Matsukata Masayoshi

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Matsukata Masayoshi (松方 正義; February 25,1835July 2,1924) was a Japanese politician and the 4th (May 6,1891 - August 8,1892) and 6th (September 18,1896 - January 12,1898) Prime Minister of Japan.

He was born in a samurai family in Kagoshima, Satsuma province (today Kagoshima Prefecture). He started his samurai career as a bureaucrat of Satsuma-han. In his early career, Matsukata was highly regarded by Okubo Toshimichi. He was appointed to a purchaser of warships for Satsuma-han and frequently visited Nagasaki, Nagasaki for the purpose of purchasing from British merchants.

When the Meiji Restoration occurred, Matsukata was in Nagasaki and appointed to the staff of the Court of Nagasaki as an officer of the new government. After a while he was appointed to a vice-chief of the Bureau of Tax and he later worked for the staff of the Minister of Finance. Under Okubo Toshimichi he succecced in introducing the new tax gathering system that was created in 1873. The new tax system was radically different from the traditional tax gathering system that preceded it. Before the reformation, taxes had generally been paid with rice tributes and varied according to the amount of rice produced. Under the new system: 1) a tax payer paid taxes with money instead of rice 2) taxes were calculated based on the price of estates, not the amount of the agricultural product produced, and 3) tax rates were fixed at 3% of the value of estates and an estate holder was obligated to pay those taxes. The new system took some years for it to be accepted by the Japanese people. After the reformation of the tax system, Matsukata managed to reform the monetary system. In 1881, he was appointed to as Lord of Finance, and established the Bank of Japan in 1882, which has issued printed money instead of the government since that time.

When Ito Hirobumi was appointed the first Prime Minister of Japan in 1885, Ito appointed Matsukata to be the first Financial Minister. Matsukata was later appointed to the position of Prime Minister twice. Later, he was given the title of prince and genrō (elder statesman).

Matsukata was a family man and had many children. Once the Emperor Meiji asked him how many children he had, and Matsukata was unable to give an exact answer of the number of children he had. His granddaughter, journalist Haru Matsukata Reischauer, married the American scholar of Japanese history and U.S. statesman Edwin Oldfather Reischauer.

Preceded by: (first term)
Yamagata Aritomo
Prime Minister of Japan
1891–1892, 1896–1898
Succeeded by: (first term)
Ito Hirobumi
Preceded by: (second term)
Ito Hirobumi
Succeeded by: (second term)
Ito Hirobumi
fr:Matsukata Masayoshi

ja:松方正義 zh:松方正義

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