The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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Sato Kenryo was a longtime spokesman for the Army and advocated the
General Mobilization Law
of February 1938 before the Diet. During the debate, he was heckled by
legislators, and shouted "Shut up!" before storming out of the session,
angry that politicians would dare contradict an Army officer. War Minister Sugiyama Gen apologized to the Diet
but did not reprimand Sato. Sato was a protégé of Tojo and was brought in to take
charge of the Military Affairs Bureau after its powerful chief, Muto Akira, was shipped off to Singapore to get him out of Tojo's
Sato became an important advisor to Tojo and continued serving as the official spokesman for Army policy. However, Sato opposed Tanaka Shinichi at a 5 December 1942 Cabinet meeting when the later angrily demanded that more civilian shipping be diverted to the military. Sato understood that civilian shipping was essential to war production. The argument turned into a shouting match and then a fistfight. Tanaka repeated his performance to Tojo the next day and was immediately reassigned to Singapore.
Sato told the Diet in a speech in March 1943, shortly following the defeat at Guadalcanal, that (Kotani 2009):
As far as the U.S. tactics and strategy are concerned, their technique is amateurish and lacks discipline ... They are good at shooting, but their fighting spirit and morale are very poor ... Most U.S. soldiers do not understand why they are fighting.
This reflected the Japanese Army's obsession with fighting spirit over firepower.
It also misread the temperament of the American fighting man in the
Pacific, who at this stage of the war was often a volunteer who had
enlisted specifically out of anger at Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, Sato bluntly told Tojo in June 1943, in response to a query from the Emperor, that "neither the Army nor the Navy can possibly draw up a plan to stop [the Americans]" (Tillman 2010).
Sato argued against the Sho-go operation in October 1944, believing that Combined Fleet
was more useful as a fleet in being than if it were committed to a
sacrificial operation against the overwhelming strength of the American
Pacific Fleet. However, he was overruled by the Navy.
Sato served as assistant chief
of staff of the China
Expeditionary Army in 1944
and commander of 37 Division
in Indochina in
Sato was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against the peace, specifically for advocating the Centrifugal Offensive, but was paroled in 1956.
||Graduates from Military Academy
||Military Affairs Bureau
||Head of Press Bureau, Imperial
||Hamamutsu Army Aviation School
||Vice chief of staff, 21 Army
||Vice chief of staff, South China
||Chief, Military Affairs, Army
||Chief, Military Affairs,
Ministry of War
||Vice chief of staff, China
||Commander, 37 Division
||Tried for war crimes
||Sentenced to life imprisonment
Hayashi and Cox (1959)
Watch (accessed 2009-12-4)
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