Shigeru Honjo

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Shigeru Honjo (1887-1945) was an Imperial Japanese Army officer, a protege of Emperor Taisho and Military Academy classmate of Sadao Araki, who headed the Kwangtung Army during the Manchurian Incident. From 1933 to 1936, he was Chief Aide-de-Camp to Emperor Hirohito, but resigned due to his nephew's involvement in the February 26, 1936 Incident. The nature of his resignation was such that he did not lose Imperial favor, and was an informal adviser until the end of World War Two in the Pacific.[1]


At an August 1931 conference of field commanders at the Summer palace, Honjo, taking command of the Kwangtung Army, was briefed, along with Teiichi Suzuki and Seishiro Itagaki, on clandestine communication with the Palace. War Minister Jiro Minami was not aware of the planning, and the generals were advised not to tell him too much, since he would be the intermediary between the Palace and the Cabinet.[2]

He was succeeded, in 1932, by Nobuyoshi Muto. Muto was reassigned from his position as Inspector General of Military Education after cadets assassinated Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai.[3]

February 1936

During the February 1936 incident, he was a go-between and presented the Young Officers' view, "The spirit in which it was done was one of esteem for Emperor and country and we should not blame them", but had to convey Hirohito's reaction,

Why should we forgive them when these brutal officers kill our right-hand advisers? ... All my most trusted retainers are dead and [the mutineers'] actions are aimed directly at me...We ourselves will lead the Imperial Guards and suppress them.[4]


Informed that he was to be arrested as a major war criminal by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, he committed seppuku in 1945.


  1. David Bergamini (1971), Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, Morrow, p. 1089
  2. Bergamini, pp. 418-419
  3. "JAPAN: Murder, Muto & Manchuria", Time, 8 August 1932
  4. Merion and Susie Harris (1991), Soldiers of the Sun: the Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army, Random House, p. 190