Ichizō Kobayashi

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Ichizō Kobayashi
Born 小林 一三 (Kobayashi Ichizō?)
January 3, 1873
Nakakoma District, Yamanashi, Japan
now Chūō, Yamanashi, Japan
Died January 25, 1957 (aged 84)
Ikeda, Osaka, Japan

Ichizō Kobayashi (小林 一三 Kobayashi Ichizō?, January 3, 1873–January 25, 1957), occasionally referred to by his pseudonym Itsuō (逸翁), was a Japanese industrialist. He is best known as the founder of Hankyu Railway, Takarazuka Revue, and Toho. He was a supporter of right-wing doctrine[citation needed] and represented Japanese capital in government.


Kobayashi was born in Nirasaki, Yamanashi in 1873. He was named Ichizō, meaning "one-three", because of his birthday, January 3. He graduated from Keio Gijuku in 1892.[1]

After 14 years' career at the Mitsui Bank, he founded (technically as one of the promoters/executive directors) Mino-o Arima Electric Railway Company (then Hankyu Corp., now, Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, Inc.) in 1907.[1] At Hankyu, Kobayashi made success in the management of the railway in a less-populated region by developing residential areas and an amusement park along the railway line as well as a department store at the railway terminal. He also established the Takarazuka Revue and the Hankyu professional baseball team (the predecessors of Orix Buffaloes) to attract passengers.[2] Such a business model established by Kobayashi was followed by other railway companies in Japan.

Later Kobayashi was president of council of Tokyo Gasu Denki (Tokyo Gas and Electric). He was appointed in charge of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in the 1940 Konoye Cabinet.[3]

He joined the Taisei Yokusankai Group, with Shozo Murata and Akira Kazami. They supported a new political and economic militarist-socialist program. Kobayashi admired Adolf Hitler's policies; he was interviewed by the press during a business visit to Germany.[citation needed] He stood for capitalist interests in Japan's incursions into Asia and a totalitarian right-socialist government.

After the end of the World War II, he was appointed the cabinet minister of the Shidehara cabinet and became the president of the War Damage Rehabilitation Institute (戦災復興院 Sensai-fukkō-in?), but he was soon purged due to his prewar political career. The purge was lifted in 1951.[1]

Kobayashi died in January 1957. The Itsuō Art Museum in Ikeda, Osaka opened in October 1957 and is dedicated for his art collection.

Kobayashi diplomatic mission, September 1940

Ichizo Kobayashi was commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lead a diplomatic mission to the Dutch East Indies in 1940. Negotiations were for a new agreement on Dutch oil. On September 12, 1940, a Japanese delegation of 24, led by Kobayashi as the Minister of Commerce and Industry, arrived in Batavia to renegotiate political and economic relations between Japan and the Dutch East Indies. Included were six high-ranking military officers, one of them Rear Admiral Tadashi Maeda.

The Dutch Embassy in Japan did not actively take part, although the Dutch Ambassador in Tokyo, J .C. Pabst, had already received the first list of Japanese economic demands in June 1940. Later, all further negotiations were to conducted via the Dutch colonial administration in Batavia, and received support from the Japanese Consulate General, in the persons of Matatoshi Saito (before 1941) and later by Yutaka Ishizawa.

Their first demand was an increase of petrol exports to Japan from the existing 570,000 tons in 1939 to 3,750,000 tons, about 50% of the total Dutch East Indies production. The Dutch answered that existing obligations would only permit an increase to about 1,800,000 tons. Kobayashi initially accepted this proposal, but was soon recalled to Japan on October 2, 1940.

In a book -Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor written by Robert Stinnett:

The heated diplomatic interchanges between Kobayashi and van Mook (H.J. van Mook, Dutch minister) were in sharp contrast to the peaceful surroundings. Japan's diplomats angrily contended that the Nertherlands delegates were mere puppets of Washington. On the table were proposals involving Japanese rights to obtain oil and petroleum products from the Netherlands' enormous reserves in the Dutch East Indies. Japan called for the Dutch to provide a minimum of 3,150,000 metric tons of petroleum annually. One of the delegates, Japanese minister of commerce Ichizo Kobayashi, demanded that the Dutch guarantee a delivery schedule covering a five-year period. Kobayashi expressed the attitude of his government: The Netherlands has been closely co-operating with United Kingdom and the United States. Now is the time to shake hands with Japan. [4]

Another diplomatic commission was then led by Kenkichi Yoshizawa.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 小林一三年譜 (in Japanese). Itsuo Art Museum. Retrieved July 24, 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Takarazuka Revue History". Retrieved July 24, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hankyu-Toho Group
  4. Day of Deceit, Robert B. Stinnett, New York 2000 p.40

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