The Father of the Japanese Constitution & Parliamentary Government in Japan: Hirobumi Ito

Our series of articles celebrating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the 'Choshu Five' continues with Hirobumi Ito, who went on to become Japan's first ever Prime Minister and came to be known as 'the Father of the Japanese Constitution & Parliamentary Government in Japan'.

After secretly leaving Japan in 1863 as members of the 'Choshu Five', Ito, along with Kaoru Inoue, spent the shortest amount of time in the UK as fears that their domain would go to war led them to return early. Ito studied at University College London and, although his time there was short, his experience in the UK had a great impact on him and convinced him that Japan needed to adopt Western ways. In 1864, he and Inoue returned to Japan to warn the Choshu domain against going to war. Following the Meiji Restoration, he held several important public positions and was sent abroad to study various systems and consitutions of foreign countries. In 1871 he established Japan's taxation system after studying Western currency systems in the United States. He wrote the first Imperial Household Law and established the Japanese peerage system in 1884.

Hirobumi Ito, Japan's first Prime Minister

In 1885, he established a cabinet system of government following his overseas study of European constitutions, and later that year became the first Prime Minister of Japan. Although he resigned in April 1888, he remained a very influential political figure and was integral in the establishment of the Japanese consitution. This new constitution, based on his first-hand study of various European systems, was promulgated by Emperor Meiji on February 11, 1889 and came into effect on November 29, 1890.

Japanese Leadership in 2013

The current Japanese Prime Minister is Shinzo Abe. Having served as Japan's 90th Prime Minister from September 2006 for almost a year, he was elected as Prime Minister again and has been in office since December 2012. Prime Minister Abe visited the UK in June to take part in the G8 Summit held in Northern Ireland. Hosted by Prime Minister Cameron, he also met with leaders from the United States, Russia, Canada, France, Germany and Italy.

The 2013 Lough Erne G8 Leader's Communique stated: "As leaders of the G8, we are committed to open economies, open societies and open governments as the basis of lasting growth and stability. We have today agreed concrete steps to play our part in ensuring a safe and prosperous world."

The bilateral meeting between Japan and the UK was successful in encouraging support in the area of defence, where it was decided that both countries would sign two agreements, the "Agreement on the Security of Information", and the "Agreement on the Framework of Defence Equipment". You can read more details about the G8 Summit 2013 in Lough Erne on the MOFA website here.

Prime Minister Cameron greets Prime Minister Abe at the G8 Summit
(Crown copyright. Photograph taken from G8 UK flickr stream)

G8 leaders at a counter-terrorism working session at the G8 Summit.
(Crown copyright. Photograph taken from G8 UK flickr stream)