Higuchi Kiichiro

Higuchi Kiichiro

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Kiichirô Higuchi (1888-1970) was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II.


Higuchi was born in what is now part of Minamiawaji city on Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, as the eldest of nine siblings. When he was eleven year old, his parents divorced and he was raised by his mother's family (in Gifu). He was a graduate of the 21st class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, and the 30th class of the Army Staff College. As a junior officer, he was sent as military attaché to Poland. Due to his fluency in the Russian language, Higuchi was later posted to Manchuria with the Kwantung Army. Higuchi was a close confidant of General Ishiwara Kanji and Anami Korechika.

From 1933-1935, he was commander of the IJA 41st Infantry Regiment, and from 1935-1937 served as Chief of staff of the IJA 3rd Division. He was sent to Germany as part of a military delegation in 1937.

As a major general and the commander of the Harbin Special Branchin 1938, he allowed some Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany to cross the border from the Soviet Union to Manchukuo. A few of his subordinates, were responsible for feeding the refugees, settling them in Harbin or Shanghai, or arranging for exit visas.

Recalled to Japan in late 1938, Higuchi served briefly on the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff before being assigned as commanding officer of the IJA 9th Division in 1939. In 1942, he was promoted to lieutenant general and assigned to the Sapporo-based Japanese Fifth Area Army. He participated in the invasion of the Aleutian islands, including the disastrous campaigns on Attu Island and Kiska Island. Afterwards, as commander of the Northern District Army he organized the defenses of northern Japan against invasion by Allied forces, fortifying Shumshu island in the northern Kurile Islands chain, and Karafuto.

In December 2009, Israeli ambassador to Japan presented the park to commemorate Higuchi's act with a olive sapling.