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b. Rise of the Military

4-7 The 2.26 Incident of 1936

Security under the martial law. From (Kokusai Shashin Joho Vol.15 No.4)
Security under the martial law. From "Kokusai Shashin Joho Vol.15 No.4"

In the wee hours of 26 February 1936 (Showa 11), a group of young radical Army officers led some 1,400 troops under their command on a attack on the Prime Minister's residence and other buildings in Tokyo, killing Home Minister SAITO Makoto, Finance Minister TAKAHASHI Korekiyo, and Army Inspector General of Military Training WATANABE Jotaro. They also entrenched themselves in the Nagatacho and Miyakezaka Areas of central Tokyo, the hub of the country's government and military.

This document was drawn up on the same day at an unofficial conference of the Military Councilors in the Imperial Palace by ARAKI Sadao, MASAKI Jinzaburo and others who were sympathetic with the rebellious officers, for the purpose of suppressing the uprising and returning them to their original divisions. It was passed along to the rebellious officers, but instead created confusion, as some changes were made in the wording of the text on the way. At one point, events seemed to be unfolding in the rebellious officers' favor, but when the Emperor made his will clear shortly thereafter, by firmly declaring that the revolt should be suppressed, the rebellion was quelled some three days later, 29 February 1936 (Showa 11).

The punishment handed down to the 2.26 Incident's instigators was severe, with the rebellious officers and those who influenced them ideologically KITA Ikki and NISHIDA Mitsugi, receiving death sentences. In the subsequent purge of the military, many officers, including those supporting the Imperial Way Faction, were transferred to the reserves, giving the control of the military to the more Control Faction. The terror spawned by the coup, furthermore, ended up casting a dark shadow on the political world, strengthening the voice of the military in the nation's political affairs.

Army Minister Bulletin

Army Minister Bulletin
  • 26 February 1936 (Showa 11)
  • Papers of KONO Tsukasa, #2
  • National Diet Library
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