Mamoru Shigemitsu

Last updated
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 Katsuo Okazaki
Succeeded by Shigeru Yoshida
In office
17 August 1945 15 September 1945
Prime Minister Naruhiko Higashikuni
Preceded by Shigenori Togo
Succeeded by Shigeru Yoshida
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
Hongkew Park, Shanghai, after the bombing in which Shigemitsu lost his leg on 29 April 1932. Hong Kou Gong Yuan Bao Zha Hou Xian Chang .jpg
Hongkew Park, Shanghai, after the bombing in which Shigemitsu lost his leg on 29 April 1932.
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.


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]

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.

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.

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.

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.

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; Archived 2007-09-27 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. 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
Office abolished
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