Fukuchi Genichiro

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Fukuchi as depicted in a woodblock print by Kobayashi Kiyochika, from the series Kyôdô Risshi no Motoi.
  • Born: 1841/3/23, Nagasaki
  • Died: 1906/1/4, Tokyo
  • Other Names: 福地 桜痴 (Fukuchi Ouchi), 八十吉 (Yasokichi), 吾曹 (Gosou)
  • Japanese: 福地 源一郎 (Fukuchi Gen'ichirou)

Fukuchi Gen'ichirô was a journalist, writer, and statesman of the Meiji period.

Originally from Nagasaki, he was the son of a physician, Fukuchi Gensuke, and his wife Matsuko.

He studied Rangaku and the Dutch language from a young age, and journeyed to Edo at the age of 18 in 1858 to learn English; there, he worked as a translator and interpreter for the shogunate, and traveled to Europe twice with official shogunate delegations, in 1861 and 1865; shortly after (or even before?) the Meiji Restoration, he founded a newspaper called the Kôko shimbun (江湖新聞), in which he criticized the Sat-Chô government and defended the shogunate. Though arrested for this, thanks to the efforts of Kido Takayoshi he was acquitted, and began working for the Ministry of Finance (Ôkurashô) as soon as two years later, taking part in both the Iwakura Mission and a visit by Itô Hirobumi to the US.

From 1874-1888, he was chief editor and president of the Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun, reporting on a wide variety of stories, including the Satsuma Rebellion, often under the penname Gosô (吾曹). In his writings, he rejected radical stances, supporting a more realist view, and more gradual, "slow and steady" policies. Though generally quite supportive of the government, and indeed marketing the paper as an official publication supported by or authorized by the Dajôkan, he was also at times quite critical of the state. One such occasion was in his criticism of an incident or scandal related to the disposal of government-owned land by the Hokkaido Development Commission in 1881.

Fukuchi also worked as a politician, elected to the Tokyo prefectural legislature in 1878, and named its head the following year. In 1882, he formed a new political party along with a number of his fellows, but it was not officially recognized. The following year, the government began printing its own gazette, and the no longer officially sponsored Tokyo Nichinichi Shinbun began to have financial problems; Fukuchi stepped down as editor-in-chief the following year, and retired from the newspaper in 1888.

In later years, he turned to writing kabuki plays and fiction, and supporting the development of modern theatre, as well as playing a role in the 1889 construction of Kabuki-za. Having strong connections with Ichikawa Danjûrô IX, he wrote a number of plays, including one entitled "Kasuga no Tsubone." He was elected to the Diet in 1904, but died two years later.