Shirane Senichi (白根専一)

Senichi SHIRANE (February 3, 1850 - June 14, 1898) was an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs and a politician during the Meiji period in Japan. He was originally from Nagato Province.

He held various posts such as the governor of Ehime Prefecture, the governor of Aichi Prefecture, the vice minister of Home Affairs, the minister of communication, and the imperial court councilor. He was a baron.

Brief Biography

He was born on February 3, 1850 as the second son of Tasuke SHIRANE, who was a feudal retainer of Choshu Domain and who later became the governor of Saitama Prefecture. He studied at Meirinkan School of Choshu Domain and later at Keiogijuku. In 1872, he became a lower-rank government official and was promoted steadily within the Ministry of Home Affairs. He became the governor of Ehime Prefecture in February 1888. He became the governor of Aichi Prefecture in December of the same year. In May 1890, he became the vice minister under the Minister of Home Affairs Tsugumichi SAIGO during the shuffle of the First Yamagata cabinet. When the Imperial Diet was founded in the same year, he was one of the 12 members of the governmental committee. He was also involved with establishing of the Central Negotiation Committee and the National Society (Japan).

Between 1891 and 1892, he held a post as the vice minister under the Minister of Home Affairs Yajiro SHINAGAWA for the first Matsukata cabinet. At the time of the second Lower House general election in 1892, Shinagawa and Shirane pressured the Minto party (the general term for the political parties such as Liberal Party and Progressive Party which conflicted with a han-dominated government when the Imperial Diet was inaugurated) by manipulating the well-connected influential regional governors and police in order to interfere with the election on a large scale. At a later date, Shinagawa was pursued about his responsibility over the campaign interference, and as he was sickened by the way the Matsukata cabinet handled the situation, he resigned himself from the post. Shirane reacted against Shinagawa's successor, Taneomi Soejima, who forcefully accused the responsible officials involved in the campaign interference and tried to punish them, and he forced Soejima to step down from the post. However, Matsukata eventually dismissed Shirane, which led to the disturbance within the first Matsukata cabinet and caused it to collapse as a result of clash of opinions within the cabinet.

In October 1892, he held a post as Kura no kami (Chief of Kuraryo, Bureau of Palace Storehouses) at the Imperial Household Ministry.

In October 1895, he became the Minister of Communication at that time of the shuffle of the second Ito cabinet (held between October 9, 1895 - September 26, 1896).

On February 7, 1897, he was given the title of Baron.

In June 1898, he died of stomach cancer.

Personal Profile

Although his father was of the Choshu clan and he was of the second generation of the domain clique, he himself prioritized his position as the governmental official of the Ministry of Home Affairs rather than that of the Choshu clan. He was the specialist in his work and during the time when he was a vice minister of Home Affairs, he virtually held an influence over the Ministry more than the minister himself. Yajiro SHINAGAWA introduced Shirane to Munemitsu MUTSU as the 'Spirited Vice Minister'.

Shirane also had a close relationship with the fellow countryman Aritomo YAMAGATA, who was Genro (elder statesman), and was considered as a part of Yamagata group.

Chomin NAKAE, who was on the side of Minto party, wrote in his "Ichinenyuhan" (One and a Half Year Left) (1901) and lamented: 'I have always looked up to a person who is sincere, who is not lazy, who is not brash; that is to say, two people; Kowashi INOUE and Senichi Shirane.
They are no longer with us.'

Matsusuke SHIRANE was his son and an heir. Takesuke Shirane was his nephew.