Mitsuru Ushijima was a Japanese general who served during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. He was the commanding general of the 32nd Army, which fought in the Battle of Okinawa during the final stages of the war. Ushijima's troops were defeated, at the end of the battle he committed suicide. Ushijima was a native of Kagoshima city in Kagoshima prefecture on the island of Kyūshū in southern Japan, he graduated from the 20th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1908 and of the 28th class of the Army Staff College in 1916. Soon after graduation, he was assigned to the Japanese Expeditionary Force based at Vladivostok during the Siberian Intervention against Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War. From 1933 to 1936, Ushijima served in administrative postings within the War Ministry, he was appointed commander of the IJA 1st Infantry Regiment from 1936 to 1937. With the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ushijima was promoted to major general and appointed commander of the IJA 36th Infantry Brigade.
He was recalled to Japan in 1938 to become Commandant of the Toyama Army Infantry School. In 1939, he was promoted to lieutenant general and again given a field command as general officer commanding the IJA 11th Division in central China, participating in many battles in China and Burma. Ushijima returned to Japan in 1941, serving a year as the Commandant of the Non-commissioned Officers Academy. From 1942 to 1944, he was Commandant of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy; as the war situation continued to deteriorate for the Japanese in the Pacific War, Ushijima was sent to Okinawa to take command of the newly formed 120,000 man 32nd Army, charged with the defense of the Ryukyu Islands against American invasion. The 32nd Army consisted of the IJA 9th Division, IJA 24th Division, the IJA 62nd Division, the 44th Independent Brigade; the 9th Division was transferred to Taiwan prior to the American invasion. Ushijima commanded all Japanese forces in the southern portion of the Okinawa main island from his headquarters in Shuri Castle in Naha.
He led a skillful defense of the island despite disagreements between his second in command, General Isamu Cho, his chief of staff, Colonel Hiromichi Yahara. After an offensive action urged by Cho led to a near massacre of the attacking Japanese troops by superior American firepower, Ushijima adopted the defensive attrition tactics urged by Yahara. After the turning of the Shuri Line by the American forces, he led a successful withdrawal of his troops to the extreme south of the island; this defensive line did not meet with the same success, became a fragmented grouping of isolated defensive positions. Ushijima and Cho retreated to Hill 89 at the south coast; the command and control of the remnants of the 32nd Army soon deteriorated as communication with the last defensive positions was cut. Record numbers of Japanese prisoners surrendered. Ushijima refused a personal plea from the American General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. to surrender. Instead, hearing the sounds of the systematic destruction of positions nearby on Hill 89, Ushijima and General Cho committed ritual suicide, or seppuku, disemboweling himself with a sacred knife just before one of his adjutants decapitated him with a saber.
Yahara was the most senior officer captured by American forces, the most senior to survive the battle. Yahara had asked Ushijima for permission to commit suicide, but the general refused his request, saying, "If you die there will be no one left who knows the truth about the battle of Okinawa. Bear the temporary shame but endure it; this is an order from your army commander." Yahara authored a book entitled The Battle for Okinawa, describing Ushijima's last moments. The bodies of Ushijima, his chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Isamu Cho, were buried under U. S. military auspices on 27 June 1945 near the cave where they died in the last hours of fighting on Okinawa. "The bodies of the two Japanese generals were lowered into graves above their cave headquarters, sealed during the American flag service."Ushijima was described as a humane man who discouraged his senior officers from striking his subordinates, as was their right in the Imperial Japanese Army, disliked displays of anger because he considered it a base emotion.
