Tojo, Hideki, born 30-12-1884 in Tokyo and decided on a career in the Army. He did well at military college and served as a military attaché in Germany shortly after the end of World War One. Tojo became the leader of the militarists in Japan and despised what he considered to be weak civilian politicians. His views were shared by many in the public and in the 1930’s the army and all it represented was held in much greater esteem that politicians in general. This became even more so after the army’s victories in Manchuria from 1931 on. In the summer of 1940, Tojo became Minister of War in the government and he saw that Japan’s future lay with the European dictators, especially Adolf Hitler (did you know) who were much admired in Japan. While the European dictators were admired and respected in Japan, the opposite was true for America. The people of America were thought of as decadent, lazy and without scruples compared to the disciplined workforce of Japan that worshipped their emperor, Hirohito
. As Minister of War, Tojo made it clear that Japan should push south in the Far East and take land owned by European nations. On 14-10-1941, Tojo was appointed Prime Minister of Japan. By this date, he was convinced that a war with America could not be avoided and he put Japan on a full war alert. He decided that a massive knock-out blow would be sufficient to remove America from the Pacific. As a result, Tojo authorised the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. The huge success enjoyed by the Japanese Army in the months immediately following Pearl Harbour, strengthened Tojo’s standing in Japan , especially when the British Army surrendered at Singapore and Douglas MacArthur withdrew American forces from the Philippines. However, it was only a matter of time before the Americans and their allies organised themselves in the Pacific. As the Americans advanced throughout the many islands in the Pacific, Japan came into range of American bombers. With bombing raids reducing a lot of Japan to rubble, the emperor, Hirohito, believed that Tojo had lost control of events and Tojo offered his resignation on 09-07-1944. After Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945, U.S. general Douglas MacArthur issued orders for the arrest of the first forty alleged war criminals, including Tojo Soon, Tojo’s home in Setagaya was besieged with newsmen and photographers. Inside, a doctor named Suzuki had marked Tojo’s chest with charcoal to indicate the location of his heart. When American military police surrounded the house on 8 September 1945, they heard a muffled shot from inside. Major Paul Kraus and a group of military police burst in, followed by George Jones, a reporter for The New York Times. Tojo had shot himself in the chest with a pistol, but despite shooting directly through the mark, the bullets missed his heart and penetrated his stomach.
Now disarmed and with blood gushing out of his chest, Tojo began to talk, and two Japanese reporters recorded his words. “I am very sorry it is taking me so long to die,” he murmured. In November 1948, Tojo was put on trial as a war criminal. He was accused of instigating Japan’s aggressive foreign policy in the early 1940’s and of permitting the appalling abuse of prisoners of war, contrary to the Geneva Convention.
Death and burial ground of Tojo, Hideki.
He was found guilty and hanged, age 63, on 23-12-1948 and is buried on the Jasukuni Jinga Cemetery, in Tokyo.