Viscount Saitō Makoto, GCB (斎藤 ) (27 October 1858 – 26 February 1936) was a Japanese naval officer and politician.[1] Upon distinguishing himself during his command of two cruisers in the First Sino-Japanese War, Saitō rose rapidly to the rank of rear admiral by 1900. He was promoted to vice admiral during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. After serving as Minister of the Navy from 1906 to 1914, Saitō held the position of Governor-General of Korea from 1919 to 1927 and again from 1929 to 1931. When Inukai Tsuyoshi was assassinated in May 1932, he took his place as prime minister and served one term in office. Saitō returned to public service as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal in February 1935 but was assassinated only a year later during the February 26 Incident. Saitō along with Takahashi Korekiyo were the last former prime ministers of Japan to be assassinated until 2022, with the assassination of Shinzo Abe.

Saitō Makoto
斎藤 実
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan
In office
26 February 1935 – 26 February 1936
Preceded byMakino Nobuaki
Succeeded byIchiki Kitokurō
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
26 May 1932 – 8 July 1934
Preceded byKorekiyo Takahashi (Acting)
Succeeded byKeisuke Okada
Governor-General of Korea
In office
17 August 1929 – 17 June 1931
Preceded byHanzō Yamanashi
Succeeded byKazushige Ugaki
In office
1 December 1927 – 10 December 1927
Preceded byKazushige Ugaki (Acting)
Succeeded byHanzō Yamanashi
In office
12 August 1919 – 14 April 1927
Preceded byYoshimichi Hasegawa
Succeeded byKazushige Ugaki(Acting)
Minister of the Navy
In office
7 January 1906 – 16 April 1914
Prime MinisterSaionji Kinmochi
Katsura Tarō
Yamamoto Gonnohyōe
Preceded byYamamoto Gonnohyōe
Succeeded byYashiro Rokurō
Personal details
Born(1858-10-27)27 October 1858
Mizusawa Domain, Mutsu Province, Japan
Died26 February 1936(1936-02-26) (aged 77)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyIndependent
SpouseSaitō Haruko (1873–1971)
Alma materImperial Japanese Naval Academy
AwardsOrder of the Chrysanthemum
Order of the Bath (Honorary Knight Grand Cross)
Military service
Allegiance Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service1879–1928
Rank Admiral
Battles/warsFirst Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
World War I

Early life edit

Saitō Makoto visits his close friend, Finance Minister Takahashi Korekiyo at his official residence on 20 February 1936. Less than a week after this photograph was taken, both were assassinated by ultranationalistic Army officers during the February 26 Incident.

Saitō was born in Mizusawa Domain, Mutsu Province (part of present-day Ōshū City Iwate Prefecture), as the son of a samurai of the Mizusawa Clan. In 1879, he graduated from the 6th class Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, ranking third out of a class of 17 cadets.[2] He was commissioned an ensign on September 8, 1882, and promoted to sub-lieutenant on February 25, 1884.

Military career edit

Saitō Makoto, 1910

In 1884, Saitō went to the United States for four years to study as a military attaché. Promoted to lieutenant on 14 July 1886; in 1888, after returning to Japan, he served as a member of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff.

After his promotion to lieutenant commander on 20 December 1893, he served as executive officer on the cruiser Izumi and battleship Fuji.

During the First Sino-Japanese War, Saitō served as captain of the cruisers Akitsushima and Itsukushima. He received rapid promotions to commander on 1 December 1897 and to captain on 27 December. On 10 November 1898, he became Vice Minister of the Navy, and was promoted to rear admiral on 20 May 1900.[3]

Political career edit

Saitō was again Vice Navy Minister at the start of the Russo-Japanese War. He was promoted to vice admiral on June 6, 1904. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (1st class) in 1906. After the end of the war, he served as Navy Minister for 8 years, from 1906 to 1914, during which time he continually strove for expansion of the navy.

On 21 September 1907, Saitō was ennobled with the title of danshaku (baron) under the kazoku peerage system. On October 16, 1912, he was promoted to full admiral. However, on 16 April 1914, Saitō was forced to resign from his post as Navy Minister due implications of his involvement in the Siemens scandal, and officially entered the reserves.

In September 1919, Saitō was appointed as the third Japanese Governor-General of Korea. Rising to the post right after the culmination of the Korean independence movement, he was subject to an immediate assassination attempt by Kang Woo-kyu, a radical Korean nationalist.[4][5] He served as governor-general of Korea twice—in 1919–1927,[1] and again in 1929–1931,[6] implementing a series of measures to moderate Japan's policies on Koreans. He was awarded the Order of the Paulownia Flowers in 1924. On 29 April 1925, his title was elevated to that of shishaku (viscount).

In 1927, Saitō was a member of the Japanese delegation at the Geneva Naval Conference on Disarmament, and he later became a privy councillor.

Prime Minister edit

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi on 15 May 1932 by fanatical navy officers who thought Inukai far too conciliatory (the May 15 Incident), Prince Saionji Kinmochi, one of the Emperor's closest and strongest advisors, attempted to stop the slide towards a military take-over of the government. In a compromise move, Saitō was chosen to be Inukai's successor. Sadao Araki remained as War Minister and immediately began making demands on the new government. During Saitō's tenure, Japan recognized the independence of Manchukuo, and withdrew from the League of Nations.

Saitō's administration was one of the longer-serving ones of the inter-war period, and it continued until 8 July 1934, when the cabinet resigned en masse because of the Teijin Incident bribery scandal. Keisuke Okada succeeded as prime minister.

Saitō continued to be an important figure in politics as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal from 26 December 1935, but was assassinated during the February 26 Incident of 1936 at his home in Yotsuya, Tokyo. Takahashi, his predecessor, was shot dead the same day, along with several other top-rank politicians targeted by the rebels.

Saitō was posthumously awarded the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.

Honours edit

From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

Peerages edit

  • Baron (21 September 1907)
  • Viscount (9 April 1925)

Decorations edit

  • Order of the Sacred Treasure, Fourth Class (20 June 1899; Fifth Class: 25 November 1896; Sixth Class: 26 May 1893)
  • Order of the Golden Kite, Second Class (1 April 1906; Fourth Class: 23 May 1896)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (1 April 1906; Second Class: 27 December 1901; Sixth Class: 23 May 1896)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers (11 February 1924)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (26 February 1936; posthumous)

Foreign decorations edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Saitō Makoto" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 809.
  2. ^ Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), "Graduates of Naval Academy class 6th," Saito Makoto; retrieved 2012-10-18.
  3. ^ Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy.
  4. ^ Pratt, Keith (2007). Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea. Reaktion Books. p. 218. ISBN 9781861892737.
  5. ^ Ion, A. Hamish (1993). The Cross and the Rising Sun: The British Protestant Missionary Movement in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, 1865-1945. Vol. 2. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 206.
  6. ^, Republic of Korea, Governors-General; ewreiwcws 2012-10-18.
  7. ^ London Gazette, 15 May 1906
  8. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis: Commentarium Officiale, Annus XIV - Vol. XIV, 1922, p. 207.
  9. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis: Commentarium Officiale, Annus XXIV - Vol. XXIV, 1932, p. 104.

References edit

External links edit