1 The Japanese also gave the Philippines high priority in their over-all strategic war plans. "The Philippines were the east wing of the so-called 'Southern Sphere' in the Japanese operations in the southern regions," said Lt. Gen. Shuichi Miyazaki, Chief of the Operations Section, Imperial General Headquarters. " They took the shape of the main line of defense against American counterattacks. The western wing was Burma and Malaya, and together the two wings protected Japanese access to the southern regions. Viewed from the standpoint of political and operational strategy, holding the Philippines was the one essential for the execution of the war against America and Britain. With the loss of these islands, not only would Japanese communications with the southern regions be severely threatened, but the prosecutim of strategic policies within the southern regions as far as supply and reinforcements were concerned would be a paramount difficulty. The loss of the Philippines would greatly affect civilian morale in Japan. The islands were also essential and appropriate strategic bases for the enemy advance on Japan. After their capture the advantage would be two to one in favor of the enemy and the prosecution of the war would suddenly take a great leap forward." Maj. Gen. Naokata Utsunomiya, Assistant Chief of Staff, Fourteenth Area Army, indicated the important role which the Philippines played in Japanese strategic plans when he suggested that they were looked upon as the final stepping stones to Japan itself. " The main value of the Philippines lay in their role as a bulwark against the invasion of the Homeland. They were to absorb as much of the enemy attack as they could and to delay the advance as long as possible. Defense preparations in Japan were in the meantime being hastened." This opinion was corroborated by the testimony of Col. Shujiro Kobayashi, Tactical Staff Of5cer of the Fourteenth Area Army: "The Philippines formed the first line of defense of the Japanese Homeland. For this reason the Combined Fleet was committed to the battle off Leyte. It was considered necessary that the decisive battle be fought in the Philippines. This was the opinion of Imperial General Headquarters." Lt. Gen. Seizo Arisue, Chief of G-2, General Staff Headquarters added the following comment: "To shatter American war plans, the Japanese Army held it necessary to maintain the Philippines to the end and to fight a decisive battle with the Americans who planned to recapture the Philippines. Furthermore, the Philippines were of absolute necessity for the security of traffic between Japan Proper and the southern areas." Interrogation Files, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
10 CINCPOA Radio to COMINCH, 4 Jul 44, JCS-CCS Papers No. 2, G-3, GHQ Exec Files. Admiral Nimitz in this radio expressed the opinion that short cuts and prompt exploitation of favorable situations were prime considerations, but that operations should be so conducted as to insure control of the sea and air during major amphibious assaults. He advocated the use of shore-based aircraft to the maximum extent possible and said that "tactical situations in which the fast carrier task forces are more or less immobilized in support of protracted fighting on shore should be avoided. In my opinion," he continued, " the basic concept of operations proposed by CINCSWPA in which shore-based air forces, ground troops, and naval forces are advanced together is sound." Ibid.
14 "An appraisal of information, over the period 15 May to 15 June, discioses a contemporary trend of events, indicating definitely that the Japanese are massing troops, bolstering dispositions, and shifting units in the Philippine area. This trend was not indicated prior to 1 April." G-2, GHQ, SWPA, Philippine Monthly Combined Situation Report, 15 Jun 4. Japanese reinforcement in the Philippines continued throughout the summer and autumn of 1944. G-2, GHQ, SWPA, Philippine Monthly Combined Situation Report, 15 Jul and 15 Aug, 44. See also G-2, GHQ, SWPA, Monthly Summary of Enemy Dispositions, 30 Sep 4.
18 General Marshall described the dramatic sequence of events leading up to the orders for the Leyte invasion in his report to the Secretary of War : " ... General MacArthur's views were requested and 2 days later he advised us that he was already to shift his plans to land on Leyte 20 October, instead of 20 December, as previously intended. It was a remarkable administrative achievement. "
24 The capture of Morotai was the final task of the Alamo Force which had directed the operations of American combat units from the spring of 1943. The Alamo Force was officially dissolved on 25 September 1944 and General MacArthur ordered the Sixth Army to take over the initial Philippines campaign which previously had been assigned to the task force. No actual change was involved, since the Alamo Force consisted of units assigned or attached to the Sixth Army, and Headquarters Sixth Army also functioned as Headquarters Alamo Force.
25 GHQ, SWPA, Press Release, 15 Sep 44. These views forecast the ultimate character of an enlightened and benevolent occupation of Japan and the administrative and reform methods of SCAP in the post-war period.
27 In the section of his report on the Leyte operation dealing with "Conclusions, Comments and Recommendations," Commander Seventh Fleet made the following statement with reference to intelligence on the landing areas: "Intelligence reports on beach areas were considered generally satisfactory. The Allied Geographical Section, SWPA, had completed Terrain Study #84 and Special Report #55, covering the landing area. The general landing beaches were selected from such reports, and photographs taken by carrier planes on 14 September confirmed the reports. Swamps, lagoons, and other similar obstacles required the leaving of small gaps between some of the beaches, but no material modification of the plans was necessary." Commander Central Philippines Attack Force (COM7thFLT), Report of Operation for the Capture of Leyte Island including Action Report of Engagement in Surigao Strait and off Samar Island on 25 October 1944 (King Two Operation), 31 Jan 45, A16-3, Serial : 00302-C.
