Mitsubishi boss visits '˜Scottish samurai' home in Aberdeen

The boss of Japanese firm Mitsubishi UFJ has flown to Scotland to visit the family home of the 19th century industrialist and founder of the company, known as the Scottish Samurai.

30/03/16 Thomas Blake Glover House-Aberdeen
30/03/16 Thomas Blake Glover House-Aberdeen

Fraserburgh merchant Thomas Blake Glover was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of the work he did to help transform the Asian nation during the late 1800s.

Known as the Meiji Restoration, the period saw practical imperial rule returned to Japan under the Emperor Meiji.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

During this transformative time for Japan, Glover helped establish the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding company.

He used his extensive trading links and knowledge to help serve as a senior adviser to the heads of the company.

Glover also introduced the first trains to the Japan and led a colourful life with his wife - said to be the inspiration behind the original ‘Madame Butterfly’.

This week CEO and president of Mitsubishi UFJ Nobuyuki Hirano flew in to Aberdeen to see Glover’s family home and hear about plans for a £150,000 renovation of the building.

Glover’s family home in Aberdeen was bought by the company 20 years ago then handed over to the Grampian-Japan Trust and converted into a museum.

The building eventually fell into a state of disrepair and closed as a visitor attraction in 2012.

However a proposal has been drawn up to help restore the building to its former glory by establishing it as a heritage centre celebrating the historic links between the Granite City and the Far East.

Aberdeen City Council has agreed to transfer £150,000 from another charitable trust to secure the future of the iconic property and Glover’s legacy.

Investment group Aberdeen Asset Management is a partner in the plans to save the building from disrepair.

Chief executive Martin Gilbert said more interest in Glover’s Japanese legacy could help forge stronger business links between the East and West.

He added: “There is a growing interest in the life of Thomas Blake Glover in the north-east of Scotland, where his contribution to the modernisation of Japan has not always been fully recognised.

“In Japan, he is a much revered figure and his former home and surrounding gardens in Nagasaki attracts an average of two million visitors every year.”

Glover was born in 1838 and educated in Aberdeen.

He is widely accredited with the transformation of Japan during the economic, political and social reforms of the Meiji restoration.

In recognition of of his work he was later named the Scotsman to the Order of the Rising Sun in 1908 - three years before his death.

By that time he had been involved in the founding of the shipbuilding company which became Mitsubishi and also established the Japanese Brewery Company.