Kiichirō Hiranuma shot by assassin (8-14-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 14, 1941)


Ex-Premier and cabinet member wounded; gunman caught

By Robert Bellaire, United Press staff writer

Tokyo, Aug. 14 –
Baron Kiichirō Hiranuma, 75, minister without portfolio long known a Japan’s No. 1 fascist, was wounded today by an assassin who, gaining entrance to his suburban home, drew a pistol from a roll of paper.

It was said officially that Baron Hiranuma was wounded in the neck and that, despite his wound and his advanced age, he chased his assailant to the gates of his villa, where a guard arrested the assailant.

Assassin uses ruse

Police, after suppressing news of the assassination attempt for five hours, announced that Naohiko Ishiyama, 33, was the assassin. Ishiyama was reported to be affiliated with the strong ultranationalist Black Dragon Society.

Ishiyama had made an appointment with Baron Hiranuma, pretending he wanted to get a sample of the Baron’s handwriting for his collection of calligraphy. He arrived at the villa in the morning and, as he talked to the Baron, drew a pistol and fired.

See political motive

Koh Ishii, chief government spokesman, said:

Baron Hiranuma is such an important man to Japan at this time that a very thorough investigation must be carried out before there is any formal statement.

This was a plain intimation of the importance which the government attached to a possible political motive. Baron Hiranuma is a conservative leader and has great, almost dominant, influence in the cabinet.

Emperor Hirohito sent his court physician, Dr. Takuma Matsunaga, to attend Baron Hiranuma.

Was former Premier

Prince Fumimaro Konoe, the Premier, and other cabinet ministers, called at the Baron’s villa to inquire of his condition.

Baron Hiranuma has had a long and distinguished career in the civil service, the judiciary and politics. At first employed in the Justice Ministry, he became President of the Supreme Court and then Minister of Justice. He was Premier from January to August 1939.

Last December, he was brought into the cabinet as Home Minister, in charged of the national police organization. In the cabinet which Prince Konoe formed July 18, Baron Hiranuma became a minister without portfolio.

Friendly to U.S.

Baron Hiranuma has been regarded as friendly to the U.S. and Britain rather than to Germany and Italy, though for years he was an extreme nationalist. His “fascism” was of the domestic order in that he favored a strong government for Japan.

In recent years, Baron Hiranuma had softened his views, and at the time he became Premier, he said he had come to favor constitutional government. He said publicly:

Fascism may be good for Italy, but I do not think that fascism, communism or Nazism would be beneficial to Japan.

Baron Hiranuma is associated with Japanese big business interests. He has been called the unofficial Vice Premier.

The attempt on Baron Hiranuma’s life was the first against a cabinet minister since Feb. 26, 1936, when young army extremists killed Finance Minister Takahashi Korekiyo, Admiral Saitō Makoto, Lord Privy Seal, and General Jōtarō Watanabe, inspector general of military education. Premier Keisuke Okada escaped only because assassins killed his brother-in-law, Col. Denzō Matsuo, in mistake for him.

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