|Born||October 7, 1888|
Saga prefecture, Japan
|Died||August 2, 1966 (aged 77)|
|Allegiance||Empire of Japan|
|Service/||Imperial Japanese Army|
|Years of service||1910–1945|
|Commands held||IJA 18th Division, IJA 15th Army|
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Renya Mutaguchi (牟田口 廉也, Mutaguchi Ren'ya, 7 October 1888 – 2 August 1966) was a Japanese military officer, lieutenant general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and field commander of the IJA forces during the Battle of Imphal.
Promoted to major in 1926 and colonel in 1930, from 1933-1936 he served in the General Affairs Section of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff in Tokyo, before being transferred to China in 1936 to take command of the Japanese garrison force in Beijing. He was commander of the IJA 1st Infantry Regiment in China from 1936–1938. Units responsible to Mutaguchi were involved in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of 7 July 1937, which helped launch the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Mutaguchi was promoted to major general in 1938, and served as Chief of Staff of the Fourth Army from 1938-1939. He was then recalled to Japan and served from 1939-1941 as Commandant of the Military Preparatory School.
Promoted to lieutenant general in 1940, with the start of the Pacific War, Mutaguchi was given command of the 18th Division in April 1941. This division was active in the invasion of Malaya in the early stages of the war, and Mutaguchi himself was wounded during the Battle of Singapore in February 1942. After the fall of Singapore, the 18th Division was transferred to the Philippines to reinforce units pushing the remaining American forces down the Bataan Peninsula. In April 1942, the 18th Division was reassigned to Burma.
Mutaguchi was then made commander of the Fifteenth Army from March 1943, and strongly pushed forward his own plan to advance into Assam, leading to the Battle of Imphal. After the failure of the Imphal offensive in May 1944, Mutaguchi refused to allow his divisional commanders to retreat, and instead dismissed all three of them. He eventually called off the attack on 3 July. Some 55,000 of Mutaguchi's 85,000-man force ended up as casualties, many dying from starvation or disease. This was the worst defeat to that time suffered by the Japanese army. With the complete collapse of the offensive, Mutaguchi was relieved of command on 30 August and recalled to Tokyo. He was forced into retirement in December 1944.
Mutaguchi was recalled briefly to active service in 1945, to resume his former post as Commandant of the Military Preparatory School.
After the end of the war, he was arrested by the American occupation authorities and extradited to Singapore, where he faced a military tribunal which convicted him of war crimes. Released from prison in March 1948, he returned to Japan. Mutaguchi died in Tokyo on 2 August 1966.
Frank McLynn characterized Mutaguchi as "eccentric," "reckless," and a "fanatic," citing his decision to provide his soldiers with only twenty days of food for the nearly four month-long Battle of Imphal.
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