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Anami Korechika failed the entrance examination for the Military Academy twice before being accepted on his third try. He graduated in the same class with two of the Emperor's uncles. He was a former aide-de-camp of Hirohito and was deeply devoted to the Emperor.
Anami served as
vice-minister of war in 1939 but commanded 11
Army at Hankow in July 1941. He
resolved to end the China Incident by capturing Changsha, destroying its defending
armies (some 300,000 strong) and eliminating free China's most
important remaining source of food. His forces encountered fierce
resistance and suffered
numerous casualties before
withdrawing. It was probably the
worst defeat the Japanese
suffered in China
to the outbreak of war in the Pacific, and
demonstrated to the Japanese that the Chinese were not about to
capitulate. Anami tried again in December 1941 and was again handed a
stinging defeat. He then proposed a campaign against Chungking, in spite of the difficulties of advancing 280 miles through rugged terrain
against what was sure to be stiff Chinese resistance. Plans were well
along when the operation was canceled due to the defeat at Guadalcanal.
Anami commanded 2
Area Army at
Tsitsihar in Manchuria
from July 1942 and was promoted to full general in May 1943. His
transferred to New
Guinea in October 1943.
He had little success here, returning to Tokyo
December 1944 to serve as inspector-general of Army aviation. He rose
post of Minister of War in April 1945 in the new Suzuki cabinet.
Admiral Suzuki chose Anami as war minister because he had worked with
him before, trusted him, and believed he could control the Army. The
question was whether Suzuki could control Anami.
Anami wished to continue
fighting even after the nuclear
attacks, believing that the Japanese could still inflict massive casualties on any invasion and thereby force the Allies to offer better terms (Hastings 2007):
Japan is not losing the war, since we have not lost any homeland territory. I object to conducting negotiations on the assumption that we are defeated.
and releasing a statement to the Japanese press that
Even though we may have to eat grass, swallow dirt, and lie in the fields, we shall fight on to the bitter end, ever firm in our faith that we shall find life in death. (Frank 1999)
His position may have been at odds with his personal feelings. Arao Okikatsu, a
staff officer with the War Ministry,
later claimed that Anami privately told him in late 1944
that Japan could not be defended from invasion. Anami also ordered the
release of peace activist and future Prime Minister, Shigeru Yoshida, in
Anami had several conversations on August 14 that suggest he was
toying with a coup d'état
rather than accept the Emperor's decision to surrender. However, he
appears to have been persuaded by Kawabe to support the
Emperor's decision, though without enthusiasm.
Anami committed ritual
suicide on 15 August 1945, after
surrender was announced. His self-inflicted wounds were not immediately
fatal, and after three hours a staff officer ordered a military
physician to give Anami a lethal injection to end his death struggle. A suicide note was found under his body:
Believing firmly that our sacred land shall never perish, I — with my death — humbly apologize to the Emperor for the great crime.
Whether "the great crime" meant plunging Japan into a disastrous war, or Anami's flirtation with a coup against the Emperor, will likely forever remain a mystery.
"Easy going and convivial"
(Boatner 1996), Anami was nonetheless completely dedicated to the Bushido code of the samurai.
Hastings describes him as
"a man of few brains and little imagination". A colleague described him
as a "man of will power rather than of resourcefulness." In this
respect, he was the embodiment of the philosophy of the Japanese Army.
He was relatively uninvolved in politics, steering a middle course
between the Control Faction (Tōseiha) and the Imperial Way Faction (Kōdōha). Craig (1967) describes him as having a colorless personality, with a fondness for archery and kendo (fencing), and a calm and paternal demeanor towards junior officers.
||Born in Oita prefecture
||Graduates from Military Academy
as an infantry officer
||Commander, 45 Depot Regiment
||Aide-de-camp to the Emperor
||Commander, 2 Imperial Guards
||Commandant, Tokyo Military
||Head, Military Administration
Bureau, Ministry of War
||Head of Personnel Burea,
Ministry of War
||Commander, 109 Division, China
||Vice-minister of war
||Commander, 11 Army
||Commander, 2 Area Army
||Inspector-general of army
||Minister of War
||Commits ritual suicide
Hayashi and Cox (1959)
Peattie et al. (2011)
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