In 1948, 28 Japanese war criminals were brought before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo. However, some escaped trial for various reasons. For example, Shumei Okawa was confirmed to be suffering from a mental breakdown, and Yosuke Matsuoka and Osami Nagano died of natural causes before the trial started.
In the end, only 25 defendants were found guilty of war crimes. They are Kenji Doihara, Hirota Koki, Seishiro Itagaki, Heitaro Kimura, Iwane Matsui, Akira Muto, Hideki Tojo, Sadao Araki, Kingoro Hashimoto, Shunroku Hata, Kiichiro Hiranuma, Naoki Hoshino, Okinori Kaya, Koichi Kido, Kuniaki Koiso, Jiro Minami, Takasumi Oka, Hiroshi Oshima, Kenryo Sato, Shigetaro Shimada, Toshio Shiratori, Teiichi Suzuki, Yoshijiro Umezu, Mamoru Shigemitsu and Hideki Togo.
Of these 25, the following 14 were officially enshrined at Yasukuni:
The seven who were sentenced to death by hanging: Hideki Tojo, Heitaro Kimura, Seishiro Itagaki, Kenji Doihara, Iwane Matsui, Akira Mutou, Koki Hirota.
The four who were sentenced to life imprisonment and eventually died of natural causes: Yoshijiro Umezu, Kuniaki Koiso, Kiichiro Hiranuma and Toshio Shiratori.
The one who was sentenced to twenty years in prison: Shigenori Tougo.
The two who died of natural causes before the trial: Osami Nagano and Yosuke Matsuoka.
Hideki Tojo (1884-1948)
Hideki Tojo was, at various times, Prime Minister, War Minister, and Home Affairs Minister of Japan from 1941 to 1944.
Tojo was born in Tokyo on December 30, 1884. The son of an army general, he graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1905, and later the Japanese War College in 1915. He served as chief of police affairs of the Kwantung army in 1935, and worked actively to crack down on anti-Japanese activities in northeast China. Two years later, he became the chief of staff of the Kwantung army. After the Lugouqiao Incident (the Marco Polo Bridge Incident), the Kwantung army occupied Chengde, Zhangjiakou and Datong, in north China. Tojo was appointed vice minister of war in May 1938 and director of military aviation the same year.
In 1940, Tojo became minister of war. As minister of war, he made it clear that Japan should push forward the invasion of China, and he was convinced that a war with the United States and Britain could not be avoided. In October 1941, he was appointed Prime Minister and took the portfolios of war, education, and commerce and industry. In December that same year, he authorized the attack on Pearl Harbor. And so began the Pacific War. Japan surrendered to Allied forces on September 2, 1945, and Tojo was seized as a war criminal. He attempted suicide while awaiting trial. Condemned by the International Military Tribunal for crimes against humanity, he was hanged in Tokyo on December 23, 1948.
Kenji Doihara (1883-1948)
Kenji Doihara was a graduate of the Japanese Military Academy and the Japanese War College. He served as a spy in northeastern China from 1913 onwards. He was able to secure for himself the position of counselor to the Heilongjiang military as well as to Zhang Zuolin, a Chinese warlord. It was Doihara who masterminded Zhang's assassination in 1928. Japanese blew up the train that Zhang was traveling in. Zhang was on his way from Beijing to Shenyang when the train was blown up somewhere near Shenyang.
In 1931, Doihara was made head of special services with the Kwantung army. In September of that year, he was appointed major of Mukden (today's Shenyang) City. He was one of the masterminds behind the "September 18th incident" (Mukden Incident).
In January 1932, Doihara became the head of the Harbin special service agency. Later that same year in April, he was moved out of Harbin to act as commanding officer of the 9th Brigade. In August, he was reinstated as the head of special services of the Kwantung army.
In March 1936, Doihara was appointed lieutenant general and chief of staff of the China Garrison army. In March 1937, he became general commanding officer of the 14th Division, China. From May 1939, he worked as general commanding officer of the 5th Army, China, was a member of the Supreme War Council, the principal of the Military Academy, served as Inspector-General of Army Aviation, and commander in chief Eastern District Army among other illustrious positions. After the war, Doihara was tried by the Tokyo tribunal and sentenced to death. Before his execution, he was imprisoned at Sugamo Prison.
