Saigo, Takamori

Saigo, Takamori täkäˈmōrē sīˈgō [key], 1828–77, Japanese soldier and statesman noted for his obstinate conservatism. He was an early opponent of the Tokugawa shogunate. He was exiled (1859–64) but returned to train Satsuma warriors. In 1867 his troops supported the emperor in the Meiji Restoration. In the new government he was an imperial adviser, and in 1873 he advocated war with Korea and opposed the Westernization of Japan. When his advice was rejected, he and a group of dissidents retired from the government. He spent four years training a military force, and in 1877 he led the Satsuma revolt; his samurai followers were defeated by imperial troops, drawn from the peasantry and equipped with modern arms. Saigo committed suicide. He later became a symbol of devotion to principle.

See biography by S. Mushakoji (tr. 1942); M. Sakamoto, The Fall of Shiroyama (1962).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Japanese History: Biographies