Hoshi Tōru

Hoshi Tōru (星 亨, 19 May 1850 – 21 June 1901) was a Japanese politician and cabinet minister in Meiji period Japan.

Hoshi Tōru
星 亨
Hoshi Tōru in 1898
Born(1850-05-19)May 19, 1850
Edo, Japan
DiedJune 21, 1901(1901-06-21) (aged 51)
Tokyo, Japan
Occupationpolitician, cabinet minister

Early lifeEdit

Hoshi was born in Edo in what is now part of Tsukiji, Tokyo; little is known about his biological father other than that he was a plasterer. His mother remarried to a medical doctor in Uraga, and he adopted the Hoshi surname. Initially intending to pursue a career in medicine, he learned English at Yokohama, and eventually became an English language instructor. After the Meiji Restoration, he enjoyed the patronage of Mutsu Munemitsu and entered into the service of the new Meiji government, serving as head of the Yokohama Customs Office. At one point he precipitated a minor diplomatic incident over a disagreement with British minister Harry Smith Parkes over what kanji to use in translating the title of “queen” as in Queen Victoria, and refusing to agree to Parks position, resigned his post. He then travelled to England, where he studied at the Middle Temple, and in 1877 became the first Japanese to qualify as a barrister in the United Kingdom.[1]

On his return to Japan, Hoshi entered the Ministry of Justice, and was outspoken in his criticism of the hanbatsu, or clan-based politics, and what he perceived as the weak position of the Japanese government over the revision of the imequal treaties with the western powers. He was briefly expelled from Tokyo under the Peace Preservation Law [2] and forbidden to publish in 1887 and jailed in 1888. Hoshi left Japan for the United States and Canada in 1888 soon after his release, remaining for a year, and continued on to England and Germany, only returning to Japan in 1890. In 1892, he was elected to the House of Representatives of Japan in the 1892 General Election under the Liberal Party and became Speaker of the House in May 1892. However, he was removed from office in December 1893 following a vote of no confidence [3] . Well versed in legal issues concerning the United States from his time as Resident Minister in Washington DC from 1896-1898, Hoshi was scheduled to be appointed Foreign Minister under the 1st Ōkuma administration; however, due to internal political issues within the Kenseikai, the appointment never came through. Instead, Hoshi was appointed Communications Minister in the 4th Itō administration in October 1900. He also left the Keiseikai to join Itō’s Rikken Seiyūkai.[4] However, the same month he was accused by the Mainichi Shimbun of involvement in a corruption scandal within the Tokyo City Assembly. Although he protested his innocence, he was forced to resign three months later due to a relentless campaign against his name by the newspaper. In March, he was found innocent due to lack of evidence, but during the middle of the trial he was assassinated by a middle-aged man with a short sword.[3]


  1. ^ Dean Meryll, Mayumi Irie (2002). Japanese Legal System. Cavendish Publishing. ISBN 1859419577. page 283
  2. ^ McLean, Walter Wallace (2013). Political History of Japan During the Meiji Era, 1867-1912. Routledge. ISBN 1164071831.
  3. ^ a b De Lange, William (1998). A History of Japanese Journalism: Japan's Press Club as the Last Obstacle to a Mature Press. Psychology Press. ISBN 1873410689. page 99-100
  4. ^ Itoh, Mayumi Irie (2003). The Hatoyama Dynasty: Japanese Political Leadership Through the Generations. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403981523. page 36

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Yoshikawa Akimasa
Minister of Communications
19 October 1900 – 22 December 1900
Succeeded by
Hara Takashi
Preceded by
Nakajima Nobuyuki
Speaker of the House
3 May 1892 – 13 Dec 1893
Succeeded by
Masataka Kusumoto