Kenji Doihara

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Kenji Doihara (1883-1948), an Imperial Japanese Army officer who served both in covert action and conventional command, was hanged in 1948 as a Class A war criminal, condemned by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. His crimes had to do with planning aggressive war in Manchuria, in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and in World War Two in the Pacific.

Early China

From 1913, he had served as a spy in northeastern China and Siberia, called "Lawrence of Manchuria" referring to his ability to blend into the population. [1], and organized the assassination of Zhang Zuolin, a Chinese warlord.

Kwantung Army

He was known informally as "Lawrence of Manchuria" for his ability to dress and act as if he were a native. [2] In 1921, he was selected by the Three Crows as a junior officer with potential in developing a new order for Japan: one of the Eleven Reliables, he was mentored by Prince Kanin.

Japan's naval and military police, the tokeitai and the kempetai, had extended beyond their original counterintelligence functions. While the Civilian Spy Service and the Thought Police (Japan) were separate, non-military organizations, the kempetai was also known as the Special Service Organ, and carried out operations, not always authorized at the highest levels, in support of various ideologies and missions.[3] The Army component was called the Special Service Organ.

Beginning in 1931, he was head of special services (i.e., clandestine human-source intelligence and covert action), first in Mukden, an appointment that signaled a raise in priority for operations there, and almost certainly a change in the role of Chang Hsueh-Liang. Indeed, he was involved in planning the Manchurian Incident. [1]

He moved to Harbin to become special services chief, briefly commanded the 9th Brigade, and then returned to head special services for the entire Kwangtung army.

In 1901, Pu-Yi had been approached about his restoration, but was puzzled at the contact: a civilian, nongovernment organization called the Black Dragon Society. Pu-Yi sent his agent, Chang Hsiao-Hu, to deal with it since its authority to act for Japan was unclear. [4]

When Col. Seishiro Itagaki‎, one of the direct operatives for the Manchuria Incident, had been introduced to Pu-Yi with suspicion as an apparent mid-level officer, Pu-Yi was reassured that Doihara had access to the highest level of command. The relationship was cemented by Doihara's arranging for one of his female agents, Eastern Jewel, to calm Pu-Yi's wife, Elizabeth. [5]

Conventional soldier

In March 1936, Doihara was appointed lieutenant general and chief of staff of the China Garrison army. In March 1937, he became general commanding officer of the 14th Division. From May 1939, he commanded 5th Army, China, returning to Japan in October 1940.


On his return, he took command of the Japanese Military Academy, then became Inspector General of Military Aviation in June 1941.

He participated in the 3 November 1941 Conference of Military Councillors, attended by Emperor Hirohito, at which the Japanese strategy for World War Two in the Pacific were formulated.[6] He was not, as sometimes reported, a member of the Supreme War Council, but did attend the Supreme War Council meeting of 4 November, in which Hirohito issued the order. [7]

He was the last Inspector General of Military Education {7 Apr 1945 - 25 Aug 1945).


  1. 1.0 1.1 David Bergamini (1971), Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, Morrow,p. 415
  2. Bergamini, p. 541
  3. Terry Crowdy, The Enemy Within: A History of Spies, Spymasters and Espionage, p. 215
  4. Crowdy, p. 217
  5. Bergamini, pp. 450-451
  6. Herbert P. Bix (2001), Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0060931308, p. 423
  7. Bergamini, pp. 808-809