On January 1942, the Japanese seized the peninsula of Bataan, cutting off American and Filipino soldiers, both under the command of the United States, from help and supplies. After ninety-nine days of fighting, more than 76,000 men surrendered and were forced to walk to Camp O’Donnell, a prison camp approximately sixty-six miles away.1 This was the first time in American history that an entire army had to surrender to an enemy.2 The Bataan Death March lasted from April 9, 1942 to May 1, 1942. The march was infamous for the 20,000 meaningless deaths that were caused by harsh conditions, malnourishment, the tropical heat, and the deliberate and merciless brutality of the Japanese Imperial Army. The propagandized behavior of most Japanese soldiers and the 14th Army’s failure to implement a workable plan to remove the prisoners from Bataan were the main contributors that turned the march into a chaos of human rights violations.
The culture of the Japanese Army was dramatically changed by Japanese Army leaders who justified cruelty by taking advantage of ancient Japanese concepts. Japanese Army leaders saw an advantage in having every soldier fight to the death and put together the Senjin Kun, or “Ethics in Battle.” The manual used ideas that could be traced back to the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868) and emphasized the shame of surrender. According to the Senjin Kun, being captured was a fate worse than death because it not only permanently disgraced the soldier, but also his entire family. The Army leaders used the samurai’s Bushido, or “the way of the warrior,” code as an excuse to abuse its own soldiers. Ancient ideas like Seppuku and Junsbi promoted a ritual suicide when dishonor to...
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...on, Jim. "The Causes of the Bataan Death March Revisited." US-Japan Dialogue on POWs. N.p., 21 Aug. 2005. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.
Norman, Michael, and Elizabeth M. Norman. Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009. Print.
"Samurai and Bushido." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.
Tenney, Lester I. My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March. Washington: Brassey's, 1995. Print.
"Washington Conference (1921-22)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 2 Apr. 2014.
Young, Donald J. The Battle of Bataan: A Complete History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &, 2009. Print.
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