Yamamoto Gonnohyōe

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Yamamoto Gonnohyōe

山本 權兵衞
Gonbee Yamamoto later years.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
2 September 1923 – 7 January 1924
Preceded byUchida Kōsai (Acting)
Succeeded byKiyoura Keigo
In office
20 February 1913 – 16 April 1914
Preceded byKatsura Tarō
Succeeded byŌkuma Shigenobu
Personal details
Yamamoto Gonbee

(1852-11-26)26 November 1852
Kagoshima, Satsuma Domain, Japan
Died8 December 1933(1933-12-08) (aged 81)
Cause of deathBenign prostatic hyperplasia
Resting placeAoyama Cemetery, Tokyo
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Yamamoto Tokiko (1860–1933)
AwardsOrder of the Chrysanthemum (Collar and Grand Cordon)
Order of the Golden Kite (1st class)
Order of St Michael and St George (Honorary Knight Grand Cross)
Military service
AllegianceEmpire of Japan
Branch/serviceImperial Japanese Navy
Years of service1879–1928
Battles/warsBoshin War
First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War

Admiral Count Yamamoto Gonbee[a] GCMG, also called Gonnohyōe[b] (山本 權兵衞, Yamamoto Gonbee/Gonnohyōe, 26 November 1852 – 8 December 1933), was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Prime Minister of Japan from 1913 to 1914 and again from 1923 to 1924.

Early life[edit]

Yamamoto was born in Kagoshima in Satsuma Province (now Kagoshima Prefecture) as the son of samurai who served the Shimazu clan. As a youth, he took part in the Anglo-Satsuma War. He later joined Satsuma's Eighth Rifle Troop; in the Boshin War that ended the Tokugawa shogunate, fighting at the Battle of Toba–Fushimi and other locations; he was also aboard one of the ships that pursued Enomoto Takeaki and the remnants of the Tokugawa fleet to Hokkaidō in 1869.

Naval career[edit]

Yamamoto Gonnohyoe

After the success of the Meiji Restoration, Yamamoto attended preparatory schools in Tokyo, entering the 2nd class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1870. After graduation in 1874, he went on a training cruise to Europe and South America aboard Imperial German Navy vessels from 1877–78, and as junior officer acquired much sea experience. He wrote a gunnery manual that became the standard for the Imperial Japanese Navy and served as executive officer of the cruiser Naniwa on its shakedown voyage from Elswick to Japan (1885–86). Afterwards, he accompanied Navy Minister Kabayama Sukenori on a trip to the United States and Europe (1887–88).

As commander of the cruiser Takao, undertook a confidential mission to meet Qing General Yuan Shikai in Hanseong (Seoul), Korea (1890). Afterwards, he assumed command of the Takachiho.

Working under his patron, Navy Minister Saigō Tsugumichi from 1893, Yamamoto became the real leader of the navy; initiating numerous reforms, attempting to end favoritism toward officers of his own Satsuma province, attempting to end officers from profiteering from military office, and attempting to attain roughly equal status with the army in the Supreme War Council. He also pushed for an aggressive strategy toward China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95).

Japanese Minister of the Navy, Admiral Baron Yamamoto visiting the captured city of Dalny, just north of Port Arthur in December 1904. Accompanying the Minister were several Western observers, including Italian naval attaché Ernesto Burzagli who photographed the inspection tour.

Yamamoto's subsequent rise through the ranks was rapid: rear admiral (1895); vice admiral and Navy Minister (1898). He was made baron (danshaku) under the kazoku peerage system in 1902; and he was promoted to the rank of admiral in 1904.

As Minister of the Navy during the Russo-Japanese War, Yamamoto showed strong leadership and was responsible for appointing Tōgō Heihachirō as commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet. He gave voice to Tōgō's reports when he read aloud his reports from the war to the assembled Diet.[1]

Yamamoto was elevated to count (hakushaku) in 1907.

Count Yamamoto served as Prime Minister in 1913–14.

As Prime Minister[edit]

During Yamamoto's first term as the prime minister, he abolished the rule that both the Navy Minister and Army Minister had to be active duty officers, and he had a reputation for being a liberal and a supporter of public claims for democracy and constitutional government. However, his administration was plagued by charges of corruption and he was forced to resign with his entire cabinet to take responsibility for the Siemens-Vickers Naval Armaments scandal, even though it was never proved that he was personally involved.

Yamamoto was transferred to naval reserve in 1914.

Yamamoto was recalled to government as Prime Minister again in the emergency crisis "earthquake cabinet" (1923–24) following the Great Kantō earthquake. He showed leadership in the restoration of Tokyo which had been heavily damaged by the earthquake. He also attempted to reform the electoral system to permit universal male suffrage. However, he and his cabinet resigned again in January 1924, this time over the attempt by Namba Daisuke to assassinate Prince Regent Hirohito on 27 December 1923 (the Toranomon Incident).

Subsequently, Yamamoto withdrew from political life completely. He died in 1933 and his grave is at the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo.[2]



  • Baron (27 February 1902)
  • Count (21 September 1907)

Japanese decorations[edit]

Foreign decorations[edit]


  1. ^ Japanese pronunciation: [jamamoto ɡombeː]
  2. ^ The name Gonnohyōe (IPA: [ɡonnoçoːe]) was originally invented by a Shinto priest during a prayers at a ship launching ceremony which Yamamoto attended; he liked the profound sound of the name so much that he adopted it thereafter.


  1. ^ "Article 6 – no title," New York Times. 30 March 1904.
  2. ^ [1] Sakanoue-no-kumo Photo archives (Japanese)
  3. ^ London Gazette: on the occasion of Prince Fushimi Sadanaru's visit to England


  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Encyclopedia of Military Biography. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-85043-569-3.
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868–1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4977-9.
  • Sims, Richard (2005). Japanese Political History Since the Meiji Renovation 1868–2000. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23915-7.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Saigō Tsugumichi
Minister of the Navy
8 November 1898 – 7 January 1906
Succeeded by
Saitō Makoto
Preceded by
Katsura Tarō
Prime Minister of Japan
20 February 1913 – 16 April 1914
Succeeded by
Ōkuma Shigenobu
Preceded by
Uchida Kōsai
Minister of Foreign Affairs
September 1923 – September 1923
Succeeded by
Ijuin Hikokichi
Preceded by
Uchida Kōsai
Prime Minister of Japan
2 September 1923 –7 January 1924
Succeeded by
Kiyoura Keigo