Konoe Fumimaro (近衞文麿)

Fumimaro KONOE (October 12, 1891 - December 16, 1945) was a Japanese politician. He was the fifth president of the Kizokuin (the House of Peers). He was the 34th, 38th and 39th Prime Minister of Japan.

His title was a prince, and he was also the head of the Konoe family, the main Sekke, or Regent, Family.


Fumimaro KONOE was born on October 12, 1891, the first son between Prince Atsumaro KONOE and En, the third daughter of Marquess Yoshiyasu MAEDA of the former domain of Kaga, in Kojimachi Ward, Tokyo City (present-day Chiyoda Ward). However, his mother died of illness when he was young, and Atsumaro took En's younger sister, Sada, as his second wife, but Fumimaro did not get along with this step-mother, who was also his aunt.

His father, Atsumaro, was a supporter of Pan-Asianism and was politically active, involved in the founding of groups such as the East Asia Common Culture Society (Toa Dobunkai). However, in 1904, Atsumaro died at the young age of 41. Fumimaro became a peer and head of the Konoe family at the age of 12, but he also inherited a large amount of debt that his father left. Konoe's somewhat shadowy and rebellious temperament was formed during this period, as he himself later reminisced.

He was helped through this difficult time by fellow noble and politician, Kinmochi SAIONJI. Although it could be said that Saionji had been a political opponent of Atsumaro, he greatly admired Fumimaro's intelligence and willingly supported him. unsparingly.

Later, when he attended the Paris Peace Conference as the chief Japanese delegate after the First World War, he let Konoe accompany him as a secretary. Thus, Fumimaro was influenced more by Saionji's historical origins of Liberalism and its development rather than by his father's Pan-Asianism, but in contrast to Saionji's motive of raising his successor Fumimaro gradually began to show signs of having no fixed principles and a propensity for being captivated by things that were new with short term goals.

In general, children of the nobility went on to attend Gakushuin High School after graduating from Gakushuin Junior High School, but because he was influenced by Inazo NITOBE, who was the headmaster of Daiichi High School, he went on to attend that school instead. After that, he studied philosophy at Tokyo Imperial University (renamed The University of Tokyo after the war), but because he was unsatisfied he transferred to Kyoto Imperial University (renamed Kyoto University after the war) School of Law in order to study under Hajime KAWAKAMI, who was quickly becoming committed to Marxist economics at the time. In 1914, while he was a student, he translated Oscar Wilde's "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" and published it as "Theory of Socialism" in the third "Shin-Shicho" magazine. However, the piece was banned, with Konoe being summoned by the Imperial Household Ministry and given a serious warning.

While at Tokyo University, he developed close friendships with children of the nobility such as Koichi KIDO (later, Naidaijin or Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal) and Kumao HARADA (who later became Kimmochi SAIONJI's secretary), both of whom later became active in the political world as members of the 'reformist group of the Imperial court.'

Entry into Politics

In 1916, when he turned 25, he became a hereditary member of the House of Peers as a prince. In 1918, he authored an article, 'Reject Anglo-American-Based Pacifism' in "Japan and the Japanese" magazine. In 1919, he accompanied Japanese delegate, Kimmochi SAIONJI, to the Paris Peace Conference, broadening his knowledge.

Then, in 1927, he broke away from the old-fashioned study group of his faction and formed the Kayokai faction with KIDO and Iesato TOKUGAWA, establishing a political base in the House of Peers, and at the same time, he gradually broke away from Saionji, becoming a central figure among the House of Peers' reformers.

Furthermore, in addition to his noble and handsome appearance (he was quite tall for a Japanese of the time) and the fact that he was from the top-ranking Sekke family, he advocated overturning the diplomatic status quo and was popular with the public and was soon being mentioned as a Prime Minister-in-waiting. In 1933, he was elected President of the House of Peers.

Immediately after the February 26th Incident in 1936, he received an imperial command to succeed Prime Minister Keisuke OKADA, but he declined at the time, using his health as an excuse. There are various theories about the true reasons for his refusal, but according to one theory, he might have realized that the government would be difficult to handle following the defeat of the Army's ultranationalist Kodaha (Imperial Way) faction in the Aizawa Incident and the February 26 Incident that followed it.

