Tomoyuki Yamashita Sword

Tomoyuki Yamashita Sword

Tomoyuki Yamashita Sword
Tomoyuki Yamashita Sword

By Maker Fujiwara Kanenaga,Tomoyuki Yamashita was a general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.  He became known during the war after conquering the British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, ultimately earning the nickname “The Tiger of Malaya.”  After the end of World War II,

Yamashita was tried for war crimes relating to the Manila Massacre and many other atrocities in the Philippines and Singapore.  It was a controversial trial that ended with a death sentence for Tomoyuki Yamashita.  The case changed the United States rules in regards to command responsibility for war crimes, creating a law known as the Yamashita Standard.

Tomoyuki Yamashita
Tomoyuki Yamashita

After the war, Yamashita was tried for war crimes committed by troops under his command during the Japanese defense of the occupied Philippines in 1944.

In a controversial trial, Yamashita was found guilty of his troops’ atrocities even though there was no evidence that he approved or even knew of them, and indeed many of the atrocities were committed by troops not actually under his command. Yamashita was sentenced to death and executed by hanging in 1946.

The ruling against Yamashita – holding the commander responsible for subordinates’ war crimes as long as the commander did not attempt to discover and stop them from occurring – came to be known as the Yamashita standard.

The Sword

During his military career, Tomoyuki Yamashita owned a personal sword that contained a blade manufactured by famous sword maker Fujiwara Kanenaga sometime between 1640 and 1680. 

The weapon had its handle remade in the early 1900s.  The Samurai sword was surrendered by General Yamashita, along with his army, on September 2, 1945.  It was taken by General MacArthur and given to the West Point Military Museum where it remains today. 

The sword is one piece in a great collection of military arms housed at the West Point Museum.

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