Tanaka Giichi

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Tanaka Giichi


Born Mar. 6, 1863, in Hagi; died Sept. 29, 1929, in Tokyo. Japanese state and military figure; general. Baron (1920).

Tanaka was minister of war from September 1918 to June 1921 and from September 1923 to January 1924. He was one of the chief leaders of the Japanese military intervention in the Soviet Far East. In 1925, Tanaka retired from the military and became president of the Seiyukai Party. Between April 1927 and July 1929 he was premier, minister of foreign affairs, and colonial minister. In 1927 and again in 1928 he attempted to invade the Chinese province of Shantung. Tanaka maintained an extremely reactionary domestic policy, ordering mass arrests of Japanese communists and communist sympathizers on Mar. 15, 1928, and dissolving left-wing trade unions and other social organizations.

Tanaka is responsible for the Tanaka Memorial. This secret document, presented to the Japanese emperor in July 1927, declared the basis of Japan’s foreign policy to be aggression against China, the USSR, and other countries, eventually leading to world domination. The Tanaka Memorial was first published in the Chinese journal China Critic in 1929. There is some doubt about its authenticity.

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As well as the evolution of competing factions, the author also sheds valuable light on the internal tensions and personal rivalries within the army and its leadership elite by investigating the careers and policies of the two dominant generals during the 1920s: Ugaki Kazuhige and Tanaka Giichi. After the debacle of the Siberian Intervention and the calamity of the Great Kanto Earthquake, Ugaki, as army minister during the 1920s, ordered the elimination of four divisions in order to pay for army modernization.