Saionji Kinmochi (西園寺公望)
Kinmochi SAIONJI (December 7, 1849 - November 24, 1940) was a noble in the Japanese Court and a politician. The second President of the Rikken Seiyu-kai Party. He was the twelfth and the fourteenth Prime Minister of Japan. He was awarded the title of Juichi (Junior First Rank) and the highest honorary order in Japan, Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum; and appointed a prince. His real surname was FUJIWARA. Officially, he was called FUJIWARA no Kinmochi.
He served as a political advisor to Emperor Taisho and Emperor Showa as 'the last Genro (oligarch)' after Masayoshi MATSUKATA died in 1924. He was also well-known as a man of culture and his hobbies distinguished him; he was a talented poet who left many lyrical Chinese-style poems under the pen name of Toan.
He also hosted a salon called Usei-kai, which invited foremost litterateur including Ogai MORI.
Kinmochi SAIONJI was born as the second son of the Tokudaiji Family, which is one of the Seigake Families, but at the age of 4 he was adopted by the Saionji Family, which also belonged to the Seigake Family, and he took over as the head of the family. Both families belong genealogically to the Hokke Fujiwara Kanin Line, of which FUJIWARA no Fusasaki was the patriarch. His biological father was Kinito TOKUDAIJI, Udaijin (Minister of the Right), and his older biological brother was Sanetsune TOKUDAIJI, who served as the Grand Chamberlain three times and as Minister of the Imperial Household. The younger brother of Kinmochi SAIONJI closest in age to him, Takamaro, married into the Sumitomo Family, and he took over Sumitomo Zaibatsu and succeeded Kichizaemon SUMITOMO the fifteenth (Tomoito SUMITOMO), and he reigned the financial world for a long time. Furthermore, his youngest brother, Takemaro SUEHIRO, took over as the head of the SUEHIRO Family on his mother's side, and he later served as an organizer and a board member at Kyoto Hosei School, an evening law school (now Ritsumeikan University).
During his youth, he was often sent to play with Sachinomiya (later Emperor Meiji) because he lived near Gosho (the Imperial Palace) and because they were close in age.
The end of the Edo period and the Meiji Restoration
Unlike Tomomi IWAKURA and Sanetomi SANJO, Saionji had virtually no political achievements by the end of Edo period. However, when the Battle of Toba Fushimi broke out, even though there were opinions within the Imperial Court that viewed it as a personal battle between the Tokugawa Family and the Shimazu Family, he suggested active involvement in the battle and advocated it, thereby drawing attention from Court nobles who wanted to overthrow the Shogunate, such as Iwakura.
Following this, during the Boshin War, he fought in various locations serving as the Admiral in the sanin-do repression and as a Senior Staff to subdue Aizu-guchi. After that, he served in positions such as the Governorship of Echigo Prefecture, but at that time, Saionji was a young man only in his teens, and it is difficult to find reasons other than his family connections for his being able to take on such a position at such a young age. He also described in the "Toan Essay," which he authored, an episode in which he angered a large number of court nobles who were still pro-Joi (expulsion of the "barbarians"), by being the first person among the court nobles to visit the Imperial Palace wearing western-style clothing.
After he resigned from his government position, he began to consider studying in France, and he started to study French in Tokyo and Nagasaki.
In Tokyo, he stayed in the same boarding house as Issei MAEBARA for a long time, and as he gradually became familiar with the samurai society he grew to dislike his name as a court noble and to call himself 'Boichiro.'
There is a picture of Saionji in his younger days wearing two swords and standing gallantly in the fashion of a samurai. Soon, at the recommendation of Masujiro OMURA, in 1871, he went to study abroad in France on government funding (he later requested for a reduction of these funds). Just before he visited the inn where Omura was staying to thank him, his best friend (Michifusa MADENOKOJI) came rushing in and they talked for a long time, during which time Masujiro OMURA was attacked (1869).
Episodes that took place aboard the ship to France were noted in his letters, such as his becoming convinced that the Earth was spherical, or the time when he was bewildered because he was asked for a kiss by a young Caucasian boy upon parting from each other.
