Yamagata, Aritomo

Yamagata, Aritomo ärēˈtōmō yämäˈgätä [key], 1838–1922, Japanese soldier and statesman, chief founder of the modern Japanese army. A samurai of Choshu, he took part in the Meiji restoration. He studied military science in Europe and returned in 1870 to head the war ministry. Strongly influenced by Prussian military and political ideas and favoring military expansion abroad and authoritarian government at home, he supported Japanese military control of Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria. As home minister (1883–87) he dissolved the new political parties and repressed the agrarian movement. In 1900, while premier, he ruled that only an active military officer could serve as war or navy minister, a rule that gave the military control over any cabinet. From 1900 to 1910 he opposed Hirobumi Ito, leader of the civilian party, and exercised influence through his protégé, Taro Katsura. As president of the privy council from 1909 to 1922, he was the power behind the throne and the leading advocate for higher military appropriations.

See R. F. Hackett, Yamagata Aritomo in the Rise of Modern Japan, 1838–1922 (1971).

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