Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Homma Masaharu (1887–1946)

Japanese army general. Born on Sado Island in Niigata Province on 27 November 1887, Homma Masaharu graduated from the Military Academy in 1907 and the War College in 1915. In 1918, during World War I, he was posted as an observer with the British army on the Western Front. During the 1920s, Homma had tours as an instructor at the War College, resident officer in India, General Staff officer, and aide-de-camp to Prince Chichibu, Emperor Hirohito's younger brother.

Promoted to colonel in 1930, Homma served as military attaché to Great Britain from 1930 to 1932. On his return to Japan, Homma authored Tokyo's response to the Lytton Commission's report on Japanese aggression in Manchuria. He subsequently held regimental, brigade, and divisional commands. He was promoted to major general in 1935. He also headed the army's Intelligence Bureau in 1937 and 1938. Promoted to lieutenant general in 1938, in December 1940 Homma assumed command of the Formosa army.

On 2 November 1941, as war against the western powers loomed, Imperial Headquarters entrusted Homma with the 43,000-man Fourteenth Army and the task of conquering the Philippines in only 50 days. Although the Fourteenth Army achieved victory, a variety of factors—including U.S. and Filipino resistance, Homma's failure to anticipate an American-Filipino withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula on Luzon, and his hesitancy to push his forces—resulted in the campaign lasting four months longer than anticipated.

Homma's inability to conclude the Philippine Campaign within the established time frame and his leniency toward the Filipino people discredited him in the eyes of his superiors, who relieved him from command in August 1942. Transferred to Tokyo, Homma spent the rest of the war on the reserve list.

At the war's conclusion, U.S. authorities arrested Homma and charged him with war crimes including the Bataan Death March. Tried and convicted by the U.S. Military Commission in Manila, he was sentenced to death. Homma was executed by firing squad at Los Baños in the Philippines on 3 April 1946.

Bruce J. DeHart


Further Reading
Morton, Louis. United States Army in World War II: War in the Pacific: The Fall of the Philippines. Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1953.; Swinson, Arthur. Four Samurai: A Quartet of Japanese Army Commanders in World War II. London: Hutchinson, 1968.
 

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