“Meiji University was founded in January 1881 as the Meiji Law School by Kinmochi Saionji and a principal group of young lawyers, Tatsuo Kishimoto, Kozo Miyagi, and Misao Yashiro, during the era characterized by Japan’s urgent need to develop as a modern independent nation. Meiji Law School was founded with the fervent hope to ‘foster bright capable youths who would lead a modern civil society in Japan’. It would become one of the largest and most prestigious Japanese universities in Japan.
“Kinmochi was born to a family of court nobles. He was sent abroad during the waning years of the Tokugawa shogunate and graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris. After the Restoration, Kishimoto, Miyagi and Yashiro were selected to study in Tokyo at the behest of the newly formed Meiji Government. At the Meihoryo (the Meiji Law Residence, later to become the Ministry of Justice Law School), which had been established with the purpose of quickly developing judicial officers, the three young men studied French law under the supervision of the famous French jurist, Boissonade.
“Although their functional duties were different, the three, who had been close friends ever since their days in law school, shared the aspiration of creating full-fledged, modern legal education in Japan. Together they submitted a request to the Tokyo government for the establishment of a private law school. The new law school was completed on January 17th 1881. The Meiji Law School soon became too small to accommodate all students, and on December 11, 1886 the school moved to a new building at Kanda-Kogamachi.
“Founded in the midst of the freedom and people’s rights movement, the Meiji Law School based its philosophy of education on the libertarian principles of the French legal system, with ‘freedom and civil rights’ as its guiding principle.”