HIDEKI TōJō (
Kyūjitai : 東條 英機;
Shinjitai : 東条 英機;
Tōjō Hideki (help ·info ); December 30, 1884 – December 23,
1948) was a general of the
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), the leader of
Imperial Rule Assistance Association , and the 27th Prime Minister
Japan during much of
World War II
World War II , from October 17, 1941, to July
22, 1944. As Prime Minister, he was responsible for ordering the
attack on Pearl Harbor , which initiated war between
Japan and the
United States, although planning for it had begun in April 1941 before
he entered office. After the end of the war, Tojo was arrested,
sentenced to death for
Japanese war crimes by the International
Military Tribunal for the Far East , and hanged on December 23, 1948.
* 1 Early life and education
* 2 Career
* 2.1 As general
* 2.2 Rise to Prime Minister
* 2.3 As Prime Minister
* 3 Capture, trial, and execution
* 4 Legacy
* 5 In popular culture
* 6 Honors
* 7 References
* 8 Bibliography
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Hideki Tojo was born in the
Kōjimachi district of
Tokyo on December
30, 1884, as the 3rd son of Hidenori Tojo, a lieutenant general in
the Imperial Japanese Army. Under the bakufu , Japanese society was
divided rigidly into four castes; the merchants, peasants, artisans
and the samurai. After the Meiji Restoration, the caste system was
abolished in 1871, but the former caste distinctions in many ways
persisted afterwards, ensuring that those from the former samurai
caste continued to enjoy their traditional prestige. The Tojo family
came from the samurai caste, through the Tojos were relatively lowly
warrior retainers for the great daimyos (lords) that they had served
for generations. Tojo's father was a samurai turned Army officer and
his mother was the daughter of a Buddhist priest, making his family
very respectable, but poor.
Tojo had an education typical of a Japanese youth in the Meiji era.
The purpose of the Meiji educational system was to train the boys to
be soldiers as adults, and the message was relentlessly drilled into
Japanese students that war was the most beautiful thing in the entire
world, that bushido ("the way of the warrior") was the highest moral
code, that the Emperor was a living god and that the greatest honor
for a Japanese man was to die for the Emperor. Japanese girls were
taught that the highest honor for a woman was to have as many sons as
possible who could die for the Emperor in war. As a boy, Tojo was
known for his stubbornness, for having utterly no sense of humor, for
being an opinionated and combative youth fond of getting into fights
with the other boys and for his tenacious way of pursuing what he
wanted. Japanese schools in the Meiji era were very competitive, and
there was no tradition of sympathy with failures, who were often
bullied by the teachers into committing suicide. Tojo was of average
intelligence, but he was known to compensate for his limited
intelligence with a willingness to work extremely hard. Tojo's
boyhood hero was the 17th century shogun
Tokugawa Ieyasu who issued
the injunction: "Avoid the things you like, turn your attention to
unpleasant duties". Tojo liked to say: "I am just an ordinary man
possessing no shining talents. Anything I have achieved I owe to my
capacity for hard work and never giving up".
In 1899, Tojo entered the Army Cadet School. When he graduated from
the Japanese Military Academy (ranked 10th of 363 cadets) in March
1905 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry of the
IJA. In 1905, Tojo shared in the general outrage in
Japan at the
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth , which ended the war with Russia, and which the
Japanese people saw as a betrayal as the war did not end with Japan
annexing Siberia as popular opinion had demanded. The Treaty of
Portsmouth was so unpopular that it set off anti-American riots known
Hibiya incendiary incident as many Japanese were enraged at the
way the Americans had apparently cheated
Japan as the Japanese gains
in the treaty were far less than what public opinion had expected.
Very few Japanese at the time had understood that the war with Russia
had pushed their nation to the verge of bankruptcy, and most people in
Japan believed that the American president
Theodore Roosevelt who had
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth had cheated
Japan out of its
rightful gains. Tojo's anger at the
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth left him
with an abiding dislike of Americans.
In 1909, Tojo married Katsuko Ito, with whom he had three sons
(Hidetake, Teruo and Toshio) and four daughters (Mitsue, Makie, Sachie
and Kimie). In 1918-19, Tojo briefly served in Siberia as part of
the Japanese expeditionary force sent to intervene in the Russian
Civil War. Tojo served as Japanese military attache to Germany
between 1919-1922. As the Japanese Army had been trained by a German
military mission in the 19th century, the Japanese Army was always
very strongly influenced by intellectual developments in the German
Army, and Tojo was no exception. In the 1920s, the German military
favored winning the next world war that they were already planning on
starting by creating a totalitarian Wehrstaat (Defense State), an idea
that was taken up by the Japanese military as the "national defense
state". In 1922, on his way home to Japan, Tojo took a train ride
across the United States, his first and only visit to America, which
left him with the impression that the Americans were a materialistic
"soft" people devoted only to making money and to hedonistic pursuits
like sex, partying and despite Prohibition, drinking.
Tojo boasted that his only hobby was his work, and he customarily
brought home his paperwork to work late into the night, and he refused
to have any part in raising his children, which he viewed both as a
distraction from his work and as woman's work, having his wife do all
the work of taking care of his children. A stern, humorless man, Tojo
was known for his brusque manner, his obsession with etiquette, and
for his coldness. Like almost all Japanese officers at the time, Tojo
routinely slapped the faces of the men under his command when giving
orders, saying that face-slapping was a "means of training" men who
came from families that weren't part of the samurai caste, and for
whom bushido was not second nature.
In 1924, Tojo was greatly offended by the Immigration Control Act
passed by the American Congress banning all Asian immigration into the
United States with many Congressmen and Senators openly saying the act
was necessary because the Asians worked harder than whites. Tojo
wrote with bitterness at the time that American whites would never
accept Asians as equals and "It shows how the strong will always put
their own interests first. Japan, too, has to be strong to survive in
By 1928, he was bureau chief of the Japanese Army, and was shortly
thereafter promoted to colonel. He began to take an interest in
militarist politics during his command of the 8th Infantry Regiment.