Saionji, who arrived in Paris amidst the chaos of France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the fall of the Second Empire, and the rise of The Revolution Government (the Paris Commune) in its stead, and the suppression of it by the German forces, absorbed French and European knowledge, ideology and culture over almost the next 10 years. During this time, he became friends with Georges Clemenceau, who later became the Prime Minister of France, and fellow scholars who came abroad to study, such as Chomin NAKAE and Masahisa MATSUDA, with which network he continued even after he came back to Japan. While Saionji studied diligently at the Sorbonne, he also engaged greatly in self-indulgence, and also it seems that he was quite popular among French women. It is said that the friendship between Saionji, who attended the post World War I Paris Peace Conference (1919) as the envoy plenipotentiary of Japan, and his best friend Clemenceau, who stayed at the same boarding house as Saionji when he studied in Paris, was very instrumental in securing Japan's position at the Peace Conference.
Saionji, who learned liberalism while he studied in Paris, became committed to Democratic Rights Movement, and on March 18, 1881, he became the president of "Toyo Jiyu Shinbun" journal company, which was founded with the goal of establishing the Liberal Party, and he became involved in its publications along with Chomin NAKAE and Masahisa MATSUDA. Saionji's involvement in the Democratic Rights Movement became controversial in the government as well as in the Imperial Court, and he was forced to resign from the company because of a private ordinance of Emperor Meiji's that was set up by Minister of the Imperial Household, Tomomi IWAKURA, and Toyo Jiyu Shinbun was forced to shut down after publishing the 34th issue on April 30.
During this time, Saionji never yielded to any pressure put on him, but when he received a private ordinance from Emperor Meiji he complied disappointingly easily
Interestingly, the way he conducted himself throughout this affair plainly indicates his lifelong world view and political view.
In a way, Saionji had two conflicting tendencies within him: the liberal thinking he acquired in France and his feeling of having to guard the honor of the Imperial family as the duty of his elite court noble family. Because he was able to reconcile and integrate these two conflicting views, he developed into a politician with unique worldview and political ideology. This made him look indecisive at times, but the words of admonishment he gave to the Emperor, which are mentioned later, were extremely appropriate, and Saionji's true worth as a politician can be felt through such actions. Indeed, it is difficult to find another politician with a sensibility like Saionji's.
He was but little attached to power and money throughout his life, and this mellow personality of his can be considered to come from his birth as a nobleman in an elite court with good upbringing. On this point, he was the polar opposite of his lifelong political enemy, Aritomo YAMAGATA.
Although he had 3 mistresses to whom he was not legally married, and had daughters, he never took an official wife. Saionji himself never stated his reasons for doing so clearly, but it is said that because he was the head of the elite Saionji family, if he were to marry, his wife would have to have been a princess from the Imperial family, a court noble, or from a major daimyo family, and Saionji, being a liberalist, disliked such constraints.
When Munemitsu MUTSU (who had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs until the year before) died in 1897, Saionji said, 'even Mutsu finally went to the land of the dead,' lamenting the defeat of the Han clique headed by Yamagata and the failure to establish parliamentary democracy. Continuing, he said 'Those in the Han clique were all people who looked like they would not die even if they were beaten' and he became so disappointed that it hurt those around him to see him lament.
Saionji as a Politician
Saionji's political career began when he accompanied Hirofumi ITO to visit Europe in order to study the constitution in 1882. He became a cabinet member for the first time in 1894, as the Minister of Education in the Second Ito Cabinet. Saionji, whose talent was recognized by Ito in Europe, participated in the launching of the Rikken Seiyu-kai Party in 1900. In 1903, he succeeded Ito as the Prime Minister, and he was named Prime Minister twice, in 1906 and in 1911.
