Fourth report of the director general, being for the year ending on the 30th day of the 6th month of the 11th year of Meiji (30th June, 1878.)

In July, 1877, the Satsuma rebels still held the road between Hinga and Osumi but were demoralized, and not long after the struggle was terminated in favor of the imperial troops, the leaders of the insurrection being killed and their bands dispersed; the army telegraphs continued to render good service in the field, and the lines to Kagoshima and Oita were being expedited as far as possible.

It being probable that His Majesty the Emperor would visit the northwestern provnces, every exertion was made to complete the lines of telegraph in that direction, [Page 689] and, though not actually finished at the date of this report, everything was in so forward a condition that a few days only would suffice to open up communication.

Since my last report there have been many extensions of our system to places not previously served, and a large proportion of the lines included in the entire scheme of national telegraphs has been substantially erected and brought into actual operation; the remainder is gradually being proceeded with, and the benefit to the public, foreign and native, of possessing means of rapid communication has been thoroughly exemplified.

The telegraphic congress in London being fixed in June, 1878, I was ordered to proceed thither as the delegate from Japan, and I had set out on the journey accordingly, when the news was received of a postponement until 1879 having been decided upon. Although, therefore, the conference has not yet taken place, the fact of our government having decided to send a representative is illustrative of the sure and rapid growth of western civilization in this country.

As mentioned in my previous report, the extension of the permanent line from Kumamoto southwards to Kagoshima was urged onward as fast as circumstances would permit, keeping in the wake of the army, and communication was opened up with Yatsushiro, in Higo, and thence with Sashiki (3d July), Kajiki (8th August), and Kagoshima (10th August), for government messages only.

In the same way the temporary field telegraphs were carried forward with the army, and offices were established for brief periods.

On the 1st September the rebels attacked the town of Kagoshima so suddenly that our staff at the office there had not time to retreat, and clerk Fujino was killed at his post. The others fortunately made good their escape, and subsequently reunited at the Kajiki office a few miles off, where they resumed their duties during the final struggle which took place at Kagoshima, and terminated in the complete route of the rebels at “Shiroyama” on the 24th September.

The temporary station for field telegraphs at Tanoura was transferred to this department on the 16th October and opened for public traffic, but was closed since on 15th December, when the new Kagoshima office was opened.

Offices for public traffic were also opeued at Yatsushire, Sashiki, and Kajiki (October 20).

The chain of communication around Kinshiu was meanwhile gradually advancing, and, to expedite matters, double squads of men, under native engineers, were set to work from Kagoshima and Oita, north and south. Offices were opened for government messages at Miyakonojo and Miyazaki (6th October), respectively, 41 and 75 miles north of Kagoshima, and a junction between the two lines was finally effected, and the work completed on the 20th October.

The office at Sashiki was closed on the 10th November; that at Kajiki on the 31st January, 1878, and that at Miyakonojo on the 12th of the same month.

Altogether the length of line provided for military telegraphs, counting from the outbreak of the Satsuma rebellion, amounted to 511 English miles (206 last year and 305 in this year); 53 offices were established (28 last year and 25 in this year), and 156 officers (112 last year and 44 in 1877–’78), of all ranks, engineers, operators, &c., formed the staff.

The line between Kokura and Oita, in Bungo, passing through Nakatsu, in Buzeu (vide last report), was rapidly extended southward, with temporary stations at the latter places merely for government purposes; the work was completed to Nakatsu on the 5th July, and as far as Oita on the 28th. The same staff was then directed (18th August) to carry on the work in the direction of Kagoshima (as referred to in a previous paragraph), and accordingly did so as far as TakanaM, about 84 miles, taking in Nobeoka on the way. This work was finished on the 13th November, the route between Nobeoka and Takanabe having presented unusual difficulties in the shape of rocky ground, in which hole-dicing became all but impossible.

The offices were opened for public traffic as under:

  • Nakatsu, 20th October.
  • Oita, 20th October.
  • Nobeoka, 15th December.
  • Miyazaki, 15th December.
  • Kagoshima, 15th December.

