Hideki Tojo was born in 1884 and died in 1948. Hideki Tojo was Prime Minister of Japan when the attack on Pearl Harbour took place plunging the Far East into a war which was to end with the destruction of Hiroshima in August 1945. For his part in leading Japan into World War Two, Tojo was executed as a war criminal.



Tojo was born 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 Hitler – 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 October 14th, 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 July 9th, 1944.

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. He was found guilty and hanged.

Related Posts

  • The ability America had to produce almost unlimited war supplies was of major significance during the course of World War Two. Whereas many industrial bases…