Konoe Fumimaro

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Konoe Fumimaro (近衛 文麿) 1891-1945, sometimes Konoye

Japanese politician.

He was born a Prince into the ancient Fujiwara family. He entered politics in 1920 as a moderate and a protege of Saionji Kimmochi, opposed to the power of the army. In June, 1937, he was appointed Prime Minister in an attempt to balance the growing power of the military, but he became increasingly militaristic himself. After the Marco Polo Bridge incident in July and under pressure from hard-liners his cabinet agreed to expand operations in China and handed the entire conduct of the conflict in China to the military leaders to proceed without government oversight. In November, Konoye announced Japan's aim of a new order in Asia, what would become the Greter East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere and pressed China for concessions to end the war. He resigned on January 4 1939 over his failure to negotiate an end to the conflict in China and was replaced by Hiranuma Kiichiro. But Konoe was recalled to the premiership on July 17 1940 and despite negotiations with America he oversaw the build up to war with Vice Admiral Toyoda Teijiro succeeding Matsuoka Yosuke as his belligerent foreign minister. He concluded an alliance with the Axis, issued the National Mobilization Law, created the foundations of a wartime government (called Shin Taisei or New Political Order) and in October 1940 established the Imperial Rule Assistance Association (Taisei Yokusankai) to replace the political parties, who had voluntarily dissolved themselves. Having failed to reach an agreement with the United States to, at least, avoid a war on two fronts, he resigned in October 1941, to be replaced by the War Minister, Tojo Hideki. He played a role in the fall of the Tojo government in 1944 and in February 1945 he advised the Emperor Hirohito to begin negotiations to end the war. He was a member of the Higashikuni cabinet, the first post-war government. But he came under suspicion of war crimes and committed suicide in December 1945.