Tokugawa Iesato

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Tokugawa Iesato
Prince Tokugawa Iesato.jpg
Born(1863-08-24)August 24, 1863
DiedJune 5, 1940(1940-06-05) (aged 76)
TitleHead of the Tokugawa Family, 2nd Prince Tokugawa
ChildrenIemasa Tokugawa, Yasuko Tokugawa, Ryōko Tokugawa, Toshiko Tokugawa
1917 Prince Iyesato Tokugawa, Baron Eiichi Shibusawa, and S. Shimada honor and support their Allies during World War One

Prince Tokugawa Iesato (徳川 家達, August 24, 1863 – June 5, 1940) was the first head of the Tokugawa clan after the overthrow of the Tokugawa bakufu, and a figure in Japanese politics during the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa period Japan.

Early life[edit]

Tokugawa Iesato was born to the Tayasu branch of the Tokugawa clan, under the name Kamenosuke, he became its 16th head, following the resignation of the last shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. His brothers were Tokugawa Satotaka and Tokugawa Takachiyo, who also held the Tayasu headship at different times. Iesato was also briefly the daimyō of the short-lived Shizuoka Domain, before the abolition of the han system in the early 1870s. His guardian at the time was Matsudaira Naritami, the former lord of the Tsuyama Domain. He was an adopted son of the fourteenth shogun, Tokugawa Iemochi and his wife, Kazu-no-Miya Chikako or Seikan'in no Miya (although Iesato was Iemochi's adopted son they only met once. Later Iemochi's foster mother, Tenshō-in, raised Iesato). In 1866 he was sent to Edo Castle as Iemochi's son and was raised by Tenshō-in and Kazu-no-Miya Chikako. In 1868 he was sent to Kyoto by his mother, Kazu-no-Miya Chikako and met with Emperor Meiji. He married the daughter of Konoe Tadafusa, Konoe Hiroko, who bore him Iemasa Tokugawa, the seventeenth Tokugawa family head, Yasuko Tokugawa, who married Nobusuke Takatsukasa and bore him Toshimichi Takatsukasa, Ryōko Tokugawa, and Toshiko Tokugawa.


Prince Iesato Tokugawa with his family
August 21, 1918 - Prince Iyesato Tokugawa with his family

Career and legacy[edit]

In 1877, Iesato was sent to Eton College in Great Britain to study. He returned to Japan in 1882, and was given the title of kōshaku (公爵, prince) under the kazoku peerage system. He became a member of the House of Peers of the Diet of Japan from its creation in 1890, and served as President of the House of Peers from 1901-1933. When the administration of Prime Minister Yamamoto Gonnohyōe was brought down by the Siemens scandal, there was a strong movement to have Tokugawa Iesato nominated to be his successor.

Following World War I, Iesato served on the Japanese delegation to the Washington Naval Conference. His support of the United States position on the 10:10:6 division of naval strength between the United States, Great Britain and Japan drew considerable wrath from the ultra-rightist movements and conservative factions within the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Iesato is remembered for having recovered the political fortunes and reputation of the Tokugawa family, holding many senior government positions before his retirement, including In 1928, being appointed as the 7th President of the Japanese Red Cross Society, head of the Japan-America Society, and President of the national organizing committee for the 1940 Olympics.

This is a hand-drawn etching of Prince Iyesato Tokugawa was done during an international arms limitation conference. Portraits were done of the American, British, Japanese, French, Italian, Belgian, and Chinese delegates and they were autographed by their subjects. The artist for the Tokugawa portrait is Walter Tittle, an American artist (1883-1960). Tokugawa signed his name Iyesato Tokugawa in the lower center. The artist signed and dated in the lower right: "Walter Tittle / Washington, December 1921". This illustration comes from the illustrated biography of Prince Tokugawa titled: The Art of Peace.
1921 - Prince Iyesato Tokugawa during the Washington Naval Conference on the Limitation of Armament

Iesato is quoted as once having said about his adoptive father: "Yoshinobu destroyed the Tokugawa house; I rebuilt it."

