Yasuji Okamura

Last updated
Yasuji Okamura
Yasuji Okamura.jpg
Yasuji Okamura
Native name
岡村 寧次
Born(1884-05-15)15 May 1884
Tokyo, Japan
Died2 September 1966(1966-09-02) (aged 82)
Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1905–1945
Rank General Di Guo Lu Jun noJie Ji --Jin Zhang --Da Jiang .svg
UnitFirst Infantry Regiment
Commands held
Battles/wars
Awards
Other workmilitary advisor, veteran Association, author

Yasuji Okamura(岡村 寧次,Okamura Yasuji, 15 May 1884 2 September 1966) was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army, and commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army from November 1944 to the end of World War II. He was found not guilty of any war crime by the Shanghai War Crimes Tribunal after the war. As one of the Imperial Japanese Army's top China experts, General Okamura spent his entire military career on the Asian mainland. [1]

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.

The China Expeditionary Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. It was responsible for all military operations in China, and at its peak had over 1 million soldiers under its command. In military literature, it is often referred to by the initials CEA.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Contents

Early life

Born in Tokyo in 1884, Okamura enrolled in Sakamachi Elementary School and graduated eight years later. In 1897, he entered Waseda Junior High School. In 1898, he was transferred to Tokyo Junior Army School, and was transferred to Army Central Junior School later. Okamura entered the 16th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1899 and graduated in 1904. His classmates included the future generals Itagaki Seishiro, Kenji Doihara and Ando Rikichi. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the IJA 1st Infantry Regiment.

Tokyo Capital of Japan

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.

Imperial Japanese Army Academy Japanese military academy (1874-1945)

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.

Kenji Doihara Japanese general

Kenji Doihara was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. He was instrumental in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria for which he earned fame taking the nickname "Lawrence of Manchuria," a reference to Lawrence of Arabia. However, according to Jamie Bisher, the flattering sobriquet was rather misapplied, as that Colonel T.E. Lawrence had fought to liberate, not to oppress people. In a war fiction by Roger J. Spiller, Lieutenant-General Ishiwara Kanji, his military chief in Manchuria, said that his heavy addiction to opium contributed to his unreliability as an army officer.

In 1910, Okamura entered the 25th class of the Army War College, and was promoted to captain soon after graduation in 1913. He served in a number of staff positions on the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff during and after World War I. He moved briefly to China in the early 1920s, and served as a military advisor to Chinese warlord general Sun Chuanfang, in this capacity, he gathered many vital information and war maps, which later were used in the military operations of the Second Sino-Japanese War. [2]

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.

A warlord is a leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a sovereign state due to their ability to mobilize loyal armed forces. These armed forces, usually considered militias, are loyal to the warlord rather than to the state regime. Warlords have existed throughout much of history, albeit in a variety of different capacities within the political, economic, and social structure of states or ungoverned territories.

Sun Chuanfang Chinese politician

Sun Chuanfang a.k.a. the "Nanking Warlord" or leader of the "League of Five Provinces" was a Zhili clique warlord and protégé of the "Jade Marshal" Wu Peifu (1874–1939).

From 1932 to 1933, Okamura was Vice chief-of-staff of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army under the aegis of the Kwantung Army. According to Okamura's own memoirs, he played a role in the recruitment of comfort women from Nagasaki prefecture to serve in military brothels in Shanghai. He also served as military attaché to Manchukuo from 1933-1934.

Shanghai Expeditionary Army

The Shanghai Expeditionary Army was a corps-level ad hoc Japanese army in the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Kwantung Army military unit

The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō, were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

Comfort women Forced prostitutes for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. Controversy over and protest against the term remain, especially from surviving women and the nations from which they were taken, about how wrong it is to continue referring to the women as "comfort women" when in fact they were "sex slaves."

Okamura was promoted to lieutenant general in 1936, and assigned command of the IJA 2nd Division. [3]

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.

2nd Division (Imperial Japanese Army) infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army

The 2nd Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō was Courageous Division.

Second Sino-Japanese War

In 1938, a year after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Okamura was assigned as the commander in chief of the Japanese Eleventh Army, which participated in numerous major engagements in the Second Sino-Japanese War, notably the Battles of Wuhan, Nanchang and Changsha. [4] According to historians Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Seiya Matsuno, Okamura was authorized by Emperor Hirohito to use chemical weapons during those battles. [5]

Marco Polo Bridge Incident initial battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, also known by Lugou Bridge Incident or Double-Seven Incident, was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is widely considered to have been the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

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.