The erection of lines in the island of Shikoku was completed as far as Marugame and Takamatsu, in Sanuki, during the last fiscal year, with temporary stations at those places for the transmission of government messages only. As it became very desirable to extend the communication in this island on account of the Kagoshima insurrection, the survey and construction of the line from Takamatsu to Tokushima, in Awa (about 43 miles from Takamatsu), and from Marugame to Kochi, in Tosa, via Matsuyama, in Iyo, was prosecuted with great rapidity, officers of the engineering staff being dispatched to each of those sections. The Tokushima portion having been commenced on the 3d July and completed on the 5th December last, the office thereat was opened on the 15th of the latter month: and, as the rebellion had meanwhile [Page 690] been entirely suppressed, the stations at Takamatsu and Marugame were opened for the public service from the 5th October. The section between Marugame and Matsu-yama was commenced on the 6th March, and another section between Matsuyama and Kochi on the 25th February of this year.

The road to Kochi passing through a very mountainous region, the work was rendered difficult of execution, and the line in this direction was not quite finished, but so nearly that only a very small proportion remained to be built at the date of this report.

In the mean time the government had decided to provide offices at Imaharu, in Iyo, and Muya in Awa, and consequently two wires were run up from Odera village, on the Tokushima route, to Muya, 8¾ miles (19th December, 23d March), and an office opened on the 1st June. Imaharu had not been completed at the end of the fiscal year.

In the previous year the line directed towards Niigati had been completed to a point beyond Urawa and Mayebashi. Takasaki was subsequently reached in the present year, and Uyeda in Shinano. The government having, however, issued notice of His Majesty’s contemplated progress through the northwestern provinces (as before alluded to), it became necessary to put forth special exertions to complete the chain of communications in that part of the empire in good time. Various companies of engineers and workmen were therefore sent out, and the entire length split up into short sections proportionate to the strength of the staff and the time of disposal. Thus, Uyeda having been reached on the 10th April, the portion beyond, to Nagano, was well advanced on the 30th June. Stations were opened from time to time as the works progressed, Urawa and Kumagai on the 1st October, 1877, Takasaki and Mayabashi on the 15th October, Uyeda on the 1st May.

In the same way in connection with His Majesty’s visit, a line was undertaken between Otsu and Uwotsu, Etchiu (215 miles), with stations at Tsuruga in Echizen, Fu-kui, and Kanazawa in Kaga; this was commenced on the 3d June in the Otsu section, on the 11th between Tsuruga and Fukui, Fukui and Kanazawa on the 14th, and towards Uwotsu on the 27th.

Work was rapidly proceeding in all these sections on the date of this report and the line would probably be completed in two months. It was subsequently determined to connect Uwotsu with Imamachi on the Nügate road, so as to make the circuit of those provinces completely.

Wires used for electric-bell communication were provided in the exhibition grounds at Uyeno (14th-19th September); also a lightning-rod on the roof of the fine arts museum.

The line to Hagi, in Nagato, was executed, starting from Yamaguchi, about 20 miles (14th August-20th December), and an office was opened on the 1st January. The line is being carried on towards Hamada, in Iwami, and Matsuye, in Idsumo, 167 miles, at which places it is proposed to establish stations.

A fourth wire was provided throughout on the poles between Tokei and Nagasaki, having become necessary in consequence of increased traffic.

The ordinary maintenance staff being engaged, the cable in connection with this wire required at Shimonoseki straits had not been laid, and thus it remained terminated at the stations in either side.

In Osaka, a line temporarly, provided between Koraibashi office and the branch war office in connection with the Satsuma troubles, was taken down in October; on the other hand, a wire was connected to the castle instead, about one mile from Koraibashi office (14th-22d December), and fitted with the apparatus previously used at the war office.

