Mamoru Shigemitsu

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Mamoru Shigemitsu
重光 葵
Shigemitsu Mamoru.jpg
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
In office
December 10, 1954 – December 23, 1956
Prime MinisterIchirō Hatoyama
Preceded byTaketora Ogata
Succeeded byMitsujiro Ishii
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
December 10, 1954 – December 23, 1956
Prime MinisterIchirō Hatoyama
Preceded byKatsuo Okazaki
Succeeded byNobusuke Kishi
In office
August 17, 1945 – September 15, 1945
Prime MinisterNaruhiko Higashikuni
Preceded byShigenori Togo
Succeeded byShigeru Yoshida
In office
April 20, 1943 – April 7, 1945
Prime MinisterHideki Tojo
Preceded byMasayuki Tani
Succeeded byShigenori Togo
Personal details
BornJuly 29, 1887
Bungo-ōno, Ōita, Japan
DiedJanuary 26, 1957(1957-01-26) (aged 69)
Yugawara, Kanagawa, Japan
Alma materTokyo Imperial University
Hongkew Park, Shanghai, after the bombing in which Shigemitsu lost his leg on April 29, 1932.
Shigemitsu (with cane) on board USS Missouri, September 2, 1945
Shigemitsu signs the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of World War II, accompanied by Toshikazu Kase (right)

Mamoru Shigemitsu (重光 葵, Shigemitsu Mamoru, July 29, 1887 – January 26, 1957) was a Japanese diplomat and politician in the Empire of Japan, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs three times during and after World War II as well as the Deputy Prime Minister of Japan.

Early life and career[edit]

Shigemitsu was born in what is now part of the city of Bungo-ōno, Ōita Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from the Law School of Tokyo Imperial University in 1911 and immediately entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[1] After World War I, he served in numerous overseas diplomatic assignments, including Germany, the United Kingdom, and, briefly, as consul at the Japanese consulate in Seattle, Washington, United States.

Activities in the lead-up to World War II[edit]

Following the Mukden Incident in 1931, Shigemitsu was active in various European capitals, attempting to reduce alarm at Japanese military activities in Manchuria.

During the First Shanghai Incident of 1932, he was successful in enlisting the aid of western nations in brokering a ceasefire between the Kuomintang Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. On April 29, 1932, while attending a celebration for the birthday of Emperor Hirohito in Shanghai, a Korean independence activist, Yoon Bong-Gil threw a bomb at a reviewing stand killing General Yoshinori Shirakawa and wounding several others, including Shigemitsu.[2] Shigemitsu lost his right leg in the attack and walked with an artificial leg and cane for the rest of his life.

Shigemitsu later became ambassador to the Soviet Union, and in 1938, he negotiated a settlement of the Russo-Japanese border clash at Changkufeng Hill. He then became Japan's ambassador to the United Kingdom during a period of deteriorating Anglo-Japanese relations, most notably the Tientsin incident of 1939, which pushed Japan to the brink of war with the United Kingdom. He was recalled in June 1941.

World War II[edit]

Shigemitsu was highly critical of the foreign policies of Yōsuke Matsuoka, especially the Tripartite Pact, which he warned would further strengthen anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. Shigemitsu spent two weeks in Washington, DC, on the way back from Great Britain, conferring with Ambassador Kichisaburō Nomura to try unsuccessfully to arrange for direct face-to-face negotiations between Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Shigemitsu's many attempts to stave off World War II angered the militarists in Tokyo, and only two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Shigemitsu was sidelined with an appointment as ambassador to the Japanese-sponsored Reorganized National Government of China. In China, Shigemitsu argued that the success of the proposed Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere depended on the equal treatment of China and other Asian nations by Japan.[3][page needed]

On April 20, 1943, in a move that was viewed as a sign that Japan might be preparing for a collapse of the Axis Powers, Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō replaced Foreign Minister Masayuki Tani with Shigemitsu, who had been steadfast in his opposition to the militarists. He was thus foreign minister during the Greater East Asia Conference.[4] The American press often referred to him in headlines as "Shiggy".[5]

From July 22, 1944, to April 7, 1945, he served simultaneously as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Greater East Asia in the Koiso administration.[6] He then again served as Minister of Foreign Affairs briefly in August 1945 in the Higashikuni administration, right before Japan's surrender.

