Matsuda Michiyuki

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Matsuda Michiyuki was the seventh governor of Tokyo, and the chief official in charge of overseeing the abolition of the Ryûkyû Kingdom and annexation of its territory as Okinawa prefecture, a process known as the Ryûkyû shobun.

Matsuda was originally from a Tottori han retainer family.

After serving as governor of Shiga prefecture for some time after the Meiji Restoration, Matsuda stepped down from that position in March 1875 to become Chief Secretary of the Home Ministry (Naimu daijô 内務大丞). Acting in accordance with "disposal of Ryûkyû" plans articulated by Minister of the Interior Ôkubo Toshimichi, Matsuda met with Ryukyuan officials in March through May that same year, rebuking them for their disloyalty to the Empire of Japan in continuing tributary relations with Qing Dynasty China. In June, he was named "Shobun-kan," or "Disposal Officer," by the Meiji Emperor. He left for Okinawa two days later, arriving in July and beginning the implementation of a number of political and other systematic changes, following the declaration in 1872 that the Ryûkyû Kingdom was now Ryûkyû han, a feudal domain under the Emperor, and thus subject more directly to Japanese law. While the Ryukyuan royal court rejected many of Tokyo's demands (as conveyed by Matsuda), and even sent Ikegusuku ueekata and several other officials to Tokyo where they remained for a year, continuing to reject Tokyo's demands, on behalf of their king, Matsuda still managed to implement numerous policy changes in Ryûkyû, including the imposition of Japanese criminal codes and law enforcement, and the establishment of a permanent army garrison in the islands, which actually arrived the following year.[1]

Meanwhile, back in Tokyo, Matsuda was in 1876 named the head of a committee put together by the Home Ministry to organize urban planning in Tokyo. He presented a plan in 1880 which proposed boosting the city's economic development through the elimination of slums, improving the city's safety and hygiene, and improving infrastructure, including roads, canals, the water system, and the port facilities.[2] His plan advocated explicitly focusing on a designated core of the city, and giving little attention to the development of other neighborhoods.[3] Matsuda was succeeded as governor of Tokyo by Yoshikawa Akimasa.[2]

Matsuda returned to Ryûkyû in 1877 to present further demands from Tokyo, and in 1878 he presented his own ideas for the "disposal of Ryûkyû" to Itô Hirobumi. Granted permission and authority to begin carrying this plan out, he returned to Ryûkyû once again in January 1879, and presented to Prince Nakijin a formal letter from the Prime Minister reproaching Ryûkyû for breaking the prohibition imposed by Japan on sending diplomatic missions to China, and for obstructing the implementation of Japanese law enforcement and criminal administration in the islands. Spending only a brief time there, he returned to Tokyo, and then back to Ryûkyû two months later, where he presented to the Prince the formal letter officially declaring the dissolution of the Kingdom of Ryûkyû and its annexation by the Japanese Empire, as Okinawa Prefecture.

He then remained in Okinawa, or traveled back and forth between there and Tokyo, continuing to oversee the implementation of the shobun for some time, though he was never named governor of Okinawa.

Preceded by:
Kusumoto Masataka
Governor of Tokyo
Succeeded by:
Yoshikawa Akimasa


  1. Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People (revised ed.). Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2000, 371-373.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Timothy Unverzagt Goddard, "Teito Tokyo: Empire, Modernity, and the Metropolitan Imagination," PhD Dissertation, UCLA, 2013, p7.
  3. Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, UC Press (1998), 72.