Bell’s telephones were imported from America in November, and they were tried between the public works department, Tokei, and the Yokohama town office, a distance of about 20 miles. The experiment being quite successful, it was determined to bring these newly invented instruments into use between the public works department offices and the imperial palace at Akasaka, and wires were provided for the purpose (18th to 21st December) between these points, the distance being 1 mile 2½ furlongs, and conversation was carried on satisfactorily.

In my third report reference was made to the projected reconstruction of the local lines in Tokei for which a new route had been surveyed; the actual building of this trunk line was commenced on the 24th October, 1877, and was completed on the 22d March, of this year.

Having in view the substantial character of the work done, and the comparative freedom from risk of fire, &c., which the new line possesses, it may safely be assumed that there will be a considerable saving in the cost of maintenance and repair, as compared with the route previously adopted.

The erection of a brick building in a convenient position in Kobikicho, to be used as a central telegraph station, was commenced in April, 1877, and on the 5th December it was so far advanced that the internal fittings alone remained to be supplied in order to render it complete and ready for the conduct of the traffic which had so far been carried on in a somewhat confined and ill-situated office in Tsukiji.

[Page 691]

All preparations having been made, the transfer was easily effected on the morning of the 25th March, and at noon of that day the minister of public works officially opened the building, being accompanied in his visit by the vice-minister and various officials.

Although telegrams had actually been forwarded by the government lines for some years previously, this had been done unofficially and by the intermediation of the Great Northern Telegraph Company, for the convenience of the public; in the mean time, however, by far the greater part of the lines originally planned having been erected and brought into working condition, and the constructor and operators having attained to a considerable degree of proficiency, it was determined that from the same date the government should declare its adhesion to the terms of the St. Petersburg telegraph convention, and its intention to accept messages from the public, as far as international telegrams are concerned, at any of its offices for transmission in accordance with the provisions and regulations therein contained. This announcement was telegraphed to the Great Northern Company’s representatives in Shanghai, and to all the existing stations of the empire. The telegraphic arrangements of this country were thus placed on a footing similar to those of other countries and administrations, and in order to celebrate the occasion, the minister of public works invited the members of the imperial family, the ministers and counselors of state, the ministers and secretaries representing the treaty powers, officials ranking as appointed by the soverign, those of the public works department appointed by the council; the governor of Tokeifu, &c., to a banquet at the Imperial College of Engineering, on the evening of the same day. The bands of various corps, naval and military, performed selections of music, and the many types of telegraphic apparatus, Hughes, Gray, Breguet, Siemens, Duplex, &c., were exhibited to the guests in actual operation, a wire having been provided specially for the occasion, connecting the college with the new central telegraph office.

Kuwana station was established on the 1st April, intermediate on the already existing line joining Nagoya and Tsu.

An extra wire with Morse apparatus was provided between the central office and Nihonbashi branch, Tokei (April 4–8).

In Osaka, a line of wires was provided (by means of poles already existing or newly erected for the purpose) from the central police station at Yedobori to eight branch offices in Nishinagabori, Nagaboribashi, Sonezaki, Sugawara, Ohtedori, Koraibashi, Kiubojimachi, and Andojimuchi; Morse apparatus being employed. Electric bell communication was also provided between two of the offices (Sonezake and Sugawara) and the house of correction, and between Ohtedori and the prison. The central station further connected with Kawaguchi telegraph office; the object being to facilitate maintenance of the police system in that city. (May 11–June 13, distance about 9 miles.)

In Tokei, the home department and the central police station were joined by a wire on new poles fitted with telephones. (May 16, 17—three-quarters of a mile.)

Mitajire, in Suwo province, was opened on the 15th June, an office having been erected, and a wire provided on new poles for 11 miles and on existing poles for 10 miles, connecting it with Yamaguchi. (24th April-5th June.)

On the 25th June, Ishinomachi, in Rikuzen, was opened as a public message station. A new line of poles and one wire connects this place with Sendai, 33 miles distant. The construction occupied from the 25th April until the 11th June.

