Manila massacre

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Manila massacre
Japanese atrocities. Philippines, China, Burma, Japan - NARA - 292598.jpg
Photo of a Filipino woman and child killed by the Japanese forces in Manila.
Location Manila, Philippines
DateFebruary 3 – March 3, 1945 (EDT)
Attack type
mass murder, massacre
Deaths100,000+ (est.)
Perpetrators Tomoyuki Yamashita, Akira Mutō, Sanji Iwabuchi
Imperial Japanese Army
Citizens of Manila run for safety from suburbs burned by Japanese soldiers, 10 February 1945 ManilaEscape.jpg
Citizens of Manila run for safety from suburbs burned by Japanese soldiers, 10 February 1945
Destruction of the Walled City (Intramuros), 1945 Manila Walled City Destruction May 1945.jpg
Destruction of the Walled City (Intramuros), 1945

The Manila massacre (Filipino: Pagpatay sa Maynila) involved atrocities committed against Filipino civilians in the City of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, by Japanese troops during World War II at the Battle of Manila (February 3, 1945 – March 3, 1945). The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was about 100,000.

Filipino language official language of the Philippines

Filipino is the national language of the Philippines. Filipino is also designated, along with English, as an official language of the country. It is a standardized variety of the Tagalog language, an Austronesian regional language that is widely spoken in the Philippines. As of 2007, Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people, or about one-third of the Philippine population, while 45 million speak Tagalog as their second language. Tagalog is among the 185 languages of the Philippines identified in the Ethnologue. Officially, Filipino is defined by the Commission on the Filipino Language as "the native dialect, spoken and written, in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, and in other urban centers of the archipelago."

Manila Capital and Highly Urbanized City in National Capital Region, Philippines

Manila, officially the City of Manila, is the capital and highly urbanized city of the Philippines. It is the most densely populated city proper in the world as of 2018. It was the first chartered city by virtue of the Philippine Commission Act 183 on July 31, 1901 and gained autonomy with the passage of Republic Act No. 409 or the "Revised Charter of the City of Manila" on June 18, 1949. Manila, alongside Mexico City and Madrid are considered the world's original set of Global Cities due to Manila's commercial networks being the first to traverse the Pacific Ocean, thus connecting Asia with the Spanish Americas, marking the first time in world history when an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circled the planet. Manila has been damaged by and rebuilt from wars more times than the famed city of Troy and it is also the second most natural disaster-afflicted capital city in the world next to Tokyo, yet it is simultaneously among the most populous and wealthiest cities in Southeast Asia.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.


The Manila massacre was one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. The Japanese commanding general, Tomoyuki Yamashita, and his chief of staff Akira Mutō, were held responsible for the massacre and other war crimes in a trial starting October 1945. Yamashita was executed on 23 February 1946 and Mutō on 23 December 1948.

Massacre incident where some group is killed by another

A massacre is a killing, typically of multiple victims, considered morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by a group of political actors against defenseless victims. The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery" or "carnage".

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.

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.


Before the battle, deciding that he would be unable to defend Manila with the forces available to him, and to preserve as large a force as possible in the rural mountain Luzon region of the Philippines, General Tomoyuki Yamashita had insisted on a complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from Manila in January 1945. However, Yamashita's order was ignored by about 10,000 Japanese marines under Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji who chose to remain in Manila. About 4000 Japanese army personnel were unable to leave the city due to the advance of the American and Filipino forces.

Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces

Imperial Japanese Navy Land Forces of World War II were ground combat units consisting of navy personnel organized for offensive operations and for the defense of Japanese naval facilities both overseas and in the Japanese home islands. It consisted of the following:

In the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945, the United States Army advanced into the city of Manila in order to drive the Japanese out. During lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took their anger and frustration out on the civilians in the city. Violent mutilations, rapes, and massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul's Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church. [1] :113 Dr Antonio Gisbert told of the murder of his father and brother at the Palacio del Gobernador, saying, "I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3000 men herded into Fort Santiago and, two days later, massacred. [1] :110

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Manila Cathedral Church in Manila, Philippines

The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Manila Cathedral, is the cathedral of Manila and basilica located in Intramuros, the historic walled city within today's modern city of Manila, Philippines. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the principal patroness of the country. The cathedral serves as the episcopal see of the Archbishop of Manila.

Fort Santiago citadel built by Spanish conquistador for the city of Manila, Philippines

Fort Santiago is a citadel first built by Spanish navigator and governor Miguel López de Legazpi for the new established city of Manila in the Philippines. The defense fortress is part of the structures of the walled city of Manila referred to as Intramuros.

Mass rapes

The Bayview Hotel was used as a designated "rape center". [2] According to testimony at the Yamashita war crimes trial, 400 women and girls were rounded up from Manila's wealthy Ermita district, and submitted to a selection board that picked out the 25 women who were considered most beautiful. These women and girls, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where Japanese enlisted men and officers took turns raping them. [3]

Ermita Civic District of the City of Manila in National Capital Region, Philippines

Ermita is a district in City of Manila, Philippines. Located at the central part of the city, the district is a significant center of finance, education, culture and commerce. Ermita serves as the civic center of the city, bearing the seat of city government and a large portion of the area's employment, business, and entertainment activities.

