Japan emerged as a military and imperial power in the Meiji era (1868-1912). This pathbreaking book is the first in English to link the dramatic innovations of that period: the creation of a mass army, the onset of overseas expansion, the introduction of a constitution and party politics. Central to all of these changes was General Katsura Taro, one of the architects of the army, a leading figure in Japanese colonialism, and prime minister for many of the crucial years, 1901-13. Far more than a biography, this book challenges the stereotypes of Japanese militarism and imperialism. It charts the often uncertain development of the army as an institution, explains the continuities and confusion in military thinking about imperial expansion, and demonstrates the positive role of some in the army towards political change. Through a key individual, it provides an entirely new picture of Meiji Japan.