8 November 1885, Osugi Mura, Shikoku, Japan
Tomoyuki Yamashita was born in a rural village on Shikoku island in Japan in 1885, the son of a country doctor. Inspired by his parents, Yamashita enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army and entered the Hiroshima Military Academy in 1900, graduating in 1908 with full honors. In 1916 he graduated from Staff College as a captain and in 1921 became a M...
Tomoyuki Yamashita was born in a rural village on Shikoku island in Japan in 1885, the son of a country doctor. Inspired by his parents, Yamashita enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army and entered the Hiroshima Military Academy in 1900, graduating in 1908 with full honors. In 1916 he graduated from Staff College as a captain and in 1921 became a Military Attache in Switzerland and Germany. Yamashita served at the Tokyo Imperial Headquarters from 1921 to 1926, where he was promoted and served as a Military Attache in Vienna, Austria. In 1936 he was a key mediator in the "Young Officers' Revolt", a coup attempt staged by a group of officers who claimed that politicians were reducing rather then enlarging Japan's military. From 1938 to 1940 Yamashita commanded the 4th Infantry Division in fighting in northern China, until he was recalled to Tokyo. There he was promoted to full general and became part of Hideki Tojo's war cabinet after militarists took control in Japan and signed the Triple Alliance Pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.Late in 1941 Yamashita was appointed commander of the 25th Army for the invasion of Malaya, which was carried out on December 8, 1941, the day after Japan entered World War II by bombing US forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This unusually tall, balding, overweight general was to prove himself to be the most formidable commander in Japan's history. His troops moved rapidly down the Malayan peninsula, defeating British and Commonwealth forces in several pitched battles and capturing the capital city of Kuala Lumpur on January 11, 1942. His troops drove the British out of Malaya and into Singapore on January 31. The battle for Singapore that started on February 8 and the capture of the city on February 15 was the high point of Yamashita's army career. He was soon posted to command the 1st Army in Manchuria in July, which was considered somewhat of a demotion. That was because Tojo--like his fellow dictators Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini--was mortally afraid and highly distrustful of victorious, popular army commanders, seeing them as potential threats to his powers and possible instigators of a coup to remove him and take power themselves. It was not until September of 1944, after the downfall of Tojo and his cabinet, that the new liberal militarist cabinet rescued Yamashita from his enforced exile in China and gave him command of the 14th Army on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, to prepare against an impending US invasion. Yamashita devised a clever defensive plan for Luzon by dividing the 14th Army into three defense groups. The first and largest group, the Shobo, numbered 152,000 troops under his direct command and defended the northern part of Luzon. The second group, the Kembu, consisted of 30,000 soldiers under the command of Gen. Tsukada and defended Baatan and part of the central region. The third, the Shimbu, was composed of about about 80,000 men under the command of Gen. Yokoyama and defended southern Luzon.On January 6, 1945, the invasion began as 200,000 troops of the US Sixth Army landed at Lingayen Bay and slowly worked their way inland against hard resistance from Yamashita's forces. Allthough the city of Manila was captured after a brutal battle that lasted a month, and the southern part of Luzon was in US hands by May, Yamashita stubbornly fought on by waging a protracted guerrilla war against the Americans from the northern mountains of Sierra Madre and the Cordillera Central mountains. It was not until September 1945, after learning of the surrender of Japan, that Yamashita surrendered with about 50,000 of his remaining men in Luzon. He was charged with war crimes for a series of atrocities committed by troops under his command--notably the "Rape of Manila", in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were raped and murdered and much of the city put to the torch by rampaging Japanese soldiers. His trial lasted from October 29-Deecember 7. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.Tomoyuki Yamashita's last words on the day of his execution, February 23, 1946 at the age of 60, were: "I pray for the Emperor's long life and prosperity forever".
Tomoyuki Yamashita's FILMOGRAPHY
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