Episode 479 – The Dynasty, Part 2

Hatoyama Kazuo was a reluctant politician; you can’t say the same of his son Hatoyama Ichiro, groomed from childhood to take up the family business (and to rise to the height of cabinet minister, something his father never did). This week is all about Ichiro’s prewar career, which culminated in a shot at the top job–that was snapped away at the last moment.


Itoh, Mayumi. The Hatoyama Dynasty: Japanese Political Leadership Through the Generations.

Keene, Donald. Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912


Hatoyama Hall in Otowa, Tokyo.
Hatoyama Ichiro during his younger days. I believe this specific photo is from the late 1920s based on his youth, but I’m not quite sure.
The Hatoyama family in 1953. Ichiro is seated next to his wife Kaoru. Standing above is Hatoyama Iichiro. The young child is Hatoyama Yukio.
Hatoyama Kaoru in 1938, during her time as head of Kyoritsu Women’s University.


The story of Hatoyama Kazuo, the progenitor of the Hatoyama dynasty, is the story of a very odd man for his times.

He was a committed liberal during an age where liberalism was very much an outsider ideology. He was a politician who never fully embraced that vocation, instead splitting his time between politics and the law. And he was a liberal who ended up joining the Seiyukai, a party that in many ways served to launder the ambitions of pro-government oligarchs like Ito Hirobumi through the fig leaf of liberalism–driven by an inexplicable rift between him and a man who, previously, had been one of his foremost boosters.

To be fair, he was not the only Japanese liberal to make that choice. But still, it was an odd one.

Still: Kazuo doesn’t exactly look like the kind of guy to launch his family into the upper rungs of Japan’s political elite. Indeed, arguably he wasn’t even that good of a politician, because he was absolutely terrible at the kind of horse trading and back room deals you really need to succeed in the field.

It’s really his eldest son, Hatoyama Ichiro, who is in many ways the foundational figure of the Hatoyama dynasty.

Ichiro, who as the name implies was the eldest son, was born in 1883 in Tokyo, right at the start of his father’s political career. In many ways, his upbringing was traditional for a boy from an elite family during the Meiji years–he attended a series of extremely elite schools founded by the new government, culminating in a graduation from the Daiichi Koto Gakkou, an elite government run high school, in 1903.  If you’ve been with the podcast for a very long time: yes, this is the one with the really good baseball team.

From there, he would head where else but the Tokyo University School of Law, graduating in 1907, and marrying Terada Kaoru, daughter of another elite family in the new order, the next year (her father was a judge and a member of the upper house of the Diet, the unelected House of Peers).

So far, so normal for the child of an elite family. But Hatoyama Ichiro’s upbringing was unusual in one respect. The normative gender roles of the time placed a great deal of onus on the father to be strict and stern, driving children to succeed (especially eldest sons, who were still treated very much like heirs to the family business). Mothers, meanwhile, were expected to fulfill the idea of ryosai kenbo, the good wife and wise mother, being supportive and nurturing and such.

The Hatoyamas operated differently. Kazuo was, by all accounts, a doting father who was extremely gentle and not really at all interested in pushing his kids outside their comfort zone. For example, Ichiro had a younger brother, Hideo, born the year after him. Hideo was a very bookish kid, and had no inclination to follow his father into public service despite Kazuo’s desire for him to do so. However, Kazuo never attempted to steer his son toward a specific outcome. As Hideo would later recollect, “my father never imposed his orders on me….he only expressed his hope that I would enter the real world (rather than staying in the ivory tower) and make actual contributions to society. Yet he consented when I said I was suited for study. I respect him as a person, more than as our father.” That same toleration even extended to Hideo’s decision to be baptized as a Christian, something Kazuo opposed but did not attempt to stop.

