Why did Hirohito appoint Tojo as prime minister?

Why did Hirohito appoint Tojo as prime minister on October 18 despite knowing that Tojo wants war, which is something Hirohito doesn’t want and does not take into the former Prime minister’s Konoye’s recomendation Higashikuni?


I think the answer is that Hirohito (despite his post-war I-only-wanted-peace narrative) was just fine with a war; he had been convinced by his various advisors that it was the best thing. Japan had conquered Manchuria, and were having their way with the Chinese, why not the inferior Americans as well?

The declaration of war was by the Emperor himself, (published December 8th, 1941 Japan time) it begins:

“WE, by the Grace of Heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on the throne occupied by the same dynasty from time immemorial, enjoin upon ye, Our loyal and brave subjects: We hereby declare war on the United States of America and the British Empire…”

The Rescript goes on to describe going to war as a “the task bequeathed by Our forefathers” for “the glory of Our Empire.”

So, Tojo was accepted as Prime Minister precisely because he wanted a war, and so did Hirohito. As late as June 10th 1945, in an Imperial Rescript, Hirohito was still calling the war with the US and UK a “Holy War”:

"We deeply rejoice that the loyal and brave men of our land and sea forces, with all their heart and strength, are crushing the formidable enemy, while our 100 million faithful and good citizens, braving the tumult of battle and holocausts, perform their duties with diligence. We rejoice further that the bonds with our Allies are being strengthened.

Lately the world situation has rapidly changed and the encroachments of enemy mount in fury. This is truly the opportunity to crush the evil designs of the enemy nations, fulfill the purpose of the Holy War, and manifest the glory of our Nation."


The text of the entire thing for those interested:


Why is the emperor referring to himself in third person? Was it the emperor’s habit or was this how the Japanese spoke?

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Did the Japanese use a different calendar as compared to the Gregorian calendar?


The kōki system, first used in 1873, was actually used concurrently with the Gregorian calendar system. It’s based on the legend of Emperor Jimmu’s ascension in 660 BC (Kōki 1 – marked as National Foundation Day, February 11). This system is rarely, if ever, used after…


the end of the war.

This was actually how the Zero fighters got their name – the Mitsubishi A6M entered service in 1940 (generally points to Kōki 2600)

Interestingly, you can see the gengō date in the declaration of war as well (used since 701):

15th year of Shōwa



Yes, he did (by the way, “we” is first-person plural. My Mom was an English Teacher… :-). Using “We” (Our, and such – the O is capitalized in this context) is of the same view as British Royalty, and bygone Kings (“Your Majesty,” and that sort of thing.). The Queen of England uses the “Royal We”, or “One.”