Tag: Japan

Mamoru Shigemitsu: “When you have to kill a man…”

Mamoru Shigemitsu: “When you have to kill a man…”

Q: Ambassador Shigemitsu

Churchill was crit­i­cized for his extreme­ly respect­ful let­ter to the Japan­ese Ambas­sador to Britain in Decem­ber 1941, when inform­ing him that their coun­tries were at war. Churchill’s response to crit­ics was, “After all, when you have to kill a man it costs noth­ing to be polite.” Was Shigemit­su acual­ly killed?  —W.H., New York

A: No, he lived on

Churchill was writ­ing in the abstract, so did not actu­al­ly pro­pose to slay the Ambas­sador. Mamoru Shigemit­su  was Japan­ese ambas­sador to the Sovi­et Union 1936–38 and to Britain 1938–41. Fol­low­ing Japan’s attacks of Decem­ber 1941 he received unham­pered pas­sage home.…

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