Tsuboi Kōzō

Tsuboi Kōzō late in his career. Original believed to be in the public domain.

Born: 1843
Years of Service

Hara Kōzō was born 7 March, 1843, to a doctor in Chōshū. The second son, he was adopted by the Tsuboi family, and raised as a samurai. On the 5th-6th of December, 1864, Kōzō was part of the defense of Shimonoseki, when the city was bombarded by European warships. He was awed by the firepower displayed, and became convinced that Japan must obtain naval power of its own. He soon enlisted in the Chōshū domain navy, studying navigation and English, and served in the Meiji Restoration on the side of the Imperialists. When the Chōshū navy was incorporated into the Imperial Japanese Navy after the Meiji Restoration, Kōzō went with it, and was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1870. The following year, he became executive officer on the ironclad Kōtetsu, and he also received training on the American frigate USS Colorado. He was sponsored by the US Navy to attend the University of Colombia from 1872-74, after which he was promoted to lieutenant commander and given command of the old gunboat Dai Ichi Teibō. From 1875-79, he was supervisor of construction at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal. After a series of smaller commands, Kōzō became Deputy Director of the Imperial Japanese Navy Technical Department. In 1889, he received his first major command at sea, the protected cruiser Takachiho. Promoted to rear admiral in 1890, he was in command of the IJN Naval Academy at Etajima and then the Naval Staff College, before the Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1894. During that War, Kōzō was in command of the Readiness Fleet, but also saw action at the Battles of Pungdo and the Yalu. During the latter, he distinguished himself as commander of the flying squadron, and would be awarded the title of baron, and promoted to vice admiral. In 1897, he was given command of the Yokosuka Naval District. His career was cut short by his death from cancer the following year.