Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016, 14:29:11

Imperial visit, The Battle of Manila and Japanese warcrimes .

The article in Japan Times by P. Brasor about the Imperial remembrance and the battle of Manila is as shallow as usual.

The fact is that  no real battle about Manila took place, since General Yamashita had withdrawn his main forces to Baguio, where he planned to hold back the Filipino and U.S. forces in northern Luzon, poised for the invasion of Japan. Yamashita had three main groups, 80,000 in the Shimbu Group were in the mountains east of Manila, 30,000 in the Kembu Group were in the hills north of Manila, and 152,000 in the Shobu Group were in northeast Luzon.

The 35,000 US troops and 3,000 Filipino guerrillas around and in Manila only faced 12,500 Japanese Sailors and Marines and 4,500 Soldiers.

In 1941, Genera MacAthur had declared Manila an open city before its capture. Although Yamashita had not done so in 1945, he had not intended to defend Manila; he did not think that he could feed the one million city residents and defend a large area with vast tracts of flammable wooden buildings. Gen. Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, Gen. Yokoyama Shizuo, to evacuate the city and destroy all bridges and other vital installations as soon as any large American forces made their appearance.

However,Rear Admiral Iwabuchi , commander of the 31st Naval Special Base Force, was committed to following the naval program, rather than the army program of abandoning the city. Prior to being promoted to Admiral, Iwabuchi had commanded the battleship Kirishima in 1942 when she was sunk by the US Navy  off Guadalcanal.

Iwabuchi had 12,500 men under his command, designated the Manila Naval defence Force and was joined by 4500 army personnel under the command of Col. Katsuzo Noguchi and Capt. Saburo Abe. They built defensive positions in the city, cut down the palm trees on Dewey Blvd. to form a runway, and set up barricades across major streets. Iwabuchi formed the Northern Force under Noguchi, and the Southern Force under Capt. Takusue Furuse.

Before the battle began, he issued an address to his men which went:

"We are very glad and grateful for the opportunity of being able to serve our country in this epic battle. Now, with what strength remains, we will daringly engage the enemy. Banzai to the Emperor! We are determined to fight to the last man."

Early on February 6, General MacArthur announced "Manila had fallen". But the battle for Manila had barely begun and lasted until March 3.

Iwabuchi's sailors, marines and some Army reinforcements, having initially successfully resisted American infantrymen armed with flamethrowers and bazookas , faced direct fire from tanks, tank destroyers, and howitzers , who attacked one building after another and killed the Japanese—and many trapped civilians—inside, without differentiation.

Iwabuchi was ordered by Gen.Shizuo Yokoyama , commander of the Shimbu Group, to break out of Manila on the night of 17–18 February, in coordination with counter-attacks on Novaliches Dam and Grace Park. The breakout failed and Iwabuchi's remaining 6000 men were trapped in Manila. He commited seppuku Feb. 26 1945 and  the destruction of Manila, a quarter of a million civilian casualties, and the subsequent vengeful execution of General Yamashita after the war was the result. 1,010 Americans, 16,665 Japanese and 100,000 to 500,000 civilians were killed.

 

By

Gabor Fabricius

 

 

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