Tomoyuki Yamashita

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Tomoyuki Yamashita

General Tomoyuki Yamashita (山下 奉文 Yamashita Tomoyuki) (November 8 1885February 23 1946) was a general of the Japanese Army during the WWII era.

Yamashita was born in Kochi Prefecture on 8 November 1885. After passing the Cadet's Academy in 1905, he attended to the military staff college between 1913 and 1916. In the War Ministry, he promoted an unsuccessful military reduction plan.

Despite his ability, Yamashita got cold treatment in his army. He fell into disfavor with the Showa Emperor when he took compassion on the rebel officers of the February 26 Incident in 1936. He also clashed with Hideki Tojo and his faction. Yamashita insisted that Japan should end the conflict with China and keep peaceful relations with the United States and Great Britain, but he was put to an unimportant post in the Kwantung Army. In 1941 he was placed in the command of the Twenty-Fifth Army. In the Malayan campaign, his 30,000 soldiers took 80,000 Allied soldiers prisoner in the Fall of Singapore. For this, he was known as the "Tiger of Malaya", as the sweeping invasion from a Japanese base in Thailand down the Malayan peninsula to Singapore only took two months. About 130,000 Indian, Australian and British troops became prisoners of war in the Battle of Singapore, the largest surrender of British military personnel in history. The campaign hero was, however, sent to far-away Manchuria again and was effectively sidelined for a major part of the Pacific war. It is thought that Prime Minister Tojo was responsible for his banishment, taking advantage of Yamashita's gaffe during a speech made to Singaporean civilian leaders in early 1942, where he referred to the local populace as "citizens of imperial Japan". This was considered embarrassing for the Japanese government, who had other plans for the nationality and citizen status of occupied countries.

In 1944 when the war situation was critical for Japan, General Yamashita assumed the command of the Fourteenth Area Army to defend the Philippines. The U.S. Army landed on Leyte only ten days after his arrival at Manila. He tried to rebuild his army but was forced to retreat from Manila to the mountains of northern Luzon. He used delaying tactics to maintain his army until Japan surrendered in September 1945.

An American military commission tried General Yamashita and sentenced him to death. He was hanged on February 23, 1946. The hasty trial is said to be questioned about legitimacy. He was said to be accused for his soldiers' crimes that he had never ordered or did not even know about, mainly because of communication disruption by the U.S. army. It is believed that the "scheduled" judgement was General Douglas MacArthur's private revenge for the occupier of "his" Philippines. During his trial, the dedicated defense attorneys who challenged MacArthur, deeply impressed General Yamashita and demonstrated American diversity.

See also


  • Reel, A. Frank. The Case of General Yamashita. The University of Chicago Press, 1949.
  • Yoji, Akashi. 'General Yamashita Tomoyuki: Commander of the 25th Army', in Sixty Years On:The Fall of Singapore Revisited. Eastern Universities Press, 2002.

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