Wakatsuki Reijirō

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Wakatsuki Reijirō
若槻 礼次郎
Reijiro Wakatsuki.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
14 April 1931 – 13 December 1931
Preceded byHamaguchi Osachi
Succeeded byInukai Tsuyoshi
In office
28 January 1926 – 20 April 1927
Acting until 30 January 1926
Preceded byKatō Takaaki
Succeeded byTanaka Giichi
Personal details
Born(1866-03-21)21 March 1866
Matsue, Izumo Province, Japan
Died20 November 1949(1949-11-20) (aged 83)
Tokyo, Japan
Resting placeSomei Cemetery, Tokyo
Political partyRikken Minseitō (1927–1940)
Other political
Rikken Dōshikai (until 1916)
Kenseikai (1916–1927)
Spouse(s)Wakatsuki Tokuko
Alma materTokyo Imperial University

Baron Wakatsuki Reijirō (若槻 禮次郎, 21 March 1866 – 20 November 1949) was a Japanese politician and Prime Minister of Japan.

Early life[edit]

Wakatsuki was born in Matsue, Izumo Province, (present day Shimane Prefecture). His father, a samurai who served the local Matsudaira daimyō had the family name of Okamura. Wakatsuki was adopted after marriage into the family of his wife, since that family had no male heir, and only assumed the Wakatsuki name at that time. He enrolled in the Tokyo Imperial University in 1892 and studied law.

Political career[edit]

After graduation, Wakatsuki worked in the Ministry of Finance as tax bureau director and later as vice-minister. In 1911 he was appointed to the House of Peers. He then served as Minister of Finance under the 3rd Katsura administration and 2nd Ōkuma administration in the early 1910s and became a leading member of the Rikken Dōshikai political party, and its successor the Kenseikai, in 1914.

In June 1924, Wakatsuki was named Home Minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Katō Takaaki, and worked to enact the Universal Manhood Suffrage Law and the Peace Preservation Law in 1925.

As Prime Minister[edit]

On 30 January 1926, on Katō's unexpected death in office, Wakatsuki took over as Prime Minister of Japan. His first term lasted to 20 April 1927 when he was forced to resign during the Shōwa financial crisis.

Wakatsuki was awarded the Order of the Paulownia Flowers on November 10, 1928. After serving as chief delegate plenipotentiary to the London Naval Conference 1930, Wakatsuki pushed strongly for speedy ratification of the disarmament treaty, thus earning the wrath of the Japanese military and various ultranationalist groups.

After Prime Minister Hamaguchi was forced out of office by the severe injuries incurred in an assassination attempt, Wakatsuki assumed the leadership of the Rikken Minseitō, the successor to the Kenseikai. He was elevated to the rank of baron (danshaku) in the kazoku peerage system in April 1931. Wakatsuki once again became Prime Minister from 14 April 1931 to 13 December 1931. During Wakatsuki's second term, he failed to control the Imperial Japanese Army. He was unable either to prevent the Manchurian Incident from occurring, or to rein in the Army from further escalation of hostilities in China afterwards.

Later life[edit]

After his retirement as Prime Minister, Wakatsuki became president of the Rikken Minseitō in July 1934. Despite the growing militarism in Japanese society, he continued to oppose the Second Sino-Japanese War, and was adamantly opposed to extending the war to include the United States and other western powers. Even after the declaration of hostilities in World War II, he publicly stated the war should end as quickly as possible. In May 1945, on hearing of the collapse of Nazi Germany, he emerged from retirement to urge Prime Minister Kantarō Suzuki to open negotiations with the United States as soon as possible. In August, he participated in the government panel recommending unconditional acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.

After the surrender of Japan, Wakatsuki was subpoenaed by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in June 1946 as a prosecution witness at The International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Wakatsuki died of Angina pectoris at his summer home in Itō, Shizuoka on November 20, 1949. His grave is at the Somei Cemetery in downtown Tokyo.[1]


From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (24 August 1911; Fifth Class: 28 December 1902)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (14 July 1916; Second Class: 1 April 1906)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers (10 November 1928)
  • Baron (11 April 1931)

See also[edit]


  • Bix, Herbert P. (2000). Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-019314-0; OCLC 247018161
  • Brendon, Piers. The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s. Vintage; Reprint edition (2002). ISBN 0-375-70808-1
  • Jansen, Marius B. (2000). The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674003347; OCLC 44090600
  • Toland, John. The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945. Modern Library; Reprint edition (2003). ISBN 0-8129-6858-1


Political offices
Preceded by
Katō Takaaki
Prime Minister of Japan
30 January 1926 – 20 April 1927
Succeeded by
Tanaka Giichi
Preceded by
Hamaguchi Osachi
Prime Minister of Japan (acting)
28 January 1931 – 30 January 1931
Succeeded by
Inukai Tsuyoshi
Preceded by
Mizuno Rentarō
Home Minister
11 June 1924 – 3 January 1926
Succeeded by
Hamaguchi Osachi
Preceded by
Yamamoto Tatsuo
Minister of Finance
21 December 1912 – 20 February 1913
Succeeded by
Takahashi Korekiyo
Preceded by
Takahashi Korekiyo
Minister of Finance
16 April 1914 – 10 August 1915
Succeeded by
Taketomi Tomitoshi
Preceded by
Shūjirō Hara
Minister of Colonial Affairs (acting)
10 September 1931 – 13 December 1931
Succeeded by
Toyosuke Hata