Fuller, Richard. Shokan: Hirohito's Samurai. London: Arms and Armor. ISBN 1-85409-151-4. Hayashi, Saburo. Quantico, VA: The Marine Corps Association. Toland, John; the Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945. Random House. ISBN 0-8129-6858-1. Yahara, Hiromichi; the Battle for Okinawa. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-18080-7. Ammenthorp, Steen. "Ushijima Mitsuru, General". The Generals of World War II. Budge, Kent. "Ushijima, Mitsuru". Pacific War Online Encyclopedia. Chen, Peter. "Ushijima, Mitsuru". WW2 Database
Isamu Chō was an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army known for his support of ultranationalist politics and involvement in a number of attempted coup d'états in pre-World War II Japan. Chō was a native of Fukuoka prefecture, he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1916 and from the Army Staff College in 1928. After he received his commission, Chō was assigned to his first duty outside Japan with the politicized Kwantung Army based in eastern China, he returned to play a active role in internal politics within the Japanese army, was an active or indirect participant in the March Incident and the Imperial Colors Incident. He was a founder of the radical "Sakurakai" secret society, whose aim was to overthrow the democratic government in favor of a state socialist regime which would stamp out corruption. At the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chō was commander of the IJA 74th Infantry Regiment of the Shanghai Expeditionary Force, attached to Japanese Central China Area Army, based in Manchukuo.
At the Battle of Nanjing, he was aide-de-camp to Prince Asaka and is thought to have been complicit in ordering the massacre of prisoners of war, but it is disputed whether he disobeyed an order from the prince, or whether he acted on his own. Chō was subsequently involved in a number of border incidents between Manchukuo and the Soviet Union as Chief of Staff of the IJA 26th Division from 1939 to 1940. In 1940 he was transferred to the Taiwan Army of Japan Headquarters, became Chief of Staff of the Indochina Expeditionary Army from 1940 to 1941. Chō was Vice Chief of Staff of Unit 82 within the Military Affairs Bureau, in the Ministry of War in 1941, participated in the strategic and tactical planning for the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia. From 1941 to 1942 he accompanied the Southern Army to French Indochina to oversee implementation of Japanese strategy, served as a liaison officer between the Southern Army and the 14th Army in the Philippines. From 1942 until 1944 Chō was commander of the 10th Infantry Group of the IJA 10th Division, a garrison force based in Manchukuo.
He served in the Kwangtung Army Headquarters, as commander of the 1st Mobile Brigade. In late 1944, Chō was recalled from Manchuria to the Home Islands to Okinawa. Shortly before the battle in March 1945, he was promoted to lieutenant general, he was Chief of Staff of the 32nd Army during the Battle of Okinawa. He masterminded the elaborate underground fortifications around Shuri Castle, but favored a aggressive response to the American invasion rather than a passive defense, he persuaded General Mitsuru Ushijima to launch the disastrous 5 May 1945 counteroffensive. He committed seppuku—suicide—alongside Ushijima on 22 June 1945 rather than surrender to the American forces, he was described as a quick tempered, offensive man, known to slap junior officers when angry or frustrated. Ammenthorp, Steen. "Cho, Isamu". The Generals of World War II. Budge, Kent. "Cho, Isamu". Pacific War Online Encyclopedia. "The Way Out". Time. 1945-07-09. Retrieved 2008-08-10
Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The island is 70 miles long and an average 7 miles wide, has an area of 1,206.98 square kilometers. It is 640 kilometres south of the rest of Japan and 500 km north of Taiwan; the Greater Naha area, home to the prefectural seat of Okinawa Prefecture on the southwestern part of Okinawa Island, has 800,000 of the island's 1.423 million residents, while the city itself is home to about 320,000. Okinawa has been a critical strategic location for the United States Armed Forces since the end of World War II; the island hosts around 26,000 US military personnel, about half of the total complement of the United States Forces Japan, spread among 32 bases and 48 training sites. US bases in Okinawa played critical roles in the Korean War, Vietnam War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War; the presence of the US military in Okinawa has caused political controversy both on the island and elsewhere in Japan. Okinawa's population is among the longest living peoples in the world.