His grave is at the Tokugawa family cemetery at the temple of Kan'ei-ji in Ueno, Tokyo. He was succeeded by his son Tokugawa Iemasa (also known as Tokugawa Iyemasa).

In 1930, Rotary International wished to recognize and honor Prince Iyesato Tokugawa’s lifelong devotion to maintaining international goodwill by selecting him to be the Keynote speaker at their Silver (25TH) Anniversary Convention celebration. One of the 1930 photos to the right shows Prince Tokugawa accompanied by the founder of Rotary International, Paul Harris, along with the current President of Rotary (1929-1930) M. Eugene Newsom, as they are about to introduce Prince Tokugawa to the 15,000 Rotarians attending the event. The second 1930 photo to the right presents Prince Tokugawa on the front stage of the large convention hall standing at the podium addressing his fellow Rotarians from around the world.

The August 24, 1933 photo illustration to the right presents Prince Iyesato Tokugawa during his World Tour. Prince Iyesato Tokugawa had just arrived in San Francisco, California, enroute to England. He had only recently retired from his distinguished thirty year career as President of the Japan’s upper house of congress, House of Peers. He arrived aboard the Chichibu Maru Ocean Liner enroute to England. During his travels, he stated he wished to renew old friendships. Prince Tokugawa first visited America in 1882, after completing his studies in England. The Prince mentioned he also intended to visit the World’s Fair being held in Chicago.

Behind Prince Tokugawa’s broad, friendly smile, his world travels were very much directed at attempting to further strengthen Japan’s relationship with its allies in the U.S. and Europe so as to resist a rising global militarism/fascism.

While in the U.S., Prince Tokugawa delivered a radio address describing the long enduring and friendly relations between United States and Japan. While in Europe, he met with the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. While in the United States, he met with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as U.S. congressional leaders, encouraging a united front to a potential upcoming war.[1]

1930: Prince Iyesato Tokugawa keynote speaker at Rotary International's Silver Anniversary Convention
1930: Paul Harris founder of Rotary International and the current President of Rotary present Prince Iyesato Tokugawa as keynote speaker at Rotary International’s Silver Anniversary Convention and celebration.
1930: Prince Tokugawa Iesato honored by Rotary International
1930, Prince Iyesato Tokugawa, keynote speaker addresses Rotary International’s Silver Anniversary Convention and celebration in Chicago.


  • Katz, Stan S. The Art of Peace, an illustrated biography highlighting Prince Tokugawa Iesato's many international diplomatic achievements. (2019) ISBN 978-0-9903349-2-7


  • Katz, Stan S. The Emperor and the Spy, is an historical novel that honors the accomplishments of Prince Tokugawa Iesato as he strove to maintain good relations between Japan and America during the first 40 years of the 20th century. (2015 and 2017 Revised Edition) ISBN 978-0-9903349-4-1
  • Banno, Junji. The Establishment of the Japanese Constitutional System. Routledge (1992). ISBN 0-415-00497-7
  • Fraser, Andrew. Japan's Early Parliaments, 1890–1905. Routledge (1995). ISBN 0-415-03075-7
  • Lebra, Sugiyama Takie. Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility. University of California Press (1995). ISBN 0-520-07602-8
  • Sims, Richard. Japanese Political History Since the Meiji Renovation 1868–2000. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23915-7

External lin[1]ks[edit]

August 24, 1933, San Francisco, California: Prince Iyesato Tokugawa on World Tour. and international goodwill mission.
August 24, 1933, San Francisco, California: Prince Iyesato Tokugawa on World Tour.

Preceded by
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tokugawa family head
Succeeded by
Tokugawa Iemasa
Preceded by
Tokugawa Takachiyo
Tayasu-Tokugawa family head
Succeeded by
Tokugawa Yoshiyori
Political offices
Preceded by
Konoe Atsumaro
President of the House of Peers
Succeeded by
Fumimaro Konoe
  1. ^ a b "Introduction to The Art of Peace: an illustrated biography about Prince Iyesato Tokugawa". Stan. S. Katz. 2019-10-15. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  2. ^ Katz, Stan S. (October 15, 2019). "The Art of Peace". TheEmperorAndTheSpy.com.