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Hideki Tojo

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Hideki Tojo

Early Life:

            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.  


Foreign Policy:

            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 and China.


            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 wartime disaster.   




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