Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909) was one of the founding fathers of modern Japan, who served as Prime Minister in the Meiji government and was later Resident General of Korea until he was assassinated by a Korean nationalist in Harbin.
Born in the Hagi region, Ito was a student of Yoshida Shoin and later traveled to London as part of the "Choshu Five" sent by their clan to study and absorb Western ways and new technology. Only 17 at the time, Ito was deeply impressed by the time he spent at University College London and became an avid supporter of Japan's Westernization and modernization.
On his return to Japan, Ito was instrumental in persuading the Choshu domain to seek an alliance with Western powers as a way to undermine and overthrow the Tokugawa regime.
After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Ito traveled to both the USA and Europe to gather information on drafting a new constitution for Japan. Becoming Japan's first Prime Minister in 1885, Ito was to serve in the post on three later occasions.
As an elder statesman Ito became Resident General of Korea as Japan began to extend its control of the Korean Peninsula. He was assassinated in Harbin by An Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist.
Hirobumi's early childhood home (Ito Hirobumi Old Residence) and his later, grander residence from Shinagawa, Tokyo are now preserved in Hagi a short stroll behind Shoin Shrine. The Second Residence is a spacious, traditional-style Japanese home with tatami flooring. Visitors must remove their shoes before entering.
Admission: 100 yen
Tel: 0838 25 3139
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Friday, April 30, 2010