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 Tomoyuki “The Tiger of Malaya” Yamashita

Tomoyuki “The Tiger of Malaya” Yamashita

Kōchi, Japan
Death 23 Feb 1946 (aged 60)
Laguna Province, CALABARZON, Philippines
Burial Fuchu City, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Memorial ID 20538 · View Source
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Japanese army general. He distinguished himself as the "Tiger of Malaya" during World War II. Yamashita was the son of a physician, who started the child in a military career. At the military academy he was a year junior to his lifetime rival, Hideki Tojo, and graduated at the head of his class. By 1932, when only 47, he became section chief of military affairs in the War Ministry and was earmarked as an eventual war minister or even premier. He was one of the generals admired by a fanatical group of radical young officers, called the Imperial Way faction, who carried out an abortive coup d'etat on Feb. 26, 1936. Although Yamashita, then a major general, refused to go along with the plot, he came under such a cloud of suspicion that he almost retired but instead took an assignment in Korea. This actually put him in an advantageous position when the China incident of July 1937 broke out, and he distinguished himself in action so well that he was promoted to lieutenant general and placed in charge of North Korea. Meanwhile, Gen. Tojo, whose control faction had benefited from the Imperial Way faction's demise, again began to fear Yamashita's revived popularity and finally got him transferred to an isolated Manchurian outpost in 1941. But when Japan entered the Second World War, Yamashita was placed in charge of the 25th Army and dramatically took Singapore by a surprise attack through Malaya. The British commander, Lt. Gen. Percival, surrendered to him in February 1942, and Yamashita was made a full general. Jealous of Yamashita's fame, Tojo quickly transferred him to the quiet Manchurian border until October 1944, when Yamashita took full command of all the Imperial forces in the Philippines, as the Allies relentlessly moved in. On Sept. 2, 1945, he surrendered his sword at Bagio to the representatives of the Allied forces, among whom was Gen. Percival. By direction of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Yamashita was almost immediately put on trial as the one responsible for the last-minute wild massacres by Japanese troops in Manila, establishing a principle of responsibility the implications of which frightened a number of American officers. As a result of this trial, Yamashita was hanged. He is remembered in Japan as a military leader whose personal career was victimized by that very factionalism in the military that had so much to do with dragging Japan into the euphoria of war and the humiliation and suffering of defeat.

Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 28 Feb 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20538
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Tomoyuki “The Tiger of Malaya” Yamashita (8 Nov 1885–23 Feb 1946), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20538, citing Tama Cemetery, Fuchu City, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan ; Maintained by Find A Grave .