Mamoru Shigemitsu

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Mamoru Shigemitsu
重光 葵
Shigemitsu Mamoru.jpg
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
In office
10 December 1954 23 December 1956
Prime Minister Ichirō Hatoyama
Preceded by Taketora Ogata
Succeeded byMitsujiro Ishii
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
10 December 1954 23 December 1956
Prime Minister Ichirō Hatoyama
Preceded by Shigenori Togo
Succeeded by Shigeru Yoshida
In office
17 August 1945 15 September 1945
Prime Minister Naruhiko Higashikuni
Preceded by Shigenori Togo
Succeeded by Shigeru Yoshida
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
20 April 1943 7 April 1945
Prime Minister Hideki Tojo
Preceded by Masayuki Tani
Succeeded by Shigenori Togo
Personal details
BornJuly 29, 1887
Bungo-ōno, Ōita, Japan
DiedJanuary 26, 1957(1957-01-26) (aged 69)
Yugawara, Kanagawa, Japan
Alma mater Tokyo Imperial University
Shigemitsu (with cane) on board USS Missouri, September 2, 1945 Surrender of Japan - USS Missouri.jpg
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) Shigemitsu-signs-surrender.jpg
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 the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs at the end of World War II and later, as the Deputy Prime Minister of Japan.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan is the Cabinet member responsible for Japanese foreign policy and the chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Early life

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 1907. [1]

Ōita Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Ōita Prefecture is a prefecture on Kyushu region of Japan. The prefectural capital is the city of Ōita.

Early career

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

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Mukden Incident event in which Lt. Suemori Kawamoto of the Japanese Army detonated dynamite on a Japan-owned railway line near Mukden (now Shenyang) in 18 Sept. 1931, blamed by Japan on Chinese dissidents and used as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria

The Mukden Incident, or Manchurian Incident, was an event staged by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for the Japanese invasion in 1931 of northeastern China, known as 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.

National Revolutionary Army Nationalist Army of the Republic of China

The National Revolutionary Army (NRA), sometimes shortened to Revolutionary Army (革命軍) before 1928, and as National Army (國軍) after 1928, was the military arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947 in the Republic of China. It also became the regular army of the ROC during the KMT's period of party rule beginning in 1928. It was renamed the Republic of China Armed Forces after the 1947 Constitution, which instituted civilian control of the military.

Imperial Japanese Army Official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

Hirohito Emperor of Japan from 1926 until 1989

Hirohito was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 25 December 1926, until his death on 7 January 1989. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Akihito. In Japan, reigning emperors are known simply as "the Emperor" and he is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name, Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇). The word Shōwa (昭和) is the name of the era coinciding with the Emperor's reign, after which he is known according to a tradition dating to 1912.

Before World War II

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.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Battle of Lake Khasan battle

The Battle of Lake Khasan, also known as the Changkufeng Incident in China and Japan, was an attempted military incursion by Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state, into the territory claimed and controlled by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded in the belief of the Japanese side, that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation of the boundary based on the Treaty of Peking between Imperial Russia and Qing China and that the demarcation markers were tampered with. Japanese forces occupied the disputed area but withdrew after heavy fighting and a diplomatic settlement.

Tientsin incident international incident during the Second Sino-Japanese War

The Tientsin incident (天津事件) was an international incident created by a blockade by the Imperial Japanese Army's Japanese Northern China Area Army of the British settlements in the north China treaty port of Tientsin in June 1939. Originating as a minor administrative dispute, it escalated into a major diplomatic incident.

World War II

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, 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.

Yōsuke Matsuoka Japanese politician

Yōsuke Matsuoka was a Japanese diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan's participation in the organization. He was also one of the architects of the Tripartite Pact and the Japanese–Soviet Non-aggression Pact in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of war.

Tripartite Pact Treaty establishing the Axis Powers of World War Two

The Tripartite Pact, also known as the Berlin Pact, was an agreement between Germany, Italy and Japan signed in Berlin on 27 September 1940 by, respectively, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Galeazzo Ciano and Saburō Kurusu. It was a defensive military alliance that was eventually joined by Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, as well as by the German client state of Slovakia. Yugoslavia's accession provoked a coup d'état in Belgrade two days later, and Germany, Italy and Hungary responded by invading Yugoslavia and partitioning the country. The resulting Italo-German client state known as the Independent State of Croatia joined the pact on 15 June 1941.

Anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States has existed since the late 19th century, during the Yellow Peril. Anti-Japanese sentiment peaked during the Second World War and again in the 1970s-1980s with the rise of Japan as a major economic power.

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 with Japan. [3]

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 again held that post briefly in August 1945 in the Higashikuni administration.

Shigemitsu, as civilian plenipotentiary, along with General Yoshijirō Umezu, signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender 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, under charges of war crimes. 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 at 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 served as Foreign minister from 1954 to 1956 under the 1st to the 3rd Hatoyama administrations. He represented Japan at the 1955 Asian–African Conference held in Indonesia, which marked the beginning of the return of Japan to participating in an international conference since the League of Nations. The following year, he 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 its 80th member on December 18, 1956. [8]

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.


Shigemitsu died of angina pectoris, at 69, at his summer home in Yugawara, Kanagawa.

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  1. World War II database, accessed March 3, 2007
  2. "Jap Officers Hurt By Bomb Explosion", The Bismarck Tribune, April 29, 1932, p1;
  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. NHK "Sonotoki" transmission 305 of 14 Nov 2007


Political offices
Preceded by
Masayuki Tani
Minister for Foreign Affairs
April 1943 – April 1945
Succeeded by
Kantarō Suzuki
Preceded by
Kazuo Aoki
Minister of Greater East Asia
July 1944 – April 1945
Succeeded by
Kantarō Suzuki
Preceded by
Shigenori Tōgō
Minister of Greater East Asia
August 1945 – August 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Shigenori Tōgō
Minister for Foreign Affairs
August 1945 – September 1945
Succeeded by
Shigeru Yoshida
Preceded by
Katsuo Okazaki
Minister for Foreign Affairs
December 1954 – December 1956
Succeeded by
Nobusuke Kishi
Preceded by
Taketora Ogata
Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Mitsujirō Ishii