Sakaibara Shigematsu (1894-1947)

Photograph of Sakaibara Shigematsu at surrender of Wake


Sakaibara Shigematsu was born to a wealthy and politically influential family near Misawa in northern Honshu and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1918. He served on a number of surface ships and, after being promoted to the rank of captain, in various staff positions. He had a reputation as a "gentleman soldier" who praised the rural lifestyle and integrity of the common Japanese.

Sakaibara commanded the Japanese garrison of Wake in late 1943. On 5 October 1943, infuriated by a devastating carrier raid on the island, he ordered the execution of almost 100 American prisoners, former civilian construction workers who were on the island when it fell to the Japanese in December 1941. The last prisoner was beheaded by the admiral's own hand. On 15 October 1944 he was promoted to rear admiral, and on 4 September 1945 he surrendered Wake to the Americans.

Sakaibara was tried and hanged for the 1943 atrocity after the war.

Service record

1918-11-21 Midshipman Graduates from Naval Academy, stangind 36th in a class of 124. Assigned to CL Tokiwa
1919-8-1 Ensign CL Hirado
1919-12-1   Gunnery School Basic Course
1920-5-31   Torpedo School Basic Course
1920-12-1   DD Kaba
1921-11-18   BB Mutsu
1921-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade
1922-12-1   CL Tama
1923-3-20   CL Iwate
1924-4-10   CL Kasuga
1924-12-1 Lieutenant Gunnery School Advanced Course
1925-12-1   BB Hiei
1926-6-1   3 Naval District
1926-8-1   Awaiting assignment
1926-11-15   3 Naval District
1927-3-31   Instructor, Sasebo Sailor Corps
1928-9-27   CL Yura
1929-2-20   CL Sendai
1929-4-10   CL Tatsuta
1930-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
Instructor, Gunnery School
1934-10-22   CA Takao
1935-11-15 Commander BB Mutsu
1937-12-1   Instructor,  Naval Academy
1939-11-15   Executive officer, CA Chikuma
1940-11-15 Captain Instructor, Sasebo Sailor Corps
1941-11-20   Executive officer, 2 Sasebo Sailor Corps
1942-11-22   Staff, 4 Fleet
1942-12-10   Commander, 65 Guard Force
1944-10-15 Rear admiral


Executed for war crimes


Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-6-26)

Sloan (2003)

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