Reflecting the hermaphrodite imagery often used in
Japan to describe
people in power, Tojo told his officers that they were to be both a
"father" and a "mother" to the men under their command. Tojo often
visited the homes of the men under his command, assisted his men with
personal problems and made loans to officers short of money. Like
many other Japanese officers, Tojo disliked Western cultural influence
in Japan, which was often disparaged as resulting in the
ero-guro-nansensu ("eroticism, grotesquerie and nonsense") movement as
he complained about such forms of "Western decadence" like young
couples holding hands and kissing in public, which were undermining
traditional values necessary to uphold the kokutai .
In 1934, Tojo was promoted to major general and served as Chief of
the Personnel Department within the Army Ministry . Tojo wrote a
chapter in the book Hijōji kokumin zenshū (Essays in time of
national emergency), a book published in March 1934 by the Army
Ministry calling for
Japan to become a totalitarian "national defense
state". This book of 15 essays by senior generals argued that Japan
had defeated Russia in the war of 1904-05 because bushido had given
the Japanese superior willpower as the Japanese did not fear death
unlike the Russians who wanted to live, and what was needed to win the
inevitable next war (against precisely whom the book did not say) was
to repeat the example of the Russian-Japanese war on a much greater
scale by creating the "national defense state" that would mobilize the
entire nation for war. In his essay Tojo wrote "The modern war of
national defense extends over a great many areas" requiring "a state
that can monolithically control" all aspects of the nation in the
political, social and economic spheres. Tojo attacked Britain, France
and the United States for waging "ideological war" against
1919. Tojo ended his essay stating that
Japan must stand tall "and
spread its own moral principles to the world" as the "cultural and
ideological war of the 'imperial way' is about to begin". Tojo was
appointed commander of the IJA 24th Infantry Brigade in August 1934.
In September 1935, Tojo assumed top command of the
Kempeitai of the
Kwantung Army in
Manchuria . Politically, he was fascist, nationalist,
and militarist, and was nicknamed "Razor" (カミソリ, Kamisori),
for his reputation of having a sharp and legalistic mind capable of
quick decision-making. Tojo was a member of the
faction in the Army that was opposed by the more radical Kōdōha
("Imperial Way") faction. Both the
Tōseiha and the Kōdōha factions
were militaristic, fascistic groups that favored a policy of
expansionism abroad and dictatorship under the Emperor at home, but
differed over the best way of achieving these goals. The Imperial Way
faction wanted a coup d\'état to achieve a
Shōwa Restoration ;
emphasised "spirit" as the principle war-winning factor; and despite
advocating socialist policies at home wanted to invade the Soviet
Union. The Control faction, while being willing to use assassination
to achieve its goals, was more willing to work within the system to
achieve reforms; wanted to create the "national defense state" to
mobilize the entire nation before going to war; and, while not
rejecting the idea of "spirit" as a war-winning factor also saw
military modernization as a war-winning factor; and saw the United
States as a future enemy just as much as the Soviet Union.
During the February 26 coup attempt of 1936, Tojo and Shigeru Honjō
, a noted supporter of
Sadao Araki , both opposed the rebels who were
associated with the rival "Imperial Way" faction. Emperor Hirohito
himself was outraged at the attacks on his close advisers, and after a
brief political crisis and stalling on the part of a sympathetic
military, the rebels were forced to surrender. As the commander of the
Kempeitai, Tojo ordered the arrest of all officers in the Kwantung
Army suspected of supporting the coup attempt in Tokyo. In the
Tōseiha faction was able to purge the Army of radical
officers, and the coup leaders were tried and executed. Following the
Tōseiha and Kōdōha elements were unified in their
nationalist but highly anti-political stance under the banner of the
Toseiha military clique, with Tojo in the leadership position. Tojo
was promoted to Chief of staff of the Kwangtung Army in 1937. As the
"Empire of Manchukuo" was a sham, and in reality,
Manchukuo was a
Japanese colony, the Kwangtung Army's duties were just as much
political as they were military. During this period, Tojo become
Yōsuke Matsuoka , the fiery ultra-nationalist CEO of the
Manchuria Railway , one of Asia's largest corporations at the
Nobusuke Kishi , the Deputy Minister of Industry in
Manchukuo, who was the man de facto in charge of Manchukuo's economy.
Through Tojo regarded preparing for a war with the Soviet Union as his
first duty, Tojo also supported the forward policy in north China as
the Japanese sought to extend their influence into China. As chief of
staff, Tojo was responsible for the military operations designed to
increase Japanese penetration into the
Inner Mongolia border regions
Manchukuo . In July 1937, he personally led the units of the 1st
Independent Mixed Brigade in
Operation Chahar , his only real combat
Marco Polo Bridge Incident marking the start of the Second
Sino-Japanese War , Tojo ordered his forces to attack Hebei Province
and other targets in northern China. Tojo received Jewish refugees in
accordance with Japanese national policy and rejected the resulting
Nazi German protests. Tojo was recalled to
Japan in May 1938 to serve
as Vice-Minister of War under Army Minister
Seishirō Itagaki . From
December 1938 to 1940, Tojo was Inspector-
General of Army Aviation.
RISE TO PRIME MINISTER
On 1 June 1940, the Showa Emperor appointed
Kōichi Kido , a leading
"reform bureaucrat" as the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, making him
into the Emperor's leading political advisor and fixer. Kido had
aided in the creation in the 1930s of an alliance between the "reform
bureaucrats" and the "Control" faction in the Army, which was headed
General Mutō Akira and
General Tōjo. Kido's appointment also
favored the rise of his allies in the Control faction. On July 30,
1940, Hideki Tōjo was appointed Army Minister in the second Fumimaro
Konoe regime, and remained in that post in the third Konoe cabinet.
