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Yoshimichi Hara

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Yoshimichi Hara (1867-1944) was a Japanese legal scholar and Constitutional Kenseito party activist who was President of the Privy Council from 24 June 1940 to 7 August 1944. He was one of the few practicing attorneys to have become Minister of Justice.[1]

Hara had been associated with a court democratization movement, to make them more responsive to the people.[2]

He had recommended Fumimaro Konoe as Prime Minister on 11 July 1940, to succeed Mitsumasu Yonai. [3]

A December 1 conference brought together Emperor Hirohito, the Cabinet, and others for a total of nineteen leaders. Hara posed the first question, which referred to the Hull Memorandum, quoting it (emphasis added) as "the United States has demanded we withdraw troops from all of China." The actual text read only "China". Hara asked for clarification, and Foreign Miniter Togo said it was unclear if Manchuria had been separated. Throughout the Nomura-Hull talks, China and Manchuria had always been separated,a confusing explanation from Togo, no one at the conference assumed so. Hara concluded that going to war was preferable to accepting the American proposal because
If we were to give in [to the United States, then we would not only give up the fruits of the Sino-Japanese War, and the Russo-Japanese War, but also abandon the results of the Manchurian Incident. There is no way we could endure this....It is clear that the existence of our empire is threatened, that the great achievements of the Emperor Meiji would all come to naught, and that there is nothing else we can do.[4]


  1. John Owen Haley (1994), Authority without power: law and the Japanese paradox, Oxford University Press, p. 86
  2. Anna Dobrovolskaia (2008), "The Jury System in Pre-War Japan: An Annotated Translation of “The Jury Guidebook” (Baishin Tebiki)", Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal 9, p. 242
  3. Herbert P. Bix (2001), Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0060931308, pp. 373-374
  4. Bix, pp. 431 -422