On December 23, 1948, at the age of 65, Doihara was hanged.
Seishiro Itagaki (1885-1948)
Seishiro Itagaki graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1904. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. He was commanding officer of the 33rd Regiment in China, and worked actively in Kunming, Wuhan and Shenyang. As a Japanese military officer in the Kwantung Army from 1929 to 1934, he and Kanji Ishiwara planned the Mukden Incident that took place in Manchuria in 1931. He attained the rank of lieutenant general with the Japanese Army and became chief of staff of the Kwantung army in 1936. He was appointed minister of war in 1938, chief of staff of the China Expeditionary Army in 1939, attained the rank of general in the Japanese Army serving with the Chief Chosen Army in Korea in 1941, Commander-in-Chief of the 17th Area Army in Korea in 1945, and Commander-in-Chief of 7th Area Army in Singapore later that same year. He was condemned to death and hanged as a war criminal in 1948 by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
Iwane Matsui (1878-1948)
Iwane Matsui was born in Japan's Aichi prefecture. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05, and graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1906. He became the commanding officer of the 29th Regiment, head of Harbin Special Services Agency of Manchuria, commanding officer of the 35th Brigade, head of 2nd Bureau, General Staff and general officer commanding 11th Division, among other posts. He attained the rank of general in the Japanese Army in 1933 and retired two years later, but came out of retirement to become the commander of the Japanese Shanghai Expeditionary Force on August 13, 1937. Matsui planned the November 1937 attacks on Shanghai and Nanjing. He was the commanding officer of the Japanese expeditionary force responsible for the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. Matsui was recalled to Japan in 1938. In 1948, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East found him guilty of war crimes, and he was hanged that December.
Koki Hirota (1878-1948)
Koki Hirota was a Japanese statesman. He graduated from Tokyo University's School of Law in 1906. A career diplomat, he served as ambassador to the Netherlands (1927-1930), and ambassador to Russia (1930–32). He served as foreign minister from 1933 to 1936. He became prime minister in March 1936. His regime saw increased military spending, government interference in the economy, intensified aggression in China, and the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact. He resigned as PM in February 1937, but was later appointed foreign minister and president of the cabinet planning board under Fumimaro Konoye from 1937 to 1938. After the war, he was arrested as a war criminal, and in 1948 was convicted and hanged.
Heitaro Kimura (1888-1948)
Heitaro Kimura graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1908, and from Japanese War College in 1916. He attained the rank of major general in the Japanese Army in 1936 and later attained the rank of lieutenant general with the 32nd Division in 1939. He was made chief of staff of the Kwantung Army in 1940. He helped plan the war against China as well as the Pacific War when acting as vice minister of war in 1943. He became the commander-in-chief of the Burma Area Army in 1944. He brutalized allied prisoners of war by using them for the construction of the Burma-Siam railway. He attained the rank of general in 1945. In 1948, he was condemned to death by the tribunal and hanged as war criminal.
Akira Mutou (1892-1948)
Akira Muto graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1912 and from the Japanese War College in 1920. He came to China in 1933 to collect intelligence and acted as the chief of staff of the Kwantung Army in 1936. He was appointed chief of the maneuvers section, chief of general staff in 1937 and later vice chief of staff of the Central China Area Army, responsible for the Nanjing Massacre and atrocities in Indonesia. He attained the rank of major general in 1939 as the head of Military Affairs Bureau and the ministry of war. He attained the rank of lieutenant general in 1941. He became the general officer commanding the 2nd Imperial Guards Division, Singapore-Sumatra in 1942, and later the chief of staff of the 14th Area Army in the Philippines in 1944. After World War II, Muto was arrested and charged with war crimes. He was executed on December 23, 1948.
Yosuke Matsuoka (1880-1946)
Yosuke Matsuoka studied law and graduated from the University of Oregon in the United States in 1900. He then returned to Japan and worked with the Foreign Service for 18 years. He became director of the South Manchurian Railroad Company in 1921. He was a spokesman for the expansionist Japanese policy and led the Japanese delegation out of the League of Nations in 1933. In 1935, he was appointed president of the South Manchurian Railroad Company. He was appointed foreign minister in July 1940. In early 1941, he was instrumental in Japan's signing of a five-year peace pact with the former Soviet Union. Matsuoka was indicted as a war criminal after World War II but died before the end of his trial.
