Tojo World War II Project
Throughout World War II many important individuals have played pivotal roles in the war. These individuals have included Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany and Winston Churchill of Great Britain. But in the Pacific Theater of World War II, Hideki Tojo of Japan played a very important role in World War II as well. Tojo was important in World War II because he authorized many crucial events in the war, like the bombing of Pearl Harobr and the Battle of Midway.
Hideki was born in Tokyo, Japan on December 30, 1884 and came from a family of samurai decent. His father was an accomplished general who enrolled Tojo in the Military Academy and the Army College. After Tojo graduated in 1924, he was able to achieve many accomplishments. His achievements included being a military attaché in Switzerland and teaching at the Army Staff College. Within the military circle Tojo was known as the “Razor”; a reputation Tojo received for his ability to make quick and sharp decisions. But one of his biggest achievements before World War II was his arrest of the main conspirators of the February 26 incident.
The February 26 incident was an attempted coup d’etat of the Japanese government. The reasoning behind this coup d’etat was that many of the younger officers in the Japanese military felt there was major corruption and poverty in the rural areas. And they believed the solution was to remove some of the officials in the government. Some of their targets included Keisuke Okada, who was the prime minister of Japan during the time of the incident. As well as Makino Nobuaki, who was in good relations with Emperor Hirohito. The conspirators of the February 26 incident believed by removing people like Nobuaki out of government, then the problems in Japan would be solved. However Tojo and other military members against the coup were able to arrest many of the conspirators and suppress the rebellion. As a result Tojo was promoted to a Chief of Staff Position and by 1929; Tojo had become commander of the illustrious First Infantry Regiment.
Within Tojo, he had extreme right wing views and believed in an aggressive foreign policy. Thus it was natural for Tojo to support military actions such as the 1931 invasion of Manchuria and the Second Sino-Japanese War. The invasion of Manchuria consisted of Manchuria as well as Korea under Japanese control. Japan also instituted a puppet government in Manchuria called Manchuko, with Puyi as Manchuko’s regent. While the Second Sino Japanese War was a result of Japan’s imperialist policy to control China and obtain China’s raw material and other resources. Although both wars displayed the military might of Japan, it also produced dire consequences. Many of the Chinese were killed and Japan was panned by the international community. Especially from the League of Nations, who condemned Japan’s military aggression, thus pushing Japan to leave the League of Nations.
Tojo, like many of the Japanese people at the time, held great admiration for the dictators in Europe, such as Hitler and Mussolini. Tojo especially respected Hitler, whom Tojo admired for his passion and toughness. Japan’s respect toward the European dictators was exemplified when Japan signed the Tripartite Pact: a pact that created a mutual alliance between Italy, Germany, and Japan. However Japan’s respect toward the European dictators was not shared with the United States. Instead many Japanese people like Tojo perceived the Americans to be self indulgent, lazy and without morals. This was especially evidenced during Tojo’s trip to the United States as a military attaché. During the trip, Tojo perceived the Americans to be lacking the spiritual strength and dedication of the Japanese.
Perhaps through this attitude toward the Americans and among other factors did it help persuade Tojo to authorize an attack on Pearl Harbor. When by Emperor Hirohito appointed Tojo to be the Prime Minister, Tojo believed that war with the United States was inevitable and Japan needed to be prepared for such a war. He thought this way because tensions between Japan and the United States were already high. This was due to events such as Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and their continuing expansion toward China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In an attempt to stop Japan’s military aggression, the United placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan. The embargo implanted by the United States was proven to have a negative effect toward Japan because United States supplied many of Japan’s oil exports, and Japan needed vast amounts of oil to fuel their military expansion. And if Japan were to continue conquering further into Asia, Tojo and many military commanders were sure they would be in a war with the United States. As a way to prevent a war with the United States, an attack on Pearl Harbor seemed to be solution. After all Tojo and many Japanese commanders believed the Pearl Harbor plan would achieve three things. First of all through the plan, United States would lose many of its valuable ships, therefore preventing the U.S. from interfering with Japan’s naval interest. Second, the Pearl Harbor attack would give Japan time to strengthen its position and reinforce their navy. Lastly, the Pearl Harbor bombings would lower United State’s morale and give Japan the chance to dominate the Southeast Asia region. However after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, quite the contrary occurred. The United States congress immediately declared war on the empire of Japan and America began to mobilize its society toward an all out war.
As it became evident that the United States would fight Japan in World War II, Tojo began to lead the empire of Japan toward many battles in the Pacific with the United States. At first it seemed Japan was victorious against their enemies as they were able to gain various territories in the Pacific. Territories that Japan conquered included Guam, the Wake Islands, Marianas, and many others. But their numerous victories were especially highlighted by the Battle of the Philippines. The Battle of the Philippines was an invasion conducted by the Japanese forces and its sole purpose was to gain raw materials in the nearby areas. The defending units of the Phillipines were a combined force of American and Filipino soldiers. Despite the defending troops having more men then Japan in the battle, they were otherwise at a disadvantage. Japan was using their best troops and equipment for the battle, while the American/Filipino soldiers were poorly trained and equipped. As a result the Philippines became a part of Japan, and the Allied soldiers that did survive suffered harsh treatment from the Japanese. The Japanese punished the soldiers with atrocities such as the Bataan Death March. The Battaan Death March was a march of about 76,000 prisoners, marching from the Bataan peninsula to war prison camps. During the march the Japanese often beat the soldiers and nourishments like food were purposely kept away from the prisoners. Physical abuse such as rape, beheading, and bayonet piercing were common throughout the march.