The First Cabinet

In June 1937, upon the recommendation of the Genro (elder statesman) SAIONJI, he formed the first Konoe's cabinet, shouldering high expectations from various quarters.
Immediately after, he dismayed those around him by granting an amnesty to Communist Party members who had violated the Maintenance of Public Order Law and detainees from the February 26 Incident, justifying his actions as 'an attempt to reconcile the various opinions within the nation.'
This amnesty theory had been advocated by Sadao ARAKI, based on his own theory of national policy, when he was the Minister of the Army but after the February 26 Incident, it began to also imply saving the commissioned officers of the Kodoha faction, and because Konoe was eager to save Jinzaburo MAZAKI, he had shown signs of empathizing with this even before becoming Prime Minister. However, Saionji had been against the theory ever since Araki had begun to advocate it and in the end, the pardon did not take place.

On July 7, the Second Sino-Japanese War (Shina-jihen) broke out, triggered by the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. On July 9, a policy of nonexpansion was confirmed in the cabinet meeting. On July 11, the deployment of three divisions of troops from Japan was announced in the 'proclamation of troop dispatch to China,' even though there was an armistice being concluded between Colonel Kyutaro MATSUI, head of the secret service in Peiping (Beijing), and Qin Dechun, Deputy Commander of the 29th Army.
However, at parliament, KONOE continued to maintain the 'nonexpansion of the incident.'
On July 17, the use of over 10 million yen from a reserve fund was approved in the cabinet meeting. On July 26, even though the Army did not request it, the first budget for the Sino-Japanese War of over 97 million yen was approved in the cabinet meeting, and on July 31, the second budget for the Sino-Japanese War of 400 million yen was added.

On August 2, a proposal for a tax increase was announced. During this time, he made a peace overture through Song Ziwen, and an agreement was reached between Konoe and CHIANG Kai-shek. Upon receiving a telegraph from the Nationalist Government requesting a special envoy be sent to Nanjing, Konoe consulted with Minister of the Army Hajime SUGIYAMA and approved the dispatching of Ryusuke MIYASAKI to Shanghai. However, hard-liners within the Army, who intercepted the telegraph through the Navy, viewed the situation undesirable, so they dispatched the military police, who restrained Miyazaki at the Port of Kobe and sent him back to Tokyo. Consequently, the anticipated peace initiative faded away.

Sugiyama, who failed to deal with the people involved or even conduct any investigations, gave the impression of having authorized the incident. To begin with, Sugiyama himself was not able to give a clear account and, from this point onward, Konoe began to distrust Sugiyama.

On August 8, Japan and China agreed on an outline of an Anti-Comintern Pact. On August 9, the Battle of Shanghai started, provoked by CHIANG Kai-Shek. In response to this, on August 13, the cabinet approved the dispatch of an additional two divisions.
On August 15, the Navy launched bombing raids on Nanjing, and at the same time, Konoe announced 'now is the time to take decisive measures.'
On August 17, the cabinet approved the abandonment of the nonaggression policy.

On September 2, the cabinet approved changing the official term from 'Hokushi-jihen (Sino-Japanese War)' to 'Shina-jihen (China Incident)', and the theater of operations was expanded. On September 10, a special accounting law of extraordinary military spending was officially announced, the 'Shina-jihen (China Incident)' was declared a full-scale war, similar to the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War, and Kanji ISHIWARA, Head of Operations at Staff Headquarters and a member of the nonaggression faction was ousted. On December 13, Nanjing was invaded.

On January 11 of the following year, 1938, the Imperial Conference approved a basic policy for dealing with the Sino-Japanese War, which involved seeking peace mediated by Germany (Trautmann Mediation). However, the termination of peace negotiations was approved in the cabinet meeting on January 14, and on January 16, a proclamation to 'ignore after-the-fact Nationalist Government' was announced both inside and outside the nation, ending any opportunities for peace. Moreover, Wang Zhaoming founded his pro-Japanese administration, thwarting the personal peace operation of Kanji ISHIWARA. On May 5, with the enactment of the National Mobilization Act and the Government Control of Power Act and the introduction of wartime economics, Japan entered a period of national socialization. The National Mobilization Act and the Government Control of Power Act were both imitations of the Soviet Union's First Five-Year Plan. The Elementary Schools Edict that was enacted 3 years later in 1941, introduced an educational system that mimicked Nazi Germany's Folks Schule (Grand School).

