Military officer. Born in Yamaguchi as the son of a samurai of the Iwakuni Clan. He took part in the Boshin War and in 1870 entered the Osaka Army Academy. In the following year, he was appointed an army captain. He served in the Sino-Japanese War as commander of the 12th Infantry Brigade. Later, he took command of the Third Division, and served in the Russo-Japanese War as commander of the Imperial Guard Division. In 1904, he became an army general. In 1912, he became chief of the General Staff, but he forced the then War Minister Yusaku Uehara into resignation in connection with the second Saionji cabinet's problem over the increase of two divisions, which resulted in the abolishment of the system of active duty officers serving as Ministers of War and Naval Department. He became a marshal in 1915 and hakushaku (count) in 1916. From October of the same year, he served as the third governor-general of Korea, and was later criticized for his military approach to the Samil Independence Movement.