Toshimichi Okubo was born on August 10th, 1830 as the eldest of five children. From a young age he enjoyed studying and learning, and, although he was almost three years younger than Takamori Saigo, they both studied at the same local school and became close friends.
At the age of 15, Okubo was appointed as a Han official, but he became embroiled in a Han political issue that led to his father being exiled and his dismissal from the post. Pardoned by Lord Nariakira, he returned to his work, and was involved in the reconstruction of the Han under Hisamitsu. During all this time, Okubo kept in close contact with Saigo.
On October 13, 1867, the three Han (Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa) agreed to overthrow the Shogunate. With combined forces, they overcame the Shogunate in the battle of Toba Fushimi on January 3, 1868. A new era had been born.
In 1871, Okubo travelled to America and Europe with the Iwakura Mission. Upon his return, Okubo got into an argument with Saigo over the major diplomatic issue of the time, that being the despatch of a mission to reestablish a treaty with Korea. Okubo strongly disagreed with Saigo's assertion of the necessity of such a mission. When the decision was reached not to reestablish the Korean treaty, Saigo resigned and returned to Kagoshima. Okubo became a key figure in the cabinet and was eventually appointed Counsellor of State.
Okubo was a hard working idealist who continually tried to bring the benefits of Western civilisation to the whole of Japan.
Okubo was assasinated on his way to Tokyo by six men from Ishikawa Prefecture, less than a year after Saigo's suicide.