Yamagata Aritomo

Prime Minister of Japan (1838-1922)
In this Japanese name, the family name is Yamagata.

Yamagata Aritomo (山縣 有朋, June 14, 1838 – February 1, 1922) was a Field Marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army. He was twice Prime Minister of Japan. Yamagata was the founder of the Imperial Japanese Army.[1]

Yamagata Aritomo
山縣 有朋
3rd Prime Minister of Japan
In office
November 8, 1898 – October 19, 1900
Preceded byŌkuma Shigenobu
Succeeded byItō Hirobumi
In office
December 24, 1889 – May 6, 1891
Preceded bySanjō Sanetomi (Acting)
Succeeded byMatsukata Masayoshi
Personal details
Born(1838-06-14)June 14, 1838
Kawashima, Japan
DiedFebruary 1, 1922(1922-02-01) (aged 83)
Odawara, Japan
Political partyIndependent
AwardsOrder of the Golden Kite (1st class)
Order of the Rising Sun (1st class with Paulownia Blossoms, Grand Cordon)
Order of the Chrysanthemum
Member of the Order of Merit (United Kingdom)
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (United Kingdom)
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1868–1905
RankField Marshal
Battles/warsBoshin War
Satsuma Rebellion
First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War



Yamagata was born June 14, 1838, in Hagi.[2] Hagi was the capital of the feudal domain of Chōshū[2] (present-day Yamaguchi prefecture). He was schooled by his father. Yamagata studied classical Japanese and Chinese literature.[2] He learned the martial arts of Jujutsu. Yamagata also learned the military use of the spear and how to fence.[2]

He went to Shokasonjuku, a private school run by Yoshida Shōin.[3] There, he helped overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868.[4] He was a commander in the Kiheitai. This was a semi-military organization created along semi-western lines by the Chōshū domain. He was a staff officer in the Boshin War (1867 to 1868).

After the Tokugawa were overthrown, Yamagata and Saigō Tsugumichi traveled abroad in 1869.[2] They were sent to research the military systems of western countries. Yamagata was impressed with the Prussian military. After a year Yamagata returned and reported directly to Emperor Meiji in Tokyo.[2] He was made "Assistant Vice Minister of Military Affairs". He used the military theories of Carl von Clausewitz and Prussian war games to change Japan's army.[5] He became War Minister in 1873.[5] He modernized the Imperial Japanese Army and made it like the Prussian army. He started military conscription in 1873.[5]

Personal life


Yamagata had no children. He adopted a nephew to be his heir. The nephew was Yamagata Isaburō, the second son of his oldest sister. Then, Isaburō became a career bureaucrat, cabinet minister, and head of the civilian administration of Korea. In his later life he enjoyed landscape architecture, poetry and the rituals of the tea ceremony.[6] Yamagata died on February 1, 1922.[6]




  • Count (July 7, 1884)
  • Genro (May 26, 1895)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Blossoms (August 5, 1895)
  • Marquis (August 5, 1895)
  • Marshal-General (January 20, 1898)
  • Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (September 21, 1908) (Grand Cordon: June 3, 1903)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Golden Kite, 1st Class (September 21, 1908) (Second Class: August 5, 1895)
  • Prince (September 21, 1908)

From other countries



  1. Frederick R. Dickinson, War and National Reinvention: Japan in the Great War, 1914-1919 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Japan at War: An Encyclopedia, ed. Louis G. Perez (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013), p. 502
  3. Thomas M. Huber, The Revolutionary Origins of Modern Japan (Standford: Stanford University Press, 1989), p. 5
  4. George Ernest Morrison, The Correspondence of G. E. Morrison 1912-1920, Vol 2: 1912-1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), p. 132, n. 2
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Deanna Spingola, The Ruling Elite: The Zionist Seizure of World Power (US: Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2012), p. 339
  6. 6.0 6.1 Japan at War: An Encyclopedia, ed. Louis G. Perez (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013), p. 504