Episode 478 – The Dynasty, Part 1

This week, we’re starting a longform look at Japan’s most prominent political dynasty: the Hatoyama family, which has been a presence in Japan’s electoral politics from the jump. Today is all about the career of family progenitor Hatoyama Kazuo, who went from son of a minor samurai to speaker of the House of Representatives, and in the offing created one of the nation’s great political dynasties.


Itoh, Mayumi. The Hatoyama Dynasty: Japanese Political Leadership Through the Generations.

Keene, Donald. Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912


Hatoyama Kazuo. I couldn’t find a precise date for this image but the academic regalia makes me think it’s from his time leading what became Waseda University.
A bust of Hatoyama Kazuo next to a statue of Hatoyama Haruko. On the grounds of Hatoyama Hall in Tokyo.
Hatoyama Haruko. I believe this is from after her husband’s death but I’m not 100% sure.


If you’re at all interested in US politics, you’ve probably noticed that a few names tend to come up consistently across the decades. Names like Kennedy or Roosevelt or Bush have become fixtures of American political discourse–and often, you’ll hear rumors about the family of a popular politician deciding to throw their own hats into the ring.

Political dynasties, as they’re called, are nothing new, of course–the US and pretty much every other democracy has had them from the jump. And from a certain perspective, they make sense–as humans, we tend to judge people at least in part based on who they know or are related to, hence the enduring importance of personal connections and networking in, say, getting a job, compared to purely deciding off resumes.

It makes sense–regardless of what you think of the practice itself–that we would extend the same logic to politics as well. Of course, the criticisms of this kind of political dynasty are manifold: they enable corruption, they concentrate power in the hands of a small elite, they undercut the notion of merit-based elections–and, of course, as the name itself implies, they’re just a bit too akin to the old school aristocracies that democratic and republican politics was supposed to get rid of for comfort.

And yet, the phenomenon also doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, and so it behooves us to understand it. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at one of the great political dynasties of Japan–one that has been there pretty much from the inception of Japanese electoral politics.

I refer, of course, to the Hatoyamas–a name that rings large across the history of Japanese politics, and with good reason. Between the very first general election in 1890 and 2012, the vast majority of Japan’s elections have had at least one Hatoyama standing for office in them, and they’ve won most of them.

The Hatoyama journey begins with Hatoyama Kazuo, a name that probably isn’t immediately familiar to you unless you’re very interested in Japanese politics–but I’ll tell you right now that his story will seem very familiar. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: disaffected samurai from a domain that didn’t do too well out of the end of feudalism gets political and ends up joining an early Japanese political party.

Hatoyama Kazuo, you see, has pretty much the same origin story as a lot of other early Japanese political party members. He was born in 1856 in what was then the Toranomon district of Edo (now, of course, it’s called Tokyo). His family were minor samurai in service to the Miura family lords of Katsuyama domain in what was then Mimasaka Province (today, Okayama Prefecture). Katsuyama was a small domain with only 23,000 koku, or bushels of rice, as its official income–by comparison, a large domain would have a six digit or higher income. And the Hatoyamas were not exactly prominent samurai in the domain either.

Kazuo’s father was Hatoyama Hirofusa, the orusui-yaku of the Miura family yashiki, or mansion, in Edo. Every family of daimyo, or lords, were required by the rules of the Tokugawa shoguns to alternate between their domains and the capital, where they would attend in person on the shogun while living in a yashiki, or mansion. It was the job of the Hatoyama family to keep things running at the Miura family mansion while the lord was back in the domain proper–hence their son being born in the big city rather than back in Western Hosnhu (a much more backwater part of Japan)

Hirofusa was by all accounts a trusted and capable man–which didn’t really have anything to do with his job, because remember those were hereditary under the feudal system. However, Hirofusa had distinguished himself in other ways; for example, he was a master swordsman. And his work was recognized; his lord, Miura Akitsugu, arranged a marriage to a member of the distant Miura clan, Miura Kikuko. All of the Hatoyama political dynasty is descended from the two of them.

Hirofusa and Kikuko had five sons between them: in birth order, Matazo, Morishige, Jutaro, Kazuo, and Goro. And, as was the common practice of the time, he decided to clear out some of the extra sons via the age old practice of adoption. After all, he could only hand on the family job to one of them–and there were always other samurai families out there in need of a male heir.

