Hideki Tojo gained power through a steady rise in the military and civil ranks of the Japanese government prior to and during World War II. Tojo's power was arguably at its peak when he, as Prime Minister, took over the position of the army chief of staff in 1944.
Hideki Tojo first entered the Japanese civil government system when he was appointed as the vice-minister of war between 1937 and 1940. He gained this position after service in Manchuria as Kwantung Army's chief of staff in 1937. In his position as vice-minister of war, Tojo helped increase the military's control over Japanese foreign policy, which led to the signing of the 1940 Triparite Pact in which Japan became a member of the Axis powers alongside Germany and Italy.
Tojo was appointed as minister of war in July 1940 and came into conflict with Prince Fumimaro Konoye, the Prime Minister at that time. Konoye was an advocate of a demilitarization of the Japanese government's policies. Due to their conflict, Konoye resigned as Prime Minister in October 1940. Hideki Tojo succeeded the prince as Prime Minister and became a virtual dictator of Japan as he also held the positions of army minister, war minister, and the minister of commerce and industry.