Hatoyama Ichiro would later recall much the same. “There is nothing easy about being kind…my father was truly kind….He was warm to the bottom of his heart. We (his two sons) have never seen him raise his voice or scold for 28 years during which we lived together. He used to say that it is unpleasant to scold people, so he did not. I have no memory of my father yelling at us. It is understandable for my brother because he was a quiet boy, but I was wild. I remember only one occasion when he punished me. When I was three or four years old, I did something naughty and he took me to the bathroom and poured water on my head. Even at that time, he did not yell at me. Few people could take such a calm attitude.”

So, leaving aside the ethics of dumping water on the heads of small children–which yes, is a big aside, but bear with me–the natural question is: Kazuo clearly was not going to force his children towards a specific career path, and yet Ichiro specifically ended up following pretty much exactly the trajectory you’d expect from the first son of a politician into public service. How’d that end up happening?

The answer is that it was Ichiro’s mother, Hatoyama Haruko, who really drove her son into public service. As a reminder, Haruko was an extremely well educated woman who had trained as a teacher and been prepared to go overseas to the US for study before having her plans frustrated by conservative government leaders. Instead, she married Kazuo–and arguably directed all her ambitions into her eldest son.

Ichiro would later recall that she told him she’d been reading him biographies of famous politicians literally from the time he was still in the womb, and apparently she shut down an early suggestion from his teachers that he go into engineering when he proved to have a talent for science and math. Instead, she was always clear with her eldest boy–he was going to follow his father, go into politics, and do the one thing that Kazuo, with his unwillingness to cut deals, had never managed: to become a minister in the cabinet. Kazuo had only ever made vice minister.

And lo, that’s pretty much what happened. When Hatoyama Kazuo died in 1911, it was Hideko who wrote to one of the major leaders of his Seiyukai party (Hara Takashi) asking him to take Ichiro under his political wing. She’d made sure he was prepared for politics by setting up his educational trajectory through the Tokyo University Law school (despite his middling grades, particularly compared to his brother Hideo, on most subjects relevant to the field). She essentially set up Ichiro’s whole career trajectory.

And it worked. In 1912, Ichiro ran for his father’s now vacant spot on the Tokyo City Assembly, with the backing of Hara Takashi and the Seiyukai. He won handily–but couldn’t contest his father’s spot in the National Diet because he was 28, and you had to be 30 or older to run for the House of Representatives.

He had to wait for the next general election (in 1915) to run for and win a spot in the National Diet. Which, by the way, means that for those of you playing at home–so far by 1915 Japan had seen 15 general elections, with only 1912 not having a Hatoyama on the ballot, and with the Hatoyama family candidate winning in 13 out of 14 cases.

Hatoyama Ichiro himself would go on to win re-election to his Tokyo district 14 consecutive times–barring a brief interlude we will talk about later–remaining in the Diet all the way until 1959. Twice, he would win his election by the widest margin ever recorded, a record he would hold for several decades until it was broken by none other than the king of corruption himself, Tanaka Kakuei.

I think it’s fair to credit the lion’s share of that political trajectory to Hatoyama Hideko–and to call her, as Ito Mayumi does, the godmother of the Hatoyama family.

And oh what a career it was. Hatoyama Ichiro would go on to win 15 consecutive general elections and retain his spot in the Diet’s House of Representatives all the way until his death in 1959. And he wasn’t just any old politician: Hatoyama Ichiro would eventually become one of the biggest names in Japanese politics.

In part, this was because he’d inherited from his father a talent for getting people to genuinely like him as a person: Ito Mayumi relates a great anecdote from the 1920s where Hatoyama diffused a public critic of his (a Chinese resident of Japan) by going to his house (a pretty substantial concession of status, as making a house call is something you do for a social superior) and offering the man a bottle of booze he’d received from the Chinese warlord Zhang Zuolin.

Simply put, Hatoyama knew how to work people–and in a field like politics where popularity is so much a part of the practice, knowing how to work people is, well, most of the work.

