Anami Korechika (1887-1945)

Photograph of Anami Korechika

Anami Korechika failed the entrance examination for the Military Academy twice before being accepted on his third try. He graduated in the same class with two of the Emperor's uncles. He was a former aide-de-camp of Hirohito and was deeply devoted to the Emperor.

Anami served as vice-minister of war in 1939 but commanded 11 Army at Hankow in July 1941. He resolved to end the China Incident by capturing Changsha, destroying its defending armies (some 300,000 strong) and eliminating free China's most important remaining source of food. His forces encountered fierce resistance and suffered numerous casualties before withdrawing. It was probably the worst defeat the Japanese suffered in China prior to the outbreak of war in the Pacific, and demonstrated to the Japanese that the Chinese were not about to capitulate. Anami tried again in December 1941 and was again handed a stinging defeat. He then proposed a campaign against Chungking, in spite of the difficulties of advancing 280 miles through rugged terrain against what was sure to be stiff Chinese resistance. Plans were well along when the operation was canceled due to the defeat at Guadalcanal.

Anami commanded 2 Area Army at Tsitsihar in Manchuria from July 1942 and was promoted to full general in May 1943. His army was transferred to New Guinea in October 1943. He had little success here, returning to Tokyo in December 1944 to serve as inspector-general of Army aviation. He rose to the post of Minister of War in April 1945 in the new Suzuki cabinet. Admiral Suzuki chose Anami as war minister because he had worked with him before, trusted him, and believed he could control the Army. The question was whether Suzuki could control Anami.

Anami wished to continue fighting even after the nuclear attacks, believing that the Japanese could still inflict massive casualties on any invasion and thereby force the Allies to offer better terms (Hastings 2007):

Japan is not losing the war, since we have not lost any homeland territory. I object to conducting negotiations on the assumption that we are defeated.

and releasing a statement to the Japanese press that

Even though we may have to eat grass, swallow dirt, and lie in the fields, we shall fight on to the bitter end, ever firm in our faith that we shall find life in death. (Frank 1999)

His position may have been at odds with his personal feelings. Arao Okikatsu, a staff officer with the War Ministry, later claimed that Anami privately told him in late 1944 that Japan could not be defended from invasion. Anami also ordered the release of peace activist and future Prime Minister, Shigeru Yoshida, in May 1945.

Anami had several conversations on August 14 that suggest he was toying with a coup d'état rather than accept the Emperor's decision to surrender.  However, he appears to have been persuaded by Kawabe to support the Emperor's decision, though without enthusiasm.

Anami committed ritual suicide on 15 August 1945, after the surrender was announced. His self-inflicted wounds were not immediately fatal, and after three hours a staff officer ordered a military physician to give Anami a lethal injection to end his death struggle. A suicide note was found under his body:

Believing firmly that our sacred land shall never perish, I — with my death — humbly apologize to the Emperor for the great crime.

Whether "the great crime" meant plunging Japan into a disastrous war, or Anami's flirtation with a coup against the Emperor, will likely forever remain a mystery.

"Easy going and convivial" (Boatner 1996), Anami was nonetheless completely dedicated to the Bushido code of the samurai. Hastings describes him as "a man of few brains and little imagination". A colleague described him as a "man of will power rather than of resourcefulness." In this respect, he was the embodiment of the philosophy of the Japanese Army. He was relatively uninvolved in politics, steering a middle course between the Control Faction (Tōseiha) and the Imperial Way Faction (Kōdōha). Craig (1967) describes him as having a colorless personality, with a fondness for archery and kendo (fencing), and a calm and paternal demeanor towards junior officers.

Service record


Born in Oita prefecture

Graduates from Military Academy as an infantry officer

45 Regiment
Commander, 45 Depot Regiment

Aide-de-camp to the Emperor

Commander, 2 Imperial Guards Regiment

Commandant, Tokyo Military Preparatory School
Major general     


Head, Military Administration Bureau, Ministry of War

Head of Personnel Burea, Ministry of War
Lieutenant general     
Commander, 109 Division, China

Vice-minister of war

Commander, 11 Army

Commander, 2 Area Army


Inspector-general of army aviation

Minister of War

Commits ritual suicide


Boatner (1996)

Craig (1967)
Frank (1999)

Fuller (1992) (accessed 2007-12-11)

Hastings (2007)

Hayashi and Cox (1959)

Peattie et al. (2011)
Pettibone (2007)

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