Inoue Kaoru
Count , GCMG was a member of the Meiji oligarchy
Meiji oligarchy
The Meiji oligarchy was the name used to describe the new ruling class of Meiji period Japan. In Japanese, the Meiji oligarchy is called the ....

 during the Meiji period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. As one of the senior statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

 in Japan during that period, he had a tremendous influence on the selection of the nation's leaders and formation of its policies.

Early years

Born Yakichi (勇吉) to a lower-ranked samurai family in Hagi
Hagi may refer to:* Japanese bush clover or Lespedeza* Hagi, Yamaguchi, a city in Japan** Hagi ware, a type of pottery originating in Hagi* Gheorghe Hagi, a Romanian football player...

, Chōshū Domain (present day Yamaguchi Prefecture
Yamaguchi Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan in the Chūgoku region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Yamaguchi, in the center of the prefecture. The largest city, however, is Shimonoseki.- History :...

), Inoue attended the Meirinkan
was a han school located in the Chōshū Domain of Japan. The school was one of the three major educational institutions in Japan, along with the Kōdōkan in Mito Domain and Shizutani School in Okayama Domain.- History :...

Domain school
Han school
The han school was an educational institution in the Edo period of Japan, originally established to educate children of daimyo and their retainers in the domains outside of the capital...

 with his brother Ikutarō (幾太郎). He was a close boyhood friend of Itō Hirobumi
Ito Hirobumi
Prince was a samurai of Chōshū domain, Japanese statesman, four time Prime Minister of Japan , genrō and Resident-General of Korea. Itō was assassinated by An Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist who was against the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire...

 who later became Japan's first prime minister
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

, and he played an active part in the sonnō jōi
Sonno joi
is a Japanese political philosophy and a social movement derived from Neo-Confucianism; it became a political slogan in the 1850s and 1860s in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa bakufu, during the Bakumatsu period.-Origin:...

movement. In 1858, he studied rangaku
Rangaku is a body of knowledge developed by Japan through its contacts with the Dutch enclave of Dejima, which allowed Japan to keep abreast of Western technology and medicine in the period when the country was closed to foreigners, 1641–1853, because of the Tokugawa shogunate’s policy of national...

, artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 and swordsmanship
Swordsmanship refers to the skills of a swordsman, a person versed in the art of the sword. The term is modern, and as such was mainly used to refer to smallsword fencing, but by extension it can also be applied to any martial art involving the use of a sword...

 in Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...


In the Bakumatsu period, Inoue emerged as a leader of the antiforeigner movement in his native Chōshū. Desiring to rid Japan of foreigners, he and Takasugi Shinsaku
Takasugi Shinsaku
was a samurai from the Chōshū Domain of Japan who contributed significantly to the Meiji Restoration.He used the alias to hide his activities from the shogunate.-Early life:...

 set fire to the British legation in Edo in January 1863.

Recognizing Japan's need to learn from the western powers, Inoue joined the Chōshū Five
Choshu Five
The were members of the Chōshū han of western Japan who studied in England from 1863 at University College London under the guidance of Professor Alexander William Williamson. It was still illegal to leave Japan when they left, as sakoku was still practically in force until the Meiji...

 and was smuggled out of Japan to study at University College, London in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1863. When he returned with Itō Hirobumi, he unsuccessfully tried to prevent war (the Battle of Shimonoseki) between the Chōshū and the western naval powers over the closing of the Straits of Shimonoseki to foreign shipping. Later, he fought against the forces of the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 in the 1864 First Chōshū expedition
First Chōshū expedition
The First Chōshū expedition was a punitive military expedition led by the Tokugawa Shogunate against the Chōshū Domain in retaliation for the attack of Chōshū on the Imperial Palace in the Hamaguri rebellion. The First Chōshū expedition was launched on 1 September 1864.The conflict finally led to...

, during which he was severely wounded. He later played a key role in the formation of the Satchō Alliance
Satcho Alliance
The ', or Satchō Alliance was a military alliance between the feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū formed in 1866 to combine their efforts to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan....

 against the Tokugawa shogunate.

Statesman in the Meiji government

After the Meiji restoration
Meiji Restoration
The , also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, Reform or Renewal, was a chain of events that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868...

, Inoue served in several important positions in the new Meiji government. He was appointed Vice Minister of Finance
Ministry of Finance (Japan)
The ' is one of cabinet-level ministries of the Japanese government. The ministry was once named Ōkura-shō . The Ministry is headed by the Minister of Finance , who is a member of the Cabinet and is typically chosen from members of the Diet by the Prime Minister.The Ministry's origin was back in...

 in 1871 and was influential in reorganizing government finances on modern lines, especially in the reform of the land tax system
Land Tax Reform (Japan 1873)
The Japanese Land Tax Reform of 1873, or was started by the Meiji Government in 1873, or the 6th year of the Meiji era. It was a major restructuring of the previous land taxation system, and established the right of private land ownership in Japan for the first time.-Previous land taxation...

, termination of government stipends to the ex-samurai and former aristocracy and for promoting industrialization. Closely linked to business circles, including the emerging Mitsui
is one of the largest corporate conglomerates in Japan and one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.-History:Founded by Mitsui Takatoshi , who was the fourth son of a shopkeeper in Matsusaka, in what is now today's Mie prefecture...

is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed for control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II.-Terminology:...