36 General Utsunomiya, Assistant Chief of Staff, Fourteenth Area Army, declared: " The far-sightedness in launching the Leyte Campaign two months earlier than the original schedule was one of the principal factors in its success." Maj. Gen. Yoshiharu Tomochika, Chief of Staff, Thirty-fifth Army in the southern Philippines, said that the advance of the Leyte invasion date caught the Japanese with their "defensive fortifications incomplete." He continued with the statement : " This American invasion, two months in advance of our estimation, in my opinion, was one of the basic reasons for the rapid collapse of our defenses in the Philippines." Interrogation Files, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
38 Ibid. Admiral Kinkaid commented on the Allied intelligence estimates as follows: " By virtue of the excellent work of our guerrilla forces in Leyte and our coastwatcher personnel, we knew within very close limits before we undertook the attack exactly what enemy elements were in occupation, their capacities, and capabilities. The estimates of enemy air and land strength and of the naval forces available to him were remarkably exact and were made possible only by the careful study and evaluation of reports received from a wide variety of sources over a considerable period of time." Commander Central Philippines Attack Force (COM7thFLT), Report of Operation for the Capture of Leyte Island including Action Report of Engagement in Surigao Strait and off Sarnar Island on 25 October 1944 (King Two Operation), 31 Jan 45, A16-3, Serial: 00302-C.
42 The official communique of Japanese Imperial General Headquarters for 19 October 1944 publicly admitted the loss of 312 aircraft, in addition to an unspecified number of planes damaged, during the period 12-16 October. Allied Air Force estimates placed the figure at 396 Japanese planes of all types destroyed. In addition 35 ships of various sizes were reported as sunk and 74 ships as probably damaged. AAF Intelligence Summary No. 245, " Result of the Allied Air Attack on Formosa on 12-13 Oct 44," 15 Oct 44, G-3, GHQ, SWPA Journal (S).
43 The extent of Japanese exaggeration regarding damage inflicted upon the U. S. Fleet can be appreciated by an examination of their official reports at the time. A communique issued by Imperial General Headquarters on 19 October reads as follows : " Since 12 October our forces have been engaged in fierce attacks against enemy task groups in the seas east of Luzon and Formosa. We have routed these forces and destroyed over half their strength. Total results achieved are as follows: Sunk: 11 carriers, 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 1 destroyer or cruiser. Damaged: 8 carriers, 2 battleships, 4 cruisers, 1 cruiser or destroyer and 13 ships of undetermined size. In addition at least 12 ships were left in flames."
44 Admiral Ozawa, Commander in Chief of the Japanese Third Fleet in the Battle for Leyte Gulf, stated, " . . . about 150 planes from the [Third Fleet] carriers were sent to Formosa; consequently our carrier strength was greatly reduced so the operation was changed to use land-based planes more frequently instead of carrier planes. My force of carrier planes became very much weakened; only 110 were left, so less than half remained." United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Naval Analysis Division, Interrogation of Japanese Officials, Vol I, p. 220.
45 Vice Adm. Shigeru Fukudome, Commander of the Second Air Fleet at the time of the Leyte landings, referring to the Japanese " success " in the Formosa raid, stated, " . . . while the results attained were probably not as great as reported at the time, I felt that considerable success had been attained and hence expected that some time would lapse before you [the Allies] would undertake the attack further south. However, your [Allied] thrust against the Philippines came much sooner than expected." USSBS, Interrogations of Japanese Officials, Vol II, p. 501. Lt. Col. Yorio Ishikawa, Staff Officer of the Fourteenth Area Army, also pointed out the effect of the magnified damage reports, saying, " It had been a prevalent conception among high commands that the United States was not thoroughly prepared to start the Philippines invasion when their landings actually took place on Leyte. The reason for this was that our navy reported crippling the enemy task forces in the air and sea battle off the shores of Formosa prior to the American landings on Leyte. The fact remained that our naval reports had been much exaggerated from the actual battle results and consequently we misjudged the potential move on the Philippines, thinking that the enemy was starting his operations without thorough preparations." General Tomochika stated, " We had estimated that approximately one half of the vaunted American air striking power had been crippled severely enough to prevent them from participating in the Philippines campaign." Interrogation Files, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC.
46 The following statements are typical of the testimony given by Japanese Army commanders regarding the expected invasion of the Philippines : "There were various opinions concerning the anticipated date of the initial landings in the Philippines, both in the Thirty-Fifth Army and in the Fourteenth Area Army Command", said General Tomochika. " Some of the staff officers were of the opinion that the enemy would come by land via New Guinea to Mindanao Island utilizing the same type of invasion technique he had so successfully employed during the New Guinea campaign. They contended that the enemy by establishing air bases on the way would probably land on Mindanao by eafly November.. . ." Maj. Kazuo Taguchi, Fourteenth Area Army Staff officer, added the following : " Based on the order of their expectancy, I had thought the first landings would take lace as follows: (1) the Sarangani Bay area, South Mindanao, (2) the Davao area, South Mindanao, (3) the Leyte Gulf coast area. Lt. Gen. Iinuma, Chief of Staff of the Southern Army, had also estimated the first landing to take place as mentioned above. Since southern Mindanao was the closest of the Japanese held areas and within easy range of their bombers based on Halmahera, I felt strongly that the initial attempt would be made in the area." Interrogation Files, G-2 Historical Section, GHQ, FEC. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey synthesized the divergence of opinion within the Japanese Naval High Command on the Philippine invasion as follows: ". . . by August, and particularly after the Palau and Morotai landings on 15 September, it was agreed in the top naval commands that the next Allied move would be against the Philippines. . . . It seems, however, that the anticipated timing of the assault and its location in the Philippines remained matters of contention among the command and staff officers until the Leyte operation actually commenced. Apparently, most believed that the assault would come in November, although there was strong opinion that it would be in early October. . . . The original prevailing opinion that Mindanao was the most likely place for a Philippines invasion persisted, although Samar, Leyte, and Luzon were considered a likelihood for the next Allied move." USSBS, Japanese Military and Naval Intelligence, pp. 56-57.