Kato Yoshiaki (加藤嘉明)
Yoshiaki KATO was a busho (general) and daimyo during the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo Periods. He was the lord of the Iyo-Matsuyama Domain (or fief) in Iyo no Kuni (Iyo Province) and eventually became the lord of Aizu Domain in Mutsu no Kuni (Mutsu Province). He was the first generation of the KATO family of the Minakuchi Domain. There is a theory that his name is also pronounced as Yoshiakira and he is mentioned in literature and descriptions of Matsuyama City, the guide for Bocchan Ressha train, and occasionally in the Ehime Shinbun newspaper.
His father was Noriaki KATO (also known as Noriaki KISHI), a bushi, or samurai, who served several generations of the TOKUGAWA Clan (MATSUDAIRA Clan). He was one of the Shichihonyari (Seven Spears) of Shizugatake during the Battle of Shizugatake. He was also known as Magoroku.
He was born in Mikawa no Kuni (Mikawa Province) in 1563, the eldest son of Noriaki KATO, a retainer of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. Since his father, Noriaki, was exiled for siding with anti-Ieyasu TOKUGAWA Mikawa Ikko Ikki revolts in the same year he was born, he grew up leading the life of a wanderer.
Eventually, on the recommendation of Kageyasu KATO, he was selected to serve as a page to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. After the death of Nobunaga ODA, in 1583, he fought alongside Masanori FUKUSHIMA and Kiyomasa KATO at the Battle of Shizugatake, between Hideyoshi and Katsuie SHIBATA, a Hitto-Garo (or high-ranking samurai) of the Oda Family, and was counted as one of the "Shichihonyari of Shizugatake."
Hideyoshi continued Nobunaga's unification policy and Yoshiaki conquered Shikoku in 1585, Kyushu in 1587, and his navy participated in the Odawara Campaign. Due to these successes, in 1586 he was granted the 15,000 koku Shichi in Awaji no Kuni, becoming its daimyo.
From 1592, he led the navy during Hideyoshi's Buncho-Keicho Korean invasions and fought against the Korean navy led by Yi Sun-sin. Afer this success, in 1595, he was given Masaki in the province of Iyo no Kuni (present day Masaki-cho, Ehime Prefecture) with an income of 60,000 koku. Later, his domain was expanded to 100,000 koku for rescuing Kiyomasa who suffered from food shortage during the Ming navy's seige of the Japanese castle at Ulsan.
After Hideyoshi's death in August 1598, he returned to Japan and joined Ieyasu's side during the conflict between the TOYOTOMI Administration's Gobugyo, (member of Five Major Magistrates), Mitsunari Ishida, and the Gotairo (Member of the Council of Five Elders), Ieyasu TOKUGAWA.
In 1600, Yoshiaki participated in the campaign against Kagekatsu UESUGI of Aizu, whom Ieyasu had declared to be plotting a revolt. While Ieyasu was away from Osaka, Mitsunari gathered his army and clashed with the returning Eastern Army (TOKUGAWA side) at Mino (Gifu Prefecture), leading to the Battle of Sekigahara, where Yoshiaki attacked Gifu and Oogaki Castles in early skirmishes, and fought against Mitsunari ISHIDA's forces in the main battle. Due to these achievements, the income from Iyo Matsuyama was increased to 200,000 koku, and work was begun on building Matsuyama Castle (Iyo no Kuni (Iyo Province)) but, before it could be completed, he was moved to the 400,000 koku Aizu Domain. The castle was completed by Tadatomo GAMO.
Since being a favored daimyo of TOYOTOMI, then he feared that Ieyasu considered him dangerous, he stayed and guarded Edo Castle during the Fuyu no Jin (the Winter War in Osaka) from 1614 and served the second Shogun Hidetada TOKUGAWA during the Natsu no Jin (the Summer War in Osaka) in 1615.
In 1619, he took over Hiroshima Castle following the dismissal of Masanori FUKUSHIMA.
In 1627, in the turmoil following Tadasato GAMO's death, the Gamo Clan lost control of the 400,000 koku Aizu Domain, which was given to Yoshiaki. He died in Edo on September 12, 1631. He was 69 years old.
His legitimate son, Akinari KATO, inherited the family property after Yoshiaki's death but, after the Hori Mondo Incident provoked the involvement of the shogunate, his property was confiscated and
he was reduced in rank after vehemently denying the presence of a son (in fear of his formal wife) when questioned about who will continue the family name, resulting in his illegitimate child, Akitomo KATO, receiving the 20,000 koku Minakuchi Domain in Omi no Kuni and continuing the surname.
He was a great commander who, as one of the Shichihonyari of Shizugatake, was known for his military prowess.
He was not only brave, but was also a capable politician as shown by his construction of the castle and surrounding town. Matsuyama Castle's fortifications are still highly regarded in Ehime Prefecture.