Around this time, Konoe successfully ousted Sugiyama after laying the groundwork with Army Staff Office General Secretary Kaninnomiya. Toshishiro OBATA was considered as the successor, but there was concern he would cause friction. Therefore, he decided to pick Seishiro ITAGAKI, who had the support of the nonaggression faction, and dispatched a civilian, Inosuke FURUNO, as a messenger to Itagaki, who was at the frontline in Shandong Province.
Since during this cabinet reshuffle, most of those who became cabinet members were ones that the Army fringe and the nonaggression faction, including Kanji ISHIWARA, had in mind, it can be considered that there was an intention to suppress the military, but in the end, Itagaki was unsuccessful and regarded as a 'puppet.'
Konoe also asked Kazushige UGAKI to be Foreign Minister, but he failed to adequately support Ugaki's peace overtures. Ugaki resigned in September, frustrated about this and also about Konoe's attempt to establish the Koain (the East Asia Development Board).

In August, he tried to form the Dainihon Party centered on the Shakai-taishu Party with Hisashi ASO as the chief clerk, but abandoned the plan, judging that it was premature. This was the first step towards the Taisei-Yokusankai (Imperial Rule Assistance Association) totalitarian party. On November 3rd, he issued his 'new order in East Asia' statement. On January 5, 1939, the cabinet members resigned en masse.

In Search of the New Order

Konoe was succeeded by former Chairman of the Privy Council, Kiichiro HIRANUMA, but with the Minister of Law (and Minister of Communications and Transportation), the Internal Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Commerce (and Minister of the Colonies), the Minister of the Navy and the Minister of the Army remaining in office, and Konoe himself joining the Privy Council and becoming a minister without portfolio), Hiranuma's cabinet appeared the same as Konoe's with just a different head.

When the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact was concluded on August 23, Hiranuma, who had been seeking an alliance with Germany with the goal of preventing communism, was shocked and resigned from the Prime Minister's position, leaving the following words of nonsense, 'the whole of Europe is messed up beyond all recognition.'
One week later, World War II started when Germany invaded Poland, and in response England and France declared war against Germany.

After Hiranuma, Nobuyuki ABE from the Army and Mitsumasa YONAI from the Navy each held office for a short time, and Konoe, during this period, focused on adding details to the framework of his new political party. On May 26, 1940, he wrote the 'Memorandum on Forming a New Political Party' with Koichi KIDO and Yoriyasu ARIMA. Again, he aimed to set up a totalitarian party, modeled on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi Party).
On June 24, he issued the 'Proclamation of the New Order.'

While Germany's advance continued unchecked in Europe, momentum was also rising within Japan 'not to miss the bus.'
Emperor Showa, concerned about these events, strongly backed Yonai, who was known as 'a Navy man of good sense,' to form a cabinet, but the Army had no reason to support this. Less than six months later, the Army demanded that the government form an alliance with Germany and Italy. When Yonai refused, the Army made the Minister of the Army, Shunroku HATA, resign without providing a successor, and the cabinet members resigned en masse. Instead, Konoe was assigned by imperial command. However, 'the last Genro' Saionji refused to recommend Konoe as the head of the cabinet.

Having worked steadily on the preparations for the framework of the new political party, Konoe, who was about to face a long-awaited comeback, held the 'Ogikubo Meeting' at Tekigaiso, his private residence in Ogikubo, on July 19, just before presenting the list of cabinet ministers, and he agreed with new cabinet members Yosuke MATSUOKA (Foreign Minister), Zengo YOSHIDA (Minister of the Navy) and Hideki TOJO (Minister of the Army) to work toward the founding of a 'new order in East Asia.'

