- Kōki Hirota
name = Kōki Hirota
caption =Prime Minister of Japan
birth_date = birth date|1878|2|14|df=y
Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
death_date =death date and age|1948|12|23|1878|2|14
Prime Minister of Japan
March 9, 1936
February 2, 1937
nihongo|Kōki Hirota|広田 弘毅|Hirota Kōki|extra=
14 February 1878ndash 23 December 1948was a Japanese diplomat, politicianand the 32nd Prime Minister of Japanfrom March 9, 1936to February 2, 1937.
Hirota was born in what is now part of
Chūō-ku, Fukuokacity, Fukuoka Prefecture. His father was a stone mason, and he was adopted into the Hirota family. He graduated with law degree from Tokyo Imperial University. One of his classmates was post-war Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida.
After graduation, Hirota entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to become a career diplomat, and served in a number of overseas posts. In 1923, he became director of the Europe and America Department within the Foreign Ministry. After serving as minister to the
Netherlands, he was ambassador to the Soviet Unionfrom 1928 to 1932.
He became Foreign Minister in 1933, under the cabinet of Prime Minister
Saitō Makotojust after Japan withdrew from the League of Nations. He retained the position in the subsequent cabinet of Okada Keisuke.
As Foreign Minister, Hirota negotiated the purchase of the
Chinese Eastern Railwayin Manchuriafrom Russian interests. He also promulgated the Hirota Sangensokuon 28 October 1938, as the definitive statement of Japan’s position towards China: the establishment of a Japan-China- Manchukuobloc, the organization of a Sino-Japanese common front against the spread of communism, and the suppression of anti-Japanese activities within China.
In 1936, with the radical factions within the Japanese military discredited following the
February 26 Incident, Hirota was selected to replace Admiral Okada Keisuke as Prime Minister of Japan.
However, Hirota placated the military by reinstating the system by which only active duty Army or Navy officers could serve in the post of War Minister or Navy Minister – a system which the military had abused in the past to bring down civilian governments.
In terms of foreign policy, the
Anti-Comintern Pactwith Nazi Germanyand Fascist Italy was signed under his cabinet. This treaty was the predecessor to the Tripartite Pactof 1940.
However, Hirota's term lasted for slightly less than a year. After the disagreement with
Hisaichi Terauchiwho was serving as the War Minister, over the speech by Kunimatsu Hamada, he resigned from his position. Kazushige Ugakiwas appointed, but unable to form the government due to Army's opposition. In February 1937, Senjūrō Hayashiwas appointed to replace him.
econd diplomatic career
Hirota soon returned to government service as Foreign Minister under Hayashi's successor, Prince
Konoe Fumimaro. While Foreign Minister, Hirota strongly opposed the military’s aggression against China, which completely undermined his efforts to create a Japan-China-Manchukou alliance against the Soviet Union. He also spoke out repeatedly against the escalation of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The military soon tired of his criticism, and forced his retirement in 1938.
In 1945, however, Hirota returned to government service to lead Japanese peace negotiations with the Soviet Union. At the time, Japan and the USSR were still under a non-aggression pact, even though the other Allied Powers had all declared war on Japan. Hirota attempted to persuade
Joseph Stalin's government to stay out of the war, but he ultimately failed: the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Following Japan's surrender, Hirota was arrested as a
Class A war criminaland was brought before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. He offered no defense and was found guilty of the following charges:
*count 1 (waging wars of aggression, and war or wars in violation of international law)
*count 27 (waging unprovoked war against the
Republic of China)
*count 55 (disregard for duty to prevent breaches of the laws of war)
He was sentenced to hang, and was executed at
Sugamo Prison. The severity of his sentence remains controversial, as Hirota was the only civilian executed as a result of the Tokyo trials. It is often stated that the main factor in his death sentence was the fact that he was party to information about what is now known as the Nanjing Massacre, about which he is alleged to have telegraphed to the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C.. As Foreign Minister, Hirota received regular reports from the War Ministry about the military's atrocities, but lacked any authority over the offending military units themselves. Nonetheless, the tribunal condemned Hirota's failure to insist that the Japanese Cabinet act to put an end to the atrocities. [The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, reprinted in R. John Pritchard and Sonia Magbanua Zaide (eds.), The Tokyo War Crimes Trial, vol. 20, 49,816 (R. John Pritchard and Sonia Magbanua Zaide, eds. Garland Publishing: New York and London 1981) ] Other possible factors in Hirota's sentence included his signing of the Tripartite Alliance, and the antipathy of China's Kuomintanggovernment towards the "Hirota Sangensoku", which they viewed as providing justification for Japan's aggression leading to Second Sino-Japanese War (which began during Hirota's second term as Foreign Minister).
* Frank, Richard B. "Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire". Penguin (Non-Classics); Reissue edition (2001). ISBN 0141001461
* Maga, Timothy P. "Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials". University of Kentucky (2001). ISBN 0813121779
* Minear, Richard R. "Victors' Justice: The Tokyo War Crimes Trial". University of Michigan (2001). ISBN 1929280068
*The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, "reprinted in" R. John Pritchard and Sonia Magbanua Zaide (eds.), "The Tokyo War Crimes Trial", vol. 20 (Garland Publishing: New York and London 1981)
Toland, John. "The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945". Modern Library; Reprint edition (2003). ISBN 0812968581
title=Keeper of Peace
* [http://homepage3.nifty.com/kadzuwo/history/hirota-telg.htm The Hirota "Attila and his Huns" telegram forgery]
* [http://www.trial-ch.org/no_cache/fr/trial-watch/profil/db/facts/koki_hirota_549.html TRIAL : Hirota's trial]
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