Shigemitsu, as civilian plenipotentiary, along with General Yoshijirō Umezu, signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board the battleship USS. Missouri on September 2, 1945.


Despite Shigemitsu's well-known opposition to the war, at the insistence of the Soviet Union, he was taken into custody by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and held in Sugamo Prison, as an accused war criminal. Despite a signed deposition by Joseph Grew, the former ambassador of the United States to Japan, over the protests of Joseph B. Keenan, the chief prosecutor,[7] Shigemitsu's case came to trial. He was convicted by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for waging "an aggressive war." He was paroled in 1950.

After the end of the occupation of Japan, Shigemitsu formed the short-lived Kaishintō party, which merged with the Japan Democratic Party in 1954. In October 1952, he was elected to a seat in the Lower House of the Diet of Japan, and in 1954, he became Deputy Prime Minister of Japan under Prime Minister Ichirō Hatoyama, the leader of Japan Democratic Party. The cabinet continued after the merger of JDP and Liberal Party as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 1955, and Shigemitsu continued to hold the post of Deputy Prime Minister of Japan until 1956.

Shigemitsu concurrently served as Foreign minister from 1954 to 1956. In April 1955, he represented Japan at the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia, which marked the beginning of the return of Japan to participating in an international conference since the League of Nations. Then in August, Shigemitsu led a high-level Japanese delegation to the United States to press for a revision to the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, but this effort was met with a cold reception from Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who had been the treaty's primary architect and was loath to revisit it.[8] Dulles told Shigemitsu in no uncertain terms that any discussion of treaty revision was "premature" because Japan lacked "the unity, cohesion, and capacity to operate under a new treaty arrangement," and Shigemitsu was forced to return to Japan empty-handed.[9]

The following year, Shigemitsu addressed the United Nations General Assembly, pledging Japan's support of the founding principles of the United Nations and formally applying for membership. Japan became the UN's 80th member on December 18, 1956.[10] Shigemitsu also travelled to Moscow in 1956 in an attempt to normalize diplomatic relations and to resolve the Kuril Islands dispute. The visit resulted in the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956.


In January 1957, a year after his visit to the USSR, Shigemitsu died of myocardial infarction, at 69, at his summer home in Yugawara, Kanagawa.[11]


  1. ^ Hoover, William D. (2018). Historical Dictionary of Postwar Japan. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. p. 351. ISBN 9781538111567.
  2. ^ "Jap Officers Hurt By Bomb Explosion", The Bismarck Tribune, April 29, 1932, p1; Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Toland, The Rising Sun. Random House, New York (1970)
  4. ^ "Jap Cabinet is Shaken Up", Nevada State Journal, April 21, 1943, p1
  5. ^ "Shigemitsu, Mamoru", Current Biography 1943, p692
  6. ^ Shigemitsu, Mamoru (1958). Japan and Her Destiny: My Struggle for Peace. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. pp. 319–320.
  7. ^ Fischel, Elaine. Defending the Enemy, Bascom Hill Books ISBN 1-935456-03-2 page 297
  8. ^ Kapur, Nick (2018). Japan at the Crossroads: Conflict and Compromise after Anpo. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 12, 38–39. ISBN 978-0674984424.
  9. ^ Kapur, Nick (2018). Japan at the Crossroads: Conflict and Compromise after Anpo. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0674984424.
  10. ^ NHK "Sonotoki" transmission 305 of November 14, 2007
  11. ^ "Mamoru Shigemitsu, 69, Dead; Surrendered for Japan to Allies; Former Foreign Minister Was Imprisoned for War Crime --Led Nation Into U.N. Made Peace Overtures Entered Foreign Ministry Tried With Tojo". The New York Times. January 26, 1957. Retrieved August 15, 2020.


  • Shigemitsu, Mamoru (1958). Japan and Her Destiny: My Struggle for Peace. F.S.G. Piggott (editing), Oswald White (translation). New York: Dutton. OCLC 1069057234.
  • Archive Footage references to Shigemitsu at Internet Movie Database [1]
  • Website on exhibition in Japanese Parliament Nov 8-30, 2007 [2], accessed November 14, 2007

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs
April 1943 – April 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Greater East Asia
July 1944 – April 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Greater East Asia
August 1945 – August 1945
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs
August 1945 – September 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs
December 1954 – December 1956
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by