Since government is concerned with the administration of the country as a whole, it does not follow that its acts are always favorable to all individuals. - Ito.
Count Ito Hirobumi was the first prime minister
of the Japanese Empire
, serving four separate terms (1885-1888, 1892-1896, 1898, 1900-1901). He was born a samurai in 1841 in the fief of Choshu
, and following his elders in the bakufu
structure, was highly xenophobic. Commodore Matthew Perry
landed at Uraga
when Ito was 13, and shortly afterward the Japanese government began sending its sons overseas to learn about the Western world
In 1863, Ito was sent to Europe. He studied science in England, and the experience made him a firm believer in the necessity of westernizing and modernizing Japan. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan's western scholars were placed in positions of high responsibility: Ito served in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Industry.
In 1871, he joined a mission under Prince Iwakura, which travelled to Europe and America in hopes of revising Japan's unequal treaties with the Western powers. Two years later, Ito became a member of Japan's ruling council, and by 1881 had built a large enough power base to force Okuma Shigenobu out of power.
Following another overseas research mission, Ito returned to Japan once more and built a European-style cabinet and civil service, and a privy council to the Imperial Court. He left his newly-created prime ministerial office in 1888 to supervise the drafting of a new constitution for the Japanese Empire, but returned in 1892, just in time for the first Sino-Japanese War and the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Following the end of his second term as prime minister, Ito became the principal benefactor of Saionji Kimmochi against the political faction of Prince Yamagata Aritomo.
In 1906, Ito became resident general of the Japanese Empire in Korea. He was assassinated by Korean nationalist An Chung Gun in Harbin in 1909, and the Imperial Army used his assassination as an excuse to annex the entire peninsula.
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