Yasuba Yasukazu (安場保和)

Yasukazu YASUBA (May 14, 1835 - May 23, 1899) was a bureaucracy and statesman in the early days of modern Japan. He made a great achievement in the Meiji Restoration, and so he was raised to the peerage and ranked as a Baron.

He was born in Kumamoto Domain, Higo Province, and although he kept a delicate distance from the domain clique constituted by the domains of Satsuma and Choshu, he dedicated all of his life to developing and modernizing the regions of Tohoku and Hokkaido and finding out the capable persons from the ordinary people. One of his typical achievements was pushing on with the construction of the Asaka canal in Fukushima Prefecture by inviting a Dutch engineer Cornelis Johannes Van Doorn. Although according to the original plan it should have crossed the Tohoku region from the Abukuma-gawa River through Lake Inawashiro to the Agano-gawa River, he canceled that gigantic-scale canal plan and adopted the construction of a railroad instead, and in the end he realized the plan by giving up shipping passengers and goods in a canal system but limiting its function only to running the water. It was a great achievement that he built the foundation to develop nearby spots in the region of present-day Koriyama City by constructing the Asaka canal. Besides, by the means like constructing also Totsuna-bashi Bridge with the budget of Fukushima Prefecture, he made an effort to dissuade the hearts of the people from resigning or leaving their lands.

Career

When Yasukazu was eight years old, he entered Jishukan, a hanko (domain school) of Hosokawa Domain, Kumamoto, and he was selected to be a kyoryosei (dormitory student who are free of room and board charge). As a disciple of Shonan YOKOI, he and his equals, Ujifusa KAETSU, Taketoshi YAMADA, Fusayuki MIYAGAWA, were called Shitenno (the big four). The social standing of Yasuba family was Karo (chief retainer) of Hosokawa Domain, and Yasuba family had so enormous influence in the domain that one of the ancestors Ippei YASUBA was entrusted with carrying out Kaishaku (assistance in someone's committing hara-kiri by beheading him) of Kuranosuke OISHI, Hitto karo (head of chief retainers) of Asano family of Ako Domain who had been left to Hosokawa Domain, in the hantei (residence maintained by a daimyo in Edo) of the Hosokawa Domain in Takanawa, Tokyo (because of this relationship, Yasuba family has kept the deep knowledge about Genroku Ako Incident, and the present head of Yasuba family Mr. Yasumasa YASUBA is acting as Kaicho (Chairman) of Zenkoku Gishikai Rengokai (National combination of loyal retainers societies).

He took part in Boshin Civil War in 1868.

In 1869, he was appointed as Daisanji (Major Councilor) of Isawa Prefecture.

In 1870, he was appointed as Daisanji (Major Councilor) of Sakata Prefecture.

In 1871, he was appointed as Shosanji (Minor Councilor) of the Kumamoto domain. In the same year, he was appointed as Okura Taijo (Senior Secretary of Ministry of the Treasury) and Sozei Gon no kami (Provisional Chief of Taxation) by the recommendation of Takamori SAIGO. Immediately after his assumption, he presented the impeachment of Okura no taifu (Senior Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Treasury) Shigenobu OKUMA only to be rejected, but ironically, this increased the sense of danger about the split in the government, and led to gathering again in the government by Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures).

In 1872, he participated in Iwakura Mission, and visited Europe and America for inspection. Immediately after he returned to Japan, he was appointed as Fukushima Kenrei (Governor of Fukushima Prefecture). While the Tohoku region in those days was in the midway from Shizoku no hanran (revolt by family or person with samurai ancestors) after Boshin Civil War to Jiyu Minken Undo (Movement for Liberty and People's Right), he made an effort to dissuade the hearts of the people from resigning or leaving their lands, and carried out the reclamation and development in various places.

In 1875, he was appointed as Aichi Kenrei (Governor of Aichi Prefecture).

From 1880 to 1885, he served as Genroin gikan (Councilor of Chamber of Elders or Senate).
When he was Genroin gikan, he carried out survey starting from Nemuro of Hokkaido, and going north along Chishima (Kurile) Islands to Shumushu Island, and on the way back he continued to survey Kunashiri Island and the inland area of Hokkaido as he was moving by land from Nemuro, so that he compiled 'The opinions on the guards of Chishima and the reclamation of Hokkaido.'
This "opinions" submitted to Hirobumi ITO who was then Sangi (Councilor) are regarded as those that explained the importance of the Hoppo (northern regions).

In 1886, he was appointed as Fukuoka Kenrei (Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture).

In 1892, he became a main character of the election interference as Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture in the second general election of the members of the House of Representatives, and this was pointed out later as a problem, so he was dismissed from office together with Vice-Minister of the Interior Senichi SHIRANE. He was appointed as a member of the House of Peers. He assumed the role of Secretary-General of Kokumin Kyokai (National Association).

In 1897, his opinions on the development of Hokkaido were regarded highly, so he was appointed as Hokkaido-cho Chokan (Director General of the Hokkaido government).

Others

Kazuko, the wife of Shinpei GOTO, was his real daughter. When Yasukazu was Daisanji of Isawa Prefecture, he favored Shinpei GOTO and Makoto SAITO as shosei (a student who is given room and board in exchange for performing domestic duties), and when he was Fukushima Kenrei after Iwakura Mission returned to Japan, he introduced Shinpei GOTO to Fukushima Yogakko (Fukushima School of Western Studies) and Sukagawa Igakko (Sukagawa School of Medical Science).