Saionji ideologically proclaimed liberalism, and he established the constitutional practice of the majority party in the House of Representatives forming the Parliament. He was pro-Europe and pro-America due to the influence that studying in France had on him, and he was called a 'globalist' and criticized by the military for being against nationalism. Saionji is often viewed as having lacked political power, however this is incorrect because, after Aritomo YAMAGATA died, there was no one surpassing him in terms of political power in Japan. He continued to lead politics in Japan, using his family background in the Imperial Court as well as in the financial world, and mediating between the Imperial Court, national duties, and the military as a Genro. Furthermore, while he was Minister of Education he sporadically showed behavior that clearly distinguished him from nationalistic politicians of the early Showa period, such as making an attempt to revise the Ordinance on Education, but even though he resisted the expansion of military influence, his power alone could not successfully prevent the war.
On the decorative frame he donated to Ritsumeikan University, he wrote his name as 'Fujiwara no Kinmochi' using the surname Fujiwara, which makes it clear that he was well-aware of being a descendant of the Fujiwara clan that existed with the Imperial family for well over one thousand years. Also, since he was close to the Imperial family since he was very young, he had a strong sense of 'guarding the walls of the Imperial family,' and that eventually became his political direction. In other words, he continued to resist Imperial monarchy because errors are unacceptable when it comes to the possession of absolute political power. This can be clearly seen from the fact that Saionji, using the excuse that it would cast a harmful effect on the Emperor, opposed the Emperor's reprimand of Tanaka when all the cabinet members resigned after Showa Emperor reprimanded Giichi TANAKA for the discord of Joso upon the Incident of Blowing Up Zhang Zuolin to Death (a certain serious incident in Manchuria). Also, Emperor Showa's pledge that 'as a constitutional monarch, I will not oppose the decisions made by my subjects' is said to have been influenced by Saionji. However, on the other hand, this attitude invited antagonism with the officers of Imperial Way Party.
The Kei-En (Katsura-Saionji) Era and Taisho Political Change
In 1906, he succeeded Taro KATSURA and formed the First Saionji Cabinet. After that, Katsura again became the Prime Minister, and by the 'agreement of feelings and intentions' reached during the Katsura-Saionji meeting, the Second Saionji Cabinet was formed in 1911. This period in which Katsura and Saionji alternately served as the Prime Minister is called the Kei-En Era. The executive staff of Seiyu-kai Party emphasized their rivalry, and on the surface Saionji maintained such a position, but he also said to Katsura, 'let you and I stand up and lead the nation,' and there was a good political relationship between the two who both belonged to the post-Genro generation. They also seemed to have shared the trait of being 'prodigals,' drinking together with their concubines.
The Second Saionji Cabinet began the administrative and financial reform because the ruling party (the Rikken Seiyu-kai Party) that formed the foundation of the cabinet won an absolute majority in the House of Representatives. His draft of the budget for 1913 aimed to reduce spending by 10%, but the Imperial Japan Army demanded the addition of two military divisions, and the Imperial Japan Navy also added construction of three battleships in the budget proposal. The Army exerted itself in order to succeed in adding two military divisions even if that meant overpowering the Saionji Cabinet, but when the cabinet indicated an absolute refusal, Yusaku UEHARA, the Minister of the Army at the Ministry of the Army submitted a letter of resignation directly to the Emperor.
Even though the Minister of Army was allowed, in principle, to state his intentions directly to the Emperor, a power known as iaku-joso (to make comments on military affairs to the Emperor with full responsibility for the results), in reality this was the very first time a cabinet member bypassed the Prime Minister and submitted a letter of resignation directly to the Emperor. Also, unless the Army appointed a succeeding officer, according to the rules of Military ministers who were officers on active-duty, the Saionji Cabinet was unable to obtain a military officer, and Saionji was given no other choice but to resign. Thus, at that time, the effect of the resignation of the Minister of the Army was very large.
Saionji was later summoned by Emperor Taisho, and he was told by the Emperor directly about the Minister of Army's submission of his letter of resignation. Saionji consulted with Aritomo YAMAGATA, who was an influential figure in the Army, about the succeeding Army officer, but once he figured out that Yamagata had no intention of recommending a succeeding Army officer Saionji took the preemptive measure of having all the cabinet members resign.
