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Masaharu Homma
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Military Personnel
    (November 27, 1887-April 3, 1946)
    Born in Sado, Japan
    Commanded the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 27th Division in China (1938-40), the Taiwan Army District (1940-41) and the IJA 14th Army (1941-43)
    Commanded the invasion of the Philippines (1941-42)
    Convicted by a US military tribunal of war crimes
    Executed by firing squad
    He was appointed by the IJA to investigate the Rape of Nanking, and publicly declared that nothing unusual had happened (1938).
    He was criticized by his superiors for failing to anticipate General Douglas MacArthur retreating his army to Bataan.
    He repeatedly had trouble maintaining control over his soldiers.
    He was in charge during the Bataan Death March, in which 11,000 Filipino and American POWs died (April, 1942).
    During his war crimes trial, he claimed he was completely unaware of the atrocities until after the war, which the prosecution demonstrated was highly improbable given the proximity of his headquaters to the route of the march.
    He spent eight years in England as a military attache, including combat in France with the British Expeditionary Force during WWI.
    When he tried to outmaneuver American forces in the Philippines rather than launch frontal assaults, his superiors complained that he had been 'contaminated' by Western ideas and was placing too much value on the lives of his men.
    He was also criticized for ordering his men to treat the Filipinos not as enemies but as friends, and to respect their customs and religion.
    He was not in direct command of the Bataan Death March, since at the time he was occupied with preparing for the assault on Corregidor.
    Largely due to a lack of evidence that he was directly responsible for the attrocities, MacArthur changed his sentence from death by hanging to the more honorable death by firing squad.

Credit: C. Fishel


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