(2 of 4)
Prussian of the East. Tomoyuki Yamashita's exposure to Germanics came early. His course of studies at the Imperial Military Staff College was interrupted shortly before World War I by an order to go to Germany and have a look around. Kaiser Wilhelm, then in his finest military feather and almost ready for war, had done quite a little chanticleering about the then fashionable Yellow Peril, but there were many in Berlin who regarded London as the real root of all evil. Among them was a young philosopher named Karl Haushofer (now Adolf Hitler's theorist on geopolitics), who had met Yamashita in Japan in 1908 and now befriended him, publicly accoladed the Japanese as "the Prussians of the East," and sent Yamashita home fat with admiration for German militarism.
In 1916 Yamashita graduated from the Staff College in Tokyo. Two of his classmates were Hideki Tojo, now Japan's Premier, and Hoshira Oshima, now Japan's Ambassador to Berlin. Tojo, Yamashita and Oshima at once threw themselves into the Young Officers' clique, a fiercely burning furnace of Japanese militarism. As long as World War I lasted, these young faggots burned with a single flame: they were hot for Japan to take advantage of the war and move in on China.
It did not take long, after the war, for Japan to cozy up to its recent enemy, Germany. Oshima and Yamashita were dispatched to Europe-Oshima became a military attache in Berlin; Yamashita, after a short stay in Germany, went to Poland, where he worked up a first-class hate against nearby Bolshevism.
From 1927 to 1930 he was military attache in Vienna. There he found a great friend in the present Colonel General Alexander Löhr, Commander in Chief of the Fourth German Air Fleet. He made many trips to German airfields and factories.
The Martial Years. The next decade saw Japan on the march, first in Manchuria, then in China. Yamashita, who served a term in the War Office as Chief of the Military Affairs Division, began to talk Nazi-fashion. "War," he said, "is the mother of creation." Japan, he cried, was a have-not. Morals, he decreed, must be simon-pure.
When the "China Incident" broke out, Yamashita fought in North China under the command of another Germanophile, General Count Juichi Terauchi. Count Terauchi, who has since visited Germany (see cut), was last week named Supreme Commander of the entire southwestern Pacific theater.
Yamashita's experience in North China was rigorous preparation for his recent labors. He commanded on the tangled, hilly Shansi front and had to combat the best of China's guerrillas. He used many of their war tricks in Malaya.
Visit of the Spirit. In 1939 the late German ace and parachute expert, Ernst Udet, visited Japan and inspected the Japanese Air Force. He is said to have reported to Hermann Goring that Japanese flyers, though brave and willing, were no sky-beaters. Part of the trouble was technical, part organizational. In 1940 Tomoyuki Yamashita was given his big chance, the job of reorganizing the Japanese Air Force. To his mind, the first thing to do was see how the Germans did it.