was the sixth head of a cadet branch of the Japanese imperial family, and a career army officer who served as Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff from 1931 to 1940.

Early years

Prince Kotohito was born in
Kyoto Kyoto (; Japanese language, Japanese: , ''Kyōto'' ), officially , is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Located in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu, Kyoto forms a part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and ...
on November 10, 1865 as the sixteenth son of Prince Fushimi Kuniye (1802–1875). His father was the twentieth head of the Fushimi-no-miya, one of the four shinnōke, branches of the Imperial Family which were eligible to succeed to the throne if the main line should die out. Since the
infant mortality Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of 1. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the probability of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The under-five mortalit ...
rate in the main imperial household was quite high, Emperor Kōmei, the father of
Emperor Meiji , also called , or , was the 122nd Emperor of Japan The Emperor of Japan is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he ...
, adopted Prince Kotohito as a potential heir. Prince Kotohito was thus the adopted brother of
Emperor Meiji , also called , or , was the 122nd Emperor of Japan The Emperor of Japan is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he ...
and a great uncle to both
Emperor Shōwa Emperor , better known in English by his personal name , was the 124th emperor of Japan The Emperor of Japan is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), st ...
and his consort, Empress Kōjun. Prince Kotohito was initially sent to Sambō-in monzeki temple at the age of three to be raised as a
Buddhist monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
, but was selected in 1872 to revive the Kan'in-no-miya, another of the shinnōke households, which had gone extinct upon the death of the fifth head, Prince Kan'in Naruhito, Prince Naruhito.

Marriage and family

On December 19, 1891, Prince Kotohiko married :ja:載仁親王妃智恵子, Sanjō Chieko (January 30, 1872 – March 19, 1947), a daughter of Prince Sanjō Sanetomi. The couple had seven children: five daughters and two sons. # # # # # # #

Early military career

Prince Kan'in entered the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1877 and graduated in 1881. Emperor Meiji sent him as a military attaché to France in 1882 to study military tactics and technology. He graduated from the Army War College (Japan), Army Staff College in 1894, specializing in cavalry. He commanded the 1st Cavalry Regiment from 1897 to 1899. Kan'in became a veteran of both the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). He was appointed to command the 2nd Cavalry Brigade in 1901. He rose to the rank of lieutenant general in 1905 and became the commander of the IJA 1st Division in 1906, and the Imperial Guard of Japan, Imperial Guard Division in 1911. He was promoted to the rank of full general and became a Supreme War Council (Japan), Supreme War Councilor in 1912. He was further promoted to become the youngest Field Marshal (Japan), field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army in 1919. In 1921, he accompanied then-Crown Prince Hirohito on his tour of Europe.

Career in the Imperial General Headquarters

On December 1, 1931, Prince Kan'in became Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff, replacing General Kanaya Hanzo. During his tenure, the Imperial Japanese Army committed many war crimes against Chinese civilians including the Nanking massacre and the systemic use of Japanese war crimes#Use of chemical weapons, chemical and bacteriological weapons. Chemical weapons, such as tear gas, were used only sporadically in 1937, but in the spring of 1938, the Imperial Japanese Army began full-scale use of sneeze and Poison gas, nausea gas (red), and from summer 1939, mustard gas (yellow) was used against both Kuomintang and Communist Chinese troops. Prince Kan'in transmitted to the Army the emperor's first directive (''rinsanmei'') authorizing the use of chemical weapons on July 28, 1937. He transmitted a second order on September 11 authorizing the deployment of special chemical warfare units to Shanghai. On April 11, 1938, Directive Number 11 was issued in his name, authorizing further use of poison gas in Inner Mongolia. Kan'in, among others within the army, opposed Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Yonai Mitsumasa's efforts to improve relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. He forced the resignation of Ministry of War of Japan, War Minister General Hata Shunroku (1879–1962), thus bringing down the Yonai cabinet in July 1940. The Prince was a participant in the liaison conferences between the military chiefs of staff and the second cabinet of Prince Konoe Fumimaro (June 1940–July 1941). Both he and Lieutenant General Hideki Tojo, the newly appointed War Minister, supported the Tripartite Pact between the Empire of Japan, Nazi Germany, and Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), Fascist Italy.

Final years and death

Kan'in retired as Chief of the General Staff on October 3, 1940 and was succeeded by Hajime Sugiyama, Sugiyama Hajime. He remained a member of the Supreme War Council and a senior advisor to the emperor on army matters. Field Marshal Prince Kan'in died in Odawara, Kanagawa at the Kan'in summer residence, possibly due to an infection caused by inflamed hemorrhoids on May 21, 1945 and was accorded a state funeral. The Prince was a strong supporter of State Shinto; with Hiranuma Kiichirō he set up the ''Shintoist Rites Research Council'' to research all ancient Shinto rites and practices. Other associates were Kuniaki Koiso, Lieutenant General Heisuke Yanagawa, who directed the Taisei Yokusankai and Chikao Fujisawa, member of the Diet of Japan, who proposed a law that Shinto should be reaffirmed as Japan's state religion. His only son, Prince Kan'in Haruhito, succeeded him as the seventh and last head of the Kan'in-no-miya () household.


He received the following orders and decorations: * : ** Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum ** Order of the Golden Kite, 1st Class * : Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, ''5 October 1895'' * : Knight of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, ''2 November 1898'' * : Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (Belgium), Royal Order of Leopold, with Swords, ''28 April 1900'' * : Knight of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, Order of the Annunciation, ''20 May 1900'' * : Order of Osmanieh, 1st Class, ''29 May 1900'' * : Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary, Order of St. Stephen, ''7 June 1900'' * : ** Grand Cross of the Order of the Red Eagle, ''23 June 1900'' ** Order of Merit of the Prussian Crown, with Swords, ''22 June 1906'' ** Hohenzollern: House Order of Hohenzollern#Princely House Order, Cross of Honour of the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern, 1st Class, with Swords, ''18 November 1905'' * : Order of the Double Dragon, Class I Grade II, ''27 January 1904'' * : Honorary Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, ''1921''


Image:HIH Princess Kan'in Chieko.jpg, Princess Kan'in Chieko Image:HIH Prince Kan'in Kotohito with Princess Yukiko and Prince Haruhito.jpg, Prince Kan'in Kotohito with Princess Yukiko and Prince Haruhito Image:HIH Prince Kan'in Haruhito.jpg, Prince Kan'in Haruhito Image:HIH Princess Kan'in Chieko with Princess Shigeko Sueko and Hiroko.jpg, Princess Kan'in Chieko with Princesses Shigeko, Hiroko and Hanako Image:HIH Princess Kan'in Hanako.jpg, Princess Kan'in Hanako




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External links

* 1865 births 1945 deaths People from Kyoto Prefecture Japanese princes Kan'in-no-miya Japanese Shintoists Marshals of Japan People of the First Sino-Japanese War Japanese military personnel of the Russo-Japanese War Japanese generals Japanese people of World War II People of Meiji-period Japan Recipients of the Order of the Golden Kite Grand Crosses of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary Grand Croix of the Légion d'honneur {{Japan-mil-bio-stub