1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Okuma (Shigenobu), Marquess

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OKUMA (SHIGENOBU), Marquess (1838-1922), Japanese statesman (see 20.61). In the spring of 1914, the old statesman emerged, at the age of 76, from his retirement at the special behest of the Throne, to take up once again the reins of Government, as, owing to some unfortunate scandals arising out of a contract for a battleship, public confidence in Government probity had received a severe shock. The veteran guided the country safely through the opening months of the World War. In Dec. 1914, the Government suffered a defeat on the army estimates and the Diet was dissolved. Count Okuma himself conducted a vigorous election campaign, which resulted in a great triumph for the Government at the general election in March 1915. Charges of bribery at the elections were later brought against the Home Minister, Visct. Oura, with the result that a Cabinet crisis arose, and Count Okuma resigned on July 30. He was pressed to remain in office, however, and, finally consenting, constituted a new Cabinet on Aug. 10, temporarily taking over the portfolio for Foreign Affairs until this was accepted by Baron (afterward Visct.) Ishii. During 1916, treaties were concluded with France, Russia and China. On Oct. 3 1916, Count Okuma announced his intention to retire, owing to his failing health; and on Oct. 9, Marshal Terauchi formed a new Ministry. Previous to his resignation the Count received a marquessate, in recognition of his eminent services to the State, since the restoration, as a Genro or elder statesman. He died at Tokyo Jan. 10 1922.