Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko

Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko

Infobox Politician
name = Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko

width =170px
height =300px
caption =Prime Minister of Japan
birth_date =birth date|1887|12|3|df=y
birth_place =Kyoto, Japan
residence =
death_date =death date and age|1990|1|20|1887|12|3
death_place =Tokyo, Japan
office =30th Prime Minister of Japan
salary =
term_start =17 August 1945
term_end = 9 October 1945
monarch = Emperor Showa
predecessor =Suzuki Kantaro
successor = Kijuro Shidehara
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occupation = Army General, Imperial Prince
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children =
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nihongo|Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko|東久邇宮 稔彦王|Higashikuni no miya Naruhiko ō |extra=3 December 1887 - 20 January 1990 was the 30th Prime Minister of Japan from 17 August 1945 to 9 October 1945 for a period of 54 days. An uncle of Emperor Shōwa twice over, Prince Higashikuni was the only member of the Japanese imperial family to head a cabinet. He also had the shortest tenure of any Japanese prime minister.


Early life

Prince Naruhiko was born in Kyoto, the ninth son of Prince Kuni Asahiko ("Kuni no miya Asahiko Shinnō") and the court lady Terao Utako. His father, Prince Asahiko (also known as "Shōren no miya Sun'yu" and "Nagakawa no miya Asahiko)", was a son of Prince Fushimi Kuniie ("Fushimi no miya Kuniie Shinnō"), the twentieth head of the Fushimi-no-miya, the oldest of the "sesshu shinnōke" or cadet branches of the imperial dynasty from whom an emperor might be chosen in default of a direct heir. Prince Naruhiko was a half-brother of Prince Kuni Kuniyoshi, the father of the future Empress Kōjun, the wife of Emperor Showa. His other half-brothers, Prince Asaka Yasuhiko, Prince Nashimoto Morimasa, and Prince Kaya Kuninori, all formed new branches of the imperial family (ōke) during the Meiji period.

Marriage and family

Emperor Meiji granted Prince Naruhiko the title "Higashikuni no miya" and permission to start a new branch of the imperial family on 3 November 1906. Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko married the ninth daughter of Emperor Meiji, Princess Toshiko (11 May 1896 - 5 March 1978), on 18 May 1915. The couple had four sons.

# Prince Higashikuni Morihiro (6 May 1916 - 1 February 1969); married Princess Shigeko (9 December 1925 - 23 June 1961), the eldest daughter of Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kojun.
#Prince Moromasa (Moromasa ō) (1917 - 1 September 1923); died in the Great Kanto Earthquake.
#Prince Akitsune (Akitsune ō), (born 13 May 1920), renounced imperial title and created Marquis Awata, 1940; lost title with enforcement of current Japanese Constitution; 3 May 1947 and adopted the surname Awata.
#Prince Toshihiko (Toshihiko ō), (born 24 March 1929, renounced imperial title and created Count Tarama, 1943; lost title with enforcement of current Japanese Constitution; 3 May 1947 and adopted the surname Tarama; relocated to city of Lins, São Paulo, Brazil, 1950.

Military career

Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko was a career officer in the Imperial Japanese Army. In 1908, he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and, in 1914, he graduated from the Army War College. He was commissioned a captain in the 29th Infantry Brigade, and promoted to major in the IJA 7th Division in 1915.

Prince Higashikuni then studied military tactics, at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in Paris France, from 1920 to 1926. Always somewhat of a rebel, Prince Higashikuni's behavior in Paris scandalized the Imperial Court. He left his wife and children in Japan, and the death of his second son did not prompt his return. He had a French mistress, enjoyed fast cars and high living. In 1926, the Imperial Household Ministry dispatched a chamberlain to Paris to collect him.

Upon his return to Japan, he was assigned to the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Headquarters and eventually rose to the rank of major general, having successively served as commander of the 5th Infantry Brigade (1930-1934), the IJA 4th Division (1934-1937), the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (1937-1938), and the IJA 2nd Army in China (1938-1939). While he was commander of the Army Air service, he ordered massive bombing of Chineses cities such as Shanghai and Chongqing. In 1937, the bombings of Nanjing and Guangzhou led to a resolution of protest by the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League of Nations.

