1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Inouye, Kaoru, Marquess

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

INOUYE, KAORU, Marquess (1835–  ), Japanese statesman, was born in 1835, a samurai of the Chōshū fief. He was a bosom friend of his fellow-clansman Prince Ito, and the two youths visited England in 1863, serving as common sailors during the voyage. At that time all travel abroad was forbidden on pain of death, but the veto did not prove deterrent in the face of a rapidly growing conviction that, as a matter of self-protection, Japan must assimilate the essentials of Western civilization. Shortly after the departure of Inouye and Ito, the Chōshū fief, having fired upon foreign vessels passing the strait of Shimonoseki, was menaced by war with the Yedo government or with the insulted powers, and Inouye and Ito, on receipt of this news, hastened home hoping to avert the catastrophe. They repaired to the British legation in Yedo and begged that the allied squadron, then about to sail for Shimonoseki to call Chōshū to account, should be delayed that they might have an opportunity of advising the fief to make timely submission. Not only was this request complied with, but a British frigate was detailed to carry the two men to Shimonoseki, and, pending her departure, the British legation assisted them to lie perdu. Their mission proved futile, however, and Inouye was subsequently waylaid by a party of conservative samurai, who left him covered with wounds. This experience did not modify his liberal views, and, by the time of the Restoration in 1867, he had earned a high reputation as a leader of progress and an able statesman. Finance and foreign affairs were supposed to be the spheres specially suited to his genius, but his name is not associated with any signal practical success in either, though his counsels were always highly valued by his sovereign and his country alike. As minister of foreign affairs he conducted the long and abortive negotiations for treaty revision between 1883 and 1886, and in 1885 he was raised to the peerage with the title of count, being one of the first group of Meiji statesmen whose services were thus rewarded. Prior to his permanent retirement from office in 1898, he held the portfolios of foreign affairs, finance, home affairs, and agriculture and commerce, and throughout the war with Russia he attended all important state councils, by order of the emperor, being also specially designated adviser to the minister of finance. In 1907 he was raised to the rank of marquess. His name will go down in his country’s history as one of the five Meiji statesmen, namely, Princes Ito and Yamagata, Marquesses Inouye and Matsukata and Count Okuma.