Military History The Imperial Japanese Army in the World War II Era
by
Douglas Ford
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0115

Introduction

The vast majority of the English language sources on the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) concentrate on its activities during the Pacific War of 1941–1945, with a small but nonetheless valuable collection of works written on its earlier campaigns against China and Russia in the late 1930s. The availability of quality academic works has been significantly limited by the language barrier, which has meant that scholars face considerable difficulties in translating Japanese texts and documentary sources. Nevertheless, when one includes the historical works on the Allied experiences in combating the IJA during the Pacific War, one is able to access a rich array of literature. The existing historiography explains many of the key factors relating to the Imperial Army, including its role in the Japanese political system and its wartime strategy, the development of its tactics and weapons technologies, and the state of morale and combat motivation among its troops. Recent works have covered some contentious issues, including the Japanese army’s policies regarding the treatment of POWs and the motivations which lay behind the war crimes that its officers carried out during the course of the conflict. The army’s role in maintaining domestic law and order in wartime Japan is also a subject of sustained academic interest.

General Histories

As with any topic related to World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) has been covered in a number of general works, written by academic as well as nonacademic authors. The literature has broadly explained the IJA’s policies and military campaigns, and puts forward an overview of the motives which lay behind the army’s policies of seeking expansion on the Asiatic mainland during the 1930s. The aim was to acquire a secure supply of raw materials and resources, while at the same time neutralizing the threat posed by the Soviet Union, which the army command viewed as Japan’s foremost ideological enemy. Popular histories also help the reader develop a basic understanding of how the difficulties which the IJA faced in defeating the Chinese after 1937 led it to seek expansion in the southern regions. The action eventually brought Japan into a confrontation against the Western powers, including Great Britain and the United States. Finally, the literature offers what is oftentimes a detailed account of the IJA’s activities during the war, from its rapid conquest of Southeast Asia and the western Pacific regions between December 1941 and spring 1942, followed by the waning of its fortunes after its defeats at Guadalcanal and New Guinea in early 1943. The mounting setbacks which the Japanese army suffered against the ever-growing might of the US armed forces in the Pacific theater is also described. Popular histories on the IJA are useful for gaining an introductory knowledge of the subject. For an overview of the general conduct of the Pacific War, Collier 1969, Costello 2002, Spector 1985, and Willmott 1982 are the best starting points. For narratives which focus on the activities of the Japanese, Dorn 1974, Harries and Harries 1992, Hoyt 1986, and Toland 2011 are the most reliable.

  • Collier, Basil. The War in the Far East, 1941–1945: A Military History. London: Heinemann, 1969.

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    A general history of the war against Japan.

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  • Costello, John. The Pacific War, 1941–1945. New York: Perennial, 2002.

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    One of the most prominent works on the Pacific War, Costello puts forward a balanced account of the campaigns between the Allied and Japanese forces, including many of the ground battles. Although based largely on English language sources, the book nevertheless is a good source of background information on the Imperial Army’s wartime operations. Originally published in 1981 (New York: Rawson-Wade)

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  • Dorn, Frank. The Sino-Japanese War, 1937–41: From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor. New York: Macmillan, 1974.

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    A journalistic account of the Japanese army’s activities in China, including the attacks on the International Settlement in Shanghai, and its treatment of Chinese civilians.

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  • Harries, Meirion, and Susan Harries. Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army. New York: Random House, 1992.

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    A narrative account of the Japanese army’s operations during World War II, but marred by factual errors and a lack of citations.

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  • Hoyt, Edwin. Japan’s War: The Great Pacific Conflict, 1853–1952. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.

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    A general history of the key developments and decisions which led Japan to declare war on the Western powers in 1941, with a focus on the growing tide of militarism and nationalism. Hoyt also explains the many atrocities which the Japanese committed, including the massacre of civilians at Nanking, and the use of POWs for slave labor.

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  • Spector, Ronald. The Eagle against the Sun: The American War with Japan. New York: Vintage, 1985.

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    Along with Costello 2002, Spector’s general history on the Pacific War is among the most reliable sources of background information on the ground campaigns which the Imperial Japanese Army waged against its Allied opponents.

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  • Toland, John. Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Military, 2011.

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    A nonacademic history of wartime Japan, with some sections on the IJA’s activities in China and in the Pacific theater. First published in 1970 (New York: Random House).

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  • Willmott, Hedley Paul. Empires in the Balance: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies to April 1942. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1982.

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    Willmott analyzes the strategic situation facing the Allied and Japanese armed forces during the opening stages of the Pacific War. Although lacking in documentary citations, the book argues convincingly that by spring 1942, the Imperial Army had faced an impasse as its divisions were scattered over an area stretching thousands of miles from Burma to the Southwest Pacific.

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Battle Histories

Among the works which make use of primary evidence, in the form of official documents, unit diaries, and soldiers’ memoirs, the first category are the battle histories of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Within this category, there are a number of subcategories: secondary sources on the IJA, the campaigns in the Pacific theater, the campaigns in the Burma theater, official histories, and memoirs. The US and British official histories on the Pacific War also contain large sections which detail the strategy and operations of Japanese ground units. They also explain the challenges which the Western forces faced in overcoming the IJA during the major campaigns, including New Guinea, Burma, and the Philippines, as well as the ways in which commanders devised ways to overcome the obstacles. Finally, memoirs written by both Japanese and Allied generals are a valuable source of information on the conduct of the ground campaigns in the Asia-Pacific theaters.

Japanese Army

In regard to secondary sources on the IJA, Hayashi 1978 offers a detailed account of the IJA’s campaigns from China from 1937, right through to its final confrontations against the Americans at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. Coox 1985 puts forward an exhaustive narrative of the IJA’s confrontation against the Soviet Red Army during the 1939 Nomonhan campaign.

  • Coox, Alvin. Nomonhan: Japan against Russia, 1939. 2 vols. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985.

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    Drawing upon an array of documents from both the Japanese and Soviet archives, Coox puts forward a critical explanation of how a combination of factors, ranging from faulty operational planning on the part of the Japanese high command, coupled with the poor fighting skills demonstrated by the rank and file, led the IJA to suffer defeat at the hands of the Soviets.

