The man is not remembered for his leadership capabilities while serving as the 40th Prime Minister of Japan, but for his responsibility for ordering the attack on Pearl Harbor, an attack which initiated the friction between Japan and the United States.
An admirer of Adolf Hitler, Tojo had very less regard for civilian life. His war crimes and tactics led him to an uneventful farewell from the world.
A general at the Imperial Japanese Army, Hideki Tojo, aka Razor (nicknamed for his sharp and legalistic capabilities for decision-making) was born in Tokyo, Japan on the 30th of December, 1884. He was also the leader of the Imperial Japanese Army and the 40th Prime Minister of Japan, at the time of the Second World War. He served as the Prime Minister from 1941 to 1944.
Childhood and Education
As the third son of the Hidenori Tojo, a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army, Hideki Tojo was born in the Kōjimachi district of Tokyo on December 30, 1884. His childhood was spent in an Army Cadet School. He did well in school and was ranked 10th out of 363 students when he graduated from the Japanese Military Academy. Later, in March 1905, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry of the IJA. He married his wife Katsuko in the year 1909 with whom he had three sons by the names Hidetake, Teruo, and Toshio and four daughters Kimie, Mitsue, Makie, and Sachie.
Within a few years, by 1928, he had established himself as the bureau chief of the Japanese Army, and shortly after that being promoted to Colonel. During his time as a colonel, he began to take an interest in militarist politics, especially his command of the 1st Infantry Regiment. In 1934, Tojo was promoted to major general and served in the Army Ministry. Politically speaking, Tojo was famous for being fascist, while he was also a nationalist and militarist.
The 40th Prime Minister of Japan
It was on July 30th, 1940 during the second Fumimaro Konoe regime when Tojo was appointed the Army Minister, and he remained in that post in the third Konoe cabinet. He was a staunch supporter of the Tripartite Pact that was made between the Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy. As also the minister of the army, Tojo was in a continuous war with China.
With negotiations from France, Tojo’s Japan was given a nod to establish its troops in French Indochina in the year 1941. However, in spite of the reconciliation with the Vichy French government, the US was not adamant to have a formal recognition with Japan. They heavily imposed an economic sanction on Japan over goods such as oil and gas. This situation had angered Tojo, in the last cabinet meeting of Prime Minister Konoe, Tojo stated:
“For the past six months, ever since April, the foreign minister has made painstaking efforts to adjust relations. Although I respect him for that, we remain deadlocked … The heart of the matter is the imposition on us of withdrawal from Indochina and China … If we yield to America’s demands, it will destroy the fruits of the China incident. Manchukuo will be endangered and our control of Korea undermined.”