But despite the momentum Japan seemed to be reaching in the Pacific, they came to an abrupt halt during the Battle of Midway. The Battle of Midway was a decisive battle fought between the United States and Japan. In the battle Japan wanted to eliminate United States as a power in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Japan hoped a victory on Midway would convince the United States to end its operations in the Pacific and give the advantage Japan needed to dominate the other countries in East Asia. But during the Battle of Midway, the U.S. Navy were able to surprise the Japanese invasion fleet and score a resounding victory. The Navy was able to sink all four of Japan’s aircraft carriers while only three of their own carriers were sunk.
After the Battle of Midway, Tojo’s reputation within Japan began to deteriorate as Japan began to suffer many defeats against the United States. These defeats have included battles such as the Battle of Iwo Jima. In the Battle of Iwo Jima, the United States planned to capture the island as a landing place for damaged bombers coming back from Japan. During the battle the U.S. marines suffered casualties around 20, 000 people. The Japanese that were left on the island died from the battle or by commit suicide. Many of the Japanese killed themselves because they thought the Americans were barbarous and would treat them terribly. In reality, the Americans treated the Japanese well and even offered them nourishments like water. Finally after the fall of Saipan in 1944, Tojo was dismissed as prime minister and maintained a low profile.
But soon after Japan’s surrender in 1945, Tojo’s name began to reappear into the spotlight. It was because General Douglas Macarthur ordered the arrest of alleged war criminals which included Hideki Tojo. As a result many news reporters and photographers surrounded Tojo’s house, preventing Tojo’s chance to escape. Once the American forces finally arrived to Tojo’s house, Tojo shot himself in the chest as an attempt of suicide. Although Tojo intended to end his life by shooting his heart, he ended up shooting into his stomach and failed to kill himself. Tojo was then arrested and had an emergency surgery in a U.S. Army Hospital. Later on, Tojo would be tried by Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal for his war crimes during World War II. Tojo would be found guilty of crimes such as antagonizing war with the United States and the deaths of millions in the Eastern Asia region. As punishment Tojo would be sentenced to death. Tojo would finally be executed by hanging on December 2, 1948.
Overall Tojo played a important role in World War II because he would lead many crucial events in the war. An example would be Tojo’s authorization of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, many of the ships that belonged to the United States were destroyed. Most of all battleships were heavily targeted because they were highly valued during this time period. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a crucial event because it immediately switched the mindset of the American people at the time. Before the Pearl Harbor attacks, many Americans preferred an Isolationist policy of not being involved in the affairs of other countries. But because of the attack, the isolationist agenda was suddenly dropped and the United States suddenly joined forces with the Allies to fight the Japanese and the Axis Powers. Thus the authorization of the Pearl Harbor Bombing would be crucial to World War II because it would bring in one of the biggest players in the war: The United States of America.
Another important event Tojo lead was the Battle of Midway. In this battle Japan wanted to eliminate United States as a power in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Japan hoped a victory on Midway would convince the United States to end its operations in the Pacific and give the advantage Japan needed to dominate the other countries in East Asia. The Battle of Midway was proven to be important because the battle proved itself to be a halt to the victories Japan held in the war. Before the Battle of Midway, the empire of Japan had a strung of victories in battles like the Battle of the Phillipines. But once the Americans defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Midway, Japan began to lose many battles afterwards. These battles have included historic events such as the Battle of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Because of the continuing losses Japan began to suffer after the Battle of Midway, United States began to gain momentum and eventually end World War II in the Pacific.
In conclusion Hideki Tojo has played a very important role in World War II, as it is evidenced through many of the crucial events that Tojo initiated. These events have included the Pearl Harbor attacks and the Battle of Midway. Although in Tojo is not as notorious as Hitler is in Europ, Tojo has an ominous presence within many countries in Asia. It was through the many crucial events Tojo authorized like The Battle of the Phillipipnes that made Tojo notorious there. Therefore through the many pivotal events Tojo conjured, Tojo proves himself to be a very important figure in World War II.
- Browne, Courtney. Tojo, the last banzai. New York City: Penguin Books, 1998. Print. A detailed spectrum into the life of Tojo especially during his role in World War II
- “Hideki Tojo.” ABC – CLIO. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2010. .
- “Hideki Tojo.” Spartacuz Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2010. . Hideki Tojo’s Biography
- History of World War II: Origins and Outbreak. N.p.: Marshall Cavendish, n.d. Print. Tojo was behind the Japanese Pearl Harbor Bombing
- “Kamikazes.” ABC – CLIO. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2010. . Kamikazes were encouraged by Tojo
- “Pearl Harbor.” ABC-CLIO:World History Modern Era. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2010. . Pearl Harbor bombings