Prince Konoe had chosen Tojo--a man representative of both the Army's
hardline views and the Control faction while being considered
reasonable to deal with--to secure the Army's backing for his foreign
policy. Tojo was a militant ultra-nationalist, well respected for his
work ethic and his ability to handle paperwork, who believed that the
Emperor was a living god and favored "direct imperial rule", ensuring
that he would faithfully follow any order from the Emperor. Konoe
favored having Germany mediate an end to the Sino-Japanese war,
pressuring Britain to end its economic and military support of China
even at the risk of war, seeking better relations with both Germany
and the United States, and of taking advantage of the changes in the
international order caused by Germany's victories in the spring of
1940 to make
Japan a stronger power in Asia. Konoe wanted to make
Japan the dominant power in East Asia, but he also believed it was
possible to negotiate a modus vivendi with the United States under
which the Americans would agree to recognise the "Greater East Asia
By 1940, Konoe, who had started the war with China in 1937, no longer
believed that a military solution to the "China Affair" was possible
as he once did, instead favored having Germany mediate an end to the
war that would presumably result in a pro-Japanese peace settlement,
but would be less than he himself had outlined in the "Konoe
programme" of January 1938. For this reason, Konoe wanted Tojo, a
tough general whose ultra-nationalism was beyond question, to provide
"cover" for his attempt to seek a diplomatic solution to the war with
China. Tojo was a strong supporter of the
Tripartite Pact between
Nazi Germany , and Fascist Italy . As the Army
Minister, he continued to expand the war with China. After
Vichy France ,
Japan was given permission to place
its troops in the southern part of
French Indochina in July 1941. In
spite of its formal recognition of the Vichy government, the United
States retaliated against
Japan by imposing economic sanctions in
August, including a total embargo on oil and gasoline exports. On
September 6, a deadline of early October was fixed in the Imperial
Conference for resolving the situation diplomatically. On October 14,
the deadline had passed with no progress. Prime Minister Konoe then
held his last cabinet meeting, where Tojo did most of the talking:
For the past six months, ever since April, the foreign minister has
made painstaking efforts to adjust relations. Although I respect him
for that, we remain deadlocked ... The heart of the matter is the
imposition on us of withdrawal from Indochina and China ... If we
yield to America's demands, it will destroy the fruits of the China
Manchukuo will be endangered and our control of Korea
The prevailing opinion within the Japanese Army at that time was that
continued negotiations could be dangerous. However,
that he might be able to control extreme opinions in the army by using
the charismatic and well-connected Tojo, who had expressed
reservations regarding war with the West, although the Emperor himself
was skeptical that Tojo would be able to avoid conflict. On October
13, he declared to
Kōichi Kido : "There seems little hope in the
present situation for the Japan-U.S. negotiations. This time, if
hostilities erupt, I have to issue a declaration of war." During the
last cabinet meetings of the Konoe government, Tojo emerged as a
hawkish voice, saying he did not want a war with the United States,
but portrayed the Americans as arrogant, bullying white supremacists.
He said that any compromise solution would only encourage them to make
more extreme demands on Japan, in which case
Japan might be better to
choose war to uphold national honor. Despite saying he favored peace,
Tojo had often declared at cabinet meetings that any withdrawal from
French Indochina and/or China would be damaging to military morale and
might threaten the kokutai; the "China Incident" could not be resolved
via diplomacy and required a military solution; and attempting to
compromise with the Americans would be seen as weakness by them.
On October 16, Konoe, politically isolated and convinced that the
Emperor no longer trusted him, resigned. Later, he justified himself
to his chief cabinet secretary, Kenji Tomita:
Of course His Majesty is a pacifist, and there is no doubt he wished
to avoid war. When I told him that to initiate war is a mistake, he
agreed. But the next day, he would tell me: "You were worried about it
yesterday, but you do not have to worry so much." Thus, gradually, he
began to lean toward war. And the next time I met him, he leaned even
more toward war. In short, I felt the Emperor was telling me: "My
prime minister does not understand military matters, I know much
more." In short, the Emperor had absorbed the views of the army and
navy high commands.
Hideki Tojo in military uniform
At the time,
Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni was said to be the only
person who could control the Army and the Navy and was recommended by
Konoe and Tojo as Konoe's replacement.
Hirohito rejected this option,
arguing that a member of the imperial family should not have to
eventually carry the responsibility for a war against the West as a
defeat would ruin the prestige of the House of Yamato. Following the
advice of Kōichi Kido, he chose instead Tojo, who was known for his
devotion to the imperial institution. Tojo's first speech on the
radio made a call for "world peace", but also stated his determination
to settle the "China Affair" on Japanese terms and to achieve the
"Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" that would unite all of the
Asian nations together. Tojo was known to advocate war with the
United States, and Prince Takamatsu wrote in his diary about hearing
of the appointment: "We have finally committed to war and now must do
all we can to launch it powerfully. But we have clumsily telegraphed
out intentions. We needn't have signaled what we're going to do;
having resign was too much. As matters stand now we can merely keep
silent and without the least effort war will begin." The Emperor
summoned Tojo to the Imperial Palace one day before Tojo took office.
During the meetings of the senior statesmen to decide who was to
succeed Prince Konoe, the former Prime Minister Admiral Keisuke Okada
was opposed to Tojo as Prime Minister, while the powerful Lord Privy
Koichi Kido pushed for Tojo, leading a compromise where Tojo
would become Prime Minister while "re-examining" the options for
dealing with the crisis with the United States, though Kido did not
say that Tojo would attempt to avoid a war. By tradition, the Emperor
needed a consensus among the elder statesmen before appointing a prime
minister, and as long as Admiral Okada was opposed to Tojo, it would
be impolitic for the Emperor to appoint him as Prime Minister.
Tojo wrote in his diary: "I thought I was summoned because the
Emperor was angry at my opinion." He was given one order from the
Emperor: to make a policy review of what had been sanctioned by the
Imperial Conferences. Tojo, who was on the side of war, nevertheless
accepted this order, and pledged to obey. According to Colonel Akiho
Ishii, a member of the Army
General Staff, the Prime Minister showed a
true sense of loyalty to the emperor performing this duty. For
example, when Ishii received from
Hirohito a communication saying the
Army should drop the idea of stationing troops in China to counter the
military operations of the Western powers, he wrote a reply for the
Prime Minister for his audience with the Emperor. Tojo then replied to
Ishii: "If the Emperor said it should be so, then that's it for me.
