Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Terauchi Hisaichi (Count) (1879–1946)

Japanese army field marshal and commander of the Southern Expeditionary Army. Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Japanese island of Honshu on 8 August 1879, Terauchi Hisaichi was the eldest son of a prominent Meiji-era general, Count Terauchi Masatake, who was prime minister of Japan between 1917 and 1918. Terauchi graduated from the Military Academy in 1899 and the War College in 1903. He was appointed assistant military attaché in Austria in 1911, regimental commander of the 3rd Imperial Guards in 1919, chief of staff of the Imperial Guards Division in 1922, commander of the 19th Infantry Brigade in 1924, and chief of staff of the Korea Army in 1927. Promoted to lieutenant general in August 1929, he commanded the Imperial Garrison Unit in 1929 and then the 5th Division in August 1930. In January 1932, he took command of the 4th Division, and in August 1934, he became Formosa Army commander. In October 1935, he was promoted to full general.

A prominent member of the Control Faction, Terauchi served as minister of war in the Hirota Koki cabinet (March 1936–January 1937) and was one of the leading figures in the ouster of Hirota. He next served as inspector general of military training (1937), North China Area Army commander (1937–1938), and military counselor (1938–1941). In November 1941, he took command of the Southern Expeditionary Army, which, at the start of the Pacific war, conquered the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, and the Netherlands East Indies (December 1941–May 1942). He subsequently became responsible for the defense of an area extending from Burma to western New Guinea. Promoted to the honorary rank of field marshal in June 1943 and briefly considered to succeed Tojo Hideki as prime minister in July 1944, Terauchi commanded the Southern Expeditionary Army until September 1945, the only senior general in the Japanese army to hold the same post throughout the war.

As a commander, Terauchi was essentially a coordinator who typically allowed subordinate officers great latitude in the conduct of operations. He also carried out his orders to the letter—for example, in his ruthless 1942–1943 execution of an order to construct the infamous, 265-mile "railway of death" linking the Thai and Burmese rail systems.

Thanks to the intervention of Lord Louis Mountbatten, Allied supreme commander in Southeast Asia, Terauchi, who had suffered a debilitating stroke in April 1945, avoided prosecution as a war criminal. Allowed to settle near Johore Bahru, Malaya, he died there on 12 June 1946.

Bruce J. DeHart


Further Reading
Fuller, Richard. Shokan: Hirohito's Samurai. London: Arms and Armour, 1992.; Hayashi, Saburo. Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1959.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  X
  Y
  Z
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer