Yamagata Aritomo


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Japanese soldier and statesman. A member of a samurai family, he was an early opponent of the westernization of Japan, but, having experienced western military supremacy, he became a strong advocate of the modernization of the recently created Meiji state. Serving in a succession of senior posts, he was the prime architect of the modern Japanese army, shaping a mass conscript army organized on the principle of unswerving loyalty to the emperor. He served as the first Prime Minister (1889–91) after the introduction of the parliamentary system and held the post again (1898–1900). Serving also as chief of the general staff during the Russo-Japanese War he exercised great influence and power, largely behind the scenes, in the years leading up to World War I.

Subjects: World History.

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