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  • Hayashi, Saburo, in collaboration with Alvin Coox. Kōgun: The Japanese Army in the Pacific War. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1978

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    One of the first works on the IJA written in the English language, Kōgun puts forward a concise and well-researched account of the Japanese army’s operations, starting with the 1937 China venture. The book also provides details of the plans which Japanese commanders drew up for their major battles, and describes a range of pertinent matters, including the strength and composition of the participating units. Originally published in 1959 (Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Association).

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Allied Operations in Pacific Theater

Secondary works on the campaigns in the Pacific theater focus on the efforts which the US forces undertook to dismantle the Japanese army’s hold on its conquests, with Isely and Crowl 1951 and Taaffe 1998 being the most substantial sources.

Malaya and Burma Campaigns

The British army’s effort to defend Malaya against the Japanese army’s invasion during the opening stages of the Pacific War, as well as the 1942–1945 Burma campaign, have received substantial attention. Allen 1977 and Kirby 1971 offer the most reliable accounts of the Malaya campaign, while Warren 2002 has put forward a more updated analysis. Allen 1984, Hickey 1998, and Thompson 2002 are most useful for gaining an understanding of the Burma campaign, while Bidwell 1979, Mead 1987, and Rooney 1994 attempt to resolve the controversial debate on the role which Orde Wingate’s long-range penetration groups played in aiding the British army’s efforts to dislodge the Japanese from Burma.

  • Allen, Louis. Singapore, 1941–1942. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1977.

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    Although published in the 1970s, Allen’s narrative remains one of the most reliable accounts of the British Empire forces’ failed attempt to forestall the Japanese army’s invasion of Malaya and the bastion at Singapore during the opening months of the Pacific War.

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  • Allen, Louis. Burma: The Longest War, 1941–1945. London: Dent, 1984.

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    A well-documented and extensively researched account of the Burma campaign from both the British and Japanese perspective. Allen offers a detailed insight into the Fifteenth Army’s success in driving the British forces back to the Indian frontier in early 1942 and repelling the counterattack against the Arakan region in early 1943. The book then explains how Japanese commanders sought to break the British army’s hold on India by launching the offensives against the forward bases at Imphal and Kohima in early 1944, which ended in failure, and paved the way for General William Slim’s advance into the central regions of Burma, culminating with the collapse of the IJA’s position in Burma by 1945.

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  • Bidwell, Shelford. The Chindit War: The Campaign in Burma, 1944. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1979.

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    Along with Mead 1987 and Rooney 1994, Bidwell’s book is one of the most reliable accounts of the activities of the Chindits during the Burma campaign, and their efforts to carry out long-range penetration missions in order to disrupt the Japanese army’s communications and supply lines in preparation for the Fourteenth Army’s counteroffensive.

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  • Grant, Ian, and Kazuo Tamayama. Burma, 1942: The Japanese Invasion. Chichester, UK: Zampi, 1999.

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    A unique narrative of the IJA’s attack on Burma during the opening stages of the Far Eastern conflict, which puts forward detailed accounts from both the Japanese and British viewpoints.

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  • Hickey, Michael. The Unforgettable Army: Slim’s XIVth Army in Burma. Staplehurst, UK: Spellmount, 1998.

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    An updated narrative of the Fourteenth Army’s campaign to oust the Japanese army from Burma.

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  • Kirby, Stephen Woodburn. Singapore: The Chain of Disaster. London: Cassell, 1971.

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    Along with Allen’s work, Kirby’s narrative of the Malaya campaign and the fall of Singapore is one of the authoritative works on this particular episode of the Far Eastern conflict.

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  • Mead, Peter. Orde Wingate and the Historians. Braunton, UK: Merlin, 1987.

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    A critical appraisal of the competing historical debates regarding the role which the Chindits played in the Burma theater.

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  • Rooney, David. Wingate and the Chindits: Redressing the Balance. London: Cassell, 1994.

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    A balanced attempt to resolve the historical debates on the utility of the Chindits’ operations.

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  • Thompson, Julian. The Imperial War Museum Book of the War in Burma, 1942–1945. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2002.

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    A more recent account of the Burma campaign, with a detailed account of the key battles, including the spring 1944 counteroffensive against the Arakan and Manipur regions, the recapture of Mandalay, and the routing of the Japanese army from the central Irrawaddy plains.

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  • Warren, Alan. Singapore, 1942: Britain’s Greatest Defeat. London: Hambledon, 2002.

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    A more recent explanation of why the British Empire forces failed to prevent the Japanese from capturing Singapore.

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Official Histories

The official histories which provide the most useful information on the Allied encounters against the IJA are those of the US Army (The US Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific), as well as Hough, et al. 1961–1971, which chronicles the US Marines’ efforts to dislodge the Japanese from their island bastions in the Pacific. Kirby 1957–1970 is an excellent source of information on the British Empire armies’ confrontations against the IJA in Southeast Asia.

Memoirs

A number of memoirs written by both Allied and Japanese senior officers put forward useful first-hand accounts of the Japanese army’s activities during World War II. Memoirs by US commanders include Gill 1974, Krueger 1953, MacArthur 1964, and Riegelman 1955. Percival 1949 is a prominent firsthand account of the British effort to defend Malaya in 1942, while Tsuji 1993 and Yahara 1995 offer a rare English-language account from the IJA’s perspective.

Biographies

A small number of biographical works on Japanese commanders and staff officers, including Peattie 1975 and Swinson 1968, offer a useful insight into the roles which some of the key personalities played in developing the army’s operational plans. Biographies of Allied military personnel who fought the Japanese are also a valuable resource for learning about the challenges which the Imperial Army put up, and how the Western forces learned to deal with their opponents as the Pacific War progressed. Within the Allied camp, the personality who has received the greatest attention is General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Southwest Pacific Area who orchestrated the New Guinea campaign, as well as the liberation of the Philippines in 1944–1945, with James 1975 and Long 1969 being the most reliable works. The edited collection in Leary 1988 chronicles the achievements of the generals who served under MacArthur’s command. Robert Eichelberger, who commanded the US Eighth Army, has also received praise, in Chwialkowski 1993 and Shortal 1987, for his successful effort to introduce the tactical training which American troops needed in order to overcome the IJA. Finally, Lewin 1976 is the definitive biography of General William Slim, the commander of the British army during the Burma campaign.

  • Chwialkowski, Paul. In Caesar’s Shadow: The Life of General Robert Eichelberger. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993.

