Who Was the Leader of Japan During World War II?

Japan had several leaders during the course of World War II. Although ultimate leadership resided with Emperor Hirohito during that period, five prime ministers controlled the day-to-day functions of the empire during the course of the war.

The prime ministers were Fumimaro Konoe, who served from 1937 to 1939 and again from 1940 to 1941; Mitsumasa Yonai, who served in 1940; Hideki Tojo, who served from 1941 to 1944; Kuniaki Koisu, who served from 1944 to 1945 and Kantaro Suzuki, who served in 1945. Prime Minister Suzuki was the leader who agreed to Japan's surrender to end the war. Many of the five prime ministers served in other capacities, generally as ministers of the military branches. The emperor and the prime ministers Yonai, Koisu and Suzuki escaped the war with their lives, while Konoe committed suicide in 1945 and Tojo was executed in 1944. Hirohito continued to serve until his death in 1989, although he had no political power.