Nagai Uta was a Choshu conservative implicated
in several incidents of note -- first the secret extradition of
Yoshida Shoin from Noyama Prison in Hagi to Edo -- and in defying
the han objectives in voicing a position to the Emperor Komei
with respect to the various treaties and policies with respect
to the foreigners.
it was Sufu Masunosuke of the Justice faction that gave the order
to imprison Shoin in the han prison, it was Nagai Uta who actively
promoted the delivery of Shoin to Edo for interrogation. He was
a 'direct inspector' (choku metsuke) for the administration but
was attempting to position himself as direct mediator or envoy
between Choshu and the Bakufu during the time of the Ansei purge.
was from a family of 300 koku, the upper strata of the Great Group
of samurai in Choshu -- the product of private tutelage and among
the few who were allowed to become a page to and privately assist
the daimyo. He served as envoy and was raised to middle elder
(churo) in 1861.
1861, Nagai proposed a program to "open the country"
(keikoku) which oddly enough was a reiteration of Shoin's ideas
stated earlier in "A Policy Route" in 1858. Shoin had
advocated crossing the seas and trading, sending talent abroad
and adopting a militant stance at home with respect to foreigners
prior to signing the Harris treaty.
program language incorporated the "crossing the seas"
idea, but was not presented as a prior condition, but an equivalent
action to measures in the treaty.
Choshu han council gave this language over to Sufu Masunosuke
to tend to, and Sufu restored Yoshida's original, more strongly
worded mandate, which was then approved by the han.
however, presented instead his original program to court noble
Sanjo Sanetomi. This version was approved by Emperor Komei on
June 2, 1861 (?). Nagai's position advocated opening the country
minus internal reforms.
incident irritated Kusaka, who was already disinclined to like
Nagai for his role in Shoin's death, and he criticized the man
openly in a memorial handed to the Choshu daimyo (by Sufu) in
September of that year.
and Kusaka's concerns were so great, they they went to talk to
the Choshu heir, but due to his illness, the heir was delayed
and the two met with Nagai who was traveling in advance of the
Heir. Nagai did not listen - instead ordered the two men both
back to Hagi and had Sufu dismissed from his post and placed under
house arrest for 20 days.
did not forget this matter, and in 1862 - Kusaka back in Kyoto
presented a paper advocating that Choshu apologize for Nagai's
conduct in both violating the mandate of the han, and in ignoring
the feelings of the daimyo.
with Kusaka's efforts, Nagai's conduct of disregarding the advice
of others (ungracioiusly), had antagonized leaders in the Choshu
government. Coupled with an apparent failure of Nagai's program
at court (he had been displaced by Shimazu Satsuma of Satsuma)
-- the han recalled him, and put both Sufu and Kido into positions
not satisified with this, was determined to assassinate Nagai.
He did not succeed, but announced on 7/4/62 to Choshu official
Ura Yukie that he had attempted as such 3 days prior. By doing
so, he had hoped to pressure the Justice faction into dealing
Justice Faction (of which Sufu has been a member of), secured
the order from the han requiring the man to commit seppuku.
complied, and did so in his own family compound on 2/6/63.
Huber's "The Revolutionary Origins of Modern Japan."