Komura Jutarō

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Komura Jutarō
小村 壽太郎
Marquess Komura Jutarō
Born(1855-09-16)September 16, 1855
DiedNovember 25, 1911(1911-11-25) (aged 56)
Occupation(s)Diplomat, Foreign Minister of Japan

Marquess Komura Jutarō, GCB, GCMG, GCVO (小村 壽太郎, September 16, 1855 – November 25, 1911) was a Japanese statesman and diplomat.[1]

Early life[edit]

Komura was born to a lower-ranking samurai family in the service of the Obi Domain in Kyushu's Hyūga Province (now Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture). He attended the Daigaku Nankō, the predecessor of Tokyo Imperial University. In 1875, he was selected by the Ministry of Education as one of the first students to study abroad under a government scholarship. At Harvard University, Komura shared lodgings with the fellow Japanese student Kaneko Kentarō. In due course, Komura graduated from Harvard Law School in 1878.


Komura Jutarō

In 1880, Komura joined the Ministry of Justice and, after serving as a judge of the Supreme Court of Japan, transferred in 1884 to the Translation Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Signing of the Boxer Protocol. Left, from left to right: F.M Knobel from Netherland (only his hands are visible); K. Jutaro from Japan; G. S. Raggi from Italy; Joostens from Belgium; C. von Walhborn from Austria-Hungary; B. J. Cologán from Spain; M. von Giers from Russia; A. Mumm for German Empire; E. M. Satow from United Kingdom; W. W. Rockhill from United States; P. Beau from France; I-Kuang; Li Hongzhang; Prince Qing

In 1893, Komura was the chargé d'affaires at the Japanese legation in Beijing, in Qing dynasty China. In that position, he conveyed to the Chinese government Japan's intention of dispatching troops to Korea under the provisions of the Treaty of Tientsin to subdue the Tonghak Rebellion, which led to the First Sino-Japanese War.[2] During the war, Komura was appointed as civilian administrator for territories Japan had captured in Manchuria. He was also a key figure in the negotiations to end the war, culminating in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which he helped to draft.

Following the assassination of Queen Min of Korea, Komura was dispatched to replace Miura Gorō as the Japanese minister to Korea.[3] In his position as resident minister in Korea, he negotiated the Komura-Weber Memorandum in May 1896 with his Russian counterpart, Karl Ivanovich Weber, to allow joint interference in Korean internal affairs by the Japanese and the Russian Empires.[4]

Komura served as Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs until September 1898, when he was named ambassador to Washington, D.C.[5]

In September 1901, Komura became Minister for Foreign Affairs under the first Katsura administration, and he signed the Boxer Protocol on behalf of Japan. He was elevated into the kazoku peerage with the title of baron (danshaku) in 1902 and decorated with the 1st class of the Order of the Rising Sun.

In 1902, Komura helped to conclude the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902. His tenure as foreign minister was marked with increasing tension between Japan and Russia over Korea and Manchuria, which cumulated in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904–1905.

Negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905). From left to right: the Russians at the far side of table are Korostovetz, Nabokov, Witte, Rosen, Plancon, and the Japanese at the near side of table are Adachi, Ochiai, Komura, Takahira, Satō. The large conference table is now preserved at the Museum Meiji Mura in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

After the withdrawal of Russian forces in the region, Russian diplomats Witte and Rosen and their Japanese colleagues Takahira Ochiai, Komura, and others met in Portsmouth to sign the peace treaty. During the negotiations, Witte tried to keep Russia's rights on the southern part of Sakhalin island, referring to the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875), which gave the Kuril Islands to Japan in exchange for Russian rights in Sakhalin, but Komura declared that "war cancels all treaties."[6]

The war was ended with Komura's signature on behalf of the Japanese government of the Treaty of Portsmouth, which was highly unpopular in Japan and led to the Hibiya incendiary incident.[7]

Komura also met with E. H. Harriman, the American railway magnate, to propose a joint venture between Harriman's conglomerate and Japan towards the development of the South Manchuria Railway. On his return to Japan, he found that the agreement was opposed by the genrō and so it was not implemented.

Komura also met with Chinese representatives in Beijing and signed the Peking Treaty of December 1905, which transferred the former Russian rights in southern Manchuria to Japan.

For those services, Komura was awarded the Order of the Paulownia Flowers in 1906 and was appointed to become a member of the Privy Council.

From June 1906 to August 1908, Komura served as ambassador to Britain and was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath by King Edward VII and a member of the Royal Victorian Order. On his return to Tokyo, he resumed the post of foreign minister in the second Katsura administration and signed the Root–Takahira Agreement with the United States. His peerage title was also elevated to that of Count ("hakushaku") in 1907.

Komura also played a key role in the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty in 1910 and in concluding various international agreements in 1911 to restore Japan's tariff autonomy. He was elevated to the title of Marquis ("koshaku") on April 21, 1911.

Suffering from tuberculosis in his final years, Komura moved to the seaside resort of Hayama in Kanagawa Prefecture, but he died of the disease on November 26, 1911. His grave is at Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo.

In popular culture[edit]

In Ryōtarō Shiba's semi-historical work Saka no Ue no Kumo, Komura inherited massive debts from his father, which he had difficulty with repayment. As a result, he wore the same frayed frock coat for years, regardless of season or occasion. That, combined with his short stature and a large mustache, led to the derisive nickname of "the rat minister" in the diplomatic community in his early career.[8] In the Japanese Taiga drama adaptation of Shiba’s work, the role of Komura is played by actor Naoto Takenaka.[9]


From the article in the Japanese Wikipedia


  • Baron - 7 February 1902
  • Count - 21 September 1907
  • Marquess - 21 April 1911

Decorations and ranks[edit]

An International Center Komura Memorial Hall was built in Nichinan, Miyazaki on the former Obi domain of the Komura family in honour of Komura Jutarō and his accomplishments in Japan foreign relations expansion. This memorial and museum is presented on the web site of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for the island of Kyūshū.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Marquess Komura; A Notable Career," The Times (London). November 25, 1911.
  2. ^ Keane, Donald (2005). Emperor Of Japan: Meiji And His World, 1852-1912. Columbia University Press. p. 477. ISBN 0-231-12341-8.
  3. ^ Keane, Emperor of Japan. page 516.
  4. ^ Keane, page 526.
  5. ^ Duus, Peter (1998). The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895-1910. University of California Press. pp. 118–121. ISBN 0-520-21361-0.
  6. ^ Moss, Trefor. "History Wars: A Long View of Asia's Territorial Disputes". thediplomat.com.
  7. ^ "Japan's Present Crisis and Her Constitution; The Mikado's Ministers Will Be Held Responsible by the People for the Peace Treaty -- Marquis Ito May Be Able to Save Baron Komura," New York Times. September 3, 1905; "Text of Treaty; Signed by the Emperor of Japan and Czar of Russia<" New York Times. October 17, 1905.
  8. ^ Shiba, Ryōtarō (1997). Saka no ue no kumo. Bunshun. ASIN: B005UMRKY2.
  9. ^ "NHK website". Archived from the original on August 29, 2011.
  10. ^ MacMurray, John Van Antwerp. (1921). Treaties and Agreements with and Concerning China, 1894-1919: A Collection, p. 522.
  11. ^ "London Gazette, 14 July 1905".
  12. ^ London Gazette: on the occasion of Prince Fushimi Sadanaru's visit to England[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "A diplomat who was active on the world stage and brought peace and prosperity to Japan". The Stories About Cultural Exchange Between Foreign Countries and Kyushu.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Sept 1901 – Jan 1906
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Aug 1908 – Aug 1911
Succeeded by