Once the story from inside the cabinet of the resignation of all the cabinet members was leaked out and spread through Seiyu-kai Party, the sentiment to 'destroy the clique families, protect politics by the constitution' suddenly gained momentum among the citizenry, and the constitution protection movement started. The Seiyu-kai Party formed an alliance with Tsuyoshi INUKAI of the Rikken (Constitutional) National Party, led the movement to protect the constitution, and confronted the Third Katsura Cabinet that succeeded the Saionji cabinet. However, Saionji was not directly involved in the Sei-Koku alliance (Seiyu-kai Party-National Party alliance) or the campaign speeches aimed at the citizens, and senior members of Seiyu-kai Party, such as Takashi HARA and Masahisa MATSUDA, Yukio OZAKI, a member of Seiyu-kai Party, and Tsuyoshi INUKAI of National Party played central roles in these events.
Seiyu-kai Party had the absolute majority in the House of Representatives to begin with, so when the Parliament convened, the Seiyu-kai Party and National Party submitted a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet, and this applied pressure to the Katsura Cabinet. Following the story of how the end of the political battle was realized because of the order that was given to stop the political battle between the Liberal Party (Britain) and the Conservative Party (Britain) using the coronation of George, the 5th (King of Britain) as a reason, the government advised, in the form of an ordinance of the Emperor, Kinmochi SAIONJI to stop the political battle since Emperor Taisho had just been enthroned as the Emperor.
A dominant opinion temporarily formed within the Seiyu-kai Party that there was no other option than to comply with the Emperor's wish, and they withdrew the motion of no confidence so that for a short time the Katsura Cabinet was indebted to them. However, Yukio OZAKI, a Seiyu-kai Party member, strongly opposed this idea. On the other hand, Saionji, as mentioned earlier, was torn between his desire to 'guard the walls of the Imperial family' and his responsibility as the head of the Seiyu-kai Party. On the advice of Tsuyoshi INUKAI, Saionji resigned from the head of Seiyu-kai Party, so that the withdraw of the cabinet was requested by the Seiyu-kai Party alone. At this time, Gonbei YAMAMOTO of the Navy visited the Seiyu-kai Party headquarters to encourage them.
In the end, because of the strengthening of the movement to protect the constitution, the Katsura Cabinet announced its resignation on February 11, 1913 (Taisho Political Change). On the same day, a council of Genro was held in order to pick the succeeding Prime Minister. At this time, Saionji also attended the meeting as a Genro for the first time. However, he did not attend as a representative of the Seiyu-kai Party. During the meeting, at first, Saionji was recommended as the succeeding Prime Minister, but Saionji firmly declined because accepting this recommendation would betray the Ordinance. In the end, Gonbei YAMAMOTO was selected to be the succeeding Prime Minister.
Once the aftermath related to this incident was dealt with, Saionji announced his resignation as the head of the Seiyu-kai Party for the first time, citing the charge of 'Violation of the Ordinance.'
Even though the charge of 'Violation of the Ordinance' does not exist in the modern law, this was one of the most serious crimes in the society of court nobles, which placed the highest value on 'guarding the walls of the Imperial Family.'
He also used the charge of 'Violation of the Ordinance' as a pretext to resign from his position as the head because, during the era of the Second Cabinet, he had had a conflict with Hara, who took over the inside of the Seiyu-kai Party and who was eagerly seeking profit through railroad constructions in the countryside. The executive members of the Seiyu-kai Party were befuddled by this logic of citing a 'Violation of the Ordinance' and they tried to dissuade Saionji, but Saionji's determination never wavered.
Saionji was not listed as a Genkun (oligarch with merit) of Meiji, but as a Genro one generation later when Emperor Taisho was enthroned. This being the last time, a new Genro has never been appointed since, and when Masayoshi MATSUKATA passed away in 1924, Saionji became the only Genro. After this, advising of the appointment of the prime minister was conducted by negotiations between SAIONJI and the Minister of Imperial Household.
