|Born||2 Oct 1887|
|Died||12 Apr 1981|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Prince Yasuhiko was born in Kyoto, Japan as the eighth son of Prince Asahiko, the head of the Kuni imperial family, and lady Sugako Tsunoda. On 10 Mar 1906, Emperor Meiji granted Prince Yasuhiko the privilege to start his own branch of the imperial family, Asaka, hence the reference Prince Asaka for him as his father was sometimes referred to as Prince Kuni. On 6 May 1909, Prince Yasuhiko married Princess Nobuko, the eighth daughter of Emperor Meiji. Like the other imperial princes of the Meiji period, it was expected that Prince Yasuhiko would pursue a career in the military. He received his early education at the Gakushuin and the Central Military Preparatory School, before graduating the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1908 as a second lieutenant. He was promoted to captain in 1912, lieutenant colonel in 1917, and colonel in 1922. Between 1920 and 1923, he studied military tactics at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France, along with his half-brother Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko and his cousin Prince Kitashirakawa Naruhisa. On 1 Apr 1923, he was seriously injured in an automobile accident in a Paris suburb, leaving him a limp for the rest of his life; Prince Kitashirakawa Naruhisa was killed in the same accident. In 1925, Prince Yasuhiko and his wife visited the United States. His wife died in mid-1933. In 1926, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, then in 1930 major general with the appointment as an instructor at the Army War College. In 1933, he was promoted lieutenant general and headed the 1st Imperial Guards Division. In Dec 1935, he was a member of the Supreme War Council. During the 26 Feb Incident in 1936, his nationalist views aligned him with the rebels, and after the incident he lost favor with the Emperor and was sent to the Central China Area Army in 1937.
In Dec 1937, Prince Yasuhiko assumed temporary command of Japanese forces outside the Chinese capital of Nanjing. Somewhere from his headquarters, either the Prince or someone on his staff, alledgedly issued an order to kill all captives, thus providing official sanction for what later came to known as the Rape of Nanjing that lasted until end of Jan 1938. German businessman John Rabe estimated 50,000 to 60,000 deaths occurred, while others claimed death tolls as high as 300,000. Some historians placed the responsibility on Prince Yasuhiko's shoulders, arguing that even if he had not issued the order, as the commanding officer, he failed to issue the order to stop the violence against prisoners and civilians.
In Feb 1938, Prince Yasuhiko returned to Japan and remained a member of the Supreme War Council until the end of the war. In Aug 1939, he was promoted to the rank of general, but held no further military commands. In Jan 1944, his son Prince Tadahito died while fighting at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands; Prince Tadahito was 30 years old. In the same year, Prince Yasuhiko conspired with Prince Higashikuni, Prince Takamatsu, and former Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe to overthrow Hideki Tojo, who resigned under pressure later on 18 July 1944.
After the war, on 1 May 1946, officials of at the office of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers interrogated Prince Yasuhiko regarding his involvement in the Nanjing Massacre, but he was not brought to trial. It was partly due to Douglas MacArthur's decision to grant immunity to the imperial family. On 14 Oct 1947, Prince Yasuhiko and his children lost their imperial status and privileges. As common citizens, Yasuhiko's family moved to Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. He converted to become a Roman Catholic, making him the first of the imperial family member to do so. In the 1950s, he spent most of his time playing golf and developing golf courses. Former Prince Yasuhiko died of natural causes in 1981 at the age of 93 at his home in Atami.
|2 Oct 1887||Yasuhiko was born.|
|10 Mar 1906||Emperor Meiji of Japan granted Prince Yasuhiko the privilege to start his own branch of the imperial family, Asaka.|
|6 May 1909||Prince Yasuhiko of Japan married Princess Nobuko.|
|1 Apr 1923||Prince Yasuhiko was seriously injured in an automobile accident in a Paris suburb, France. Prince Kitashirakawa Naruhisa was killed in the same accident.|
|2 Dec 1937||Emperor Showa gave the command of Japanese troops attacking Nanjing, China to his uncle Prince Yasuhiko, the head of princely household Asaka-no-miya.|
|5 Dec 1937||Japanese Prince Yasuhiko of Asaka departed Tokyo, Japan for the front lines in China.|
|8 Dec 1937||Prince Yasuhiko arrived outside of Nanjing, China.|
|1 May 1946||Prince Yasuhiko was interrogated at the office of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Tokyo, Japan.|
|14 Oct 1947||Prince Yasuhiko lost his imperial status and privileges and was made a common citizen.|
|12 Apr 1981||Yasuhiko passed away.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935