the important figures in the history of Mitsubishi is a
remarkable Scotsman. Thomas Blake Glover came to Japan in
1859 to manage the newly established Nagasaki office of a
British trading house. He later participated in establishing
businesses that would became pillars of Mitsubishi's early
growth and diversification.
was born the son of a coast guard officer in 1838 and grew
up in the port city of Aberdeen, Scotland. He joined Jardine,
Matheson & Co. on finishing school and worked briefly in the
company's Shanghai office before taking up his assignment in
Nagasaki, Japan's only international port from 1639 to 1859
under the isolationist policies of the Tokugawa Shogunate,
was a thriving entrepot. Glover soon built a bustling
business there, largely in exporting tea. A larger business
opportunity emerged with rising tensions between the
Shogunate and rebellious clans in southern Japan. Glover
made a fortune selling ships and arms to the rival factions.
for coal surged as steamships multiplied in Japanese waters.
Glover, in partnership with the Hizen Clan, invested in
developing the Takashima coal mine on an island near
Nagasaki in 1868. Their mine was the first in Japan to
employ Western methods of mining. Financial troubles later
forced Glover to sell his stake, but he stayed on as manager
of the mine for several more years. Mitsubishi acquired the
mine in 1881 in the organization's first main
diversification beyond shipping.
Glover played a role in that later became part of Mitsubishi
is the Nagasaki Shipyard. Japan lacked modern facilities for
repairing ships. So, Glover imported the necessary equipment
for a slip dock in Nagasaki in 1868. He later sold his share
to the government, which leased the dock to Mitsubishi as
part of the shipyard in 1884.