Shunroku Hata (俊六, Hata Shunroku, July 26, 1879 – May 10, 1962) was a field marshal (gensui) in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. He was the last surviving Japanese military officer with a marshal's rank. Hata was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1948, but was paroled in 1955.

Shunroku Hata
Field Marshal Shunroku Hata serving at Second General Army
Minister of War
In office
August 30, 1939 – July 22, 1940
Prime Minister
Preceded bySeishirō Itagaki
Succeeded byHideki Tōjō
Personal details
BornJuly 26, 1879
Fukushima Prefecture, Empire of Japan
DiedMay 10, 1962(1962-05-10) (aged 82)
Tokyo, Japan
AwardsOrder of the Rising Sun First Class
Order of the Golden Kite First Class
Order of the Sacred Treasure First Class
Military service
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Branch/service Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1901–1945
RankField Marshal (Gensui)
UnitThird Army (Japan)
Commands14th Division
Taiwan Army of Japan
China Expeditionary Army
Second General Army (Japan)
Battles/warsRusso-Japanese War

World War I

Second Sino-Japanese War

World War II

Biography edit

Early years edit

Hata (on the left) with his brother before the Russo-Japanese War

Hata was a native of Fukushima Prefecture, where his father was a samurai of the Aizu Domain. At the age of 12, the family relocated to Hakodate, Hokkaidō, but at the age of 14, he was accepted into the prestigious First Tokyo Middle School. However, his father died the same year. Unable to afford the tuition, Hata enrolled in the Army Cadet School instead, going on to graduate in the 12th class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy in 1901 as a second lieutenant in the artillery. Hata served in the Russo-Japanese War. He graduated from the 22nd class of the Army Staff College with top rankings in November 1910.

Sent as a military attaché to Germany in March 1912, Hata stayed in Europe throughout World War I as a military observer. He was promoted to major in September 1914 and to lieutenant colonel in July 1918, while still in Europe, and he stayed on as a member of the Japanese delegation to the Versailles Peace Treaty negotiations in February 1919.

On his return to Japan, Hata was promoted to colonel and given command of the 16th Field Artillery Regiment in July 1921, and was promoted to major general and commander of the 4th Heavy Field Artillery Brigade in March 1926.

Hata was subsequently assigned to the strategic planning division of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff, serving as chief of the Fourth Bureau in July 1927 and Chief of the First Bureau in August 1928.

Hata was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1931 and became Inspector General of Artillery Training. He was then given a field command, that of the 14th Division in August 1933. After serving as head of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service from December 1935, he became commander of the Taiwan Army of Japan in 1936.[1]

Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II edit

Hata (left) with Field Marshal Terauchi Hisaichi in Xuzhou

His rise after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War was then very rapid: Military Councilor, Inspector General of Military Training and promotion rank of general all in late 1937. He was appointed as commanding general of the Central China Expeditionary Army in February 1938, to replace General Matsui Iwane, who had been recalled to Japan over the Nanjing Massacre. Hata became Senior Aide-de-Camp to Emperor Shōwa in May 1939 followed by a stint as Minister of War from August 1939 to July 1940 during the terms of Prime Minister Nobuyuki Abe and Mitsumasa Yonai. In July 1940, Hata had a pivotal role in bringing down the Yonai cabinet by resigning his post as Minister of War.[2]

Hata returned to China as commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army in March 1941. He was the main Japanese commander at the time of Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign, during which Chinese sources claim that over 250,000 civilians were killed. Hata was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal (Gensui) on June 2, 1944 following Japanese victory at Operation Ichi-Go.

Hata was requested to take command of the Second General Army, based in Hiroshima from 1944 to 1945 in preparation for the anticipated Allied invasion of the Japanese home islands. He was thus in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing and survived. One of the only senior figures to survive the explosion, Hata took command of the city and relief efforts in the following days. Hata was one of the senior generals who agreed with the decision to surrender, but asked that he be stripped of his title of Field Marshal in atonement for the Army's failures in the war.[3]

Promotions edit

  • Second Lieutenant: June 1901
  • Lieutenant: November 1903
  • Captain: June 1905
  • Major: April 1914
  • Lieutenant Colonel: July 1918
  • Colonel: July 20, 1921
  • Major General: March 2, 1926
  • Lieutenant General: August 1, 1931
  • General: November 1, 1937
  • Marshal: June 2, 1944

Judgement edit

Hata during his trial

Hata was arrested by the American occupation authorities after the end of the war, and charged with war crimes. He was the only surviving Japanese Field Marshal who faced criminal charges along with other defendants. In 1948, as a result of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, he was sentenced to life imprisonment under the charges of: “Conspiracy, waging aggressive war, disregarding his duty to prevent atrocities”.[4] Hata was paroled in 1955,[5] and headed a charitable foundation for the welfare of former soldiers from 1958. He died in 1962, while attending a ceremony honouring the war dead.

Hata's older brother, Eitaro Hata (1872–1930), was also a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, and commander-in-chief of the Kwantung Army, from July 1929 until his death, in May 1930, from acute nephritis.

References edit

Books edit

  • Dupuy, Trevor N. (1992). Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-7858-0437-4.
  • Fuller, Richard (1992). Shokan: Hirohito's Samurai. London: Arms and Armor. ISBN 1-85409-151-4.
  • Hayashi, Saburo; Cox, Alvin D (1959). Kogun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War. Quantico, Virginia: The Marine Corps Association.
  • Maga, Timothy P. (2001). Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2177-9.

External links edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
  2. ^ "Japan: Imitation of Naziism?" Time, Jul. 22, 1940
  3. ^ Budge, Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Maga, Judgement at Tokyo
  5. ^ "The Tokyo War Crimes Trial:Field Marshal Shunroku Hata". Archived from the original on March 20, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
Political offices
Preceded by Army Minister
Aug 1939 – Jul 1940
Succeeded by
Military offices
Preceded by Commander, 14th Division
August 1933 – Dec 1935
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander, IJA Taiwan Army
Aug 1936 – Aug 1937
Succeeded by
Mikio Tsutsumi
Preceded by Inspector-General of Military Training
Aug 1937 – Feb 1938
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Commander, Central China Expeditionary Army
Feb 1938 – Dec 1938
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander-in-Chief, China Expeditionary Army
March 1941 - November 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Commander-in-Chief, IJA 2nd General Army
Apr 1945 – Oct 1945
Succeeded by