Born in Satsuma, Matsukata soon became a leading figure at the government following the Meiji Restoration.
He served 10 years a finance minister (1881-91), during which time he stablized the state finance and stimulated economic growth.
Matsukata was prime minister from 1891 to 1892. He then dissolved the Diet and used the police to influence the elections, but lost anyway. He served again from September 1896 to January 1898.
Matsukata was keeper of the privy seal from 1917 to 1922.
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