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    A well-written biography of Eichelberger, with several chapters devoted to his wartime career.

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  • James, D. Clayton. The Years of MacArthur. Vol. 2, 1941–1945. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975.

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    A full-volume account of MacArthur’s achievements while serving as supreme commander of the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific area.

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  • Leary, William, ed. We Shall Return!: MacArthur’s Commanders and the Defeat of Japan. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1988.

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    A collection of well-researched biographies of the commanders who served in General Douglas MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific command, including General Walter Krueger and General Robert Eichelberger, and the roles which they played in building the US Army into a fighting force that was able to dislodge the Japanese from their conquests.

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  • Lewin, Ronald. Slim: The Standardbearer. A Biography of Field-Marshal the Viscount Slim. London: Leo Cooper, 1976.

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    A biography of General William Slim, commander of the British Fourteenth Army in Burma, and how his leadership helped British forces overcome the defeats they suffered during the opening stages of the conflict and develop the capacity to push the Japanese out of Burma by 1945.

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  • Long, Gavin. MacArthur as Military Commander. London: Batsford, 1969.

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    A critical appraisal of MacArthur’s competence and the decisions which he implemented during his career as commander of the Southwest Pacific area.

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  • Peattie, Mark. Ishiwara Kanji and Japan’s Confrontation with the West. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975.

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    Ishiwara served as a staff officer for the Kwangtung Army, which was responsible for protecting Japanese interests in China, and he drew up the plans for the conquest of Manchuria in 1931. An outspoken nationalist, Ishiwara later strove to create an Asiatic empire that could provide Japan with the resources to fight the United States.

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  • Shortal, John. Forged by Fire: Robert L. Eichelberger and the Pacific War. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.

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    The most reliable account of Eichelberger’s role in enabling US forces to develop the tactical skills needed to fight the Imperial Japanese Army.

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  • Swinson, Arthur. Four Samurai: A Quartet of Japanese Army Commanders in World War II. London: Hutchinson, 1968.

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    A collection of biographies on four prominent Japanese generals, including (1) Yamashita Tomoyuki, who led the invasion of Malaya; (2) Homma Masaharu, the commander of the Philippines invasion force; (3) Mutaguchi Renya, commander of the Fifteenth Army in Burma; and (4) Honda Masaki, who led the fight against General Joseph Stilwell’s forces in northern Burma.

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Army’s Role in Japanese Policy-Making and Strategic Planning

The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), in contrast to many of its Western counterparts, enjoyed a privileged position in the political system of its parent nation. Under the 1889 constitution, the army general staff, along with its navy counterpart, had the right of direct access to the emperor. Subsequently, the IJA played a pivotal role in the development of Japan’s foreign policy until the end of the Pacific War in August 1945. The bulk of the literature on the army’s contribution to Japanese policy-making and strategic planning focuses on three watershed periods, namely: (1) the late 1920s and 1930s, when the Imperial forces commenced their program of aggressive expansion on the Asiatic mainland by occupying Manchuria and large parts of China; (2) 1940–1941, when the Japanese leadership began to look toward Southeast Asia, and contemplated the question of how to deal with opposition from the US and British Empire, both of whom had a substantial presence in the region; and (3) the wartime years and closing months of the Pacific War.

  • Maxon, Yale Candee. Control of Japanese Foreign Policy: A Study in Civil-Military Rivalry, 1930–1945. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1975.

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    An analysis of how the development of Japanese foreign policy was consistently affected by disagreements between the civilian leadership and the military high command.

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  • Morgan, Francis. Compellence and the Strategic Culture of Imperial Japan: Implications for Coercive Diplomacy in the Twenty-First Century. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

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    An analysis of Japanese foreign policy written from the perspective of a political scientist, Morgan’s work draws upon three seminal case studies, including the decision for war in 1941, and the decision to surrender in 1945. Morgan emphasizes how the army command’s ambitious policy and reckless attitudes toward Japan’s strategic situation were among the foremost factors in propelling the nation to embark on a venture which brought about a total defeat at the hands of the Allied powers.

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c. 1920–1939

The main texts on this period are Barnhart 1987, Humphreys 1995, and Morley 1984. A careful reading of the available texts shows that the IJA was most concerned with securing a dominant position in China, and exploiting the region as a source of raw materials that could enable Japan to build up the military strength to confront its foremost enemy in Asia, namely the Soviet Union. Although the army leadership had harbored a desire for overseas expansion ever since the turn of the 20th century, it was the adversities that had been brought about by the Great Depression of 1929–1933 which led the IJA to earnestly pursue its objectives. The political turmoil which swept Japan as a result of the economic downturn led the civilian government to lose its credibility, thus enabling the military to carry out a more independent policy. The result was the conquest of Manchuria in 1931, which set in motion a chain of events which culminated with the outbreak of a full-scale war between China and Japan in 1937.

  • Barnhart, Michael. Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security, 1919–1941. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987.

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    As the title suggests, Barnhart focuses on the Japanese military leadership’s quest to create an autarkic empire. The book contains a number of chapters which explain how the army deemed it essential to secure control over China in order to acquire the resources which Japan needed in order to fight the inevitable war against the Great Powers who appeared to oppose its expansionist moves.

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  • Humphreys, Leonard. The Way of the Heavenly Sword: The Japanese Army in the 1920s. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.

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    Humphreys concentrates on the political infighting within the army leadership, and explains how officers who pushed for a more vigorous policy of territorial expansion gained the upper hand. The onset of the Great Depression after 1929, and the economic turmoil which swept Japan, exacerbated the IJA command’s sense of insecurity, and led it to conclude that eliminating China and the USSR was necessary in order to ensure national survival.

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  • Morley, James, ed. Japan Erupts: The London Naval Conference and the Manchurian Incident, 1928–1932. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.

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    Part of a series, comprised of selected translations from Taiheiyō senso e no michi: kaisen gaiko shi (Japan’s road to the Pacific War), continued in The China Quagmire: Japan’s Expansion on the Asian Continent, 1933–1941 (1983) and Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, 1935–1940 (1976). The translated version of the Japanese official history on the origins of the Pacific War, Morley’s series puts forward a well-documented account of the army’s impact on the decision to occupy Manchuria in 1931, and the way in which the move set Japan on a path toward seeking complete control over the Chinese mainland by the end of the decade.