Indeed, Hirofusa himself had been born into another samurai family of Katsuyama, the Ogawa, before being adopted into the heirless Hatoyamas. Hirofusa kept his third son, Jutaro, and youngest Goro–Jutaro in particular was apparently a very promising boy who looked like a good candidate for heir. The others he adopted out: eldest Matazo was adopted by another samurai family, the Fujita, but died very young. Second eldest Morishige went to his father’s birth family, the Ogawa, who were now without an heir for the current generation. And fourth son Kazuo did best of them all: he went to his mother’s birth family, the Miuras, who were of course a family of lords (albeit low ranking ones).

Kazuo would not remain forever a Miura, however; his brother Jutaro, supposedly extremely promising (the only thing Kazuo ever beat him at was sumo wrestling) was also very sickly. He would take ill of pneumonia and die in 1868. After some wrangling, Kazuo would eventually be legally returned to his birth family (though they’d never cut ties or anything like that; remaining in touch with biological families was very common for adoptees). When Hirofusa died in 1877, it was Kazuo who would succeed him as family head for that Hatoyamas.

He was the natural choice, apparently–strong, smart, and gifted at everything from swordsmanship like his father to school. After his brother Jutaro died, Kazuo, who was all of 12, vowed to his birth father to make up the loss: and promptly got himself admitted to the Kaihojuku, a school on Chinese classics. The school’s students were mostly between 17-20 by the Western count; Kazuo was 12, and yet he still excelled. Apparently one of his favorite tricks was volunteering to do errands for the smartest kids in the school in exchange for 1:1 tutoring.

In 1870, he transferred over to the Kaisei Gakko, an experimental government-run school on the Western model that would eventually become Tokyo Imperial University (today’s Tokyo University). Admissions in 1870 were competitive on the domain level; Katsuyama domain, as one of the smallest in the country, was allowed to send only one student, and Kazuo, by this time 14, successfully competed for the spot.

This was a school that valued very different things from what Kazuo had been learning: among other aspects, the school’s classes were graded on their fluency in English, from 1 (best) to 15 (worst). Kazuo entered in class 15; by 1872, he was in class 1. By 1874, he was coming in first overall in the school’s competitive exams. He was, simply put, an insanely driven kid–and one who had the luck to be born when he did, when (thanks to the Westernizing bent of the new government) his comparatively low status within the samurai pecking order did not count for all that much.

Eventually, he’d gravitate towards the law faculty, and in 1875 successfully petition to be sent to the United States for study overseas. He was one of 11 students chosen by competitive exam for overseas study (an exam on which, of course, he placed 1st overall after not sleeping for several days).

By 1877, he’d earned a BA in law from Columbia University (having learned, shortly after graduation, of his father’s death and his succession as head of the Hatoyama family). Shortly thereafter, he won his first court case on behalf of his landlady Jane Abbot, whose deceased husband John Stevens Cabot Abbot had published a popular biography of Napoleon. Despite its continued sales, she lived in substantial poverty; Kazuo was able to determine the publisher was illegally withholding royalties from her and sued them successfully on her behalf.

That performance earned him a spot in the law program at Connecticut’s own Yale University, which as we all know is the second best school in central Connecticut but is, of course, no Wesleyan. Still, a decent get, I suppose. He graduated in 1880 with a JD. And it’s upon his return to Japan that his political career, and thus the Hatoyama dynasty, really got started.

1880 was, of course, the time of the Jiyu Minken Undo, or Freedom and People’s Rights Movement. This was a political movement of French and English-style liberals whose exposure to Western political theory had left them enamored of limited government, human rights, and all that jazz we associate with the liberal political tradition.

I should note, by the way, that these people were definitively liberals in the political science sense. In the United States, the terms liberal and progressive (and sometimes leftist) are often conflated, but they are very different. Liberals support limited constitutional government on the model of the US; progressives tend to favor stronger governments for implementing things like powerful social safety nets (think Nordic model systems); leftists usually is a catch-all for Marxist and Marxist-adjacent ideologies. And yes, those are simplified definitions, but bear with me here: the Jiyu Minken Undo was liberal, but not leftist or progressive. In a certain sense, it’s the ancestor of the conservative political parties that would become the LDP and come to govern Japan today.

We can divide the Jiyu Minken Undo into roughly two streams–a more extreme version inspired by Republican France (though its adherents did not support an abolition of Japan’s monarchy on the French model) and associated with the Tosa domain samurai Itagaki Taisuke, and a more moderate liberalism based on British-style constitutional monarchy. It was toward this latter option, championed by the samurai of old Hizen domain Okuma Shigenobu, that Hatoyama Kazuo gravitated.