One cannot recite arguments to the Emperor. You may keep your finely
On November 2, Tojo and Chiefs of Staff
Hajime Sugiyama and Osami
Nagano reported to
Hirohito that the review had been in vain. The
Emperor then gave his consent to war. The next day, Fleet Admiral
Osami Nagano explained in detail the Pearl Harbor attack plan to
Hirohito. The eventual plan drawn up by Army and Navy Chiefs of Staff
envisaged such a mauling of the Western powers that Japanese defense
perimeter lines—operating on interior lines of communications and
inflicting heavy Western casualties—could not be breached. In
addition, the Japanese fleet which attacked Pearl Harbor was under
orders from Admiral
Isoroku Yamamoto to be prepared to return to Japan
on a moment's notice, should negotiations succeed. Two days later, on
Hirohito approved the operations plan for a war against
the West and continued to hold meetings with the military and Tojo
until the end of the month. On 26 November 1941, the American
Secretary of State
Cordell Hull handed Ambassador Nomura and Kurusu
Saburo in Washington a "draft mutual declaration of policy" and
"Outline of Proposed Basis for Agreement between the United States and
Japan". Hull proposed that
Japan "withdraw all military, naval, air
and police forces" from China and
French Indochina in exchange for
lifting the oil embargo, but left the term China undefined. The "Hull
note " as it is known in
Japan made it clear the United States would
not recognise the puppet government of
Wang Jingwei as the government
of China, but strongly implied that the United States might recognise
the "Empire of Manchukuo" and did not impose a deadline for the
Japanese withdrawal from China. On 27 November 1941, Tojo chose to
misrepresent the "Hull note" to the Cabinet as an "ultimatum to
Japan", which was incorrect as the "Hull note" did not have a timeline
for its acceptance and was marked "tentative" in the opening sentence,
which is inconsistent with an ultimatum. The claim that the Americans
had demanded in the "Hull note" Japanese withdrawal from all of China,
instead of just the parts occupied since 1937 and together with the
claim the note was an ultimatum was used as one of the principle
excuses for choosing war with the United States. On December 1,
another conference finally sanctioned the "war against the United
States, England, and Holland".
AS PRIME MINISTER
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Japanese Prime Minister
Hideki Tojo landed in
Nichols Field , an
airfield south of Manila, for state visit to the Philippines.
U.S. wartime propaganda caricatured Tojo as the face of the enemy.
On 7 December 1941, Tōjō went on Japanese radio to announce that
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan was now at war with the United States, the United
Kingdom and the Netherlands, reading out an Imperial Rescript that
ended with the playing of the popular martial song Umi Yukabe (Across
the Sea), which set to music a popular war poem the Manyōshū,
featuring the lyrics "Across the sea, corpses soaking in the water,
Across the mountains corpses heaped up in the grass, We shall die by
the side of our lord, We shall never look back". Tojo continued to
hold the position of Army Minister during his term as Prime Minister,
from October 17, 1941 to July 22, 1944. He also served concurrently as
Home Minister from 1941–1942, Foreign Minister in September 1942,
Education Minister in 1943, and Minister of Commerce and Industry in
As Education Minister, he continued militaristic and nationalist
indoctrination in the national education system, and reaffirmed
totalitarian policies in government. As Home Minister, he ordered
various eugenics measures (including the sterilization of the
Tojo had popular support in the early years of the war as Japanese
forces moved from one victory to another. In March 1942, Tojo in his
capacity as Army Minister gave permission for the Japanese Army in
Taiwan to ship 50 "comfort women " from Taiwan to Borneo without ID
papers (his approval was necessary as the Army's rules forbade people
without ID traveling to the new conquests). The Japanese historian
Yoshimi, Yoshiaki noted this document proves that Tojo was aware of
and approved of the "comfort women" corps. On 18 April 1942, the
Americans staged the
Doolittle raid , bombing Tokyo. Some of the
American planes were shot down and their pilots taken prisoner. The
General Staff led by Field Marshal
Hajime Sugiyama insisted on
executing the eight American fliers, but were opposed by Tojo, who
feared that the Americans would retaliate against Japanese POWs if the
Doolittle fliers were executed. The dispute was resolved by the
Emperor who commuted the death sentences of five fliers while allowing
the other three to die, for reasons that remain unclear as the
documents relating to the Emperor's intervention were burned in 1945.
As the Japanese went from victory to victory, Tojo and the rest of
the Japanese elite were gripped by what the Japanese called "victory
disease" as the entire elite was caught up in a state of hubris,
Japan was invincible and the war was as good as won. In May
1942, reflecting his hubris, Tojo approved of a set of
"non-negotiable" demands to be presented when the Allies sued for
peace once it become clear to them that
Japan was invincible, under
Japan would keep everything it had already conquered, and would
take considerably more. Tojo wanted
Japan to annex Australia;
Australian New Guinea; British India (all of modern India, Pakistan
and Bangladesh); Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka); New Zealand; the Canadian
province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory; the American
state of Washington and the territories of Alaska and Hawaii; and to
take Ecuador, Columbia, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, British Honduras, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and the
rest of the West Indies. Additionally, Tojo wanted all of China to be
under the rule of the puppet
Wang Jingwei , planned to buy Macau and
East Timor from Portugal and to create new puppet kingdoms in Burma,
Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos,
Thailand and Malaya. As the Burmese had
proved to be enthusiastic collaborators in the "New Order in Asia",
the new Burmese kingdom would be allowed to annex much of north-east
India as a reward. The Navy for its part demanded that
Japan take New
Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa.
The main forum for military decision-making was the Imperial General
Headquarters presided over by the Emperor that consisted of the Army
and Navy ministers; the Army and Navy chiefs of staff; and chiefs of
the military affairs bureaus in both services. The Imperial GHQ was
not a joint chiefs of staff as existed in the United States and United
Kingdom, but rather two separate services command operating under the
same roof who would meet about twice a week to attempt to agree on a
common strategy. The Operations Bureaus of the Army and Navy would
develop their own plans and then attempt to "sell them" to the other,
which was often not possible. Tōjo was one voice out of many
speaking at the Imperial GHQ, and was not able to impose his will on
the Navy, which he had to negotiate with, like he was dealing with an
ally. The American historian Stanley Falk described the Japanese
system as characterized by "bitter inter-service antagonisms" as the
Army and Navy worked "at cross-purposes", observing the Japanese
system of command was "uncoordinated, ill-defined and inefficient".
