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Taisuke Itagaki

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Taisuke Itagaki (1837-1919) was a Japanese political leader during the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Meiji Restoration and the reign of the Taisho Emperor, who formed the first Japanese political party, and was later Prime Minister of Japan. While he was not directly involved with wars following the Meiji Restoration, his emphasis on popular and parliamentary government was a restraint on Japanese militarism. He did, however, support the invasion and annexation of Korea.

Born in Kochi, he was as sobayonin (councillor) to Kochi clan chief Yamauchi Toyoshige, the lord of the Clan, but as he conflicted with the clan's policy line based on kobu gattai (the reconciliation between the Imperial Court and the Shogunate government), he moved into the anti-Shogunate group in the Boshin War that ended the Shogunate. [1]

Meiji Restoration

After the Meiji Restoration, he became the daisanji (senior official) of the Kochi Clan and promoted the administrative reform of the clan. In 1871, he changed to a national orientation, as the prime mover of haihan chiken (the abolition of clans and establishment of prefectures).

He ran the government temporarily after the Iwakura mission was dispatched to study the United States and Europe, but in 1873 he resigned from the post over differences in policy toward Korea. It had rejected Takamori Saigo's proposal to invade the Korean Peninsula, which he supported.[2] The government did support universal military conscription.[3]

Party government

In the following year, together with Shojiro Goto and others, who resigned with him, he submitted a memorandum calling for the establishment of a popularly elected parliament. While establishing the Aikoku Koto (Public Party of Patriots) and the Risshisha (Self Help Society), he led the Freedom and People's Rights Movement.

In 1881, he became prime minister based on the Liberal Party. Later he served as home minister of the second Ito cabinet and the first Okuma cabinet.

With Shigenobu Okuma, he formed the Kenseito political party in 1898.


  1. "Itagaki, Taisuke", National Diet Library
  2. Mark Ravina (2003), The last samurai: the life and battles of Saigō Takamori, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-471-08970-4, pp. 184-185
  3. Bill Gordon (March 2000), Japan's March Toward Militarism, Wesleyan University