Residents have less cancer, heart disease and dementia than Americans, while Okinawan women live longer than anywhere else on Earth. Early Okinawan history is defined by midden or shell heap culture, is divided into Early and Late Shell Mound periods; the Early Shell Mound period was a hunter-gatherer society, with wave-like opening Jōmon pottery. In the latter part of this period, archaeological sites moved near the seashore, suggesting the engagement of people in fishing. In Okinawa, rice was not cultivated until the Middle Shell Mound period. Shell rings for arms made of shells obtained in the Sakishima Islands, namely Miyakojima and Yaeyama islands, were imported by Japan. In these islands, the presence of shell axes, 2500 years ago, suggests the influence of a southeastern-Pacific culture. After the Late Shell Mound period, agriculture started about the 12th century, with the center moving from the seashore to higher places; this period is called the Gusuku period. Gusuku is the term used for the distinctive Ryukyuan form of fortresses.
Many gusukus and related cultural remains in the Ryukyu Islands have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites under the title Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu. There are three perspectives regarding the nature of gusukus: 1) a holy place, 2) dwellings encircled by stones, 3) a castle of a leader of people. In this period, porcelain trade between Okinawa and other countries became busy, Okinawa became an important relay point in eastern-Asian trade. Ryukyuan kings, such as Shunten and Eiso, were important rulers. An attempted Mongolian invasion in 1291 during the Eiso Dynasty ended in failure. Hiragana was imported from Japan by Ganjin in 1265. Noro, village priestesses of the Ryukyuan religion, appeared; the Sanzan period began in 1314, when the kingdoms of Hokuzan and Nanzan declared independence from Chūzan. The three kingdoms competed with one another for trade with Ming China. King Satto, leading Chūzan, was successful, establishing relations with Korea and Southeast Asia as well as China.
The Hongwu Emperor sent 36 families from Fujian in 1392 at the request of the Ryukyuan King. Their job was to manage maritime dealings in the kingdom. Many Ryukyuan officials were descended from these Chinese immigrants, being born in China or having Chinese ancestors, they assisted the Ryukyuans in developing diplomatic relations. In 1407, however, a man named Hashi overthrew Satto's descendant, King Bunei, installed his own father, Shishō, as king of Chūzan. After his father died, Hashi became king, the Xuande Emperor of China gave him the surname "Shō". In 1429, King Shō Hashi completed the unification of the three kingdoms and founded the Ryūkyū Kingdom with its capital at Shuri Castle, his descendants would conquer the Amami Islands. In 1469, King Shō Taikyū died, so the royal government chose a man named Kanemaru as the new king, who chose the name Shō En and established the Second Shō Dynasty, his son, Shō Shin would conquer the Sakishima Islands and centralize the royal government, the military, the noro priestesses.
In 1609, the Japanese domain of Satsuma launched an invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom capturing the king and his capital after a long struggle. Ryukyu was forced to become a vassal of Satsuma; the kingdom became both a tributary of Japan. Because China would not make a formal trade agreement unless a country was a tributary state, the kingdom was a convenient loophole for Japanese trade with China; when Japan closed off trade with European nations except the Dutch, Nagasaki and Kagoshima became the only Japanese trading ports offering connections with the outside world. A number of Europeans visited Ryukyu starting in the late 18th century; the most important visits to Okinawa were from Captain Basil Chamberlain in 1816 and Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852. A Christian missionary, Bernard Jean Bettelheim, lived in the Gokoku-ji temple in Naha from 1846 to 1854. In 1879, Japan annexed the entire Ryukyu archipelago; the Meiji government established Okinawa Prefecture. The monarchy in Shuri was abolished and the deposed king Shō Tai was forced to relocate to Tokyo.
Hostility against Japan increased in the islands after the annexation in part because of the systematic attempt on the part of Japan to eliminate Ryukyuan culture, including the language and cultural practices. The island of Okinawa was the site of most of the ground warfare in
Military history of Japan
The military history of Japan is characterized by a period of clan warfare that lasted until the 12th century AD. This was followed by feudal wars that culminated in military governments known as the "Shogunate". Feudal militarism transitioned to imperial militarism in the 19th century after the landings of Admiral Perry and the elevation of the Meiji Emperor; this led to rampant imperialism until Japan's defeat by the Allies in World War II. The Occupation of Japan marks the inception of modern Japanese military history, with the drafting of a new Constitution prohibiting the ability to wage war against other nations. Recent archaeological research has uncovered traces of wars as far back as the Jōmon period between the various tribes existing on the Japanese archipelago; some theorists believe that shortly after the Yayoi period horse riders from the Korean Peninsula invaded southern Kyūshū spread to northern Honshū. At this time, horse-riding and iron tools were first introduced to the islands.
