Japan searches for Scot who modernised nation

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HE GAVE Japan its national anthem and its first brass band, playing a key part in the country's modernisation.

But for more than a century, John William Fenton's role in westernising the country has gone unrecognised in Scotland, where many believe he died.

Now, after years of searching, the Japanese are soliciting the help of Scots in trying to track down the brass band leader's final resting place.

In Japan, Fenton is seen as one of the country's father figures.

He arrived in Japan in 1868 as a bandmaster of the 10th Regiment of Foot 1st Battalion. It was the year when Japanese modernisers overthrew the shogun system and replaced it with a constitutional monarchy.

Fenton's regiment was deployed in Yokohama to protect a small foreign community from samurai diehards opposed to the presence of foreigners.

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Roger Sandilands - 3/15/2006

Another modernising Scot was Professor Henry Dyer who in the late nineteenth century established the University of Tokyo as a specialist engineering faculty. But in the National Science Tokyo Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo, I noticed last year that Dyer is wrongly described as an Englishman!

Roger Sandilands