Koki Hirota

1936 – 1937
1948, Executed
Kōki Hirota
廣田 弘毅
Kohki Hirota suit.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
9 March 1936 – 2 February 1937
Monarch Shōwa
Preceded by Keisuke Okada
Succeeded by Senjūrō Hayashi
Personal details
Born (1878-02-14)14 February 1878
Chūō-ku, Fukuoka, Japan
Died 23 December 1948(1948-12-23) (aged 70)
Sugamo Prison, Japan
Political party Independent
Alma mater Tokyo Imperial University

Kōki Hirota (廣田 弘毅 Hirota Kōki?, 14 February 1878 – 23 December 1948) was a Japanese diplomat and politician who served as the 32nd Prime Minister of Japan from 9 March 1936 to 2 February 1937. Originally his name was Jōtarō (丈太郎?). He was executed for war crimes committed during World War II.

Following Japan's surrender, Hirota was arrested as a Class A war criminal and brought before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. He offered no defense and was found guilty of the following charges:

  • Count 1 (waging wars of aggression, and war or wars in violation of international law)
  • Count 27 (waging unprovoked war against the Republic of China)
  • Count 55 (disregard for duty to prevent breaches of the laws of war)

He was sentenced to death by hanging, and was executed at Sugamo Prison. The severity of his sentence remains controversial, as Hirota was the only civilian executed as a result of the IMTFE proceedings. It is often stated that the main factor in his death sentence was the fact that he was party to information about what is now known as the Nanjing Massacre, about which he is alleged to have telegraphed to the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C. As foreign minister, Hirota received regular reports from the War Ministry about the military's atrocities, but lacked any authority over the offending military units themselves. Nonetheless, the tribunal condemned Hirota's failure to insist that the Japanese Cabinet act to put an end to the atrocities.[4] Other possible factors in Hirota's sentence included his signing of the Tripartite Alliance, and the antipathy of China's Kuomintang government towards the Hirota Sangensoku, which they viewed as providing justification for Japan's aggression against China in the Second Sino-Japanese War (which began during Hirota's second term as Foreign Minister).