Terashima Munenori (寺島宗則)

Munenori TERASHIMA (June 21, 1832 - June 6, 1893) was a retainer of shogun during the late Edo period, and a statesman during the Meiji period. He was created a count. He was called Tokutaro or Totaro in his childhood. He was previously known as Koan MATSUKI. He used an alias (common name) of Tozo.

He is known as Japan's father of telecommunication. He served as the fourth Gaimukyo (Chief of Foreign Ministry).

Biography and Personal Profile

He was born as second son of Narimune NAGANO, a goshi (country samurai) in Aza-kashinoura, Wakimoto-mura, Izumi-go, Izumi County, Satsuma Province (present-day Wakimoto, Akune City) in 1832. After having studied Western learning in Edo, he served as an attendant doctor to the lord of the Satsuma Domain, Nariakira SHIMAZU, however, he left the domain and served as an assistant teaching staff at Bansho shirabesho (one of the forerunner organizations of Tokyo University in Edo) after Shimazu's death.

In 1861, he travelled overseas as a member of bakufu's first Ken-o Shisetsu (Mission to Europe).

In 1863, he was captured during the Anglo-Satsuma War.

In 1865, he joined the second Ken-o Shisetsu.

Drawing on his experience in the Ken-o Shisetsu, he became a diplomat after the Meiji Restoration.

In 1873, he was appointed to Sangi (Councilor) and Gaimukyo.

Seeking bailout for the government which had been facing economic difficulties after the Seinan War, he went on negotiating the recovery of Japan's taxation authority from the western countries in 1879, where he was successful with the United States but finally set back due to Great Britain's opposition. Afterwards, he resigned from his diplomatic position and served as Genroin gikan (Councilor of Chamber of Elders or Senate), Vice President of the Privy Council, and Privy Councilor.

In 1884, he became a count.

In 1893, he died at the age of 62.

[Original Japanese]