Kenji Dohihara was born on 8 August 1883 in Okayama.
In 1904, he completed his studies at the Academy of the Japanese Imperial Army, before joining the School of Army Personnel from which he graduated in 1912.
Kenji Dohihara was then sent to Beijing as military attaché. His fluency of Mandarin and several Chinese dialects distinguished him for intelligence missions.
Between 1921 and 1922, he participated in the Japanese intervention in Siberia. Thereafter he continued to move up the ranks in the military. In 1928, he was appointed military adviser to the Chinese government. He was promoted to Colonel in 1930 and was then assigned the command of the 30th regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army. The following year, he was promoted to State-Major and oversaw operations of military espionage. After 18 years in China, he was considered within the army as a specialist on the country.
In 1932, Kenji Dohihara was transferred to Shenyang, China to lead an espionage agency. There he participated with Sheishiro Itagaki (see "related cases"), in planning the Mukden incident. He was then instructed to bring the former emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Pu Yi, to Manchuria to serve as a facade for the Japanese authorities. He was also at the origin of the Harbin incident in 1932. The whole plan was part of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and led to the creation of the puppet state of Manchukuo, under Japanese control. The same year, Kenji Dohihara was promoted to Major-General.
During the war between Japan and the USSR, between 1938 and 1939, Lieutenant-General Dohihara was responsible for overseeing the fighting taking place in the vicinity of Lake Khassan.
In 1940, he became a member of the Supreme Council of the War, and was appointed Head of the Aeronautics Department of the army within the Ministry of War, and then Inspector General of Military Aviation, a position he held until in 1943. From 1940 to 1941, he was also Commander of the Imperial Military Academy.
On 4 November 1941, Kenji Dohihara voted in favour of the attack on Pearl Harbour.
In 1943, Dohihara was appointed Commander-in-chief of the Eastern District of the army.
In 1944, he was appointed Governor of the State of Johor, (now southern Malaysia), and Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese army in Singapore, a position he held until 1945. He then returned to Japan, where he was promoted to Inspector General of military training. During this period, he commanded the Army of the 7th Region, which included parts of Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra, Java and Borneo in Indonesia. In this capacity, he was responsible for supplying food and medicines not only to the Japanese troops, but also to prisoners of war.
At the time of the surrender of Japan, Kenji Dohihara was Commander-in-Chief of the 1st General Army. He was arrested by the Allies and imprisoned in Sugamo.
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