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Inukai Tsuyoshi

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Title: Inukai Tsuyoshi  
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Subject: Wakatsuki Reijirō, Ōkuma Shigenobu, Rikken Seiyūkai, May 15 Incident, 1932 in Japan
Collection: 1855 Births, 1932 Deaths, Assassinated Heads of Government, Assassinated Japanese Politicians, Deaths by Firearm in Japan, Grand Cordons of the Order of the Rising Sun, Keio University Alumni, Kenseitō Politicians, Members of the House of Representatives (Empire of Japan), Members of the House of Representatives of Japan 1890–1947, People from Okayama, People Murdered in Japan, People Murdered in Tokyo, People of Meiji-Period Japan, Prime Ministers of Japan, Recipients of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, Rikken Kaishintō Politicians, Rikken Kokumintō Politicians, Rikken Seiyūkai Politicians, Shimpotō Politicians
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Inukai Tsuyoshi

Inukai Tsuyoshi
犬養 毅
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
13 December 1931 – 15 May 1932
Monarch Shōwa
Preceded by Wakatsuki Reijirō
Succeeded by Takahashi Korekiyo (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1855-06-04)4 June 1855
Okayama, Japan
Died 15 May 1932(1932-05-15) (aged 77)
Tokyo, Japan
Resting place Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan
Political party Rikken Seiyūkai (1924–1932)
Other political
Rikken Kaishintō (1882–1896)
Shimpotō (1896–1898)
Kenseitō (1898–1910)
Rikken Kokumintō (1910–1922)
Kakushin Kurabu (1922–1924)
Children Inukai Takeru
Alma mater Keio University

Inukai Tsuyoshi (犬養 毅, 4 June 1855 – 15 May 1932) was a Japanese politician, cabinet minister, and Prime Minister of Japan from 13 December 1931 to 15 May 1932.


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
  • As Prime Minister 3
  • Honours 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • Notes 7

Early life

Inukai was born to a former samurai family of the Niwase Domain, in Niwase village, Bizen Province (now part of Okayama city, Okayama Prefecture), where his father had been a local official and magistrate under the Tokugawa shogunate.

In 1876, Inukai travelled to Tokyo and subsequently graduated from the Keio Gijuku (now Keio University) where he specialized in Chinese studies. In his early career, Inukai worked as a journalist for the Yūbin Hōchi Shimbun (now a sports newspaper subsidiary of the Yomiuri Shimbun). He went with the Imperial Japanese Army to the front during the Satsuma Rebellion as a reporter.

Political career

Inukai was invited by Ōkuma Shigenobu to help form the Rikken Kaishintō political party in 1882, which supported liberal political causes, strongly opposed the domination of the government by members of the former Chōshū and Satsuma domains, and called for a British-style constitutional monarchy within the framework of a parliamentary democracy.

Inukai was first elected to the Lower House of the Imperial Diet in 1890, and was subsequently reelected 17 times, holding the same seat for 42 years until his death.

Inukai’s first cabinet post was as Minister of Education in the first Ōkuma Shigenobu administration of 1898, succeeding Ozaki Yukio, who was forced to resign due to a speech which conservative elements in the Diet charged promoted republicanism. However, Ozaki’s resignation did not end the crisis, which culminated with the fall of the Ōkuma administration, so Inukai’s term lasted for only eleven days.[1] Inukai was a leading figure in the successors to the Rikken Kaishintō, the Shimpotō, Kenseitō and the Rikken Kokumintō, which eventually toppled the government of Katsura Tarō in 1913. During this time, his politics became increasing conservative and he was associated with both leading figures from the Pan-Asian movement and with nationalists such as Toyama Mitsuru. He was also a strong supporter of the Chinese republican movement, visiting China in 1907, and subsequently lending aid to Sun Yat-sen during the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 which overthrew the Qing dynasty. He later assisted Sun when Sun had to flee to Japan after his attempt to overthrow Yuan Shikai failed. Inukai has a deep respect for Chinese culture, and felt that Sino-Japanese cooperation was the cornerstone for Asian solidarity.[2] Although in later years his vision of Sino-Japanese cooperation diverged greatly from Sun’s, Inukai maintained close personal ties with many leading Chinese politicians. Inukai likewise supported the Vietnamese independence leader, Prince Cuong De, inviting him to Japan in 1915.[3]

Inukai returned to the cabinet as Minister of Communications in the second Yamamoto Gonnohyōe administration from 1923-1924. He was concurrently Education Minister again for a four-day period in September 1923

In 1922 the Rikken Kokumintō became the Kakushin Kurabu, and joined forces with other minor parties to form the cabinet during the premiership of Katō Takaaki in 1924. During his time, Inukai served on the cabinet again as Minister of Communications. The Kakushin Kurabu then merged with the Rikken Seiyūkai, and Inukai continued as a senior member.

