Yamashita, Tomoyuki

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Yamashita, Tomoyuki, born 08-11-0885 in Otoyo, Japan, joined the Japanese Army in 1906 and fought against the Germans in Shantung, China in 1914. He graduated from the Staff College in 1916 and became an expert on Germany, serving as resident officer in Switzerland and Germany from 1919-1922. He is alleged to have initially supported the Young Officers’ Revolt of 1936, and although he later turned against the young ultra nationalists, he was sent to Korea within a week of the attempted coup in order to get him out of Tokyo. He served as Chief of Staff of North China Area Army in 1937-1939 and commander of the 4th division before being sent as an aviation observer to Germany and Italy. As head of the Army’s Aeronautical Department, Yamashita dispatched a delegation to Germany in the spring of 1940 to study Blitzkrieg tactics and the technology and production methods that supported it.  He produced a report on his return that recommended, among other things, that the Army and Navy be unified under a single command modelled on the Oberkommando der Wermacht and then ally with Germany against Russia. Minister President Hideki Tojo, who had no interest in a unified command and considered Yamashita a rival, used Yamashita’s report as an excuse to post him to Manchuria to set up a new army headquarters, Kwanting Defence Army, in preparation for operations against the Russians. In fact, by this time, the decision had already been made to maintain neutrality with Russia. An extremely capable officer, Yamashita was a Lieutenant General in command of 25th Army at the start of the Pacific War. He led a stunningly successful campaign in Malaya that culminated in his bluffing the British into surrendering Singapore to an inferior force whose logistics were on the verge of collapse. When Archibalt Percival Wavell,  he died age 78, on 31-01-1966, attempted to negotiate more favourable surrender terms, Yamashita replied, “All I want to know from you is yes or no.” Hideki Tojo
 was jealous of Yamashita’s success and got him transferred to command of 1st Area Army at Botenko in Manchuria in July 1942, before Yamashita could even read his victory speech to the Emperor. 1st Area Army was an important command, but it was also a long way from Tokyo. He languished here for most of the war, although he was promoted to full General in 1943. However, Yamashita was recalled to lead the defence of the Philipinnes in August 1944 and served here the remainder of the war. The battle we are going to fight will be decisive for Japan’s fate. Each of us bears a heavy responsibility for our part in it. We cannot win this war unless we work closely and harmoniously together. We must do our utmost, setting aside futile recriminations about the past. I intend to fight a ground battle, regardless of what the navy and air force do. I must ask for your absolute loyalty, for only thus can we achieve victory. A number of atrocities took place during both the Malaya and Philippines campaigns. For these, Yamashita was tried, convicted, and hanged as a war criminal in 1946. However, it appears that the Malayan atrocities were the work of junior staff officers, particularly the notorious Tsuji Masanobu, he died age 60 in 1961,  while the Philippine atrocities in Manila seem to have been instigated by the Special Naval Landing Forces, who were not under Yamashita’s direct control and acted against his orders. Yamashita bitterly complained that he had been convicted, not of atrocities, but of embarrassing the British. Yamashita was a former member of the Imperial Way, a political faction within the Army noted for its ultra-nationalism, contempt for democracy and capitalism, and devotion to the Emperor.   Fuller says he was “Ambitious, ruthless, highly strung and believed in Samurai traditions.” He believed Tojo wanted to assassinate him, which was not entirely rational. He snored badly and often appeared to be asleep while being briefed. On the day after V-J Day, General Tomoyuki Yamashita came out of the Luzon mountains to surrender to Lieutenant General Jonathan “Skinny” Wainwright at Baguio. The arrogant, six-foot-tall Japanese General was the commander of all hostile forces in the Philippines where Wainwright had been forced to capitulate in 1942, and also waged the brilliant drive on Singapore. The general is shown as he grimly enters Bilibid prison a few hours after signing the surrender.

Death and burial ground of Yamashita, Tomoyuki.

      Yamashita on 23-02-1946, at Los Bano, Prison Camp, 30 miles (48 km) south of Manila, Yamashita was hanged., age 60, and is buried on the Tama Reien Cemetery, Fuchu, Tokyo, close by the graves of General Korechika Anami, the Russian spy Richard Sorge, General Kazushige Ugaki, General Shigeyoshi Inoue, Admiral, Nishizo Tsukahara, Admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto.
                      

 

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