1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Iwakura, Tomomi

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IWAKURA, TOMOMI, Prince (1835–1883), Japanese statesman, was born in Kiōto. He was one of the court nobles (kuge) of Japan, and he traced his descent to the emperor Murakami (A.D. 947–967). A man of profound ability and singular force of character, he acted a leading part in the complications preceding the fall of the Tokugawa shōgunate, and was obliged to fly from Kiōto accompanied by his coadjutor, Prince Sanjō. They took refuge with the Daimyō of Chōshū, and, while there, established relations which contributed greatly to the ultimate union of the two great fiefs, Satsuma and Chōshū, for the work of the Restoration. From 1867 until the day of his death Iwakura was one of the most prominent figures on the political stage. In 1871 he proceeded to America and Europe at the head of an imposing embassy of some fifty persons, the object being to explain to foreign governments the actual conditions existing in Japan, and to pave the way for negotiating new treaties consistent with her sovereign rights. Little success attended the mission. Returning to Japan in 1873, Iwakura found the cabinet divided as to the manner of dealing with Korea’s insulting attitude. He advocated peace, and his influence carried the day, thus removing a difficulty which, though apparently of minor dimensions, might have changed the whole course of Japan’s modern history.