I think it is fair to call him far more politically savvy than his father, and that, combined with his status as the political protege of Hara Takashi, led to a meteoric rise for the young man.

If the name Hara Takashi sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the first real democratically elected Prime Minister in Japan’s history. While Okuma had gotten the job in 1898 thanks to his massive supermajority with the Kenseito and the electoral rebuke the government received at the polls, that had been a one-off concession by the emperor and his advisors. Hara was the man who forced a change to the rules around the selection of the Prime Minister.

Specifically, he took advantage of a political crisis in 1918 where volatile rice prices caused by a collapse in demand after WWI triggered anti-government riots–the government was forced to make concessions to reign in popular sentiment that included the right for the head of the largest party in the Diet to take over the Prime Ministership.

Admittedly, Hara didn’t get to enjoy the prestige of his new role as the godfather of a more genuinely democratic system in imperial Japan for very long–in 1921 he was assassinated on his way to a Seiyukai party meeting by a right wing fanatic. However, both during and after his life his name carried a lot of weight among Japanese liberals and especially Seiyukai members, and so it didn’t exactly hurt Hatoyama Ichiro to be associated with him.

These two factors–Hatoyama’s smoothness as a political operator and ability to win people over with charm, and his relationship with Hara Takashi, do a lot to explain his meteoric rise within the Seiyukai. By 1924, he was the speaker of Tokyo’s assembly, much as his father had been. Two years later he became the secretary general of the Seiyukai–an enormously powerful position, because the secretary general of the party is its organizational boss and can use his influence over the party’s operations to favor his political friends and guide the people he wants into positions of power.

I should also note: it didn’t hurt that unlike his father, Ichiro was not particularly reticent about the idea of mixing money with politics. Kazuo, either out of a sense of samurai-esque disdain for money or a belief in its corrosive impact on liberal politics (or both) generally eschewed the idea of trying to become wealthy–he even ran his own political campaigns largely on volunteers and IOUs. The Hatoyamas weren’t exactly uncomfortable on his government salary, but they were not among the supremely wealthy either. Ichiro had no such qualms, and actively invested the family wealth–using that money in turn to fuel his own political machine.

Beyond his repeated electoral victories, the most visible remnant of Ichiro’s willingness to enter the world of finance is his family estate. After his birth home was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, he rebuilt on the 1.1 acre lot he’d inherited from his father. You can still see the result today: the Hatoyama Kaikan, or Hatoyama Hall, is in the Otowa neighborhood of Tokyo northwest of the imperial palace. It’s a lovely example of early 20th century elite architecture in Japan–but more indicative of its legacy, I think, is that in Ichiro’s heyday it was nicknamed the Otowa Goten–Otowa Palace.

To be fair, Hatoyama Ichiro was not the only politician to do this–indeed, money-driven politics became an increasing issue over the course of early 20th century history. In addition to investing, many politicians during this time period took money from the zaibatsu, the major economic conglomerates that dominated Japan’s economy, in exchange for political favors.

In a pattern familiar to pretty much any observer of electoral politics, the zaibatsu would give ‘gifts’ to politicians for their re-election, and in exchange said politicians just so happened to vote for policies that favored the zaibatsu. One of the major factors that led to the masses of Japan turning against the liberal political parties and democracy in general was actually the sense that the parties were hopelessly tainted by their close political relationship with the zaibatsu.

I was unable to find out much about Hatoyama Ichiro’s specific relationship with the zaibatsu, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had one. He was implicated in one of the great scandals of 1930s Japan, the Teijin Incident–where a group of investors were accused of illegally manipulating stock prices to make money off their purchase of shares in Teijin, a textile firm. The whole thing proved to be a frameup–episodes 323 and 324 go into more details if you want them.

All of which is to say that Hatoyama Ichiro certainly played the game of money-power politics, but did not break any rules or do anything that was atypical for politicians of his time period.

