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Kantarō Suzuki
鈴木 貫太郎
Prime Minister of Japan

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
Died 17 April 1948(1948-04-17) (aged 80)
Noda, Chiba, Japan
Political party Imperial Rule Assistance Association (1940–1945)
Other political
Independent (Before 1940)
Alma mater Imperial Japanese Naval Academy
Profession Admiral, politician
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Navy
Years of service 1884–1929
Rank Admiral
Commands Akashi, Soya, Shikishima, Tsukuba
Maizuru Naval District, IJN 2nd Fleet, IJN 3rd Fleet, Kure Naval District, Combined Fleet
Battles/wars First Sino-Japanese War
Battle of Weihaiwei
Russo-Japanese War
Battle of Port Arthur
Battle of Tsushima
World War I
World War II
Awards Order of the Golden Kite (3rd class)

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-17 August 1945.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

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

Naval career[edit | edit source]

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, Tenryu 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]

Suzuki served in the First Sino-Japanese War, commanding a torpedo boat and participated in night torpedo assault in the Battle of Weihaiwei. 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 1901-1903.[1] On his return, he was promoted to commander on 26 September 1903. He came to known as the leading torpedo warfare expert in the Imperial Japanese Navy.[2]

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] 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 1914–1917, 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 1929-1936.

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[edit | edit source]

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 - 7 June 1945.

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.

Honors[edit | edit source]

From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 [1] Nishida, People of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kowner, Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War, p. 363-365.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Frank, Richard (2001). Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. ISBN 0-14-100146-1: Penguin. 
  • Gilbert, Martin (2004). The Second World War: A Complete History. ISBN 0-8050-7623-9: Holt. 
  • Keegan, John (2005). The Second World War. ISBN 0-14-303573-8: Penguin. 
  • Kowner, Rotem (2006). Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War. ISBN 0-8108-4927-5: The Scarecrow Press. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Gentarō Yamashita
Chief of Navy General Staff
Succeeded by
Kato Hiroharu
Political offices
Preceded by
Sutemi Chinda
Grand Chamberlain
Succeeded by
Saburo Hyakutake
Preceded by
Hara Yoshimichi
Chair of the Privy Council
Succeeded by
Kiichirō Hiranuma
Preceded by
Kuniaki Koiso
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Naruhiko Higashikuni
Preceded by
Mamoru Shigemitsu
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Shigenori Tōgō
Preceded by
Mamoru Shigemitsu
Minister of Greater East Asia
Succeeded by
Shigenori Tōgō

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