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Born Dec. 7, 1827, in Kagoshima; died Sept. 14, 1877. Japanese political figure.
A samurai from Satsuma principality, Saigo commanded the forces of the antishogun coalition during the incomplete bourgeois revolution of 1867–68. In the 1870’s he defended the interests of many of the samurai dissatisfied with their diminished role after the revolution. Saigo demanded restoration of the feudal privileges of the samurai. In order to enhance the importance of the military clique, he pressed for a campaign against Korea; however, his proposal of a military expedition into Korea was rejected by the government, which considered such a step premature. In 1873, as a gesture of protest, Saigo resigned from his post as minister of war.
In 1877, Saigo led a rebellion of reactionary samurai in Satsuma, in which more than 40,000 took part. The government suppressed the rebellion; Saigo, who was wounded in the fighting, committed suicide.