1 Yozo YAMAO of the Choshu Five: The Father of Japan’s Engineering

Japan Matters public lectures in 2013/14

Friday 19 July 2013 from 2.30pm
‘Yozo YAMAO: an apprentice at a Glasgow shipyard who became the Father of Japan’s Engineering’
Professor Shigehiko KANEKO, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo
Riverside Museum, Glasgow

The lecture was co-organised by Embassy of Japan in the UK and Japan Desk Scotland, in cooperation with Glasgow Museums, and with grant from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The lecture was free and open to the public.

In 1863, 150 years ago, five young men from Choshu (now Yamaguchi Prefecture), Japan, arrived in London, when going abroad was prohibited for Japanese. They are now known as Choshu Five, one of whom, Hirobumi ITO, later became Japan’s first Prime Minister. Another member, Yozo YAMAO (1837-1917), after studying in London, came to Glasgow in 1866 and studied shipbuilding for two years. He was an apprentice at Napier Shipyard during the day, and attended Anderson College (now University of Strathclyde) in the night. Upon going home, he became a high-flying civil servant in the new Meiji Government, and contributed towards, among others, the establishment in 1873 of the Imperial College of Engineering, which later became Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo. He is now called the Father of Japan’s Engineering. The newly established College’s curriculum was largely based on the ideas of Macquarn Rankine, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Glasgow, and Rankine recommend one of his students, Henry Dyer, who had studied Anderson College and University of Glasgow, as the Principal of Japan’s first College of Engineering.

To commemorate this historical link between Glasgow and the establishment of Japan’s Engineering Education, we couldn’t have a more suited speaker than Shigehiko KANEKO. He is Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, and is from the town where YAMAO was born and grew up. And the venue for this public lecture, Riverside Museum, was ideal, as it is Scotland’s Transport Museum, covering Scotland’s engineering history, and is situated opposite the site where Napier Shipyard used to stand.

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The summary of Professor Kaneko’s talk:

Prior to coming to London in 1863
• Yozo YAMAO was born and grew up in a house facing the Seto Inland Sea, and this may have nurtured his wish to go aboard.
• In 1853, the so-called ‘Kuro fune’ (black ships) came to Japan from the United States, which was led by Commodore Perry, with more than 1,000 crew members. This surprised the Tokugawa Shogunate.
• He went to Russia as a crew member on Keneda Maru, and this shows that he was interested in navigation.

In London and in Glasgow
• In 1863, the five young men from Choshu (now Yamaguchi Prefecture), including YAMAO, arrived in London, and Hugh Matheson asked Professor Alexander Williamson, University College London, to look after them.
• After studying in London for a few years, YAMAO wanted to study practical matters and came to Glasgow in 1866, with financial support from another group of young men sent from Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture).
• YAMAO worked at Napier Shipyard during the day, and the photographs of the saw and plain he used have survived. In the night he attended the Anderson College (now University of Strathclyde).

Imperial College of Engineering, Japan
• After working and studying in Glasgow for two years, he went back to Japan to become a civil servant at the Meiji government and suggested the establishment of the Imperial College of Engineering, which was established in 1873.
• At that time he was working at Ministry of Public Works, and Hirobumi ITO, another member of Choshu Five, was also working at the same Ministry.
• ITO asked Professor Macquarn Rankine, University of Glasgow, to recommend a suitable person to become the Principal of the College, and one of his students, Henry Dyer, was recommended.
• Professor Rankine’s famous Manuals were bought by the government of Japan, and the students at the College studied them.
• The photograph of the College building shows that it resembled the building of Glasgow University in High Street.
• In the first graduation there were thirty three graduates, eleven of them were sent to Britain, and four studied at Glasgow University. University of Tokyo’s Emeritus Professor OHASHI Hideo recently studied about the first five graduates in Mechanical Engineering.
• Shin’ichiro ARAKAWA from Yamaguchi: His dissertation at the Imperial College of Engineering was about Cotton Manufacture and he graduated from the College with First Grade. He further studied Spinning Manufacturing in Manchester. He worked at the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce and died at the age of seventy three
• Seinoshin IMADA also from Yamaguchi: His dissertation was about Stationary Engines, and he graduated with Second Grade. He worked at Army Ministry and died at the age of eighty five.
• Naotada TAKAYAMA from Kumamoto: His dissertation was about Iron Manufacture, and he graduated with First Grade. He further studied Mechanical Engineering at Glasgow University. He worked as Professor (Mechanical Engineering) at the Imperial College of Engineering, and died at the age of thirty one.
• Shinrokuro MIYOSHI from Shizuoka: His dissertation was about Locomotive Engines, and he graduated with First Grade. He further studied Shipbuilding at Glasgow University. He worked as Professor (Ship Building) at the Imperial College of Engineering and died at the age of fifty three.
• Koji MIYAZAKI from Ehime: His dissertation was about Marine Engines, and he graduated with Second Grade. He worked at the Ministry of Communication (Railway) and died at the age of fifty two.
• There are many famous graduates from the Imperial College of Engineering, but the following two may be most famous.
• Ichisuke FUJIOKA: He studied Electric Engineering and was the founder of Toshiba
• Kingo TATSUNO: He studied architecture and designed Tokyo Station, which was recently renovated.
• The Imperial College of Engineering later became the Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo.

