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Shizuichi Tanaka

Shizuichi Tanaka
File:Tanaka Shizuichi.jpg
General Shizuichi Tanaka in a Showa 5 type or M90 uniform and bearing the epaulette of lieutenant-general. Thus, this photo was likely taken between July 1938 and Sep 1943
Born October 1, 1887
Tatsuno, Hyōgo, Japan
Died August 24, 1945(1945-08-24) (aged 57)
Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch 22x20px Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1905 - 1945
Rank General
Commands held 13th Division
Eastern District Army
Twelfth Area Army
Battles/wars Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Awards Order of the Rising Sun, 1st class
Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1st class
Order of the Golden Kite
In this Japanese name, the family name is Tanaka.

Shizuichi Tanaka (田中 静壱 Tanaka Shizuichi?, 1 October 1887 – 24 August 1945) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, who, at the end of World War II, was commander of the Eastern District Army, which covered the Tokyo-Yokohama area.


A native of Hyōgo prefecture, Tanaka graduated from the 19th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and 28th class of the Army Staff College. He then went on to earn a degree in English literature at Oxford University where he studied the works of William Shakespeare. He led the Japanese troops in London's victory parade at the end of World War I.

From 1930-1932, he was commander of the IJA 2nd Infantry Regiment. Tanaka was subsequently posted as a military attaché to Washington D.C., where he met Douglas MacArthur while MacArthur was Chief of Staff of the United States Army. As a result of his long service in the United States and United Kingdom, and his openly pro-western sentiments he was passed over for promotions as Japan militarized. From 1934-1935, Tanaka was Chief of Staff of the IJA 4th Division.[1]

With the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Tanaka was assigned to the IJA 5th Infantry Brigade, and was at the 1938 Battle of Wuhan. He was recalled to Japan shortly thereafter and appointed head of the Kempeitai, in the Kantō region. He returned to China as commander of the IJA 13th Division from 1939-1940.

At the start of the Pacific War, Tanaka was commander in Chief of the Eastern District Army, and was later assigned administrative positions within the General Staff. He was vocal in his opposition to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

File:Shizuichi Tanaka 1920.jpg
Captain Shizuichi Tanaka as a student of Oxford University, 1920
Tanaka was sent to the Philippines in 1942 as commander of the IJA 14th Army, and was subsequently Military-Governor of the Philippines from 1942-1943. He was promoted to full general in 1943, but forced to return to Japan in early 1944 to recover from malaria. Tanaka was appointed to the Supreme War Council from 1944–1945 and also served as the Commandant of the Army War College. On 19 March 1945, was assigned to head the Eastern District Army.[2]

As acting commander of the 1st Imperial Guards Division, his cooperation was crucial to the 15 August 1945 rebellion planned by Major Kenji Hatanaka and others. Hatanaka sought to occupy the Imperial Palace, and to prevent the Emperor's announcement of Japan's surrender from being broadcast. When Tanaka was asked to join the rebellion, he refused, and later mobilized the Eastern District Army against the coup. After making a number of phone calls, and ordering troops to relieve the Palace, he drove there himself and berated Hatanaka and the other conspirators.[3]

Despite being called 'the hero of the August 15 incident', and being almost singularly responsible for bringing an end to the attempted coup d'état, Tanaka felt responsible for the damage done to Tokyo (his jurisdiction) by Allied bombing. Since his assignment on 19 March, he had attempted to resign three times, after he failed to prevent damage to Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace, and other important sites, but his resignations were refused. After the war, Tanaka told his subordinates to destroy the unit colors, but not to commit suicide; burning the regiment's banners would be enough payment. Tanaka intended to commit suicide himself, on behalf of all his men.

On 24 August, at his office in Tokyo's Dai Ichi building, he shot himself through the heart; he left his desk covered in sutras, letters to his officers and his family, a statue of Emperor Meiji and a scroll bearing Emperor Hirohito's words to him following the August 15th incident.[4]



  • Brooks, Lester (1968). Behind Japan's Surrender: The Secret Struggle That Ended an Empire. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. 
  • Fuller, Richard (1992). Shokan: Hirohito's Samurai. London: Arms and Armor. ISBN 1-85409-151-4. 
  • Hayashi, Saburo; Cox, Alvin D (1959). Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War. Quantico, VA: The Marine Corps Association. 

External links


  1. ^ Budge, The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
  3. ^ Brooks, Behind Japan's Surrender
  4. ^ Chen, WW2 Data Base

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