Specifically, Kazuo was an early member of the Rikken Kaishinto, roughly “constitutional reform party”–one of the first two liberal parties, alongside Itagaki Taisuke’s Jiyuto, or Liberal Party. His experience in school had made Kazuo deeply enamored of the British-style system (indeed, his BA studies at Columbia had been focused on British common law). He was also a big believer in the necessity for Japan to have a strong civil society independent of the government, and especially of the need for a strong tradition of lawyers and legal education to uphold the impartiality of the legal system itself.

These were not goals that the reigning members of government would have shared at the time; Okuma himself was drummed out of power in 1882, ostensibly over a corruption scandal but practically to stop him from advocating for limited constitutional government. The leading figures in Japan’s government in the 1880s were overwhelmingly from the former feudal domains of Choshu and Satsuma which had led the overthrow of feudalism, and generally composed of men who believed in centralized, statist government. Their ideal was not British, American, or French style limited government and republicanism, but Germany–an autocratic monarchy with limited concessions to democratic ideas in the form of a highly circumscribed Reichstag, or parliament.

So it makes sense that Hatoyama Kazuo would gravitate away from the government–he was not from the former Satsuma or Choshu domains, nor did his views accord with those in power–and towards Okuma and his English-style liberalism. Indeed, the two became close friends and political allies from the jump.

Kazuo may not have always been the most valuable ally, though; one of the first things he’s known for upon his return to Japan was getting fired from his former alma mater, now Tokyo Imperial University.

He was hired upon returning to Japan to teach, and was by all accounts an excellent and skilled instructor–but in Spring, 1881, he was tapped to give a commencement speech before the university leadership as well as government dignitaries (including several members of the imperial family). He proceeded to give a speech deeply critical of the current government and its ministers, for which he was promptly fired for improper political speech at an official function.

Still, that didn’t slow him down much. By 1882 he was one of Japan’s first registered lawyers, and was elected to Tokyo’s own local assembly the same year (he drafted its bylaws, which are the basis of most parliamentary bylaws for regional assemblies down to this day). He’d remain an assemblyman until his death even after his election to the national Diet, because while it’s not allowed now back in those days you could serve on two assemblies simultaneously.

His growing status as a lawyer and an assemblyman meant that by 1884, the very same institution that had given him the boot for his lack of restraint in speech was inviting him to return as a lecturer. Basically, Hatoyama Kazuo reads to me like a man possessed of very deep political convictions around right and wrong, whose utter assurance in those convictions led him to what were probably not the wisest career choices. But he was also an extremely talented and ambitious guy, and that made it hard for him to be kept down.

During this time, he also got married–to Taga Haruko, also the daughter of a samurai family (from Matsumoto domain, now in Nagano prefecture). Haruko was enormously bright, and had received an education in the Chinese classics as well as English, this at a time when women’s education was not widely accepted in Japan.

Indeed, her father had to send her from Nagano to a school in Tokyo in a palanquin so as to avoid causing a scandal were she seen headed off to get an education.

She ended up graduating top of her class in English from Tokyo Women’s Normal School (a teacher training college, now Ochanomizu University). From there, she was supposed to go to Philadelphia to study further, but the program that was going to send her was scuttled due to the objections of conservative government leaders concerned about Japanese women going overseas on their own.

Haruko was, by all accounts, devastated and deeply depressed. Two years later, continuing her studies in Japan, she was introduced to Kazuo by an omiai, or traditional matchmaker; the two were married at the end of 1881.  By all accounts, the two got along well–as one might expect in a marriage of bookishly inclined nerdy types who were that into being in school. Still, one has to wonder how different Haruko’s life would have been had she been able to go to the US;

The two had two children in rapid succession, both sons: Hatoyama Ichiro, born in 1883, and Hatoyama Hideo, born in 1884. Of the two, Ichiro is far and away the more important; Hideo became a lawyer but did not follow the family trade in politics. We’ll get to the kids in a second, but first I want to talk about Kazuo’s transition into politics–since, of course, that’s going to end up being pretty important for the Hatoyama family in general.

As is probably pretty clear by this point, Hatoyama Kazuo’s defining political relationship was with Okuma Shigenobu, the de facto head of the moderate former Kaishinto liberals in Japan. By the late 1880s, that relationship was very close; in 1888, Okuma was invited back into government six years after being kicked out, because his anglophile nature gave him a close relationship with the British (with whom, it was hoped, Japan could renegotiate their unequal treaty) and because by this point the new constitution Okuma had hoped to influence was drafted and thus out of his control.

