So Yoshiaki

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  • Other Names: 宗善之允 (Sô Yoshinojô), 宗重正 (Sô Shigemasa)
  • Japanese: 義達 (Sô Yoshiaki / Sô Yoshiakira)

Sô Yoshiaki, also known as Yoshiakira, was the 33rd head of the Sô clan and the 16th and final lord of Tsushima han.

A son of Sô Yoshiyori, lord of Tsushima, by his wife Jihô-in, Yoshiaki was originally known by the childhood name Yoshinojô.

He ultimately came to power in 1862 as the result of a violent coup in which members of a pro-sonnô jôi faction within the domain assassinated chief councillor Sasu Iori and pressured Yoshiaki's father Sô Yoshiyori to step down. Yoshiaki's mother Jihô-in, a daughter of a former lord of Chôshû han, then helped coordinate an alliance between Tsushima and Chôshû, in support of sonnô jôi politics.[1] Two years later, in 1864, Katsui Gohachirô, a sonnô jôi activist freed from imprisonment in the 1862 coup, then led attacks on the domain government again, capturing Yoshiaki and forcing changes in the domain's personnel and politics. Katsui was named chief councillor in 1865 but was then killed in another factional conflict a year later and replaced by Hirata Ôe. Yoshiaki managed to retain his position as lord of Tsushima through all of this turmoil, however.[2]

In the meantime, in 1863, in the wake of the imperial court's declaration in 1862 in support of "expelling the barbarians" (jôi), Yoshiaki traveled to Edo and met with several of the rôjû to attempt to negotiate for the shogunate's aid in bolstering Tsushima's defenses.

Following the Meiji Restoration, with the help of Kido Takayoshi, Yoshiaki received an elevation in court rank and an appointment as official imperial representative for conducting relations with Korea. Yoshiaki then abandoned the seals and titles granted him as a vassal of the Korean royal court, and began to exclusively use Japanese imperial seals and titles in communications with Korea.[3]

In 1869, as domains began to formally return lands to the emperor, Tsushima domain was renamed Izuhara domain, with Yoshiaki - now renamed Shigemasa - as its first governor. He then advocated for his house to step down from a special role in relations with Korea, and for that to be turned over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[4]

Preceded by:
Sô Yoshiyori
Lord of Tsushima han
Succeeded by:


  1. Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 217-227.
  2. Hellyer, 227-230.
  3. Hellyer, 240-241.
  4. Hellyer, 241-243.