However, after the
Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway , with the tide of war turning
against Japan, Tojo faced increasing opposition from within the
government and military. In August–September 1942, a major crisis
gripped the Tōjo cabinet when the Foreign Minister Shigenori Tōgō
objected quite violently on 29 August 1942 to the Prime Minister's
plan to establish a Greater East Asia Ministry to handle relations
with the puppet regimes in Asia as an insult to the Gaimusho and
threatened to resign in protest. Tōjo went to see the Emperor, who
backed the Prime Minister's plans for the Greater East Asia Ministry,
and on 1 September 1942 Tōjo told the cabinet he was establishing the
Greater East Asia Ministry and could not care less about how the
Gaimusho felt about the issue, leading Tōgō to resign in protest.
The American historian Herbert Bix wrote that Tōjo was a "dictator"
only in the narrow sense that from September 1942 on, he was generally
able to impose his will on the Cabinet without seeking a consensus,
but at same time noted that Tōjo's power was based upon support from
the Emperor, who held the ultimate powers. In November 1942, Tōjo,
as Army Minister, was involved in drafting the regulations for taking
"comfort women" from China,
Japan (which included Taiwan and Korea at
this time) and
Manchukuo to the "South", as the Japanese called their
conquests in South-East Asia, to ensure that the "comfort women" had
the proper papers before departing. Until then the War Ministry
required special permission to take "comfort women" without papers,
and Tojo was tired of dealing with these requests. At the same time,
Tōjo, as the Army Minister, became involved in a clash with the Army
chief of staff over whether to continue the battle of Guadalcanal or
not. Tōjo sacked the Operations office and his deputy at the general
staff, who were opposed to withdrawing, and ordered the abandonment of
In September 1943, the Emperor and Tojo agreed that
Japan would pull
back to an "absolute defense line" in the south-west Pacific to stem
the American advance, and considered abandoning Rabual base, but
changed their minds in face of objections from the Navy. In November
1943, the American public's reaction to the Battle of Tarawa led Tōjo
to view Tarawa as a sort of Japanese victory, believing that more
battles like Tarawa would break American morale, and force the U.S to
sue for peace. Moreover, Tōjo believed that the Americans would
become bogged in the Marshalls, giving more time to strengthen the
defenses in the Marianas. In late 1943, with the support of the
Emperor, Tojo made a major effort to make peace with China to free up
the 2 million Japanese soldiers in China for operations elsewhere, but
the unwillingness of the Japanese to give up any of their "rights and
interests" in China doomed the effort. China was by far the largest
theater of operations for Japan, and with the Americans steadily
advancing in the Pacific, Tojo was anxious to end the quagmire of the
"China affair" to redeploy Japanese forces. In an attempt to enlist
support from all of Asia, especially China, Tojo opened the Greater
East Asia Conference in November 1943, which issued a set of Pan-Asian
war aims, which made little impression on most Asians. On 9 January
Japan signed a treaty with the puppet Wang regime under which
Japan gave up its extraterritorial rights in China as part of a bid to
win Chinese public opinion over to a pro-Japanese viewpoint, but as
the treaty changed nothing in practice, the gambit failed. At the
same time as he sought a diplomatic effort to end the war with China,
Tojo also approved of the planning for Operation Ichigo, a huge
offensive against China intended to take the American air bases in
China and finally knock China out of the war once and for all. In
January 1944, Tojo approved of orders issued by Imperial General
Headquarters for an invasion of India, where the Burma Area Army in
Masakazu Kawabe was to seize the Manipour and
Assam provinces with the aim of cutting off American aid to China (the
railroad that supplied the American air bases in north-east India that
allowed for supplies to be flown over "the Hump" of the Himalayas to
China passed through these provinces). Cutting off American aid to
China in turn might have the effect of forcing Chiang Kai-shek to sue
for peace. Following the 15th Army into India in the U-Go offensive
were the Indian nationalist
Subhas Chandra Bose
Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian
National Army, as the political purpose of the operation was to
provoke a general uprising against British rule in India that might
allow the Japanese to take all of India. The roads necessary to
properly supply the 150,000 Japanese soldiers committed to invading
India would turn into mud when the monsoons arrived, giving the
Japanese a very short period of time to break through. The Japanese
were counting on capturing food from the British to feed their army,
which in turn was based on the assumption that all of India would rise
up when the Japanese arrived, causing the collapse of the Raj. The
Japanese brought along with them enough food to last for only 20 days,
and after that, they would have to capture food from the British to
avoid starving. Bose had impressed Tojo at their meetings as the best
man to inspire an anti-British revolution in India.
In the central Pacific, the Americans destroyed the main Japanese
naval base at Truk in an air raid on 18 February 1944, forcing the
Imperial Navy back to the Marianas (the oil to fuel ships and planes
operating in the Marshalls, Caroline and Gilbert islands went up in
smoke at Truk). This breach of the "absolute defense line", five
months after its creation, led Tojo to fire Admiral
Chūichi Nagumo as
the Navy Chief of Staff, for incompetence. The Americans had
penetrated 1,300 miles across "absolute defense line" and destroyed
Truk, which caused a major crisis in
Tokyo as Tojo, senior generals
and admirals all blamed each other for the situation. To strengthen
his position in face of criticism of the way the war was going, on 21
February 1944, Tojo assumed the post of Chief of the Imperial Japanese
General Staff , arguing he needed to take personal charge of the
Army. When Field Marshal Sugiyama complained to the Emperor about
being fired and having the Prime Minister run the
General Staff, the
Emperor told him he supported Tojo. Tojo's major concern as Army
Chief of Staff was planning the operations in China and India, with
less time given over to the coming battles in the Marianas. Tojo
decided to take the strategic offensive for 1944 with his plans to win
the war in 1944 being as follows:
* Operation Ichigo would end the war with China, freeing up some 2
million Japanese soldiers.
Operation U-Go would take India.
