- Katō Takaaki
name = Katō Takaaki
caption =Prime Minister of Japan
birth_date =birth date|1860|1|3|df=y
Nagoya, Owari Province, Japan
death_date = death date and age|1926|1|28|1860|1|3|df=y
Prime Minister of Japan
11 June 1924
28 January 1926
occupation = Cabinet Minister
spouse = Haruji Katō
nihongo| Katō Takaaki, 1st Baron |加藤 高明| Katō Takaaki , (
3 January 1860- 28 January 1926) was a Japanese politicianand the 24th Prime Minister of Japanfrom 11 June 1924to 28 January 1926. He is also known as Katō Kōmei.
Katō, was the second son of a local "
samurai" retainer of the Owari Tokugawa domain in Nagoya, Owari Province, (present day Aichi prefecture). He was born as Hattori Sokichi, and was adopted by Katō Bunhei at the age of 13. He attended the Tokyo Foreign Language School and Tokeo Kaisei Gakko (later Tokyo University), and graduated to the top of his class from the Law Department, specializing in English common law. On graduation worked as an employee of Mitsubishi" zaibatsu," and was sent to Londonfor two years. On his return to Japan in 1885, he became an assistant manager at the Mitsubishi head office in Marunouchi, Tokyo. In 1886, he married the eldest daughter of Iwasaki Yataro, the president of Mitsubishi.
As Cabinet Minister & Ambassador
In 1887, Katō became private secretary to
Okuma Shigenobu, who was then Minister of Foreign Affairs, and worked with Okuma on the revision of the unequal treaties. Subsequently he served as director of the Banking Bureau in the Finance Ministry. From 1894 to 1899, he served as ambassadorto the United Kingdom, and in 1900, during the 4th Ito administration, he became Foreign Minister; however, the Ito administration remained in office only a few months. During his period in the United Kingdom and in the Foreign Ministry, he helped lay the foundations for the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which was concluded in 1902.
In 1902 he was elected a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet from
Appointed again as Foreign Minister in the Saionji cabinet (1906), he resigned after a brief interval, being opposed to the
nationalizationof the private railways, which the cabinet approved. He then remained without office until 1908, when he again accepted the post of ambassador in London. He was decorated with the Order of St Michael and St George, and earned the reputation of being one of the strongest among the junior statesmen. He again served as Foreign Minister in the 3rd Katsura and 2nd Okuma administrations.
He was thus foreign minister at the outbreak of
World War I, and in the words of Hew Strachan("The First World War", p. 72): "Of all the world's statesmen in 1914, Katō proved the most adroit at using war for the purposes of policy. Domestically he exploited it to assert the dominance of the Foreign Ministry and of the cabinet in the making of Japan's foreign policy. Internationally he took the opportunity to redefine Japan's relationship with China. In doing so he was not simply outflanking the extremists opposed to him; he was also honouring his own belief that Japan should be a great power like those of Europe."
Despite these glowing words from a certain western historian, Katō's decision that Japan should enter World War I greatly angered the "
genro," who had not been consulted, and who therefore felt that their power and authority were being slighted. In addition, Katō created considerable controversy in January 1915, when he issued the Twenty-One Demandsto China, which sparked a major international incident and considerably opposition domestically.
As Prime Minister
In 1915, Katō was selected as a member of the
House of Peersby Imperial command. He became president of the conservative Kenseikaiin the following year, whose policies he greatly influenced with his opposition to the "genro", support of the constitution and support for extension of popular suffrage.
Katō was appointed
Prime Minister of Japanfrom 1924 until his death in early 1926. His cabinet was nicknamed the "Goken Sanpa Naikaku" (Cabinet based on the three pro-Constitution factions), which, despite its coalitionnature, was able to enact significant legislation. In 1925, Katō had the General Election Lawenacted, which extended the vote to all male citizens over the age of 25. He also ratified the Peace Preservation Law, which suppressed radical political organizations, and concluded the Soviet-Japanese Basic Convention. He also initiated universal military service. Katō strove to reduce government spending, but also suffered considerable personal criticism for his family links with Mitsubishi.
Katō died in office in 1926.
History of Japan
* Beasley, W.G. "Japanese Imperialism 1894-1945". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-822168-1
* Buruma, Ian. "Inventing Japan: 1853-1964". Modern Library; (2004) ISBN 0-8129-7286-4
* Toyoda, Jo. "Kato Takaaki to Taisho demokurashi (Meiji Taisho no saisho)". Kodansha. ISBN 4-06-180698-X (Japanese)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.