To avoid needless violence and civilian deaths, and also to preserve as large a force as possible to continue defensive operations in rural Luzon, Imperial Japanese Army General Tomoyuki Yamashita had ordered a complete withdrawal of Japanese troops from Manila. However, 10,000 marines under Vice Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi disobeyed Yamashita's orders and remained in Manila along with some IJA stragglers.
Various credible Western and Eastern sources agree that the death toll was at least 100,000. The massacre was at its worst in the Battle of Manila. During lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians caught in the crossfire. Japanese troops looted and burned, and brutally executed, decapitated and abused women, men and children alike, including priests, Red Cross personnel, prisoners of war and hospital patients.
The Manila massacre was one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. Although General Yamashita had ordered all Japanese forces under his command to withdraw from Manila, and had no control over those who chose to disobey his orders, he was nonetheless judged to be responsible and executed. The Yamashita standard -regarding a commander's responsibility for action taken by anyone under his command- is based upon his trial. This decision is controversial even today.
- White, Matthew. "Death Tolls for the Man-made Megadeaths of the 20th Century". http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/battles.htm#Manila. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- Taylor, Lawrence, A Trial of Generals, Icarus Press, South Bend IN, 1981
- WW2DB: The Philippines Campaign
- The Battling Bastards of Bataan
- The Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century by Matthew White