Japanese General Masaharu Homma was in charge of the invasion of the Philippines at the start of World War II. The mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war and Bataan death march must be laid at his feet because even though none of it was his intent, he still presided over the disorganization and lack of discipline among his troops that led to it.
As for his his treatment of civilians he was under constant pressure from Tokyo to crack down on dissent and generally rule with an iron fist. This was not in his nature as he believed Japan needed the cooperation of the Filipinos and he saw first hand that brutality would only harden their loyalty to the United States in general, and Douglas McArthur in particular.
Perhaps the final straw came when, in keeping with his nature and beliefs, he allowed a Filipino band to march in the Japanese victory parade through the streets of Manila. The crowd that lined the streets were sullen, but other than that things went fine. That is until the band approached the viewing stand packed with Japanese dignitaries whereupon they broke into a rendition of “The Stars and Stripes”. This ignited a joyous reaction from the crowd and Homma being relieved of duty.
For his troubles, he was executed by firing squad for his role in the treatment of allied prisoners of war. He was certainly overwhelmed as the Americans and their Filipino allies fought longer and harder than expected, and his best troops were reassigned before the job was done. But in the end, he was in charge.
© Glenn R Keller 2022, All Rights Reserved
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