In July 1929, Inukai travelled to Nanjing, China together with several other Japanese delegates at the invitation of Chinese government to a memorial service for Sun Yat Sen. The delegates later travelled to numerous other cities, and noted with concern the growing anti-Japanese sentiment.[4] In 1929, after the sudden death of Tanaka Giichi, Inukai became president of the Rikken Seiyūkai. Inukai was an outspoken critic of Japan’s signing of the London Naval Treaty, which reduced military spending, supported the actions of the Imperial Japanese Army in invading Manchuria in 1931, and rejected criticism from the League of Nations over the Mukden Incident.[5]

As Prime Minister

Inukai Tsuyoshi as a Prime Minister

Following the resignation of the Wakatsuki administration over its failure to control the military and the failure of its economic policies, the genrō turned to Inukai to form a new government in 1931. Saionji Kinmochi charged Inukai with avoiding drastic changes in either foreign policy or economics. Inukai, who was at a disadvantage in that his Seiyukai was not the majority party in the Diet, was also saddled with a cabinet composed of competing factions, ranging from his ultra-rightist Army Minister Sadao Araki to the liberal Finance Minister Takahashi Korekiyo. With a divided cabinet and a hostile Diet, Inukai governed with the assistance of the Privy Council, which passed emergency imperial edicts and budgetary measures to circumvent the normal Diet budgetary process.[6]

Inukai immediately took steps to inflate the economy and to take Japan off the gold standard, implementing protectionist trade policies and attempting to stem Japan’s trade deficit. These actions devaluated the yen, thus lowering the price of Japanese goods in world markets, and increasing exports.

However, Inukai was forced to accede to a request by the Imperial Japanese Army to dispatch additional troops to Manchuria and to Tianjin, despite instructions as late as 23 December 1931 from Emperor Hirohito to maintain international trust per the Nine Power Treaty in not attacking China, and on 27 December 1931 not to authorize any moves by the Kwantung Army to occupy Jinzhou. However, by now the Imperial Japanese Army was completely beyond any civilian control and from January to March 1932 the conflict had spread to Shanghai with the 1st Shanghai Incident.[7] During the 1932 General Election, buoyed by an upsurge in public opinion due to Japanese military successes in China, the Rikken Seiyukai won an overwhelming majority.

On 8 January 1932, a Korean independence activist attempted to assassinate Emperor Hirohito in the Sakuradamon Incident. Inukai and his cabinet immediately offered their resignations; however, Hirohito wished to downplay the incident and refused.[7]

However, Inukai still came under strong criticism for his efforts to rein in the military, while reformists criticized him for not going far enough. Inukai’s efforts to limit further troop deployments to China and to defuse the Shanghai Incident through negotiations with the Chinese government drew increasing ire from the general public as well as the militarists. This soon metamorphosed into terrorist activity with the League of Blood Incident in which extremists targeted wealthy businessmen and liberal politicians. The group chose twenty victims but succeeded in killing only two: former Finance Minister and head of the Rikken Minseito, Junnosuke Inoue, and Director-General of Mitsui Holding Company, Dan Takuma.

On 1 March, the state of Manchukuo was formally proclaimed. Symbolically, Inukai withheld formal diplomatic recognition as a gesture of displeasure against the radical faction within the Imperial Japanese Army, and out of concern due to the rapidly worsening international relations with the United States, for which Japan depended on much of its raw materials and capital investment.[7]

