Togo, Shigenori, 1882-1950

Togo was twice Foreign Minister: at the start of the war and at the end. He was vigorously anti-militarist and anti-war and while he was Minister under TOJO he made every effort in his negotiations with the Americans to avoid war. However he was not able to do anything in the face of the entrenched power of the military leaders and in reality served as little more than a cover for Tokyo’s preparations for Pearl Harbor. [It was in accord with this interpretation of his actions that he was tried and convicted as a war criminal despite the sincerity of his efforts.] He resigned shortly after war was declared.

Togo lived in retirement throughout the war until SUZUKI appointed him Foreign Minister in April 1945. He only accepted the job when assured that his sole task would be to seek peace. In this pursuit he was still severely hampered by die-hards in power and was in fear for his life throughout the summer. He was opposed to negotiating through the Russians and his mistrust was justified. He favored publication of the Potsdam Declaration in Japan to show that it was taken seriously and advocated its immediate acceptance providing the Emperor’s status was guaranteed. He resigned from the Cabinet in August 1945, after the surrender had been agreed on. He was a brilliant intellectual, extremely blunt, independent and harsh.

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