On December 28, 1926, Emperor Showa, who had just been enthroned, issued an ordinance to Saionji in particular ('Ordinance given to the Supreme Order Prince Kinmochi SAIONJI'), and by this, it became institutionally certain for Saionji to be 'the last Genro' and to continue serving as an advisor regarding the appointment of the Prime Minister, and he continued in one way or another to be involved in the recommendations of the Cabinet Chiefs until the Yonai Cabinet was formed in January, 1940 (he declined to give recommendations to the Second Konoe cabinet).
Regarding the Incident of blowing up Zhang Zuolin to death (Manchurian certain serious incident) in 1928, Saionji was the first person to become suspicious when the full account of the incident was reported. Saionji suspected that the Army had a hand in the incident, and went to the capital from Okitsu, summoned Prime Minister Giichi TANAKA, and advised him that the government must thoroughly investigate this affair, and if the guilty party was Japanese, a harsh punishment should be exacted. Regarding this incident, Tanaka also indicated his view of harshly punishing the perpetrator via court-martial so as to maintain international credibility, but because nothing was being done Saionji again urged the investigation and the report.
On the other hand, he admonished the Emperor for not behaving appropriately (as a constitutional monarch) when Emperor Showa admonished Tanaka saying, 'I don't want to hear any more from Tanaka.'
In the February 26 Incident of 1936, a contingent of (resolutely) mutinous officers had planned to attack Saionji, but the plan was never put into action. It is said that those who advocated the attack viewed Genro Saionji as a prime example of a 'wily vassal surrounding the Emperor,' while those who opposed used an outward excuse of exploiting Saionji as a pipe between the Emperor. Furthermore, the Emperor was enraged by this incident and said that he would lead the Konoe Troops himself to fight against the rebellious troops, Saionji admonished him for taking an action unfit for a ruler under constitutional monarchy.
Aside from his main residence in Suruga-dai, Tokyo, he retired to his villas of Binsenzuka-besso in Gotenba-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture, Zagyo-so in Okitsu, also in Shizuoka Prefecture, and in Seifu-so in Kyoto, and he occupied an important position as a Genro. In his very last years, other than staying in Gotenba to avoid the hot summer, he lived most of the year in Zagyo-so where it remained warm during winter.
In 1937, Saionji asked permission to resign from his position as a Genro when Kazushige UGAKI, who received an order to form a cabinet, failed because of resistance from the military. Even though he did not receive permission to resign from his position as a Genro, advising of the appointment of the Prime Minister was led by the Minister of the Imperial Household followed by Saionji, who confirmed it.
After the First Konoe Cabinet was formed in the same year, he gradually retreated from the political stage, and he passed away on November 24, 1940, two months after the formation of Tripartite Military Pact, which he had continued to oppose. He was awarded Juichii (Junior First rank).
It is said that his last words were 'where on earth are they taking this country to?'
Fumimaro KONOE, of whom he had high expectations, distanced himself from him, and it is said that he regretted until the end that he had recommended him as a prime minister.
In 1941, his grandson, Kinkazu SAIONJI, who was the brains of the Konoe Cabinet, was arrested for being involved in the Sorge Incident.
Saionji and Education
When he was Minister of Education he emphasized nurturing of educated 'citizens,' and he tried to 'put an emphasis on science, English and the education of girls.'
In 1890, he opposed the 'Education Ordinance' crafted by lawmakers including Tsuyoshi INOUE, and as soon as he obtained Emperor Meiji's permission to revise the Education Ordinance he worked on drafting 'The Second Education Ordinance.'
The original draft of this 'Second Education Ordinance' was donated to Ritsumeikan University by the Saionji Family, and it is currently kept there.
Furthermore, he was involved in the founding of the educational institutions below.
