Japanese statesman. As a young samurai of the Choshu clan, he opposed Westernization before becoming aware of the benefits offered by modernization. He became one of the major political figures after the Meiji Restoration (1868), travelling in Europe in search of a model for the Meiji Constitution which he subsequently framed, and serving four times as Prime Minister, first in 1885. After the politics of the 1890s had shown the considerable veto power that political parties were able to exercise, and when Yamagata Aritomo had given the armed services the power to break civilian governments, Ito formed (1901) the Seiyukai (Friends of Constitutional Government) Party. He retired from active politics soon after and exercised a moderating influence on imperial policy as first resident-general (1905–09) of the Korean protectorate. After his resignation he was assassinated by a Korean nationalist.
Subjects: World History.