1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hara, Takashi

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HARA, TAKASHI (1856-1921), Japanese statesman, was born at Morioka in Feb. 1856. His early studies were made at the now defunct Law College of the Department of Justice, but he abandoned the law, before graduating, in favour of journalism, joining the staff of the Hochi Shimbun, an important Tokyo daily newspaper. He acted as special correspondent in Korea in 1882, when the late Marquess Inouye was envoy to that country, and subsequently entered the diplomatic service as a junior official in the Foreign Office. He was then appointed consul at Tientsin and in 1886 became secretary and chargé d'affaires in Paris. When the late Marquess Inouye was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Commerce Mr. Hara became his personal secretary. In 1892 he was appointed director of the commercial bureau at the Foreign Office and was promoted in 1895 to Vice-Minister of the Department. He was sent as minister to Korea from 1896-7, when he again turned to newspaper control and became chief editor of the Osaka Mainichi. Still deeply interested in politics he was one of the right-hand men of the late Prince Hirobumi Ito, when the latter organized the Seiyu-Kai (Liberal) party in Aug. 1900, and subsequently became its leading spirit. From the end of 1900 to May 1901 he filled the chair of the Minister of Communications in the Ito Ministry. Reverting once again to journalism he then became the chief editor of the Osaka Shimpo, and was elected a member of the House of Representatives for his native city in 1902, being reëlected at each subsequent election. In 1906, he definitely abandoned his journalistic career in favour of affairs of State and was appointed Minister for Home Affairs in the first Saionji Ministry. On the fall of this Cabinet in 1908 he spent two years visiting Europe and America. Returning to Japan he accepted the portfolio of the Minister for Home Affairs in the second Saionji administration, which was in office from 1911 to 1912. During the short period of the Katsura administration Mr. Hara held no office, but returned to his former position at the Ministry for Home Affairs for the third time under the Yamamoto administration of 1913 to early in 1914. When this Cabinet resigned, owing to the rejection of the Budget by the House of Peers, Mr. Hara retired for a time from active politics, though still retaining his leadership of the Seiyu-Kai. The Terauchi administration, which was generally considered to be conservative, came to an end in the autumn of 1918, and Mr. Hara was invited to form a Cabinet which might appreciate the growing desires and aspirations of the people of Japan towards liberalism. On Sept. 29 1918 Mr. Hara, the first commoner to become prime minister of Japan, formed an administration based, for the first time in the history of Japanese political development, on strictly parliamentary principles. He was assassinated on Nov. 4 1921 in Tokyo.