Battle of Wuhan large-scale battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War over 4 months in 1938

The Battle of Wuhan, popularly known to the Chinese as the Defense of Wuhan, and to the Japanese as the Capture of Wuhan, was a large-scale battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Engagements took place across vast areas of Anhui, Henan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Hubei provinces over a period of four and a half months. This battle was the longest, largest and arguably the most significant battle in the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War. More than one million National Revolutionary Army troops from the Fifth and Ninth War Zone were put under the direct command of Chiang Kai-shek, defending Wuhan from the Central China Area Army of the Imperial Japanese Army led by Shunroku Hata. Chinese forces were also supported by the Soviet Volunteer Group, a group of volunteer pilots from the Soviet Air Forces.

In April 1940, Okamura was promoted to the rank of full general. In July 1941, he was appointed the commander-in-chief of the Northern China Area Army. In December 1941, Okamura received Imperial General Headquarters Order Number 575 authorizing the implementation of the Three Alls Policy in north China, aimed primarily at breaking the Chinese Red Army. According to historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta, the scorched earth campaign was responsible for the deaths of "more than 2.7 million" Chinese civilians. [6]

In 1944, Okamura was overall commander of the massive and largely successful Operation Ichigo against airfields in southern China, while retaining personal command of the Japanese Sixth Area Army. A few months later, he was appointed the commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army. As late as January 1945, Okamura was still confident of the victory of Japan in China. [7]

Okamura (fourth from right) during the surrender of Japan in Nanjing Surrender of Japan in Nanjing - Japanese delegation.jpg
Okamura (fourth from right) during the surrender of Japan in Nanjing

With the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945, Okamura represented the Imperial Japanese Army in the China Burma India Theater official surrender ceremony held at Nanjing on 9 September 1945.

General Okamura is the first confirmed senior officer in the Japanese army who instituted forced prostitution. Widely known as the system of "comfort women". His order can be traced back to 1932 with documentation of Japanese Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji’s proposal for a “shipment” of comfort women to be sent to Shanghai.

War crimes and post-war life

After the war, Okamura was found not guilty of any war crimes in January 1949 by the Shanghai War Crimes Tribunal. [8] Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek then retained him as a military adviser for the Nationalist Government. [9]

While he was questioned by the investigators, he testified about the Nanking massacre:

"I surmised the following based on what I heard from Staff Officer Miyazaki, CCAA Special Service Department Chief Harada and Hangzhou Special Service Department Chief Hagiwara a day or two after I arrived in Shanghai. First, it is true that tens of thousands of acts of violence, such as looting and rape, took place against civilians during the assault on Nanking. Second, front-line troops indulged in the evil practice of executing POWs on the pretext of (lacking) rations." [10]

Okamura returned to Japan in 1949 and died in 1966.

Notes

  1. Sarah Paine, The Wars For Asia, 1911-1949
  2. Sarah Paine, The Wars For Asia, 1911-1949
  3. Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
  4. Chen, World War II Database
  5. Yoshimi and Matsuno, Dokugasusen Kankei Shiryô II (Material on Toxic Gas Warfare), Kaisetsu, 1997, p.25-29
  6. Himeta, Mitsuyoshi (姫田光義) (日本軍による『三光政策・三光作戦をめぐって』) (Concerning the Three Alls Strategy/Three Alls Policy By the Japanese Forces), Iwanami Bukkuretto, 1996, Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, 2000
  7. Hans van de Ven, China at War, 2017
  8. https://zh.m.wikisource.org/wiki/國防部審判戰犯軍事法庭判決三十八年度審字第二十八號
  9. Kent G. Budge. "Okamura Yasutsuga (1884-1966)". Pacific War Online Encyclopedia.
  10. Akira Fujiwara, Bob Wakabayashi (2007). The Nanking Atrocity 1937-1938 : Complicating the Picture. Berghan Books.

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References

Books

Military offices
Preceded by
Yoshijirō Umezu
Commander, 2nd Division
March 1936-June 1938
Succeeded by
Tōji Yasui
Preceded by
post created
Commander, Eleventh Army
June 1938-March 1940
Succeeded by
Waichirō Sonobe
Preceded by
Hideki Tojo
Military Councillor
March 1940-July 1941
Succeeded by
Kenji Doihara
Preceded by
Hayao Tada
Commander, North China Area Army
July 1941 – August 1944
Succeeded by
Naozaburo Okabe
Preceded by
post created
Commander, Sixth Area Army
August 1944-November 1944
Succeeded by
Naozaburo Okabe
Preceded by
Shunroku Hata
Commander-in-Chief, China Expeditionary Army
November 1944–August 1945
Succeeded by
none