by Paulina Hernandez
The Imperial Japanese Forces attacked Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Islands simultaneously. This planned attack on these two specific areas was a strategic attack meant American control in the Pacific and expand Japan’s territory. Following the surrender of the Allies at the Battle of Corregidor, all radio connections and communications ceased as the Japanese military invaded the Philippine Islands. Despite the lack of communication, some American and Filipino soldiers were able to evade the Japanese and go into hiding. One of those soldiers who was able to escape was Ramon Magsaysay Sr. who would become a prominent leader in the Western Luzon Guerrilla Force .
[Ramon Magsaysay Sr., future President of the Philippines]
The Western Luzon Guerrilla Force was not the only resistance group to form. Alongside it, “several bands of resistance fighters sprouted up throughout the philippine landscape” . What set these various groups apart were their ideas on how to take back their island. A big hindrance within these groups was that many were also politically motivated. Some groups were politically motivated in that they had differing views on agendas and a nationalistic goal. The Hukbalahap Guerrilla was one of the more commonly known resistance groups that had a political agenda. The Hukbalahap, known as “Huk”, was comprised of Filipino citizens from all backgrounds. Members included “peasant farmers, workers’ union, communist party members, and both rural and urban laborers” . The Huk were seen as highly successful in that they eliminated many Japanese soldiers. Furthermore, the Huks saw rich Filipinos who collaborated with the Japanese as being targets as well. The killing of rich Filipino collaborators enabled the Huk to capture estates. Within these estates, they created their own government,taxes, and laws. In 1954, the Hukbalahap would end with the Presidential election of Ramon Magsaysay Sr. and overwhelming pressure to stomp out communist groups .
[Pictured above is Luis Taruc whom was the main commander of the Huk Resistance.]
The main catalyst for the Filipino resistance was the mistreatment of POWs and Filipino citizens at the hands of the Japanese forces. Filipino citizens had heard stories such as the Rape of Nanking in China, and of the atrocities committed in other occupied territories such as Korea. Sadly, Filipino citizens were subjected to beatings, rape, starvation, and many other atrocities. The atrocities committed and the destruction of their homeland empowered many Filipino/Filipinas to commit to the resistance and take back their land.
The Japanese forces had noted during the Bataan Death March, an alarming amount of sentiment for the Allied forces among the Filipino people. In order to combat any form of resistance, Japanese soldiers would beat or kill any Filipino citizen who sympathized with Allied forces or whom questioned the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. A tactic the Japanese employed was the use of propaganda in the form of leaflets, and films. Through films such as Dawn For Freedom (1944), Japanese had hoped to squash any ties between the Filipino people and Western ideology and cement their hold on the country and its people.
[Left] Filipino resistance fighters taking a break; [Right]: resistance fighters guarding Japanese prisoners
There were many resistance groups such as the Hunters ROTC, Marking’s Guerrillas,the Aetas and the USAFIP-LN which stands for United States Army in the Philippines of Northern Luzon. The Hunters ROTC was comprised of former cadets from the Philippine Military Academy. Wanting to fight, the former cadets trained other resistance fighters as “saboteurs( running phone lines, radio connections, eliminating pro-Japanese Filipinos and spies, and conducting small hit and run raids” . The Marking's Guerrillas were mainly centered in east Manila and under the command of Colonel Marcos V. Agustin. In contrast, to the Hunters ROTC, the Marking’s Guerrillas was comprised of older citizens and soldiers. The Marking’s Guerrillas are known for the taking of the Ipo Dam . USAFIP-NL differed from the other two guerilla forces in that the USAFIP-NL was comprised of American, Filipino and guerilla soldiers. The USAFIP-NL was commanded by General Russell W. Volckmann and a military force that was more than 8,000 infantrymen . The Aetas were an “indigenous guerilla unit that served in Northern and Central Luzon . The Aeta were a considerable asset to the underground resistance due to their superior tracking skills and understanding of the Luzon province. The Aeta would hide and protect American soldiers in the mountain caves and when food supply ran dry, they would grow “tubers (sweet potatoes and yam) and rice to feed their units” . In closing, minority groups such as the Aetas and the Igorts contribution to the resistance would enable the American guerilla troops to cut off supply line for the Japanese and enabling recruit for the Philippine resistance.
