Saigō Jūdō

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Marshal-Admiral The Marquis Saigō Jūdō
Saigo Tsugumichi by Gutekunst, 1876.jpg
Japanese General and Admiral Marquis Saigō Jūdō
Born June 1, 1843
Kagoshima, Satsuma, Japan
Died July 18, 1902(1902-07-18) (aged 59) [1]
Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance  Empire of Japan
Service/branch  Imperial Japanese Army
 Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service 1869 -1902
Rank General and Marshal Admiral
Battles/wars Anglo-Satsuma War
Boshin War
Battle of Toba-Fushimi
Taiwan Expedition of 1874
Satsuma Rebellion
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Saigō".

Marshal-Admiral The Marquis Saigō Jūdō (西郷 従道?, also read Saigō Tsugumichi) (1 June 1843 – 18 July 1902) was a Japanese politician and admiral in the Meiji period.[2]


Early life[edit]

Saigō was born in Shimokajichō, Kagoshima, the son of the samurai Saigō Kichibe of the Satsuma domain. His siblings included his famous older brother Saigō Takamori. Saigō changed his name many times throughout his life. Besides the two listed above, he sometimes went by the nickname "Shingō". His real name was "Ryūkō", or "Ryūdō". It is possible that he went by the name "Ryūsuke".

(After the Meiji Restoration, Saigō went to a government office to register his name. He intended to register orally under his given name Ryūkō (alternately Ryūdō). However, the civil servant misheard his name as "Jūdō", and he therefore became "Jūdō" (従道) under the law. He did not particularly mind, so he never bothered to change it back. The name "Tsugumichi" arose as an alternate pronunciation for the characters of his name.)

At the recommendation of Arimura Shunsai, he became a tea-serving Buddhist monk for the daimyo of Satsuma, Shimazu Nariakira. After he returned to secular life, he became one of a group of devoted followers of Arimura. As a Satsuma samurai, he participated in the Anglo-Satsuma War. He later joined the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate.[2]

He was a commander of the Satsuma army fighting in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi as well as other battles on the imperial side of the Boshin War.

Imperial Japanese Army[edit]

In 1869, two years after the establishment of the Meiji government, Saigō went to Europe with General Yamagata Aritomo to study European military organizations, tactics and technologies. After his return to Japan, he was appointed a lieutenant-general in the new Imperial Japanese Army. He commanded Japanese expeditionary forces in the Taiwan Expedition of 1874.[2]

Saigō Jūdō with foreign friends. Felice Beato is seated in front with him. Photograph by Hugues Krafft in 1882.

In 1873, his brother Saigō Takamori resigned from the government, over the rejection of his proposal to invade Korea during the Seikanron debate. Many other officials from the Satsuma region followed suit, however, Saigō Jūdō continued to remain loyal to the Meiji government. Upon the death of his brother in the Satsuma Rebellion, Saigō Jūdō became the primary political leader from Satsuma. In accord with the kazoku peerage system enacted in 1884, he received the title of count (hakushaku).[3]

Government official[edit]

Saigō held a string of important positions in the Itō Hirobumi cabinet, including Navy Minister (1885, 1892–1902).[2]

As Minister of Internal Affairs, Saigō pushed strongly for the death penalty for Tsuda Sanzō, the accused in the Otsu Scandal, and threatened Kojima Korekata should the sentence be more lenient.

In 1892, he was appointed to the Privy Council as one of the genrō. In the same year, he founded a political party known as Kokumin Kyōkai (国民協会, The People's Co-operative Party).[2]

In 1894, Saigō was given the rank of admiral, in recognition of his role as Navy minister, and his peerage title was elevated to that of marquis.[3]

In 1898, the Imperial Japanese Navy bestowed upon him the honorary title of Marshal-Admiral. The rank is equivalent to Admiral of the Fleet or Grand Admiral.

House of Saigō Jūdō, in Kamimeguro, Tokyo. Photograph by Hugues Krafft in 1882.

Personal life[edit]

Saigō’s former residence (once in Meguro, Tokyo) is registered as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government and is now at the Meiji-mura historical park outside of Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture. Saigō also owned a cottage in Yanagihara (present-day Numazu), Shizuoka Prefecture. Saigō Jūdō was the first person in Japan to own a race horse.

Gensui the Marquis Saigō died in 1902 and was buried in the Tama Cemetery in Fuchū in Tokyo.


  1. ^ Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy
  2. ^ a b c d e Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Saigō Tsugumichi" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 806, p. 806, at Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Nishida, Hiroshi, Admirals of the IJN: Saigo Tsugumichi; retrieved 2011-07-14


Much of the content of this article comes from the equivalent Japanese-language Wikipedia article ja:西郷従道, retrieved April 6, 2006

External links[edit]

  • National Diet Library. "Saigo, Judo". Portraits of Modern Historical Figures. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Minister of the Navy of Japan
Dec 1885 - May 1890
Succeeded by
Kabayama Sukenori
Preceded by
Yamagata Aritomo
Home Minister
May 1890 - Jun 1891
Succeeded by
Shinagawa Yajirō
Preceded by
Nire Kagenori
Minister of the Navy of Japan
Mar 1893 - Nov 1898
Succeeded by
Yamamoto Gonnohyōe
Preceded by
Itagaki Taisuke
Home Minister
Nov 1898 - Oct 1900
Succeeded by
Suematsu Kenchō