Inoue Kaoru

Inoue Kaoru

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Inoue Kaoru

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Count ,GCMG was a Japanese statesman and a member of the Meiji oligarchy that ruled Japan during the Meiji period (1868–1912).

Early years

Born Yakichi (勇吉) to a lower-ranked samurai family in Hagi, Chōshū Domain (present day Yamaguchi Prefecture), Inoue attended the Meirinkan Domain school with his brother Ikutarō (幾太郎). He was a close boyhood friend of Itō Hirobumi who later became Japan's first prime minister, and he played an active part in the sonnō jōi movement. In 1858, he studied rangaku, artillery and swordsmanship in Edo.

In the Bakumatsu period, Inoue emerged as a leader of the antiforeigner movement in his native Chōshū. Desiring to rid Japan of foreigners, he and Takasugi Shinsaku set fire to the British legation in Edo in January 1863.

Recognizing Japan's need to learn from the western powers, he joined the Chōshū Five and was sent to study at University College, London in 1863. When he returned with Ito Hirobumi, he unsuccessfully tried to prevent war (the Battle of Shimonoseki) between the Chōshū and the western naval powers over the closing of the Straits of Shimonoseki to foreign shipping. Later, he fought against the forces of the Tokugawa bakufu in the 1864 “First Chōshū Chastisement Campaign”, during which he was severely wounded. He later played a key role in the formation of the Satchō Alliance against the Tokugawa shogunate.

Statesman in the Meiji government

After the Meiji restoration, Inoue served in several...
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