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Higashikuni Naruhiko

Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko (東久邇 稔彦 December 3,1887 - January 26,1990) was the 43rd Prime Minister of Japan from August 17,1945 to October 9,1945, a period of 54 days. Prince Naruhiko was born in Kyoto, the ninth son of Prince Kuni Asahiko (1824-1891), a scion of the Fushimi no miya, one the cadet houses of the imperial dynasty. Emperor Meiji granted him the title Higashikuni no miya (Prince Higashikuni) and permission to start a new branch of the imperial family on November 3, 1906. Prince Higashikuni married the ninth daughter of Emperor Meiji, Princess Yasu (Toshiko), on May 8, 1915. Empress Kojun, formerly Princess Kuni Nagako, the wife of Emperor Showa, was his niece. Finally, his eldest son, Morihiro, married Princess Teru (Shigeko), the eldest daugther of Emperor Showa. Higashikuni was the only member of the imperial family to head a cabinet. He also had the shortest tenure of any Japanese prime minister.

Before his brief tenure as prime minister, Higashikuni was a career army officer. After graduating from the Imperial Military Academy (1908) and the Army War College (1914), he studied at the Ecole Supérieure de Guerre in Paris from 1920 to 1922. Upon his return to Japan, he eventually rose to the rank of general, having successively served as commander of the Fifth Infantry Brigade (1930-34), the Fourth Army Division (1934-37), the Military Aviation Department (1937-38), and the Second Army in China (1938-39). A member of the Supreme War Council from 1939, the prince served as commander of the Home Defense Command from 1941 to 1944. He colluded with several aristocrats and fellow imperial family members to oust General Tojo Hideki as prime minister following the fall of Saipan in 1944. Higashikuni lost his princely title and membership in the imperial family as a result of the American occupation reform of the Japanese imperial household in October 1947. As a private citizen, he operated several unsuccessful retail enterprises and briefly served as the chief priest of a new religious order (that was subsequently banned by American occupation authorities). He died at the age of 102. Higashikuni is mainly remembered as Japan's first postwar prime minister.

Preceded by:
Suzuki Kantaro
Prime ministers of Japan Succeeded by:
Shidehara Kijuro