Seishirō Itagaki

Last updated
Seishirō Itagaki
Seishiro Itagaki.jpg
Minister of War of the Japanese Empire
In office
3 June 1938 30 August 1939
Monarch Shōwa
Prime Minister
Preceded by Hajime Sugiyama
Succeeded by Shunroku Hata
Personal details
Born(1885-01-21)21 January 1885
Morioka, Iwate, Japan
Died23 December 1948(1948-12-23) (aged 63)
Tokyo, Japan
Cause of death Hanging
Alma mater Imperial Japanese Army Academy
Profession Military
Military service
AllegianceMerchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan
Branch/serviceWar flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg  Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1904–1945
Rank General Di Guo Lu Jun noJie Ji --Jin Zhang --Da Jiang .svg

Seishirō Itagaki (板垣 征四郎, Itagaki Seishirō, 21 January 1885 – 23 December 1948) was a Japanese military officer and politician who served as a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and War Minister from 1938 to 1939.


Itagaki was a main conspirator behind the Mukden Incident and held prestigious chief of staff posts in the Kwantung Army and China Expeditionary Army during the early Second Sino–Japanese War. Itagaki became War Minister but fell from grace after Japanese defeat in the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts, serving as general for several field armies until surrendering Japanese forces in Southeast Asia in 1945. Itagaki was convicted of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and executed in 1948.

Early life

Seishirō Itagaki was born on 21 January 1885 in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, into a former samurai family that had served the Nanbu clan of the Morioka Domain. Itagaki's father, Masanori Itagaki, served as mayor for Kesen District and as a headmaster for a girls school. Itagaki was raised in a Nichiren Buddhist family belonging to the Nichiren-shū sect. Itagaki attended the junior high school in Morioka (at the same time Kyōsuke Kindaichi, Koshirō Oikawa, and Kodō Nomura) before attending the regional military school in Sendai.

Military career

The newly appointed War Minister Itagaki (center, stepping down from the rock) with his vice-minister Hideki Tojo (right) and Navy minister Mitsumasa Yonai (left, in black Navy uniform, standing on the rock) Yonai, Itagaki, Tojo.jpg
The newly appointed War Minister Itagaki (center, stepping down from the rock) with his vice-minister Hideki Tōjō (right) and Navy minister Mitsumasa Yonai (left, in black Navy uniform, standing on the rock)

Itagaki entered the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, where he befriended numerous notable Japanese military figures including Yasuji Okamura, Kenji Doihara, and Tetsuzan Nagata. Itagaki graduated from the Army Academy in 1904 and fought in the Russo–Japanese War. Itagaki married Kikuko Ogoshi, the daughter of his former mentor Kenkichi Ogoshi who died in the Battle of Mukden.

From 1924 to 1926, Itagaki was a military attaché assigned to the Japanese embassy in China. On his return to Japan, he held a number of staff positions within the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff until 1927 before being given a field command as commanding officer of the IJA 33rd Infantry Brigade based in China. His brigade was attached to the IJA 10th Division from 1927 to 1928. Itagaki was then transferred to command the IJA 33rd Infantry Regiment in China from 1928 to 1929, under the aegis of the prestigious Kwantung Army. In 1931, Itagaki rose to become Chief of the Intelligence Section of the Kwantung Army, in which capacity he helped plan the 1931 Mukden Incident that led to the Japanese seizure of Manchuria. [1] Itagaki was subsequently a military advisor to the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo from 1932 to 1934. In 1934, Itagaki became Vice Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army, and in 1936 was promoted to Chief of Staff. [2] From 1937 to 1938, Itagaki was commander of the IJA 5th Division in China during the early stages of the Second Sino–Japanese War, and his division took a leading part in the Battle of Beiping–Tianjin, Operation Chahar, and the Battle of Taiyuan. However, in the Battle of Xuzhou his forces were repulsed during the Battle of Taierzhuang in the vicinity of Linyi that prevented them from coming to the aid of Rensuke Isogai's IJA 10th Division. [3]

Itagaki was recalled to Japan in 1938, briefly serving as War Minister from 1938 to 1939. On 6 December 1938, Itagaki proposed a national policy in accordance with Hakko Ichiu (Expansion) at the Five Ministers Conference, [4] which was the Japanese highest decision making council, [5] [6] and the council made a decision of prohibiting the expulsion of the Jews in Japan, Manchuria, and China as Japanese national policy. [5] [6] Itagaki returned to China again as chief of staff of the China Expeditionary Army from 1939 to 1941. However, in the summer of 1939, the unexpected defeat of Japanese forces against the Soviet Union at the Battle of Khalkhin Gol or Nomonhan incident, the decisive battle of the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts, was a major blow to his career. On 7 July 1941, Itagaki was reassigned to command the Chosen Army in Korea, then considered to be a non-prestigious backwater post. He was able to prevent Masanobu Tsuji from being cashiered as the Emperor had wished due to Tsuji's insolence and extreme gekokujō during the Nomonhan incident by instead having Tsuji transferred to a research unit at Formosa. [7] While Itagaki was commander of the Chosen Army, Japan began assembling its nuclear weapons program with the industrial site near the Chosen reservoir as its equivalent to the Oak Ridge laboratory for the United States' Manhattan Project. [8] As the war situation continued to deteriorate for Japan, the Chosen Army was elevated to the Japanese Seventeenth Area Army in 1945, with Itagaki still as commander in chief until 7 April 1945. Itagaki was then reassigned to the Japanese Seventh Area Army in Singapore and Malaya in April 1945. Itagaki surrendered Japanese forces in Southeast Asia to British Admiral Louis Mountbatten in Singapore on 12 September 1945.