The Second Cabinet

On July 22, 1940, the second Konoe cabinet was formed. On July 26, the 'basic outline of national policy' was approved by the cabinet, and the 'plan to establish, based on the spirit of the Imperial Way, the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, of which Japan, Manchuria and China form one part' (from a discourse by Matsuoka Foreign Minister) was announced. As the new order movement developed, all political parties were made to disband, and with the August 15th dissolution of the Constitutional Democratic Party (Minseito), the last political party in Japan disappeared and parliamentary democracy came to an end.

At the same time however, due to the 'criticism of the Bakufu (feudal government),' which said that one-party rule was incompatible with Japanese politics, and the Association's position at the core political activities remaining unclear, totalitarianism failed to become established and on October 12, at the inauguration ceremony of Taisei-Yokusankai (Imperial Rule Assistance Association), he abandoned the new order movement saying 'neither the program or proclamation is necessary.'

Furthermore, the new economic policy outline, which was one of the key points of the new order movement, faced opposition from the financial world, with Ichizo KOBAYASHI, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, clashing with Vice-Minister, Nobusuke KISHI, the driving force behind the outline, whom Kobayashi criticized as 'a red.'
Konoe was hostile to the reform bureaucrats, seeing them as 'communists in nationalist clothing,' so when Kiichiro HIRANUMA joined the cabinet in December, he planned to settle the matter by watering down the new economic policy plan; in addition, Hiranuma had the authors of the plan arrested as communists, and Nobusuke KISHI resigned. During this time, the supporters of the new order resigned from the cabinet, and Hiranuma designated the Imperial Rule Assistance Association a public interest association and made the supporters of the new order within the Association resign.

On September 23, the Japanese army advanced into northern French Indochina. On September 27, the Tripartite Pact between Japan, Germany and Italy was signed.

On April 13, 1941, the Japan-Soviet Neutrality Pact was signed. Konoe also hoped for negotiations with the U.S. based on the draft of a mutual understanding plan but Yosuke MATSUOKA, who objected to the parts that watered down the tripartite alliance, proposed an amendment version which was sent to the United States of America, where it was ignored.

On June 22, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, and an Imperial Council was immediately held to discuss how Japan, having signed the Tripartite Pact, should react to this development. The Army saw the German invasion as a one in a million chance to take military action against the hypothetical enemy, the Soviet Union. The Navy, on the other hand, considered using this opportunity to advance to the resource-rich south. At the liaison conference between the Government and Imperial General Headquarters, Foreign Minister Matsuoka made an appeal for a pincer operation against the Soviet Union based on the tripartite alliance.

At the Imperial Council of July 2, the 'outline of Imperial policy following changes in circumstances' was approved. The framework of this national policy was based on military deployment on two fronts: an advance to the south advocated by the Navy, and preparation for war against the Soviet Union advocated by the Army and Foreign Minister Matsuoka. In response to this decision, on July 7, the so-called Kwantung Army Special Maneuvers was started, in which troops, under the pretext of tactical training, were mobilized in preparation for an invasion of the Soviet Union, depending on how the German invasion was progressing. At the same time, to the south, the Army advanced into southern French Indochina on July 28, resulting in economic sanctions by the United States. Japanese assets in the United States were placed entirely under the administration of the U.S. Government, and after Japan's advancement into southern French Indochina was confirmed, there was a total ban on the export of oil to Japan.

Because of this, Konoe and the cabinet members resigned en masse on July 18.

The Third Cabinet

On July 18, 1941, the third Konoe cabinet was formed. This cabinet was formed to give the impression of complying with American demands but in fact, apart from the dismissal of Yosuke MATSUOKA, who had become a thorn in the side of the administration, the cabinet remained the same. Admiral Teijiro TOYODA, a supporter of the Southern Expansion Doctrine, was selected to replace Matsuoka as Foreign Minister. Japan had taken the rights in Indochina from Vichy France, who had already surrendered to Germany, on July 23, advanced to south French Indochina on July 28, and entered the capital, Saigon, on July 30. However, because of the resulting American oil embargo, Japan was placed in a very tight situation.

At the Imperial Council of September 6, the 'guideline for the execution of Imperial policy' was approved. The minimum demands to the United States and Britain were decided, the deadline for the negotiation period was set for early October, and in case the demands were not accepted by that time, a plan was laid down to start a war against the United States, the Netherlands and Britain.

