Okuma Shigenobu

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Bronze statue of Ôkuma Shigenobu at Waseda University
  • Birth: 1838
  • Death: 1922
  • Japanese: 大隈重信 (Ookuma Shigenobu)

Ôkuma Shigenobu was a prominent government minister in the Meiji period, one of the genrô, and is also known as the founder of Waseda University.

Originally from Saga han, Ôkuma alternated in the early years of the Meiji period between support for the dominant faction in the Meiji government, and progressive opposition to it. He resigned from government in 1881, but returned sometime later.[1] Ôkuma was succeeded as Foreign Minister by Aoki Shûzô in 1889.

Ôkuma was the founder of the Tokyo Senmon Gakkô, which later became Waseda University; Ôkuma then became the first sôchô (overall head) of the university. The Ôkuma Auditorium (Ôkuma kôdô), one of the most famous and distinctive buildings on Waseda's main campus for its clock tower, is named for him. A bronze statue of Ôkuma which now stands on campus was originally completed in 1932/10, for the 50th anniversary of the university's founding. It was designed and made by Asakura Fumio (1883-1964), and stands 2.89 meters tall, atop a stone base 2.12 meters high. Asakura also made two other statues of Ôkuma, one erected in Shiba Kôen in 1916, and one erected at the National Diet Building, in 1938.[2]

Ôkuma is buried at Tokyo's Gokoku-ji.


  1. David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, ME Sharpe (1997), 326, 333.
  2. Plaque on-site at Waseda University.