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Aoki Shūzō

Viscount Aoki Shūzō
Born March 3, 1844(1844-03-03)
Sanyō-Onoda, Yamaguchi, Japan
Died February 16, 1914 (aged 69)
Nasu, Tochigi, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Occupation Diplomat, Foreign Minister of Japan
In this Japanese name, the family name is Aoki.

Viscount Aoki Shūzō (青木 周藏 ?, March 3, 1844 — February 16, 1914) was a diplomat and Foreign Minister in Meiji period Japan.



Viscount Aoki was born to a samurai family as son of the Chōshū domain's physician in what is now part of Sanyō Onoda in Yamaguchi Prefecture). He studied western science and medicine (rangaku) at the domain school Meirinkan in Hagi, and in Nagasaki, He was then sent by Chōshū domain to Germany to study western law in 1868. However, while in Germany, his studies ranged over a very wide area, from western medicine, to politics, military science, and economics. From his surviving notes, he studied how to make beer, paper and paper money, carpets and rugs and techniques of western forestry management.

Aoki returned to Japan after the Meiji Restoration, and entered the Foreign Ministry of new Meiji government in 1873 as First Secretary to the Japanese legations to Germany, Netherlands and Austria. He then served as Vice Foreign Minister in the 1st Itō administration and Foreign Minister in the 1st Yamagata administration. While Foreign Minister, he strove for the revision the unequal treaties between the Empire of Japan and the various European powers, particularly the extraterritoriality clauses, and expressed concern over the eastern expansion of the Russian Empire into east Asia.

Aoki married the daughter of a German aristocrat, Elisabeth von Rhade, and they had among others a daughter named Hanna Aoki (Tokyo, December 16, 1879 – Wissen, June 24, 1953), who married at Tokyo on December 19, 1904 Alexander Maria Hermann Melchior, Graf von Hatzfeldt zu Trachenberg (Berlin, [February 10, 1877 – Schloss Schönstein, November 27, 1953) and had an only daughter Hissa Elisabeth Natalie Olga Ilsa Gräfin von Hatzfeldt zu Trachenberg (Pommerswitz, February 26, 1906 – Salzburg, June 4, 1985), who married at Munich, April 28, 1927 Maria Erwin Joseph Sidonius Benediktus Franziskus von Sales Petrus Friedrich Ignatius Hubertus Johannes von Nepomuk Felix Maurus Graf von Neipperg (Schwaigern, January 15, 1897 – Stuttgart-Vaihingen, December 5, 1957), and had issue now extinct in male line.

Aoki was forced to resign as a consequence of the Ōtsu Incident of 1891, but resumed his post as Foreign Minister under the Matsukata administration.

In 1894, as ambassador to Great Britain, Aoki worked with Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu towards the revision of the unequal treaties, successfully concluding the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation for Japan in London on July 16, 1894.

Returned to his post as Foreign Minister under the 2nd Yamagata administration, Aoki helped Japan gain recognition as one of the Great Powers by its military support of the European forces during the Boxer Rebellion.

Aoki was then appointed to the Privy Council and elevated in title to shishaku (viscount).

In 1906, he served as ambassador to the United States.

Aoki villa in Nasu

Aoki died at his country house in Nasu, Tochigi prefecture in 1914.

Morihisa Aoki, Japanese ambassador to Peru during the Japanese embassy hostage crisis was his great grandson.


Preceded by
Ōkuma Shigenobu
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Succeeded by
Enomoto Takeaki
Preceded by
Ōkuma Shigenobu
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
Succeeded by
Katō Takaaki


  • Auslin, Michael R. Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy. Harvard University Press;(2006) ISBN 0674022270
  • Edström, Bert. Turning Points in Japanese History. RoutledgeCurzon (2002). ISBN 1903350050
  • Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Belknap Press; New Ed edition (2002). ISBN 0674009916

External links



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