Still, he was in a bit of an odd position, because of the odd makeup of the Seiyukai in general. Remember–the Seiyukai had emerged as a party out of a merger between Itagaki Taisuke’s old Jiyuto, or Liberal Party, which had been a major force of anti-government opposition in the late 1800s, with supporters of the conservative oligarchic government. The whole experiment had been conceived by the conservative oligarch Ito Hirobumi, who depending on who you asked either hoped to make a unity party that would bridge political divides or to defang liberalism as a movement by coopting its supporters.

The Seiyukai was enormously successful because of its wide-ranging background–a precursor, in that sense, to the big tent of the modern Liberal Democratic Party. But it also had a weird identity crisis that was reflected in Hatoyama Ichiro’s career. As the Japanese government began to teeter towards and then eventually fall outright into militarism–driven by a trifecta of right-wing military officers, bureaucrats who despised the elected government, and oligarchic aristocrats who resented democratic interference in their prerogatives, the Seiyukai too found itself torn between liberals wanting to resist those trends and conservatives wanting to embrace them.

Hatoyama Ichiro generally followed the patterns of his father in leaning towards the liberal end of the spectrum. For example, he briefly quit the party in the mid-1920s over a political spat that split the Seiyukai over the issue of whether to support a series of government-backed unity parliaments set up in the wake of Hara Takashi’s assassination to try and calm political fervors. Ichiro and several other principled liberals refused to go along with it.

However, they were willing to compromise around the eventual resolution of the crisis–in the final deals that resolved it, Hatoyama and his fellow liberals got support from the unity cabinets for something they’d wanted for a very long time: the extension of suffrage, or the right to vote, to all adult men 25 or older (where previously you had to pay a certain amount in taxes to vote). However, Hatoyama and his fellow travelers made a fateful compromise to get this deal: they agreed to a sweeping new law to be passed at the same time that would allow the government extreme new leeway to crack down on ‘subversion.’ That law, the Peace Preservation Act of 1925, included passages outlawing any attempts to “alter the character of the Japanese state”, a vague turn of phrase that justified crackdowns on basically any and all dissent and would eventually become a core component of the wartime military state.

Similarly, Hatoyama fulfilled the family ambition by becoming education minister in 1931….just in time for the complete implosion of Japanese democracy. Specifically, he was tapped as Education minister by Inukai Tsuyoshi, who became Prime Minister under the auspices of the Seiyukai after a political crisis triggered by the army’s unauthorized invasion of Manchuria in Northeastern China. The civilian government’s inability to reign in the radical army elements behind the invasion–who then went on to establish a pro-Japanese puppet regime, once again without the authorization of the central government–led to the resignation of PM Wakatsuki Reijiro and his replacement by Inukai (an ex-military man who, it was hoped, could reason with the military). Instead, Inukai himself was assassinated by radical right wing officers in May, 1932.

This moment essentially marked the end of parliamentary politics in prewar Japan. After Inukai’s assassination, the emperor’s advisors took advantage of the political ferment to walk back the rule about selecting the leader of the largest party as PM–instead, they pushed forward a series of ‘unity candidates’ from the military and the aristocracy to ‘bridge political divides.’ Politicians from the Seiyukai and other parties did not object–after all, objecting meant risking being killed themselves.

However, ministers like Hatoyama also had to make a choice–would they stay on and serve in the cabinets of these new governments, or quit in protest? Ichiro chose to stay, and that proved to be a pretty important and formative choice down the line–once again compromising in exchange for access to the halls of power. His time as education minister in the early 1930s would see him wrapped up in the increasingly anti-democratic politics as a result.

For example, Hatoyama Ichiro was on the frontlines of what was euphemistically known as the Takigawa Incident of 1933, a moment that would haunt his political career going forward. The Takigawa in question was Takigawa Yukitoki, a professor of law at Kyoto Imperial University. In the wake of Prime Minister Inukai’s assassination in 1932, the subsequent ‘unity governments’ that were dominated by the military began to push for ‘reconciliation’ by removing views that were (in their eyes) helping to drive all the dissent that was tearing Japan apart. The people doing this, notably, were not the ultrarightists who were actually, you know, killing people, but instead anyone who was questioning the ‘kokutai’–the national essence of Japan as embodied by the emperor.

