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Foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan

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The foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan, known in Japanese as oyatoi gaikokujin (Kyūjitai: 御雇ひ外國人, Shinjitai: 御雇い外国人, "hired foreigners"), were those foreign advisors hired by the Japanese government for their specialized knowledge to assist in the modernization of Japan at the end of the Bakufu and during the Meiji period. The term is sometimes rendered o-yatoi gaikokujin in romaji. The total number is uncertain, but is estimated to have reached more than 3,000 (with thousands more in the private sector). Until 1899, more than 800 hired foreign experts continued to be employed by the government, and many others were employed privately. However, despite being called "experts", some were simply convenient hires who happened to be in the treaty ports such as Yokohama and Kobe.


The goal in hiring the foreign advisors was to obtain transfers of technology and advice on systems and cultural ways. The foreign advisors were highly paid; in 1874, they numbered 520 men, at which time their salaries came to ¥2.272 million, or 33.7 percent of the national annual budget. Despite the value they provided in the modernization of Japan, the Japanese government did not consider it prudent for them to settle in Japan permanently. After training Japanese replacements to take over their places, many found that their contracts (typically for three years) were not renewed. Some, however, made their lives in Japan, for example Josiah Conder and Thomas Blake Glover.

Some foreign advisors supplemented their activities as government employees by undertaking Christian missionary activities.

The system was officially terminated in 1899 when extraterritoriality came to an end in Japan. Nevertheless, similar employment of foreigners persists in Japan, particularly within the national education system and professional sports.


  • William Smith Clark
  • Edwin Dun
  • Max Fesca
  • Oskar Kellner
  • Oskar Löw, agronomist
  • William Penn Brooks, agronomist
  • Medical science

  • Erwin von Bälz
  • Johannes Ludwig Janson
  • Heinrich Botho Scheube
  • Julius Scriba
  • Law, administration, and economics

  • Georges Appert, legal scholar
  • Gustave Emile Boissonade, legal scholar
  • Hermann Roesler, jurist and economist
  • Georg Michaelis, jurist
  • Albert Mosse, jurist
  • Otfried Nippold, jurist
  • Heinrich Waentig, economist and jurist
  • Georges Hilaire Bousquet, legal scholar
  • Horatio Nelson Lay, diplomat
  • Henry Willard Denison, diplomat
  • Karl Rathgen, economist
  • Military

  • Jules Brunet, artillery officer
  • Léonce Verny, constructor of the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
  • Klemens Wilhelm Jakob Meckel, Army instructor
  • Jeremiah Richard Wasson
  • Henry Walton Grinnell, Navy instructor
  • Charles Dickinson West, naval architect
  • Henry Spencer Palmer, military engineer
  • Archibald Lucius Douglas, Naval instructor
  • Natural science and mathematics

  • William Edward Ayrton, physicist
  • Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, physicist
  • Edward S. Morse, zoologist
  • Charles Otis Whitman, zoologist, successor of Edward S. Morse
  • Heinrich Edmund Naumann, geologist
  • Curt Netto, metallurgist
  • Sir James Alfred Ewing, physicist and engineer who founded Japanese seismology
  • Cargill Gilston Knott, succeeding J.A. Ewing
  • Benjamin Smith Lyman, mining engineer
  • Engineering

  • William P. Brooks, agriculture
  • Richard Henry Brunton - builder of lighthouses
  • Josiah Conder, architect
  • William Kinnimond Burton, engineering, architecture, photography
  • Horace Capron, agriculture, road construction
  • Henry Dyer, engineering education
  • Hermann Ende, architect
  • George Arnold Escher, civil engineer
  • John Milne, geologist, seismologist
  • Edmund Morel, railway engineer
  • Johannis de Rijke, civil engineer, flood control, river projects
  • John Alexander Low Waddell, bridge engineer
  • Thomas James Waters, civil engineer, architect
  • William Gowland, mining engineer, archaeologist
  • Jean Francisque Coignet, mining engineer
  • Wilhelm Böckmann, architect
  • Art and music

  • Edoardo Chiossone - engraver
  • Luther Whiting Mason, musician
  • Ernest Fenollosa, art critic
  • Franz Eckert, musician
  • Rudolf Dittrich, musician
  • Antonio Fontanesi, oil painter
  • Vincenzo Ragusa, sculptor
  • John William Fenton, musician
  • Liberal arts, humanities and education

  • Alice Mabel Bacon, pedagoge
  • Basil Hall Chamberlain, Japanologist and Professor of Japanese
  • James Summers, English literature
  • Lafcadio Hearn, Japanologist
  • Viktor Holtz, educator
  • Raphael von Koeber, philosopher and musician
  • Ludwig Riess, historian
  • Leroy Lansing Janes, educator, missionary
  • Marion McCarrell Scott, educator
  • Edward Bramwell Clarke, educator
  • David Murray, educator
  • Missionary activities

  • William Elliot Griffis, clergyman, author
  • Guido Verbeck, missionary, pedagoge
  • Horace Wilson, missionary and teacher credited with introducing baseball to Japan.
  • Others

  • Francis Brinkley, journalist
  • Ottmar von Mohl, court protocol
  • References

    Foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan Wikipedia

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