Masuda Sotaro (増田宗太郎)

Sotaro MASUDA (March 17, 1849 - September 1877) is a heir of Hisayuki MASUDA, a noncommissioned officer of the Nakatsu domain. His mother is a daughter of Shigena WATANABE, who is one of the three experts of Kyushu kokugaku (the study of Japanese classical literature). His father is a cousin of Momosuke FUKUZAWA's wife.

He studied kokugaku and had the thought of expulsion of foreigners. Masuda was a second cousin of Yukichi FUKUZAWA, and they lived close to each other and had a close relationship; however, in 1870 when Fukuzawa returned home, Masuda attempted to assassinate Fukuzawa being asleep. However, the plan could not be carried out because Yukichi spent all night drinking with a visitor, Goroemon HATTORI. But there is a heresy.

After the Meiji Restoration, Masuda gave up the thought of expulsion of foreigners and joined Jiyu Minken Undo (Movement for Liberty and People's Right). He participated in the Seinan War on the Satsuma Army side, and led the Nakatsu-tai squad. After the defeat in the Battle of Wada-toge, Saigo issued an order to dissolve the army, and some squads returned to hometowns, but Masuda accompanied Saigo. It is Masuda's word that "If you spend a day with Sensei (indicates Saigo, literally means 'teacher'), you will feel one-day amount of humanity, if you spend three days with Sensei, you will feel a tree-day amount of humanity"; this word is quoted by Ryotaro SHIBA in his book. It is said that he died in the Battle of Shiroyama or he was arrested and decapitated.

During the Pacific War, Fukuzawa, who had spread Western thought throughout Japan, was diminished, whereas the reputation of Masuda, who had tried to assassinate Fukuzawa, was much enhanced so that a shrine was built on the site of his birthplace. After the war, the reputation turned back to the prewar state, and the site of his birthplace has become just a small park.