Inoue Masaru

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b. 1 August 1843 Hagi, Choshu, Japan
d. 2 August 1910 London, England
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Japanese "Father of Japanese Railways".
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In the early 1860s, most travel in Japan was still by foot and the Japanese were forbidden by their government to travel abroad. Inoue was one of a small group of students who left Japan illegally in 1863 for London. There he studied English, mathematics and science, and afterwards mineralogy and railways. Inoue returned to Japan in 1868, when the new Meiji Government reopened the country to the outside world after some 200 years of isolation. Part of its policy, despite opposition, was to build railways; at Inoue's suggestion, the gauge of 3 ft 6 in. (1.07 m) was adopted. Initially capital, engineers, skilled labour and materials ranging from locomotives to pencils and stationery were all imported from Britain; Edmund Morel was the first Chief Engineer. In 1871 Inoue was appointed Director of the Government Railway Bureau and he became the driving force behind railway development in Japan for more than two decades. The first line, from Tokyo to Yokohama, was opened in 1872, to be followed by others, some of them at first isolated. The number of foreigners employed, most of them British, peaked at 120 in 1877 and then rapidly declined as the Japanese learned to take over their tasks. In 1878, at Inoue's instance, construction of a line entirely by Japanese commenced for the first time, with British engineers as consultants only. It was ten years before Japanese Railways' total route was 70 miles (113 km) long; over the next ten years, this increased to 1,000 miles (1,600 km) and the system continued to grow rapidly. During 1892–3, a locomotive was built in Japan for the first time, under the guidance of Locomotive Superintendent R.F.Trevithick, grandson of the pioneer Richard Trevithick : it was a compound 2–4–2 tank engine, with many parts imported from Britain. Locomotive building in Japan then blossomed so rapidly that imports were discontinued, with rare exceptions, from 1911. Meanwhile Inoue had retired in 1893; he was on a visit to England at the time of his death.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Viscount 1887.
Bibliography
1909, "Japanese communications: railroads", in Count Shigenobu Okuma (ed.), Fifty Years of New Japan (English version ed. M.B.Huish), Smith, Elder, Ch. 18.
Further Reading
T.Richards and K.C.Rudd, 1991 Japanese Railways in the Meiji Period 1868–1912, Uxbridge: Brunel University (one of the few readily available accounts in English of the origins of Japanese Railways).
PJGR

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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