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Itō Hirobumi
Itō Hirobumi.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
19 October 1900 – 10 May 1901
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Yamagata Aritomo
Succeeded by Saionji Kinmochi (Acting)
In office
12 January 1898 – 30 June 1898
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Matsukata Masayoshi
Succeeded by Ōkuma Shigenobu
In office
8 August 1892 – 31 August 1896
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Matsukata Masayoshi
Succeeded by Kuroda Kiyotaka (Acting)
In office
22 December 1885 – 30 April 1888
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Kuroda Kiyotaka
Resident General of Korea
In office
21 December 1905 – 14 June 1909
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Sone Arasuke
Personal details
Born (1841-10-16)16 October 1841
Tsukari, Japan
Died 26 October 1909(1909-10-26) (aged 68)
Harbin, China
Political party Independent (Before 1900)
Constitutional Association of Political Friendship (1900–1909)
Spouse(s) Itō Umeko
Alma mater University College London

Born in Hagi, Yamaguchi, Prince Itō Hirobumi (伊藤 博文 Itō Hirobumi 16 October 184126 October 1909, also called Hirofumi/Hakubun and Shunsuke in his youth) was a Japanese politician and the country's first Prime Minister (and the 5th, 7th and 10th).

Prime Minister of Japan

Early years

He was a Choshu samurai's adopted son and gained samurai status for himself in 1863, but a visit to England in the same year convinced him of the necessity of modernising Japan by adopting Western ways. He was one of the Choshu Five who studied at University College London.

In 1864 he returned to Japan with fellow student Inoue Kaoru to attempt to warn the Choshu clan against going to war with the foreigners over the right of passage through the Straits of Shimonoseki. At that time he met Ernest Satow for the first time, later a lifelong friend.

After the Meiji Restoration

After the Meiji Restoration, Ito served as a junior councillor in a number of different ministries. In 1873, Ito was made a full councillor and following the death of Okubo Toshimichi in 1878 he was home minister and dominated the government, by 1881 he forced Okuma Shigenobu to resign and gain the key role for himself. He headed a number of missions to study foreign governments. Based on the European ideas he established a cabinet and civil service in 1885, replacing the Dajokan as the decision-making state organisation, and became the first Prime Minister.

As Prime Minister again (1892-96) he supported the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and negotiated the Treaty of Shimonoseki in March 1895 with his ailing foreign minister Mutsu Munemitsu. After the war he became the first leader of the Seiyukai party, opposing Yamagata Aritomo. Prime Minister twice more (1898-1899, 1900-1901) he tried to negotiate a settlement with Russia before being forced from office by more militaristic politicians. He remained a power in the government as the premiership alternated between Saionji Kimmochi and Katsura Taro.

Korea (1906-1909)

In November 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War Korea was occupied by Japanese forces and the Korean government was made to sign the Protectorate Treaty, Ito became the first Resident General there in 1906. He forced the Korean ruler, King Gojong, to abdicate in 1907 in favour of his son King Sunjong and pushed through the Japanese-Korean Convention (1907) giving Japan considerable control of Korean internal affairs. Despite resigning as Resident-General in 1909 Ito was assassinated at Harbin in Manchuria by a Korean nationalist An Jung-geun. His death was followed by the full annexation of Korea in 1910 with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty.


Ito Hirobumi was on the 1,000 yen note of Japan from 1963-11-01 until a new series was issued in 1984.

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