Sato Kotoku was the commanding General of the 31st division of the Japanese forces. He had personal enmity with Renya Mutaguchi. Mutaguchi plan was to attack and occupy Imphal to blunt the allied forces attack, but later it was enlarged to incorporate a joint attack of the British Indian forces from the Burma frontier, with the Indian National Army and move towards the plains of Bengal and Assam. Part of the plan was to cut off Kohima-Dimapur road and the escape route of British Indian army by the 31st division of the Japanese forces. However after taking Kohima, Sato did not venture further. William Slim had described him to be the most unenterprising of the Japanese generals that he encountered. Sato never attempted to conquer the railway yard in Kohima. The British forces were in the jaws of defeat but they could extricate themselves because of the blunders committed by the Japanese general. The British were no longer able to hold, but Sato, disregarding his orders from Mutaguchi and 15th Army HQ, had unilaterally ordered his soldiers to retreat as they were without food or drinking water. On 4 June 1944 Sato asked Shah Nawaz to retreat. This was disastrous for the Imphal campaign. INA was just within a short distance from Assam. Had they marched to Dimpur, the British campaign would have ended. Mutaguchi was tending to his rose gardens leaving the front to his men and that was one of the most devastating errors that he ever made in his military career, which ended with the disastrous Imphal campaign. Sato claimed that he made the decision in the best interest of his men.
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