Enomoto Takeaki
Viscount was a samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 and admiral of the Tokugawa navy of Bakumatsu period Japan, who remained faithful to the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 who fought against the new Meiji government until the end of the Boshin War
Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....

. He later served in the Meiji government as one of the founders of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...


Early life

Enomoto was born as a member of a samurai family in the direct service of the Tokugawa clan
Tokugawa clan
The was a powerful daimyo family of Japan. They nominally descended from Emperor Seiwa and were a branch of the Minamoto clan by the Nitta clan. However, the early history of this clan remains a mystery.-History:...

 in the Shitaya district of Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

 (modern Taito, Tokyo
Taito, Tokyo
is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Japan. In English, it calls itself Taito City.As of April 1, 2011, the ward has an estimated population of 168,909, with 94,908 households, and a population density of 16,745.86 persons per km². The total area is 10.08 km².-History:The ward was founded...

). Enomoto started learning Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 in the 1850s, and after Japan's forced "opening" by Commodore Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry (naval officer)
Matthew Calbraith Perry was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy and served commanding a number of US naval ships. He served several wars, most notably in the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. He played a leading role in the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854...

 in 1854, he studied at the Tokugawa shogunate's Naval Training Center in Nagasaki
Nagasaki Naval Training Center
The was a naval training institute, between 1855 when it was established by the government of the Tokugawa shogunate, until 1859, when it was transferred to Tsukiji in Edo....

 and at the Tsukiji
Tsukiji is a district of Chūō, Tokyo, Japan, the site of the Tsukiji fish market. Literally meaning "reclaimed land," it lies near the Sumida River on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay in the 18th century, during the Edo period....

 Warship Training Center in Edo.

At the age of 26, Enomoto was sent to the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 to study western techniques in naval warfare and to procure western technologies. He stayed in Europe from 1862 to 1867, and became fluent in both the Dutch and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...


Enomoto returned to Japan onboard the , a steam warship purchased from the Netherlands by the Shogunal government. During his stay in Europe, Enomoto had realized that the telegraph
Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages via some form of signalling technology. Telegraphy requires messages to be converted to a code which is known to both sender and receiver...

 would be an important means of communication in the future, and started planning a system to connect Edo and Yokohama
is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan by population after Tokyo and most populous municipality of Japan. It lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu...

. Upon his return, Enomoto was promoted to , the second highest rank in the Tokugawa Navy, at the age of 31. He also received the court title of .

Boshin War and Meiji Restoration

During the Meiji restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

, after the surrender of Edo in 1868 during the Boshin War
Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....

 to forces loyal to the Satchō Alliance
Satcho Alliance
The ', or Satchō Alliance was a military alliance between the feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū formed in 1866 to combine their efforts to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan....

, Enomoto refused to deliver up his warships, and escaped to Hakodate in Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

 with the remainder of the Tokugawa Navy and a handful of French
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 military advisers and their leader Jules Brunet
Jules Brunet
Jules Brunet was a French officer who played an active role in Mexico and Japan, and later became a General and Chief of Staff of the French Minister of War in 1898...

. His fleet of eight steam warships was the strongest in Japan at the time.

Enomoto hoped to create an independent country under the rule of the Tokugawa family in Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

, but the Meiji government refused to accept partition of Japan. On 25 December, the Tokugawa loyalists declared the foundation of the Republic of Ezo
Republic of Ezo
The ' was a short-lived state established by former Tokugawa retainers in what is now known as Hokkaidō, the large but sparsely populated northernmost island in modern Japan.-Background:...

 and elected Enomoto as president.

The next year, the Meiji government forces invaded Hokkaidō and defeated Enomoto's forces in the Naval Battle of Hakodate
Naval Battle of Hakodate
The was fought from 4–10 May 1869, between the remnants of the Tokugawa shogunate navy, consolidated into the armed forces of the rebel Ezo Republic, and the newly formed Imperial Japanese Navy...

. On 18 May 1869, the Republic of Ezo collapsed, and Hokkaidō came under the rule of the central government headed by the Meiji Emperor.

As a Meiji politician

After his surrender, Enomoto was arrested, accused of high treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

 and imprisoned. However, the leaders of the new Meiji government (largely at the insistence of Kuroda Kiyotaka
Kuroda Kiyotaka
, also known as , was a Japanese politician of the Meiji era. He was the second Prime Minister of Japan from 30 April 1888 to 25 October 1889.-As a Satsuma samurai:...

