Yukio Ozaki was a liberal Japanese politician, born in modern-day Sagamihara, Kanagawa. Ozaki served in the House of Representatives of the Japanese Diet for 63 years, from 1890-1953.
In 1890, Ozaki was elected to the First Parliament as a member of the House of Representatives from Mie prefecture; and he was re-elected 25 times. During these years, he was named to a number of cabinet posts. In 1898 he was Minister of Education 1898, a position which he had to resign due to a speech which conservative elements in the Diet considered to have promoted republicanism; his resignation did not end the crisis, which culminated with the fall of Prime Minister Okuma Shigenobu and a split in the then-ruling Kenseito Party. Later on, in 1914, he was Minister of Justice. He is nicknamed "the god of constitutionalism" (kensei no kami) and "the father of parliamentary government".
Ozaki was opposed to militarism; and was sometimes confined by the authorities for expressing unpopular views. He could also applaud those whose beliefs differed from his own. For example, in 1921, would-be assassins rushed into his house while he hid in the garden with his daughter, Yukika. The father of one of these dangerous young men later approached Ozaki to apologize in person for the actions of his son. Ozaki immediately responded by with a 32-syllable tanka poem, which he handed to the surprised man:
If it was patriotism that drove the young man, My would-be assassin deserves honor for it.
As the second elected Mayor of Tokyo after its administration was separated from the surround prefecture, he found himself in an arduous and sometimes disagreeable job—but his determination to make the city better produced noticeable results. Initial infrastructure projects which demanded his attention were wide-ranging: improving water supply and sewage, developing street surfacing, expanding streetcar service, and overseeing gas company mergers. His mayoral position also provided the more ambiguous range opportunities which attended entertaining foreign dignitaries like US Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan and Britain's Field Marshal Lord Kitchener.
The City of Tokyo presented cherry tree saplings to the City of Washington, D.C. in 1912. The annual display of cherry blossoms on trees to be found in the West Potomac Park surrounding the Tidal Basin in the US capital city are the results of Ozaki's persistence in furthering this project during a time when he was mayor of Tokyo. These flowering trees were the genesis of the continuing National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. and in other states as well.