Specifically, Okuma was offered the position of Foreign Minister, and both accepted and offered Kazuo a job as one of his deputies. Okuma, in turn, would do his best to negotiate with the British, but his work would be cut short in the early winter of 1889. A right-wing extremist, angry at Okuma’s liberal views, tried to kill him with a bomb–the blast mangled one of Okuma’s legs, though he did survive. Still, the injury forced Okuma to retire from politics; Kazuo would follow in his footsteps and resign in January, 1890.

He would, in fact, continue to follow Okuma–whose next move after politics was to go into education. The two collaborated on the foundation of a private school, the Tokyo Senmon Gakko–which eventually became Waseda University, one of the most prestigious private universities in the country.

Both men, as believers in Anglo-American-style liberalism, were big believers in the importance of an independent education system that was not dependent on the state–and which could thus create a civil society independent of the government’s dictates.

One place Kazuo was hesitant to follow, however, was parliamentary politics. In February, 1889, Japan’s first constitution was promulgated to great ceremony and fanfare. That constitution granted some form of electoral representation–fulfillment, it was said, of a promise going back to the early days of Meiji and the Charter Oath’s promise that, “Deliberative assemblies shall be established on an extensive scale, and all governmental matters shall be determined by public discussion.”

In reality, under the 1889 Constitution all government matters were very much not determined by public discussion. The constitution established a bicameral legislature, the National Diet, modeled off of the German Reichstag and the UK’s parliament. Like those two legislatures, the National Diet had a lower house that was elected by the people (in this case, the House of Representatives) and an upper house from the aristocracy (the House of Peers). Both houses had to concur to pass legislation, and the emperor (which really meant the emperor’s ministers) had veto power.

Still, it was something–and so those interested in pursuing parliamentary politics began to organize. Unsurprisingly, this included a lot of former members of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movements, and very quickly both Okuma’s Rikken Kaishinto and the old Jiyuto (the more radical of the two) re-emerged and organized for Japan’s first general election in July of 1890.

Collectively, those two parties were referred to as mintou, or people’s parties, opposed to the ritou, political parties composed of supporters of the government’s policies. There were also a substantial number of independents who wanted to portray themselves as aloof from the conflict between mintou and rito–pro- and anti-government parties for various reasons.

This first election also got pretty violent. Right-wing groups and bands of yakuza attacked anti-government campaigners (it is often suggested with the encouragement, or at least tacit approval, of the governmental leadership). The day of the election, attempts to suppress minto rallies led to nationwide riots that saw 25 people killed and 388 injured.

One might naturally expect that Hatoyama Kazuo would, in all this, gravitate toward his friend and mentor Okuma Shigenobu and his Rikken Kaishinto–in fact, initially, Kazuo did not even intend to run for office at all. His rationale is a bit unclear. My guess is that his American liberal sympathies–which, as we’ve seen, meant he was very much in favor of a civil society of schools and lawyers and the like who could serve as a check on the power of a limited government–made him somewhat uncomfortable working for the state. And while running for office certainly is a way to influence the government, it also means being a part of the government–which meant giving up a degree of independence to pursue his own path towards his political goals.

Still, in the primaries for the election Kazuo was nominated by the people of his district–Tokyo’s 9th–and ended up running as an independent because of it. However, both his ambiguity about government service and his American-influenced sense of what it meant to run for office (remember, this was a time when it was considered ungentlemanly to put too much effort into trying to win an election) meant that Hatoyama Kazuo put very little effort into trying to win. Indeed, the day of the election he was not even in Tokyo but in Sendai trying a case. That was probably a good thing, though; running as an independent meant his supporters came under attack from all those right-wing pro government types, and in the end Kazuo just barely lost (like literally barely, by 15 or so votes).

That said, the election did turn out to be a big rebuke for the government. The two mintou, or people’s parties, did the best–out of 300 seats in the elected House of Representatives, 130 went to the more extreme Jiyuto, and 41 to the more moderate Kaishinto. 45 more Independents were elected. Together, the two rito, or government parties, could muster only 84 seats.

As you might imagine this made for a somewhat unstable governing situation. The powers of the two people’s parties were limited by the constitution (which heavily circumscribed the powers of parliament and did not even allow it to pick the prime minister). Moreover, the Jiyuto and Kaishinto were both convinced to join the government parties in a unity coalition–the idea being that all parties should join in government to show post-election unity and healing and all that jazz.