The country was surveyed during April and May for a one wire new line between Yamagata and Sakato in Ugo, via Yokote and kita, about 185 miles, with a station at each town; operations having previously been retarded by a deep snow. The actual construction was begun on the 15th June, and was still proceeding on the date of this report.

In Tokei, the new building of the first division of police, fourth section, having been completed at Nakabashi, it was connected by a new-pole line with the central police station. The line to the office in Sakamotocho (temporarily made use of after the destruction by fire of the original station in Irifunecho Tsukiji) was abandoned. (May 20–23.)

The 5th division police, 5th section, having established a new station at Shitaya Ka-nasugimachi, it was connected with the main system in lieu of the office which had previously existed on the Senjiu-Yeki premises. (15th-22d January.)

In order to diminish the risk of damage by fire, the line of wires between Asakusa-bashi and Asakusa office was transferred to the Bakurocho, on the opposite river bank (Mukoriyogoku) and cairied forward by way of Hanakawadomachi, distance 2 miles 830 yards.

The original office at Awomori, burnt in April 1877, was replaced by a new building on the proper site, completed 11th June, 1878.

During the fiscal year now under review about 1,3671/6 miles of line, carrying in all 1,533¾ miles of wire, were newly constructed or rebuilt; 32 stations were opened (exclusive [Page 692] of two on the battle-field for government messages only). In addition to these 511 miles of line and 53 offices were provided for the army telegraphs.

The expeditions for 1875 and 1876 having proved unsuccessful in the attempted repairs of the defective Tsugaru Straits (Hakodate) cables, for want of proper appliances, it was resolved to make a final effort, and the Great Northern Telegraph Company’s repairing steamer H. C. Orsted was chartered for the work. On this occasion the operations were brought to a satisfactory termination, and the communication through both cables was restored on the 13th July, 1877. A test of the insulation taken immediately after gave fair results.

In June the Shikoku cable was interrupted, but communication was restored on the 26th of that month; the damage had apparently been occasioned by a boat’s anchor.

A considerable, amount of repair-work was carried on throughout the year on the trunk lines north and south, being necessitated by the decay of timber, fire, storm, &c., but, save in a few cases detailed hereafter, special mention is not necessary.

About 45 miles of the entire section lying between Toyohasha and Kobe were repaired, in continuation of the work commenced in 1875.

The renewal of the trunk line between Kobe and Shimonoseki, also commenced in 1875, was completed. Some important river-crossings were executed in connection therewith, notably those of the Kawabe, Shojo, Yoshi, Teno, and the line Rivers.

Between Idzuchi village and Koyeti the main line was reconstructed by a new and better road.

The remaining portions of the Nagasaki and Kokura main line, lying between Saga and Fukuoka, were repaired, thus completing the works on that locality.

Direct communication between Nagasaki, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima having been found to be desirable, it was effected by connecting two of the wires together at the Saga office.

In continuation of the works begun in 1876–’77, a further portion of about 62 miles was thoroughly repaired between Tokei and Sendai.

In the Sendai and Awomori district, about 35 miles were completely repaired, about 70 resurveyed, and about 100 miles temporarily restored, pending the final renewal.

education of native operators.

At the commencement of the last fiscal year, 107 of the candidates were selected and entered upon a course of training at the Shiodome school.

In consequence, however, of the opening of lines in Shikoku, Niigata, Oita, &c., as well as to supply the existing offices, and also the military system, 60 others were admitted in September, and 80 more in March, 1878; they were sent out from time to time to act as operators at stations, or as “first-class” students, to gain practical experience. The total number receiving tuition at the date of this report was 149.

In my first report I referred to the fact of 114 operators having been engaged for a term of four years from 1873.

The term having expired in July, 1877, six of them resigned the service, but 108 were re-engaged.

The regulations under this head have since been revised.

In January, 1878, a telegraph engineering school, was established at the Shiodome depôt, and native officers of the engineering staff, as well as operators and students, were thoroughly instructed in their duties in this branch. The engineering staff officers intended ultimately to act as inspectors, &c., were taught the surveying, construction, and outdoor work generally, as well as the requirements of indoor supervision in the various offices, whilst the operators received training in the indoor branch merely.


