chapter  4
24 Pages

THE KOMURA PERIOD, 1901-11

By good fortune, his appointment to Korea and then to Peking as councillor of legation turned out to be the start of a series of key postings. In Peking he was to play an important part, acting as minister in the run-up to the war of 1894. The war months brought him new tasks: first as civil administrator to the first army in Manchuria where he met Yamagata and Katsura Taro; then as head of the ministry's political department (seimukyokucho)? and finally, after the disastrous Miura affair, as minister to Korea in days of sharp Russo-Japanese tension. It was in Seoul that he was responsible for the Waeber-Komura agreement. In June 1896 he returned to Tokyo to perform the duties of Vice-minister for the acting foreign minister, Saionji Kimmochi, and two years later he was appointed minister to Washington. Going in 1900 to Russia at the wish of Premier Yamagata, he was responsible (as we saw in the Aoki chapter) for important initiatives during the Boxer emergency. At the

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end of the year he was posted back to Peking. In these eight years he had been in all the major troublecentres of the world. While such brief postings might in some cases have suggested dissatisfaction with his performance, they showed in Komura's case how swiftly his diplomatic reputation had grown.