Despite this, the people’s parties were able to exert enough influence to hound two government appointed prime ministers into resigning in as many years (Yamagata Aritomo and Matsukata Masayoshi, if you’re curious). Matsukata, in particular, found the people’s parties so irritating–they would constantly question government decision, which is to be fair what you’re supposed to do–that he dissolved the Diet and ordered new elections for February, 1892.

Once again, Hatoyama Kazuo was nominated as an independent for Tokyo’s 9th district–and this time, he won. And he would keep winning from this point onward, remaining in the Diet from this time until his death.

And that was quite a feat, honestly. We haven’t talked that much about early electoral politics in Japan up until now, but frankly they were extremely messy–despite all the lovely talk about the unity of imperial subjects and their emperor and coming together to direct the future of the nation in harmony and blah blah blah.

The reality was that the basic division between mintou–the popular parties, supported by Japan’s propertied middle class (the only ones who could vote in these early years–and the ritou, government-backed parties, proved nearly impossible to overcome.

Members of the governing oligarchy were used to, well, oligarchy–in the quarter century or so between the Meiji Restoration and the beginning of electoral politics they’d run the country essentially by themselves, and at any rate tended to have very hierarchical views about the obedience that inferiors should show to their betters.

Meanwhile, the urban middle class were tired of being kept out of power when their economic labor was driving the nation’s growing wealth and modernization–not to mention the fact that the strongest powers on earth were liberal empires like the UK and France, so clearly Japan should emulate their example.

The result was a deeply unstable political arrangement–in the first 10 years of electoral politics in Japan there were six general elections, with both 1894 and 1898 having two rounds of elections when the first go-round produced too much instability.

The 1892 election that saw Hatoyama Kazuo come into office was a particularly bad one–the great Donald Keene described it as, “probably the most corrupt in Japanese history.” The Home Minister, Shinagawa Yajiro, took it upon himself to crack down on the mintou out of belief that they were disloyal and disruptive–driven, he would later claim, by a remark made by the Meiji Emperor just before the elections to the effect that he was concerned if the same politicians won re-election, the political situation would remain disturbed and uncertain.

Shinagawa took this as a condemnation from the emperor of the mintou and used his powerful position as Home Minister–giving him control of the police as well as prefectural governments–to institute a massive crackdown on the parties. He directed the police to investigate the parties on trumped up bribery and corruption charges, and probably was behind the gangs of thugs who stole ballot boxes in Kouchi and parts of Saga prefecture (respectively hotbeds of Jiyuto and Kaishinto activity).

Shinagawa would shortly be forced to resign in disgrace–the whole affair was such a mess that even the unelected House of Peers voted to condemn the way the election was handled, and in the next rounds of elections there was far more attention to cracking down on bribery and electoral intimidation than there had been in the past.

Even so, these things remained problems throughout the decade–and it is a testament to Hatoyama’s political talents that he was able to win under such circumstances. Indeed, Hatoyama not only survived in politics–he thrived. He would even serve a term speaker of the House of Representatives from 1896-97

Fun piece of political trivia–the rules of the Diet give the speaker a tiebreaking vote in the rare circumstance this occurs. It’s pretty uncommon because of how many members the House has. Hatoyama remains the only speaker in Japanese history to have exercised that power twice–that’ll probably never happen because the House of Representatives is about 50% larger than it was in his day, making ties much more unlikely.

Hatoyama was also influential in one of the big political shakeups of the late 1890s. After a first round of elections in March 1898, the sitting Prime Minister, Ito Hirobumi, put forward a government-backed proposal to the national diet to raise land taxes. This measure proved extremely unpopular in the House of Representatives–where the feeling was that there were plenty of taxes on the books already. It was resoundingly defeated–and one of the few areas where the Constitution did give the Diet any real power was tax policy.

An angry Ito dissolved the Diet and called for new elections after only a few weeks of parliamentary session–but here, badly overplayed his hand. Both Itagaki’s Jiyuto and Okuma’s (which by this point had changed its name to the Shinpoto, or Progressive Party, but was still largely the same group of people) were incensed by what they saw as heavy handedness on Ito’s part. The two people’s parties, as a result, agreed to a merger in April of 1898–the Kenseito, or Constitutional Government Party, was born.

