The Choshu Five: Pioneers of Modernization and Hagi's Heritage of Trial and Error

Mr. Koji Nomura

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Koji Nomura

Date of birth: July 29, 1944

Academic background: Kyoto University Faculty of Economics (graduated March 1967)

Brief personal history:


April 1967: Joins Ministry of Finance, assigned to Budget Bureau Research Division

July 1972: Director, Tottori Tax Office

September 1975: Overseas study at Harvard Law School

July 1979: Deputy Budget Examiner, Budget Bureau, Ministry of Finance

July 1981: Counselor for Policy Planning Coordination, Minister’s Secretariat

June 1983: Director, Inspection Department, Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau

August 1987: Director, Excise Taxes and General Tax Rules Policy Division, Tax Bureau

June 1989: Director, Corporation Tax and Consumption Tax Policy Division, Tax Bureau

June 1990: Director, General Affairs Division, Commissioner’s Secretariat, National Tax Agency

June 1991: Director-General, Fukuoka Regional Taxation Bureau

June 1992: Director-General, Large Enterprise Examination and Criminal Investigation Department, National Tax Agency

October 8, 1993 to 2005 March 5, 2005: Mayor of Hagi City (three terms)

Current Positions:

Mayor of Hagi City: Third term started March 27, 2005

(Note: On March 6, 2005, Hagi was launched as a new city upon the merger of the original city with six neighboring towns and villages.)

Since October 18, 1993: Chair, National Council on Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings

Since June 7, 2010: Chair, National Council for the Development of Hilly and Mountainous Areas

Since June 7, 2011: Chair, National Kaido (traditional main roads) Exchange Conference and Chair, Kaido Koryu Leaders’ Association

Since June 8, 2011: Advisor, Japan Association of City Mayors

Since April 1, 1996: Board Member, National Council for the Promotion of

Outlying Islands

Since May 30, 2009: Vice Chair, Board of Directors, National Association of

Fisheries Infrastructure

Since March 21, 2008: Yamaguchi Prefecture Branch Director,

National Federation for the Promotion of Mountain Villages

Since June 16, 2006: Board member, Association of Nationwide

Disaster Prevention

Since February 28, 2006: Trustee, Japan Sabo Association

(previously board member from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2011)

Since February 14, 2007: Chair, Yamaguchi Prefecture Wide Area Federation of Medical Care Systems for Older Senior Citizens

Since August 25, 2000: Chair, Yamaguchi Prefecture Association of

Fisheries Infrastructure

Since April 1, 1997: Chair, Yamaguchi Prefecture Council for the

Promotion of Outlying Islands

Since July 30, 2003: Chair, Yamaguchi Prefecture Local Municipal Council on Historical Sites

Since March 21, 2008: Chair, Yamaguchi Prefecture Council for Promoting

Depopulated Regions

ーーFive of the 23 component parts of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution are in Hagi.

The heritage sites in Hagi date back to the early era of trial and error in Japan’s industrial revolution. Shoin Yoshida, who inspired the leaders of the Meiji Restoration through his teachings, believed that massive industrialization was essential if Japan was to protect its independence from the powerful onslaught of Asia by the Western powers. This was the theme throughout the teachings at the Shokasonjuku Academy to the extent that Shokasonjuku Academy is often referred to as the starting point of Japan’s modernization. To learn how the vast gap in technology between the Western powers and Japan could be overcome, Shoin Yoshida tried to go to the United States, but his attempt failed. Later he studied the West as best he could with his own students and came to believe strongly that Japan needed to adopt Western technology. Four years after Shoin Yoshida’s death, five of his students in the Choshu domain defied the Tokugawa shogunate’s prohibition against leaving Japan and managed to make their way to Britain where they studied at such places as University College London (UCL). The five departed Yokohama Port on May 12, 1863, just two days after the outbreak of the Bakan War (also known as the Shimonoseki War). The Choshu Five were Kaoru Inoue, Kinsuke Endo, Yozo Yamao, Hirobumi Ito and Masaru Ito .

ーーAll of them later rose to prominent positions in Japanese political and civil life. Hirobumi Ito assumed the reins of the Meiji government as the first Prime Minister and Kaoru Inoue served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, while Kinsuke Endo was appointed the Master of the National Mint. Yozo Yamao became known as the father of Japanese engineering and Masaru Inoue was called the father of Japan’s railways.

Yozo Yamao, known as the father of Japanese engineering, contributed to the establishment of the Imperial College of Engineering. After studying at UCL, he wanted to go to Glasgow in Scotland because he had heard that it was where the Industrial Revolution had started and was also a major center for shipbuilding. However, he had no funds left from the allowance he had been given by the Choshu domain. As it turned out, he was helped by another group of students from the Satsuma domain.