In that spirit, Ichiro came under pressure as Education Minister to crack down on ‘unorthodox’ educators–education being one of the last bastions of both liberal and leftist sentiment in the leadup to WWII. In particular, the Education Ministry had the power to approve textbooks used at all levels of education, and Hatoyama Ichiro eventually caved on demands to ban a criminal law textbook that professor Takigawa had published. Apparently Takigawa’s claims that some forms of criminal deviancy had social roots were ‘Marxist’, and so Hatoyama announced that Takigawa’s textbook was banned and he was being suspended. He also requested that the university president, Konishi Shigenao, fire Takigawa–Konishi refused to do so.

The decision led to all 39 other members of the law faculty at the university resigning, as well as massive student protests and boycotts of classes. The whole thing ended only when Hatoyama stepped in once again to go over Konishi’s head and fire Takigawa.

Hatoyama Ichiro would later claim that this and other moments where he clamped down on dissent as Education Minister–such as firing a bunch of dissident secondary school teachers in Nagano–were due to pressure from the military. Certainly they do not fit his politics as they are commonly understood. But the fact remains that he could have resigned as education minister rather than going ahead with policies he disagreed with–and he chose not to.

In 1934, he would decide to give up the role of Education Minister, and from this point did become more overt in his protests against militarism. For example, in January, 1936 he wrote an article for the prestigious Chuo Koron magazine where he said, “I feel as if I am a bystander of politics. Liberalism and parliamentarianism are being pushed back by dictatorial forces. It might be advantageous for politicians to go along with the current trend, rather than challenging it; however, I cannot ingratiate myself with the military as others do. I believe in the philosophy that one should realize self-actualization according to self-imposed rules, rejecting intervention from others…it is very dangerous for the Japanese to try and imitate Hitler and Mussolini. It is human nature to seek freedom and it is a mistake to oppress it.”

That piece actually put him on the kill list for the fascist officers of the Japanese military who unsuccessfully attempted a coup the very next month–though they were unable to locate him before the coup was suppressed. That news did not deter Hatoyama, either, much to his credit: In December of the same year, he wrote in a similar vein for Kaizo that, “the forces of fascism are suppressing party politics, limiting the power of the parliament, and rejecting cabinets formed by political parties…nevertheless, party politics is not dead and will re-emerge.”

This more aggressive stance against the government–which by this point was pretty openly opposed to parliamentary government even if the Diet itself remained in operation–put Hatoyama on the political outs. He did become acting president of the Seiyukai by 1936, but despite the party’s majority in the parliament on paper the constitution did not require that the party be included in the cabinet–so functionally, it didn’t really matter. By 1940, the party itself–and every other political party that had not been outlawed as opposed to Japan’s ‘national essence’–had been dissolved and forced to merge into the Taisei Yokusankai, or Imperial Rule Assistance Association.

It is to Hatoyama’s credit that he refused to participate in what was (by the admission of the IRAA’s own founders) an attempt to create a national party along the lines of the Nazis or Italian fascists–and a testament to his political talents that he still managed to win re-election as an independent in the 1942 general election during the war years, when only independents and IRAA members were allowed to run for office.

This despite the fact that several of his supporters as well as Hatoyama Ichiro himself were detained during the leadup to the election on suspicion of anti-government activity (though so far as I know, no charges were filed).  Still, during the war years he–really all elected politicians–was very much on the sidelines of politics, and so we’re going to leave him for a bit to talk quickly about his personal life.