'Ritsumeikan Private School' was founded in 1869. Many fellows Kojuro NAKAGAWA's hometown (later the founder of Ritsumeikan University) became its students, but it was closed in less than a year because of a closure order from the Kyoto Prefectural Office (under the dual capital system of Dajokan). Saionji was very disappointed about the closure of Ritsumeikan Private School, and made a promise to reopen the school. His successor was Nakagawa, who served as the secretary when Saionji was Minister of Education.
Present day Ritsumeikan University was named after Ritsumeikan Private School, the name Nakagawa inherited, and even though Saionji's association with it as an institution of higher learning ended, he contributed in various ways to establish Kyoto Hosei School, an evening law school (present day Ritsumeikan University) as a successor to 'Ritsumeikan Private School.'
Saionji used his political power and network to contribute to Kyoto Hosei School, an evening law school (Ritsumeikan University), including Saionji's biological younger brother, Takemaro SUEHIRO, who became the executive officer of the school, and another biological younger brother, Tomoito SUMITOMO, head of Sumitomo Zaibatsu, who donated large sums to the school. Furthermore, he donated large number of books so that Ritsumeikan University (under the old system) would fulfill the requirement to be recognized as a university, and they are kept as a valuable collection named the 'Saionji Library' at Ritsumeikan University. The first donation took place in May, 1925, and consisted of 187 British and French books. Later on, 300 Japanese and Chinese books were donated on October 16, 1930, and in June, 1938, 739 volumes and 881 traditionally bound Japanese books, which had been passed down in the Saionji family, were donated as well. These traditionally bound Japanese books contain valuable documents related to the ceremonial rites of the Imperial Court, yusoku-kojitsu (knowledge of court rules, ceremony, decorum and records of the past), records of the era, name changes, and waka poems. The fourth and the last donation was made in May, 1940.
The resources donated in this last donation amounted to 6671Japanese and Chinese books, and it was unique because it contained large numbers of books Saionji particularly loved. Furthermore, Kinmochi gave Ritsumeikan University permission to use the 'Left Tomoe (a pattern of one or more curled tadpole shapes inside a circle)' flag, which is the family emblem of Saionji family, and it was in fact put into use. When Kojuro NAKAGAWA consulted Saionji about the use of the name 'Ritsumeikan,' he was overjoyed at the reuse of the name and the spirit of "Ritsumeikan" (reconstruction of Ritsumeikan) and he gave him a large decorative frame of "Ritsumeikan and its history." Later, Saionji made a statement about the current Ritsumeikan University as 'a school that inherits the spirit and the name of Ritsumeikan that I built,' and he was very happy that the Ritsumeikan he created was reconstructed and that its legacy could live on. When Saionji was 83, he made what would be his final visit to Kyoto. On this occasion, he chose Ritsumeikan University Hirokoji Campus as the site of his visit, and he spent some time looking at the decorative frame displayed in the hall of the school building that had the word "Ritsumeikan" on it, which he himself had written.
(From Bunshun, "Genro SAIONJI Kinmochi") Regarding this frame, Hiroo SAIONJI (a great grandson of Kinmochi SAIONJI) said the following:
'My great grandfather, in his later years, had relatively feminine handwriting. However, the handwriting in "Ritsumeikan" was written when he was barely 20 years old, and it was very masculine and powerful.
This powerfulness was probably a representation of his desire to "create a new nation and new people."'
In 1940, in the year Saionji passed away, Ritsumeikan University made an arrangement to designate Kinmochi SAIONJI, who contributed greatly to its establishment and to the education it provided later on, as the 'founder' (however, perhaps from his principle of life, there was a page in his will that read 'do not inscribe my biography' and 'do not create a monument for me' along with 'do not designate me as the founder of Ritsumeikan'). Exchange between the Saionji family and Ritsumeikan University still continues to this day, and members of the Saionji family attend events at the university.
In 1880, he collaborated in the founding of Meiji Law School (now Meiji University).
1901, he was a founding member of Japan Women's University.
Note: the dates are in the lunar calendar until 1872.
December 20, 1851: Awarded the title of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade)
He was adopted by the Saionji family in that year. His adopted father was Morosue SAIONJI, Ukone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).
