Umezu, a veteran of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria and China from 1931 to 1940, was made Chief of Army Staff after TOJO’s fall in July 1944 and played a major role in the internal government maneuverings preceding Japan’s surrender. Tojo had himself taken the posts of Prime Minister, Chief of Army Staff and Minister of War. When the news of Saipan arrived and his position was tenuous, he ended this unpopular arrangement and Umezu became Minister of War. When Tojo fell in July 1944 Umezu became Army Chief of Staff.
In the latter days of the war, Umezu was one of the triumvirate of die-hards in the Cabinet, the others being TOYODA and ANAMI. They were fierce opponents of unconditional surrender. Umezu was the first of these to relent and see the impossibility of their position. He was persuaded to accept the Potsdam Declaration though he wished to negotiate further conditions. Umezu was under constant and heavy pressure from the Army not to surrender. Colonel Arao also assumed that he would support a militarist coup and his refusal to participate effectively ended their threat to Japan’s stability.
Umezu was one of the few top Japanese politicians present at the surrender on the USS Missouri. Unwilling to go he had been personally ordered by the Emperor to represent the Army.