Despite many allied Germans held refuge in a German club, Japanese soldiers entered in and bayoneted infants of mothers pleading mercy and raped women seeking refuge. At least 20 Japanese soldiers raped a young girl before slicing her breasts off after which a Japanese soldier placed her mutilated breasts on his chest to mimic a woman while the other Japanese soldiers laughed. The Japanese then doused the young girl and two other women who were raped to death in gasoline and set them all on fire. [4]

The Japanese went on setting the entire club on fire killing many of its inhabitants. Women who were escaping out the building from the fire were caught and raped by the Japanese. 28 year old Julia Lopez had her breasts sliced off, raped by the Japanese soldiers and had her hair set on fire. Another woman was partially decapitated after attempting to defend herself and raped by a Japanese soldier. [5]

One Japanese order read, "The Americans who have penetrated into Manila have about 1000 troops, and there are several thousand Filipino soldiers under the Commonwealth Army and the organized guerrillas. Even women and children have become guerrillas."[ citation needed ]

The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was about 100,000, most of which was attributed to massacres by Japanese forces. Some historians, citing a higher civilian casualty rate for the entire battle, suggest that 100,000 to 500,000 died as a result of the Manila massacre on its own, exclusive of other causes. [1] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

General Yamashita's role in the massacre

General Yamashita was opposed to the plan devised by Imperial Headquarters because his soldiers lacked resources. The soldiers under Yamashita's command were low on ammunition and food. However, he was unable to disobey his superiors and sent approximately 80,000 soldiers to Leyte. Nearly all of his soldiers had died in the Battle of Leyte, and he was forced to move his headquarters from Manila to Saigon. Yamashita had anticipated that U.S. forces would come to the Philippines, so he had to move his headquarters again and evacuate in order to escape the U.S. forces. On January 9, 1945, Yamashita was met by nearly 200,000 U.S. soldiers at Lingayen Gulf. As a result of this operation, nearly 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed by various methods of violence. Unexpectedly, some Filipino casualties were caused by U.S. aerial bombings. Yamashita continued to fight, but his lack of resources and his exposure to disease and sickness led to his capture.

General Yamashita was considered a war criminal for his crimes in Manila. Evidence suggests that General Yamashita was unaware of the crimes committed by Japanese troops in Manila, and that he ultimately did not have control over those troops who committed the atrocities. The morale of his troops was low, and many of the orders he gave were disobeyed. Yamashita had a sense of guilt and failure as a commanding general over the troops under his command. In the end, he took responsibility for the crimes that his troops committed under his command. A group of American military lawyers attempted to defend General Yamashita by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the appeal failed, 5 votes to 2. As a result, Yamashita was sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged on February 23, 1946 in Manila. [12]

Rev. Peter Fallon SSC

Rev. Peter Fallon SSC, was an Irish missionary priest kidnapped and killed in the Philippines by Japanese forces in 1945 during Battle of Manila in the Second World War. [13] Born in Ballinlass, Dunmore, County Galway, in Ireland, Fallon studied at All Hallows College, Dublin, before joining the Maynooth Mission to China, in Dalgan Park, where he was ordained in 1922. On ordination, he went to Hanyang, China, and was there until 1930. In 1931 he went to the Philippines, [14] to the Malate Church which the Columbans were stationed. [15] Fallon was first Columban parish priest of what then was the town of Misamis (now Ozamiz City).

Fr. Fallon was one of four priests of the Maynooth Mission to Manila, kidnapped by Japanese Navy forces and killed, along with local parishioners, the other Columbans being Rev John Heneghan, Rev Patrick Kelly, and Rev Joseph Monaghan, during the Battle of Manila. [16] The four Columbans were taken from the Malate Church (Our Lady of Remedies Parish) to the Syquia apartments around February 10, 1945, and were never seen again. [17] Along with the fifth Columban in Malate, Fr John Lalor, who was killed three days later while helping in makeshift hospital in the Malate School, they are often referred to as the "Manila Martyrs". [18] In February 1997 there was a monument erected in front of the Malate Church, in the memory of Fallon, Kelly, Monaghan and Heneghan. [19]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Connaughton, R., Pimlott, J., and Anderson, D., 1995, The Battle for Manila, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN   0891415785
  2. "February 1945: The Rape of Manila |". Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  3. Manila Girls Relate Horror of Mass Rape, The Milwaukee Journal, 1 November 1945
  4. James M. Scott (30 October 2018). Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. p. 230. ISBN   9780393246957.
  5. James M. Scott (30 October 2018). Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. p. 231. ISBN   9780393246957.
  6. White, Matthew. "Death Tolls for the Man-made Megadeaths of the 20th Century". Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  7. Khalifa, Hodieb (22 November 2013). Nein. ISBN   9781938759185 . Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  8. Dauria, Tom (2014). Within a Presumption of Godlessness. ISBN   9781480804203 . Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  9. "Battle of Manila". Battle of Manila. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  10. At least 4 of the 5 cited sources do not mention a figure > 100,000.
  11. Brines, Russell, "Sixty Priests, Women, Children Massacred by Japs in College," Evening Star, Washington DC, February 19, 1945, Page A-6
  12. Last Words of the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita Tomoyuki, The Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus
  13. Dail Questions Irish Priests Manilla Dail Debates,
  14. Columban Martyrs
  15. The Columbans of Malate Malate Catholic Church Official Website
  16. Northern Priest Killed by Japanese Irish News, April 4th, 2014
  17. Manila Holocaust and Rape

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Coordinates: 15°35′00″N120°58′00″E / 15.5833°N 120.9667°E / 15.5833; 120.9667