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Kantaro Suzuki

Kantaro Suzuki

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Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

  was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

, member and final leader of the Taisei Yokusankai
Taisei Yokusankai
The was Japan's para-fascist organization created by Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe on October 12, 1940 to promote the goals of his Shintaisei movement...

 and 42nd Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

 from 7 April-17 August 1945.

Early life


Suzuki was born in Kuze village, Izumi Province
Izumi Province
was a province of Japan. It is also referred to as . It lay in Kinai, and its area today composes the south-western part of Osaka Prefecture . The Ōshōji in Sakai was the border with Settsu Province, until the beginning of the Meiji period, when the boundary was changed to be at the Yamato River...

 (modern Sakai
Sakai, Osaka
is a city in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. It has been one of the largest and most important seaports of Japan since the Medieval era.Following the February 2005 annexation of the town of Mihara, from Minamikawachi District, the city has grown further and is now the fourteenth most populous city in...

, Osaka Prefecture
Osaka Prefecture
is a prefecture located in the Kansai region on Honshū, the main island of Japan. The capital is the city of Osaka. It is the center of Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto area.- History :...

) to a samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

magistrate of the Sekiyado Domain
Sekiyado Domain
was a Japanese domain of the Edo period, located in Shimōsa Province , Japan. It was centered on Sekiyado Castle in what is now the city of Noda, Chiba....

. He grew up in the city of Noda
Noda, Chiba
is a city located in the far northwestern corner Chiba Prefecture, Japan. As of February 2011, the city had an estimated population of 155,431 and a population density of 1500 persons per km²...

, Kazusa Province
Kazusa Province
was a province of Japan in the area of modern Chiba Prefecture. It lies on in the middle of the Bōsō Peninsula , whose name takes its first kanji from the name of Awa Province and its second from Kazusa and Shimōsa Provinces. Its abbreviated form name was or .Kazusa is classified as one of the...

 (present day Chiba Prefecture
Chiba Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region and the Greater Tokyo Area. Its capital is Chiba City.- History :Chiba Prefecture was established on June 15, 1873 with the merger of Kisarazu Prefecture and Inba Prefecture...

).

Naval career


Suzuki entered the 14th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy
Imperial Japanese Naval Academy
The was a school established to train officers for the Imperial Japanese Navy. It originally located in Nagasaki, moved to Yokohama in 1866, and was relocated to Tsukiji, Tokyo in 1869. It moved to Etajima, Hiroshima in 1888...

 in 1884, graduating 13th of 45 cadets in 1888. Suzuki served on the corvette
Corvette
A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

s , and cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

  as a midshipman
Midshipman
A midshipman is an officer cadet, or a commissioned officer of the lowest rank, in the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and many Commonwealth navies. Commonwealth countries which use the rank include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Kenya...

. On being commissioned as ensign
Ensign (rank)
Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name....

, he served on the corvette , corvette , corvette , ironclad , and gunboat . After his promotion to lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 in 1892, he served as chief navigator on the corvettes , , and .

Suzuki served in the First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

, commanding a torpedo boat
Torpedo boat
A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval vessel designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and...

 and participated in night torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

 assault in the Battle of Weihaiwei
Battle of Weihaiwei
The Battle of Weihaiwei was a 23 day siege with a major land and naval component during the First Sino-Japanese War. It took place between 20 January and 12 February 1895 in Weihai, Shandong Province, China) between the forces of Meiji Japan and Qing China...

. Afterwards, he was assigned to a number of staff positions including that of naval attaché to Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 from 1901-1903. On his return, he was promoted to commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 and made executive officer
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

 of the .

During the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

, Suzuki commanded Destroyer Division 2 (DesDiv 2) in 1904, and the 4th Destroyer Division in 1905, which picked up survivors of the Port Arthur
Lüshunkou
Lüshunkou is a district in the municipality of Dalian, Liaoning province, China. Also called Lüshun City or Lüshun Port, it was formerly known as both Port Arthur and Ryojun....

 Blockade Squadron during the Battle of Port Arthur
Battle of Port Arthur
The Battle of Port Arthur was the starting battle of the Russo-Japanese War...

. He was appointed executive officer
Executive officer
An executive officer is generally a person responsible for running an organization, although the exact nature of the role varies depending on the organization.-Administrative law:...

 of the cruiser on 26 February 1904, aboard which he participated in the pivotal naval Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

.

After the war, he commanded the destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

  (1908), followed by the cruiser (1909), battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

  (1911) and cruiser (1912). Promoted to rear admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 on 23 May 1913 and assigned to command the Maizuru Naval District
Maizuru Naval District
was one of four main administrative districts of the pre-war Imperial Japanese Navy. Its territory included the entire Sea of Japan coastline from northern Kyūshū to western Hokkaidō.-History:...

. Suzuki became Vice Minister of the Navy from 1914-1917, during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Promoted to vice admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 on 1 June 1917, he brought the cruisers and to San Francisco in early 1918 with 1,000 cadets, and was received by U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 Rear Admiral
Rear admiral (United States)
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. The uniformed services of the United States are unique in having two grades of rear admirals.- Rear admiral :...

