People Involved in the Reconstruction of the Imperial City of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake

At 11:58 am on September 1, 1923, an earthquake of magnitude 7.9 occurred with its epicenter in western Kanagawa Prefecture. This earthquake is called the Great Kanto Earthquake.

Prime Minister KATO Tomosaburo had died of illness on August 24, and Minister of Foreign Affairs UCHIDA Kosai was serving as Prime Minister. YAMAMOTO Gonbei, who was appointed as the new Prime Minister, held the ceremony of imperial investiture at 7:00 pm on September 2 and formed a cabinet quickly. From the outset, the 2nd YAMAMOTO Cabinet was tasked with dealing with the earthquake disaster and carrying out reconstruction projects.

Members of the 2nd YAMAMOTO Cabinet

※Besides these member, there was YAMANOUCHI Kazuji, Minister of Railways.

Cabinet meeting during the Kanto Earthquake. The person in the front on the left is Prime Minister YAMAMOTO.

From Dainihon Yubenkai Kodansha(ed.), Taisho Daishinsai Daikasai, Dainihon Yubenkai Kodansha, 1923【526-51】(Available with Digitized Contents Transmission Service)

Deputy Prime Minister UCHIDA held a cabinet meeting on the day the earthquake struck, and the following day promulgated the necessary laws to provide relief measures for victims. He also imposed martial law on Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. On September 27, the YAMAMOTO Cabinet established the Teito Fukkoin (Imperial City Reconstruction Department) as an organization under the direct control of the prime minister to carry out reconstruction projects. GOTO Shinpei, Minister of the Interior, became president of the Fukkoin, and skilled engineers were gathered from all over the country.

Using his many connections, GOTO created a recovery plan. However, it cost too much money for large-scale extension of roads, expansion of parks and building a canal. At that time, the Toranomon Incident occurred, in which an anarchist shot at the crown prince, and Prime Minister YAMAMOTO resigned to take responsibility for the incident along with GOTO. MIZUNO Rentaro became the new president of the Fukkkoin.

After that, the Teito Fukkoin was abolished on February 25, 1924 and became the Reconstruction Bureau within the Ministry of the Interior. As a result, both the content and the budget of the reconstruction were reduced. Nonetheless, over 6 years at the Reconstruction Bureau, many projects were carried out in Tokyo and Yokohama, such as land readjustment, maintenance of main roads, maintenance of bridges, underground reserves such as gas and water pipes, maintenance of parks, designation of residential, commercial, and industrial areas, and geological surveys. Tokyo had 52 arterial roads made, which are still used today as major roads in the city.

In addition to national projects, there were relief and reconstruction organizations run by private volunteers. Around 40 businessmen, led by SHIBUSAWA Eiichi, gathered at the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce on September 9, and volunteer members of the House of Peers and the House of Representatives also joined to form the Daishinsai-zengokai. The Zengokai raised donations for the purpose of reconstruction and relief for victims. A huge amount of donations were raised. The amount at that time was 60 million yen in Japan alone, as well as 10.5 million yen given by the Imperial Family, for a total of 70 million yen. Converted to the current value, this would be 210 billion yen. SHIBUSAWA also used his personal connections to raise a large amount of donations from overseas, including the United States.

Members of Daishinsai-zengokai

Donors from Overseas

Kifusha Homeiroku Gaikoku no bu

From Daishinsai Zengokai Hokokusho, Daishinsai Zengokai, 1925【369.31-D17d】(Available with Digitized Contents Transmission Service)


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