Hideki Tojo

Ruthless Militaristic Prime Minister of Imperial Japan

Tojo, the General

Born in Tokyo on December 30th, 1884, as the third son of a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army.

Nicknamed "Kamisori," or "Razor" due to his determination and sharp mind, Tojo's achievements allowed rapid elevation through the ranks of the military, including the rank of War Minister, which he achieves in 1940.

This allows him to form powerful military alliances with Germany and Italy.

Tojo rose to becoming Prime Minister due to his strong nationalist beliefs, and wide range of achievements in the army.

Tojo was able to become Prime Minister due to the Emperor personally bestowing the honor upon him, which allowed him almost complete control over the country

Tojo remained the 40th Prime Minister of Japan during the majority of World War II, from October 17, 1941, to July 22, 1944.

Over the course of his time as prime minister, Tojo placed himself in direct charge of all aspects of the Japanese Empire, such as the army, foreign affairs, commerce, education, and the munitions industry.

As Prime Minister, he was responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor, which initiated war between Japan and the United States.

After the end of the war, Tojo was arrested by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and sentenced to death for Imperial Japanese war crimes.

He was hanged on December 23, 1948.

"The reason was the failure of both Japan and China to understand each other and the inability of America and the European powers to sympathize, without prejudice, with the peoples of East Asia."


The totalitarian state of Japan was not created by Tojo, but by the Meiji Restoration of the Japanese Empire in 1868. This event removed the title of samurai, and brought Japan into the modern world.

During this regime, the parliament did not have true power, the Emperor did.

As well as this, the military existed as a separate entity to the parliament, allowing it to make it's own decisions

The "Shintaisen" or "New Order" movement also originally arose in the Meiji restoration to justify patriotism in Japan, however it evolved during the period of World War II to justify an oppressive totalitarian regime

Tojo was a supporter of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, a political party with fascist beliefs created by Konoe, (The 39th Prime Minister) to promote the goals of the "New Order" movement.

Concerns that irresponsible political parties could have too much of an influence over military affairs rose in Japan, so a rule was introduced so that only the Army should be able to nominate the Army Minister in civilian government.

This permitted the army to have a veto over civilian governments by having the power to refuse to nominate a candidate.

This policy was introduced in law in 1900 but abolished in 1913. It was reintroduced in 1936, establishing military control over government.

Although support for Tojo's government was high through 1942, in early 1943 support began to wane.

In Feb 1944, he assumed the role of the commander-in-chief of the General Staff, effectively gaining dictatorial powers, in order to secure his political position.

The New Order now effectively had total control over Japan, effectively brainwashing the citizens into believing they were fighting a holy war against China and Russia

The New Order also controlled all aspects of symbolism in the daily life of the citizens of Japan, from the Japanese flag, to the widely-known war cry of the Japanese army, "Banzai!"

The new-found dictatorship of the New Order also brought about many aspects of totalitarianism which would continue on until 1947, when the Japanese Empire was dissolved

Such totalitarian aspects include:

  • Extreme censorship, to the point where writers could be beaten to death by the Secret Police
  • Secret Police, along with national spies, constantly kept citizens under strict control. They were also willing to fabricate evidence, in order to justify their horrendous acts on even the most innocent citizens
  • Leader worship, the Japanese people believed that the Emperor was a god, and his current body is his earthly incarnation
  • Militaristic and nationalist indoctrination in the national education system
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