As I mentioned at the very start of the episode, Hatoyama Ichiro was married before his political career even began: to Hatoyama Kaoru, nee Terada, the son of another political family (though her father was a judge, not a politician). By all accounts, it was a fairly happy marriage–though that may have been because Kaoru was more or less chosen for the role by Ichiro’s mother. Hatoyama Haruko knew of the girl from a young age (they were distantly related, as Kaoru’s mother was Haruko’s niece). Haruko apparently saw something in the kid, because when the young girl’s mother died, Haruko took her in–and eventually began grooming her as both a potential political wife for Ichiro and as an heir to her own work: after Kazuo’s death, Haruko became extremely involved in Kyoritsu Women’s University, a private university in Tokyo founded as a part of the growing push for women’s education, and eventually became its headmistress. Kaoru would succeed her in that role, and would indeed end up marrying Ichiro.

The couple had six children: five daughters, and one son.  The five daughters were Yuriko, Reiko, Setsuko, Keiko, and Nobuko. And, profoundly confusingly, their one son was Hatoyama Iichiro, a name I am going to do my best to annunciate as clearly as possible. And possibly also try to insert some “seniors” and “juniors” in there for clarity. Of these six children, only Iichiro the younger, born in 1918, went into politics–not unexpectedly, given that women were not even allowed to vote in Japan until 1947 and could only run for local offices in some prefectures. Honestly, I looked, but couldn’t even find anything about what the five daughters did with their lives beyond who they married–pretty much all industrialists, bank executives, and other political families.

Kaoru was also an extremely active campaigner for her husband, much as Hatoyama Haruko had been for Kazuo in his day. One of Ichiro senior’s consistent political opponents in elections, Miki Bukichi, apparently complained that he was good enough as a politician to defeat Hatoyama Ichiro in a straight up electoral fight–but he was not good enough, he said, to take on and beat Haruko and Kaoru.

If you’re seeing a pattern here, there’s a good reason–the whole Hatoyama family narrative is important for Japanese politics, obviously, but it’s also a very male-centric story. Women factor in to the story, to be sure, but in roles that position their stories as secondary. Kaoru and Haruko and all five of Kaoru’s daughters are a part of the story insomuch as they help win elections or push the family’s ambitions forward, but not beyond that.

That position, in turn, is very much a product of the gender norms of the empire period, which enjoined women to be ryousai kenbou–good wives and wise mothers. In other words, to define themselves primarily in relationship to the men in their lives. This went doubly for the women of political families, of course–who by definition lived their lives in the spotlight and were thus expected to embody and model these values to an even greater extent.

And, to be honest, this is not at all an issue limited to Japan–just think about the amount of scrutiny given to the family or personal lives of politicians today. It very much comes with the territory. It’s hard to be sure how the women of the Hatoyama family felt about this, to be honest; after all, when you’ve been socialized to see the world in that way, it can be hard to escape that mindset. To be fair, nobody who married into the Hatoyama family could have been surprised about what it was they were signing up for; one imagines it was harder on those five daughters, born into political roles they had no choices about.

As for Hatoyama Iichiro–the younger–he was among his parents’ younger kids, born in 1918. As a result, he was just finishing up his schooling–graduating, of course, from the Tokyo Imperial University School of Law, by this point pretty much a feeder for party politics (among other things)–when the Second World War began.

As Haruko had done with Ichiro, pushing him to excel in classes and actualize his potential as a student, so too did Kaoru with Iichiro–supposedly, going so far as to encourage her husband to buy a villa in Karuizawa in the cool mountains northwest of Tokyo, where her boy could study in the hot summer months.

