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Konoe Fumimaro

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

He was born a Prince into the ancient Fujiwara[?] family in Tokyo. He entered politics in 1920 as a moderate and a protege of Saionji Kimmochi, 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, Konoye 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. Hiranuma Kiichiro 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 Toyoda Teijiro[?] succeeding Matsuoka Yosuke[?] 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 the War Minister, Tojo Hideki.

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. He served in the Higashikuni cabinet, the first post-war government, but he came under suspicion of war crimes and committed suicide in December 1945.

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