ーーIn April 1865, a year and a half after the Choshu Five had secretly boarded a ship sailing to Europe, the Satsuma domain sent its own group of 19 students to Europe. This group included such people as Japan’s first Minister of Education, Arinori Mori, and Tomoatsu Godai, a leading entrepreneur who contributed to Osaka’s economic development.

After befriending Yamao, the group of Satsuma students took a collection of one pound each and presented Yamao with 16 pounds, a generous gesture reflecting the warm ties between the two domains that existed well before the formation of the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance. This enabled Yamao to go to Glasgow where he worked during the day at the Napier Shipyard and attended evening classes at Anderson College. In a strange turn of fortune, it just happened that the Scottish engineer Henry Dyer was studying at Anderson College at the same time. Dyer would later become the first principal of the Imperial College of Engineering and taught in Japan for nine years. The Imperial College of Engineering would later become the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo.

Upon his return to Japan, Yozo Yamao was made Construction Minister, and enjoyed the support of Hirobumi Ito and Kaoru Inoue. Today, there are many prestigious engineering schools, such as MIT in the United States, but most had only just opened around this time, and engineering was considered a much lesser field of academic study than science. In Japan, however, science and engineering were considered equally important and carried the same weight in the country’s university education. This is due in part to the importance Shoin Yoshida placed on engineering in teaching his students at the Shokasonjuku Academy.

ーーHow did you get involved in the project to promote the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution?

In 2006, the Agency for Cultural Affairs introduced a new system whereby local municipalities could submit proposals for World Heritage nominations. Until then, the Agency had been the sole arbiter of the sites that would be nominated for world Heritage inscription. That year, we were visited at city hall by Ms. Koko Kato and Mr. Kimiyasu Shimadzu, who was then president of the Shimadzu Limited. They announced that they were aiming to have Kyushu’s industrial heritage sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. “Hagi has some wonderful industrial heritage sites. In fact, Hagi is the birthplace of Japan’s industrial revolution. Won’t you join our world Heritage project?” As it happened, we had been making preparations to submit a proposal to have Hagi’s old castle town nominated as a World Heritage site. “We’re sorry,” we said. “We are already preparing a proposal for Hagi as a castle town and have no preparations for promoting our industrial heritage.” But they responded, “Don’t worry. We will make all the preparations.” In the end, we decided to submit proposals for both the castle town and our industrial heritage sites.

Living now for the future of Japan: The mission of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to raise awareness and courage that "Japan can be saved if we make use of the spirit of our predecessors."

Former General Manager, Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Dr. Kunifumi Hashimoto
Japan's Meiji Industrial Heritage is the Pride of Japan - Knowing the Steps of Our Predecessors is the Key to Reconsidering Japanese Education

Chairman, Fujisankei Group

Executive Managing Advisor, Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Executive Managing Advisor, Fuji Media Holdings, Inc.

Mr, Hisashi Hieda
The Road to World Heritage Registration was Full of its Ups and Downs ~Blessed, Saved and Paved by the Luck of Human Fate~

Advisor, Federation of Japan Port and Airport Construction Association

(Ex. Chairman of Specialists Center of Port and Airport Engineering)

Mr. Hiroshi Hayashida
The historical flow of change from "Samurai to the Company" is the pride of Japan - Nagasaki, the center of Japan's Meiji Industrial Heritage Sites, will lead the way to connect to the next generation.

Mayor of Nagasaki City

Mr. Shiro Suzuki
The Saga Clan Built Japan's First Reverberatory Furnace, and the "Mietsu Naval Station" was the Base of the Western-style Navy: Passing on the Passion That Went Into Registering the Site as a World Heritage Site to the Next Generation

Former Director of the Sano Tsunetami Memorial Museum (currently known as Sano Tsunetami and the Mietsu Naval Dock History Museum)

Mr. Yoshimi Eguchi
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a "World Cultural Heritage" and a "World Evolutionary Heritage

Director of NPO Association for Thinking about Satoyama

Director of National Congress of the Industrial Heritage

Mr. Kenji Amioka
Shoin Shrine has a mission to convey the history leading up to the Meiji Restoration properly

Honorary Chief Priest Toshinari Ueda

Mr. Toshinari Ueda
What is the secret plan to make the Port of Miike, an operational asset of a World Heritage site?

Former Mayor of Omuta City

Mr. Michio Koga
Vol. 49
Why Conservation Management of Japan's Meiji Industrial Sites is needed?

