Worst World Leaders

Hideki Tōjō

Childhood and Early Life:

Born in Kōjimachi, Tokyo in 1884, Tōjō' had a similar upbringing to other Japanese boys in the late 1800s. As the third son of his father, Hidenori Tōjō a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army, pressure to succeed in the military should have been relatively low. Unfortunately for Hideki, his two elder brothers had passed away before his birth and so the importance of his success was paramount to Hidenori.

Tōjō had a shakey start to his military career, graduating from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1905, ranked 42nd out of 50 cadets. However with age came experience and knowledge and in 1915 he was promoted to Captain after completing Army Staff College with top grades. After this, Tōjō was based in Germany as a military attache for some time and in 1921, returned to Japan to become an instructor at his previous school. It was here that Tōjō met his new friends that would further the Tōseiha, a political group that attempted to balance out the extremist views of the Kōdōha.

Many of the politicians during this era were held in low regard, an attitude shared by Tōjō and the Tōseiha.

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Rise to Power:

Following his new-found interest in politics, Tōjō began climbing the political ranks and by 1940 he had been appointed Japan's Minister of War. He was a strong supporter of Hitler and hoped to follow in his footsteps in regards to gaining power. Obviously, this meant that Tōjō wanted to further the alliance between Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, as well as continuing the war with China. Similarly to the dictators of such European countries, the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, was revered. Tōjō wanted to conquer European countries in an attempt to strengthen Japan, an idea shared by the current Prime Minister, however this merely resulted in him losing support throughout Europe and failing to gain any land. He also made his thoughts on the United States clear: that he thought they were lazy and incapable of being a strong, united nation.

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Tōjō's Rule:

By 1941, Tōjō had finally succeeded in being appointed to Prime Minister. At this point in time Tojo was so disillusioned with the United States, not to mention their Pacific presence, that he judged a war both necessary and inevitable. So, as part of his new job as Prime Minister Tojo authorized the attack on Pearl Harbor. As an unexpected attack, this appeared to show Japan as being strong and the US as being weak and so increased the local support of Tōjō's rule.

His popularity was high in the early years of the war and it seemed like Tōjō could do no wrong. However, opposition to his rule was growing within the Japanese government as it became clear that Tōjō had deliberately broken the Geneva Convention. Tōjō lost the Battle of Midway and after the fall of Saipan, his days were certainly numbered.

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Decline of Power and death:

In July 1944, Tōjō finally resigned, with a few supporters still left intact. Then in 1945, the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed that the US were ready to retaliate to Tōjō's careless actions and unwillingness to resort to diplomacy, thus quelling almost every single remaining supporter of Tōjō.

Soon after the war ended, forty war criminals were arrested, including Tōjō who was found in his house that he had hardly left since his resignation. He attempted suicide by shooting himself four times, however the shots missed vital arteries and his heart and so, as he had nothing left to do, he pleaded guilty to the accusations of war crimes that were held against him.

Tōjō underwent emergency surgery and was moved to Sugamo Prison once he had recovered. This was in vein and 1948, Tōjō was sentenced to death and hanged. He is often held responsible for the murder of civilians in their millions and over 20,000 Prisoners of War.

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Quick Facts: 

  • Born: 1884
  • Died: 1948

Leadership Rating:

So how bad were they? Here is WWL's take on what made this leader on of the worst ever. The higher the mark, the worse the leadership skills.

Tōjō's carelessness and inhumane actions showed him to be a poor leader. He didn't throw Japan into economic instability however and also showed himself to have been capable in the lower rankings of the army. Power-crazed and irrational, Tōjō knocks up