) pardoned Enomoto in 1872, realizing that his various talents and accumulated knowledge could be of use. Enomoto became one of the few former Tokugawa loyalists who made the transition to the new ruling elite, as politics at the time was dominated by men from Chōshū
Nagato Province
, often called , was a province of Japan. It was at the extreme western end of Honshū, in the area that is today Yamaguchi Prefecture. Nagato bordered on Iwami and Suō Provinces....

 and Satsuma
Satsuma Province
was an old province of Japan that is now the western half of Kagoshima Prefecture on the island of Kyūshū. Its abbreviation is Sasshū .During the Sengoku Period, Satsuma was a fief of the Shimazu daimyo, who ruled much of southern Kyūshū from their castle at Kagoshima city.In 1871, with the...

, who had a strong bias against outsiders in general, and former Tokugawa retainers in particular. However, Enomoto was an exception, and rose quickly within the new ruling clique
A clique is an exclusive group of people who share common interests, views, purposes, patterns of behavior, or ethnicity. A clique as a reference group can be either normative or comparative. Membership in a clique is typically exclusive, and qualifications for membership may be social or...

, to a higher status than any other member of the former Tokugawa government.

In 1874, Enomoto was given the rank of vice-admiral in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

. The following year, he was sent to Russia as a special envoy to negotiate the Treaty of St. Petersburg. The successful conclusion of the treaty was very well received in Japan and further raised Enomoto's prestige within the ruling circles, and the fact that Enomoto had been chosen for such an important mission was seen as evidence of reconciliation between former foes in the government.
In 1880, Enomoto became . In 1885, his diplomatic skills were again called upon to assisting Itō Hirobumi
Ito Hirobumi
Prince was a samurai of Chōshū domain, Japanese statesman, four time Prime Minister of Japan , genrō and Resident-General of Korea. Itō was assassinated by An Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist who was against the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire...

 in concluding the Convention of Tientsin
Convention of Tientsin
The was an agreement signed between the Meiji period Empire of Japan and Qing Dynasty Empire of China in Tientsin, China on 18 April 1885. It was also called the "Li-Itō Convention"....

 with Qing China
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

. Afterwards, Enomoto held a series of high posts in the Japanese government. He was Japan's first Minister of Communications
Ministry of Communications
Ministry of Communications may refer to:* Ministry of Communications * Ministry of Communications * Ministry of Communications * Ministry of Communications of Morocco...

 (1885–1888) after the introduction of the cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 system in 1885. He was also Minister of Agriculture and Commerce
Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce
The was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1881-1925. It was briefly recreated as the during World War II-History:...

 from 1894–1897, Minister of Education from 1889–1890 and Foreign Minister
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Japan)
The of Japan is the Cabinet member responsible for Japanese foreign policy and the chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Since the end of the American occupation of Japan, the position has been one of the most powerful in the Cabinet, as Japan's economic interests have long relied on...

 from 1891-1892.

In 1887, Enomoto was ennobled the rank of viscount
A viscount or viscountess is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl or a count .-Etymology:...

 under the kazoku
The was the hereditary peerage of the Empire of Japan that existed between 1869 and 1947.-Origins:Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the ancient court nobility of Kyoto regained some of its lost status...

peerage system, and was selected as a member of the Privy Council
Privy Council (Japan)
was an advisory council to the Emperor of Japan that operated from 1888 to 1947.-Functions:Modeled in part upon the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, this body advised the throne on matters of grave importance including:...


Enomoto was especially active in promoting Japanese emigration through settler colonies in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and South
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

. In 1891, he established - against the will of the cabinet of Matsukata Masayoshi
Matsukata Masayoshi
Prince was a Japanese politician and the 4th and 6th Prime Minister of Japan.-Early life:...

 - a 'section for emigration
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

' in the Foreign Ministry, with the task of encouraging emigration and finding new potential territories for Japanese settlement overseas. Two years later, after leaving the government, Enomoto also helped to establish a private organization, the 'Colonial Association', to promote external trade and emigration.

Enomoto died in 1908 at the age of 72. His grave is at the temple of Kisshō-ji
Kisshō-ji, also Kichijō-ji is a Buddhist Temple located in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. It was founded in 1458, during the Muromachi period....

, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

. (35.727425°N 139.75364°W)
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