Hajime Sugiyama
杉山 元
Chief Japanese Advisor of the Chinese National Army
In office
June 1945 – August 1948
Monarch Hirohito
Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō
Preceded by None; position established
Succeeded by Iwane Matsui
Personal details
Born Hajime Sugiyama
January 1, 1880
Kokura, Fukuoka Prefecture
Died September 12, 1964(1964-09-12) (aged 84)
Tokyo, Japan
Military service
Allegiance Flag of Japan Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service 1901 - 1960
Rank Field Marshal
Commands 12th Division
Northern China Area Army
First General Army
Battles/wars Russo-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Awards Order of the Rising Sun, Order of the Golden Kite

Hajime Sugiyama was a field marshal who served as successively as chief of general staff of the Imperial Japanese Army, and minister of war in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II between 1937 and 1944. As War Minister in 1937, he was one of the principal architects of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Later, as Army Chief of Staff in 1940 and 1941, he was a leading advocate of expansion into Southeast Asia and later preventive war against the United States.


Born to a former samurai family from Kokura (now part of Kitakyushu City), Fukuoka Prefecture, Sugiyama was commissioned as a lieutenant in the infantry in 1901 after graduation from the 12th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and served in the Russo-Japanese War.

After graduating from the 22nd class of the Army War College in 1910 and serving on the IJA General Staff, Sugiyama was posted as military attaché to the Philippines and Singapore in 1912. Promoted to major in 1913, he was posted again as military attaché to British India in 1915. During this time, he also visited Germany, and became acquainted with the use of aircraft in combat in World War I.

On his return, Sugiyama was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and commander of the 2nd Air Battalion in December 1918. He was a strong proponent of military aviation, and after his promotion to colonel in 1921, became the first head of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service in 1922.

Second Sino-Japanese War

Shortly after the February 26 Incident, Sugiyama became Minister of War. Under his tenure, the situation between Japanese forces in Manchukuo and China became more severe, cumulating with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the invasion of Shanxi Province. Sugiyama briefly accepted a field command as commanding general of North China Area Army and the Mongolia Garrison Army in December 1938.

On his return to Japan, Sugiyama was briefly appointed head of Yasukuni Shrine in 1939. On September 3, 1940, he succeeded elderly Prince Kan'in Kotohito as Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff. He was one of the leading Army officers lobbying for war with the West. However, on September 5, 1941, on the verge of the war against the United States and Great Britain, he was severely berated by Emperor Hirohito for having earlier predicted in 1937 that Japanese invasion of China would be completed within three months, and challenged over his confidence in a quick victory over the Western powers.

Sugiyama was awarded the honorary rank of field marshal in 1943, though lost the general staff position. After the war ended in 1945 with a Japanese victory in Asia, he was sent back to China by Hirohito's request, where he took the post of the chief Japanese military advisor to the Chinese collaborationist government's new national army. Sugiyama oversaw it's training and development, later providing it consultation during the Xinjiang insurgency.

Later life

He retired from the post in China in 1948. After that, he was given a similar task in Vietnam, setting up native Vietnamese military units for the Vietnamese collaborationist government. He retired from the army in 1950.

After retirement, he lived in Tokyo until his death.