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1940–1941

The most prominent works on the period are Butow 1954 (cited under 1942–1945), Fujiwara 1973, Ike 1967, Iriye 1987, and Tohmatsu 2003. All authors explain how, throughout a large part of the period, the IJA remained committed to bringing the war in China to a successful conclusion, while at the same time preparing for an eventual confrontation against the USSR. The policy ran contrary to the Imperial Navy, whose main fixation was to secure control over the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya. For the navy, the arch-enemies were the maritime powers, including the United States and Great Britain. The inter-service disagreements, in turn, were among the key factors which prevented Japan from developing a coherent war plan. It was not until summer 1941, when the United States and its allies imposed an oil embargo on Japan, in response to its occupation of southern Indochina, that the IJA and IJN agreed that it was necessary to occupy the Dutch East Indies in order to secure the resources which had been denied by the sanctions. Both services also agreed that they needed to eliminate British and American forces from the region in order to achieve their aims.

  • Fujiwara, Akira. “The Role of the Japanese Army.” In Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931–1941. Edited by Dorothy Borg and Shumpei Okamoto, 189–196. New York: Columbia University Press, 1973.

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    Fujiwara’s essay argues that the army did not deem it necessary to eliminate American military power in Asia, and that the advance into Southeast Asia could be carried out safely even without fighting the US forces based in areas such as the Philippines and Hawaii. In the end, however, the navy’s insistence on staging a preemptive attack on America prevailed over the army’s more cautious policy.

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  • Ike, Nobutaka, ed. Japan’s Decision for War: Records of the 1941 Policy Conferences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1967.

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    One of the few English-language primary sources on the buildup to Japan’s declaration of war on the Western powers, Ike’s collection of edited documents details how, prior to summer 1941, the army was fixated on concluding the war effort in China. Only in August, following the oil embargo which America and its allies had imposed in response to the Japanese occupation of southern Indochina, did the army agree with the navy’s view that Japan had to occupy the oilfields of the Dutch East Indies, and prepare for counter intervention by the United States and Great Britain in the process.

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  • Iriye, Akira. The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific. London: Longman, 1987.

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    Written by one of the most prominent historians of international relations in the Far East, the book puts forward an articulate explanation of how the outbreak of the Pacific War was the culmination of a host of rivalries that were taking place at the international level, as well as the political infighting that was unfolding among the various factions of the Japanese leadership, including the army.

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  • Morley, James William, ed. The Fateful Choice: Japan’s Advance into Southeast Asia, 1931–1941. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980.

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    The continuation of Morley’s translated official history (part of a series, comprised of selected translations from Taiheiyo senso e no michi: kaisen gaiko shi (Japan’s road to the Pacific War), continued in The Final Confrontation: Japan’s Negotiations with the United States, 1941 [1994]) puts forward a well-documented account of the reasons why Japan’s objectives widened from the mere conquest of the Chinese mainland, to the complete elimination of the Western powers from Southeast Asia, and declaring war on the United States and its European allies in the process.

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  • Tohmatsu, Haruo. “The Imperial Army Turns South: The IJA’s Preparation for War against Britain, 1940–1941.” In The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600–2000. Vol. 3, The Military Dimension. Edited by Ian Gow and Yoichi Hirama, 175–185. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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    A concise analysis of the army’s strategy for occupying the southern regions, and in particular, the British territories of Malaya and Burma.

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1942–1945

In regard to the IJA’s wartime strategy, Bond and Tachikawa 2004 offers an insightful account of the strategic dilemmas which the IJA faced as the conflict progressed. On the subject of war termination, the most important works on this period are Bernstein 1995, Bix 1995, Butow 1954, Hasegawa 2005, and Sigal 1988. The IJA command was an outspoken proponent of fighting to the finish, and pressed the Japanese government to avoid surrendering to the Allies at all costs. During the closing stages of the Pacific War, the army drew up a plan to defend the home islands from an invasion by redeploying many of its elite divisions that were based in China for an all-out battle. The aim was to inflict a level of casualties that could compel the United States and its coalition partners to offer a negotiated peace whereby the militarist government could remain in power while Japan retained some of its overseas conquests, including Korea and Formosa. The prospect of staging a last-ditch battle, in turn, was used as the main argument to continue resisting the Allied powers’ demands that Japan surrender unconditionally.

  • Bernstein, Barton. “Understanding the Atomic Bomb and the Japanese Surrender: Missed Opportunities, Little-Known near Disasters and Modern Memory.” Diplomatic History 19.2 (1995): 227–273.

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    Written to coincide with the fiftieth commemoration of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Bernstein’s article, along with Bix 1995, uses evidence obtained from interviews with top-ranking Japanese officials, including those from the IJA high command, to illustrate how, prior to August 1945, the military leadership had no inclination to surrender to the Allies.

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  • Bix, Herbert. “Japan’s Delayed Surrender: A Reinterpretation.” Diplomatic History 19.2 (1995): 197–225.

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    Bix’s article explains the political divisions which emerged within the Japanese leadership during the closing stages of the war. While the army insisted on fighting to the finish, a small group of politicians within the Imperial court and the cabinet were in favor of offering peace terms to the Allies. However, the army’s strong influence over policy-making decisions discouraged the pacifists from voicing their opinions until the atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945.

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  • Bond, Brian, and Kyoichi Tachikawa, eds. British and Japanese Military Leadership in the Far Eastern War, 1941–1945. Abingdon, UK: Frank Cass, 2004.

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    The edited collection of comparative essays illustrates how Japan’s strategy was plagued by a combination of factors, including inter-service rivalry between the army and navy, coupled with the general staffs’ inability to draw up a coherent course of action which took proper account of the fact that their armed forces did not have the strength to prevail against the Allied coalition in a protracted campaign.

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  • Butow, Robert. Japan’s Decision to Surrender. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1954.

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    One of the first English language works written on the subject, Butow’s analysis is based on a range of Japanese documentary sources, including the 9 June 1945 directive issued by the supreme council, which declared that Japan would prosecute the war to the bitter end in order to protect its home territory. The army command played an instrumental role in persuading the council to ratify the plan.

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  • Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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    An early-21st-century account of Japan’s decision to surrender, Hasegawa uses archival documents to illustrate how the Soviet entry into the Pacific War on 8 August 1945 was the most decisive factor which compelled the leadership to surrender.

