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Imamura Hitoshi was born in Miyagi prefecture. Commissioned in the Japanese Army in 1907, he graduated from the Army Staff College in 1915 and spent much of his early career in military attaché posts in England and India. He served in China in the 1930s, held important staff positions, and was promoted to lieutenant general and held command of 5 Division in China in 1938-1940.
Imamura was given command of 16 Army just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. 16 Army had the assignment to take the Netherlands East Indies, particularly Java. Imamura's flag transport, the Ryujo Maru, was sunk (probably by friendly fire) at Banten Bay and he was forced to swim to shore.
Imamura adopted an unusually lenient policy towards the NEI, much to the dismay of Southern Army and Imperial General Headquarters. However, Imamura was one of the most respected figures in the army, and his policies won some support from the population and reduced the difficulties of the occupation. His career therefore survived his lenient policy: He was promoted to full general and command of all Army forces in the southeast Pacific (8 Area Army) in early 1943, establishing his headquarters at Rabaul. He remained at Rabaul until the end of the war, directing operations in the upper Solomons and New Guinea. While at Rabaul, Imamura tried unsuccessfully to persuade Yamamoto not to make the fateful flight in which the latter was intercepted and killed by U.S. Army pilots.
Imamura was convicted in 1946 of permitting the execution of prisoners of war and was imprisoned until 1954.
||Born in Miyagi prefecture
||Chief, Recruiting Section,
Military Affairs Bureau, Ministry of War
||Chief, 2 Section (Maneuvers), 1
Bureau, General Staff
||Commander, 57 Regiment
||Major general||Commandant, Narashino Army School
||Commander, 40 Brigade
||Lieutenant general||Vice chief of staff, Kwantung Army
||Director, Toyama Army Infantry School
||Head, Military Administration
Bureau, Ministry of War
||Commander, 5 Division
||Deputy inspector-general of
||Commander, 23 Army, China
||Commander, 8 Area Army,
||Arrested as war criminal
||Sentenced to 10 years
Dupuy et.al. (1992)
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