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General Hideki Tojo: war criminal Essay

World War II is one of the events in the modern history of mankind which is looked upon with mixed reactions considering what was lost and was created because of this war. This was a showdown not just of superpowers, but also of the most influential leaders in different countries. One of these leaders is Hideki Tojo of Japan, who led the country and its soldiers in the Pacific theater of operations during World War II versus Allied forces led by the United States. This was a set of many different battles, which, on a whole, was deadly and costly for both camps.

Many would say that General Hideki Tojo was just a man doing his job consistent with the political, economic and military directions of the country. Like any other soldier and leader, Tojo was expected to make decisions that will appear harsh and inconsiderate to human life, but is this really the truth? Many dare challenge this. They believe that just like any other individual, Tojo always had options and choices and he was never forced to just one course of action that he did not wanted or approved.

The truth is that he has options. How he selected his own course of actions especially during World War II speaks a lot about how Tojo is the archetypal villain and evil, in consideration to this man’s values as reflected in his goals, ambitions, actions and perspective. Bringing a villain like General Hideki Tojo to trial for his evil during World War II is a case that will be strongly supported by many different important reasons and justifications why such accusations are real and suitable for some like Tojo.

These reasons and justifications would be laid out, spread and explained to ascertain Tojo’s undeniable complicity and role in atrocities and undesirable actions during World War II. Hideki Tojo’s trial regarding his military and political actions during World War II will feature the discussion of several different proofs that will establish Tojo and his role in these atrocities and unacceptable acts even during war time. There are four important aspects that serve as proof to establish Hideki Tojo’s acts of atrocities and unacceptable war time behavior during World War II.

It led many people to believe that he was indeed the villain that endangered and put to slaughter not just the lives of the enemy but lives of his own men as well. The first proof of Tojo’s evil is his influence and active, conscious and direct role in the hostile imperialism of Japan. Tojo is described as “one of the most aggressive of the Japanese imperialists (Keegan, Wheatcroft 291). ” Of course, history will show that no effort at expansion and imperialism is not without violence. The fact that this is expected, it does not mean that Tojo and his imperialist expansion-related violence, crimes and hostility will be accepted.

On the contrary, if Tojo was indeed in favor of humanity, he should have learned from the lessons of the past like the imperialist tendencies of Europeans in the past. He should have seen this could result to death and bloodshed. He should have never subjected his people and other people in such condition wherein death and destruction is the main result. However, the self-centered, greedy and power hungry Tojo moved forward with his dreams of expanding by controlling other countries and territories through the use of military force.

This resulted to the death of many people, Japanese and non Japanese alike. It was a deadly and lethal combination. Tojo had access to power and was war hungry. He looked at war as a necessity for Japan at the time, which is disputable even today (Benford 119). “Tojo has assumed for himself the three posts of prime minister, war minister and chief of army staff and was totally responsible for the conduct of the war and was determined that only war could bring Japan what it rightfully deserved (Benford 119). ” Wohlstetter expressed the importance of this development (Wohlstetter 324).

“Tojo has thus concentrated enormous power in his own hands, far more than any Premier of modern times. He is jingoistic and anti-foreign, particularly anti-Russian. He has strong pro-Axis leanings (Wohlstetter 324). ” History has dubbed the attack on Pearl Harbor as an ignominy which will go down in history books as a dastardly act that will be continuously frowned upon. Because of the style and approach, Japan, and particularly Tojo, who was Prime Minister at that time (Gudykunst 276), took in this particular incident.

It resulted to the deaths of many individuals; many of those are non-combatants and innocent civilians. The attack on Pearl Harbor is considered as one of the most evil of all forms of attacks during war time history and in World War II. It is an unforgettable and unacceptable act on the part of the Japan. If this is the case, then what does this say about the people who conceived and planned and executed it, among the many high ranking top brass of Japan to approve it is Tojo? It is Evil, pure evil.

“Tojo ordered Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and then led his nation in war for three years (Weston 182). ” It is one thing to cause death in the battlefield, but it is another to resort to killing even non combatants and civilians just to inflict damage to the enemy and to help one side come closer to victory (it is explained this way because even though Japan’s attack was a serious blow to United States, Japan, in the end, did not win). In this event, Tojo resorted to a Machiavellian thinking. He believed that the end justifies the means.