Inukai's struggle against the military led to his assassination during the May 15 Incident of 1932, which effectively marked the end of civilian political control over government decisions until after World War II. Inukai was shot by eleven junior Navy officers (most were just turning twenty years of age) in the Prime Minister's residence in Tokyo. Inukai's last words were roughly If I could speak, you would understand (話せば分かる hanaseba wakaru) to which his killers replied Dialogue is useless (問答無用 mondō muyō).[8] The insurgents also attacked the residence of Makino Nobuaki, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, the residence and office of Kimmochi Saionji, headquarters of the Rikken Seiyukai, and tossed hand-grenades into Mitsubishi Bank headquarters in Tokyo, and several electrical transformer substations. The original assassination plan had included killing the English film star Charlie Chaplin - who had arrived in Japan on 14 May and was Inukai's guest - in the hopes that this would provoke a war with the United States. However, at the time, Chaplin was watching a sumo wrestling match with the prime minister’s son, Inukai Takeru, and thus escaped. Inukai’s murderers received only light sentences for their actions.

Inukai's third son was writer, politician and post-war Minister of Justice Inukai Takeru. His great-granddaughter is Sadako Ogata, who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991 until 2001.


From the corresponding article in the Japanese WorldHeritage

  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (September 1920)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers (May 1932; posthumous)


  • Bix, Herbert P. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. Harper Perennial (2001). ISBN 0-06-093130-2
  • Fogel, Joshua A (1996). The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862-1945. Stanford University Press.  
  • Large S.S. (2001). Nationalist Extremism in Early Showa Japan: Inoue Nissho and the 'Blood-Pledge Corps Incident, 1932. Modern Asian Studies 35(3): 553-564.
  • Lee, To Yee. Sun Yat-Sen, Nanyang and the 1911 Revolution. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.  
  • Oka Yoshitake, et al. Five Political Leaders of Modern Japan: Ito Hirobumi, Okuma Shigenobu, Hara Takashi, Inukai Tsuyoshi, and Saionji Kimmochi. University of Tokyo Press (1984). ISBN 0-86008-379-9
  • Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). (translated by Fujiko Hara).The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in Japan Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05095-9
  • Brendon, Piers. The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s. Vintage; Reprint edition (2002). ISBN 0-375-70808-1
  • Tran, To Yee (2005). A Vietnamese Royal Exile in Japan: Prince Cuong De (1882-1951). Routledge.  

External links

  • Inukai Memorial Museum (Okayama)


  1. ^ Ozaki, Autobiography, pp. 177-184.
  2. ^ Lee. Sun Yat Sen. Page 64
  3. ^ Tran. A Vietnamese Royal Exile in Japan. Page 95
  4. ^ Fogel, The Literature of Travel. Page. 227
  5. ^ Hirohito, p. 246.
  6. ^ Bix. Page 247
  7. ^ a b c Bix. Page 249-252
  8. ^ Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945
Political offices
Preceded by
Wakatsuki Reijirō
Prime Minister of Japan
13 Dec 1931 – 16 May 1932
Succeeded by
Takahashi Korekiyo (acting)
Preceded by
Shidehara Kijūrō
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Interim)
13 Dec 1931- 14 Jan 1932
Succeeded by
Yoshizawa Kenkichi
Preceded by
Nakahashi Tokugorō
Home Minister (Interim)
16 Mar 1932 - 25 Mar 1932
Succeeded by
Suzuki Kisaburō (acting)
Preceded by
Maeda Toshisada
Minister of Communications
2 Sep 1923 – 7 Jan 1924
Succeeded by
Fujimura Yoshirō
Preceded by
Fujimura Yoshirō
Minister of Communications
11Jun 1924 – 30 May 1925
Succeeded by
Adachi Kenzō
Preceded by
Ozaki Yukio
Minister of Education
27 Oct 1898 – 8 Nov 1898
Succeeded by
Kabayama Sukenori
Preceded by
Kamata Eikichi
Minister of Education
2 Sep 1923 - 6 Sep 1923
Succeeded by
Okano Keijirō
House of Representatives of Japan
New district Representative for Okayama 2nd district
Served alongside: Ogawa Gōtarō, Nishimura Tanjirō, Hoshijima Nirō, several others
Title next held by
Inukai Takeru etc.
New district Representative for Okayama 4th district (single-member)
district eliminated
New district Representative for Okayama counties district
Served alongside: Nishimura Tanjirō, Moriya Konosuke, many others
district eliminated
New parliament Representative for Okayama 3rd district (single-member)
district eliminated
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tanaka Giichi
Rikken Seiyūkai president
Succeeded by
Suzuki Kisaburō
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