Near the end of the Jōmon period and towns became surrounded by moats and wooden fences due to increasing violence within or between communities. Battles were fought with weapons like the sword, sling and bow and arrow; some human remains have been found with arrow wounds. Bronze goods and bronze-making techniques from the Asian mainland reached what is now Japan as early as the 3rd century BC, it is believed that bronze and iron implements and weapons were introduced to Japan near the end of this time. Archaeological findings suggest that bronze and iron weapons were not used for war until starting at the beginning of the Yamato period, as the metal weapons found with human remains do not show wear consistent with use as weapons; the transition from the Jōmon to Yayoi, to the Yamato period, is to have been characterized by violent struggle as the natives were soon displaced by the invaders and their vastly superior military technology. Historian John Kuehn believes that a possible "partial genocide" of Japan's aboriginal people occurred during this period.
Around this time, San Guo Zhi first referred to the nation of "Wa". According to this work, Wa was "divided into more than 100 tribes", for some 70 or 80 years there were many disturbances and wars. About 30 communities had been united by a sorceress-queen named Himiko, she sent an emissary named Nashime with a tribute of slaves and cloth to Daifang in China, establishing diplomatic relations with Cao Wei. By the end of the 4th century, the Yamato clan was well established on the Nara plain with considerable control over the surrounding areas; the Five kings of Wa sent envoys to China to recognize their dominion of the Japanese Islands. The Nihon Shoki states that the Yamato were strong enough to have sent an army against the powerful state of Goguryeo. Yamato Japan had close relations with the southwestern Korean kingdom of Baekje. In 663, supporting Baekje, was defeated by the allied forces of Tang China and Silla, at the Battle of Hakusonko in the Korean peninsula; as a result, the Japanese were banished from the peninsula.
To defend the Japanese archipelago, a military base was constructed in Fukuoka, on Kyushu. Ancient Japan had close ties with the Gaya confederacy in the Korean Peninsula, as well as with the Korean kingdom of Baekje. Gaya, where there was an abundance of occurring iron, exported abundant quantities of iron armor and weapons to Wa, there may have been a Japanese military post there with Gaya and Baekje cooperation. In 552, the ruler of Baekje appealed to Yamato for help against the neighboring Silla. Along with his emissaries to the Yamato court, the Baekje king sent bronze images of Buddha, some Buddhist scriptures, a letter praising Buddhism; these gifts triggered a powerful burst of interest in Buddhism. In 663, near the end of the Korean Three Kingdoms period, the Battle of Baekgang took place; the Nihon Shoki records that Yamato sent 32,000 troops and 1,000 ships to support Baekje against the Silla-Tang force. However, these ships were defeated by a Silla-Tang fleet. Baekje, without aid and surrounded by Tang forces on land, collapsed.
Silla, now viewing Wa Japan as a hostile rival, prevented Japan from having any further meaningful contact with the Korean Peninsula until a far time. The Japanese turned directly to China. In many ways, the Nara period was the beginning of Japanese culture, it was in this period that Buddhism, the Chinese writing system, a codified system of laws made their appearance. The country was unified and centralized, with basic features of the feudal system. Much of the discipline and armor of the samurai came to be during this period, as techniques of mounted archery and spear fighting were adopted and developed. Succession disputes were prevalent during this period, just as in most of the periods; the Nara period saw the appointment of Ōtomo no Otomaro. The Heian Period marks a crucial shift, away from a state, united in relative peace against outside threats to one that did not fear invasion and, focused on internal division and clashes between ruling factions of samurai clans, over political power and control of the line of succession to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
With the exception of the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, Japan did not face a considerable outside threat until the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. Thus, pre-modern Japanese military history is defined not by wars with other states, but by internal conflicts; the tactics of the samurai of th