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Hajime Sugiyama

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Hajime Sugiyama (1880-1945) was a senior Imperial Japanese Army officer who was in a leadership function through most of World War Two in the Pacific. After the surrender of Japan, he and his wife committed ritual suicide.

Nicknamed "Bathroom Door" in the military for his lack of facial edxpression, he prepared, in 1912, the first contingency plans for the capture of Singapore. In the 1920s, he was head of Army Air Force procurement.[1]

February 26, 1936 Incident

He proposed a compromise for the February 26, 1936 Incident not to have an Imperial Chamberlain witness at the suicides of the mutineers, but that the chamberlain might inspect their bodies to see if they correctly carried out the rite of seppuku and report this to the Throne. With anger, Hirohito rejected it.

Sugiyama pleaded with the Emperor, and even lay in a doorway and offered to let Hirohito trample him. The Emperor merely stepped over him. At 16:30, Sugiyama and the commander of the martial law force, told the Emperor it was too late in the day for an attack but promised one early in the morning. Dismissed with anger, Hirohito summoned Honjo and accused the Army, with dripping sarcasm, of growss insubordination.
There is a rumor the Army belongs to the Emperor. There is another rumor that the Army is intentionally stalling to increase the significance of the incident.[2]

Invasion of the Philippines

Increasing tension grew between Sugiyama as chief of staff, and local commander Masuhara Homma, which may have contributed to the Bataan Death March. It was suggested that some of Sugiyama's insistence may have come from his affiliation with the Control Faction.[3]

Later governments

Following Prince Kanin, he was Chief of Staff (Imperial Japanese Army) from 3 October 1940 to 21 February 1944. Emperor Hirohito then forced him to resign, so Hideki Tojo could have the triple roles of Prime Minister, Army Minister, and Army Chief of Staff. [4]

The Tojo government fell on 16 July. From July 1944 to April 1945, he was Army Minister, while Yoshijiro Umezu succeeded him as Chief of Staff.

Other major responsibilities included Inspector General of Military Education from 1 August 1936 to 9 February 1937, and briefly from {18 Jul 1944 - 22 Jul 1944). Before becoming Chief of Staff, he was Army Minister during the first year of the Second Sino-Japanese War.


  1. David Bergamini (1971), Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, Morrow, p. 1099
  2. Bergamini, p. 650-651
  3. Jim Nelson, "The Causes of the Bataan Death March Revisited", US-Japan Dialogue on POWs
  4. Herbert P. Bix (2001), Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0060931308, pp. 473