Kantarō Suzuki

Last updated
Kantarō Suzuki
鈴木 貫太郎
Kantaro Suzuki suit.jpg
29th Prime Minister of Japan
Leader of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association
In office
7 April 1945 17 August 1945
Monarch Shōwa
Preceded by Kuniaki Koiso
Succeeded by Naruhiko Higashikuni
Personal details
Born(1868-01-18)18 January 1868
Kuze, Izumi, Japan
Died17 April 1948(1948-04-17) (aged 80)
Noda, Chiba, Japan
Political party Imperial Rule Assistance Association (19401945)
Other political
Independent (Before 1940 and after 1945)
Alma mater Imperial Japanese Naval Academy
Profession Admiral, politician
Awards Order of the Golden Kite (3rd class)
Signature SuzukiK kao.png
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service1884–1929
Rank Admiral
CommandsAkashi, Soya, Shikishima, Tsukuba
Maizuru Naval District, IJN 2nd Fleet, IJN 3rd Fleet, Kure Naval District, Combined Fleet

Baron Kantarō Suzuki(鈴木 貫太郎, 18 January 1868 17 April 1948 [1] ) was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy, member and final leader of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association and 42nd Prime Minister of Japan from 7 April to 17 August 1945.

Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary. The female equivalent is baroness.

Imperial Japanese Navy Naval branch of the Empire of Japan

The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.

Imperial Rule Assistance Association para-fascist organization in Japan

The Imperial Rule Assistance Association, or Imperial Aid Association, was Japan's wartime organization created by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on October 12, 1940, to promote the goals of his Shintaisei movement. It evolved into a "statist" ruling political party which aimed at removing the sectionalism in the politics and economics in the Empire of Japan to create a totalitarian one-party state, in order to maximize the efficiency of Japan's total war effort in China. When the organization was launched officially, Konoe was hailed as a "political savior" of a nation in chaos; however, internal divisions soon appeared.



Early life

Suzuki was born in Kuze village, Izumi Province (modern Sakai, Osaka) to a samurai magistrate of the Sekiyado Domain. He grew up in the city of Noda, Kazusa Province (present day Chiba Prefecture).

Izumi Province province of Japan

Izumi Province was a province of Japan. It is also referred to as Senshū(泉州). It lay in Kinai, and its area today composes the south-western part of Osaka Prefecture. The Ōshōji in Sakai was the border with Settsu Province, until the beginning of the Meiji period, when the boundary was changed to be at the Yamato River. Izumi was classified as a lower province in the Engishiki.

Samurai Military nobility of pre-industrial Japan

Samurai (侍) were the military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan.

Sekiyado Domain

Sekiyado Domain was a feudal domain under the Tokugawa shogunate of Edo period Japan, located in Shimōsa Province. It was centered on Sekiyado Castle in what is now the city of Noda, Chiba.

Suzuki entered the 14th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1884, graduating 13th of 45 cadets in 1888. Suzuki served on the corvettes Tsukuba, Tenryū and cruiser Takachiho as a midshipman. On being commissioned as ensign, he served on the corvette Amagi, corvette Takao, corvette Jingei, ironclad Kongō, and gunboat Maya. After his promotion to lieutenant on 21 December 1892, he served as chief navigator on the corvettes Kaimon, Hiei, and Kongō. [1]

Imperial Japanese Naval Academy

The Imperial Japanese Naval Academy was a school established to train officers for the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was originally located in Nagasaki, moved to Yokohama in 1866, and was relocated to Tsukiji, Tokyo in 1869. It moved to Etajima, Hiroshima in 1888. Students studied for three or four years, and upon graduation were commissioned as midshipmen, attaining the rank of ensign after a period of active duty and an overseas cruise. In 1943, a separate school for naval aviation was opened in Iwakuni, and in 1944, another naval aviation school was established in Maizuru. The Academy was closed in 1945, when the Imperial Japanese Navy was abolished. The Naval Academy Etajima opened in 1956 and the site now serves as the location for Officer Candidate School of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Corvette Small warship

A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below was historically that of the sloop-of-war. The modern types of ship below a corvette are coastal patrol craft, missile boat and fast attack craft. In modern terms, a corvette is typically between 500 tons and 2,000 tons although recent designs may approach 3,000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate.