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  • Sigal, Leon. Fighting to the Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.

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    A study of US and Japanese policy on the issue of concluding the Pacific War during the final months of the conflict, Sigal’s work argues that the army high command was among the key factions that blocked the government’s efforts to end the war by means of negotiation with the Allied powers, at least until the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.

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Tactical Doctrines and Weapons Technologies

The IJA’s performance at the tactical level has attracted a considerable degree of scholarly attention. One of the Japanese army’s distinctive features was that it relied heavily on the mobility and fighting skills of its infantry arm. This was in contrast to Western forces, including the US and British armies, who viewed modern armaments such as tanks and supporting arms as a key instrument for overcoming enemy opposition. The IJA’s approach to combat was influenced by a combination of factors, among the most significant of which was the fact that Japan did not have the economic and industrial resources to build large quantities of heavy weapons. The experiences of the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese war also appeared to confirm that well-trained and disciplined troops could overcome their opponents through tactical skill, even when they were not equipped with the most effective hardware. Some Japanese officers did attempt to adopt Western weapons and methods of their use during the interwar period, but efforts toward reform were hindered by a combination of economic factors, coupled with the high command’s adherence to its belief that foot soldiers, when properly led and motivated, could overcome whatever technological or numerical advantages their opponents held. As a result, the IJA entered the Pacific War without a proper understanding of the resources which it required in order to fight well-equipped enemies such as the US and British armed forces which they eventually faced during the latter stages of the conflict. The efforts which the Allied forces undertook to overcome the Japanese army at the battlefield level have also become a subject of interest among historians.

Japanese Army

The most prominent work on the IJA’s tactics is Drea 1998. Barker 1979 and Forty 1999 also put forward an interesting illustrated account on the subject. The literature explains how, in spite of its high level of tactical skill, innovations were held back because the IJA’s officer corps continued to overestimate the extent to which its forces could cope with enemies who possessed material superiority even after it commenced hostilities against the Allied forces in December 1941. Japanese military traditions also discouraged the use of initiative, and the training of the rank and file was conducted to instill an unquestioned acceptance of orders from higher authority. The situation hindered any institutional efforts to reform existing practices and weapons technologies, and the failure to reform, in turn, was one of the key causes of the IJA’s eventual demise.

  • Barker, A. J. Japanese Army Handbook, 1939–1945. London: Ian Allan, 1979.

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    An illustrated account of the IJA’s tactics and weapons technologies. In a similar vein to Forty 1999, listed below, it tends to be descriptive, and does not offer a critical appraisal. The book is more useful for gaining a background knowledge of the subject.

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  • Drea, Edward. In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

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    The foremost work on the IJA, Drea’s work, which is based on a wide collection of Japanese documentary sources as well as secondary accounts, puts forward an introspective view of the ideas which underpinned Japanese fighting methods, as well as the fundamental flaws in the army’s attitude toward modern warfare.

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  • Forty, George. Japanese Army Handbook, 1939–1945. Stroud, UK: Sutton, 1999.

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    An illustrated account of the IJA’s tactics and weapons technologies, with a number of useful diagrams on topics such as orders of battle, the layout of defensive positions, and the mechanics of the Japanese army’s weapons.

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Allied Forces’ Experiences in Combating the IJA in the Pacific Theater

Bergerud 1996, Eichelberger 1957, and Ford 2009 are the most useful works on the development of Allied tactics against the IJA in the Pacific theater. Despite its shortcomings, the IJA proved to be a difficult enemy. Its troops proved skilled at making good use of their available resources. Defensive positions were constructed in order to alleviate the effects of bombardment. Advantage was also made of the thick vegetation prevailing in the jungles of Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands in order to conceal and camouflage the positions. When Allied troops reached within proximity of Japanese positions, the defending forces fought to the last man and round, thereby inflicting significant casualties and delays on the attackers. Under the circumstances, Western troops had to learn how to fight a combined arms battle, whereby supporting arms were used to soften up enemy defenses, and thereafter, infantry units moved in to physically occupy the positions and eliminate the remnants of enemy forces who continued to put up resistance.

  • Bergerud, Eric. Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific. London: Penguin, 1996.

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    A thorough narrative of the US Army’s initial counteroffensives against the IJA during late 1942–1943. Describes the difficulties faced in dislodging Japanese troops from their conquests in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. The book contains a useful chapter on the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese army’s combat methods, as well as a comprehensive account of how US soldiers learned how to overcome their opponent.

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  • Eichelberger, Robert. Jungle Road to Tokyo. London: Odhams, 1957.

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    General Eichelberger’s memoir puts forward a critical and introspective account of how his forces developed the tactics that were needed to defeat the IJA.

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  • Ford, Douglas. “The Best Equipped Army in Asia?: US Military Intelligence and the Imperial Japanese Army before the Pacific War, 1919–1941.” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 21.1 (2008): 86–121.

    DOI: 10.1080/08850600701249857Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An analysis of the reasons why US military intelligence personnel, along with the wider army establishment, failed to understand the threat posed by the IJA’s tactical skills during the years leading up to the invasion of the Philippines in 1941.

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  • Ford, Douglas. “Intelligence and the US Army’s Operations in the Pacific Theatres, 1943–1945: Lessons Learned and Methods Applied.” War in History 16.3 (2009): 325–358.

    DOI: 10.1177/0968344509104195Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explains how US commanders used observations of the Japanese army’s performance in battle to develop the appropriate methods for overcoming their opponents.

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  • Johnston, Mark. Fighting the Enemy: Australian Soldiers and Their Adversaries in World War II. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    One of the few academic works written on the Australian army’s participation in the conflict, the book contains several useful chapters on its efforts to develop the tactical procedures to confront the IJA.

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  • Luvaas, Jay. “Buna: A Leavenworth Nightmare.” In America’s First Battles, 1776–1965. Edited by C. E. Heller and W. A. Stofft, 186–225. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.

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    A concise and articulate essay on the tactical lessons which the US Army learned from its first major offensive operation against the IJA at Buna, New Guinea, during winter 1942–1943.

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  • Luvaas, Jay, ed. Dear Miss Em: General Eichelberger’s War in the Pacific, 1942–1945. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1972.

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    An edited collection of General Eichelberger’s personal correspondence.

