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Biography of Kinmochi Saionji


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Saionji, Kinmochi. Former Japanese premier. Belonged to an illustrious family which, in the past, had marriage connections with the imperial family. Born in Kyoto in 1849. As a youth of 18, he gathered volunteers, and fought for the emperor in the revolution. He then went to Paris, was a student in the Latin Quarter, and returned to Japan at the age of 32. He at once started a daily paper at Tokyo, and proclaimed himself a Liberal of the European type. Subsequently, the marquis became minister to Austria-Hungary, and then to Germany. On his return to Japan, he joined the first Ito cabinet as minister of education, a post which he again occupied in the second Ito cabinet, having been minister of foreign affairs in the interval. A great friend of Marquis Ito, Saionji assisted him to form the Constitutional Association (1900), and became its leader in 1903. At three difficult crises, the Mikado called Saionji to be prime minister pro tem. Resigned premiership of Japan in 1912.