|Died||24 Aug 1945|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Shizuichi Tanaka completed a degree at University of Oxford, Oxford, England, Britain after attending the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and the Imperial Army Staff College. After WW1, he led a group of Japanese troops in London's victory parade. After serving as the commanding officer of the 2nd Regiment, between 1930 and 1932, because of his English skills, he was chosen to serve as a military attaché in Washington, DC, United States. Between 1934 and 1935, he was the Chief of Staff of the 4th Division. Between 1935 and 1936, he was the commanding officer of the 5th Brigade. Between 1936 and 1938, he served with the Kempeitai military police, first as the head of General Affairs Bureau, then as the head of Kempeitai in the Kanto area, which included Tokyo.
Tanaka's tenure in WW2 began in China, where he participated in the Battle of Wuhan in mid-1938, then and 1939 and 1940 as the commanding officer as the 13th Division. As war with Britain and United States broke out with the Pacific War, he commented that it was foolish for Japan to take on such industrial giants. Between 15 Oct and 24 Dec 1941, Tanaka served as the commander of the Eastern District Army with responsibility over Tokyo and Yokohama. Between 1942 and 1943, he was the head of the 14th Army with headquarters in the Philippine Islands, while holding concurrent role as the military governor of the islands. He was hospitalized in 1944 after a severe case of malaria. When he returned, he was appointed to serve on the Supreme War Council, while also placed in charge of the War College as commandant. On 19 Mar 1945, he was named once again as the head of the Eastern District Army. In this role, he felt guilty for his inability to protect the Meiji Shrine and the Imperial Palace from being damaged by Allied bombing. He attempted to resign three times, and all three attempts were denied.
As the war came to an end, Tanaka held responsibilities over the 12th Area Army and the 1st Imperial Guards Division. On 15 Aug 1945, when Major Kenji Hatanaka and other officers attempted a coup to prevent Emperor Showa from making the surrender announcement, Tanaka, who was previously invited to join the rebellion but refused, mobilized his troops to guard the Imperial Palace. He was called a hero for protecting the Emperor. As the Allied troops arrived in Japan for occupation duties, he told his troops to cooperate, burning the unit's colors instead of committing suicide. Tanaka, however, had already made up his mind that he would commit suicide on behalf of his entire unit. On 24 Aug 1945, at his desk in the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo covered with letters to family and officer and words of Emperor Showa, he shot himself in the heart.
Shizuichi Tanaka Timeline
|1 Jan 1887||Shizuichi Tanaka was born.|
|24 Aug 1945||Shizuichi Tanaka passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945