Saito, Makoto (mäkōˈtō sĪˈtō) [key], 1858–1936, Japanese admiral and statesman. A moderate militarist, his selection as prime minister (1932–34) to replace Ki Inukai, who had been assassinated, signaled the end of prewar party cabinets. Saito's cabinet was torn by the struggle between the war minister, who advocated expansionist aims in China, and the finance minister, who unsuccessfully opposed greater military expenditures. In 1936, Saito became keeper of the privy seal, a position close to the emperor. During the abortive military uprising of Feb. 26, 1936, he was assassinated by young militarists.