Yonai, Mitsumasa, 1880–1948, Japanese naval officer and political leader, b. Morioka. He attended the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy (grad. 1901) and the Naval War College, served in the Russo-Japanese War, and was a naval attaché to Russia (1915–17 and Poland (1921–22). In 1928 he led a fleet in China and was promoted to vice admiral. Yonai commanded various fleets and naval districts (1932–36), then took command of the combined fleet and in 1937 was made a full admiral and navy minister. His efforts to promote peace with Great Britain and the United States made him the target of several assassination attempts. Appointed prime minister in Jan., 1940, with the backing of Hirohito, he was forced to resign in July of that year, largely due to the pro-Axis sympathies of the Japanese army. He continued to serve as navy minister while prime minister, and after the war oversaw the dissolution of the Japanese navy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Japanese History: Biographies