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U.S. Army. Via ibiblio.org
Tanaka Shinichi (Tanaka Shimishi) was born on Hokkaido and graduated from the Japanese Military
Academy in 1913 and the Army Staff College in 1923. He was military attaché in Moscow in 1928-1931 and played a major role in founding the Nakano School in 1937.
Tanaka was one of the
"young Turks" of the Japanese
Army who believed that it was the destiny of Japan to take over all of China and Siberia.
By 1941, he was chief of the Military Operations
Section, Imperial General Headquarters, and one of the three most influential staff officers (bakuryo) in Japan, along with Muto Akira and Oka Takazumi. He considered anything short of total victory in China completely dishonorable, believing it better to lose a war with the United States than make concessions. His convictions strongly influenced the entire Army in the months leading up to war.
Tanaka favored an all-out assault on the Soviet
Union in the summer of
1941, following the German
invasion, and succeeded in persuading Tojo to deploy two divisions to Manchuria. This was done in great
secrecy under cover of "Kwantung
Army Special Maneuvers" and the reservists
called up were sent off without the usual public fanfare. However, intelligence showing the
Russians were not sending many troops west reduced the Army's
enthusiasm for a Siberian adventure.
Tanaka joined the Southern Area Army
chief of staff. He was one of the first Japanese senior officers to recognize that the Guadalcanal invasion was more than a reconnaissance-in-force.
Tanaka was deeply opposed to reductions in the
Army's shipping pool that would reduce the flow of reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Indeed, he was so
vehement that he insulted Tojo to his face on 6 December 1942 and was
immediately dismissed from his post. He returned to Southern Area Army in an
indeterminate capacity, but was given command of 18 Division on 13 March 1943.
division held the main line of defense against Merrill's Marauders and Stilwell's Chinese troops at Mytkyina and the Hukawng Valley.
Tanaka fought a stubborn retreat against the Allied offensive of early 1944, but his division was all but destroyed in the fighting. In September 1944 he became chief of staff of the Burma Area Army and urged continued last-ditch resistance, particulary at Rangoon. His effectiveness as chief of staff was compromised by his obsession with administrative details. Recalled to Japan in May 1945, he was wounded (evidently in an air raid) later in the month.
Tanaka was probably the most competent Japanese
commander in Burma during the final years of the war. However, by May
1945, he was beginning to be out of touch with reality, demanding that 33 Army with just three exhausted battalions could retake Rangoon from the triumphant 14 Army if they had sufficient fighting spirit. Historian Barbara
Tuchman described him as "a plump, comfortable-looking officer in a
toupee" but also "a soldier of outstanding capacity who maneuvered his
resources superbly and knew how to to make the best of what he had."
||Born on Hokkaido
||Graduates from Military Academy
as an infantry officer
||Graduates from Army Staff College
||Resident officer, Russia
Administion Section, Military Administration Burea, Ministry of War
||Chief of Army Affairs, Military
Affairs Bureau, Ministry of War
||Chief of staff, Mongolia Garrison Army
||Chief of staff, Inspectorate
Division, Lines of Communication
||Chief, Military Operations
Section, Imperial General Headquarters
||Commander, 18 Division
||Chief of staff, Burma
Dupuy et al. (1992)
Hayashi and Cox (1959)
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