Takahashi, Korekiyo

Takahashi, Korekiyo

Takahashi, Korekiyo, 1854-1936, Japanese statesman and financier. Long an official of the Yokohama Specie Bank, he became its president in 1906, and from 1911 to 1913 he was president of the Bank of Japan. In 1921, after the assassination of Hara Kei, he became prime minister and head of the Seiyukai party, but his cabinet fell in 1922. He was one of Japan's greatest finance ministers, serving in that capacity in 1913-14, 1918-22, 1927, and 1931-36. An advocate of sound government finance, supported by the business interests, he opposed army demands for larger military appropriations and warned against inflation and overexpansion of the national debt. He was assassinated by army extremists in the unsuccessful military coup of Feb. 26, 1936.

, (27 July 185426 February 1936) was a Japanese politician and the 20th Prime Minister of Japan from 13 November 1921 to 12 June 1922. He was known as an expert on finance during his political career.

Early life and civilian career

Takahashi was born in Edo (present day Tokyo) as the illegitimate son of a court painter in residence at Edo Castle, and adopted as the son of Takahashi Kakuji, a low-ranking ashigaru samurai in the service of the Date daimyo of Sendai Domain. He studied English language and American culture in a private school run by the missionary Hepburn, and went abroad with a son of Katsu Kaishu to study in London. After his return to Japan, he became the first master of the Kyoritsu Gakko high school in Tokyo, (currently Kaisei High School) and at the same time worked as a low-ranking governmental bureaucrat in the Ministry of Education, later the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce. He was appointed as the first chief of the Bureau of Patents which was a department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, and helped organized the patent system in Japan. At one point, he resigned his government positions and went to Peru to start an enterprise but failed.

He became an employee of the Bank of Japan in 1892, and his talents were soon recognized, as he rose to become vice-president in 1898. For his success in raising the foreign loans critical to the Japanese government during and after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, he was appointed to the House of Peers in 1905.

Political career

Takahashi became president of the Yokohama Specie Bank in 1906, and the Bank of Japan in 1911.

In 1913, he was appointed as the Minister of Finance by Prime Minister Yamamoto Gonnohyoe and then joined the political party Rikken Seiyukai. He was appointed to the same office by Prime Minister Hara Takashi in 1918. After Hara was assassinated in 1921, Takahashi was appointed both Prime Minister and the Rikken Seiyukai party president.

Takahashi's term as Prime Minister lasted less than seven months, primarily due to his inability as an outsider to control the various factions within his own party, and his lack of his own power base within the party.

After resigning as Prime Minister, Takahashi still retained the position of president of the party. When Kato Takaaki became the prime minister and set up a coalition cabinet 1924, Takahashi accepted the post of Minister of Agriculture and Commerce. He resigned from the Rikken Seiyukai in 1925.

Takahashi continued to serve as Finance Minister under the administrations of Tanaka Giichi (1927-1929), Inukai Tsuyoshi (1931-1932), Saito Makoto (1932-1934) and Okada Keisuke (1934-1936). Despite his considerable success in fighting the effects of the Great Depression of 1929, his fiscal policies involving reduction of military expenditures created many enemies within the military, and he was among those murdered by rebelling military officers in the February 26 Incident of 1936.

Legacy

  • Takahashi appeared on a 50 Yen banknote issued by the Bank of Japan in 1951. It is the only time that a former president of the Bank of Japan has appeared on one of Japan's banknotes.
  • Takahashi's Tokyo residence is now the !Takahashi Korekiyo Memoral Park" in Tokyo's Minato Ward, Akasaka. However, a portion of the building survives in the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum in Koganei city, Tokyo.

References

  • Bix, Herbert B. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. Harper Perennial (2001). ISBN 0-06-093130-2
  • Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Belknap Press; New Ed edition (2002). ISBN 0-674-00991-6
  • Wolferen, Karl van. The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation. Vintage; Reprint edition (1990). ISBN 0-679-72802-3

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