Kuroda Kiyotaka

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Kuroda Kiyotaka
黒田 清隆
President of the Privy Council
In office
17 March 1894 – 23 August 1900
Preceded byYamagata Aritomo
Succeeded bySaionji Kinmochi
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
31 August 1896 – 18 September 1896
Preceded byItō Hirobumi
Succeeded byMatsukata Masayoshi
In office
30 April 1888 – 25 October 1889
Preceded byItō Hirobumi
Succeeded bySanjō Sanetomi (Acting)
Personal details
Born(1840-11-09)9 November 1840
Kagoshima, Satsuma Domain
(now Kagoshima, Japan)
Died23 August 1900(1900-08-23) (aged 59)
Tokyo, Japan
Cause of deathIntracerebral hemorrhage
Political partyIndependent
Japanese name
Hiraganaくろだ きよたか
Kyūjitai黑田 淸隆
Shinjitai黒田 清隆

Count Kuroda Kiyotaka (黒田 清隆, 9 November 1840 – 23 August 1900), also known as Kuroda Ryōsuke (黒田 了介), was a Japanese statesman and diplomat of the Meiji era who was Prime Minister of Japan from 1888 to 1889. He was also President of the Privy Council, Minister of Communications and Vice Chairman of the Hokkaido Development Commission (Kaitaku-shi). He was one of the initiators of the Treaty of Saint Petersburg in 1875.[1]


Nishiki-e painting of Kuroda Kiyotaka

As a Satsuma samurai[edit]

Kuroda was born to a samurai-class family serving the Shimazu daimyō of Kagoshima, Satsuma Domain, in Kyūshū.[2]

In 1862, Kuroda was involved in the Namamugi incident, in which Satsuma retainers killed a British national who refused to bow down to the daimyo's procession. This led to the Anglo-Satsuma War in 1863, in which Kuroda played an active role. Immediately after the war, he went to Edo where he studied gunnery.

Returning to Satsuma, Kuroda became an active member of the Satsuma-Chōshū joint effort to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate. Later, as a military leader in the Boshin War, he became famous for sparing the life of Enomoto Takeaki, who had stood against Kuroda's army at the Battle of Hakodate.

Political and diplomatic career[edit]

Kiyotaka Kuroda at a young age
Marquess Kuroda Nagahiro of Fukuoka Domain. Kuroda Kiyotaka received supports from Fukuoka Domain which later proved their critical roles in Kuroda's political career.

Under the new Meiji government, Kuroda became a pioneer-diplomat to Karafuto, claimed by both Japan and the Russian Empire in 1870. Terrified of Russia's push eastward, Kuroda returned to Tokyo and advocated quick development and settlement of Japan's northern frontier.

In 1871 he traveled to Europe and the United States for five months, and upon returning to Japan in 1872, he was put in charge of colonization efforts in Hokkaidō.

In 1874, Kuroda was named director of the Hokkaidō Colonization Office, and organized a colonist-militia scheme to settle the island with unemployed ex-samurai and retired soldiers who would serve as both farmers and as a local militia. He was also promoted to lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army. Kuroda invited agricultural experts from overseas countries with a similar climate to visit Hokkaidō, and to provide advice on what crops and production methods might be successful.

Kuroda was dispatched as an envoy to Korea in 1875, and negotiated the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1876. In 1877, he was sent as part of the force to suppress the Satsuma Rebellion. In 1878, he became de facto leader of Satsuma Domain following the assassination of Ōkubo Toshimichi.

Shortly before he left office in Hokkaidō, Kuroda became the central figure in the Hokkaidō Colonization Office Scandal of 1881. As part of the government's privatization program, Kuroda attempted to sell the assets of the Hokkaidō Colonization Office to a trading consortium created by some of his former Satsuma colleagues for a nominal price. When the terms of the sale were leaked to the press, the resultant public outrage caused the sale to fall through. Also in 1881, Kuroda's wife died of a lung disease, but on rumors that Kuroda had killed her in a drunken rage, the body was exhumed and examined. Kuroda was cleared of charges, but rumors of his problems with alcohol abuse persisted.

The embassy of Kuroda Kiyotaka, in Pusan, on its way to Ganghwa Island (江華島), Korea, 16 January 1876. There were 2 warships ( Nisshin, Moshun and 3 troop transports of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and one liner for the embassy led by Kuroda.

In 1887, Kuroda was appointed to the cabinet post of Minister of Agriculture and Commerce.

Prime minister[edit]

Kuroda Kiyotaka became the 2nd Prime Minister of Japan, after Itō Hirobumi in 1888. During his term, he oversaw the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution. However, the vexing issue of Japan's inability to secure revision of the unequal treaties created considerable controversy. After drafts of proposed revisions drawn up his foreign minister Ōkuma Shigenobu became public in 1889, Kuroda was forced to resign.

Later life[edit]

Kuroda served as Minister of Communications in 1892 under the 2nd Ito Cabinet. In 1895 he became a genrō, and chairman of the Privy Council.

Kuroda died of a brain hemorrhage in 1900 and Enomoto Takeaki presided over his funeral ceremonies. His grave is at the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo.


From the corresponding Japanese Wikipedia article

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Kuroda Kiyotaka" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 578, p. 578, at Google Books.
  2. ^ "黒田清隆|近代日本人の肖像". 近代日本人の肖像 National Diet Library (in Japanese). Retrieved 2 March 2022.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Kiyotaka Kuroda at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Agriculture and Commerce
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Communications
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Privy Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Japan

Succeeded by