Prime Minister from 1918-1921
Tenure as Prime Minster: 1,133 days.
Born in Morioka, Iwate prefecture.

Born on 15 March 1856 into a samurai family in the Morioka domain (now part of Iwate Prefecture) in north-central Japan, Hara in 1871 he went to Tokyo, where he was baptized into the Catholic faith. Having joined the law school of the Ministry of Justice in 1876, he left it without graduating, assuming responsibility for a student protest. He joined the newspaper Yubin hochi Shimbun in 1879 as a reporter but left it three years later after a disagreement with other reporters, who sought to make the paper an organ of the Rikken Kaishinto, the political party of Okuma Shigenobu.
In 1882, having become editor of the newspaper Daito Nippo in Osaka, Hara left to take a position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for which he had been recommended by Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru. Impressed with the views about the future of Japanese politics that Hara expressed to him during a trip that both took to Korea in 1884, Inoue quickly elevated Hara to consul general in Tianjin (Tientsin), and then to first secretary in the embassy in Paris. From 1890 to 1891 Hara served as personal secretary to Mutsu Munemitsu and later as his vice-minister of foreign affairs; then he was appointed ambassador to Korea. Within a year he had resigned from government service to return to journalism, becoming editor in chief of the newspaper Osaka mainichi shimbun.
In 1900 Hara joined the Rikken Seiyukai, the party of Ito Hirobumi, as its secretary-general. He ran the party with Matsuda Masahisa (1845?1914) and Saionji Kimmochi (the party president beginning in 1903) from 1901 until 1914, and then took sole charge until his death in 1921. Also in 1900, during Ito's fourth cabinet, Hara succeeded Hoshi Toru as minister of communications. He ran successfully for the lower house of the Diet in 1902 as a representative of Iwate Prefecture and was reelected seven times thereafter. Hara served as home minister in cabinets formed in 1906, 1911, and 1913 and became one of the central figures in bringing about a compromise to stabilize the Katsura and Saionji cabinets.
Following the resignation of the Terauchi Masatake cabinet after the nationwide rice riots (米騒動) of 1918, Hara formed his own cabinet - the first in Japanese parliamentary history to be headed by an elected member of the majority party in the lower house of the Diet. As the first prime minister who was neither a member of the peerage nor of the domainal cliques (hambatsu) of Choshu and Samurai that had dominated the governments of the Meiji period (1868-1912), Hara is frequently known as the “commoner” prime minister (heimin saisho, 平民宰相). However, Hara had to accept many compromises since he required the cooperation of the domainal cliques, above all the support of the powerful Yamagata Aritomo. Without Yamagata's support, Hara could not have formed his cabinet, but for Yamagata, Hara was the only solution to guarantee political stability.
However, due to Hara's cooperation with Yamagata and the cliques, his popularity declined during his time as prime minister (1918-21). One of the reasons for this was that he did not use the absolute majority he had in the lower house to endorse the Universal Manhood Suffrage Movement. According to his personal records, he did hope to achieve manhood suffrage gradually, but the public expected quicker moves toward democracy from a “commoner” prime minister. On 4 November 1921, he was stabbed to death by a rightist in Tokyo Station on 4 November 1921, while on his way to a regional party rally in western Japan.
With his diaries, which were published after World War II, Hara Kei left one of the most important documents from the Meij-Taisho periods.

In Morioka we can find a memorial hall for Hara Takashi (Hara Kei Kinenkan).

Hara Takashi (Kei), 1856-1921

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