Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Maejima Hisoka

(1835-1919). Founder of the Japanese postal service. Real name Ueno Fusagorō. His proposed postal service began in April 1871 with 65 post offices between Tokyo and Osaka. When he left office in 1881, there were 5,099 post offices. Maejima also took the lead in organizing postal savings and money order systems, revising weights and measures, and founding the Yūbin Hōchi Shinbun (which later merged with the Yomiuri Shinbun, which is now one of Japan's major daily newspapers). He also advocated simplifying the Japanese writing system by replacing Chinese characters with kana syllabic script. He helped found Tokyo Senmon Gakkō (renamed Waseda University in 1901) and served as its second president (1886-1890). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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