The University of Tokyo
• The University of Tokyo was established in 1877.
• I am currently Chair of Energy Systems within the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the first Chair of which was Henry Dyer.
• My laboratory accepts interns from the European countries. The university is increasing the number of lectures taught in English.

YAMAO’s other legacies
• YAMAO established the School of Fine Arts, which was associated with the Ministry of Public Works, together with the Imperial College of Engineering. The School of Fine Arts was a predecessor of the Tokyo University of the Arts.
• Tokyo University of Fine Arts is only 20-minnute walking distance from the Faculty of Engineering, The University of Tokyo.
• Until recently, however, there was no collaboration between them, when a professor in Engineering started a joint project on design engineering. The collaboration shows the differences between the students on these two universities: The range of ideas is narrow among Engineering students but wide among Arts students. I think that the best parts of two universities should be explored more.
• YAMAO also contributed towards the establishment of the first special needs school for deaf, which is now Special Needs Education School for Deaf, University of Tsukuba.

Glasgow and Japan’s national holiday
• Marine Day (Umi no Hi) is one of national holidays in Japan, which is celebrated on the third Monday of July. This is related to Glasgow through YAMAO.
• He ordered Napier Shipyard the construction of a ship for light house, and the Emperor Meiji boarded the ship, Meiji Maru, which arrived at Yokohama on 20th July 1876. This date is the origin of Marine Day.
• Meiji Maru is now owned by Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, and the government of Japan recently promised to bear the cost for its preservation.

Conclusion
• YAMAO’s spirit of becoming a ‘living machine’, which can make many machines, never dies.
• Henry Dyer’s word, ‘The engineer is the real revolutionist’, is still valid.
• It is the time to reflect on YAMAO’s legacies for the renewal of Japan’s Engineering Education.
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In Scotland, perhaps the most famous graduate from the Imperial College of Engineering would be Kaichi WATANABE, who graduated both from the College and University of Glasgow and worked for the construction of the Forth Rail Bridge.  Prior to the start of the construction, a ‘human bridge’ was made to demonstrate the cantilever principle, with him sitting in the middle.  The photograph of the model is reproduced on Bank of Scotland’s £20 note.   In 2009 when Yushin of Japan Desk Scotland was working at University of Glasgow, he planned and organised ‘Friendship beyond Boundaries‘ event as part of Japan-UK 150, a UK-wide celebration of the 150th anniversary of Anglo-Japanese relations.  For its opening ceremony, where Mr Shin Ebihara, then Japanese Ambassador to the UK, and Sir Muir Russell, then Principal of University of Glasgow, were present, the human bridge was recreated (video).  The event also included a one-day joint symposium between Glasgow and Tokyo Universities on the theme of  ’Towards a barrier free society‘, recognising Yozo YAMAO’s contribution towards the establishment of the predecessor of Faculty of Engineering, University of Tokyo, where Glasgow scholars played an important role, and of Japan’s first school for deaf.