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Hajime Sugiyama

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Allegiance  Empire of Japan
Rank  Field Marshal
Education  Army War College
Years of service  1901 - 1945
Name  Hajime Sugiyama
Service/branch  Imperial Japanese Army
Hajime Sugiyama bhoffertfacultynoctrleduHST263SugiyamaHajimejpg
Commands held  12th Division Northern China Area Army First General Army
Battles/wars  Russo-Japanese War Second Sino-Japanese War World War II
Died  September 12, 1945, Tokyo, Japan
Awards  Order of the Golden Kite, Order of the Rising Sun
Battles and wars  Russo-Japanese War, Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II
Similar People  Prince Kan'in Kotohito, Osami Nagano, Shunroku Hata, Yoshijiro Umezu, Seishiro Itagaki

Hajime Sugiyama (杉山 元, Sugiyama Hajime / Sugiyama Gen, January 1, 1880 – September 12, 1945) was a field marshal who served as successively as chief of the Army General Staff, and minister of war in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II between 1937 and 1944. As War Minister in 1937, he was one of the principal architects of the China Incident or second Sino-Japanese War. Later, as Army Chief of Staff in 1940 and 1941, he was a leading advocate of expansion into Southeast Asia and later preventive war against the United States.



Born to a former samurai family from Kokura (now part of Kitakyushu City), Fukuoka Prefecture, Sugiyama was commissioned as a lieutenant in the infantry in 1901 after graduation from the 12th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and served in the Russo-Japanese War.

After graduating from the 22nd class of the Army Staff College in 1910 and serving on the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff, Sugiyama was posted as military attache to the Philippines and Singapore in 1912. Promoted to major in 1913, he was posted again as military attache to British India in 1915. During this time, he also visited Germany, and became acquainted with the use of aircraft in combat in World War I.

On his return, Sugiyama was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and commander of the 2nd Air Battalion in December 1918. He was a strong proponent of military aviation, and after his promotion to colonel in 1921, became the first head of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service in 1922.

In May 1925, Sugiyama became a major general and acting Vice War Minister in June 1930. In August, he became Vice War Minister and a lieutenant general. He returned to command the expanded Imperial Japanese Army Air Service in March 1933. Sugiyama was promoted to full general in November 1936.

Political career

Although never elected to political office, Sugiyama is regarded as a nationalist politician. He started in the Toseiha faction, led by Kazushige Ugaki, with Koiso Kuniaki, Yoshijiro Umezu, Tetsuzan Nagata, and Hideki Tojo. They opposed the radical Kodaha faction under Sadao Araki. Later both factions combined in the Imperial Way Faction movement, and Sugiyama became one of its ideological leaders.

Second Sino-Japanese War

Shortly after the February 26 Incident, Sugiyama became Minister of War. Under his tenure, the situation between Japanese forces in Manchukuo and China became more severe, cumulating with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the invasion of Shanxi Province.

Sugiyama briefly accepted a field command as commanding general of North China Area Army and the Mongolia Garrison Army in December 1938.

World War II

On his return to Japan, Sugiyama was briefly appointed head of Yasukuni Shrine in 1939. On September 3, 1940, he succeeded elderly Prince Kan'in Kotohito as Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. He was one of the leading Army officers lobbying for war with the West. However, on September 5, 1941, on the verge of the war against the United States and Great Britain, he was severely berated by Emperor Hirohito for having earlier predicted in 1937 that Japanese invasion of China would be completed within three months, and challenged over his confidence in a quick victory over the Western powers.

Sugiyama was awarded the honorary rank of field marshal in 1943. As the war fronts collapsed on all sides, Sugiyama was relieved of his post as Chief of the General Staff on February 21, 1944, by General Hideki Tojo (who continued to serve concurrently as Prime Minister).

Sugiyama was appointed to the Inspector-general of Military Training, which was still one of the most prestigious positions in the Army. After Tojo's ouster in 1944, Sugiyama again became Minister of War. In July 1945, he was asked to take command of the First General Army, which directed defenses of the Japanese mainland against the anticipated Allied invasion.

Ten days after the surrender of Japan, after finishing preparations for the final dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Army as dictated by the victorious Allied Powers, Sugiyama committed suicide by shooting himself four times in the chest with his revolver while seated at his desk in his office. At home, his wife also killed herself. His grave is at the Tama Cemetery, in Fuchu, Tokyo.


Hajime Sugiyama Wikipedia