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  • United States War Department. Handbook on Japanese Military Forces. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991.

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    The published version of the US War Department’s Technical Manual TM-E 30-480, issued in October 1944, when American commanders had gained substantial experience in engaging the IJA, and subsequently, a sound understanding of its tactical methods and weapons technologies. The manual provides a comprehensive collection of information on the subject, complete with diagrams and illustrations.

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Allied Forces’ Experiences in Combating the IJA in Burma and Malaya Theaters

Aside from its failed attempt to halt the invasion of Malaya between December 1941 and early 1942, the British army’s engagements against the IJA in the Southeast Asia region have not received a great amount of attention among academics, at least in comparison to the campaigns in the Pacific theater. Ferris 2003 and Moreman 2005 are the most useful sources on the efforts which the Fourteenth Army undertook to develop the appropriate tactical methods for defeating the Japanese, while Perrett 1978 and Smurthwaite 1992 offer insights into how the use of modern armaments was modified in a way that was suitable for fighting the Japanese in close country terrain. Slim 1956 is reputedly the most introspective memoir written by a World War II general.

  • Ferris, John. “Worthy of Some Better Enemy?: The British Estimate of the Imperial Japanese Army, and the Fall of Singapore, 1919–1941.” Canadian Journal of History 28.2 (1993): 223–256.

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    An authoritative analysis of the miscalculations which British military commanders made in regard to the IJA’s combat capabilities prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War.

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  • Ferris, John. “Ground of Our Own Choosing: The Anglo-Japanese War in Asia, 1941–1945.” In The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600–2000. Vol. 3, The Military Dimension. Edited by Ian Gow and Yoichi Hirama, 186–201. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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    A concise and well-researched analysis of the British Fourteenth Army’s endeavor to surmount the tactical learning curve against the IJA in the Burma theater.

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  • Moreman, Tim. The Jungle, the Japanese and the British Commonwealth Armies at War, 1941–1945: Fighting Methods, Doctrine, and Training for Jungle Warfare. London: Frank Cass, 2005.

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    The most recent treatise on the Fourteenth Army’s development of its tactics against the Japanese puts forward a well-documented and authoritative account of how battle lessons were utilized to develop the appropriate methods for overcoming Japanese forces.

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  • Perrett, Bryan. Tank Tracks to Rangoon: The Story of British Armour in Burma. London: Robert Hale, 1978.

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    A narrative account of how British forces learned to deploy their armored units in rugged terrain which did not always permit the easy movement of motorized vehicles. The book describes the various ways in which tanks were used to overcome Japanese defenses in the Burma theater.

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  • Slim, William. Defeat into Victory. London: Cassell, 1956.

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    Reputedly the best-written memoir by a World War II general, the commander of the Fourteenth Army puts forward a critical and objective account of his role in helping British forces learn the appropriate lessons from their initial setbacks against the IJA, and thereafter enable them to develop the capacity to dismantle the Japanese army’s hold on Burma.

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  • Smurthwaite, David, ed. The Forgotten War: The British Army in the Far East, 1941–1945. London: National Army Museum, 1992.

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    A collection of edited essays which explain how British troops developed the techniques needed to fight the Japanese.

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Morale and Combat Motivation

The subject of morale and combat motivation forms a central part in any study of the IJA, for two key reasons. First, for the Japanese, their fighting spirit formed the main weapon for waging a battle against the numerically and technologically superior Allied forces. Military leaders explicitly stated that staying power provided the only way to circumvent the disadvantages that arose from Japan’s incapacity to match its opponents’ industrial and military potential. The armed forces were expected to prolong the conflict to the point where the Western powers started to suffer from war-weariness, and thereafter offered the negotiated peace which the Japanese much sought. For this reason, soldiers were indoctrinated into believing that surrendering was the ultimate act of treason, and that they were to continue fighting even if defeat was imminent. Conversely, Western forces often found that the Imperial Army’s persistence was one of the most formidable obstacles to achieving battlefield victories. Over the recent decades, the underlying factors which sustained the Japanese soldier’s fighting spirit have become a topic of debate among a small but nonetheless vocal group of scholars. On one hand, Dower 1986 has argued that racial hatred and ideology were the key instruments which the Japanese, along with the Allies, used to maintain morale. The animosity, in turn, gave rise to a level of violence which was not visible in many other theaters. Laurie 1996 supports Dower’s claim that the Japanese soldier’s refusal to surrender was among the foremost obstacles to the progress of Allied operations. However, Dower and his proponents have tended to present a one-sided argument that seems to reject any suggestion that other aspects played an important role. The most significant reexamination of the issue has been put forward in Gilmore 1998. Based on a collection of captured Japanese diaries and field manuals, Gilmore’s work on psychological warfare operations in the Pacific theater explains how the Japanese were prone to become demoralized when faced with adversities on the battlefield. US military officials recognized how the characteristic provided an ideal opportunity for lowering the enemy’s fighting spirit through the use of propaganda and psychological warfare. Ford 2005 and Ford 2010 elaborate on Gilmore’s counterargument, by focusing on the intelligence dimension of Western perceptions regarding the IJA’s morale. Studies on Japanese prisoners of war, including Hata 1996; Straus 2003; and Towle, et al. 2000, also offer an alternative hypothesis regarding the IJA’s psyche. Interrogations of POWs frequently showed that the greatest deterrence to surrender was not the fear of being branded a traitor, but more practical concerns, including their own safety. Soldiers had been told that the Allies habitually mistreated and tortured their POWs. Captured troops also stated that they feared that their families back home would be dishonored. The evidence does indicate that not all Japanese troops were driven by ideological fervor to the same extent as Dower has claimed.

  • Dower, John. War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1986.

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    A provocative treatise, Dower’s work maintains that racial animosities were the main factor which upheld morale and combat motivation in both the Japanese and Allied armed forces. The work is based mainly on propaganda broadcasts and publications, as well as testimonies of frontline combat troops.

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  • Drea, Edward. “In the Army Barracks of Imperial Japan.” Armed Forces and Society 15.3 (1989): 329–348.

    DOI: 10.1177/0095327X8901500301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An edited version of the chapter on morale in the author’s book on the IJA, the essay puts forward an articulate explanation of the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese soldier’s fighting spirit. The army’s practice of indoctrinating its troops with beliefs in their own superiority led them to become particularly despondent when faced with setbacks and defeats on the battlefield.

