Prime Minister from 1926-1927 and from April-December 1931
Cabinet list Wakatsuki Reijiro I cabinet
Cabinet list Wakatsuki Reijiro II cabinet
Tenure as Prime Minster: 690 days.
Born in Shimane
Born in Shimane prefecture, Wakatsuki graduated from Tokyo University and
then entered the finance ministry. 1906 and 1908-1911 he served as vice
finance minister. After being elected to the Diet in 1911, Wakatsuki in
1912 joined the Rikken Doshikai, the party formed by Katsura Taro
, and became finance minister in the third Katsura cabinet, a post he retained
until 1915. In 1924 he was named home minister in the Kato Takaaki
cabinet. He worked for the adoption of the universal manhood suffrage
bill and the Peace Preservation Law both of wichi were passed in 1925.
When Kato Takaaki died in office in 1926, Wakatsuki took over as prime
minister until 1927. As Japan's chief delegate to the 1930 London Naval
Conference (together with Takarabe Takeshi), he pressed for the ratification
of the proposed disarmament treaty notwithstanding strong resistance from
the military. After Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi
was shot by a right-wing extremist in 1930, Wakatsuki assumed the presidency
of the Rikken Minseito, successor to the Doshikai/Kenseikai, and served
once more as prime minister in 1931.
On the night of Sept. 18, 1931, Japanese troops from the Kwantung army
used the pretext of an explosion along the Japanese-controlled South Manchurian
Railway to occupy the city of Mukden (Mukden incident or Manchurian incident).
On September 21, Japanese reinforcements arrived from Korea, and the army
began to expand throughout northern Manchuria. In Tokyo neither the high
command of the Japanese army nor Prime Minister Wakatsuki proved able to
restrain the Kwantung Army in the field, and within three months Japanese
troops had spread throughout Manchuria. As a consequence, Wakatsuki resigned
in late 1931 and retired to the role of jushin (senior statesman). Later,
he belonged to a group that opposed waging war against the United States
and remained politically active as a senior statesman until his dead in