The Battle for Okinawa

Overview

Col. Yahara was one of the Japanese Imperial Army's best strategists. He had the career officer's classically cool, analytical approach to warfare. The "charge the foe" tactics, typical of the Japanese Army, were not his style. His plan at Okinawa, the last campaign of WWII, was to dig in, inflict as many casualties as possible and buy Japan precious time to prepare for the defense of the mainland. The plan worked, so why was Col. Yahara branded a traitor?

His crime was ...

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The Battle for Okinawa

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Overview

Col. Yahara was one of the Japanese Imperial Army's best strategists. He had the career officer's classically cool, analytical approach to warfare. The "charge the foe" tactics, typical of the Japanese Army, were not his style. His plan at Okinawa, the last campaign of WWII, was to dig in, inflict as many casualties as possible and buy Japan precious time to prepare for the defense of the mainland. The plan worked, so why was Col. Yahara branded a traitor?

His crime was surviving in an army that demanded its leaders go down with their troops. For three months Japanese soldiers -- entrenched in caves and dugouts -- fought virtually to the last man. Meanwhile, kamikazes sank 35 U.S. ships and damaged 10 times that number. The bloodletting claimed more than 12,000 American lives; more than 100,000 Japanese died.

"An indispensable account and a look into the final anguish of the Japanese high command." (John Lehman, former U.S. Secretary of the Navy)

A first-hand account of one of the bloodiest encounters in the war of the Pacific, written by the Japanese strategist who designed and carried out the campaign. Editor Frank Gibney's unique perspective of having been an officer in Okinawa, who interrogated Yahara following his capture, adds a fascinating dimesion to the account. Photos. Maps.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First published in Japan in 1973, this personal account of the last great battle of WWII is from the viewpoint of the Japanese Army officer in charge of plans and operations. Yahara reveals how his battle plan, based on a strategy of attrition, was overruled by Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima in favor of a wasteful offensive policy (``absurd suicide tactics''). He describes how orders for retreat-and-attack forays were developed and issued and explains how the site of the spectacular last stand was chosen. When defeat by the Americans was perceived as inevitable, Ushijima ordered a final charge, delivered a formal speech and submitted to the expected ritual beheading. All this is vividly described by the observant Yahara. Disinclined toward suicide himself, he evaded capture for a while by mingling with refugees but was eventually arrested by the Americans. His independence of mind illuminates this interesting narrative; his interpretive comments on the workings of the high command in a series of underground headquarters will be of interest to students of the military art. Gibney, president of the Pacific Basin Institute, was one of the intelligence officers who interrogated Yahara after his capture. Illustrations. Doubleday Military Book Club main selection. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Translated from Yahara's 1973 memoir, Okinawa Kessen, this book offers the Japanese perspective on the Pacific war's greatest land, air, and naval battle, the Battle for Okinawa, April-July 1945. Yahara was the senior staff officer of the Japanese 32nd Army defending Okinawa and the only senior officer to survive the battle. He was the operational architect of the Japanese battle of attrition, which ultimately cost a quarter-million Japanese, Okinawan, and American casualties in World War II's last great battle. Written 28 years after the war, this book provides penetrating insight into the Japanese high command's strategy and decision-making process in its final, futile defense of the home islands. Most riveting is Yahara's account of his survival and escape attempts and his disgrace for not committing the customary suicide at the battle's end. Recommended for public libraries.-William D. Bushnell, U.S. Marine Corp., ret., Sebascodegan Island, Me.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781630261856
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

FRANK B. GIBNEY is president of the Pacific Basin Institute. He is a former correspondent, writer, and editor for Time, Newsweek, and Life, and the author of numerous books, including Japan: The Fragile Superpower and The Pacific Century.
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Table of Contents

The Colonel's Prologue: April 1, 1945
Two Views of Battle
Pt. I Preparations for Battle: From the text by Colonel Hiromichi Yahara
1 Plans for 32nd Army: Yahara versus Imperial Headquarters 3
Pt. II The American Assault: Lieutenant Gibney's commentary continues
2 The Grand Strategy Unfolds 29
3 Challenge and Response 35
Pt. III Retreat Under Fire: Colonel Yahara's narrative resumes
4 Counteroffensive Halted 41
5 World View through the Eye of a Needle 45
6 The Headquarters Cave 49
7 The Battle at Maeda-Nakama-Awacha 53
8 The Bloody Action at Sugar Loaf Hill (Amekudai) 57
9 The Arikawa Brigade Withdraws to Shuri 63
10 Choosing a Last-Stand Location 67
11 The Right Flank Nears Collapse 75
12 Retreat and Attack 79
13 Army Headquarters 83
14 Farewell to Shuri 87
15 The Tsukazan Command Post 93
16 Tsukazan to Mabuni 99
17 Civilians at the Last Stand 105
18 Retreat and Rear Guard Action 107
19 Kiyan Peninsula 111
20 Mabuni Headquarters Cave 115
21 The Battle for Kiyan 121
22 The Naval Base Force Is Wiped Out 125
23 The Last Battle 129
24 Cave Fantasies 135
25 Final Days at Mabuni 139
26 The End of 32nd Army 149
Pt. IV Exodus: Yahara's attempted escape
27 The Mabuni Departure 159
28 Gushichan Cave 167
29 Mingling with the Refugees 175
30 Fusozaki Village 179
31 Coolie on a New Battlefield 183
32 Reversal of Fortune 189
The Colonel's Postscript 195
Epilogue: The Battle Ended - Capture and Return 199
Prisoner of War Interrogation Reports 205
Index 237
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