|Native name 梅津 美治郎|
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Years of service 1903 - 1945
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army
Name Yoshijiro Umezu
|Born January 4, 1882
Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, Japan (1882-01-04) |
Died January 8, 1949(1949-01-08) (aged 67) Tokyo, Japan
Yoshijiro Umezu (梅津 美治郎, Umezu Yoshijiro) (January 4, 1882 – January 8, 1949) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Umezu was born in Nakatsu (Oita Prefecture), where his family ran a bookstore since the 18th century. During his years at the Seisei Highschool in Kumamoto, he decided to pursue a military career. He graduated from the 15th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy on November 30, 1903 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry the following February 12. Promoted to lieutenant on June 30, 1905, he entered the 23rd class of the Army Staff College, graduating first in 1911. Following his promotion to captain on March 25, 1912, he was sent to Europe for further studies in Germany and Denmark. While in Denmark, he was also a military observer from Japan, during the course of World War I, and was promoted to major on June 1, 1918. From 1919-1921, he was appointed as a military attache to Switzerland.
Umezu was promoted to lieutenant colonel on February 8, 1922, and to colonel on December 15, 1925. During the 1920s, he was a member of the Toseiha, led by General Kazushige Ugaki along with Gen Sugiyama, Koiso Kuniaki, Tetsuzan Nagata and Hideki Tojo. They represented a politically moderate line between the armed forces, in opposition to the radical Kodoha movement, guided by Sadao Araki. He served as an instructor at the Army Staff College from 1923–1924, and was commander of the IJA 3rd Infantry Regiment from 1924-1926.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Umezu held a number of staff positions within the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. He was promoted to major general on August 1, 1930. Umezu returned to the field as a lieutenant general (promoted August 1, 1934) and commander of the Japanese China Garrison Army from 1934–1935, and as commander of the IJA 2nd Division from 1935-1936.
After being recalled to Japan in 1936, Umezu was appointed Vice Minister of War from 1936-1938. He returned to China in 1938 as commander-in-chief of the IJA 1st Army, and subsequently commander-in-chief of the Kwangtung Army from 1939-1944. He was promoted to full General on August 1, 1940.
In July 1944, Umezu was appointed as the final Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff, and a member of the Supreme War Council. Along with War Minister Korechika Anami and Soemu Toyoda, Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, Umezu opposed surrender in August 1945; he believed that the military should fight on, forcing the Allies to sustain such heavy losses in an invasion of Japan, that Japan could negotiate for peace under better terms. He was aware of the planned coup d'etat by junior officers opposed to the surrender, but did nothing to either aid or hinder it. He was personally ordered by Emperor Hirohito to sign the instrument of surrender on behalf of the armed forces on September 2, 1945 and thus, was the Army's senior representative during the surrender ceremonies on the battleship USS Missouri, at the end of World War II. He entered the reserves on November 30.
After the war, he was arrested by the SCAP authorities and tried as a war criminal at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. He was found guilty of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31 and 32 of waging a war of aggression and sentenced to life imprisonment on November 12, 1948. While in prison, he became a convert to Christianity. Umezu died from rectal cancer in prison in 1949.