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Ishiwara Kanji

(1889—1949)


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(b. 18 Jan. 1889, d. 15 Aug. 1949).

Japanese general Ishiwara was regarded by many as a prophet and a genius for his writing on Japan's imperial mission in Asia. He played a key role in the planning of the Manchurian Incident of September 1931, involving the military takeover of north‐eastern China. Before his posting to the Guandong Army, Ishiwara had established himself as a leading proponent of the idea that a war with the Western powers was inevitable. Influenced greatly by writers such as Nanbu Jirô, Ishiwara warned of an apocalyptic final war. In order to meet this challenge he recommended that Japan conquer east Asia so as to secure the natural resources of the region while, on the home front, he proposed that the institutions and society of Japan be remodelled. His plan, which became the Manchuria Five Year Development Plan in 1937, had the objective of increasing the economic production of the territory under Japan's control by the introduction of Japanese‐managed capital‐intensive industries in the region. Ishiwara's high standing within the imperial army was reflected in his appointment in 1935 as section chief of the operations division of the General Staff. Nevertheless, his increasing involvement in politics, especially his attempts to undermine the Ugaki Cabinet in January 1937, did lessen his reputation.

Despite his involvement in earlier Japanese aggression on the Asian continent, Ishiwara opposed the Sino‐Japanese War after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937, mainly because he considered the Soviet Union to be Japan's major enemy. With the escalation of the war, Ishiwara was largely sidelined by army appointments which removed him from close command and he was forced from the service in 1941. Called as a witness at the Tokyo Trials (1946–8), Ishiwara claimed his share of responsibility for the Manchurian Incident and expressed his amazement to the court that he was not standing in the dock with the accused. Ishiwara's brilliance and unorthodox behaviour attracted the admiration of many of his fellow officers while raising the suspicion of the military establishment.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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