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  • Ford, Douglas. “British Intelligence on Japanese Army Morale during the Pacific War: Logical Analysis or Racial Stereotyping?” Journal of Military History 69.2 (2005): 439–474.

    DOI: 10.1353/jmh.2005.0089Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Along with the work on US perceptions of Japanese military culture, listed below, the article explains how, contrary to Dower’s hypotheses, Allied military officials tended to recognize that their opponent’s fighting spirit did deteriorate when faced with setbacks on the battlefield. The demoralization, in turn, was perceived as a weakness that could be exploited in order to facilitate troops in their efforts to vanquish the IJA.

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  • Ford, Douglas. “US Perceptions of Military Culture and the Japanese Army’s Performance during the Pacific War.” War and Society 29.1 (2010): 71–93.

    DOI: 10.1179/204243410X12674422128911Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The work attempts to determine the extent to which US military officials attempted to understand the cultural factors which underpinned the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese soldier’s morale.

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  • Gilmore, Alison. You Can’t Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

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    The foremost work on psychological warfare operations against the IJA, Gilmore’s treatise explains how Japanese soldiers were susceptible to demoralization, and the US Army’s efforts to manipulate this weakness via propaganda.

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  • Hata, I. “From Consideration to Contempt: The Changing Nature of Japanese Military and Popular Perceptions of Prisoners of War through the Ages.” In Prisoners of War and Their Captors in World War II. Edited by B. Moore and Kent Fedorovich, 253–276. Oxford: Berg, 1996.

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    A well-documented account of the IJA’s evolving attitude toward soldiers who surrendered, focusing on a range of factors, including Japanese martial traditions, as well as the radicalization of the army’s views as it expanded the scope of its expansionist activities during the 1930s.

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  • Laurie, Clayton. “The Ultimate Dilemma of Psychological Warfare in the Pacific: Enemies Who Don’t Surrender and GIs Who Don’t take Prisoners.” War and Society 14 (1996): 99–120.

    DOI: 10.1179/072924796799733286Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The essay echoes many of the ideas in Dower 1986, and contends that social and cultural taboos made Japanese soldiers view surrender as an act which they wished to avoid at all costs.

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  • Straus, Ulrich. The Anguish of Surrender: Japanese POWs of World War II. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003.

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    Based on the interrogation of a large collection of Japanese POWs, the book offers an introspective account of the reasons why soldiers tended to avert surrender.

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  • Towle, Philip, Margaret Kosuge and Yoichi Kibata, eds. Japanese Prisoners of War. London: Hambledon and London, 2000.

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    A collection of essays which explains the behavior and psyche of Japanese troops who chose to surrender, and the Allied armies’ practice of extracting intelligence from the POWs which they managed to capture.

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War Crimes

The contentious issue of the war crimes carried out by the IJA, including the mistreatment of civilians in the occupied territories of China and Southeast Asia, as well as the torture of POWs and their use for slave labor, has been documented in a number of works. Most of the literature, including Chang 1997, Harris 2002, Holmes 2010, Williams and Wallace 1989, and Yamamoto 2000, tends to be descriptive; nevertheless, Tanaka 1996 puts forward what is an objective account of the motives which led Japanese troops to carry out their atrocities. Brackman 1987 also explains the attempts to bring Japanese war criminals to justice, and the manner in which the postwar Tokyo tribunals brought to light many of the details concerning their activities.

Intelligence

The subject of intelligence activities during World War II has become an increasingly popular topic during the recent decades, thanks to the declassification of the relevant documents in the US and British archives. The Japanese army’s intelligence operations were first investigated during the 1980s, and since then scholars have produced a growing number of edited essays on the subject. On the whole, the literature, including Allen 1987, Barnhart 1984, Chapman 1987, Coox 1990, Coox 1992, Drea 1991, Elphick 1997, Mercado 2002, and Nish 1987 indicates that, while the IJA had a reasonably efficient human intelligence network which managed to gather good data on matters such as the disposition of enemy troops, when it came to more general issues such as the fighting potential of foreign enemies, the Japanese were significantly handicapped. The key obstacle was the army command’s ingrained belief that its own forces were superior, and this factor prevented the Japanese from formulating an objective assessment of their enemies’ capabilities. With the increased availability of documents, the subject of Japanese army intelligence is bound to become one of the cutting-edge areas of research during the coming years. Drea 1992 is also an excellent account of the US intelligence services’ successful effort to decode the IJA’s communications.

  • Allen, Louis. “Japanese Intelligence Systems.” Journal of Contemporary History 22.4 (1987): 547–562.

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    An essay which explains how the capabilities of Japanese intelligence organizations were severely constrained by the minimal funding and support which they received from the military establishment.

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  • Barnhart, Michael. “Japanese Intelligence before the Second World War: Best Case Analysis.” In Knowing One’s Enemies: Intelligence Assessment before the Two World Wars. Edited by Ernest May, 424–455. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.

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    The edited essay focuses mainly on intelligence assessment at the higher levels of the military high command, and explains how Japanese leaders tended to hold over-optimistic views regarding the capabilities of their own forces. This factor undermined their prospects of developing an objective evaluation of their potential enemies, including China, Great Britain, and the United States.

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  • Chapman, J. W. M. “Japanese Intelligence, 1918–1945: A Suitable Case for Treatment.” In Intelligence and International Relations, 1900–1945. Edited by Christopher Andrew and Jeremy Noakes, 145–190. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1987.

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    Chapman’s essay puts forward an overview of the Japanese intelligence machinery during the interwar years and World War II, focusing on how the widespread sentiment of racial and cultural superiority tended to cloud the military leadership’s judgment of the strategic dilemmas which they had to face.

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  • Coox, Alvin. “Flawed Perception and Its Effect upon Operational Thinking: The Case of the Japanese Army, 1937–1941.” In Intelligence and Military Operations. Edited by Michael Handel, 239–254. London: Frank Cass, 1990.

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    A renowned historian of the IJA, Coox offers an introspective account of how strategic and doctrinal myopia led Japanese officials to develop a skewed assessment of their potential adversaries.

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  • Coox, Alvin. “Japanese Net Assessment in the Era before Pearl Harbor.” In Calculations: Net Assessment and the Coming of World War II. Edited by Allan Millett and Williamson Murray. New York: Free Press, 1992.

