Maintaining a coup d'etat is difficult. There were two attempted coup d'etat incidents by Army officers before the war in Showa 6 (1931) called the "March Incident" and the "October Incident." Both incidents were led by a group called the "Sakurakai" consisting of elite Army officers, and because their punishments were left unresolved, it is said that they triggered the later May 15th Incident and the February 26th Incident (the fact that no one was executed even after assassinating the sitting Prime Minister in the May 15th Incident is like saying "do it again next time," and furthermore, if it weren't for Emperor Showa's strong statement after the February 26th Incident, "I will personally lead the Imperial Guard to suppress this!", the incident might have been left unresolved). At its peak, the group boasted a membership of over 100.

However, when it grows to such a large scale, it becomes difficult for the group to maintain a united front. First, there were numerous debates about where to place the headquarters during the uprising. In the end, they decided on Colonel Kinkichiro Hashimoto's proposal to place it in the Land Survey Department within the General Staff Office and hang a banner from the second floor that read "Kinki Revolution Headquarters" long enough to reach the ground (In any era, image is important). The next issue was the order in which the characters on the banner would be written. While it was decided that Hashimoto would write the first character, 'Kinki,' there was confusion over who would write the next character, 'flag.' Some suggested drawing lots, but there were objections to that as well, and the matter remained unresolved. The order of the characters on the banner may seem trivial, but it was actually quite important to the individuals involved. Why? Because the order in which they were written implicitly determined their rank within the leadership. And this very issue reveals why many coups, even if successful, are difficult to sustain for long periods.

These kinds of groups, while united in their goal of national transformation, have individual beliefs and principles on finer points, as well as containing complex interpersonal relationships. Even if the coup succeeds and a revolutionary government is established, disputes over merit-based rankings would arise, and if that doesn't go smoothly, the group would disintegrate in no time. In that sense, religious revolutions are relatively better off because when someone asks, "Why is he above me?", the answer is simply "God has decreed it so."

In this regard, Hitler could be considered successful at keeping things together. While Hitler is known for his image as a dictator, he also skillfully mediated conflicts among strong-willed subordinates like Goebbels, Göring, and Himmler. By doing so, he made these subordinates recognize the necessity of Hitler as a mediator and maintained his own influence.

 ただ、そこまで大所帯になると、なかなか一枚岩とはいかなくなるもの。まず、決起した時の本部をどこに置くかで議論百出。結局首魁・橋本欣五郎中佐の「参謀本部内の陸地測量部に置き、二階から地上に届くくらいの『錦旗革命本部』と書いた幕を垂らす」という案に決定。(いつの時代も、イメージは大事ということ。)次に問題となったのが、垂れ幕に字を書く順番。最初の「錦」の字は橋本で決まったものの、その次の「旗」の字になると、「俺に書かせろ」、「いや俺が先だ」で紛糾。「クジ引きで」という意見も出たが、それにも反対する者があり、なかなか決しなかった。 垂れ幕の字の順番なんて、どうでもいいように思えますが、実はこれ、当人たちにとっては意外に大事なこと。なぜか?書いた順番で、暗黙の裡に指導部内での序列が決まるからです。そして、これこそが、クーデターというものの多くが、成功しても長続きしにくいことの本質も示しています。
(小説家 池田平太郎)2023-04