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Konoe Fumimaro


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(b. 12 Oct. 1891, d. 16 Dec. 1945).

Prime Minister of Japan 1937–9, 1940–1He entered politics as a member of the House of Peers in 1916. A member of the aristocracy, Konoe gave his support to the popular party governments of the 1920s, while emphasizing the important part played in Japan's Constitution by the peerage. Konoe opposed European colonialism in Asia, advocating more strident Japanese leadership in the region. With the support of the political establishment, he was appointed President of the upper chamber in 1933. During the 1930s, he was at the centre of Japan's political life, and formed his first government in 1937. As Prime Minister during the Sino‐Japanese War after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (7 July 1937), his government was the last that had any realistic opportunity to check the escalation of Japanese military aggression. After the war Konoe was to emphasize his role in bringing about Japan's acceptance of the Allies' peace terms, and his reluctance to involve his country in a war with the USA and Great Britain. Nevertheless, his Cabinets presided over the initiation of the war in China and the signing of the tripartite pact (Axis). Moreover the influence which he retained within the ruling establishment until 1945 also carried some responsibility for the war. Konoe committed suicide on hearing of the occupation's (SCAP) intention to try him.

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