Prime Minister from 1927-1929
Cabinet list Tanaka Giichi cabinet
Tenure as Prime Minster: 805 days.
Born in Hagi
, Yamaguchi prefecture (Choshu
Tanaka was born in the Choshu feudal domain that played a dominant role
in the Meiji Restoration
. After the restoration, he attended the newly founded Army Academy and
the Army War College. During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) he served
as an aide to Kodama Gentaro, chief of staff of the Manchurian army. In
1906 he drafted a defense plan, which, pushed by Yamagata Aritomo
, was adopted in a revised form as the "Basic Plan for Defense of
the Empire" (Teikoku kokubo hoshin) and remained the basic guideline
for Japanese foreign and security policies until 1945. Tanaka in the years
to come became one of the most important proteges of Yamagata Aritomo and
the central figure in the Yamagata faction. In 1910, Tanaka played a leading
part in founding the reservists association (Teikoku Zaigo Gunjin-kai),
and after a stay in Europe, he also supervised the unification of Japan's
youth leagues into a national organization (Seinen-dan).
In 1918, as vice Chief of General Staff, Tanaka was one of the most fervent
advocates of a dispatch of troops to Siberia (Siberian Intervention
), which was started in summer 1918. He then became army minister in the
cabinet of Hara Takashi
and cooperated with Hara, working for a withdrawal from Siberia, but in
vain - due to resistance from the Chief of General Staff, Uehara Yusaku
. For his merits, Tanaka was made a baron in 1920.
In 1923 Tanaka became army minister for a second time, but had to resign
due to the Toranomon incident, an assasination attempt on the crown prince.
When the political party Seiyukai - in chaos since the assasination of Hara Takashi
- invited him to be party president in 1925, he accepted. Tanaka was an
important asset for the Seiyukai due to his personal connections and his
ability to raise funds. Tanaka became prime minister in 1927. He served
concurrently as foreign minister and is known for an "active policy"
in China, i.e. a policy of military engagement and intervention. On three
occasions from 1927 to 1928 the Tanaka cabinet sent troops to Shandong
(Shangtung) and also Shanghai. For example, in 1927, he intervened upon
the begin of the "Northern expedition" of Chiang Kai-Shek that
threatened Japanese interests in Northern China and Manchuria. After Zhang
Zuolin (Chang Tso-lin), the warlord in Manchuria, was assassinated by Japanese
military officers in 1928, criticism of the Tanaka cabinet increased, especially
from the emperor. The cabinet resigned in July 1929 and Tanaka died shortly
The so-called "Tanaka Memorandum", which is said to be authored
by Tanaka as a masterplan for later Japanese expansion in Asia, has been
proved to be a forgery.
In Tanaka's hometown Hagi, we find a huge bronze statue of him.
Statue of Tanaka Giichi in Hagi
Telegram of Tanaka Giichi to Terauchi Masatake, Governor General of Korea (4 December 1911)
from the National Diet Library