Education About Asia: Online Archives

Mori Arinori and Japanese Education (1847-1889)

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Editor’s Note: This manuscript is based upon a considerably lengthier earlier book chapter by the author, Terumichi Morikawa, titled “Mori Arinori,” published in Ten Great Educators of Modern Japan: A Japanese Perspective, ed. Benjamin C. Duke (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1989), 39–65.

On the morning of February 11, 1889, Minister of Education Mori Arinori was scheduled to attend the promulgation ceremony of the new Imperial Constitution. Dressed in formal attire, he waited for the official carriage to take him to the great event heralded by the government as a monumental stride forward in the modernization of Japan. Unannounced, Nishino Buntaro, a former samurai from Yamaguchi Prefecture, called at the Mori home in Tokyo, purportedly on a matter of great urgency. As the secretary received the guest at the entrance, Mori came downstairs. Suddenly the visitōr rushed at the unsuspecting Mori, driving a knife into his chest. Mori died the following day at the age of forty-two.

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