Japanese corvette <i>Tenryū</i>

Tenryū was a sail-and-steam corvette of the early Imperial Japanese Navy. Tenryū was named after the Tenryū River in Shizuoka and Nagano Prefectures.

Suzuki served in the First Sino-Japanese War, commanding a torpedo boat and participated in a night torpedo assault in the Battle of Weihaiwei in 1895. Afterwards, he was promoted to lieutenant commander on 28 June 1898 after graduation from the Naval Staff College and assigned to a number of staff positions including that of naval attaché to Germany from 1901 to 1903. [1] On his return, he was promoted to commander on 26 September 1903. He came to be known as the leading torpedo warfare expert in the Imperial Japanese Navy. [2]

First Sino-Japanese War 1894–1895 war between the Qing dynasty and the Empire of Japan over influence in Joseon, fought chiefly in Joseon

The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between China and Japan primarily over influence in Korea. After more than six months of unbroken successes by Japanese land and naval forces and the loss of the port of Weihaiwei, the Qing government sued for peace in February 1895.

Torpedo boat small and fast naval vessel armed with torpedoes

A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other slow and heavily armed ships by using speed, agility, and the power of their torpedo weapons. A number of inexpensive torpedo boats attacking en masse could overwhelm a larger ship's ability to fight them off using its large but cumbersome guns. An inexpensive fleet of torpedo boats could pose a threat to much larger and more expensive fleets of capital ships, albeit only in the coastal areas to which their small size and limited fuel load restricted them.

Battle of Weihaiwei battle

The Battle of Weihaiwei (Japanese: Ikaiei-no-tatakai was a battle of the First Sino-Japanese War. It took place between 20 January and 12 February 1895 in Weihai, Shandong Province, China between the forces of the Japan and Qing China. In early January 1895, the Japanese landed forces in eastern Shandong positioning forces behind the Chinese naval base at Weihaiwei. Through a well coordinated offensive of both naval and land forces, the Japanese destroyed the forts and sank much of the Chinese fleet. With the Shandong and Liaoning peninsulas under Japanese control, the option for a pincer attack against the Chinese capital, Beijing, was now a possibility. This strategic threat forced the Chinese to sue for peace and led to the war's end in April 1895.

During the Russo-Japanese War, Suzuki commanded Destroyer Division 2 in 1904, which picked up survivors of the Port Arthur Blockade Squadron during the Battle of Port Arthur. He was appointed executive officer of the cruiser Kasuga on 26 February 1904, aboard which he participated in the Battle of the Yellow Sea. During the pivotal Battle of Tsushima, Suzuki was commander of Destroyer Division 4 under the IJN 2nd Fleet, which assisted in sinking the Russian battleship Navarin. [2]

Russo-Japanese War war between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan

The Russo-Japanese War was fought during 1904-1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea.

Battle of Port Arthur 1904 naval battle of the Russo-Japanese War

The Battle of Port Arthur of Monday 8 February – Tuesday 9 February 1904 marked the commencement of the Russo-Japanese War. It began with a surprise night attack by a squadron of Japanese destroyers on the neutral Russian fleet anchored at Port Arthur, Manchuria, and continued with an engagement the following morning; further skirmishing off Port Arthur would continue until May 1904. The attack ended inconclusively, though the war resulted in a decisive Japanese victory.

An executive officer (CCE) is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization. In many militaries, an executive officer, or "XO," is the second-in-command, reporting to the commanding officer. The XO is typically responsible for the management of day-to-day activities, freeing the commander to concentrate on strategy and planning the unit's next move.

