Yoshijirō Umezu

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Yoshijirō Umezu
Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army
General Staff
In office
July 18, 1944 – September 1945
MonarchEmperor Hirohito
Preceded byHideki Tojo
Succeeded bynone; position abolished
17th Governor-General of the Kwantung Leased Territory
In office
September 7, 1939 – July 18, 1944
MonarchEmperor Hirohito
Preceded byKenkichi Ueda
Succeeded byOtozō Yamada
Personal details
Born(1882-01-04)January 4, 1882
Nakatsu, Ōita Prefecture, Japan
DiedJanuary 8, 1949(1949-01-08) (aged 67)
Sugamo Prison, Tokyo, Occupied Japan
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1903–1945
Rank General
CommandsJapanese China Garrison Army, IJA 2nd Division, Japanese First Army, Kwantung Army, Imperial Japanese Army General Staff
Battles/warsRusso-Japanese War

Pacification of Manchukuo Second Sino-Japanese War

World War II

Yoshijirō Umezu (梅津 美治郎, Umezu Yoshijirō) (January 4, 1882 – January 8, 1949) was a Japanese general in World War II and Chief of the Army General Staff during the final years of the conflict. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.


Early life and career[edit]

Umezu was born in Nakatsu, Ōita, Japan, where his family ran a bookstore since the 18th century. During his years at the Kumamoto Prefectural Seiseikou High School in Kumamoto, he decided to pursue a military career. He graduated from the 15th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy on November 30, 1903 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry the following February 12, 1904. Promoted to lieutenant on June 30, 1905, he entered the 23rd class of the Army Staff College, graduating first in 1911. Following his promotion to captain on March 25, 1912, he was sent to Europe for further studies in Germany and Denmark. While in Denmark, he was also a military observer from Japan, during the course of World War I, and was promoted to major on June 1, 1918. From 1919 to 1921, he was appointed as a military attaché to Switzerland.[1]

Umezu was promoted to lieutenant colonel on February 8, 1922, and to colonel on December 15, 1925. During the 1920s, he was a member of the Tōseiha, led by General Kazushige Ugaki along with Gen Sugiyama, Koiso Kuniaki, Tetsuzan Nagata and Hideki Tōjō. They represented a politically moderate line within the armed forces, in opposition to the radical Kōdōha movement, guided by Sadao Araki. Umezu served as an instructor at the Army Staff College from 1923–1924, and was commander of the IJA 3rd Infantry Regiment from 1924–1926.

Umezu was promoted to major general in August 1930 and commander of the IJA 1st Infantry Brigade. He worked at the General Staff from August 1933, and was sent as a military attaché to Switzerland from November 1933. After his return to Japan in March 1934, he was appointed commander of the Japanese China Garrison Army and in November repelled a large-scale Chinese incursion into Rehe Province. In June 1935 he signed the He–Umezu Agreement, which was an attempt to defuse tensions between the Republic of China and Japan, and which gave Japan control over ten provinces of Hebei. Umezu was promoted to lieutenant general in August. In August 1935, he became commander of the Sendai-based IJA 2nd Division.[2] He strongly opposed the February 26 incident attempted coup-de-etat in 1936. Umezu was appointed Vice Minister of War from March 1936 and working under Army Minister Terauchi Hisaichi, purged many of the radical kōdōha members from the Army ranks.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

The Surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri

Umezu returned to China in May 1938 as commander-in-chief of the IJA 1st Army. By this time, the IJA 1st Army had completed its combat operations, and was serving as a garrison force in Japanese-occupied northern China. From September 1939 he was commander-in-chief of the Kwantung Army, which was likewise acting as a garrison force in Manchukuo. He was promoted to full general on August 1, 1940.[3]

In July 1944, Umezu was appointed as the final Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff, and a member of the Supreme War Council, following the resignation of Hideki Tojo. Along with Army Minister Korechika Anami and Chief of Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff, Soemu Toyoda, Umezu opposed surrender in August 1945; he believed that the military should fight on, forcing the Allies to sustain such heavy losses in an invasion of Japan, that Japan could negotiate for peace under better terms. He was aware of the planned coup d'état by junior officers opposed to the surrender, but did nothing to either aid or hinder it.[4] He was personally ordered by Emperor Hirohito to sign the instrument of surrender on behalf of the armed forces on September 2, 1945 and was thus the Army's senior representative during the surrender ceremonies on the battleship USS Missouri, officially ending World War II.[5] He entered the reserves on November 30.[citation needed]

After the war, he was arrested by the SCAP authorities and tried as a war criminal at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. He was found guilty of Counts 1, 27, 29, 31 and 32 of waging a war of aggression and sentenced to life imprisonment on November 12, 1948.[6]

Umezu died from rectal cancer in 1949 while still incarcerated.

Umezu signing the instrument of surrender to the Allied nations
Another perspective of Gen. Umezu signing the instrument of surrender



  • Butow, Robert J. C. (1954). Japan's Decision to Surrender. Stanford University Press. ASIN: B000VFCC14.
  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Encyclopedia of Military Biography. I B Tauris & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-85043-569-3.
  • Frank, Richard B. (1999). Downfall: the End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. Penguin, non-classics. ISBN 0-14-100146-1.
  • Fuller, Richard (1992). Shokan: Hirohito's Samurai. London: Arms and Armor. ISBN 1-85409-151-4.
  • Hayashi, Saburo; Cox, Alvin D (1959). Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War. Quantico, Virginia: The Marine Corps Association.
  • Kase, Toshikazu (1950). Journey to the Missouri.
  • Maga, Timothy P. (2001). Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2177-9.


  1. ^ Dupuy, Encyclopedia of Military Biography
  2. ^ Ammenthorp, the Generals of World War II
  3. ^ Budge, Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Butow, Japan's Decision to Surrender
  5. ^ Shokan, Hirohito's Samurai
  6. ^ Maga, Judgement at Tokyo
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h https://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/10273436
  8. ^ 『官報』第251号「叙任及辞令」June 2, 1913

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Governor-General of Kwantung
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Commander, China Garrison Army
Mar 1934 – Aug 1935
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, IJA 1st Army
May 1938 – Sept 1939
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, Kwantung Army
Sept 1939 – Jul 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief of Imperial Japanese Army General Staff
Jul 1944 – Sept 1945
Succeeded by