Britannica Encyclopedia.Hukbalahap Rebellion. Date Accessed October 6,2017.https://www.britannica.com/event/Hukbalahap-Rebellion.
Wikipedia. Ramon Magsaysay Sr. Date Accessed October 6, 2017.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Magsaysay
Pinterest.Child soldier. Date Accessed October 6, 2017.https://www.pinterest.com/pin/238550111491419417/?lp=true
Villasanta, Art. The Filipino Nation-in-Arms and and its defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II. Date Accessed October 6,2017.http://filipinonationinarms.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-philippines-was-grave-of-dai-nippon.html
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By Chris Sayas
During the Second World War, cannibalism was committed by Imperial Japanese soldiers across the entire Pacific theater for a variety of reasons. Over the course of the war, occupying Japanese officers and soldiers in their conquered territories would face food shortages and supplies. Over time, Allied efforts of attacking and harassing Japanese supply routes intensified leading to ever increasing scarcity of military rations in Japanese occupied countries. This was especially true with positions far from the Japanese home islands and would only get worse as the war progressed. Although circumstances differed on the locality and where each unit was stationed, some soldiers were in positions to take from the locals while others were not quite so fortunate to be stationed near agriculturally rich areas.
Yet there is evidence that some Imperial Japanese commanders actually ordered their own units to commit such acts of cannibalism. Although many occupying Japanese units faced supply shortages, some accused of committing, ordering, and carrying out such crimes were in conditions that did not actually warrant such extreme measures to be taken. There is the case of the American pilots of which 8 airmen were shot down but able to bail out of their Grumman TBF Avengers after executing a raid on Chichijima, a long range radio communication station. As the airmen swam ashore they were quickly captured and while some were executed almost immediately, the surviving airmen were saved for something much more sinister. Imperial Japanese medical personnel under orders from the Japanese officers to prepare these prisoners of war for consumption. The Japanese officers at a party later would remark on certain parts of the human flesh as a delicacy such as the livers as well as state that most of the flesh tasted wonderful to them. The officers later on when interviewed considered the flesh of their enemies to be “good medicine for the stomach” describing it as if these actions were far from absurdity and treating such deeds as being ordinary if not seemingly a natural thing to do as a Japanese soldier serving in the Imperial Army. There are other instances as well with captured Indian soldiers whom were also eaten slowly one by one. In one account an Allied Indian unit who had been captured had officers and soldiers taken away by the Japanese one by one for nearly 100 days. There are even accounts of soldiers still alive with their flesh being torn off to be prepared for consumption by the Japanese troops and officers.
Cannibalism in this case can be seen not as an act of desperation to survive but rather a tool for projection of power. It almost seems that the fact that cannibalism existed within several realms of the Japanese military institution may seem like an attempt by Allied or even post World War rewritten history. Yet such acts of brutality manifested because of the height of Imperial Japanese military culture, that is through a very general understanding of the Bushido warrior code if not outright corruption of it. The fanaticism that permeated throughout Japanese military culture before the war also pervaded throughout Japanese culture as well, essentially forming the mindset of how both Japanese imperial officers and soldiers viewed their job as warriors. Eating the enemy could even be seen as something of a process of imbuing It would seem that their understanding of the Loyalty component of the ancient samurai Bushido code essentially would mean not only going to any lengths to fight for the Emperor but also commit oneself to one’s perception of what he should do for the Empire as a whole. Millions of Japanese soldiers entered the war with this fanatical and twisted mindset of loyalty to the Emperor, making sure that it became a contributing factor in how many Imperial Japanese soldiers would act, carrying out brutal crimes against prisoners of war and civilians alike.
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