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    A detailed analysis of how Japan’s service chiefs tended to overlook the long-term implications of their strategic decisions, using the July 1941 discussions on the question of whether to aid Germany’s invasion of the USSR as a case study.

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  • Drea, Edward. “Reading Each Other’s Mail: Japanese Communication Intelligence, 1920–1941.” Journal of Military History 55.2 (1991): 185–205.

    DOI: 10.2307/1985894Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A concise account of the Japanese army’s limited successes in decoding Allied military communications.

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  • Drea, Edward. MacArthur’s ULTRA: Codebreaking and the War Against Japan, 1942–1945. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

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    The definitive work on the US Army’s successful effort to decode the IJA’s communications.

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  • Elphick, Peter. Far Eastern File: The Intelligence War in the Far East, 1930–1945. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997.

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    A substantial account of the intelligence war in Asia and the Pacific, albeit marred by a few inaccuracies. The work contains a chapter on Japanese intelligence which provides a general overview of the subject.

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  • Mercado, Stephen. The Shadow Warriors of Nakano: A History of the Imperial Japanese Army’s Elite Intelligence School. Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 2002.

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    A comprehensive account of the IJA’s intelligence school, which puts forward a plethora of interesting anecdotes on how Japanese agents were trained to carry out various tasks, including espionage, sabotage, and subversion. One of the key hypotheses is that, while the army had a cohort of skilled spies, their contribution was severely limited by the fact that the military establishment did not place a high value on their activities.

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  • Nish, Ian. “Japanese Intelligence, 1894–1922.” In Intelligence and International Relations, 1900–1945. Edited by Christopher Andrew and Jeremy Noakes, 127–144. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1987.

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    An edited essay which examines the creation of the Japanese intelligence network, and the mixed results which they achieved during the initial conflicts against China and Russia.

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Japanese Army’s Position in State and Society

From its creation following the Meiji Restoration of 1867 to its demise in 1945, the Imperial Army played a significant role in maintaining law and order within the Japanese state and society. It was utilized as an institution for social control, and unifying the masses behind the nation’s push toward overseas expansion. The introduction of universal male conscription also enabled the army to act as the main instrument for instilling within the populace a sentiment of patriotism and loyalty to the state, both of which were critical in maintaining an adequate level of national cohesion. Among the works which focus on the relations between the Japanese army and society, Smethurst 1974 puts forward the most comprehensive account of how the agrarian community, due to its conservative attitudes, provided a particularly valuable source of recruits for the military. Benedict 1946 and Ohnuki-Tierney 2002 focus on how the long-standing traditions within Japanese society were conducive for forging a high level of cohesion within the army. A number of Japanese historians, including Ienaga 1968 and Iritani 1991, along with Western scholars such as Havens 1986, Mitchell 1976, and Shillony 1981, have also examined the army’s role in maintaining law and order within the civilian populace. Following the outbreak of the China incident in 1937, the military police, or kempeitai, was responsible for ensuring that the citizenry cooperated with the national war effort. The kempeitai undertook a wide range of measures, which included taking control over the press and media in order to silence antiwar protests, clamping down on dissidents and pacifists who opposed Japan’s policies, and imposing austerity measures and rationing on the civilian population. The IJA’s success in exerting such a visible presence was largely due to deeply ingrained traditions within Japanese society, the most important of which was that the populace had been accustomed to living within a social system which placed a high emphasis on subservience to higher authority. The Japanese people were also conditioned to perceive themselves not as individuals, but as members of a larger community, and this factor facilitated the state’s efforts to impose measures which amounted to martial law. Finally, Minear 1980 focuses on the American attempts to understand the psyche of the Japanese people, and how the conclusions often highlighted the manner in which militarism was an ingrained principle among the general populace.

  • Benedict, Ruth. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns in Japanese Culture. Cambridge, MA: Riverside, 1946.

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    Written by a social anthropologist who had been commissioned to carry out the US Office of War Information’s “national character” studies on the Japanese during World War II, Benedict’s work forwards a contemporary view on how the traditions ingrained within Japanese society formed the basis for the army’s system of indoctrination. The book is a contemporary study rather than a historical work.

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  • Havens, Thomas. Valley of Darkness: The Japanese People and World War II. New York: University Press of America, 1986.

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    One of several works on wartime Japan written by a Western historian, Havens’s book explains how the IJA’s control over the affairs of the state and society brought about the deprivations which the nation had to contend with while it carried out its quest to achieve a dominant position in Asia.

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  • Ienaga, Saburo. The Pacific War, 1931–1945. New York: Pantheon, 1968.

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    A critical account of the oppression and suffering which the Japanese government and military unleashed during World War II, both at home and abroad.

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  • Iritani, Toshio. Group Psychology of the Japanese in Wartime. London: Kegan & Paul, 1991.

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    One of the more recent works on wartime Japan, Iritani explains how the populace accepted, without a great deal of opposition, the policies pursued by the militarist regime.

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  • Minear, Richard. “Cross-Cultural Perception and World War II: American Japanists of the 1940s and Their Images of Japan.” International Studies Quarterly 24.4 (1980): 555–580.

    DOI: 10.2307/2600292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A critical study of the “national character” studies undertaken in the United States, Minear’s essay emphasizes how the analyses of Japanese culture were shaped by a lack of understanding and empathy of the factors which gave rise to militarism.

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  • Mitchell, Richard. Thought Control in Prewar Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1976.

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    A detailed and well-researched account of how the militarist government used propaganda and coercive measures to secure popular support for its expansionist activities during the years prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War.

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  • Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226620688.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Although primarily concerned with the development of the kamikaze attack corps, Ohnuki-Tierney nevertheless provides an introspective account of how the particular characteristics of Japanese culture, including the respect for authority, enabled the Imperial Army to forge the cohesion that it needed to embark on a program of large-scale overseas expansion.

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  • Shillony, Ben-Ami. Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

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    A comprehensive overview of the Japanese home front, Shillony’s work contains a number of useful chapters on how the army was used as an instrument for social control and the maintenance of public order.

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  • Smethurst, Richard. A Social Basis for Prewar Japanese Militarism: The Army and the Rural Community. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

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    The foremost work on the social and cultural foundations which the IJA used in order to recruit a dedicated cohort of troops.

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