Kimmochi Saionji, Prince

Saionji, Kimmochi, Prince (kēmōˈchē sĪōnˈjē) [key], 1850–1940, Japanese statesman. He took part in the Meiji restoration, then spent 10 years in France, absorbing many democratic ideas. In 1882 he accompanied his friend and patron, Prince Ito, to Europe to study foreign governments. He served in several cabinets under Ito and was president of the privy council (1900–1903). He succeeded Ito as president of the Seiyukai party in 1903 and, as Ito's protégé, was prime minister (1906–8, 1911–12). He retired from party politics in 1914 and refused to form a cabinet in 1918, but in 1919 he headed the delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. As a genro [elder statesman] he continued to enjoy tremendous prestige and influence until his death. He escaped assassination in the military coup of Feb., 1936.

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