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Katsura, Taro, Marquess

KATSURA, TARO, MARQUESS (1847- ), Japanese soldier and statesman, was born in 1847 in Choshu. He commenced his career by fighting under the Imperial banner in the civil war of the Restoration, and he displayed such talent that he was twice sent at public expense to Germany (in 1870 and 1884) to study strategy and tactics. In 1886 he was appointed viceminister of war, and in 1891 the command of division devolved on him. He led the left wing of the Japanese army in the campaign of 1894-95 against China, and made a memorable march in the depth of winter from the north-east shore of the Yellow Sea to Haicheng, finally occupying Niuchwang, and effecting a junction with the second army corps which moved up the Liaotung peninsula. For these services he received the title of viscount. He held the portfolio of war from 1898 to 1901, when he became premier and retained office for four and a half years, a record in Japan. In 1902 his cabinet concluded the first entente with England, which event procured for Katsura the rank of count. He also directed state affairs throughout the war with Russia, and concluded the offensive and defensive treaty of 1905 with Great Britain, receiving from King Edward the grand cross of the order of St Michael and St George, and being raised by the mikado to the rank of marquess. He resigned the premiership in 1905 to Marquess Saionji, but was again invited to form a cabinet in 1908. Marquess Katsura might be considered the chief exponent of conservative views in Japan. Adhering strictly to the doctrine that ministries were responsible to the emperor alone and not at all to the diet, he stood wholly aloof from political parties, only his remarkable gift of tact and conciliation enabling him to govern on such principles.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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