However, in the end, it was completely unfortunate that despite the sacrifices used as a means, they still were not able to achieve the ends. In this perspective, how will the sacrifice of men be seen, considering the failure to achieve the objective? Tojo’s military leadership that resulted to the deaths of many soldiers did not automatically make him an evil leader. What made him an evil leader is the fact that he did not conducted himself accordingly. His actions are often irrational to the point that it is immoral and unethical even during the state of war among nations.

Pearl Harbor is an excellent example of this condition. Tojo’s hands are stained with the blood of the innocent, people who should have not been directed and accorded with hostility. They are nonetheless victimized by a man whose evil has become legendary – and heavily criticized – even before World War II would end with Japan accepting defeat eventually. The evil of Tojo is not just limited to Pearl Harbor. As a powerful and influential man who directed military actions during World War II, Tojo is responsible for the lives of men.

These were military and non-military people that were hurt or killed throughout World War II in places that Japanese soldiers and soldiers controlled and conscripted by Japan operated in. It is no secret that after World War II, investigations about many different war crimes resulted in the surfacing of information regarding the presence of these atrocities. Even though this are undertaken by Tojo’s underlings, it was Tojo who is responsible in grooming and managing men who should know how to handle themselves admirably during war.

Tojo’s lack of that same sense reflected in how his followers acted. As they say, the actions of members reflect the characteristics of the leader. Tojo is evil because he was directly or indirectly responsible for the acts of atrocities committed during the duration of World War II in places Japan controlled or fought in. Soon, investigators were able to fully judge beyond reasonable doubt that responsibility for war crimes rests on the shoulders of Tojo, for which the punishment is death.

In the end, Tojo was arrested, and proven as a war criminal (Benford 119). For the enemies of Japan during the World War II, it is easy for them to say that Japan and its leaders are bad because of their acts of hostility towards them (Japan’s enemy). The real extent of evil inside a man is not found in how he treats his enemies, since hostilities are expected between and among enemies. The true evil is found in how a man appreciates the lives of the man that follows him and how he uses the faith and trust that his followers give him.

It is in this last aspect of the proof of Tojo’s evil that one can truly see that Tojo is not evil in the eyes of his enemies, but is evil in consideration to what he had his men undergo, do and suffer. The achievement of an imperial domination which was close to impossible and was something that Japan as a country wanted but what the selected few desired for themselves. These individuals include Tojo. In analysis, Japan and its position economically and politically at that time allowed them many other options. For one, the battle was in Europe among old and new enemies.

The reason why it spread in Asia and the Pacific is because of Tojo’s megalomaniac tendencies that endangered the lives of many men, not to mention the deaths of thousands and even millions of others as well. It is not easy to look of Hideki Tojo without bias, and why not? His curriculum vitae, during World War II, is proof of his responsibility in the military actions that resulted to death, destruction and acts of atrocity, among others. History and related literature gave Tojo many different titles besides the one’s he officially owned at one time, titles which he earned because of his actions.

For example, he was described as “supreme war lord (Butow 440)”, and not just military leader. Notice the impact that the writer was going for when using the term “war lord” in consideration to what was being implied and how the writer was trying to describe Tojo more accurately and vividly with the use of such term. Evans described Tojo as “an arch enemy (Evans 329)” and placed Tojo alongside other unpopular megalomaniac who was also responsible for death, destruction and atrocity including Hitler and Mussolinni. He was described as standing side by side and among the most hated men during that time.

“During World War II, the three most hated men in the world were Hitler, Mussolini and General Tojo Hideki (Weston 182). ” Hill believes that he was an aggressor similar to Hitler (Hill 86). “Hitler and Tojo were planning every imaginable step and they had jointly executed a policy of world aggression (Hill 86). ” Works cited Benford, Timothy B. Pearl Harbor Amazing Facts! Utah: American Book Publishers, 2001. Butow, Robert Charles Joseph. Tojo and the Coming of the War. California: Stanford University Press, 1961. Evans, David. Ramblin’ on my mind: new perspectives on the blues. Illinois:

University of Illinois Press, 2008. Gudykunst, William B. Communication Yearbook. California: Routledge, 2002. Hill, Richard F. Hitler attacks Pearl Harbor: why the United States declared war on Germany. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003. Keegan, John and Andrew Wheatcroft. Who’s who in military history: from 1453 to the present day. London: Routledge, 1996. Weston, Mark. Giants of Japan: The Live of Japan’s Most Influential Men and Women. New York: Kodansha America, 2002. Wohlstetter, Roberta. Pearl Harbor: warning and decision. California: Stanford University Press, 1962.


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