Nishimura Shigeki (西村茂樹)

Shigeki NISHIMURA (April 26, 1828 – August 18, 1902) was a Japanese enlightenment thinker. He was a founding member of the Meirokusha (Japan's first academic society) with Yukichi FUKUZAWA, Arinori MORI, Amane NISHI (illuminator), Masanao NAKAMURA, Hiroyuki KATO, Mamichi TSUDA and others. He served as a member of Kizokuin (Japan's House of Peers) and an imperial court councilor. As the head of the editorial office of the Ministry of Education, he was committed to editing school textbooks and establishing the educational system. Emphasizing the need for public morality, he founded the Nihon Kodo-kai (Society for Promoting the Japanese Way). He was a member of the Japan Academy and doctor of literature.

Brief Personal History

As a child of Yoshifumi NISHIMURA, who served the Hotta clan in the Sano Domain, a branch domain of the Sakura Domain, Shigeki was born at Sano Domain's residence in Edo. His common name was Heihachiro, his name was Hozai, and later he changed it to Shigeki. He also went by his pen-name of Hakuo. When he was 10 years old, he entered Seitoku Shoin, a hanko (domain school) in the Sakura Domain (forerunner of the present Chiba Prefectural Sakura Senior High School), where he studied Confucianism under Sokken YASUI, who had been invited to the hanko by the domain.

Shocked by the arrival of the naval squadron commanded by Commodore Matthew PERRY in 1853, he submitted a written opinion to Masayoshi HOTTA, the lord of the Sakura Domain, and also presented the measures for naval defense to a senior councilor Masahiro ABE. In the written opinion to Masayoshi HOTTA, he said that Japan should actively advance overseas to trade with other nations. In 1856, when Masayoshi HOTTA became the head of Roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa shognate) and came to be in charge of foreign affairs, Nishimura was appointed to Boeki Torishirabe Goyogakari (general affairs official of the Imperial Household in charge of trade) to handle classified diplomatic documents.

In 1873, he founded the Meirokusha with Yukichi FUKUZAWA, Arinori MORI, Amane NISHI (illuminator), Masanao NAKAMURA, Hiroyuki KATO and others. In 1875, on the other hand, he co-founded the Yoyosha, a group of scholars of the Chinese classics, with Bankei OTSUKI, Gakkai YODA, Shigehisa HIRANO and others. As a kanji abolitionist, he also published "Kaika no tabini motte kaimoji wo hassubeki no ron" (An Essay on the Necessity of Creating New Words with Every Opportunity of Attaining Enlightenment) in 1874.

Family members
Granddaughter: Yuriko MIYAMOTO (novelist)