, he was also involved in the railway business.These measures created many political enemies, and Inoue was forced to resign in May 1873. Inoue took part in the Osaka Conference of 1875
Osaka Conference of 1875
The was a meeting held by the major leaders of the Meiji Restoration in Osaka, Japan from January-February 1873 to address the issue of forming a representative assembly....

 to support the creation of a representative national assembly
National Assembly
National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...


In 1876, Inoue was asked to assist in the field of foreign affairs, and was involved in the conclusion of the Japan-Korea Treaty of Amity
Treaty of Ganghwa
The Japan-Korea Treaty of Amity, also known as the Treaty of Ganghwa or Treaty of Kanghwa, was made between representatives of the Empire of Japan and the Kingdom of Joseon in 1876...

 as vice-ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary
The word plenipotentiary has two meanings. As a noun, it refers to a person who has "full powers." In particular, the term commonly refers to a diplomat fully authorized to represent his government as a prerogative...

. He returned to government as Minister of Public Works in 1878 and Lord of Foreign Affairs in 1879 under the early Meiji Dajō-kan
The ' was the Department of State in Japan during the Nara and Heian periods, and briefly under the Meiji Constitution. It was consolidated in the Taihō Code of 702...

Cabinet. In 1884, he was elevated to the rank of count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 (hakushaku) under the new kazoku
The was the hereditary peerage of the Empire of Japan that existed between 1869 and 1947.-Origins:Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the ancient court nobility of Kyoto regained some of its lost status...

peerage system.

In December 1885, Inoue officially became Japan’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Japan)
The of Japan is the Cabinet member responsible for Japanese foreign policy and the chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Since the end of the American occupation of Japan, the position has been one of the most powerful in the Cabinet, as Japan's economic interests have long relied on...

 bearing that title in the first Itō Hirobumi
Ito Hirobumi
Prince was a samurai of Chōshū domain, Japanese statesman, four time Prime Minister of Japan , genrō and Resident-General of Korea. Itō was assassinated by An Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist who was against the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire...

 cabinet. However, Inoue came under public criticism for his failure to negotiate a revision of the unequal treaties
Unequal Treaties
“Unequal treaty” is a term used in specific reference to a number of treaties imposed by Western powers, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, on Qing Dynasty China and late Tokugawa Japan...

, his building of the Rokumeikan
The was a large two-story building in Tokyo, completed in 1883, which was to become a controversial symbol of Westernisation in the Meiji period. Commissioned for the housing of foreign guests by the Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru, it was designed by Josiah Conder, a prominent Western architect...

, and support of its Westernizing influences, which forced him to resign in August 1887.

Later he served as Minister of Agriculture and Commerce
Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce
The was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1881-1925. It was briefly recreated as the during World War II-History:...

 in the Kuroda
Kuroda Kiyotaka
, also known as , was a Japanese politician of the Meiji era. He was the second Prime Minister of Japan from 30 April 1888 to 25 October 1889.-As a Satsuma samurai:...

 administration, as Home Minister
Home Ministry (Japan)
The ' was a Cabinet-level ministry established under the Meiji Constitution that managed the internal affairs of Empire of Japan from 1873-1947...

 in the second Itō administration and again as Finance Minister in the 3rd Itō administration.

From 1901 onwards, Inoue served as most senior of the genrō
was an unofficial designation given to certain retired elder Japanese statesmen, considered the "founding fathers" of modern Japan, who served as informal extraconstitutional advisors to the emperor, during the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa periods in Japanese history.The institution of genrō...

, and considered himself the government's foremost advisor on financial affairs. He died in 1915 at his summer home at Okitsu-juku
was the seventeenth of the fifty-three stations of the Tōkaidō. It is located in what is now part of the Shimizu-ku area of Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.-History:...

, Shizuoka prefecture
Shizuoka Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region on Honshu island. The capital is the city of Shizuoka.- History :Shizuoka prefecture was formed from the former Tōtōmi, Suruga and Izu provinces.The area was the home of the first Tokugawa Shogun...


Reference and further reading

  • Akamatsu, Paul. (1972). Meiji 1868: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Japan (trans., Miriam Kochan). New York: Harper & Row.
  • Beasley, William G.
    William G. Beasley
    William Gerard Beasley CBE FBA was a British academic, author, editor, translator and Japanologist. He was Emeritus Professor of the History of the Far East at the School of Oriental and African Studies of London University.-Career:...

     (1972). The Meiji Restoration. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • __________. (1995). The Rise of Modern Japan: Political, Economic and Social Change Since 1850. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Craig, Albert M.
    Albert Craig
    Albert Craig may refer to:* Albert M. Craig, American professor of Japanese history* Albert Craig , English writer of cricket verse* Albert Craig , Scottish former footballer...

     (1961). Chōshū in the Meiji Restoration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Jansen, Marius B.
    Marius Jansen
    Marius Berthus Jansen was an American academic, historian, and Emeritus Professor of Japanese History at Princeton University....

     and Gilbert Rozman, eds. (1986). Japan in Transition: from Tokugawa to Meiji. Princeton: Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    . 10-ISBN 0691054592/13-ISBN 9780691054599; OCLC 12311985

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.