Categories: Japanese Notables.
Tokudaiji Yoshimaru was born in Kyoto, Japan, on December 6, 1849. He was the son of Tokudaiji Kin'ito and a concubine named Suehiro Ayako. He was adopted by Saionji Morosue in 1851. Because his adopted father died later that same year, he became the head of the Saionji family at the age of 2. Saionji Kinmochi, however, still lived under the influence of his biological family, the Tokudaiji. During his childhood, he played frequently with his friend the Prince Sachi-no-Miya Mutsuhito, who would later become the Emperor Meiji, at the palace.
As the head of the Saionji family, Kinmochi was involved in politics from childhood. He participated in the Boshin War which eventually installed the Emperor as the head of the government of Japan. Thereafter, he was appointed the governor of Echigo Province, but resigned after the Meiji Restoration.
Kinmochi studied French in Tokyo, and then went to study in Paris. He made several acquaintances with some famous French people before eventually returning to Japan.
After returning to Japan, Kinmochi served in several posts of the government of Japan. He became the president of the Privy Council in 1900.
Kinmochi served as the Prime Minister of Japan, switching places with Katsura Taro, from January 7, 1906 to July 14, 1908, and again from August 30, 1911 to December 21, 1912. He was appointed a genro by Yoshihito, the Emperor Taisho, in 1913. After Matsukata Masayoshi's death in 1924, Kinmochi became the last living genro.
Although Kinmochi was hated by Japanese militarists, he did manage to survive an assassination attempt during the attempted coup on Februaty 26, 1936. After receiving the news of the coup, he fled in his car. Along the way, he was pursued by what he thought to be soldiers, but were, in reality, newspaper reporters.
Saionji Kinmochi never married, but he did have children with concubines. He died on November 24, 1940.
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