Prince Kan'in Kotohito

Prince Kan'in Kotohito

Infobox Military Person
name= Prince Kanin Kotohito
lived= 10 November 186521 May 1945
placeofbirth=Kyoto, Japan
placeofdeath=Tokyo, Japan

caption= Prince Kan'in Kotohito
allegiance=Empire of Japan
rank=Field Marshal
battles=First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
awards= Order of Merit
Order of the Golden Kite (2nd Class)
Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.

nihongo|Prince Kan'in (Kotohito) |閑院宮載仁親王| Kan'in-no-miya Kotohito Shinnō OM|extra=10 November 1865 - 21 May 1945 ), was the 6th head of a cadet branch the Japanese imperial family, and a career army officer who served as Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff from 1931 to 1940.

Early Years

Prince Kotohito was born in Kyoto on 10 November 1865 as the sixteenth son of Prince Fushimi Kuniye (1802 - 1875). His father was twentieth head of the Fushimi-no-miya, one of the four shinnōke, branches of the Imperial Family which were eligible to succeed to the throne if the main line should die out. Since the infant mortality rate in the main imperial household was quite high, Emperor Kōmei, the father of Emperor Meiji, adopted Prince Kotohito as a potential heir. Prince Kotohito was thus the adopted brother of Emperor Meiji and a great uncle to both Emperor Shōwa and his consort, Empress Kōjun.

Prince Kotohito was initially sent to Sambo-in imperial temple at the age of three to be raised as a Buddhist monk, but was selected in 1872 to revive the Kan'in-no-miya, another of the shinnōke households, which had gone extinct upon the death of the fifth head, Prince Naruhito.

Marriage & family

On 19 December 1891, Prince Kotohiko married Sanjo Chieko (30 January 1872 - 19 March 1947), a daughter of Prince Sanjo Sanetomi. The couple had seven children: five daughters and two sons:

# HIH Princess Kan'in Yukiko (b. 13 May 1896)
# HIH Princess Kan'in Shigeko (b. 29 May 1897)
# HIH Princess Kan'in Sueko (b. 2 November 1898 - 17 July 1914)
# HIH Prince Kan'in Haruhito (b. 3 August 1902)
# HIH Princess Kan'in Hiroko (21 February 1906 – 1 September 1923)
# HIH Princess Kan'in Hanako (b. 30 June 1909)
# HIH Prince Kan'in Atsuhito (b. unknown but died in infancy)

Military career

Prince Kan'in entered the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1877 and graduated in 1881. Emperor Meiji sent him as a military attache to France in 1882 to study military tactics and technology. He graduated from the Army Staff College in 1894, specializing in cavalry.

Kan'in was a veteran of both the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). He rose to the rank of lieutenant general in 1905 and became the commander of the IJA 1st Division in 1906, and the Imperial Guard Division in 1911. He was promoted to the rank of full general and became a Supreme War Councilor in 1912. He was further promoted to become the youngest field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army in 1919. [Ammenthorp, The generals of World War II]

Political career

In 1921, Prince Kan'in accompanied then-Crown Prince Hirohito on his tour of Europe. He became Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff on 1 December 1931, replacing General Kanaya Hanzo.

During his mandate, the Imperial Japanese Army has been accused of committing many exactions against Chinese civilians including the Nanking massacre and the use of chemical and bacteriological weapons. Kan'in transmitted to the Army the first emperor Showa's directive ("rinsanmei") authorizing the use of chemical weapons on 28 July 1937. He transmitted a second order on 11 September authorizing the deployment of special chemical warfare units to Shanghai. [ Herbert Bix, "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan", 2001, p.361] On 11 April 1938, he issued Directive Number 11 authorizing further use of poison gas in Inner Mongolia. [Yoshiaki Yoshimi and S. Matsuno, "Dokugasusen Kankei shiryo II, Kaisetsu", Jugonen senso gokuhi shiryoshu 1997, p.27-29 ]

Kan'in, among others within the army, opposed Prime Minister Yonai Mitsumasa's efforts to improve relations with the United States and the United Kingdom. He forced the resignation of War Minister General Hata Shunroku (1879-1962), thus bringing down the Yonai cabinet in July 1940. The Prince was a participant in the liaison conferences between the military chiefs of staff and the second cabinet of Prince Konoe Fumimaro (June 1940 - July 1941). Both he and Lieutenant General Tojo Hideki, the newly appointed War Minister, supported the Tripartite Pact between Japan, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy.

Kan'in retired as Chief of the General Staff on 3 October 1940 and was succeeded by Sugiyama Hajime. He remained a member of the Supreme War Council and a senior advisor to the emperor on army matters. Field Marshal Prince Kan'in died in Tokyo, possibly due to an infection due to inflamed hemorrhoids on 21 May 1945 and was accorded a state funeral.

The Prince was a strong supporter of State Shinto. With Kiichiro Hiranuma he set up the "Shintoist Rites Research Council" to research all ancient Shinto rites and practices. Other associates were Kuniaki Koiso, Heisuke Yanagawa, who directed the Taisei Yokusankai and Chikao Fujisawa, member of the Diet of Japan, who proposed a law that Shinto should be reaffirmed as Japan's state religion.

His only son, Prince Kan'in Haruhito, succeeded him as the seventh and last head of the Kan'in-no-miya household.

His decorations included the Grand Order of Merit, Order of the Golden Kite (1st Class), and the Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.




*cite book
last = Dupuy
first = Trevor N.
year = 1992
title = The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
publisher = HarperCollins Publishers Inc
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-7858-0437-4

*cite book
last = Fujitani
first = T
coauthors = Cox, Alvin D
year = 1998
title = Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan
publisher = University of California Press.
location =
id = ISBN 0520213718

External links

*cite web
last = Ammenthorp
first = Steen
url =
title = Field Marshal Kanin Kotohito
work = The Generals of World War II


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