He was born at Nagoya, Aichi and commenced life as an employee in the great firm of Mitsu Bishi. In 1887 he became private secretary to Count Okuma, minister of state for foreign affairs. Subsequently he served as director of a bureau in the finance department, and from 1894 to 1899 he represented his country at the court of St James. He received the portfolio of foreign affairs in the fourth Ito cabinet (1900 - 1901), which remained in office only a few months. Appointed again to the same position in the Saionji cabinet (1906), he resigned after a brief interval, being opposed to the nationalization of the private railways, which measure the cabinet approved. He then remained without office until 1908, when he again accepted the post of ambassador in London. He was decorated with the grand cross of St Michael and St George, and earned the reputation of being one of the strongest men among the junior statesmen.