On the night of September 6, when the Imperial Council ended, Konoe finally decided to seek a solution through a Japan-U.S. summit and held a secret meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joesph GREW, making an intensive appeal for a Japan-U.S. summit as soon as possible in order to circumvent any crises. Grew, who saw the importance of the situation, immediately sent a telegraph to the United States that night to request an urgent summit, and the Department of State immediately started to look into holding a Japan-U.S. summit. However, the Department of State decided not to compromise but instead to contain Japan by force and, on October 2, indicated to Japan a response that effectively rejected a Japan-U.S. summit.

The Army viewed this response as the effective end to negotiations between Japan and the United States, and the Staff Headquarters (under the army's jurisdiction) demanded that the deadline for foreign diplomacy be set to October 15. On October 12, just before the deadline for foreign diplomacy, Konoe, who was being pressed for a decision on the war, invited Foreign Minister Teijiro TOYODA, Minister of the Navy Koshiro OIKAWA, Minister of the Army Hideki TOJO and the Director of the Planning Board, Teiichi SUZUKI to Tekigaiso, and he conferred on how to deal with war against the United States.
This was the so-called 'Tekigaiso Meeting.'
Konoe sought a path to a negotiation by withdrawing from China, but Minister of the Army Hideki TOJO, who opposed this, demanded either the resignation of all cabinet members or the start of war based on the national policy outline, so the two of them agreed on recommending Prince Higashikuninomiya Naruhiko as the next prime minister, and on October 16, the cabinet was dismantled, with the cabinet members resigning en masse on October 18.

Moves to End the War

After the Pacific War started on December 8, 1941, Konoe became close to Shigeru YOSHIDA, former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to Great Britain, who, like Konoe, was viewed as dangerous by the military. Yoshida, who saw the occupation of Singapore and the crushing defeat in the Battle of Midway in 1942 as a good opportunity, proposed sending Konoe to Switzerland and negotiating with Great Britain and the United States and because Konoe agreed, this suggestion was conveyed to Koichi KIDO, but KIDO rejected it. It is said that he took Tojo's advice to be cautious of Konoe.

From 1943, Konoe and his group began to speak out about the 'reddening' of the military and the threat of a communist revolution, which eventually led to 'Konoe's Address to the Throne.'
The ones who started this were soldiers of the Imperial Way faction such as Jinzaburo MAZAKI and Toshishiro OBATA. Shunkichi UEDA also shared the same view and after being told by Yoshida that he should definitely meet with Konoe, explained his view to Konoe along with OBATA. After that, Konoe, as the central figure in their group, aimed to end the war by ousting the then pro-Soviet leaders of the Army.

With the fall of Saipan on July 9, 1944, there was an increasing demand for the Tojo cabinet to resign, but having foreseen defeat in the war and thinking of ways to make it difficult for the Emperor to be held responsible for the war, he stated, 'It's better to let Tojo have the administrative power. The war situation will not improve no matter who replaces him, so it's better to let him take all responsibility until the very end.'

On February 14, 1945, Konoe presented his 'Address to the Throne,' that advocated an early realization of peace, to Emperor SHOWA.

As the war situation worsened Konoe developed his own plans to end the war. Instead of using neutral countries such as Switzerland, Sweden or the Vatican, he planned to have the Soviet Union act as peacemaker. However, Konoe's dispatch to Moscow was effectively refused by Stalin. Konoe's negotiation plan was to disclaim all the territories overseas, the Ryukyu Islands, the Ogasawara Islands (Bonin Islands) and the Kuril Islands, and to offer officers and soldiers of the Japanese Army as a labor force.

Charge of War Crimes

After the Pacific War ended on August 15, 1945, Konoe became Minister of State in the Higashikuninomiya Cabinet. On October 4, Konoe visited Douglas MacArthur at the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces (GHQ), talked about his own theory of the military turning communist and asserted that at the start of the war, the Zaibatsu industrial-commercial conglomerates and the feudal power centered around the Emperor functioned as brakes, and that Japan would immediately redden if the Imperial family and the Zaibatsu were removed. MacArthur, Assistant Chief of Staff Sutherland and Acheson, political adviser to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, agreed and they put Konoe in charge of revising the constitution.

