Konoe Fumimaro: a political biography by Yoshitake Oka

By Yoshitake Oka

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Accordingly, Yuasa consulted Saionji and then recommended Konoe to the Emperor, who commanded the prince to form a cabinet. The public gave an enthusiastic welcome to Konoe's new cabinet . He was extraordinarily well liked . At 45 he was in the prime of life and conspicuously young for a Japanese prime minister. His ancient lineage and noble birth, his tall, imposing stature, and his nonchalant manner all worked to give him an enchanting aura of elegance. He was known to have superior intellectual ability, and so his never-failing courtesy and lack of arrogance were all the more appealing.

Konoe's recommendations and opinions often perplexed his superiors and elders. In February 1 932, when Inukai Tsuyoshi was prime minister, Konoe told Baron Harada Kumao, Saionji's secretary, 2o that it was vital to prevent Hiranuma Kiichiro from pushing Imperial Prince Fushi­ mi Hiroyasu for the post of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, if Hiranuma himself could not assume the post ; he would be able to manipulate the prince and carry his scheming into the court. This posed a dangerous possibility, Konoe said, and he recom­ mended that they seize the initiative and appoint the imperial prince to the post of Privy Seal themselves and make Hiranuma, Makino Nobuaki, Ichiki Kitokuro, and Saito Makoto his aides.

At the same time it dealt a devastating blow to Japanese farmers and smal l- and medium­ scale urban industrialists. Public distrust of both the party in power and the cabinet grew steadily deeper as the effects of the depression at home and in the world economy took their toll. Much of the population was in urgent straits and nerves weu; already frayed when the army, the young officers in particular, began to demand a military solution for the Manchurian­ Mongolian problem as well as immediate political reform and national reconstruction.

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Konoe Fumimaro: a political biography by Yoshitake Oka
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