* When the Americans made the expected offensive into the Marianas,
the Imperial Navy's Combined Fleet would fight a decisive battle of
annihilation against the U.S 5th Fleet, and halt the American drive in
the central Pacific.
* In the South-west Pacific, the Japanese forces in New Guinea and
the Solomon Islands would stay on the defensive and try to slow down
the American, Australian, and New Zealand forces for long as possible.
General MacArthur's personal obsession with returning to
the Philippines, Tojo expected MacArthur to head for the Philippines
rather than the Japanese-occupied Netherlands East Indies (modern
Indonesia), which was a relief from the Japanese viewpoint; the
Netherlands East Indies were rich in oil while the Philippines were
Tojo expected that a major American defeat in the Marianas together
with the conquest of India and China would so stun the Americans that
they would sue for peace. By this point, Tojo not longer believed the
war aims of 1942 could be achieved, but he believed that his plans for
victory 1944 would lead to a compromise peace that would allow him to
present as a victory to the Japanese people. By serving as Prime
Minister, Army Minister and Army Chief of Staff, Tojo was taking on
all of the responsibility, and if plans for victory in 1944 failed, he
would have no scapegoat.
On 12 March 1944, the Japanese launched the U-Go offensive and
invaded India, to be defeated by the Anglo-Indian 14th Army at the
Battles of Imphal and Kohima . Tojo had some doubts about Operation
U-Go, which was ordered by the Emperor himself, but he was unwilling
to oppose any decision of the Emperor. In April 1944, Tojo ordered
Operation Ichigo , the largest Japanese offensive of the entire war,
with the aim of taking southern China. Despite their Pan-Asian
rhetoric and claim to be "liberating" India, the Indian people did not
revolt and the Indian soldiers of the 14th Army stayed loyal to their
British officers, and the invasion of India ended in complete
disaster. Of the 150,000 Japanese soldiers who invaded India in March
1944, most of them were dead by July 1944 as the Japanese were
defeated at Imphal and Kohima, the largest defeats that the Japanese
had suffered up to that point. On 5 July 1944, the Emperor accepted
Tojo's advice to end the invasion of India as 72,000 Japanese soldiers
had been killed at either Imphal and Kohima, and this figure excludes
the Japanese soldiers who had starved to death or died of diseases as
the logistics to support an invasion of India were lacking, once the
monsoons turned the roads of Burma into impassable mud.
Battle of Saipan , about 70,000 Japanese soldiers, sailors and
civilians were killed in June–July 1944 and in the Battle of the
Philippine Sea the Imperial Navy suffered a crushing defeat. The
first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 19 June 1944, was
dubbed by the Americans "the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" as during
the course of the dogfights in the air, the United States Navy lost 30
planes while shooting down about 350 Japanese planes, in one of the
Imperial Navy's most humiliating defeats ever. The Japanese believed
that indoctrination in bushido ("the way of the warrior") would give
them the edge as the Japanese longed to die for the Emperor, while the
Americans were afraid to die, but superior American pilot training and
airplanes meant the Japanese were hopelessly outclassed by the
Americans. With Saipan in American hands, the Americans could take
other islands in the Marianas to build airbases. The establishment of
American bases in the Marianas meant the cities of
Japan were within
the range of B-29 Superfortress bombers and Willmott noted that "even
the most hard-headed of the Japanese militarists could dimly perceive
Japan would be at the end of her tether in that case". As the
news of the disastrous defeat suffered at Saipan reached Japan, it
turned elite opinion against the Tojo government. The Emperor himself
was furious about the defeat at Saipan; had called a meeting of the
Board of Field Marshals and Fleet Admirals to see if were possible to
recapture Saipan (it was not); and Prince Takamatsu wrote in his diary
"he flares up frequently". Tojo was the Prime Minister, Minister of
War and Chief of the Army
General Staff, and was seen both in Japan
and in America as, in words of the British historian H.P. Willmott
"....the embodiment of national determination, hardline nationalism
and militarism". Prince Konoe and Admiral Okada had long been
plotting to bring down the Tojo government since the spring of 1943,
and their principal problem had been the support of the Emperor, who
did not wish to lose his favorite Prime Minister.
After the Battle of Saipan, it was clear to at least some of the
Japanese elite that the war was lost, and
Japan needed to make peace
before the kokutai and perhaps even the
Chrysanthemum Throne itself
was destroyed. Tojo had been so demonized in the United State during
the war that, for the American people, Tojo was the face of Japanese
militarism, and it was inconceivable that the United States would make
peace with a government headed by Tojo. Willmott noted that an
additional problem for the "peace faction" was that: "Tojo was an
embodiment of mainstream opinion within the nation, the armed services
and particularly the Army. Tojo had powerful support, and by Japanese
standards he was not extreme." Tojo was more of a follower than a
leader, and he represented mainstream opinion in the Army, and so his
removal from office would not mean the end of the political ambitions
of an Army still fanatically committed to victory or death. The
jushin (elder statesmen) had advised the Emperor that Tojo needed to
go after Saipan and further advised the Emperor against partial
changes in the cabinet, demanding that the entire Tojo cabinet resign.
Tojo, aware of the intrigues to bring him down, had sought the public
approval of the Emperor, which was denied, with the Emperor sending
him a message to the effect that the man responsible for the disaster
of Saipan was not worthy of his approval. Tojo suggested reorganizing
his cabinet to regain Imperial approval, and was rebuffed with the
Emperor saying the entire cabinet had to go. Once it was clear that
Tojo no longer had the support of the Chrysanthemum Throne, Tojo's
enemies had little trouble bringing down his government. The
politically powerful Lord Privy Seal, Marquis
Kōichi Kido spread the
word that the Emperor no longer supported Tojo. After the fall of
Saipan , he was forced to resign on July 18, 1944. The jushin advised
the Emperor to appoint a former Prime Minister, Admiral Mitsumasa
Yonai as Prime Minister as he was popular with the Navy, the
diplomatic corps, the bureaucracy and the "peace faction", but Yonai
refused to serve, knowing full well that a Prime Minister who
attempted to make peace with the Americans might be assassinated as
many Army officers were still committed to victory or death and
regarded any talk of peace as treason. Admiral Yonai stated that only
another general could serve as Prime Minister, and advised General
Kuniaki Koiso should serve as Prime Minister. At conference with the
Emperor, Koiso and Yonai were told by the Emperor to co-operate in
forming a government without saying who was to be the new Prime
Minister. As the Emperor was worshiped as a living god, neither Yonai
and Koiso could ask him who was to be the Prime Minister, as one does
not ask questions of a god, and after the meeting, both men were very
confused as to which of the two was now the Prime Minister. Finally,
the Lord Privy Seal,
Kōichi Kido resolved the muddle by saying Koiso
was the Prime Minister. Two days after Tojo resigned, the Emperor
gave him an imperial rescript offering him unusually lavish praise for
his "meritorious services and hard work" and declaring "Hereafter we
expect you to live up to our trust and make even greater contributions
to military affairs".
