Tojo Eiku, his name before he became premier or the Japanese political and military leader, was born on December 30, 1884
in Tokyo. His father was a military general and he himself graduated from the
Japanese Military Academy
in 1905. Ten years later, he finished his studies with honor at the army war college. He became an advocate of the theory
of total war after World War I.
Tojo became head of the mobilization
section of the war ministry and played an important role in drafting the first mobilization plans of the imperial army. Tojo
believed that Japan’s military strength must be rooted
in the developed industrial economy. Accordingly, he urged the reorganization of the army in the 1930’s and the integration
of the resources of Manchuria in the economy of Japan.
Tojo served as chief of police
affairs of the Kwantung army, the Japanese army in China,
and became its chief of staff in 1937 due to his remarkable abilities. In May of 1938 he was appointed as vice minister of
war and six months later, in December, was mad the director of military aviation. The new mobilization plans that he drafted
in July of 1940 strained diplomatic relations with the United States.
October of 1941 saw Tojo as
premier or prime minister. He took over the portfolios of war, education, and commerce and industry. He was a virtual dictator
from Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, until his
resignation on July 19, 1944 as a result of the American victory at Saipan
ten days earlier.
Not much could be found on Tojo’s foreign policy and beliefs, although it is mentioned that he was an exponent
of total war. An example of this is his attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 of 1941, two months after
becoming Prime Minister.
Involvement in World War II
Hideki was never a complete dictator like Hitler or Mussolini, but he assumed more and more control and authority as
the war progressed. He headed the Munitions Ministry in 1943, while continuing his position as war minister, and in 1944 he
took over as army chief of staff. Through Hideki, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, a body which brought governmental
orders to the population, was strengthened. He attempted to boost the wartime economy of Japan
tightening control over industrial production, increasing food production through a government rice purchasing system, expanding
military conscription, mobilizing female workers, and bringing in forced labor from Korea
The large Allied victories in the Pacific in the 1944 undercut Tojo’s political position. Tojo resigned as prime
minister in July of 1944 when he was forced to take responsibility for the American capture of Saipan
and American long-range bombers reaching Japan. He remained
in retirement until the end of the war.
In September 1945, when Tojo learned he was about to be arrested as a war criminal, he unsuccessfully attempted to
commit suicide. Later, he was convicted as a war criminal at the International Military Tribunal in Tokyo.
In December of 1948, he was executed by hanging. He is remembered as the author of Japan’s