John Deane Potter
This misleading profile tells of the successful Japanese general who took Singapore in World War Two. As the author tells of that campaign, he is incredulous.
General Tomoyuki Yamashite had an ignominious post at the end of the War. He was in charge of the Philippines. His Japanese predecessor had taken a relaxed view of occupation with the Phillipines, but Yamashite had made his regime much more Japanese. It is this section of the book which needs more detail(extra chapters) and less speculation by the author who resorts to trial transcripts and to newspaper articles. Yamashite was tried as a war criminal for “declaring” Manila “an open city” and letting a much smaller Japanese naval force fight and destroy the city. The Americans and Filipinos had to fight their way in to clean out the city and to liberate it. Manila was the most destroyed city of World War Two except for Warsaw.
The author fails to understand an oral order of a commanding general need not be obeyed. The naval forces had an independent command structure. I wonder who saluted who in the Japanese military. After giving the “Manila open city” order, Yamashite went to a remote mountain resort where he began his last nine-month stand. During that time did he reissue his order? Did he bring the Navy’s insubordination to anyone’s attention in Japan? Did he inform the allies of his order? An “open city order” allows one military force to move out and another moves in. The Allies had to fight their way in.
While in the mountains Yamashite claimed he knew nothing about the massacre of 60,000 Filipinos. Yamashite claims he orally told his troops to be nice to native populations. Were there any written orders? Certainly, nothing that could be taken to Japan and shown to the Emperor. It seems, as the author skirts along, that Yamashite knew the sadistic attitudes of his junior officers and draftees. They killed – he let them go apeshit.
No orders – I was following Orders – I did not know what was happening. In 1945 war did not permit wholesale ethnic cleansing which arose from Yamashite’s orders, from his inaction or from his inattention. And the author: It is a pathetic writing to defend action weighing on the wrong scale of justice, someone who oversaw atrocities against civilians and the destruction of their capital city.