General Tojo Biography

“I am very sorry it is taking me so long to die.”
-Hideki Tojo, 1945

general-tojoThe ex- General Tojo at his trial in 1948.

GENERAL TOJO BIOGRAPHY: The man they called Kamison (the Razor) is blamed for murder of millions, but failed to end his own life when the time was nigh.

A life of war

young-tojoHideki Tojo as a young officer.

Hideki Tojo (Tokyo, December 30, 1884 – December 23, 1948 ) got the nickname in the army thanks to his quick mind.

Tojo was in the Japanese Army for most of his life. He commanded troops against the Chinese in the Second Sino-Japanese War, a conflict which started in 1937 and eventally merged with World War Two.

General Tojo was no pacifist and advocated force as a means to expand Japan’s empire. He was part of a military clique which pushed for war with the United States and the United Kingdom.

As War Minister in 1940 Tojo led Japan into the Axis alliance with Germany and Italy. He became Prime Minister, and, thanks to his control of the military, effective dictator in 1941.

tojo-caricatureGeneral Tojo was often depicted as an inhuman monster in the Allied nations' press. Sometimes he was a rat, sometimes a monkey, and here, on a 1942 magazine cover, a bomb-bearing bat.

When in power Tojo approved the attack on Peal Harbor and spread Japanese armies across China, South-East Asia and the Pacific.

He is considered responsible for millions of civilian deaths (including about four million Chinese) as well as the deaths of tens of thousands of prisoners of war.

Tojo also approved horrendous biological experiments on prisoners of war.

To Allied forces in the US and Australia Tojo became the symbol of the Japanese menace.
The print media caricatured him with big buck teeth and sporting big horn-rimmed glasses over beady little eyes.

Defeat and capture

Tojo resigned on July 18, 1944 after Japanese defeats at the Battle of Midway and on Saipan island. Nightfall was coming to the Empire of the Sun and Tojo knew his number was up. He holed up in his home town of Setagaya until after the Japanese surrender in 1945.

tojo-suicideTojo after his
attempted suicide.

On September 8 American military police and newspaper reporters clamoured around Tojo’s house. The old tyrant was on a list of war criminals and destined for trial.

Tojo had a doctor named Suzuki mark the position of his heart in charcoal.
The Americans heard shots from outside and burst in.
New York Times reporter George Jones reported:

“Tōjō had shot himself four times in the chest, but despite shooting directly through the mark, the bullets missed his heart and penetrated his stomach. At 4:29, now disarmed and with blood gushing out of his chest, Tōjō began to talk, and two Japanese reporters recorded his words.
'I am very sorry it is taking me so long to die,' he murmured.
'The Greater East Asian War was justified and righteous. I am very sorry for the nation and all the races of the Greater Asiatic powers.
' I wait for the righteous judgment of history. I wished to commit suicide but sometimes that fails'.”
- George Jones

Was trialed and executed

Tojo recovered after emergency surgery and landed in Sugamo Prison. There he needed new dentures, and a set were prepared by American dentist Jack Mallory. Mallory said he was surprised at the appearance of the man Americans had come to hate as the specter of the Pacific.

“I knew I was going to meet an evil man. It was a shock to see him. He was very humble and just a meek, little guy.” - Jack Mallory

Before handing over the choppers Mallory played a little prank on Tojo, inscribing the slogan Remember Peal Harbor onto the teeth in Morse code.

Tojo stood trial in 1948 and found guilty of war crimes including “waging wars of aggression” and “ordering, authorizing and permitting inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War and others”.
Tojo accepted responsibility and was hanged on December 23, 1948.

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Written by S. Anderson, 2010. Last updated 2011.

References for General Tojo Biography


Photo sources for General Tojo Biography

•Tojo at trial, photo © Corbis

• Young officer Hideki Tojo WikiCommons

• Tojo as bat

• Tojo after suicide attempt WikiCommons

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