Kijuro Shidehara


Kijuro Shidehara Famous memorial

Osaka, Japan
Death 10 Mar 1951 (aged 78)
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Burial Toshima-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Memorial ID 24204552 View Source

Japanese Statesman, Diplomat. He served as the 44th Prime Minister of Japan from October 9, 1945 to May 22, 1946. Shidehara was a leading proponent of pacifism in Japan before and after the Second World War. His wife, Masako, was the fourth daughter of Iwasaki Yataro, founder of the Mitsubishi corporation. A native of Kadoma, Osaka, Shidehara's father was the first president of Taipei Imperial University. After graduating from that university and its law school, Shidehara found a position within the Foreign Ministry and was sent to a council to Chemulpo in Korea in 1896. He subsequently served in the Japanese embassy in London, Antwerp and Washington D.C. and as ambassador to the Netherlands, returning to Japan in 1915. In 1915, Shidehara was appointed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and continued in this position during five consecutive administrations. In 1919, he was named ambassador to the United States and was Japan's leading negotiator during the Washington Naval Conference. His negotiations led to the return of Shandong Province to China. During his tenure, however, the United States enacted discriminatory immigration laws against Japanese, which created much ill will in Japan. In 1924, Shidehara became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Takaaki Kato and continued in this post under Prime Ministers Reijiro Wakatsuki and Osachi Hamaguchi. Despite growing Japanese militarism, Shidehara attempted to maintain a non-interventionist policy toward China, and good relations with Great Britain and the United States, which he admired. In his initial speech to the Japanese Parliament, he pledged to uphold the principles of the League of Nations. The term "Shidehara diplomacy" came to describe Japan's liberal foreign policy during the 1920s. In October 1925, he surprised other delegates to the Beijing Customs Conference in pushing for agreement to China's demands for tariff autonomy. In March 1937, during the Nanjing Incident, he refused to agree to an ultimatum prepared by other foreign powers threatening retaliation for the actions of Chiang Kai-shek's Guomintang troops for their attacks on foreign consulates and settlements. Disgruntlement by the military over Shidehara's China policies was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the administration of Prime Minister Wakatsuki in April 1927. During his diplomatic career, Shidehara was known for his excellent command of the English language. At one press conference, an American reporter was confused regarding the pronunciation of Shidehara's name: the foreign minister replied, "I'm Hi(he)-dehara, and my wife is Shi(she)-dehara." Shidehara became Foreign Minister again in 1929, and immediately resumed the non-interventionist policy in China, attempting to restore good relations with Chiang Kai-shek's Guomintang government now based in Nanjing. This policy was assailed by military interests who believed it was weakening the country, especially after the conclusion of the London Naval Conference in 1930, which precipitated a major political crisis. When Prime Minister Hamaguchi was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt, Shidehara served as interim prime minister until March 1931. In September 1931, the Kwangtung Army invaded and occupied Manchuria in the Manchurian Incident without prior authorization from the central government. This effectively ended the non-interventionist policy towards China, and Shidehara's career as foreign minister. In October 1931, Shidehara was featured on the cover of "Time" magazine with the caption "Japan's Man of Peace and War." Shidehara remained in government as a member of the House of Peers from 1931-1945 and maintained a low profile through the end of Second World War. At the time of Japan's surrender in 1945, Shidehara was in semi-retirement. However, largely because of his pro-American reputation, he was appointed to serve as Japan's second post-war prime minister. Along with the post of Prime Minister, Shidehara became president of the Progressive Party. Shidehara's cabinet drafted a new constitution for Japan in line with General Douglas MacArthur's policy directives, but the draft was vetoed by the occupation authorities. According to MacArthur and others, it was Shidehara who originally proposed the inclusion of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, a provision which limits Japan's state sovereignty in that it forbids Japan from waging war. Shidehara, in his memoirs "Gaikô gojunen (Fifty-years of Diplomacy, 1951)" also admitted to his authorship, and described how the idea came to him on a train ride to Tokyo. During the time he was ambassador in Washington, DC he had become acquainted with the idea of "outlawing war" in international and constitutional law. One of his famous sayings was: "Let us create a world without war together with the world-humanity." His supposed conservative economic policies and family ties to the Mitsubishi interests, however, made him unpopular with the leftist movement. The Shidehara cabinet resigned following Japan's first postwar election, when the Liberal Party of Japan captured most of the votes. He was succeeded as prime minister by Shigeru Yoshida. Shidehara joined the Liberal Party a year later, after Prime Minister Katayama Tetsu formed a socialist government. As one of Katayama's harshest critics, Shidehara was elected president of the House of Representatives. He was serving in this post at the time of his death.

Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Warrick L. Barrett
  • Added: 27 Jan 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 24204552
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Kijuro Shidehara (11 Aug 1872–10 Mar 1951), Find a Grave Memorial ID 24204552, citing Somei Cemetery, Toshima-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan ; Maintained by Find a Grave .