Saitō Makoto

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Saitō Makoto
斎藤 実
Makoto Saitō (cropped).jpg
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan
In office
February 26, 1935 – February 26, 1936
Preceded byMakino Nobuaki
Succeeded byIchiki Kitokurō
19th Prime Minister of Japan
In office
May 26, 1932 – July 8, 1934
Preceded byKorekiyo Takahashi (Acting)
Succeeded byKeisuke Okada
Governor-General of Korea
In office
August 17, 1929 – June 17, 1931
Preceded byHanzō Yamanashi
Succeeded byKazushige Ugaki
In office
December 1, 1927 – December 10, 1927
Preceded byKazushige Ugaki (Acting)
Succeeded byHanzō Yamanashi
In office
August 12, 1919 – April 14, 1927
Preceded byYoshimichi Hasegawa
Succeeded byKazushige Ugaki (Acting)
Personal details
Born(1858-10-27)October 27, 1858
Mizusawa Domain, Mutsu Province, Japan
DiedFebruary 26, 1936(1936-02-26) (aged 77)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Saitō Haruko (1873–1971)
Alma materImperial Japanese Naval Academy
AwardsOrder of the Chrysanthemum
Order of the Bath (Honorary Knight Grand Cross)
Military service
AllegianceEmpire of Japan
Branch/serviceImperial Japanese Navy
Years of service1879–1928
Battles/warsFirst Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
World War I

Viscount Saitō Makoto, GCB (斎藤 , October 27, 1858 – February 26, 1936) was a Japanese naval officer and politician.[1]

Saitō was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy.[2] He was two-time Governor-General of Korea from 1919 to 1927 and from 1929 to 1931, and the 30th Prime Minister of Japan from May 26, 1932 to July 8, 1934.


Admiral Saitō in 1906

Early life[edit]

Saitō was born in Mizusawa Domain, Mutsu Province (part of present-day Ōshū City Iwate Prefecture), as the son of a samurai of the Mizusawa Clan. In 1879, he graduated from the 6th class Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, ranking third out of a class of 17 cadets.[3] He was commissioned an ensign on September 8, 1882, and promoted to sub-lieutenant on February 25, 1884.

Military career[edit]

In 1884, Saitō went to the United States for four years to study as a military attaché. Promoted to lieutenant on July 14, 1886; in 1888, after returning to Japan, he served as a member of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff.

After his promotion to lieutenant commander on December 20, 1893, he served as executive officer on the cruiser Izumi and battleship Fuji.

During the First Sino-Japanese War, Saitō served as captain of the cruisers Akitsushima and Itsukushima. He received rapid promotions to commander on December 1, 1897 and to captain on December 27. On November 10, 1898, he became Vice Minister of the Navy, and was promoted to rear admiral on May 20, 1900[4]

Political career[edit]

Saitō was again Vice Navy Minister at the start of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. He was promoted to Vice Admiral on June 6, 1904. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (1st class) in 1906. After the end of the war, he served as Navy Minister for 6 years, from 1906 to 1914, during which time he continually strove for expansion of the navy.

On September 21, 1907, Saitō was ennobled with the title of danshaku (baron) under the kazoku peerage system. On October 16, 1912, he was promoted to full admiral. However, on April 16, 1914, Saitō was forced to resign from his post as Navy Minister due implications of his involvement in the Siemens scandal, and officially entered the reserves.

In September 1919, Saitō was appointed as the third Japanese Governor-General of Korea. Rising to the post right after the culmination of the Korean independence movement, he was subject to an immediate assassination attempt by radical Korean nationalists.[5][6] He served as governor-general of Korea twice—in 1919–1927,[1] and again in 1929–1931,[7] implementing a series of measures to moderate Japan's policies on Koreans. He was awarded the Order of the Paulownia Flowers in 1924. On April 29, 1925, his title was elevated to that of shishaku (viscount).

In 1927, Saitō was a member of the Japanese delegation at the Geneva Naval Conference on Disarmament, and he later became a privy councillor.

Prime Minister[edit]

Following the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi on May 15, 1932 by fanatical navy officers who thought Inukai far too conciliatory (the May 15 Incident), Prince Saionji Kinmochi, one of the Emperor's closest and strongest advisors, attempted to stop the slide towards a military take-over of the government. In a compromise move, Saitō was chosen to be Inukai's successor. Sadao Araki remained as War Minister and immediately began making demands on the new government. During Saitō's tenure, Japan recognized the independence of Manchukuo, and withdrew from the League of Nations.

Saitō's administration was one of the longer-serving ones of the inter-war period, and it continued until July 8, 1934, when the cabinet resigned en masse because of the Teijin Incident bribery scandal. Keisuke Okada succeeded as prime minister.

Saitō continued to be an important figure in politics as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal from December 26, 1935, but was assassinated during the February 26 Incident of 1936 at his home in Yotsuya, Tokyo. Takahashi, his predecessor, was shot dead the same day, along with several other top-rank politicians targeted by the rebels.

Saitō was posthumously awarded the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.


From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia


  • Baron (21 September 1907)
  • Viscount (9 April 1925)


  • Order of the Sacred Treasure, Fourth Class (20 June 1899; Fifth Class: 25 November 1896; Sixth Class: 26 May 1893)
  • Order of the Golden Kite, Second Class (1 April 1906; Fourth Class: 23 May 1896)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (1 April 1906; Second Class: 27 December 1901; Sixth Class: 23 May 1896)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers (11 February 1924)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (26 February 1936; posthumous)

Foreign decorations[edit]

  • Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) - 15 May 1906[8]


  1. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Saitō Makoto" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 809.
  2. ^ Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy
  3. ^ Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), "Graduates of Naval Academy class 6th," Saito Makoto; retrieved 2012-10-18.
  4. ^ Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy.
  5. ^ Pratt, Keith (2007). Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea. Reaktion Books. p. 218.
  6. ^ Ion, A. Hamish (1993). The Cross and the Rising Sun: The British Protestant Missionary Movement in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, 1865-1945. 2. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 206.
  7. ^, Republic of Korea, Governors-General; ewreiwcws 2012-10-18.
  8. ^ London Gazette, 15 May 1906


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Yamamoto Gonnohyōe
Minister of the Navy
7 January 1906 – 16 April 1914
Succeeded by
Yashiro Rokurō
Preceded by
Hasegawa Yoshimichi
Japanese Governor-General of Korea
August 1919 – December 1927
Succeeded by
Kazushige Ugaki
Preceded by
Yamanashi Hanzō
Japanese Governor-General of Korea
August 1929 – June 1931
Succeeded by
Kazushige Ugaki
Preceded by
Takahashi Korekiyo
Prime Minister of Japan
May 1932 – July 1934
Succeeded by
Okada Keisuke
Preceded by
Kenkichi Yoshizawa
Minister of Foreign Affairs
May 1932 – July 1932
Succeeded by
Uchida Kosai
Preceded by
Ichirō Hatoyama
Minister of Education
May 1934 – July 1934
Succeeded by
Genji Matsuda
Preceded by
Makino Nobuaki
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
December 1935 – February 1936
Succeeded by
Ichiki Kitokuro