Kijūrō Shidehara

Baron Kijūrō Shidehara (幣原 喜重郎, Shidehara Kijūrō, 13 September 1872 – 10 March 1951) was a prominent pre–World War II Japanese diplomat and Prime Minister of Japan from 1945 to 1946. He was a leading proponent of pacifism in Japan before and after World War II, and was also the last Japanese Prime Minister who was a member of the kazoku. His wife, Masako, was the fourth daughter of Iwasaki Yatarō, founder of the Mitsubishi zaibatsu.


Kijūrō Shidehara
幣原 喜重郎
Kijūrō Shidehara.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
9 October 1945 – 22 May 1946
GovernorDouglas MacArthur
Preceded byNaruhiko Higashikuni
Succeeded byShigeru Yoshida
In office
14 November 1930 – 10 March 1931
Preceded byOsachi Hamaguchi
Succeeded byOsachi Hamaguchi
Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan
In office
11 February 1949 – 10 March 1951
Preceded byKomakichi Matsuoka
Succeeded byJoji Hayashi
Member of the House of Representatives
for Osaka 3rd District
In office
26 April 1947 – 10 March 1951
Member of the House of Peers
In office
29 January 1926 – 25 April 1947
Personal details
Born(1872-09-13)13 September 1872
Prefecture of Sakai, Empire of Japan
(nowadays Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, Japan)
Died10 March 1951(1951-03-10) (aged 78)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyIndependent
Alma materTokyo Imperial University

Early life and careerEdit

Shidehara was born in Kadoma, Osaka. His brother Taira was the first president of Taihoku Imperial University. Shidehara attended Tokyo Imperial University, and graduated from the Faculty of Law, where he had studied under Hozumi Nobushige. After graduation, he found a position within the Foreign Ministry and was sent as a consul to Chemulpo in Korea in 1896.

He subsequently served in the Japanese embassy in London, Antwerp, and Washington D.C. and as ambassador to the Netherlands, returning to Japan in 1915.

In 1915, Shidehara was appointed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and continued in this position during five consecutive administrations. In 1919, he was named ambassador to the United States and was Japan's leading negotiator during the Washington Naval Conference. His negotiations led to the return of Jiaozhou Bay concession to China. However, while he was ambassador, the United States enacted discriminatory immigration laws against Japanese, which created much ill will in Japan.

Shidehara was elevated to the title of danshaku (baron) under the kazoku peerage system in 1920, and appointed to a seat in the House of Peers in 1925.

First term as Foreign MinisterEdit

In 1924, Shidehara became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Katō Takaaki and continued in this post under Prime Ministers Wakatsuki Reijirō and Osachi Hamaguchi. Despite growing Japanese militarism, Shidehara attempted to maintain a non-interventionist policy toward China, and good relations with Great Britain and the United States, which he admired. In his initial speech to the Diet of Japan, he pledged to uphold the principles of the League of Nations.

The term "Shidehara diplomacy" came to describe Japan's liberal foreign policy during the 1920s. In October 1925, he surprised other delegates to the Beijing Customs Conference in pushing for agreement to China's demands for tariff autonomy. In March 1927, during the Nanking Incident, he refused to agree to an ultimatum prepared by other foreign powers threatening retaliation for the actions of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang troops for their attacks on foreign consulates and settlements.

Disgruntlement by the military over Shidehara's China policies was one of the factors that led to the collapse of the administration of Prime Minister Wakatsuki in April 1927. During his diplomatic career, Shidehara was known for his excellent command of the English language. At one press conference, an American reporter was confused regarding the pronunciation of Shidehara's name: the foreign minister replied, "I'm Hi(he)-dehara, and my wife is Shi(she)-dehara." Because his wife was a Quaker, Shidehara was rumoured to be one too.

Second term as Foreign MinisterEdit

Shidehara on the cover of the October 12, 1931 issue of Time magazine

Shidehara returned as Foreign Minister in 1929, and immediately resumed the non-interventionist policy in China, attempting to restore good relations with Chiang Kai-shek's government now based in Nanjing. This policy was assailed by military interests who believed it was weakening the country, especially after the conclusion of the London Naval Conference 1930, which precipitated a major political crisis.

When Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt, Shidehara served as interim prime minister until March 1931. In September 1931, the Kwangtung Army invaded and occupied Manchuria in the Manchurian Incident without prior authorization from the central government. This effectively ended the non-interventionist policy towards China, and Shidehara’s career as foreign minister.

In October 1931, Shidehara was featured on the cover of Time with the caption "Japan's Man of Peace and War".[1]

Shidehara remained in government as a member of the House of Peers from 1931 to 1945. He maintained a low profile through the end of World War II.