After the war, Suzuki was promoted to captain on 28 September 1907 and commanded the destroyer Akashi (1908), followed by the cruiser Soya (1909), battleship Shikishima (1911) and cruiser Tsukuba (1912). Promoted to rear admiral on 23 May 1913 and assigned to command the Maizuru Naval District. Suzuki became Vice Minister of the Navy from 1914 to 1917, during World War I. [2] Promoted to vice admiral on 1 June 1917, [1] he brought the cruisers Asama and Iwate to San Francisco in early 1918 with 1,000 cadets, and was received by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral William Fullam. The Japanese cruisers then proceeded to South America. After stints as Commandant of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, Commander of the IJN 2nd Fleet, then the IJN 3rd Fleet, then Kure Naval District, he became a full admiral on 3 August 1923. Suzuki became Commander in Chief of Combined Fleet in 1924. [1] After serving as Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff from 15 April 1925 to 22 January 1929, he retired and accepted the position as Privy Councillor and Grand Chamberlain from 1929 to 1936.

Captain (naval) Naval military rank

Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The rank is equal to the army rank of colonel.

Destroyer Type of warship

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.

Japanese cruiser <i>Soya</i>

Soya (宗谷) was a protected cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy, acquired as a prize of war during the Russo-Japanese War from the Imperial Russian Navy, where it was originally known as the Russian cruiser Varyag.

Suzuki narrowly escaped assassination in the February 26 Incident in 1936; the would-be assassin's bullet remained inside Suzuki for the rest of his life, and was only revealed upon his cremation. Suzuki was opposed to Japan's war with the United States, before and throughout World War II.

Prime Minister

During his term as naval minister Suzuki Kantaro.jpg
During his term as naval minister

On 7 April 1945, following the Battle of Okinawa, Prime Minister Kuniaki Koiso resigned and Suzuki was appointed to take his place at the age of seventy-seven. He simultaneously held the portfolios for Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Greater East Asia.

Prime Minister Suzuki contributed to the final peace negotiations with the Allied Powers in World War II. He was involved in calling two unprecedented imperial conferences which helped resolve the split within the Japanese Imperial Cabinet over the Potsdam Declaration. He outlined the terms to Emperor Hirohito who had already agreed to accept unconditional surrender. This went strongly against the military faction of the cabinet, who desired to continue the war in hopes of negotiating a more favorable peace agreement. Part of this faction attempted to assassinate Suzuki twice in the Kyūjō Incident on the morning of 15 August 1945.

After the surrender of Japan became public, Suzuki resigned and Prince Higashikuni became next prime minister. Suzuki was the Chairman of the Privy Council from 7 August 1944 to 7 June 1945 and again after the surrender of Japan from 15 December 1945 to 13 June 1946.

Grave of Kantaro Suzuki Suzuki Kantaro 002.jpg
Grave of Kantaro Suzuki

Suzuki died of natural causes. His grave is in his home town of Noda, Chiba. One of his two sons became director of Japan's immigration service, while the other was a successful lawyer.


Museum of Kantaro Suzuki Suzuki Kantaro 001.jpg
Museum of Kantaro Suzuki

From the corresponding Japanese Wikipedia article



Court order of precedence


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Nishida, People of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
  2. 1 2 3 Kowner, Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War, p. 363–365.

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Military offices
Preceded by
Yamashita Gentarō
Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
15 April 1925 – 22 January 1929
Succeeded by
Katō Hiroharu
Political offices
Preceded by
Sutemi Chinda
Grand Chamberlain
22 January 1929 – 26 February 1936
Succeeded by
Saburō Hyakutake
Preceded by
Yoshimichi Hara
Chair of the Privy Council
10 August 1944 – 7 April 1945
Succeeded by
Kiichirō Hiranuma
Preceded by
Kuniaki Koiso
Prime Minister of Japan
7 April 1945 – 17 August 1945
Succeeded by
Naruhiko Higashikuni
Preceded by
Mamoru Shigemitsu
Minister for Foreign Affairs
7 April 1945 – 9 April 1945
Succeeded by
Shigenori Tōgō
Minister for Greater East Asia
7 April 1945 – 9 April 1945
Preceded by
Kiichirō Hiranuma
Chair of the Privy Council
15 December 1945 – 13 June 1946
Succeeded by
Shimizu Tōru