Pure as Water
Pure as Water
The Incident of February 1936 and the Limits of Military Insubordination
This chapter examines the February coup d'état of 1936, also known as the February Incident, and how it exposed the limits of violent military insubordination in Japan. On February 26, 1936, a group of radical lieutenants and captains mobilized 1,400 soldiers, took over large parts of central Tokyo, and launched attacks on several prominent leaders. When the army minister, General Kawashima Yoshiyuki, asked Captain Yamaguchi Ichitarō, a company commander in the First Infantry Regiment, what to do, the latter replied that it was Kawashima's prerogative to decide whether the mutinous troops were “righteous” or “rebellious.” The chapter first considers the Young Officers movement and their involvement in two events, the May Incident and the Military Academy Incident, before discussing the coup of February 1936 led by Lieutenant Nakahashi Motoaki. It also analyzes Emperor Hirohito's interventions in the coup and concludes with a commentary on the trial and punishment of the rebels.
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