Who was the leader of Japan during WWII?

Feb 2018
29
Texas
#2
Yes, it was the Emperor Showa. He had a number of Prime Ministers under him including General Tojo. The main role of Japan during WW2 was to accelerate the decolonization of Asia from Western Powers. After humiliating the colonial powers by seizing their colonies, the Japanese encouraged independence movements in such places like Burma and the Dutch East Indies. Coupled with the catastrophic losses suffered in Europe, the colonial powers lost their will to conduct a protracted struggle to maintain their possessions. To be sure, France held out until 1954 but folded quickly after Dien Bien Phu. The Americans were wise to grant the Philippines their independence in 1946.
 
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robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,082
Lisbon, Portugal
#3
That's somewhat a difficult question to answer.
The Showa Emperor was officially the head of State and the main leading figure in Imperial Japan, but the Meiji constitution didn't exactly laid out what the competences and specific powers the Emperor would have. He was officially above politics, he was to be considered as the unquestioned leader, a divinity and holding the power to make any decision he wanted.

Although officially he was somehow the supreme leader of the country, throughout the Meiji period until 1945 the Emperor did not truly govern the country, instead it was the prime-minister or his advisers that acted under his name.

Japan by WW2 was completely controlled by the military, specially under Tojo premiership between 1941 and 1944. Hideki Tojo was not in anyway a supreme leader like Hitler and Mussolini were, he also wasn't the architect of the aggressive military expansion of Japan towards mainland Asia, and neither he was the principal figure that lead Japan going towards a militarist and totalitarian road, but he was indeed among the most outspoken proponents for a preventive war against the allied powers in the Asia-Pacific region and the leading figure during the height of Japan´s involvement in WW2.

You can say that Tojo was the main leading figure in Japan during WW2, but he was not the prime-minister when Japan signed the Anti-Comintern and Tripartite Pact; he wasn't prime-minister when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and rest of China in 1937; he also wasn't the leading political figure throughout the end of the 1930s when Japan ditch off any democratic institution left in Japan and imposed a totalitarian State totally focused in mass mobilization and total war; and finally, he was dismissed as prime-minister in 1944...and Japan only surrendered in 1945...

Japan during WW2 was effectively ruled by a fanatical click composed mainly of military officers and a few conservative bureaucrats. There was no single political party or single leader they could rely on or follow - they only had the Emperor and everything that ruling click did it was all under the name and desires of the Emperor. We don't exactly know if Showa Emperor was really actively involved in the decisions that lead Japan to be a belligerent country in WW2 or not. That's debatable. He does carry responsibility for everything Japan did during that period, though.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,583
#4
Just to indicate the complexities – as late as 1940 Japan had Admiral Yonai (Mitsumasa) as its Prime Minister, largely through the direct support of the Showa emperor himself. Yonai was navy, inherently opposed to the political aspirations of the army – and he was also of the same cloth as his junior Yamamoto, in that the was absolutely opposed to a pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and even more so of taking any risk of war with the US (an unwinable non-starter).

Yonai was forced to step down by the second half of 1940, largely after a direct conflict with Field Marshall Hata (Shunroku). Tojo was then appointed as a moderate independent who could implement the desired policies of the Toseiha faction ("Control") which WAS the political moderates (relatively speaking) within the upper echelons of the Japanese army, who had defeated and broken their much more radical adversaries in the Kodoha ("Imperial") faction – the people who REALLY wanted full-bore totalitarianism, militarism and maximum expansion through war. After a showdown the Kodoha was effectively disolved in 1936, many members punished in various forms, and many of the leadership actually executed.
 
May 2019
1
ny
#5
I am looking for information about allied troops traveling through Nagasaki after being bombed my father inlaw said he did but army has no record of this.
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,082
Lisbon, Portugal
#6
Just to indicate the complexities – as late as 1940 Japan had Admiral Yonai (Mitsumasa) as its Prime Minister, largely through the direct support of the Showa emperor himself. Yonai was navy, inherently opposed to the political aspirations of the army – and he was also of the same cloth as his junior Yamamoto, in that the was absolutely opposed to a pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and even more so of taking any risk of war with the US (an unwinable non-starter).

Yonai was forced to step down by the second half of 1940, largely after a direct conflict with Field Marshall Hata (Shunroku). Tojo was then appointed as a moderate independent who could implement the desired policies of the Toseiha faction ("Control") which WAS the political moderates (relatively speaking) within the upper echelons of the Japanese army, who had defeated and broken their much more radical adversaries in the Kodoha ("Imperial") faction – the people who REALLY wanted full-bore totalitarianism, militarism and maximum expansion through war. After a showdown the Kodoha was effectively disolved in 1936, many members punished in various forms, and many of the leadership actually executed.
The Toseiha faction and Kodoha faction only really differed to the methods they should use, not really the end result.
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,082
Lisbon, Portugal
#9
Imperial Rule Assistance Association
In a way this is it. Though the Taisei Yokusankai was not really the same as the Nazi or Fascist parties.
That party was founded after the Militarist acquired total power over Japan. It was more of an attempt to maximize the totalitarian process of the political, economic and social life in Japan - which was already taking place since the initiation of the Second Sino-Japanese war.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,126
Republika Srpska
#10
That party was founded after the Militarist acquired total power over Japan. It was more of an attempt to maximize the totalitarian process of the political, economic and social life in Japan - which was already taking place since the initiation of the Second Sino-Japanese war.
I agree. Taisei Yokusankai was actually the result of Japan's expansionism rather than the driving force behind it, but I just wanted to show that in a way WW2 Japan also had a single party (perhaps the better word is organization) that dominated.
 
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