CAPTURE, TRIAL, AND EXECUTION
Hideki Tojo after his attempted suicide during his arrest
After Japan\'s unconditional surrender in 1945, U.S. general Douglas
MacArthur ordered the arrest of forty alleged war criminals including
Tojo. Three American GIs were sent to serve the arrest warrant. As
American soldiers surrounded Tojo's house on September 11 he shot
himself in the chest with a pistol, but missed his heart. (As a result
of this experience, the Army had medical personnel present during the
later arrests of other accused Japanese war criminals such as Shimada
As he bled Tojo began to talk, and two Japanese reporters recorded
his words: "I am very sorry it is taking me so long to die. The
Greater East Asia War was justified and righteous. I am very sorry for
the nation and all the races of the Greater Asiatic powers. I wait for
the righteous judgment of history. I wished to commit suicide but
sometimes that fails."
After recovering from his injuries, Tojo was moved to
Sugamo Prison .
While there he received a new set of dentures, made by an American
dentist, into which the phrase "Remember Pearl Harbor" had been
secretly drilled in
Morse code . (The dentist ground away the message
three months later.)
Tojo was tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far
East for war crimes and found guilty of, among other things, waging
wars of aggression; war in violation of international law; unprovoked
or aggressive war against various nations; and ordering, authorizing,
and permitting inhumane treatment of prisoners of war.
Crimes committed by
Imperial Japan were responsible for the deaths of
millions, some estimate between 3,000,000 and 14,000,000 civilians
and prisoners of war through massacre , human experimentation ,
starvation , and forced labor that was either directly perpetrated or
condoned by the Japanese military and government with a
non-insignificant portion of them occurring during Tojo's rule of the
military. Once source attributes 5,000,000 civilian deaths to
Tojo's rule of the military. Tojo before the International
Military Tribunal for the Far East
Hideki Tojo accepted full responsibility in the end for his actions
during the war, and made this speech:
It is natural that I should bear entire responsibility for the war in
general, and, needless to say, I am prepared to do so. Consequently,
now that the war has been lost, it is presumably necessary that I be
judged so that the circumstances of the time can be clarified and the
future peace of the world be assured. Therefore, with respect to my
trial, it is my intention to speak frankly, according to my
recollection, even though when the vanquished stands before the
victor, who has over him the power of life and death, he may be apt to
toady and flatter. I mean to pay considerable attention to this in my
actions, and say to the end that what is true is true and what is
false is false. To shade one's words in flattery to the point of
untruthfulness would falsify the trial and do incalculable harm to the
nation, and great care must be taken to avoid this.
Tojo was sentenced to death on November 12, 1948 and executed by
hanging 41 days later on December 23, 1948. Before his execution he
gave his military ribbons to one of his guards; they are now on
display in the National Museum for Naval Aviation in Pensacola,
Florida . In his final statement he apologized for the atrocities
committed by the Japanese military and urged the American military to
show compassion toward the Japanese people, who had suffered
devastating air attacks and the two atomic bombings .
Herbert P. Bix and
John W. Dower criticize the work done
Douglas MacArthur and his staff to exonerate Emperor
Hirohito and all members of the imperial family from criminal
prosecutions. According to them, MacArthur and Brigadier General
Bonner Fellers worked to protect the Emperor and shift ultimate
responsibility to Tojo.
According to the written report of Shūichi Mizota, interpreter for
Mitsumasa Yonai , Fellers met the two men at his office on
March 6, 1946 and told Yonai: "It would be most convenient if the
Japanese side could prove to us that the Emperor is completely
blameless. I think the forthcoming trials offer the best opportunity
to do that. Tojo, in particular, should be made to bear all
responsibility at this trial."
The sustained intensity of this campaign to protect the Emperor was
revealed when, in testifying before the tribunal on December 31, 1947,
Tojo momentarily strayed from the agreed-upon line concerning imperial
innocence and referred to the Emperor's ultimate authority. The
American-led prosecution immediately arranged that he be secretly
coached to recant this testimony.
Ryūkichi Tanaka , a former general
who testified at the trial and had close connections with chief
Joseph B. Keenan , was used as an intermediary to persuade
Tojo to revise his testimony.
Tojo's commemorating tomb is located in a shrine in
Hazu, Aichi (now
Nishio, Aichi), and he is one of those enshrined at the controversial
Yasukuni Shrine . His ashes are divided between
Yasukuni Shrine and
Zōshigaya Cemetery in Toshima ward , Tokyo.
He was survived by a number of his descendants, including his
granddaughter, Yūko Tojo , who was a far-right ultranationalist and
political hopeful who claimed Japan's war was one of self-defense and
that it was unfair that her grandfather was judged a Class-A war
criminal . Tojo's second son, Teruo Tojo, who designed fighter and
passenger aircraft during and after the war, eventually served as an
executive at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries . In a 1997 survey of
university students in China asking "When somebody talks about
Japanese people, what person do you think of", the answer that most
gave was Hideki Tojo, reflecting a lingering sense of hurt in China
about Japan's wartime aggression. In the 1998 film Puraido (Pride),
Tojo was portrayed as a national hero, forced against his will by the
Hull note into attacking America and executed after a rigged trial, a
picture of Tojo that is widely accepted in
Japan while giving offense
IN POPULAR CULTURE
* During World War II, the
IJAAS fighter plane known as the Nakajima
Ki-44 received the Allied reporting name of TOJO .
