Kazushige Ugaki

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Kazushige Ugaki
宇垣 一成
Kazushige Ugaki 2.jpg
As War Minister (1924)
Native name 宇垣 一成
Born August 9, 1868
Okayama, Bizen Province, Japan
Died April 30, 1956(1956-04-30) (aged 87)
Izunokuni, Shizuoka, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1891–1931
Rank General
Commands held IJA 10th Division
Awards Order of the Golden Kite (3rd class)
Other work

Kazushige Ugaki (宇垣 一成, Ugaki Kazushige, 9 August 1868 – 30 April 1956) was a Japanese general in the Imperial Japanese Army, the 5th principal of Takushoku University, and twice Governor-General of Korea.

Early career[edit]

Ugaki was born to a samurai family in Seto-town, Bizen Province (currently Okayama Prefecture). He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1891, and the Army Staff College in 1900.

Ugaki was sent as military attaché to Germany from 1902–1904 and again from 1906-1907. In 1910, he was promoted to colonel and in 1915 was promoted to major general, at which time he was made Commandant of the Army Staff College from 1919–1921 and commander of the IJA 10th Division from 1921-1922. In 1923, Ugaki became Vice Minister of the Army.

Minister of War & Governor General of Korea[edit]

From 1924-1927, Ugaki served as Minister of War in the Kiyoura, Katō Takaaki and First Wakatsuki Cabinets. While Minister of War, Ugaki strove to protect the superior position of the Imperial Japanese Army in Japanese politics, fearing a loss of influence to the Imperial Japanese Navy, should the United States be judged "Hypothetical National Enemy No. 1". Ugaki's plans called for an Army of 50 divisions.

Nevertheless, despite Ugaki's strenuous opposition, the Katō Takaaki cabinet continued with its fiscal retrenchment policy (from 1 May 1925) and Ugaki was forced to eliminate four infantry divisions (the IJA 13th Division, IJA 15th Division, IJA 17th Division, and IJA 18th Division), which resulted in the release of approximately 2,000 commissioned officers. He was also forced to shorten the period of time conscripts served with the remaining divisions. This made Ugaki an extremely unpopular figure within the Army, and in 1927 Ugaki accepted a posting as Governor-General of Korea rather than continue as Minister of War.[1]

In 1929, Ugaki was promoted to full general. He became Minister of War once again under the Hamaguchi cabinet.

In 1931, although Ugaki refused to cooperate with them, he also failed to punish the insurgents responsible for the March Incident, an attempted coup-d'etat by young officers and ultranationists in the Sakura Kai who sought to make him prime minister. Having lost the support of his fellow officers, Ugaki resigned from the military and once again accepted a posting as Governor-General of Korea.

During his second period in Korea, Ugaki made concentrated efforts to build up the industrial base in the Korean peninsula, especially in the areas of heavy industry and munitions, which he felt would be invaluable in an upcoming war with China, which he considered unavoidable in the near future.[2]

Almost Prime Minister[edit]

Recalled to Japan after the fall of the Hirota administration, Ugaki was named Prime Minister in February 1937, but was unable to form a Cabinet due to strong opposition from his political enemies within the Army. After the February 26 Incident in 1936, the Japanese military had obtained a restoration of the requirement that the Army and Navy Ministers must be selected only from active duty officers. Ugaki, although Prime Minister-designate (and a retired full general in his own right) was persona non grata with the Army leadership over his previous terms as Minister of War and the March Incident, along with his alleged ties to the zaibatsu businesses over the Korean industrialization program, so they refused to provide him with a Minister of War. As a consequence, although officially appointed, Ugaki could never take office. The post of prime minister then went to Senjūrō Hayashi, another ex-general and member of the Tōseiha faction.

The Imperial Japanese Army's ability to control the formation of a government by means of withholding nomination of a cabinet minister was a staggering blow to the evolution of parliamentary government and democracy in Japan and unquestionably, the decisive factor in the military supremacy over civilian authority before and during World War II.[3]

Subsequent career[edit]

In May 1938, Ugaki became Foreign Minister under the 1st Konoe administration, simultaneously holding the portfolio of Minister of Colonial Affairs, but resigned after only 4 months.

In 1944, Ugaki left politics and accepted the post of president of Takushoku University, which he held throughout the remainder of the war years.

After World War II, along with all former members of the Japanese government, Ugaki was purged from public service and arrested by the American Occupation authorities. However, he was never charged with any war crimes, and was soon released.

In 1953, Ugaki ran for public office on a national ticket and was elected to the House of Councillors in the post-war Diet of Japan with an overwhelming vote. Ugaki died in 1956 at his summer villa in Izunokuni, Shizuoka. His grave is at Tama Cemetery, in Fuchū, Tokyo.[4]



  • Bix, Herbert P. (2001). Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-093130-2.
  • Humphreys, Leonard (1995). The Way of the Heavenly Sword: The Japanese Army in the 1920's. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2375-3.
  • Pratt, Keith (2007). Everlasting Flower: A History of Korea. Reaktion Books. ISBN 1-86189-335-3.
  • Toland, John (2003). The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945. Modern Library. ISBN 0-8129-6858-1.
  • Ugaki, Kazushige (1934). The Bright Future for Chosen. Signs of The Times Publishing House. ASIN: B00088BOP4.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Humphreys, The Way of the Heavenly Sword
  2. ^ Pratt, Everlasting Flower
  3. ^ Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
  4. ^ Find-a-grave website
Political offices
Preceded by
Giichi Tanaka
Army Minister
Succeeded by
Yoshinori Shirakawa
Preceded by
Makoto Saito
Japanese Governor-General of Korea
Succeeded by
Hanzō Yamanashi
Preceded by
Yoshinori Shirakawa
Army Minister
Succeeded by
Jirō Minami
Preceded by
Makoto Saito
Japanese Governor-General of Korea
Succeeded by
Jirō Minami
Preceded by
Hirota Kōki
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Hachirō Arita
Preceded by
Sonyu Ōtani
Minister of Colonial Affairs
Succeeded by
Fumimaro Konoe
Academic offices
Preceded by
Hidejirō Nagata
Principal of Takushoku University
Succeeded by
Hiroshi Shimomura
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Tenkō Nijita
Oldest member of the House of Councillors of Japan
Succeeded by
Toyokazu Ishizaka