|16th Prime Minister of Japan|
20 April 1927 – 2 July 1929
|Preceded by||Wakatsuki Reijirō|
|Succeeded by||Osachi Hamaguchi|
22 June 1864|
Hagi, Chōshū Domain
29 September 1929 (aged 65)|
|Resting place||Tama Reien Cemetery, Fuchū, Tokyo|
|Political party||Rikken Seiyūkai|
Imperial Japanese Army Academy|
Army War College
Early life and military career
Tanaka was born to a samurai family in Hagi, Nagato Province (modern day Yamaguchi Prefecture), Japan. He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and the 8th class of the Army War College in 1892, and served in the First Sino-Japanese War.
After the end of the war, he was sent as a military attaché to Moscow and Petrograd, and was in Russia at the same time as Takeo Hirose of the Imperial Japanese Navy, with whom he became close friends. Tanaka was fluent in the Russian language, which he learned while attending mass every Sunday at a Russian Orthodox church, which enabled him to practice his Russian at church social events, although it is uncertain if he ever actually converted to Christianity. Later in the Russo-Japanese War, he served as aide to General Kodama Gentarō in Manchuria. In 1906, Tanaka helped draft a defense plan which was so highly regarded by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff and General Yamagata Aritomo that it was adopted as basic policy until World War I. He was also awarded the Order of the Golden Kite (3rd class) in April 1906.
In 1911, Tanaka was promoted to major general, and was made director of the Military Affairs Bureau at the Army Ministry, where he recommended an increase in the strength of the standing army by two additional infantry divisions. He was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class) in September 1918.
Promoted to full general in 1920, he served as War Minister under Prime Ministers Hara Takashi (1918–21) and the 2nd Yamamoto administrations (1923–24), during which time he backed the Siberian Intervention. He was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (1st class) in September 1920.
After retiring from the army, he was invited to accept the post of party president of the Rikken Seiyūkai political party in 1925, and was made a member of the House of Peers. He was later elevated to the title of danshaku (Baron) under the kazoku peerage system. Tanaka had been scheduled to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal at the time of his retirement. However, when news reached the ears of the Army Ministry of a 3 million Yen bonus that Tanaka received on agreeing to join the Rikken Seiyukai, the promotion was denied.
As Prime Minister
Tanaka became Prime Minister of Japan on 20 April 1927, during the Shōwa financial crisis, serving simultaneously as the Foreign Affairs Minister. He later added the posts of Home Minister (4 May 1928 to 23 May 1928), and Colonial Affairs Minister (10 June 1929 to 2 July 1929) to his portfolio.
On the domestic front, Tanaka attempted to suppress leftists, Communists and suspected Communist sympathizers through widespread arrests (the 15 March incident of 1928, and the 19 April incident of 1929).
On foreign policy, Tanaka differed from his predecessor Shidehara both tactically and strategically. Whereas Shidehara preferred to evacuate Japanese residents where conflicts occurred with local people, Tanaka preferred using military force. While Shidehara theoretically respected China's sovereignty, Tanaka openly pursued a "separation of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia policy" (満蒙分離政策 Man-Mō bunri seisaku) to create a sense of difference between those areas and the rest of China. On three separate occasions in 1927–1928 he sent troops to intervene militarily in China to block Chiang Kai-shek's Northern Expedition to unify China under Guomindang rule, in what became known as the Jinan Incident.
Tanaka came into office even as forces were already beginning to converge that would draw Japan into World War II. In 1928, however, the machinations of the ultranationalist secret societies and the Kwantung Army resulted in a crisis: the assassination of the Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin and the failed attempt to seize Manchuria. Tanaka himself was taken by surprise by the assassination plot and argued that the officers responsible should be publicly court-martialed for homicide. The military establishment, from which Tanaka was by now estranged, insisted on covering up the facts of the incident, which remained an official secret. Bereft of support, and under mounting criticism in the Diet and even from Emperor Hirohito himself, Tanaka and his cabinet resigned en masse on 2 July 1929.
Tanaka was succeeded by Hamaguchi Osachi, and he died a few months after his resignation. He was awarded the Order of the Paulownia Flowers on his death. His grave is at the Tama Cemetery in Fuchū, Tokyo.
The Tanaka Memorial
In 1929, China accused Tanaka of having authored the "Tanaka Memorial Imperialist Conquest Plan", which advocated the conquest of Manchuria, Mongolia, and eventually the whole of China. He was alleged to have presented the plan to the Emperor in 1927. The plan was presented as fact in the wartime propaganda movies Why We Fight, which claimed that the plan envisaged the conquest of America after East Asia. In a memoir published in the mid-1950s, a Japanese-born Taiwanese businessman, Tsai Chih-Kan, claimed that he had personally copied the "Plan" from the Imperial Library on the night of 20 June 1928, in a covert action assisted by several of Japan's leading pre-war politicians and officers who were opposed to Tanaka. Today, most historians regard the document as a forgery.
Awards and Decorations
From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia
- Order of the Golden Kite, 3rd class (April 1906)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (September 1918)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (September 1920)
- Baron (September 1920)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers (September 1929)
- Knight Grand Cross of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE)
- Knight Commander of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG)
- Order of the Striped Tiger, 1st Class
- Hall, John Whitney (1988). The Cambridge History of Japan. 6. pp. 286–287.
- Giichi Tanaka at Find a Grave
- Dower, John W (1987). War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. Pantheon. ISBN 0-394-75172-8. p.22.
- 日本批判の根拠『田中上奏文』 中国側 『偽物』認める見解 Archived 2 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Tokyo Shimbun, 1 January 2008
- Gluck, Carol. Japan's Modern Myths. Princeton University Press (1987). ISBN 0-691-00812-4
- Hane, Mikiso. Modern Japan: A Historical Survey. Westview Press (2001). ISBN 0-8133-3756-9
- Harries, Meirion. Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army. Random House; Reprint edition (1994). ISBN 0-679-75303-6
- Morton, William Finch. Tanaka Giichi and Japan's China Policy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Giichi Tanaka.|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
| Army Minister
Sept 20, 1918 – 9 Jun 1921
| Army Minister
Sept 2, 1923 – 7 Jan 1924
| Minister of Foreign Affairs
20 April 1927 – 2 July 1929
| Home Minister
4 May 1928 – 23 May 1928
| Minister of Colonial Affairs
10 June 1929 – 2 July 1929
| Prime Minister of Japan