However, newspapers both inside and outside of Japan intensified investigations into Konoe's responsibility for the war, and people such as Jiro SHIRASU attempted to save Konoe by announcing that he had been put in charge of revising the constitution by MacArthur. However, MacArthur, who feared the media response, cut off Konoe, stating that GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Forces) would not be involved in revising the constitution. Furthermore, as investigations into Konoe's accountability seemed likely to continue, he was summoned to a gunboat and questioned on the relationship between the government and the military.

In his speech of 1921, Konoe had already talked about the danger of the likely split in the future between the military and the government because of the Emperor's supreme command, which is what happened, but such a situation was a difficult concept for the United States to understand. However, in order to prevent the pursuit of accountability against Emperor Showa, he could not use the term supreme command. Konoe could no longer give any answers.

Konoe published 'A Diary - Efforts toward Peace' in "World Cultures", in which he shifted all the responsibilities for the quagmire of the Sino-Japanese War and the start of the Pacific War to the military, and explained that he regretted the fact that he was unable to stop the runaway military. On December 6, 1945, he heard about the arrest warrant from GHQ and learned that he would be tried as a class-A war criminal at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. On December 16, 1945, the deadline for him to present himself at Sugamo detention center he committed suicide by swallowing potassium cyanide at Tekigaiso. It is said that it was an agonizing choice, prompted by his awareness of his position as the head of Gosekke and to keep the Imperial family safe by preventing responsibility for the war from falling on Emperor Showa.

On the day before his suicide, he dictated his will to his second son, Michitaka KONOE, and left the following words: 'I have made many mistakes, but I cannot stand being tried as a war criminal… only those people who understand, know my intentions.'

His funeral was held on December 21, 1945. His grave is located at Daitoku-ji Temple in Kyoto.


Tekigaiso' located in Ogikubo, Suginami Ward (Suginami Ward) was originally the suburban second home of Tatsukichi IRISAWA, the head court physician of Emperor Taisho. Konoe fell deeply in love with this house located on a hill with a sloping south side and a beautiful, sweeping view of the near-by Zempukuji-gawa River and Mt. Fuji in the distance, and persuaded Irisawa to sell it.

The name 'Tekigaiso' literally means 'outside of Ogikubo,' and there is no deep meaning associated with any historical events or phrases. However, since the person whom Konoe asked to select this name was Kinmochi SAIONJI, who was well-versed in the past customs of the imperial court and samurai families, it is open to speculation.

The Konoe family had its main residence in Mejiro (present-day Shimo-Ochiai, Shinjuku Ward), so the one in Ogikubo was, strictly speaking, a second house, but Konoe seemed especially taken with Tekigaiso and once he began to live there he never went back to his main residence.

Konoe also used the quiet presence of Tekigaiso, which was completely different from the bustle at the Prime Minister's official residence, as his political stage. Not only did he hold special conferences such as the 'Ogikubo Meeting' on July 19, 1940, in which he confirmed the construction of 'new order in East Asia,' and 'Tekigaiso Meeting' on October 15, 1941, in which he negotiated the pros and cons of war against the U.S., at times, he even held regularly scheduled top-level ministerial meetings at Tekigaiso and on the eve of the Second World War, many important national policies were approved here.
It was also at Tekigaiso, at the end of September, 1941, that Commander in Chief of the Combined Fleet, Isoroku YAMAMOTO, who was asked by Konoe about the Navy's prospects in the fight against the U.S., worried Konoe with the famous words, 'If you say I must, I will show you how much damage we can inflict for the first half a year or a year. However, if it goes on for 2 to 3 years, I have absolutely no confidence.'

Due to this unorthodox way of conducting politics, the name 'Tekigaiso' appeared often in the newspapers and became known throughout Japan. Later, Shigeru YOSHIDA's 'Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum,' Ichiro HATOYAMA's 'Hatoyama Hall' and Kakuei TANAKA's 'Tanaka Kakuei Human Relationship' also functioned as official secondary residences of the Prime Minister, but their antecedent can be found in Tekigaiso.

