|House||Imperial House of Japan|
|Born||3 Dec 1887|
|Died||20 Jan 1990|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbasePrince Naruhiko was born in Kyoto, Japan as the ninth son of Prince Kuni Asahiko and court lady Terao Utako. He was granted the title of Higashikuni no miya on 3 Nov 1906, and with it the privilege to start a new branch of the imperial family. In 1908, he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and in 1914 he completed his studies at the Army War College. In 1915, he was promoted to the rank of major while he was serving with the 7th Division. On 18 May 1918, Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko married Princess Toshiko, ninth daughter of Emperor Meiji; they would eventually have four sons. Between 1920 and 1926, he studied military tactics at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in Paris, France. While in France, he kept a French mistress and was known to enjoy fast cars and parties, thus scandalized the imperial family, leading to the commission of a chamberlain to escort him back to Japan. Back in Japan, he was assigned to the Army General Staff Headquarters. Between 1930 and 1934, he was the commanding officer of the 5th Infantry Brigade. Between 1934 and 1937, he commanded the 4th Division.
ww2dbaseWhen WW2 started in Asia with the Second Sino-Japanese War, Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko commanded the Army Air Service, in which role he ordered the massive bombing of Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Chongqing, Nanjing, and Guangzhou. Between 1938 and 1939, he was assigned to the 2nd Army in China; history Yoshiaki Yoshimi later found a memo signed by Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko dated 16 Aug 1938 authorizing the use of poison gas against Chinese forces. In 1939, he was promoted to the rank of general and was made a member of the Supreme War Council. In 1940, he was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite, 1st Class. Between 1941 and 1944, he was the commander of the Home Defense Command. Since before the start of the Pacific War in late 1941, he maintained a position that war with western powers was not beneficial for Japanese interests. He was a part of the conspiracy that toppled Hideki Tojo's government in Jul 1944 after the fall of Saipan, Mariana Islands.
ww2dbaseOn 16 Aug 1945, two days after Emperor Showa had announced his intention to surrender, the Emperor made his uncle Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko the 43rd Prime Minister of Japan. Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko was the only member of the imperial family to hold that title, and he was named specifically to head the effort for an orderly surrender and to made known to the people that the imperial family was still in control despite of the defeat. On 9 Oct 1945, however, he had a major disagreement with the American occupation forces over the repeal of the 1925 Public Security Preservation Laws, and resigned from his post, making his tenure the shortest of any Japanese prime minister.
ww2dbaseOn 27 Feb and 4 Mar 1946, Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko gave interviews to the Yomiuri-Hochi and New York Times newspapers in which he claimed that many members of the imperial family had approved Emperor Showa's abdication. In 1946, he requested permission to renounce his membership in the imperial family, but Emperor Showa denied his request. On 17 Oct 1947, he lost his title and most of his wealth as the American occupation abolished the princely houses. As a private citizen, he operated several unsuccessful retail businesses, and then started a Zen Buddhism-based religious sect, the Higashikuni-kyo, which was subsequently banned by the American occupation. In 1957, he was made the honorary chairman of the International Martial Arts Federation. In 1958, he published his wartime journals under the title The War Diary of a Member of the Imperial Family (Ichi Kozuko no senso Nikki). In 1968, he published his autobiography Higashikuni Nikki. He passed away from heart failure in Tokyo, Japan at the age of 102.
Last Major Revision: Feb 2009
|3 Dec 1887||Naruhiko was born in Kyoto, Japan.|
|3 Nov 1906||Prince Naruhiko was granted the privilege to start a new branch of the imperial family, Higashikuni.|
|18 May 1918||Prince Naruhiko married Princess Toshiko, ninth daughter of Emperor Meiji.|
|1 Apr 1937||Prince Naruhiko of Higashikuni, an aviation enthusiast, christened the Ki-15 aircraft that was about to make a record flight from Japan to Europe "Kamikaze".|
|17 Aug 1945||Prince Naruhiko of Higashikuni was named the 43rd Prime Minister of Japan. Among the new government's first actions was to appeal to General MacArthur to help stop the offensive still being pursued by the Soviet Union.|
|9 Oct 1945||Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni resigned as the Prime Minister of Japan after a dispute between his government and the US occupation about the repeal of the 1925 Public Security Preservation Laws, which the Americans viewed as repressive. Kijuro Shidehara would be made the next Prime Minister on the same day.|
|27 Feb 1946||Prince Naruhiko was interviewed by the Yomiuri-Hochi newspaper.|
|4 Mar 1946||Prince Naruhiko was interviewed by the New York Times newspaper.|
|17 Oct 1947||Prince Naruhiko was stripped of his royal title, and along with it, most of his wealth.|
|20 Jan 1990||Naruhiko passed away in Tokyo, Japan from heart failure.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945