Promoted to full general, Prince Higashikuni served from 1939 as a member of the Supreme War Council. He served as commander of the Home Defense Command from 1941 to 1944. The prince was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite, 1st Class in 1940.

As Prime Minister

Before the start of the Pacific War, in October 1941, outgoing Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe proposed Prince Higashikuni to Emperor Showa as his successor for prime minister. Konoe believed that only a member of the Imperial Family with a distinguished military background could restrain the pro-war faction (Hajime Sugiyama, Tojo Hideki, and Muto Akira). Prince Higashikuni was also the choice of the Chief of staff of the Army and the Navy. However, both Emperor Showa and the Lord Privy Seal, Kido Koichi, believed that it would be inappropriate for a member of the Imperial Family to serve as he could be blamed for the war. The emperor thus chose Hideki Tojo instead .

Prince Higashikuni was part of the conspiracy (with Prince Asaka, Prince Takamatsu, and former Prime Minister Konoe) which ousted Tojo in July 1944 following the fall of Saipan to American forces.

After the course of the war turned against Japan, Emperor Showa appointed Prince Higashikuni to the position of Prime Minister of Japan on 16 August 1945, replacing Admiral Suzuki Kantaro. The mission of the Higashikuni cabinet was twofold: first, to ensure the orderly cessation of hostilities and demobilization of the Japanese armed forces; and second, to reassure the Japanese people that the imperial institution remained secure. Prince Higashikuni resigned in October over a dispute with the American occupation forces over the repeal of the 1925 Peace Preservation Law.

Life after resignation

On 27 February and 4 March 1946, Prince Higashikuni gave interviews to the "Yomiuri-Hochi" and "New York Times" in which he claimed that many members of the imperial family had approved Emperor Hirohito’s abdication, with Prince Takamatsu serving as regent until Crown Prince Akihito came of age. In the government, only Prime Minister Shidehara and the imperial household minister opposed this.

In 1946, Prince Higashikuni asked the emperor for permission to renounce his membership in the Imperial Family and become a commoner. Emperor Shōwa denied the request. However, along with other members of the imperial branch families ("shinnōke" and "ōke"), Prince Higashikuni lost his title and most of his wealth as a result of the American occupation’s abolition of the princely houses on 17 October 1947.

As a private citizen, Higashikuni operated several unsuccessful retail enterprises (including a provisions store, second-hand goods store, and dressmaker's shop). He even created his own new Zen Buddhism-based religious sect, the "Higashikuni-kyo", which was subsequently banned by the American occupation authorities.

The former prince became the honorary chairman of the International Martial Arts Federation (IMAF) in 1957, and honorary president of several other organizations.

In 1958, Higashikuni published his wartime journals under the title, "Ichi Kozuko no senso Nikki" (or The War Diary of a Member of the Imperial Family). He published his memoirs, "Higashikuni Nikki", in 1968.

Former Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko died of heart failure in Tokyo on 20 January 1990 at the age of 102, having outlived his wife, two of his sons, his siblings, and his nephew, the Shōwa Emperor. Higashikuni is today mainly remembered as Japan's first postwar prime minister. He was one of the longest lived prime ministers of all time, along with Willem Drees, Christopher Hornsrud and Antoine Pinay.



* Dower, John W. "". W. W. Norton & Company (2000). ISBN 0-393-32027-8
* Frank, Richard B. Downfall: "The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire". Penguin (Non-Classics); Reissue edition (2001). ISBN 0-14-100146-1
* Manchester, William. "". Little, Brown and Company (1978). ISBN 0-316-54498-1
* Spector, Ronald. "Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan". Vintage; Vintage edition (1985). ISBN 0-394-74101-3
* Toland, John. "The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945". Modern Library; Reprint edition (2003). ISBN 0-8129-6858-1

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