Heitarō Kimura

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Heitarō Kimura
Kimura Heitaro.jpg
Born28 September 1888
Saitama prefecture, Japan
Died23 December 1948(1948-12-23) (aged 60)
Sugamo Prison, Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1908–1945
Rank General
Commands held 32nd Division
Burma Area Army
Battles/wars Siberian Intervention
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II

Heitarō Kimura(木村 兵太郎,Kimura Heitarō (sometimes Kimura Hyōtarō), 28 September 1888 – 23 December 1948) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging.

Imperial Japanese Army Official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

War crimes were committed by the Empire of Japan in many Asia-Pacific countries during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. These incidents have been described as an "Asian Holocaust". Some war crimes were committed by Japanese military personnel during the late 19th century, but most Japanese war crimes were committed during the first part of the Shōwa Era, the name given to the reign of Emperor Hirohito, until the surrender of the Empire of Japan in 1945.

Contents

Biography

Kimura was born in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, but was raised in Hiroshima prefecture, which he considered to be his home. He attended military schooling from an early age, and graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1908. He went on to graduate from the Army War College in 1916 and was commissioned into the artillery. He served during the Japanese Siberian Intervention of 1918–1919 in support of White Russian forces against the Bolshevik Red Army. He was subsequently sent as a military attaché to Germany. [1]

Imperial Japanese Army Academy military academy

The Imperial Japanese Army Academy was the principal officer's training school for the Imperial Japanese Army. The programme consisted of a junior course for graduates of local army cadet schools and for those who had completed four years of middle school, and a senior course for officer candidates.

Army War College (Japan) staff college of the Imperial Japanese Army

The Army War College; Short form: Rikudai (陸大) of the Empire of Japan was founded in 1882 in Minato, Tokyo to modernize and Westernize the Imperial Japanese Army. Much of the empire's elite including prime ministers during the period of Japanese militarism were graduates of the college.

Artillery class of weapons which fires munitions beyond the range and power of personal weapons

Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.

From the late 1920s Kimura was attached to the Inspectorate of Artillery and an instructor at the Field Artillery School. He was selected as a member of the Japanese delegation to the London Disarmament Conference from 1929 to 1931. On his return to Japan, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned command of the IJA 22nd Artillery Regiment. From 1932 to 1934, he returned to the Field Artillery School, followed by the Coastal Artillery School as an instructor. [2]

London Naval Treaty agreement between the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding

The Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament, commonly known as the London Naval Treaty, was an agreement between the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding. Ratifications were exchanged in London on 27 October 1930, and the treaty went into effect on the same day. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 6 February 1931.

Lieutenant colonel (pronounced Lef-ten-ent Kernel or Loo-ten-ent Kernel ) is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies, most marine forces and some air forces of the world, above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence. Sometimes, the term, 'half-colonel' is used in casual conversation in the British Army. A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion or regiment in the army.

In 1935, Kimura first served in an influential role close to the centre of Japanese policy when he was appointed Chief of the Control Section in the Economic Mobilisation Bureau at the Ministry of War. The next year, he was appointed Head of the Ordnance Bureau. He was promoted to the rank of major general in 1936. He became a lieutenant general in 1939, and was assigned a combat command with the IJA 32nd Division in China from 1939 to 1940. From 1940 to 1941, Kimura served as Chief of Staff of the Kwangtung Army in Manchukuo.

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.

Lieutenant general, lieutenant-general and similar is a three-star military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a captain general.

Manchukuo former Japan puppet state in China

Manchukuo was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic, but in 1934 it became a constitutional monarchy. It had limited international recognition and was under the de facto control of Japan.

Kimura returned to the Ministry of War in 1941 as Vice Minister of War, assisting War Minister Hideki Tōjō in planning strategies for campaigns in the Second Sino-Japanese War as well as the Pacific War. From 1943 to 1944, he was a member of the Supreme War Council, where he continued to exert a major influence on strategy and policy. [3]

Second Sino-Japanese War military conflict between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from 1937 to 1945

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 2, 1945. It began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in 1937 in which a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops escalated into a battle. Some sources in the modern People's Republic of China date the beginning of the war to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931.

Pacific War theatre of war in the Second World War

The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China.

The Supreme War Council was established during the development of representative government in Meiji period Japan to further strengthen the authority of the state. Its first leader was Yamagata Aritomo (1838–1922), a Chōshū native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Imperial Japanese Army and was the first constitutional Prime Minister of Japan. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the Emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials. The Supreme War Council was the de facto inner cabinet of Japan prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Late in 1944, as the course of the war went against Japan after the disastrous Battle of Imphal, Kimura was again assigned to the field, this time as commander in chief of the Burma Area Army, defending Burma against the Allied South East Asia Command. The situation was not promising as Japanese forces were under severe pressure on every front, and the Allies had complete air superiority. Reinforcements and munitions were short, and Imperial General Headquarters entertained the unsupported hope that Kimura would be able make his command logistically self-sufficient.

Battle of Imphal battle fought in 1944

The Battle of Imphal took place in the region around the city of Imphal, the capital of the state of Manipur in northeast India from March until July 1944. Japanese armies attempted to destroy the Allied forces at Imphal and invade India, but were driven back into Burma with heavy losses. Together with the simultaneous Battle of Kohima on the road by which the encircled Allied forces at Imphal were relieved, the battle was the turning point of the Burma Campaign, part of the South-East Asian Theatre of the Second World War. The defeat at Kohima and Imphal was the largest defeat to that date in Japanese history, with many of the Japanese deaths resulting from starvation, disease and exhaustion suffered during their retreat.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

South East Asia Command (SEAC) was the body set up to be in overall charge of Allied operations in the South-East Asian Theatre during World War II.

Unable to defend all of Burma, Kimura fell back behind the Irrawaddy River to attack the Allies when their supply lines were stretched thin - a move which initially dislocated the Allied plans. Such was Allied material superiority that the main weight of the offensive was switched, and the vital positions of Meiktila and Mandalay were captured at the Battle of Meiktila and Mandalay. From that point, Kimura was only capable of delaying actions. [4] He opted to preserve his forces rather than defend the capital, Rangoon to the last man. Promoted to the rank of general in 1945, he was still reorganising his forces at the surrender of Japan in mid-1945.

After the end of World War II, Kimura was arrested by the Allied occupation powers and tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for war crimes. The tribunal cited his role in planning the strategy for the war in China and Southeast Asia, and condemned him for laxity in preventing atrocities against prisoners of war in Burma. Although the Death Railway was built from 1942 to 1943, and Kimura did not arrive in Burma until late 1944, Kimura was also charged with the abuse and deaths of the military and civilian prisoners used to construct the railroad. [5] Found guilty in 1948 on Counts 1, 27, 29, 31, 32, 54 and 55 of the indictment he was condemned to death by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and hanged as a war criminal. [6]

Military offices
Preceded by
Masakazu Kawabe
Commander, Burma Area Army
Aug 1944 – Sept 1946
Succeeded by
none

See also

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References

Books

Notes

  1. Budge, The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
  2. Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
  3. Fuller, Shokan Hirohito's Samurai
  4. Latimer, Burma: The Forgotten War
  5. Minear, Victor's Justice
  6. Clancy, IMTFE Judgement