Because the Ogikubo area escaped the bombing of Tokyo, Tekigaiso's appearance has remained virtually unchanged since Konoe ended his life there. The house remains the private property of the Konoe family and is not open for viewing, but a partial view of the historical atmosphere can be glimpsed through the outside fence.

2-43 Ogikubo, Suginami Ward
A 10 minute walk from the south exit of Ogikubo Station on the JR/Marunouchi Line


Konoe clan
The Konoe were descended from the Fujiwara clan. The earliest ancestor was Motozane KONOE, a son of FUJIWARA no Tadamichi. Because of the lack of a family heir during the early Edo period, the fourth son of Emperor Goyozei was adopted by his maternal uncle, Nobutada KONOE, and became the head of the Konoe family as Nobuhiro KONOE. Fumimaro was the eleventh generation direct descendant and at the time, he was a lot more closely related to the Emperor's family than many members of the Imperial family were. The well-known anecdote that 'the back of the chair on which Konoe sat after he had an audience with Emperor Showa was always warm,' demonstrates the closeness Fumimaro felt toward the Emperor.


He married his wife, Chiyoko, for love, which was rare for someone with the status of a prince. Fumimaro, who was a student at Daiichi High School, fell in love at first sight when he saw Chiyoko, who was said to have been the most beautiful girl at the Kazoku Jogakko school for the daughters of peers.
Even though he was still at Kyoto Imperial University when they got married, their lives were unfittingly lavish for a 'student marriage.'
They had a happy marriage, but as was common with people of high social status at the time, he had a number of concubines and illegitimate children.

His second daughter, Yoshiko, married Morisada HOSOKAWA who was still a student at Kyoto Imperial University, in April, 1937. Immediately after that, her father became the Prime Minister of Japan and her husband became his secretary. 3 years later, in August, 1940, shortly after her father began his second term as Prime Minister, she died of complications from peritonitis at the Hosokawa residence in Koishikawa. She was attended by her father and her husband at the time of her death at the age of 23. In the short marriage between Yoshiko and Morisada, they were blessed with two sons; the eldest, Morihiro HOSOKAWA, later became Prime Minister, and the second son, Tadateru, was later adopted by the Konoe Family.

The step-mother, Sada, whom Fumimaro did not get along with, died from malnutrition after evacuating alone to their alternate residence in Kyoto (where the Yomei Bunko Library is currently located) during the war. She died on August 15, 1945.

Parents and Siblings

Father: Atsumaro KONOE (President of the House of Peers)

Mother: En (third daughter of former Lord of Kaga Domain, Yoshiyasu MAEDA)

Heir: Fumimaro

Step mother: Sada (fourth daughter of Yoshiyasu MAEDA, biological aunt)

Younger step-sister: Takeko (married Kashiwa OYAMA, the second son of Prince Iwao OYAMA)

Younger step-brother: Hidemaro KONOE (conductor, composer)

Younger step-brother: Naomaro KONOE (researcher of Gagaku, Japanese traditional music and dance)

Younger step-brother: Tadamaro KONOE (became head of the Mizutanigawa Family, Head Priest of Kasugataisha Shrine)

Spouse, Children and Grandchildren

Wife: Chiyoko (eldest daughter of the former Lord of Bungo-Saiki Domain, Viscount Takanori MORI)

First son: Fumitaka KONOE (died of illness while detained in Siberia)

Grandchild born out of wedlock: Ryumei AZUMA (actor)

Eldest daughter: Akiko NOGUCHI (married Prince Tadahide SHIMAZU, Head of the Shimazu Family, but she eloped with chiropractor Haruchika NOGUCHI and later married him.)

Second daughter: Yoshiko (married Marquis Morisada HOSOKAWA, heir to the Head of the Hosokawa Family)

Grandchild: Morihiro HOSOKAWA (Prime Minister)

Legitimate grandchild: Tadateru HOSOKAWA (succeeded the Konoe Family, President of the Japanese Red Cross Society)

Second son: Michitaka KONOE (professor at the University of Tokyo).

[Original Japanese]