Yamaguchi Naoyoshi (山口尚芳)

Naoyoshi/Masuka YAMAGUCHI (June 21, 1839 - June 12, 1894) was a government official, a statesman, and a former feudal retainer of Saga Domain (from Takeo-ryo). His father was Naozumi YAMAGUCHI. His common name was Hanzo.

The Tokugawa period
As Shigeyoshi NABESHIMA, the lord of Takeo-ryo, Saga Domain, trusted his growing capabilities from an early age, he studied in Nagasaki by the order of Naomasa NABESHIMA, the lord of Saga Domain, with young people from other domains to learn Duch and Western sciences. He also learned English from Guido Herman Fridolin Verbeek, who visited Japan at that time, with Shigenobu OKUMA and Taneomi SOEJIMA, who came from the same domain as his. After coming back to his domain, he served as a government official concerning translation and a military drill. Under the political situation in the last days of Tokugawa shogunate, he interacted with samurai from Satsuma and Choshu Domains and worked hard for the establishement of the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance. He also became intimate with the court nobles such as Tomomi IWAKURA and joined Tosei-gun (the new government army) after the restoration of Imperial rule. After the fall of Edo-jo Castle, he went to Edo with Tatewaki KOMATSU of Satsuma Domain.

Serving for the restoration government and becoming Vice-Ambassador of the Iwakura Mission to the West
He held a number of posts in the new Meiji government: Gaikoku Jimukyoku Goyo-gakari (a general affairs official of Office for Foreign Affairs) in March 1868; Gaikokukan (an official of Foreign Office) in April; Osaka-fu Hanji-shiho(a probationary magistrate of Osaka Prefecture) in May; Tokyo-fu Hanji (a magistrate of Tokyo Prefecture) and concurrently Gaikoku-gakari (a government official of foreign affairs) following Echigo-fu Hanji (a magistrate of Echigo Prefecture) in September. He also became Gaikokukan Hanji (a magistrate of Foreign Office) in November working at Hakodate Prefecture and was raised to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). In January 1869, he went to Nagasaki to inform Guido Herman Fridolin Verbeek that he was invited to establish a new university in Tokyo; Verbeek accepted the invitation. In April, he became Gaikokukan Hanji (a magistrate of Foreign Office) and concurrently Tokyo-fu Hanji (a magistrate of Tokyo Prefecture), and was appointed Tsushoshi Sokatsu (the head of Trade Agency). In May, he was appointed Kaikeikan Hanji (a magistrate of Accounting Office), and ordered to work at Osaka Prefecture as Kaikeikan Hanji in June. In July, he became Okura taijo (Senior Secretary of the Minister of the Treasury) and concurrently Minbu taijo (Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Popular Affairs) to assist Shigenobu OKUMA from the same province as his, who served as Okura no taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Treasury) and concurrently Minbu taifu (Senior Ministerial Assistant of Popular Affairs). In May 1870, he was appointed Hokkaido kaitaku Goyo-gakari (a general affairs official of the development of Hokkaido), and transferred to Gaimu sho (Assistnat Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in August 1871. In October 1871, he was raised to Jushii (Junior Fourth Rank), and became a member of the Iwakura Mission led by Tomomi IWAKURA, an ambassador plenipotentiary, which was organized to inspect Europe and the United States and to lay the groundwork for the revision of a treaty. Appoointed Vice-Ambassador along with Toshimichi OKUBO, Takayoshi KIDO, and Hirobumi ITO, he visited various countries until September 1873.

On that occasion, he took his son Shuntaro with him, and came back home leaving Shuntaro to stay in England for study.

After returning home from abroad
When the debate to conquer Korea arose after his returning home from abroad, he took a position to oppose sending Japanese official diplomatic delegations to Korea with Okubo and Kido. So, when the Saga Rebellion in February 1874 led by Shinpei ETO, who supported the policy of conquering Korea, occurred, he worked hard to supress it on the part of the government army. First of all, he persuaded Shigeharu NABESHIMA, the former lord of his home town Takeo City, and his samurai retainers not to take part in the rebellion. On February 12, he went to Nagasaki leading Kaigun Keibihei (naval security guards) and entered the Saga-jo Castle on March 1 by way of Omura and Takeo to surpress the rebellion. In the Saga Rebellion, Takeo submitted to the rebel army's threat and unwillingly sent 64 soldiers to the rebellion; which posed a problem later. However, Naoyoshi made efforts to seek Takeo's exoneration by correcting Shigeharu NABESHIMA's written apology to be submitted to the new government army.

In April 1875, he became Genroin gikan (Councilor of the Chamber of Elders). In 1880, he became Genroin Kanji (Secretary of the Chamber of Elders) and Kaisha narabini Kumiai Jorei Shinsa Sosai (a chairman of examination committee for company and union regulations). In May 1881, he was appointed the first president of Board of Audit established in the previous year, and decorated with the Second Order of Merit in July. However, because of the Political Change of 1881 in which Shigenobu OKUMA was purged by the new government, he resigned from his post of Board of Audit in October the same year. He became a councilor of Sanjiin (legislative advisory council, the predecessor of the present Cabinet Legislation Bureau), and was appointed a director of the foreign affairs department and the military department. From 1882 to 1883, when the martial law, the regulations for the area of Japanese residents in China and Korea, and the amendment to the Conscription Ordinance were brought before the Chamber of Elders, he was appointed a member of the Cabinet Committee. In October 1885, he was raised to Shoshii (Senior Fourth Rank), and became a councilor of the Chamber of Elders again in December after Sanjiin was abolished. In October 1886, he was raised to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), and became Associate Judge of Supreme Court in February 1887. In September 1890, he became an imperial nominee to the House of Peers.

In May 1894, he was raised to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank); however, he was taken seriously ill and died on June 12. He was decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure.

In addition, the site where Naoyoshi YAMGUCHI 's residence once stood is located in Hanashima, Takeo City, which is now the location of a community center. At the side of the community center, there is a monument erected by local supporters in 1930.