In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army

By Edward J. Drea | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
ADACHI HATAZO

A Soldier of His Emperor

Why talk about a general who is relatively obscure in Japan and virtually unknown elsewhere? We hear so much of either successful commanders or spectacular failures as generals that we often forget that there is a middle ground; the professional soldier (although Adachi Hatazo would have bridled at that description), whose steady yet unspectacular rise to important commands speaks volumes about the nature of the man as well as the army he serves. Perhaps by discussing a general officer who was neither a genius, such as Napoleon or MacArthur, nor a fool, such as McClellan or Mutaguchi, we gain a keener sense of what it meant to be an officer, a commander, and a leader in a major army. Moreover a preeminent Japanese military historian regards Adachi as one of only three general officers commanding troops who upheld Japan's military tradition by not disgracing the uniform. 1

Adachi Hatazo was born in Tokyo in 1890, the fifth of a family of six brothers and seven sisters. The family descended from the samurai (or warrior class), and Adachi's father was a professional officer, although tuberculosis had caused his removal from the active list. 2 By all accounts the elder Adachi was a martinet, perhaps because illness beyond his control cut short his military career. He then turned his frustration into a quest for perfection narrowly focused on the traditional values of the Japanese warrior class, such as courage, loyalty, bravery, frugality,

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