In accordance with revised regulations issued in September, 1876, the new system of keeping, accounts was brought into operation in the fiscal year now under notice, the expenditure being classed under three heads, viz:

Control (general expenses of the Kobusho head office). [The expenditure under Class I is not shown in the present report, but under it were included such items as salaries, traveling expenses, and house allowances of native and foreign staff engaged at the head office; clothing and boarding allowances to native operators (paid by the chief accountants’ departments). These sums were included in the general account of Kobusho.]
Maintenance (ordinary working expenses at stations, repairs of lines, &c).
Construction (building new lines, new offices, &c).

The charges under Class II to be defrayed by the receipts for message traffic, or should there be a deficiency, by a capital fund, specially reserved.

[Page 693]

The estimated expenditure was as under—

Class II, maintenance, yens, 298,540.00.

Class III, construction, yens, 194,983.63.

The amount of receipts for message traffic was only estimated at yens, 200,500, and thus there was a prospective deficiency of yens, 98,040, as compared with the expenditure under Class II. To cover this the reserve-fund was fixed at yens, 120,000.

The actual expenditure for the year was as follows:

Class II, maintenance, yens, 444,224.86.

Class III, construction, yens, 193,770.40.

And the receipts, yens, 395,410.36.

[In the receipts are included 334,944.24 for messages, the remainder being derived from sundry other sources.]

Thus the actual deficiency was 48,814.51, and this was met by the reserve-fund.

A farther charge on the reserved fund of 7,558.67 was made in respect of the special expenses attendant upon the official opening ceremonies and the probable traveling expenses of the delegate to the International Telegraph Congress in London, whose journey was, however, delayed, the meeting having been postponed.

The total expenditure thus amounted to be 645,553.94, an increase upon the previous year’s total of 11,765.13.

Up to the end of the year under review, the total expenditure from the earliest date of commencing the work, had been yens, 3,551,209.90.

traffic and receipts.

During the year there were transmitted 998,559 Japanese messages (63,057 “on service”); 28,431 foreign messages (7,682 “on service”); 18,452 international messages (609 “on service”).

The receipts amounted to yens, 344,017.4.4.

[The above figures include 48,448 Japanese and 594 foreign messages passing over the colonization department’s lines in Yeso, for which that department held a sum of 9,072.19.]

Compared with the previous year there was an increase in the number of messages of 364,503, and in the receipts of yens, 112,661.90.

From the earliest date of opening up to the 30th June, 1878, the aggregate receipts had been yens, 990,343.50, and the total number of messages transmitted, 3,187,727.


The total number of officers, engineers, and employés in the telegraph service, including the students and the foreign staff, at the date of this report is 1,410, which, on comparison with the number for last fiscal year, shows an increase of 263, owing to the considerable additions to our system in the shape of new lines and stations. The rank and classes of the various officers are shown in the accompanying table.

mechanician’s branch.

During the year much material and apparatus was manufactured in the mechanic shop at the Shiodome depot, and the work proved to have been executed efficiently. The principal instruments were: 20 Brittan’s galvanometers, 24 magnets, 50 double terminals, 29 bell buttons, 13 switches, 2 telephones, 2 sounders, 1 lightning discharger, and 1 electric bell.

Director-General of Telegraphs.

Table showing the actual number of officers and employés on the 30th June, 1878.


Japanese officers (Sonin rank) 4
Japanese officers (Hannin rank) 57
Japanese officers (Togai rank) 58
European officers 4
Other employés 23
[Page 694]

commercial staff.

Japanese officers (Hannin) 161
Japanese officers (Togai) 259
European officers 8
Students 192
Messengers 234

engineering staff.

Japanese officers (Hannin) 87
Japanese officers (Togai) 25
European officers 14
Students 18
Lineman and workmen 266
Total 1,410