Iichiro graduated at more or less the worst possible time–once he was out of school in 1941, he was no longer immune from the draft. Manpower demands being what they were during the war years, he was almost immediately drafted into the Imperial Navy after a brief stint in the Finance Ministry. Fortunately, that was a comparatively safe spot relative to the army, and the boy survived the war–he was actually stationed in the Nan’yo area, and spent a good chunk of the war on Truk, which was heavily bombed but never invaded by the Americans. The breakdown of war communication was such that the navy actually assumed he had died and listed him as KIA; in fact, he was simply stranded when the war ended, and was not repatriated to Japan until the end of 1945. One imagines this came as something of a shock, albeit a good one, to the family–and he was one of the earlier postwar repatriations, as returning civilians and soldiers stranded overseas at war’s end back to Japan would end up taking years.

One imagines that at least part of his father’s opposition to the wartime government was out of concern for his son’s fate under a military regime that was not exactly worried about the fate of its soldiers.

One also imagines that there was a fair amount of relief on the part of father, son, and the whole family when the war finally did end and the wartime regime was removed from power. Indeed, on paper the new year of 1946 looked great for the Hatoyamas: Iichiro the younger, safely back home after his experience of war, was now looking at a far safer career as a bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry, and Ichiro the elder seemed a natural fit for leadership in the American-imposed Occupation government. After all, he was one of the most experienced politicians the country had, and had a staunch record of opposition to the wartime government that would make him extremely palatable to the Americans.

Indeed, Hatoyama Ichiro even organized a new political party within three months of war’s end, dusting off an old name to do so. He revived the name of the Jiyuto, or Liberal Party, whose members had once formed part of the core of the old Seiyukai which had been his political home for so many years.

Coming into 1946, the situation looked great for the Jiyuto. The discrediting of the wartime regime had left only two real political alternatives going forward. First were the socialists, whose leaders had been let out of prison en masse by the Americans as part of the dismantling of the wartime regime and whose popularity was being massively bolstered by the impoverished conditions of the postwar. The other were liberals like Hatoyama himself, whose ideas were after all based on the foundational principles of the US and UK–and hadn’t the superiority of those principles just been proven in more or less the most decisive way they could be?

If things went well, he might even have a shot at the top job of them all–Prime Minister. At the start of the occupation that post had been given by the emperor (who had that power because he was still operating under the old Imperial Constitution until 1947, when the new one was voted on in the Diet) to Shidehara Kijuro, an old diplomat with a pro-American reputation. But Shidehara was a placeholder; he’d be replaced in a general election slated for May of 1946 by whoever led the winning party. And the liberals had a real shot at being that party.

The general election took place on April 10, 1946, and the results were decisive. The Liberals picked up 141 seats out of 468, enough in conjunction with another conservative party (confusingly, the Progressive Party) to give them control of the Diet. Hatoyama Ichiro would be Prime Minister….until a proclamation came down from the Occupation General Headquarters, ensconced in the Daiichi Seimei building in Tokyo overlooking the imperial palace, on May 4, 1946. That proclamation announced a wide-ranging purge of politicians who were viewed as having supported the aggressive policies of the wartime government. And included on that list was the name Hatoyama Ichiro.

Why, you might ask? Well specifically because, from 1932-34, he had been willing to participate as Education Minister in those unity governments set up by the military after the assassination of Prime Minister Inukai–and in that capacity had implemented the purges of political dissidents like Professor Takigawa Yukitoki. That willingness, in the eyes of the Americans, made him a collaborator with the wartime government, regardless of his opposition in later years.

Hatoyama was forced to give up leadership of the liberals to his second in command, a diplomat who had jumped into politics postwar by the name of Yoshida Shigeru. And so, Yoshida, not Hatoyama, became Prime Minister. Hatoyama instead was banned from politics for an indefinite period of time. He would go into a self-perceived exile, leaving Tokyo for the countryside (where he would, among other things, spend a great deal of time translating Richard Coudenhove’s The Totalitarian State Against Man, a classic liberal treatise). When he would return was anyone’s guess.

1 thought on “Episode 479 – The Dynasty, Part 2”

  1. I feel sorry for Iichiro. He wanted to be a scientist but got pushed into politics by his mom. At least he turned out to be good at it.

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