|Born||24 Dec 1867|
|Died||17 Apr 1948|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseKantaro Suzuki was born in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, and grew up in the city of Noda, Chiba Prefecture. He entered the Naval College in 1884 and joined the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1888. He was immediately shipped off to serve in the First Sino-Japanese War as a torpedo boat captain. During the Russo-Japanese War, he was the commander of the 4th Destroyer Division and participated in the Battle of Tsushima. During WW1, he was the Vice Minister of the Navy. He achieved the rank of full admiral in 1923, and later in the 1920s became the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet. On 26 Feb 1936, he narrowly escaped assassination; the bullet that intended to kill him remained in his body for the remainder of his life. He retired from the navy in 1937 and was an important advisor to the Japanese government.
ww2dbaseIn 1944, Suzuki became the chairman of the Imperial Advisory Council. Strongly opposed to continuing the Pacific War, he urged his colleagues to negotiations with the Americans as soon as possible. In Apr 1945, Suzuki was named the 42nd Prime Minister of Japan at the age of 77. As Prime Minister, he continued to lobby for negotiations, making him an unpopular person amongst militarists, and several more assassination attempts would follow. After Emperor Showa's radio address that announced the intention of surrender, he resigned his post, but continued to be a close advisor to Emperor Showa. On 15 Aug 1945, newspaper Mainichi Shimbun published a story written by Suzuki on the Japanese surrender. In the article he wrote that it was his conviction to "trust the enemy commander." "The 'Bushido' is not a Japanese monopoly", he said. "It is an universal code." He believed that Allied commander Douglas MacArthur was a warrior who abided by the rules of Bushido, therefore he would "protect [his] adversary who has surrendered as one enlisted on [his] side". Shigeru Yoshida, Japan's 45th Prime Minister (1946-1947) noted Suzuki's article not only expressed his personal views, but also that of Emperor Showa. Suzuki's sincere cooperation with the occupation forces helped ease the transition significantly.
ww2dbaseSuzuki died of natural causes in 1948.
ww2dbaseSources: Reminiscences, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Aug 2006
Kantaro Suzuki Timeline
|24 Dec 1867||Kantaro Suzuki was born in Kuze, Izumi Prefecture, Japan.|
|7 Apr 1945||Kantaro Suzuki was named the 42nd Prime Minister of Japan.|
|3 May 1945||Japanese Prime Minister Suzuki maintained "faith in certain victory" in a public statement despite Germany defeat.|
|9 Jun 1945||Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki announced publicly that Japan would fight on rather than accept unconditional surrender.|
|17 Apr 1948||Kantaro Suzuki passed away.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939