- Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko
name = Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko
caption =Prime Minister of Japan
birth_date =birth date|1887|12|3|df=y
death_date =death date and age|1990|1|20|1887|12|3
Prime Minister of Japan
17 August 1945
9 October 1945
monarch = Emperor Showa
occupation = Army General, Imperial Prince
nihongo|Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko|東久邇宮 稔彦王|Higashikuni no miya Naruhiko ō |extra=
3 December 1887- 20 January 1990was the 30th Prime Minister of Japanfrom 17 August 1945to 9 October 1945for a period of 54 days. An uncle of Emperor Shōwa twice over, Prince Higashikuni was the only member of the Japanese imperial family to head a cabinet. He also had the shortest tenure of any Japanese prime minister.
Prince Naruhiko was born in
Kyoto, the ninth son of Prince Kuni Asahiko("Kuni no miya Asahiko Shinnō") and the court lady Terao Utako. His father, Prince Asahiko (also known as "Shōren no miya Sun'yu" and "Nagakawa no miya Asahiko)", was a son of Prince Fushimi Kuniie("Fushimi no miya Kuniie Shinnō"), the twentieth head of the Fushimi-no-miya, the oldest of the "sesshu shinnōke" or cadet branches of the imperial dynasty from whom an emperor might be chosen in default of a direct heir. Prince Naruhiko was a half-brother of Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi, the father of the future Empress Kōjun, the wife of Emperor Showa. His other half-brothers, Prince Asaka Yasuhiko, Prince Nashimoto Morimasa, and Prince Kaya Kuninori, all formed new branches of the imperial family (ōke) during the Meiji period.
Marriage and family
Emperor Meijigranted Prince Naruhiko the title "Higashikuni no miya" and permission to start a new branch of the imperial family on 3 November 1906. Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko married the ninth daughter of Emperor Meiji, Princess Toshiko ( 11 May 1896- 5 March 1978), on 18 May 1915. The couple had four sons.
Higashikuni Morihiro( 6 May 1916- 1 February 1969); married Princess Shigeko ( 9 December 1925- 23 June 1961), the eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kojun.
#Prince Moromasa (Moromasa ō) (1917 -
1 September 1923); died in the Great Kanto Earthquake.
#Prince Akitsune (Akitsune ō), (born
13 May 1920), renounced imperial title and created MarquisAwata, 1940; lost title with enforcement of current Japanese Constitution; 3 May 1947and adopted the surname Awata.
#Prince Toshihiko (Toshihiko ō), (born
24 March 1929, renounced imperial title and created CountTarama, 1943; lost title with enforcement of current Japanese Constitution; 3 May 1947and adopted the surname Tarama; relocated to city of Lins, São Paulo, Brazil, 1950.
Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko was a career officer in the
Imperial Japanese Army. In 1908, he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academyand, in 1914, he graduated from the Army War College. He was commissioned a captain in the 29th Infantry Brigade, and promoted to major in the IJA 7th Divisionin 1915.
Prince Higashikuni then studied
military tactics, at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyrin Paris France, from 1920 to 1926. Always somewhat of a rebel, Prince Higashikuni's behavior in Paris scandalized the Imperial Court. He left his wife and children in Japan, and the death of his second son did not prompt his return. He had a French mistress, enjoyed fast cars and high living. In 1926, the Imperial Household Ministry dispatched a chamberlain to Paris to collect him.
Upon his return to Japan, he was assigned to the
Imperial Japanese Army General StaffHeadquarters and eventually rose to the rank of major general, having successively served as commander of the 5th Infantry Brigade (1930-1934), the IJA 4th Division(1934-1937), the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service(1937-1938), and the IJA 2nd Army in China(1938-1939). While he was commander of the Army Air service, he ordered massive bombing of Chineses cities such as Shanghaiand Chongqing. In 1937, the bombings of Nanjingand Guangzhouled to a resolution of protest by the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League of Nations.
Promoted to full
general, Prince Higashikuni served from 1939 as a member of the Supreme War Council. He served as commander of the Home Defense Command from 1941 to 1944. The prince was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite, 1st Class in 1940.
As Prime Minister
Before the start of the
Pacific War, in October 1941, outgoing Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoeproposed Prince Higashikuni to Emperor Showaas his successor for prime minister. Konoe believed that only a member of the Imperial Family with a distinguished military background could restrain the pro-war faction ( Hajime Sugiyama, Tojo Hideki, and Muto Akira). Prince Higashikuni was also the choice of the Chief of staff of the Army and the Navy. However, both Emperor Showaand the Lord Privy Seal, Kido Koichi, believed that it would be inappropriate for a member of the Imperial Family to serve as he could be blamed for the war. The emperor thus chose Hideki Tojoinstead .
Prince Higashikuni was part of the conspiracy (with
Prince Asaka, Prince Takamatsu, and former Prime Minister Konoe) which ousted Tojo in July 1944 following the fall of Saipan to American forces.
After the course of the war turned against Japan,
Emperor Showaappointed Prince Higashikuni to the position of Prime Minister of Japanon 16 August 1945, replacing Admiral Suzuki Kantaro. The mission of the Higashikuni cabinet was twofold: first, to ensure the orderly cessation of hostilities and demobilizationof the Japanese armed forces; and second, to reassure the Japanese people that the imperial institution remained secure. Prince Higashikuni resigned in October over a dispute with the American occupation forces over the repeal of the 1925 Peace Preservation Law.
Life after resignation
On 27 February and 4 March 1946, Prince Higashikuni gave interviews to the "
Yomiuri-Hochi" and " New York Times" in which he claimed that many members of the imperial family had approved Emperor Hirohito’s abdication, with Prince Takamatsuserving as regent until Crown Prince Akihitocame of age. In the government, only Prime Minister Shideharaand the imperial household minister opposed this.
In 1946, Prince Higashikuni asked the emperor for permission to renounce his membership in the Imperial Family and become a commoner.
Emperor Shōwadenied the request. However, along with other members of the imperial branch families ("shinnōke" and "ōke"), Prince Higashikuni lost his title and most of his wealth as a result of the American occupation’s abolition of the princely houses on 17 October 1947.
As a private citizen, Higashikuni operated several unsuccessful retail enterprises (including a provisions store, second-hand goods store, and dressmaker's shop). He even created his own new
Zen Buddhism-based religious sect, the "Higashikuni-kyo", which was subsequently banned by the American occupation authorities.
The former prince became the honorary chairman of the
International Martial Arts Federation(IMAF) in 1957, and honorary president of several other organizations.
In 1958, Higashikuni published his wartime journals under the title, "Ichi Kozuko no senso Nikki" (or The War Diary of a Member of the Imperial Family). He published his memoirs, "Higashikuni Nikki", in 1968.
Former Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko died of
heart failurein Tokyo on 20 January 1990at the age of 102, having outlived his wife, two of his sons, his siblings, and his nephew, the Shōwa Emperor. Higashikuni is today mainly remembered as Japan's first postwar prime minister. He was one of the longest lived prime ministers of all time, along with Willem Drees, Christopher Hornsrudand Antoine Pinay.
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