* In the 1945 film
Blood on the Sun , Tojo is portrayed by Robert
* In the 1970 film,
Tora! Tora! Tora! , directed by Toshio Masuda ,
Tojo is portrayed by Asao Uchida at various events leading up to the
Pearl Harbor attack.
* In 1970's The Militarists, directed by Hiromichi Horikawa, he is
Keiju Kobayashi as a tyrant, and in an alternate history
angle, stays Prime Minister until the end of the war.
* In 1981's The Imperial Japanese Empire, he is portrayed by
Tetsurō Tamba as a family man who single-handedly planned the war
against America, and the film deals with his war crimes trial.
* In a 1983 song “Tojo ” by Australian band
Hoodoo Gurus .
Shunya Itō -directed historical drama Pride , released in
Masahiko Tsugawa as Tojo.
* In the 2004
Shyam Benegal Biopic, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The
Hero , the role of Tojo was portrayed by
* In 2012's Emperor ,
Hideki Tojo is portrayed by Shôhei Hino.
* In 2014, the History Channel 's miniseries The World Wars , Tojo
as a youth is portrayed by Koji Oshashi, and as an adult by Garret T.
* In 2016, the Paradox Interactive\'s game Hearts of Iron 4 features
Tojo as a character in the Japanese government.
* In the television series
King of the Hill , Hank Hill's father
World War II
World War II veteran) frequently refers to Japanese soldiers
From the corresponding article in the Japanese
* Grand Cordon of the
Order of the Sacred Treasure
Order of the Sacred Treasure (July 7, 1937)
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (April 29, 1940)
Order of the Golden Kite , 2nd Class (April 29, 1940)
* Grand Cordon of the Grand Order of the Orchid Blossom,
* Grand Cordon of the Order of the Illustrious Dragon, Manchukuo
* Grand Cordon of the Order of Auspicious Clouds, Manchukuo
* Grand Cordon of the Order of the Pillars of State, Manchukuo
Order of Chula Chom Klao
Order of Chula Chom Klao ,
* Knight Grand Cordon (
Special Class of Order of the White Elephant
* Grand Cross of the
Order of the German Eagle ,
* ^ A B C Yenne , p. 337.
* ^ Gorman , p. 43.
* ^ Butow , p. 4.
* ^ A B Browne , p. 19.
* ^ Browne , p. 11.
* ^ Browne , p. 14-15 & 19-20.
* ^ Browne , p. 19-20.
* ^ A B C D E Browne , p. 20.
* ^ Browne , p. 23-24.
* ^ A B Browne , p. 24.
* ^ Baudot , p. 455.
* ^ Courtney Browne, Tojo: The Last Banzai, Angus ">.
* ^ A B C D Bix , p. 244.
* ^ Takemae & Ricketts , p. 221.
* ^ Browne & 59 .
* ^ Dear & Foot , p. 872.
* ^ A B C Browne & 60 .
* ^ Cowley & Parker , p. 473.
* ^ Goodman ">.
* ^ Bix , p. 417.
* ^ Kido , p. 914.
* ^ Bix , p. 417=418.
* ^ Bix , p. 416.
* ^ Fujiwara , p. 126.
* ^ A B C Bix , p. 418.
* ^ Terasaki , p. 118.
* ^ Browne , p. 107.
* ^ Bix , p. 419.
* ^ Bix , p. 418=419.
* ^ A B Bix , p. 418-419.
* ^ Wetzler , pp. 51–52.
* ^ Wetzler , pp. 47–50.
* ^ Bix , p. 421.
* ^ Wetzler , pp. 29, 35.
* ^ A B C D Bix , p. 428.
* ^ Bix , p. 428-431.
* ^ Wetzler , pp. 28–30, 39.
* ^ Dower , p. 25.
* ^ A B Yoshimi , p. 81-83.
* ^ A B C D Bix , p. 448.
* ^ A B C Weinberg , p. 329.
* ^ Weinberg , p. 329-330.
* ^ A B Weinberg , p. 330.
* ^ Falk , p. 511.
* ^ Falk , p. 511-512.
* ^ A B Falk , p. 512.
* ^ Falk , p. 518.
* ^ A B C Bix , p. 457.
* ^ Yoshimi , p. 83.
* ^ Falk , p. 510.
* ^ Bix , p. 467-468.
* ^ A B C D E Murray & Millet , p. 348.
* ^ A B Bix , p. 473.
* ^ Weinberg , p. 498.
* ^ Bix , p. 473-474.
* ^ A B Bix , p. 474.
* ^ Weinberg , p. 640-641.
* ^ A B Weinberg , p. 641.
* ^ A B C Weinberg , p. 641-642.
* ^ Willmott , p. 155-156.
* ^ Willmott , p. 156-157.
* ^ A B C Bix , p. 472.
* ^ Weinberg , p. 649.
* ^ A B Weinberg , p. 651.
* ^ A B C D E Murray & Millet , p. 349.
* ^ A B Bix , p. 475.
* ^ Weinberg , p. 642.
* ^ A B C D E F Willmott , p. 216.
* ^ A B Willmott , p. 208.
* ^ A B Willmott , p. 213.
* ^ Bix , p. 477.
* ^ A B C D Bix , p. 478.
* ^ Willmott , p. 216-217.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I Willmott , p. 217.
* ^ Toland , pp. 871–872.
* ^ Countis .
* ^ "Dentist Played Prank on Tojo\'s Teeth". CS Monitor. August 17,
International Military Tribunal for the Far East . "Judgment of
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Crimes Trial (PDF). pp. 49843–49848.
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George Washington University.
* ^ Crowe , p. 217.
* ^ "Tojo\'s ribbons go on display at Pensacola naval museum". The
Florida Times‑Union. November 11, 2003. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
* ^ Toland , p. 873.
* ^ Bix , pp. 583–585.
* ^ Dower , pp. 324–326.
* ^ Yenne , pp. 337–338.
* ^ Toyoda , pp. 170–172.
* ^ Bix , p. 584.
* ^ Dower , pp. 325, 604–605.
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* ^ Kristof , p. 40.
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