井伊 直弼 (a.k.a. Chief Minister Ii, Tairo Ii)
My own safety is nothing when I see the danger threatening the future of the country.
Poet, tea master, feudal lord of Hikone and later Tairo (Chief Minister or Regent) to the Shogunate.
Known for signing the Harris Treaty with the United States, after witnessing their military might. This was sped along by the threat of force from the British and French, which were on thier way. His plan was to appease the foreigners, until Japan could build up its own forces. There was real threat of Japan becoming a colony. The Emperor was bypassed in the treaty signing.
He also worked to quell opposition and stabilize the Shogunate. One of the ways he did this was via the Ansei Purge, a ruthless repression via forced retirement, exile, jailings and executions. Yoshida Shouin was among the most well known victims.
After the purge, he worked to reconcile the two sides through the marriage of Tokugawa Iemochi (Shogun in Edo/Tokyo) and Princess Kazunomiya (the Emperor's sister from Kyoto). He was assassinated before the marriage took place.
The Japanese proverb 一期一会 (Ichi go ichi e - 1 time, 1 meeting, or a chance in a lifetime) can be traced back to his explanation of the appreciation of the tea ceremony, where each instance was unique and to be treasured. His writing on this was at the time he was Tairo, and there were threats to his life.