January 27, 1852: Promoted to Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade)
January 21: Promoted to Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade)
May 15: Assigned as Jiju (a Chamberlain).
January 22, 1854: He was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and remained as a chamberlain.
January 22, 1855: Promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) and remained as a chamberlain.
February, 5, 1856: Promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade).
October 7, 1857: Coming-of-age ceremony, he was permitted to enter the Imperial Palace, and he was reassigned to the Konoefu (the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards).
March 27: Reassigned to Ukone no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).
April 25: Promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), and remained the Ukone no Gon no chujo.
January 5, 1862: Promoted to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank), and remained the Ukone no Gon no chujo.
December 20, 1867: He was jointly appointed as a member of the Imperial Army Council
January 4: Meiji Government (pertaining to this year, the term "Government" is used as an abbreviation for "Meiji Government".) jointly assigned to the post of Sanin-do Governor of Riot Control in the Government.
March 20: Reassigned to the post of Chunagon (vice-councilor of state).
April 19: Jointly assigned to the post of Tajima-Fuchu Court Director General of the Government.
April 5, leap month: Reassigned from Tajima-Fuchu Court Director General to be the Sanin-do Court Director General of the Government and jointly assigned to the post of Admiral of the Tozan-do Second Army.
April 21, leap month: Resigned from the Government Council.
April 24, leap month: Reassigned from Sanin-do Court Director General of the Government and Admiral of the Tozan-do Second Army to, and jointly appointed to the post of a Delegate of Northern provinces pacification.
April 24, leap month: Assigned to the Third General of Army as a soldier.
June 14: Reassigned from Delegate of Northern provinces pacification to Echigo-guchi Staff to subdue Aizu.
June 20: Reassigned to Echigo-guchi Senior Staff.
October 20: After the name of the era changed to Meiji, reassigned to the Governorship of Niigata Prefecture.
January 5: Resigned from the Governorship of Niigata Prefecture.
March 15: Excused from service under the Third General of Army upon request.
December 3, 1870: He departed from Yokohama in order to study in France at the government's expense. Studied at the Sorbonne.
December, 19, 1878: His rank of Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) was restored.0
October 21, 1880: He returned to Yokohama.
On March 18: He began the publication of Toyo Jiyu Shinbun journal with Chomin NAKAE and others.
November 24: Became Assistant Gikan (high ranking government official) of the Legislature and returned as a government official.
March 11, 1882: Received The Third Rank of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.
December 24, 1883: Reassigned to the post of Gikan (high-ranking government official) in the Legislature.
July 7, 1884: Because of the Order on Nobility, received the title of Marquis.
February 14, 1885: Assigned to the post of envoy extraordinary to Austria.
August 6, 1886: Jointly assigned to the post of Law Investigator.
June 4: Reassigned to the post of envoy extraordinary to Germany.
June 28: Jointly assigned to the post of envoy extraordinary to Belgium.
September 4, 1891: Returned to Japan and reassigned to be President of Decoration Bureau.
October 7, 1892: Jointly assigned to the post of Chairman of Investigation Committee to Enforce Civil and Commercial Laws.
April 13: Jointly assigned to the post of Vice President of investigation Committee of codes (the President was Hirofumi ITO).
November 13: Transferred to be Deputy Chairman of the House of Peers.
December 11: Promoted to the rank of Junii (Junior Second Rank)
May 10: Jointly assigned to be the privy councilor and President of Decoration Bureau.
May 12: Resigned from the post of Deputy Chairman of the House of Peers.
October 3: Entered the cabinet as the Minister of Education of the Second Ito Cabinet.
June 5: Jointly assigned to be the Acting Agent of Foreign Minister.
June 21: Awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
April 3: Resigned from the post of Acting Agent of Foreign Minister.
May 30: Jointly assigned to the post of Foreign Minister (of Japan).
June 5: Received Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
September 18: He entered the cabinet and continued with his joint assignment as Minister of Education and Foreign Minister in the Second Matsukata Cabinet.
