Members of the First Japanese Embassy to Europe, in 1862, around Shibata Sadataro, head of the mission staff (seated).
The Shibata mission was sent in July 1865 by the shogunate to France and England. This delegation was led by the special commissioner, Shibata Takenaka (柴田 剛中, February 27, 1823 – August 24, 1877).
The mission sent to France had several objectives. Shibata visited the Toulon shipyard, and negotiated with the French government the modalities for the construction of the Yokosuka shipyard as well as the purchase of materials and equipment.
He will also negotiate with the French Foreign Minister, Drouyn de Lhuys, the sending to Japan of a French military delegation in charge of training the shogunate army.
The mission was composed of 10 members, four officers and six delegates, whose names are listed below :
Shibata Takenaka 柴田剛中
Fukuchi Genichiro 福地源一郎
Mizushina Rakutaro 水品楽太郎
Shioda Saburo 塩田三郎
Sakosuke Obana 小花作之助
Fomita Tatsudo (sic)
Shibata Takenaka (柴田 剛中, February 27, 1823 – August 24, 1877) Shibata Sadataro (柴田 貞太郎)
During the Seinan War (1877), Fukichi covered all the fighting as a war correspondent.
In 1888, Fukichi left journalism and began to work in literature and theatre, becoming a great playwright. He died in 1906, leaving several plays and many novels.
During the 1862 mission, Shibata Sadataro (Takenaka) was the chief of staff and first secretary. The newspapers of the time nicknamed him "the shadow". In fact, Shibata was one of the heads of the mission and participated directly in the negotiations, but he did not express himself, he was there as an observer, he listened and recorded notes.
On his return to Japan, he will report on the progress of the mission and the behaviour of the negotiators. In fact, he plays the role of a spy, hence his nickname "shadow".
On the strength of these results and his knowledge, Shibata - then Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - was personally sent on a mission to France in 1865 to negotiate the construction project for the Yokosuka shipyard, as well as the purchase of materials and equipment. These negotiations would also lead to the sending of French military advisers to Japan and the introduction of the French military organisation.
Fukuchi Gen'ichirō (福地 源一郎 1841-1906)
Also known under the pseudonym Fukuchi Ōchi 福地 桜痴, as a writer.
Fukichi was part of the Shibata mission in 1865. Mission which went to France following the failure of Ikeda Nagaoki (1864). The Shibata mission resumed negotiations and visited several sensitive military sites.
Born in Nagasaki in 1841, Fukichi first studied Dutch but quickly learned English, realizing that it would become the most common language. He will accompany the first mission of 1862 (Takenouchi mission) in France.
In 1870, he joined the Ministry of Finance and went to the United States with Ito Hirobumi.
1871, he accompanied the Iwakura mission to the United States and Europe.
1873, Fukuchi left his government post, and in 1874, he joined the Shinbun Nichi Nichi 東京日日新聞, a daily newspaper in Tokyo.
Fukuchi took advantage of the newspaper to write editorials in which he expressed all sorts of opinions, most of them conservative, which caused him a lot of trouble.
Shibata mission in France - Credits
Made possible with the help of République & Meiji