General Yamashita Tomoyuki (山下 奉文) was a general of the Japanese Army.
He was born in Kochi on 8 November 1885. After passing the Cadet's Academy in 1905, he attended to the military staff college between 1913 and 1916. In the War Ministry, he promoted an unsuccessful military reduction plan.
Despite his ability, Yamashita got cold treatment in his army. He fell into disfavor with the Showa Emperor when he took compassion on the rebel officers of the February 26 Incident in 1936. He also clashed with Tojo Hideki and his faction. Yamashita insisted that Japan should end the conflict with China and keep peaceful relations with the U.S. and Great Britain, but he was put to an unimportant post in the Kwantung Army.
In 1941 he was placed in the command of the Twentyfifth Army. In the Malayan campaign, his 30,000 soldiers successfully forced British 10,000 enemies in Singapore to surrender. The national hero was, however, sent to far-away Manchuria again.
In 1944 when the war situation was critical for Japan, General Yamashita assumed the command of the Fourteenth Army Group to defend the Philippines. The U.S. army landed Leyte only ten days after his arrival at Manila. He trid to rebuild his army but was forced to retreat from Manila to the mountains of northern Luzon. He used delaying tactics until unconditional surrender in September 1945.
An American military commission tried General Yamashita and sentenced him to death. He was hanged on February 23, 1946. The hasty trial is often questioned about legitimacy. He was accused for his soldiers' crimes that he had never ordered or did not even know mainly because of communication disruption by the U.S. army. It is believed that the "scheduled" judgement was General MacArthur's private revenge for the occupier of "his" Philippines. In the meanwhile, the dedicated defenses, who challenged the five-star dictator, deeply impressed General Yamashita and demonstrated American diversity.