- Ito, Hirobumi
- (1841-1909)A leading statesman of the Meiji period and close confidante of the Meiji emperor. He was born and initially served as a soldier in the fief of Choshu, southern Kyushu, the domain which provided most of the new Meiji government oligarchy. He studied Western military techniques in Nagasaki and in 1859 went to Edo (Tokyo) and came under the influence of the sonno-joi ('revere the emperor, expel the barbarians') movement which in 1862 led him to take part in the attack on the British legation in Shinagawa, Edo. He was promoted to the rank of samurai in 1863 and travelled to England for study with others from his fief, returning after six months to help settle a dispute between the Choshu forces and the Western powers. His experiences abroad changed his attitude to foreigners. He played a major modernising role in the Meiji government, studied financial affairs in America in 1870 and on return became chief of taxation. He accompanied Iwakura, Tomomi on the 1871-1873 mission to Europe and America and visited Germany again in 1882 to study constitutional systems. From 1881, having ousted the pro-constitutional Okuma, Shigenobu he led the important Ministry of Home Affairs. With Inoue, Kowashi and others he drafted the Meiji Constitution of 1889 and other important legislation. In 1885 he became Prime Minister in Japan's first cabinet, and eventually president of the Privy Council, playing an active and varied role in late Meiji politics. In 1906 he became Resident-General in Seoul, effectively ruling Korea after 1907. He was assassinated in Harbin by a Korean in October 1909.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.