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Hideki Tojo in WW2: Biography, Quotes, Facts & Death

Instructor: James Moeller
Hideki Tojo held various positions in the Japanese military, but is best known for his actions as Prime Minister of Japan during World War II. He believed firmly in a strong role for Japan in world affairs, demonstrated by his authorization of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Introduction

If you were a member of America's armed forces stationed in the Pacific Theater during World War II, there is most likely no one you would vilify more than Japanese Prime Minister and Lt. General, Hideki Tojo. Consider the following quote from General Tojo after Pearl Harbor: When reflecting upon it today, that the Pearl Harbor attack should have succeeded in achieving surprise is a blessing from Heaven. It was clear that the US Pacific Fleet had been moved to Pearl Harbor, and officers of the Japanese Imperial Navy anticipated a high state of alert. When the attack occurred on that Hawaiian naval base around 8:00 in the morning on December 7, 1941, there were no US Army Air Corps fighter planes on patrol over the harbor. The Japanese Imperial Navy flew in unopposed, resulting in disaster. Who was this man who authorized this attack, and became the object of so much animosity?

Tojo at his war crimes trial, 1945.

Early Life and Career

Hideki Tojo was born in Tokyo, Japan on December 30th, 1884, to Lt. General Hidenori Tojo of the Japanese Imperial Army (hereafter referred to as the, JIA). In 1899, he entered the Army Cadet School and graduated from the Japanese Military Academy, 10th in a class of nearly 400 cadets. By March of 1905, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the JIA. In 1909, he married Katsuko Ito and had 7 children by her: thee sons and four daughters. Tojo was known for having a sharp mind and making decisions quickly. These and other talents were recognized and resulted in quick promotion through the ranks. By 1928, he was a Bureau Chief for the JIA and promoted to Colonel after the posting. In 1934, he was promoted to Major General and given command of the 24th Infantry Brigade. On the 22nd of July, 1940, he was appointed Army Minister to Prime Minister, Prince Fumimaro, an aristocrat in Japanese society. As Army Minister, General Tojo was widely known for supporting the Tripartite Pact between Japan, Germany, & Italy. It was this pact that formed the basis of the Axis Alliance, or Axis Powers as they are sometimes known. Tojo admired Fascism, the form of government exemplified by Hitler and Mussolini (the leader of Italy), and believed it fit well in Japanese politics.

A Devil-like depiction of Tojo in a WWII Poster

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