 William Fullam
William Fullam
Rear Admiral William Freeland Fullam was an officer in the United States Navy during World War I.-Biography:Born in Pittsford, New York, Fullam was a member of the United States Naval Academy class of 1877...

. The Japanese cruisers then proceeded to South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

.

After stints as Commandant of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, Commander of the IJN 2nd Fleet
IJN 2nd Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy.-History:First established on 28 December 1903, the IJN 2nd Fleet was created by the Imperial General Headquarters as a mobile strike force of cruisers and destroyers to pursue the Imperial Russian Navy's Vladivostok-based cruiser squadron while the...

, then the IJN 3rd Fleet
IJN 3rd Fleet
The was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which was created on six separate occasions.-Russo-Japanese War:First established on 28 December 1903, the IJN 3rd Fleet was created by the Imperial General Headquarters as an administrative unit to manage various vessels considered too obsolete for...

, then Kure Naval District
Kure Naval District
was the second of four main administrative districts of the pre-war Imperial Japanese Navy. Its territory included the Inland Sea of Japan and the Pacific coasts of southern Honshū from Wakayama to Yamaguchi prefectures, eastern and northern Kyūshū and Shikoku....

, he became a full admiral
Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 on 3 August 1923. Suzuki became Commander in Chief of Combined Fleet
Combined Fleet
The was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime....

 in 1924.

After serving as Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff
The was the highest organ within the Imperial Japanese Navy. In charge of planning and operations, it was headed by an Admiral headquartered in Tokyo.-History:...

 from 15 April 1925 to 22 January 1929, he retired and accepted the position as Privy Councillor and Grand Chamberlain
Chamberlain of Japan
The is a domestic caretaker and aide of the Emperor of Japan. He also keeps the Privy Seal and the State Seal and has been an official civil servant since the Meiji Period. Today the Grand Chamberlain, assisted by a Vice-Grand Chamberlain, heads the Board of the Chamberlains, the division of the...

 from 1929-1936.

Suzuki narrowly escaped assassination in the February 26 Incident
February 26 Incident
The was an attempted coup d'état in Japan, from February 26 to 29, 1936 carried out by 1,483 troops of the Imperial Japanese Army. Several leading politicians were killed and the center of Tokyo was briefly occupied by the rebelling troops...

 in 1936; the would-be assassin's bullet remained inside Suzuki for the rest of his life, and was only revealed upon his cremation
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

. Suzuki was opposed to Japan's war with the United States, before and throughout World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Prime Minister


On 7 April 1945, following the Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Okinawa
The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945...

, Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

 Kuniaki Koiso
Kuniaki Koiso
- Notes :...

 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
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Japan)
The of Japan is the Cabinet member responsible for Japanese foreign policy and the chief executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Since the end of the American occupation of Japan, the position has been one of the most powerful in the Cabinet, as Japan's economic interests have long relied on...

 and for Greater East Asia
Ministry of Greater East Asia
The was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1942–1945, established to administer overseas territories obtained by Japan in the Pacific War and to coordinate the establishment and development of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.-History and...

.

Prime Minister Suzuki contributed to the final peace negotiations with the Allied Powers
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 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
Potsdam Declaration
The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender is a statement calling for the Surrender of Japan in World War II. On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S...

. He outlined the terms to Emperor Hirohito who had already agreed to accept unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender
Unconditional surrender is a surrender without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological...

. 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
Kyujo Incident
The ' was an attempted military coup d'état in Japan at the end of the Second World War. It happened on the night of 14 August 1945 – 15 August 1945, just prior to announcement of Japan's surrender to the Allies...

 on the morning of 15 August 1945.

After the surrender of Japan
Surrender of Japan
The surrender of Japan in 1945 brought hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy was incapable of conducting operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent...

 became public, Suzuki resigned and Prince Higashikuni became next prime minister. Suzuki was the Chairman of the Privy Council
Privy Council (Japan)
was an advisory council to the Emperor of Japan that operated from 1888 to 1947.-Functions:Modeled in part upon the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, this body advised the throne on matters of grave importance including:...

 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

  • Order of the Golden Kite
    Order of the Golden Kite
    The ' was an order of the Empire of Japan, established on 12 February 1890 by Emperor Meiji "in commemoration of Jimmu Tennō, the Romulus of Japan."-Background:...

    , 3rd class, April 1, 1906
  • Order of the Rising Sun
    Order of the Rising Sun
    The is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji of Japan. The Order was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government, created on April 10, 1875 by decree of the Council of State. The badge features rays of sunlight from the rising sun...

    , 1st class, April 1, 1916
  • Order of the Paulownia Flowers
    Order of the Paulownia Flowers
    The ' is an order presented by the Japanese Government. Established in 1888 during the Meiji Restoration as the highest award in the Order of the Rising Sun; however, since 2003 it has been an Order in its own right...

    , April 29, 1934
  • Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
    Order of the Bath
    The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

    , Military Division

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