Manila massacre

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Manila massacre
Japanese atrocities. Philippines, China, Burma, Japan - NARA - 292598.jpg
Photo of a Filipino woman and child killed by the Japanese forces in Manila.
Location Manila, Philippines
Date February-March 1945 (EDT)
Attack type
mass murder, massacre
Deaths 100,000+ (est.)

Tomoyuki Yamashita, Akira Mutō, Sanji Iwabuchi

Citizens of Manila run for safety from suburbs burned by Japanese soldiers, 10 February 1945
Manila Walled City Destruction May 1945.jpg

The Manila massacre (Filipino: Pagpatay sa Maynila) involved atrocities committed against Filipino civilians in the City of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, by Japanese troops during World War II at the Battle of Manila (February 3, 1945 – March 3, 1945). The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was about 100,000.

The Manila massacre was one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. The Japanese commanding general, Tomoyuki Yamashita, and his chief of staff Akira Mutō, were held responsible for the massacre and other war crimes in a trial starting October 1945. Yamashita was executed on 23 February 1946 and Mutō on 23 December 1948.


Before the battle, deciding that he would be unable to defend Manila with the forces available to him, and to preserve as large a force as possible in the rural mountain Luzon region of the Philippines, General Tomoyuki Yamashita had insisted on a complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from Manila in January 1945. However, Yamashita's order was ignored by about 10,000 Japanese marines under Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji who chose to remain in Manila. About 4000 Japanese army personnel were unable to leave the city due to the advance of the American and Filipino forces.

In the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945, the United States Army advanced into the city of Manila in order to drive the Japanese out . During lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took their anger and frustration out on the civilians in the city. Violent mutilations, rapes, and massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul's Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church.[1]:113 Dr Antonio Gisbert told of the murder of his father and brother at the Palacio del Gobernador, saying, "I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3000 men herded into Fort Santiago and, two days later, massacred.[1]:110

The Bayview Hotel was used as a designated "rape center".[2] According to testimony at the Yamashita war crimes trial, 400 women and girls were rounded up from Manila's wealthy Ermita district, and submitted to a selection board that picked out the 25 women who were considered most beautiful. These women and girls, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where Japanese enlisted men and officers took turns raping them.[3]

One Japanese order read, "The Americans who have penetrated into Manila have about 1000 troops, and there are several thousand Filipino soldiers under the Commonwealth Army and the organized guerrillas. Even women and children have become guerrillas."[citation needed]

The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was about 100,000, most of which was attributed to massacres by Japanese forces. Some historians, citing a higher civilian casualty rate for the entire battle, suggest that 100,000 to 500,000 died as a result of the Manila massacre on its own, exclusive of other causes.[1][4][5][6][7]

General Yamashita's role in the massacre[edit]

General Yamashita was opposed to the plan devised by Imperial Headquarters because his soldiers lacked resources. The soldiers under Yamashita’s command were low on ammunition and food. However, he was unable to disobey his superiors and sent approximately 80,000 soldiers to Leyte. Nearly all of his soldiers had died in the Battle of Leyte, and he was forced to move his headquarters from Manila to Saigon. Yamashita had anticipated that U.S. forces would come to the Philippines, so he had to move his headquarters again and evacuate in order to escape the U.S. forces. On January 9, 1945, Yamashita was met by nearly 200,000 U.S. soldiers at Lingayen Gulf. As a result of this operation, nearly 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed by various methods of violence. Unexpectedly, some Filipino casualties were caused by U.S. aerial bombings. Yamashita continued to fight, but his lack of resources and his exposure to disease and sickness led to his capture.

General Yamashita was considered a war criminal for his crimes in Manila. Evidence suggests that General Yamashita was unaware of the crimes committed by Japanese troops in Manila, and that he ultimately did not have control over those troops who committed the atrocities. The morale of his troops was low, and many of the orders he gave were disobeyed. Yamashita had a sense of guilt and failure as a commanding general over the troops under his command. In the end, he took responsibility for the crimes that his troops committed under his command. A group of American military lawyers attempted to defend General Yamashita by appealing to the U.S. Supreme court, but the appeal failed because the appeal was 5 to 2. As a result, Yamashita was sentenced to death by hanging. He was hanged on February 23, 1946 in Manila.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Connaughton, R., Pimlott, J., and Anderson, D., 1995, The Battle for Manila, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 0891415785
  2. ^ "February 1945: The Rape of Manila |". Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  3. ^ Manila Girls Relate Horror of Mass Rape, The Milwaukee Journal, 1 November 1945 
  4. ^ White, Matthew. "Death Tolls for the Man-made Megadeaths of the 20th Century". Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  5. ^ Khalifa, Hodieb. Nein. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  6. ^ Dauria, Tom. Within a Presumption of Godlessness. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  7. ^ "Battle of Manila". Battle of Manila. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  8. ^ Last Words of the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita Tomoyuki, The Asia-Pacific Journal Japan Focus 


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 15°35′00″N 120°58′00″E / 15.5833°N 120.9667°E / 15.5833; 120.9667