For some warriors, the shooting never stops . . .
Tsuji Masanobu: Modern-day Samurai, Member of Parliament, War Criminal.
I first heard of this Japanese warrior at a party many years ago, at a friend's house in Washington DC. Notorious in his native Japan, if he did half of what he is reputed to have done, then his place is secured at the Viking Long Table in the Mead Hall of Valhalla. - S.L.
Tsuji Masanobu ( 辻 政信 ) was a professional soldier the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. While never indicted, investigations revealed that he was involved in various war crimes throughout the Pacific Theater of Operations including the massacre of Chinese civilians in Singapore, executions of numerous surrendered prisoners of war during the Bataan Death March, and other war crimes in China.
Tsuji served as a staff officer in the Kwantung Army 1937-39. In this role, his aggressive and insubordinate attitude contributed to the Soviet-Japanese Border Wars, particularly the Changkufeng Incident/Battle of Lake Khasan and the Nomonhan Incident/Battle of Khalkhin Gol.
Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria in the 1930s.
An extreme fanatic by even Imperial Army standards, Tsuji's conduct under fire earned him numerous decorations and he was wounded in action several times. Repeatedly transferred by generals exasperated by his insubordination; Tsuji once burned down a geisha house to highlight his disgust at the moral frailty of the officers inside it.
During the Pacific war he served mainly in Malaya, Burma, and Guadalcanal. His excesses were responsible for some of the worst Japanese blunders on Guadalcanal. He was directly responsible for brutalities to prisoners and civilians in every part of the Japanese empire in which he served. In northern Burma, he reportedly dined off the liver of a dead Allied pilot, castigating as cowards those who refused to share his meal: "The more we eat, the brighter will burn the fire of our hatred for the enemy."
Some time after Japan's surrender in 1945, Tsuji went into hiding in Thailand to avoid being brought up on war crimes charges. When it was clear he would not be tried, he returned to Japan and wrote of his years in hiding. His book Senko Sanzenri ( 潜行三千里, Lurking 3000 li) became a best seller, made him famous and led to his elections as a Member of the Diet - the Japanese Parliament.
At the age of 59, Tsuji traveled to Laos in Southeast Asia in 1961 and was never heard from again. Presumably a casualty of the Laotian Civil War, Tsuji Masanobu was declared dead on 20 July 1968.
NOTE TO READERS: I had some serious reservations about going forward with this post, as I do not wish to glorify an individual whom, by anybody's yardstick, is a bona fide war criminal. Having said that, I finally decided to post this material in order to develop up some background material to a larger story I will post this weekend. - S.L.
• Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.
• Order of the Sacred Treasure, 3rd Class.
• Order of the Golden Kite, 4th Class and 5th Class.
• Decoration of Manchuria, 4th Class and 5th Class.
• Commemoration Medal of the Coronation of Emperor Showa.
• Commemoration Medal of the Census.
• Commemoration Medal of the Founding of Manchuria.
• Commemoration Medal of the 2,600th Year after the Accession of Emperor Jimmu.
• Campaign Medal of the Chinese Incident.
• Campaign Medal of the Manchurian Incident.