Foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan

The foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan, known in Japanese as oyatoi gaikokujin (Kyūjitai: 御雇ひ外國人, Shinjitai: 御雇い外国人, "hired foreigners"), were those foreign advisors hired by the Japanese government for their specialized knowledge to assist in the modernization of Japan at the end of the Bakufu and during the Meiji period. The term is sometimes rendered o-yatoi gaikokujin in romaji. The total number is uncertain, but is estimated to have reached more than 3,000 (with thousands more in the private sector). Until 1899, more than 800 hired foreign experts continued to be employed by the government, and many others were employed privately. However, despite being called "experts", some were simply convenient hires who happened to be in the treaty ports such as Yokohama and Kobe.

The goal in hiring the foreign advisors was to obtain transfers of technology and advice on systems and cultural ways. The foreign advisors were highly paid; in 1874, they numbered 520 men, at which time their salaries came to ¥2.272 million, or 33.7 percent of the national annual budget. Despite the value they provided in the modernization of Japan, the Japanese government did not consider it prudent for them to settle in Japan permanently. After training Japanese replacements to take over their places, many found that their contracts (typically for three years) were not renewed. Some, however, made their lives in Japan, for example Josiah Conder and Thomas Blake Glover.

Some foreign advisors supplemented their activities as government employees by undertaking Christian missionary activities.

The system was officially terminated in 1899 when extraterritoriality came to an end in Japan. Nevertheless, similar employment of foreigners persists in Japan, particularly within the national education system and professional sports.

Notable o-yatoi gaikokujin


Medical science

Law, administration, and economics


Natural science and mathematics


Art and music

Liberal arts, humanities and education

Missionary activities


See also


  1. Bibliotheque Nationale de France (BnF), Appert, Georges (1850-1934); retrieved 2013-4-2.
  2. "Georg Michaelis" at; retrieved 2013-4-4.

External links

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