Now, up until this point, Hatoyama Kazuo had been an independent on paper–albeit one who was in the broader orbit of Okuma’s political parties and who often aligned himself with them. But he too was angry with Ito over his refusal to, as they say, take the L for the failed tax, and so openly aligned himself to this new people’s superparty. Supposedly, he was even the one who came up with the name Kenseito–which certainly tracks, given his own love of constitutional government.

To be fair, he was not the only one angry with Ito. The elections, slated for August of 1898, became essentially a referendum on Ito’s handling of his political defeat, and the message was pretty clear. The House of Representatives had 300 seats; the combined Kenseito won 244. Meanwhile, pro-government parties were able to win a total of 30, with the rest going to Independents.

Ito, with political egg all over his face, resigned as Prime Minister a few weeks before the election when it became clear things were not going well–Okuma Shigenobu was offered the job as PM, the first time a politician got the job (though this was a decision made by the emperor and his advisors; it wasn’t until a few decades later that politically appointed PMs became the rule).

Though the mintou people’s parties had generally done better than the government-backed ritou ones, this was a much harsher defeat than the government parties had ever faced before. One could easily imagine a world where, out of this resounding victory for the people’s parties, a stronger anti-oligarch political movement could begin to grow and seriously challenge the Meiji establishment.

However, that’s not quite how it shook out. When the two people’s parties had agreed to a merger, they had–in time honored parliamentary tradition–set some terms around their coming together. Itagaki Taisuke’s Jiyuto was the bigger people’s party initially, and so in any cabinet its members would get more spots (60%, compared to 40% for Okuma). In compensation, Okuma would ask for and get the nod as Prime Minister, while Itagaki would get the secondary, but still powerful, role of Home Minister.

However, Okuma then ignored the deal and flipped it the other way around in his appointments–to make matters worse, one of his appointees, the education minister Ozaki Yukio, then gave a speech on the floor of the Diet that was highly controversial because he appeared to be advocating for reducing the emperor’s political powers, or even for a fully republican government with no monarch at all.

Ozaki was forced to resign, and once again Okuma replaced him with one of his guys rather than one of Itagaki’s–which led to the breakup of the Kenseito, in turn forcing this brief people’s party out of power after just a few months. A new Prime Minister–the stolid army man and Meiji oligarch Yamagata Aritomo–came in to replace Okuma.

And this proved fateful for the career of Hatoyama Kazuo as well. He was very involved in this early experiment at popular government, and early on had looked poised for a cabinet role under Okuma. But Okuma consistently snubbed him for any of those jobs, and after this moment a rift developed between the two men.

What exactly happened between them is not clear. I would guess it had something to do with Kazuo’s constant insistence on running as an independent up until this point and keeping some distance from Okuma’s party, but honestly nobody really knows.

What we do know is that in the aftermath, Hatoyama Kazuo began to drift in a different political direction. After the fiasco of 1898, Ito Hirobumi recognized that political parties could not simply be ignored or combatted with government-backed parties that were obvious stooges for himself and his fellow oligarchs.

As such, he took it upon himself to organize his own party–and to try to include some members of the mintou opposition within it. Ito said his goal was to prove the value of a loyal opposition–read cynically, it’s also a way of disarming said opposition by incorporating its members while only paying lip service to their ideas (not to mention also preventing another ‘superparty’ from forming).

The result was the Seiyukai, or friends of government party, formed in 1902 out of a bizarre amalgamation of bureaucrats, military men, and other pro-government types as well as liberals. Most of the liberals who joined the Seiyukai were former Jiyuto people from Itagaki Taisuke’s side of things–Itagaki himself having retired in the wake of the whole mess of 1898. But Hatoyama Kazuo would eventually end up joining it himself.

Early on, he would stay loyal to Okuma Shigenobu, joining his Kensei Honto, the somewhat snarkily named “True Constitutional Government Party.” But Okuma would continue to treat Kazuo rather badly–among other things, firing him from his honorary role as president of the future Waseda University in 1907. And it’s probably that treatment that led Kazuo to finally abandon his longtime political ally and make the jump over to the Seiyukai. That wouldn’t last long, though–by this point, Hatoyama,who’d been working as a politician AND lawyer AND school administrator, was in increasingly ill health from what was later revealed to be cancer. By 1911 he was seriously ill; he would die on October 3rd.

Hatoyama Kazuo was, I think it’s fair to say, a true believer in Western liberalism who worked himself about as hard as it’s possible to do in the name of advancing that cause. That makes him, in a sense, an odd man to serve as the founding dynast of Japan’s greatest political family–we’ll see the man who really put the Hatoyamas on the map next week.