Fumimaro Konoe

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Prince Fujiwara (Konoe) Fumimaro

Prince Fumimaro Konoe (近衛 文麿 Konoe Fumimaro) (sometimes Konoye, October 12 1891December 16 1945) was a Japanese politician and the 34th (June 4 1937January 5 1939), 38th (July 22 1940July 18 1941) and 39th (July 18 1941October 18 1941) Prime Minister of Japan.

He was born a prince into the ancient Fujiwara clan, a heir of Duke Konoe family in Tokyo. He entered politics in 1920 as a moderate and a protege of Saionji Kinmochi, opposed to the power of the army.

In June 1937, he became Prime Minister in an attempt to balance the growing power of the military, but he turned increasingly militaristic himself. After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937 and under pressure from hard-liners, his cabinet agreed to expand operations in China and handed the entire conduct of the conflict in China to the military leaders to progress without government oversight. In November, Konoe announced Japan's aim of a new order in Asia, what would become the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and pressed China for concessions to end the Sino-Japanese War. He resigned on January 4 1939 over his failure to negotiate an end to the conflict in China. Kiichiro Hiranuma succeeded him as Prime Minister.

Konoe returned to the premiership on July 17, 1940, and despite negotiations with America he oversaw the build-up to war with Vice Admiral Teijiro Toyoda succeeding Yosuke Matsuoka as his belligerent foreign minister. He concluded an alliance with the Axis, issued the National Mobilization Law, created the foundations of a wartime government (called Shin Taisei or New Political Order) and in October 1940 established the Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) to replace the political parties, which had voluntarily dissolved themselves. Having failed to reach an agreement with the United States to (at least) avoid a war on two fronts, he resigned in October 1941, to be replaced by his War Minister, Hideki Tojo.

Konoe played a role in the fall of the Tojo government in 1944 and in February 1945 he advised the Emperor Hirohito to begin negotiations to end World War II. After the beginning of the American occupation, he served in the cabinet of Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, the first post-war government, but he came under suspicion of war crimes, in which he faced almost certain conviction and execution by hanging. In December 1945, before the American police arrived to arrest Konoe and deport him to Sugamo Prison, he shot himself in the head. So symbolically ended the era of the Fujiwara regents.

His maternal grandson, Morihiro Hosokawa, became prime minister fifty years later.

External links

  • Konoe biography (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWkondo.htm) From Spartacus Educational
Preceded by: (first term)
Senjuro Hayashi
Prime Minister of Japan
1937–1939, 1940–1941
Succeeded by: (first term)
Kiichiro Hiranuma
Preceded by: (second term)
Mitsumasa Yonai
Succeeded by: (second term)
Preceded by: (third term)
Succeeded by: (third term)
Hideki Tojo

nl:Fumimaro Konoe ja:近衛文麿


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