Prime ministerEdit

Kijūrō Shidehara
October 9, 1945, with ministers of the Shidehara Cabinet

At the time of Japan's surrender in 1945, Shidehara was in semi-retirement. However, largely because of his pro-American reputation, he was appointed to serve as Japan’s first post-war prime minister, from 9 October 1945 to 22 May 1946. Along with the post of Prime Minister, Shidehara became president of the Progressive Party (Shinpo-tō).

Shidehara's cabinet appointed a non-official committee to look into the question of drafting a new constitution for Japan in line with General Douglas MacArthur's policy directives, but the draft was vetoed by the occupation authorities. According to MacArthur and others, it was Shidehara who originally proposed the inclusion of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, a provision which limits Japan's ability to wage war. Shidehara, in his memoirs Gaikō gojūnen ("Fifty-years Diplomacy", 1951) also admitted to his authorship, and described how the idea came to him on a train ride to Tokyo. Already when he was ambassador in Washington, he had become acquainted with the idea of 'outlawing war' in international and constitutional law. One of his famous sayings was: “Let us create a world without war (sensō naki sekai) together with the world-humanity (sekai jinrui).”

However, his supposed conservative economic policies and family ties to the Mitsubishi interests made him unpopular with the leftist movement.

The Shidehara cabinet resigned following Japan's first postwar election, when the Liberal Party of Japan captured most of the votes. Shigeru Yoshida became prime minister in Shidehara's wake.

Shidehara joined the Liberal Party a year later, after Prime Minister Tetsu Katayama formed a socialist government. As one of Katayama's harshest critics, Shidehara was elected speaker of the House of Representatives. He died in this post in 1951.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1903 he married Masako Iwasaki, who came from the family that founded the Mitsubishi zaibatsu or group of companies.[2]


From the Japanese Wikipedia article




Court order of precedenceEdit

  • Sixth rank (10 October 1903)
  • Senior sixth rank (27 December 1905)
  • Fifth rank (30 March 1908)
  • Senior fifth rank (20 September 1911)
  • Fourth rank (10 December 1915)
  • Third rank (10 November 1922)
  • Senior third rank (1 December 1925)
  • Second rank (16 February 1931)
  • First rank (10 March 1951; posthumous)


  1. ^ "TIME Covers". Time. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  2. ^ Klaus Schlichtmann, A Statesman for the Twenty-First Century? The Life and Diplomacy of Shidehara Kijuuroh (1872-1951)


  • Kenpou daikyuujou ga toikakeru. Kokka shuken no seigen—kakkoku kenpou to hikaku shi nagara (Investigating Article 9. Limitations of national sovereignty—a comparison with other constitutions), The SEKAI (Tokyo, Iwanami), 3 (2006 March, no. 750), pp. 172–83
  • Bix, Herbert P. (2001). Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-093130-2
  • Brendon, Piers (2002). The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s. Vintage; Reprint edition. ISBN 0-375-70808-1
  • Dower, John W. (2000). Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-32027-8.
  • Schlichtmann, Klaus (1995). 'A Statesman for The Twenty-First Century? The Life and Diplomacy of Shidehara Kijûrô (1872–1951)', Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, fourth series, vol. 10 (1995), pp. 33–67
  • Schlichtmann, Klaus (2001). 'The Constitutional Abolition of War in Japan. Monument of a Culture of Peace?'‚ Internationales Asienforum – International Quarterly for Asian Studies, vol. 32 (2001), no. 1-2, pp. 123–149
  • Schlichtmann, Klaus (2009). Japan in the World: Shidehara Kijűrô, Pacifism and the Abolition of War, Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto etc., 2 vols., Lexington Books.
  • Schlichtmann, Klaus, “Article Nine in Context – Limitations of National Sovereignty and the Abolition of War in Constitutional Law” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 23-6-09, June 8, 2009. - See more at:
  • Shiota, Ushio (1992). Saigo no gohoko: Saisho Shidehara Kijuro, Bungei Shunju. ISBN 4-16-346380-1
  • Takemoto, Toru (1979). Failure of Liberalism in Japan: Shidehara Kijuro's Encounter With Anti-Liberals, Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8191-0698-4
Political offices
Preceded by
Matsui Keishirō
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Tanaka Giichi
Preceded by
Osachi Hamaguchi
Prime Minister of Japan

Succeeded by
Osachi Hamaguchi
Preceded by
Naruhiko Higashikuni
Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Shigeru Yoshida
New title Deputy Prime Minister of Japan
Succeeded by
Hitoshi Ashida
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ishii Kikujirō
Japanese Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Masanao Hanihara