Teiichi Suzuki

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Teiichi Suzuki (1888-1989) was an Imperial Japanese Army officer active in the militarized politics of the 1920s and 1930s, and then, with the rank of lieutenant general, the primary planner of Japan's wartime economy, serving as state minister of the Planning Board from 1941 to 1943. He was sentenced to a life term as a war criminal by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, but paroled and then pardoned in 1955. [1]

In 1920, as an Army captain, he had been assigned to befriend Chiang Kai-shek, with whom he had attended the Japanese Military Academy. Suzuki had been a member of the palace planning and intelligence organization, generally called the University Lodging House, created by Emperor Hirohito. In 1923, Suzuki helped Chiang form a Chinese equivalent to the Lodging House. Suzuki organized experts there to report, on Chinese developments, to the Palace. [2]

He returned to Japan in May 1927, assigned to help Fumimaro Konoe and the vice-minister of foreign affairs in planning the neutralization of Chang Tso-Lin and the acquisition of Manchuria and Mongolia. Forming a "Far Eastern Conference" of young officers known to Hirohito, Suzuki reported,

It was my aim to unify their ideas about the course that Japan should follow on the Continent. Most of us felt that Manchuria should be cut off from China proper and brought under Japan's political control. This required that Japan's whole policy — domestic, foreign and military — should be concentrated on the achievement of this one goal.

Unless Japan waged war, she would find it difficult to solve her Continental problems...we knew...no minister in Tanaka's government would support such a plan.[3]

Tanaka responded with a "comprehensive long-range program for the economic infiltration and exploitation of China, which, while frankly rapacious, would have merely been a continuation of classical Choshu clan policies." A combination of Tanaka's plans and notes from the Far Eastern Conference was constructed by Chinese intelligence, and, while never a Japanese document, became known as the "Tanaka Memorial."

In 1931, he was the direct subordinate of Tetsuzan Nagata, and discussed the situation at length with Kazushige Ugaki, who had been considering a coup to establish Ugaki as prime minister. [4] Ugaki called off the coup, not willing to accept Army demands. [5]

Later Army career

He then had a series of more conventional Army assignments, moving back to economics:[6]

  • 1934-1935: Instructor at the War College
  • 1935-1936: Investigator, Cabinet Research Bureau
  • 1936-1937: Commanding Officer 14th Regiment
  • 1937-1938: Attached to 16th Division
  • 1938: Chief of Staff 3rd Army
  • 1938- 1940: Head of Political Affairs Bureau, Asia Development Board
  • 1940- 1941: Head of General Affairs Bureau, Asia Development Board
  • 1941 Retired from Army, but gained ministerial rank
  • 1941-1943: Chief of the Cabinet Planning Board
  • 1943-1944: Advisor to the Government

Bix suggests that Hirohito was convinced, in part by economic data from Suzuki,[7] that "a protracted war was not only possible to fight but could be concluded even without any real plan for doing so."[8]

During the Tokyo tribunal, former foreign minister Shigenori Togo said that Suzuki, along with Shigetaro Shimada and Hideki Tojo, had been the strongest advocates of declaring war in 1941. [9]


  1. "Teiichi Suzuki, 100; A Last War Criminal", Associated Press, 16 July 1989
  2. David Bergamini (1971), Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, Morrow, pp. 331-332, 342-344
  3. Bergamini, p. 358
  4. Merion and Susie Harris (1991), Soldiers of the Sun: the Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army, Random House, p. 147
  5. War Responsibility--delving into the past (1) / Who should bear the most blame for the Showa War?, Yomiuri Shimbun
  6. Suzuki Teiichi, Lieutenant-General
  7. David John Lu (1996), Japan: a documentary history, Volume 1, East Gate Book, ISBN 978-1563249068, pp. 428-432
  8. Herbert P. Bix (2001), Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0060931308, p. 422
  9. Bix, p. 602