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Yosuke Matsuoka

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Yosuke Masuoka (1880-1946) was a Japanese diplomat, most known for being Foreign Minister of Japan and, with Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kichisaburo Nomura, was involved in the final negotiations with the U.S., to avert war.

Born in Yamaguchi, he studied in the U.S. from the ages of 12 to 22, and graduated from Oregon State University. Returning to Japan in 1902, he passed the Foreign Service examination in 1904, he went to Shanghai as vice-consul and spent much of his career there.[1]

He resigned from the Foreign Service in 1921, and, with one break in service, worked for the South Shanghai Railroad Line, rising to vice-president.

In December 1932, he attended a special session of the League of Nations as the head of the Japanese delegation and made a speech demanding the approval of the State of Manchuria. A resolution refusing to recognize Manchuria as a nation was passed in the general assembly, and led to Japan’s withdrawal from the League of Nations in the following year, with Matsuoka leading the walkout. 

In 1940, Matsuoka became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the second Konoe Cabinet was part of the negotiating teams for the Tripartite Pact and the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact in April of the following year. He resigned in July 1941 with the rest of the Cabinet.


  1. The U.S. Japan War Talks as seen in Official Documents, Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, 2005