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The Execution of Masaharu Homma

The Execution of Masaharu Homma took place on April 3, 1946. He was convicted for war crimes relating to the actions of his troops under his direct command. Homma was a lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. He commanded the Japanese 14th army which invaded the Philippines and perpetrated the Bataan Death March on April 9, 1942.

With the start of the Pacific War, Homma was named commander of the 43,110-man IJA 14th Army and tasked with the invasion of the Philippines. He ordered his troops to treat the Filipinos not as enemies but as friends, and respect their customs and religion.

In one instance, on his approach to Manila, Homma stopped his columns and ordered the men to clean up and tighten formations, knowing that unkempt soldiers are more likely to loot and rape.

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Bataan Death March – April 9, 1942

This liberal approach towards Filipino civilians earned him the enmity of his superior, General Count Hisaichi Terauchi, commander of the Southern Army, who sent adverse reports about Homma to Tokyo from his headquarters in Saigon. There was also a growing subversion within Homma’s command by a small group of insubordinates, under the influence of Colonel Tsuji Masanobu. In Homma’s name, they sent out secret orders against his policies, including ordering the execution of Filipino Chief Justice José Abad Santos and attempted execution of former Speaker of the House of Representatives Manuel Roxas, which Homma found out about in time to stop.

After the surrender of Japan in mid-September 1945, the American occupation authorities arrested Homma and extradited him to the Philippines where he was tried by an American tribunal on 48 counts of violating international rules of war relating to the atrocities committed by troops under his command during the Bataan Death March.

On February 11, 1946, Homma was convicted of all counts and sentenced, “…to be shot to death with musketry”. Homma was executed by firing squad by American forces on April 3, 1946, outside Manila.

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