Ito Hirobumi

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Itô Hirobumi was Japan's first modern prime minister, and a prominent figure in a number of other aspects of Meiji government.

In his youth, prior to the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, Itô was a follower or student of sonnô jôi activist Yoshida Shôin.

Itô was named Minister of the Interior in 1878, succeeding Ôkubo Toshimichi to that post. He became the first prime minister of the modern state of Japan in 1885, when the cabinet system was established. Among his many activities in that position was participation in diplomatic negotiations with Li Hongzhang which managed, in the end, to avoid war with China in the 1880s, or depending on one's perspective, to at least delay the outbreak of conflict until the mid-1890s.

In 1895, he was among the main Japanese representatives at the negotiation and signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki which ended the Sino-Japanese War.

In 1900, he founded the Seiyûkai political party. Sadayakko, often cited as Japan's first actress in the modern mode, was among his mistresses.

Itô became the first Governor-General of the Japanese protectorate of Korea in 1905,[1] remaining in that position until he was killed by Korean activist An Jung-geun in 1909.


  1. Mark Peattie, The Japanese Colonial Empire, Princeton University Press (1984), 17.