Capt. Koji Muranaka’s plans to save Japan were almost ready. The special session of parliament would convene in seven days. Knowing that previous coup attempts had been betrayed from the inside, Muranaka had kept his group of assassins small. Only two fellow officers, Lts. Asaichi Isobe and Taro Kataoka, and a half-dozen academy cadets would help him initiate the Showa Restoration by eliminating the offending politicians during the special session.
But Muranaka had not scrutinized his followers closely enough.
Capt. Masanobu Tsuji commanded the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. Thirty-four years old, thin with a shaved head, an arrogant high forehead, a small mustache, and small eyes hiding behind round rimmed glasses, Tsuji was both ingenious and unstable. His future war record would bear both out. He would be responsible for the brilliant plan to capture Singapore and would be cited for bravery, but would be argumentative, insubordinate, and extraordinarily brutal. He ordered the massacre of five thousand civilians in Singapore and numerous executions during the Bataan Death March. In 1944 while in command in Burma, Tsuji reportedly held a banquet for his officers where he served the liver of a captured Allied pilot. He supposedly declared, “The more we consume, the more we shall be inspired by a hostile spirit towards the enemy,” and chastised the men who would not eat it as cowards.1
Although Tsuji would rant about the immorality and slovenliness of fellow officers, claiming that they had forgotten their duty to the emperor, he was no friend to Muranaka or his fellow restorationists. After the failed coup in October 1931, the Imperial Army had split into two distinctive cliques. The Kodo-ha, or Imperial Way, consisting of Mitsugi Nishida’s Young Officers, still pushed for the Showa