In the early Showa era, what kind of person is “Seki Hajime”, the mayor of Osaka, who was acclaimed as “the treasure of our country’s municipal government”?
I have heard that, among the successive mayors of Osaka, “Hajime Seki” carried out a business that can be said to be “unprecedented” during his lifetime as mayor. What kind of business did you do?
I will answer these questions.
The successive mayors of Osaka are Hajime Seki, who carried out the Great Osaka Development Plan.
Hajime Seki, the man who built modern Osaka
It is no exaggeration to say that he created the Osaka of today on his own.
This article introduces “Ichi Seki,” who created modern Osaka in a single generation as mayor.
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Former mayor of Osaka Hajime Seki, the man who built Osaka
A great man who laid the foundations of modern Osaka, such as Midosuji and the subway. His meticulous calculations are terrifyingly perfect, and he is famous for building a 10-car platform, even though only 1 car runs, saying, “Because it is necessary for the future of Osaka.” He later cut the head of the home to cut costs, but after 50 years, he realized that it was necessary and he was in trouble.
— Osaka-Subway.com/鉄道プレス (@OsakaSubwaycom) January 14, 2022
Seki Hajime, the 7th mayor of Osaka City. He has a good physique and a sharp look that shines from behind his glasses. He seems very strong-willed.
Due to his extraordinary foresight, Seki’s life was characterized by being misunderstood and shunned by those around him.
Born in Izu in 1873 as the eldest son of a retainer of the former Tokugawa Shogunate. After that, he returned to Edo at the age of three and studied at the Tokyo Commercial High School (now Hitotsubashi University). In the middle of his studies, his father died of illness and he was forced to study hard, but he graduated with excellent grades.
At the beginning of the Meiji era, when Japan was struggling to catch up with the Western powers, Seki was passionate about developing economic human resources for the new era, which was in short supply.
After graduating, Seki entered the Ministry of Education, but he could not get used to the bureaucratic world and retired after just one year. He also worked as a teacher, etc., and in 1880, he returned to Tokyo as a professor at his alma mater.
Seki studied abroad in Belgium and Germany for three years from 1899. During this study abroad period, he stopped by the World Exposition held in Paris, France, where he visited the “Electric Underground Railroad”, which had been in operation for only three weeks. I had the opportunity to ride the subway.
Seki, who studied urban design with a focus on transportation policy in a developed country, later moved to the United States and witnessed both the life of the world’s richest man and the life of poverty.
After he returned to Japan, Japan won the war against Qing and Russia and finally joined the ranks of the world’s first-class nations.
As a star teacher, Seki published a series of papers and books on urban policy and became a doctor of law. He began to think that he would like to not only criticize urban policies, but also promote them by himself.
To such Seki, I was invited by Shiro Ikegami, the mayor of Osaka at that time, as a “high-ranking deputy mayor” including the next mayor. At the age of 42, Seki headed to the unknown Osaka.
On September 3, 1914, Seki, who assumed the position of Deputy Mayor, appeared at the Osaka City Council and delivered his arrival greetings.
“…in England the political center is London, but the economic center is Manchester, and there is a saying in that country that what is true in Manchester today will be followed in London tomorrow. I think in the future. , “Today, Osaka can advocate, and tomorrow, Tokyo will obey.”
The plan is to make Osaka the number one economy in Japan, with the capital Tokyo following.
In those days, there were almost no people in Osaka who seriously thought that Osaka would surpass Tokyo.
However, Seki, who made a big statement, could not take any action for the first four years.
On August 3, 1918, at a time when the disappointment of the people was getting deeper and clearer, the soaring rice prices in Toyama Prefecture triggered the Etchu Women’s Rebellion. A popular uprising broke out. The “rice riot” spread nationwide. In Osaka, a mass ban was issued, and the situation was similar to that under martial law.
Then Seki suddenly started taking action. The action was not half-baked, but for the “Greater Osaka Development Plan”, which he had researched for four years and worked out the concept.
Implementation of Sekiichi’s “Greater Osaka Development Plan”
Japan’s first municipal market, proposed by Seki, sold cheap rice, followed by an employment agency for day laborers, communal lodgings for single workers and the unemployed, a daycare center, and an automated Counseling offices, unemployment shelters, and even housing in bathhouses were created.
Seki calmed down the rice riot in Osaka city on the sixth day. For the first time, the people of Osaka realize Seki’s terrifying ability.
Seki’s favorite phrase…
“Don’t look up and tell the chimney, look down and see the condition of the workers.”
In the 10th year of the Taisho era (1926), Seki launched the first urban planning project, investing over 200 million yen, a huge sum at that time, against the strong opposition of the citizens.
Two years later, Seki, who became the mayor, carried out the second plan in 1925. Osaka City, which incorporated neighboring towns and villages, has the largest land area (181.68 parallel kilometers) and population (2.11 million people) in Japan, and is ranked eighth in the world.
However, Seki’s plan was opposed by many people, but Seki did not give in. He carried out the following “Great Osaka Development Plan”.
When the ginkgo-lined trunk road along Midosuji, which is considered one of the famous places in Osaka today, was laid, all the men in Senba stubbornly said, “Is the mayor going to build an airport in Senba?!” refused to buy land.
Until the Taisho period, roads in Osaka were left in a narrow state. It’s so narrow! The width of the road was 8.1 meters from east to west and 6.3 meters from north to south.
Bicycles, carts, rickshaws, horse-drawn carriages, and oxcarts traveled continuously along the road.
Opening of municipal subway
In addition to complaints about the noise and vibrations caused by the subway construction, such as “the building is tilting,” “light bulbs have blown out due to the vibration,” and “children can’t sleep,” the city hall was inundated with emotional objections in all sorts of ways.
Subway construction was not progressing behind schedule, and the criticism of each newspaper became severe.
On May 20th, 1933, Japan’s first municipal high-speed railway “subway” opened between Umeda and Shinsaibashi.
Will it be possible to repay the municipal bonds that accumulate year by year due to the implementation of the “Great Osaka Development Plan”?・・・・
Seki said, “It’s okay, there’s nothing to worry about. Osaka’s ability is great, and the city of Osaka won’t go bankrupt.”
Seki had faith. He saw Osaka as a business entity.
The mayor of Seki is in serious condition…I finally collapsed from his anxiety. Many people’s prayers were in vain, and Seki passed away on January 26th.
An unprecedented line of 80,000 Osaka citizens saw off Mayor Seki. Sekiichi, the man who made Osaka shine.
I would be happy if you could refer to it even a little.
Thank you for reading to the end.