Archaeologist and Heritage Conservation Specialist

Dr. Michael Pearson AO
The Truth of Industrial History Unraveled from the Perspective of Metallurgy: the Mission of the Heritage of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to Pass on the Intelligence, Diligence, and Fortitude of the Japanese People to Future Generations

A fellow of the Japan Federation of Engineering Societies

Professor Tadahiro Inazumi
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a Great Teaching Aid, and Various World Revealed by Looking Into It

Team Member of the Industrial Project Team Office for the Promotion of World Heritage Listing under Cabinet Secretariat

Mr. Kazuhiko Suga
The History of Iron that Began in Kagoshima has Dramatically Advanced Japan's Modernization~I Want to Pass on the Vitality of the People of Satsuma to the Younger Generations Whom Will Live in the Future~

Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture

Koichi Shiota
Yoshida Shoin preached the Theory of Engineering Education and produced the Choshu Five who risked their lives to go to England--to pass on the proud Hagi spirit to future generations

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Fumio Tanaka
I wish to pass on to my children's generation the wisdom, technology, and energy of our ancestors who built Misumi West Port - I will do my very best to do what I can at this moment by looking ahead to the future that will surely come after COVID-19.

Mayor of Uki City, Kumamoto Prefecture

Mr. Kenshi Morita
Vol. 43
An Imperial Company named the Yawata Steel Works became a World Heritage Site from a Single Old Photo!

The Former Employee of Nippon Steel Corporation

Mr. Masayoshi Minakuchi
We would like to Establish a "New Local Studies" that will be transmitted to the Outside World.

An Associate Professor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in Iwate University

Mr. Hideki Onodera
18 Years History of a Tourist Guide Business and an Outpouring of "Love for Misumi West Port." ~"Registration for World Heritage is Not Simply a Goal, but a New Starting Point."~

Chairman of the Tourist Guide Association of Misumi West Port

Mr. Manpo Saito
To Mark the Passage of "Time" Together with Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace ~To increase the attractiveness of "reverberatory furnace tourism" through the use of commercial museum and restaurant business~

President of Kuraya Narusawa Co., Ltd.

Chairman of Izunokuni City Tourism Association

Mr. Hironori Inamura
The Establishment of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum Were Led by Fate: I want to start, continue, and finish what I can do to convey the value of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution to a wide audience

Director and General Manager of Gunkanjima Concierge

Producer of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum

Ms. Yuko Kuon
In Industrial Heritage, It's the "People" Who Play the Central Role: How World Heritage Inscription Casts a Fresh Light on Hometown Splendors

Owner at Tōge Chaya

Ms. Shizuko Ogasawara
Everything is for the Economic Development of Nagasaki--Expanding Beyond the Shipping Business to Pass on Nagasaki's Culture and Industrial Heritage

Chairman: Mr. Hidenori Date
President: Mr. Masahiro Date

Yamasa Kaiun Co., Ltd.
Kamaishi's "Miracles" and Overcoming Disaster: The Huge Opportunity Provided by World Heritage Site Inscription

Proprietor, Houraikan Inn

Ms. Akiko Iwasaki
"850 years of historical records" along with Nirayama reverberatory furnace that ought to be passed down to future generations. ~The long-awaited new storage warehouse is completed and it has encouraged preservation, restoration, and utilization~

Representative Director of Egawa Bunko non-profit incorporated foundation

The 42nd head of the Egawa Family

Mr. Hiroshi Egawa
The History of an Era Opened by an Indomitable Pioneering Spirit and the Power of Our Forefathers

Democratic Party for the People (DPP) Representative for Nagasaki Prefecture

Mr. Yoshiaki Takaki
Gunkanjima Is a Warning Message for the Future of Earth and Humanity ~The Thoughts and Pleas of a Guide and Former Resident~

President of the NPO, Way to World Heritage Gunkanjima

Mr. Dotoku Sakamoto
Synchronicity Yields the Miracle of World Heritage Site Inscription: Strong Aspirations Inspire Support among Like-Minded Individuals

Representative Director

MI Consulting Group

Mr. Fumio Ohue
Power to the People of Japan The Mission of Meiji Japan's Industrial Revolutionary Heritage

President of Watanabe Production Group and Honorary Chair of Watanabe Productions Co., Ltd.

Ms. Misa Watanabe
Turning Our Industrial Heritage into Hope for Those 100 Years From Now

Member of the House of Councillors

Mr.Tatsuo Hirano
Calling on 21st Century Satsuma Students to Build the Future! Shuseikan Serves as a Source of Information about Sightseeing in Kagoshima

Kagoshima Prefecture

Mr. Satoshi Mitazono
Awareness of "Stories with Connections" is steadily spreading throughout each region~There are also challenges for conservation management and interpretation~

World Heritage Consultant

Ms. Sarah Jane Brazil
Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way: Connecting with People Takes Courage and Initiative

Director and Dean, The Kyushu-Asia Institute of Leadership
Representative Director, SUMIDA, Inc.

Mr. Koichi Hashida
Taking Pride in Japan's Latest World Heritage Sites~A Journalist's Perspective~

Journalist, founder of the Shimomura Mitsuko Ikikata Juku School

Ms. Mitsuko Shimomura
Classic Cars and the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution~Rally Nippon 2019 in Kyushu~

Representative, Rally Nippon

Mr.Yusuke Kobayashi
Preparations Proceed for the Development of Exciting Touring Routes to See the World Heritage Sites - The Promotion Council Conveys their Attractions to the World through Various Promotions!