September 22: Resigned as Foreign Minister.
September 28: Resigned as Minister of Education.
January 12: Entered the cabinet as the Minister of Education of the Third Ito Cabinet.
January 21: Jointly assigned to be the Vice President of I\Investigation Committee of Codes (President was Hirofumi ITO).
March 30: Resigned from the office of Vice President of Investigation Committee of Codes.
April 30: Resigned from the post of Minister of Education.
December 20: Promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank)
1899: Built a country house (tonari-so) in Oiso.
October 27: Became Chairman of the Privy Council, and therefore became a member of the Fourth Ito Cabinet. Additionally, he was jointly assigned as Acting Agent of Prime Minister.
December 12: Resigned from the post of Acting Agent of Prime Minister.
May 2: Jointly assigned to be the Acting Agent of Prime Minister.
May 10: Joint assignment changed from Acting Agent of Prime Minister to Acting Prime Minister.
May 14: Also, jointly assigned to the post of Acting Minister of Finance. At this time, he held the rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank), the rank of a marquis, he received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure, he was Chairman of the Privy Council and he was Acting Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Finance.
June 2: Upon formation of the First Katsura Cabinet, he resigned from the position of Acting Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Finance.
July 13: Resigned from the post of Chairman of the Privy Council.
July 14: Became president of the Rikken Seiyu-kai Party.
January 7: Became Prime Minister (the First Saionji Cabinet) and was jointly appointed as Acting Minister of Finance. From here on, he and Taro KATSURA alternated their cabinets, and it was called the Kei-En period.
March 3: Jointly assigned to be the Acting Foreign Minister.
March 27: Resigned from the post of Acting Minister of Education.
May 19: Resigned from the post of Acting Foreign Minister.
August 30: Jointly assigned to be the Acting Foreign Minister.
September 14, 1907: Received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers of the Rising Sun.
July 14, 1908: Resigned from the position of Prime Minister.
August 30, 1911: Became Prime Minister (the Second Saionji Cabinet).
December 21, 1912: Resigned from the position of Prime Minister and became a Genro.
June 18, 1914: Resigned from the presidency of the Seiyu-kai Party. He recommended Masahisa MATSUDA as his successor, but because Matsuda died suddenly, he assigned Takashi HARA as his successor.
1917: Sold his villa (tonari-so) in Oiso to Shigeaki IKEDA.
December 21: Received the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.
December 27: Became the Imperial Economic Advisor.
January 13, 1919: Became the chief delegate of the Paris Peace Conference. He built a villa (Zagyo-so) in Okitsu-cho, Ihara-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture (present day Seikenji-cho, Okitstu, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City) and retired there. After that, key figures in the government and business circles frequently visited Saionji in Okitsu, and the term 'Okitsu visits' was born.
September 7, 1920: He was promoted to Prince (due to his achievements as a chief delegate at the Paris Peace Conference).
November 10, 1928: Received the Collar of the Chrysanthemum.
October 13, 1937: Resigned from the post of Imperial Economic Advisor.
November 24: He passed away.
He was awarded the rank of Juichii (Junior First Rank)
December 5: State funeral. In compliance with his will, his documents and resources were burned.
June 21, 1895: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
September 14, 1907: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
December 21, 1918: Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.
November 10, 1928: Collar of the Chrysanthemum.
Family and Relatives
He did not have an official wife, but there were three women who were effectively his wives. The first wife was Geisha Tamahachi (Kikuko KOBAYASHI) of Shinbashi (Minato-ku, Tokyo), and she had a daughter, Shin. Shin married Hachiro SAIONJI, the eighth son of Prince Motonori (Sadahiro) MORI, former lord of Choshu-han, and gave birth to 3 boys and 3 girls, including Kinkazu SAIONJI and Fujio SAIONJI.
His second wife, Fusako NAKANISHI, she had one daughter. He brought along Hanako OKUMURA, a housemaid of the Saionji family, to the Paris Peace Conference, and this became a topic of gossip.
The Tokudaiji family