Fukui, Hikone bury the hatchet over 1859 Ansei Purge beheading

FUKUI (Kyodo) A descendant of Ii Naosuke (1815-1860), a prominent politician who hailed from what is now Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, achieved a historic “reconciliation” with the people of Fukui when he attended a memorial service here Thursday marking the 150th anniversary of an execution ordered by his ancestor.

Naotake Ii, 40, the 18th head of the Ii family and head of Hikone Castle Museum, Hikone Mayor Koyo Shishiyama and other representatives of the city burned incense for the repose of the soul of Hashimoto Sanai (1834-1859), who was beheaded in Edo, now Tokyo, on Oct. 7, 1859, on the orders of Naosuke for opposing his national strategy.

Sanai and Ii Naosuke “were the same in that they both staked their lives for the future of Japan amid the tumult” of the times, Ii said before some 150 Fukui citizens during the Buddhist rite.

Sanai was among the victims of the Ansei Purge carried out by Ii Naosuke, who was assassinated the year after Sanai’s execution by opponents of his policy.

Every Oct. 7, Fukui holds a memorial service near Sanai’s tomb, but this was the first time a representative of the Ii family or Hikone attended.

“I want to help build future-oriented friendly relations between the two cities,” Ii said.

Shishiyama said, “Let’s put aside the bad blood of the Ansei Purge.”

The reconciliation was proposed by the city of Hikone and promptly agreed to by that of Fukui, according to officials of the two cities.

Ii and others visited the city of Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to visit the tomb of Yoshida Shoin, another victim of the purge, in August.