Chairman, Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution World Heritage Route Promotion Council Director, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Susumu Ishihara
Giving Greater Force to the Preparation of Routes toward Promoting "Heritage Tourism" - Recollections of the Unforgettable Bombing of Hometown Kure City and the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

Representative Director, General Incorporated Foundation National Congress of Industrial Heritage (Advisor, Public Interest Incorporated Foundation Capital Markets Research Institute)

Mr. Hiroshi Yasuda
The City Connected to the World: Making the "Treasure of Nagasaki" the "Treasure of the World"

Mayor of Nagasaki City

Mr.Tomihisa Taue
"The World's Experimental Facility" that Questions of the True Value of the "ICOMOS-TICCIH Cooperative Principles" New Conservation Challenges Promoted by the Japanese Government

Policy Director at Heritage Montreal

Mr. Dinu Bumbaru
Days of Heated Argument with the Unforgettable Stuart Smith~A Cross-Cultural Encounter with Familiar 19th-Century Industrial Heritage~

World Heritage Consultant

Mr. Barry Gamble
The next generation of technological innovation is born from carrying forward history and culture. - Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution open the way to "conserving while using"

Executive Director of Kogakuin University

Dr.Osamu Goto
Blazing a New Trail for Serial Inscription-Format Conservation and Management with the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Training Personnel to Pass on Memory and Understanding as a Major Challenge in the Future

Heritage Architect and International Consultant

Mr. Duncan Marshall
3D Digital Documentation of the Giant Cantilever Crane and Kosuge Dock

Head of Data Acquisition at The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation

Mr. Alastair Rawlinson
Japan's Uplifting Industrial Heritage

Head of Industrial Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Miles Oglethorpe
The Scottish Ten Project

Scottish Ten Project Manager, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Lyn Wilson
The Tea Plantation Hill Where You Can See Two World Heritage Sites at Once, Mt. Fuji and the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces--The Next Dream Is a "Mini Reverberatory Furnace for Children" to Provide Experiential Learning

Mayor of Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture

Ms.Toshiko Ono
Path to becoming a World Heritage Site

Pro-Provost and Chairman of Council of the Royal College of Art. Heritage advisor of Canal & River Trust for England and Wales.

Sir Neil Cossons
In the midst of accurate information dissemination, it created a chance to truly look at history

Dean of Tokyo Rissho Junior College

Professor emeritus of Keio University

Dr. Kudo Norikazu
World Heritage Inscription Spurs Renewed Civic Pride in Kitakyushu's Industrial Heritage

Mayor of Kitakyushu City

Mr. Kenji Kitahashi
World Heritage Inscription: Report on the 2015 Celebratory Party Held in Bonn, Germany

At the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee convened in Bonn, Germany, from June 28 to July 8, 2015, the decision was approved to inscribe the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution on the World Heritage list.

At a celebratory party held to mark the occasion, some of the primary promoters of the project spoke of their joy in achieving their goal and of the trials and tribulations to getting there.

Background of World Heritage Inscription
Conserve and Use: Pioneering New Approaches for Operational Heritage Assets

Director and Managing Executive Officer, Hanshin Expressway Company Limited

Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Hiroshi Okamoto
Applying Port and Harbor Act Provisions to Conserve Operating World Heritage Sites

Vice-Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture

Mr. Takashi Namba
The Choshu Five: Pioneers of Modernization and Hagi's Heritage of Trial and Error

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Koji Nomura
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: The Roots of Japanese Craftsmanship and Industry

Chairman, Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.

Mr.Masafumi Yasutomi
The Miike Area: How Coal Contributed to Japan's Modern Industrialization

Mayor of Omuta City

Mr.Michio Koga
The Meiji Industrial Revolution: A Story of Broad Vision and a Strong Sense of Mission to Undertake New Challenges for the Good of the Nation and its People

Deputy Director-General, Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, MEXT

Former Counsellor, Cabinet Secretariat

Mr. Kengo Iwamoto
From Kamaishi to Yawata: The Proud Heritage of Japan's Modern Iron Industry

Mayor of Kamaishi City

Mr.Takenori Noda
Lord Nariakira Shimadzu's Shuseikan and the Efforts to Build a Strong and Affluent Nation

Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage Counselor, Shimadzu Limited

Mr.Kimiyasu Shimadzu
The Genesis of Japan's Rise as an Industrial Nation: Preserving the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution for Future Generations

Chairman of the Consortium for the World Heritage Inscription of Modern Industrial Heritage (Kyushu-Yamaguchi) and governor of Kagoshima Prefecture (as of 2015)

Mr.Yuichiro Ito