After the war, Itagaki was taken into custody by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers authorities and charged with war crimes, specifically in connection with the Japanese seizure of Manchuria, his escalation of the war against the Allies during his term as War Minister, and for allowing inhumane treatment of prisoners of war during his term as commander of Japanese forces in Southeast Asia. Itagaki was found guilty on counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 35, 36 and 54 and was condemned to death in 1948 by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Itagaki was hanged on 23 December 1948 at Sugamo Prison in Tokyo. [9]

Related Research Articles

Mukden Incident Railway explosion in Mukden (Shenyang) staged by the Japanese military

The Mukden Incident, or Manchurian Incident, was a false flag event staged by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria.

Kanji Ishiwara

Kanji Ishiwara was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. He and Itagaki Seishirō were the men primarily responsible for the Mukden Incident that took place in Manchuria in 1931.

Sadao Araki

Baron Sadao Araki was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II. As one of the principal nationalist right-wing political theorists in the Empire of Japan, he was regarded as the leader of the radical faction within the politicized Imperial Japanese Army and served as Minister of War under Prime Minister Inukai. He later served as Minister of Education during the Konoe and Hiranuma administrations. After World War II, he was convicted of war crimes and given a life sentence.

Kenji Doihara Japanese general

Kenji Doihara was a Japanese army officer. As a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, he was instrumental in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria for which he earned the nickname "Lawrence of Manchuria," a reference to Lawrence of Arabia. However, according to Jamie Bisher, the flattering sobriquet was rather misapplied, as that Colonel T.E. Lawrence had fought to liberate, not to oppress people.

Shortly prior to and during World War II, and coinciding with the Second Sino-Japanese War, tens of thousands of Jewish refugees were resettled in the Japanese Empire. The onset of the European war by Nazi Germany involved the lethal mass persecutions and genocide of Jews, later known as the Holocaust, resulting in thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing east. Many ended up in Japanese-occupied China.

Politics of Manchukuo

Manchukuo was a puppet state set up by the Empire of Japan in Manchuria which existed from 1931 to 1945. The Manchukuo regime was established four months after the Japanese withdrawal from Shanghai with Puyi as the nominal but powerless head of state to add some semblance of legitimacy, as he was a former emperor and an ethnic Manchu.

Japanese Korean Army

The Japanese Korean Army was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army that formed a garrison force in Korea under Japanese rule. The Korean Army consisted of roughly 350,000 troops in 1914.

Jirō Minami

Jirō Minami was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and Governor-General of Korea between 1936 and 1942. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Rensuke Isogai

Rensuke Isogai was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and Governor of Hong Kong under Japanese occupation from February 20, 1942 to December 24, 1944.

Organization of the Kwantung Army of Japan

<i>Hakkō ichiu</i>

Hakkō ichiu or Hakkō iu was a Japanese political slogan meaning the divine right of the Empire of Japan to "unify the eight corners of the world." It was prominent from the Second Sino-Japanese War to World War II, popularized in a speech by Prime Minister of Japan Fumimaro Konoe on January 8, 1940.

Yasuji Okamura

Yasuji Okamura was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army, and commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army from November 1944 to the end of World War II. He was found not guilty of any war crimes by the Shanghai War Crimes Tribunal after the war. As one of the Imperial Japanese Army's top China experts, General Okamura spent his entire military career on the Asian mainland.

Hayao Tada

Hayao Tada was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War. A noted China expert within the Japanese military, he was a leading figure in the Trautmann mediation effort to bring a negotiated end to the war.

Waichirō Sonobe

Waichirō Sonobe was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Kiichiro Higuchi

Kiichirō Higuchi was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II.

Teiichi Suzuki

Teiichi Suzuki was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army, minister of state and member of the House of Peers. A close associate of Hideki Tojo, he helped plan Japan's wartime economy.

Shigeru Katagiri was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, commanding Japanese ground forces on New Guinea during the closing months of the war.

Kwantung Army

The Kwantung Army was the largest army group of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1919 to 1945.

History of the Jews in Japan

The history of the Jews in Japan is well documented in modern times with various traditions relating to much earlier eras.

Tadashi Hanaya

Tadashi Hanaya was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, commanding Japanese ground forces in Burma during World War II.



  1. Budge, the Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
  2. Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
  3. Fuller, Shokan, Hirohito's Samurai
  4. Kazutomo Wakase (2007). 続・日本人が知ってはならない歴史. 朱鳥社. p. 41. ISBN   4-434-11358-5.
  5. 1 2 "Question 戦前の日本における対ユダヤ人政策の基本をなしたと言われる「ユダヤ人対策要綱」に関する史料はありますか。また、同要綱に関する説明文はありますか。". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan . Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  6. 1 2 "猶太人対策要綱". Five ministers council. Japan Center for Asian Historical Record. 1938-12-06. p. 36/42. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2010-10-06.
  7. Budge, Kent G. Tsuji Masanobu (1901–1961?). Pacific War Online Encyclopedia website. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  8. Wilcox, Robert K. (10 December 2019). Japan's Secret War: How Japan's Race to Build its Own Atomic Bomb Provided the Groundwork for North Korea's Nuclear Program. Permuted Press (third edition). ISBN   978-1682618967.
  9. Maga, Judgement at Tokyo


Political offices
Preceded by
Hajime Sugiyama
Army Minister
Jun 1938 – Aug 1939
Succeeded by
Shunroku Hata
Military offices
Preceded by
Kenji Doihara
IJA 7th Area Army
Apr 1945 – Aug 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by
IJA 17th Area Army
Feb 1945 – Apr 1945
Succeeded by
Yoshio Kozuki
Preceded by
Kotaro Nakamura
IJA Chosen Army
Jul 1941 – Apr 1945
Succeeded by
Yoshio Kozuki