore Taro ASO is MAKINO's great-great-great-grandchild). His eldest son Yataro MISHIMA became the eighth Governor of the Bank of Japan, his third son Yahiko MISHIMA became a member of the Japan's first Olympic team and his grand son Michiharu MISHIMA became the fourth President of Scout Association of Japan.