Osami Nagano (1880-1947)
Osami Nagano was born in Kochi in 1880. He graduated from Japan's Naval Academy in 1900. Nagano became a naval attaché to the United States in the early 1920s. Later, he achieved the rank of vice admiral and was appointed to the naval general staff in 1930. As a representative of that body, he attended the Geneva Naval Conference in 1931. He attained the rank of admiral in 1934. Nagano subsequently served as the chief naval delegate to the 1935 London Naval Conference. Nagano was appointed Minister of the Navy under Koki Hirota in 1936, and was appointed Commander in Chief of the Fleet in 1937. In 1941, Nagano became Chief of the Naval General Staff. In this capacity, he supported the decision to wage war against the US, Great Britain and the Netherlands. He helped to draw up the plan of attack that was used against the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. He achieved the rank of admiral of the Japanese Navy in 1943 and became Emperor Hirohito's military advisor in 1944. He was captured by the Allies in 1945 and tried for war crimes. He died in 1947 while awaiting trial.
Toshio Shiratori (1887-1949)
Toshio Shiratori graduated from the Economy Department of Tokyo University. He was the alternate consul at Shenyang Consulate in 1914, and was later appointed third secretary the Japanese Embassy in the US and officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. In 1930, he served as director of the Information Bureau. In 1933, he was appointed envoy to Sweden and ambassador to Italy in 1938. He became an adviser to the foreign minister in 1940 and helped to establish an alliance among Germany, Italy and Japan. He was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 1942. He was sentenced to life imprisonment as a war criminal after World War II.
Kiichiro Hiranuma (1867-1952)
After graduation from the law faculty of Tokyo University in 1988, Kiichiro Hiranuma got a job in the Ministry of Justice. He became minister of justice in 1923. He founded the Kokuhonsha the following year, which drew support from powerful military, business, and political circles. By 1926, Hiranuma was vice president of the Privy Council. He was appointed prime minister in 1939 and home minister in 1940. He served as president of the Privy Council in 1945. He was one of the government leaders who opposed Japan's unconditional surrender. Arrested as a war criminal in 1946, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Kuniaki Koiso (1880-1950)
Kuniaki Koiso was born in Tochigi Prefecture in 1880 and graduated from the Japanese War College in 1910. Some of the positions he held include vice minister of war, chief of staff of the Kwantung army, commander in chief in Korea and minister for overseas affairs. In 1942, he was appointed governor-general of Korea. He replaced Tojo as prime minister in July 1944 but resigned soon after in April 1945. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and died while serving his sentence.
Yoshijiro Umezu (1882-1949)
Yoshijiro Umezu was born in Oita Prefecture and graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1902 and later the Japanese War College in 1910. He became chief of the Army Affairs Section under Military Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of War in 1928. In 1930, he attained the rank of major general. On June 9, 1935, Umezu signed an agreement with He Yinqin, an official with the KMT government. The agreement, known as the He-Umezu Agreement, gave recognition to the Japanese occupation of Hebei and Chahar (now a part of Inner Mongolia). That same year, he was made commanding general officer of the 2nd Division, China. As vice minister of war, he was in direct command of Japan's invasion of China. He made general in 1940 and became the army chief of staff in 1944. He was a reluctant participant to the signing of the Japanese instrument of surrender aboard the American battleship "Missouri" in Tokyo Bay. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1948, and died the following year while serving his sentence.
Shigenori Tougo (1882-1950)
Shigenori Togo was born in Kyushu in 1882. He graduated from the Literature Department of Tokyo University in 1908 and later joined the Foreign Service. He worked in Japanese embassies in China, Germany and the United States from 1912. In 1937, Togo was appointed ambassador to Germany, under the control of the Third Reich at the time. The following year, he was transferred to the former Soviet Union. While Hideki Tojo was prime minister, Togo was appointed foreign minister in 1941 and a member of the Japanese cabinet. In 1945, he was appointed as Kantaro Suzuki's foreign minister. After World War II he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He died in 1950 while serving his sentence.