Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Suzuki Kantaro (1867–1948)

Japanese navy admiral and prime minister of Japan. Born in Osaka on 18 January 1867, Suzuki Kantaro graduated from the Naval Academy in 1887 and the Naval War College in 1898. He saw combat in the 1894–1895 Sino-Japanese War and in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War. Following service in a variety of positions at sea and ashore, including command of the Naval Academy, Suzuki was promoted to admiral in 1923. In 1925, he became chief of the Naval General Staff. He retired in 1929. Transferring to the reserves, he was appointed grand chamberlain to the emperor and a member of the Privy Council. Suzuki served in that post until he was badly wounded by assassins during a failed military coup attempt on 26 February 1936.

On 5 April 1945, Suzuki was recalled from retirement to replace Koiso Kuniaki as prime minister. Faced with Japan's military collapse, Suzuki's cabinet remained deadlocked over whether to surrender or fight a last-ditch battle in defense of the home islands. Although Suzuki continued to maintain a bellicose pose in public, he supported foreign minister Togo Shigenori's desperate and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to enlist the help of the Soviet Union as a mediator with the United States.

By August 1945, the situation for Japan had become dire. On 6 August, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima; it followed with an atomic attack on Nagasaki three days later. On 8 August, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria. Nevertheless, the members of Suzuki's cabinet were unable to reach a decision until Emperor Hirohito broke the deadlock himself. Suzuki and his cabinet resigned on 17 August 1945, two days after accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Suzuki died in Noda-city in Chiba Prefecture on 7 April 1948.

John M. Jennings


Further Reading
Butow, Robert J. C. Japan's Decision to Surrender. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1954.; Feis, Herbert. Japan Subdued: The Atomic Bomb and the End of the War in the Pacific. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961.; Frank, Richard B. Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. New York: Random House, 1999.; Sigal, Leon V. Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.
 

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