Prisoners captured in the central Pacific or who were believed to have particular intelligence value were held in camps in the United States.  By 1943 the Allied governments were aware that personnel who had been captured by the Japanese military were being held in harsh conditions.  The relatively good treatment that prisoners in Japan received was used as a propaganda tool, exuding a sense of "chivalry" in comparison to the more barbaric perception of Asia that the Meiji government wished to avoid. , The indoctrination of Japanese military personnel to have little respect for the act of surrendering led to conduct which Allied soldiers found deceptive.  Allied forces mounted an extensive psychological warfare campaign against their Japanese opponents to lower their morale and encourage surrender. During World War II, it has been estimated that between 19,500 and 50,000 members of the Imperial Japanese military were captured alive or surrendered to Western Allied combatants, prior to the end of the Pacific War in August 1945.  As a result, from May 1944, senior US Army commanders authorized and endorsed educational programs which aimed to change the attitudes of front line troops.  More seriously, on 5 August 1944, Japanese POWs in a camp near Cowra, Australia attempted to escape.  Fear of being killed after surrendering was one of the main factors which influenced Japanese troops to fight to the death, and a wartime US Office of Wartime Information report stated that it may have been more important than fear of disgrace and a desire to die for Japan. While Japan signed the 1929 Geneva Convention covering treatment of POWs, it did not ratify the agreement, claiming that surrender was contrary to the beliefs of Japanese soldiers. After the last major repatriation in 1956, the Soviets continued to hold some POWs and release them in small increments. Following the war the prisoners were repatriated to Japan, though the United States and Britain retained thousands until 1946 and 1947 respectively and the Soviet Union continued to hold as many as hundreds of thousands of Japanese POWs until the early 1950s. https://allthatsinteresting.com/ravensbruck-womens-concentration-camp Top 35 Prisoners of War Movies. Prisoners of the Japanese found themselves in camps in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and other Japanese-occupied countries.  Shortly after the outbreak of Pacific War in December 1941, the British and United States governments transmitted a message to the Japanese government through Swiss intermediaries asking if Japan would abide by the 1929 Geneva Convention. , Despite the attitudes of combat troops and nature of the fighting, Allied militaries made systematic efforts to take Japanese prisoners throughout the war. ... Jim Horton describes his time spent in a Japanese POW camp during WWII. , Japanese POWs held in Allied prisoner of war camps were treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.  Alison B. Gilmore has also calculated that Allied forces in the South West Pacific Area alone captured at least 19,500 Japanese. It seems that many people know about the hardship and suffering of the POW's working on the Death Railway in Thailand and Burma, but few know about the "hell-camps" of Taiwan.  The Army's Field Service Regulations were also modified in 1940 to replace a provision which stated that seriously wounded personnel in field hospitals came under the protection of the 1929 Geneva Convention for the Sick and Wounded Armies in the Field with a requirement that the wounded not fall into enemy hands.  The British also used armed Japanese Surrendered Personnel to support Dutch and French attempts to reassert control in the Dutch East Indies and Indochina respectively.  This included dropping copies of the Geneva Conventions and 'surrender passes' on Japanese positions. This attitude was reinforced by the indoctrination of young people. Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq, NATIONAL DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE COLLEGE WASHINGTON, DC. While the Western Allies notified the Japanese government of the identities of Japanese POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention's requirements, this information was not passed onto the families of the captured men as the Japanese government wished to maintain that none of its soldiers had been taken prisoner. In 1942 the Army amended its criminal code to specify that officers who surrendered soldiers under their command faced at least six months imprisonment, regardless of the circumstances in which the surrender took place. The number of women who were held as prisoners of war remains unclear, with few official records available. Western Allied governments and senior military commanders directed that Japanese POWs be treated in accordance with relevant international conventions.  Hoyt in "Japan’s war: the great Pacific conflict" argues that the Allied practice of taking bones from Japanese corpses home as souvenirs was exploited by Japanese propaganda very effectively, and "contributed to a preference to death over surrender and occupation, shown, for example, in the mass civilian suicides on Saipan and Okinawa after the Allied landings". He also directed that the photos "should be truthful and factual and not designed to exaggerate". Her work has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies, the Journal of Women’s History, and Diplomatic History, and has also been translated into Japanese … However, a factor equally strong or even stronger to those, was the fear of torture after capture. By dying you will avoid leaving a stain on your honor.  Allied interrogators found that Japanese soldiers were much more likely to provide useful intelligence than Imperial Japanese Navy personnel, possibly due to differences in the indoctrination provided to members of the services.  During the Battle of Okinawa, 11,250 Japanese military personnel (including 3,581 unarmed labourers) surrendered between April and July 1945, representing 12 percent of the force deployed for the defense of the island. Wikimedia Commons. , Hundreds of thousands of Japanese also surrendered to Soviet forces in the last weeks of the war and after Japan's surrender.  At least 81,090 Japanese personnel died in areas occupied by the western Allies and China before they could be repatriated to Japan. While this measure was successful in avoiding unrest, it led to hostility between those who surrendered before and after the end of the war and denied prisoners of the Soviets POW status. Soviet troops seized and imprisoned more than half a million Japanese troops and civilians in China and other places.  This was not successful, however, as the Japanese government refused to recognise the existence of captured Japanese military personnel.  As a result, Allied troops believed that their Japanese opponents would not surrender and that any attempts to surrender were deceptive; for instance, the Australian jungle warfare school advised soldiers to shoot any Japanese troops who had their hands closed while surrendering. On August 5, 1944, more than 1,000 Japanese prisoners of war staged an audacious escape from a camp in one of the deadliest events on Australian soil at the time. When we think of prisoner-of-war films we tend to think of the second world war or Vietnam, of Steve McQueen bouncing his baseball in ‘the cooler’ in The Great Escape or Jean Gabin leading a Hun-defying chorus of ‘La Marseillaise’ in La Grande Illusion. This treatment was similar to that experienced by German POWs in the Soviet Union.  Furthermore, in many instances, Japanese soldiers who had surrendered were killed on the front line or while being taken to POW compounds.  Overall, however, Allied submariners usually did not attempt to take prisoners, and the number of Japanese personnel they captured was relatively small. This change attracted little attention, however, as the Senjinkun imposed more severe consequences and had greater moral force.  Incidents in which Japanese soldiers booby-trapped their dead and wounded or pretended to surrender in order to lure Allied combatants into ambushes were well known within the Allied militaries and also hardened attitudes against seeking the surrender of Japanese on the battlefield. Tens of thousands of Japanese prisoners captured by Chinese communists were serving in their military forces in August 1946 and more than 60,000 were believed to still be held in Communist-controlled areas as late as April 1949.  Attitudes towards surrender hardened after World War I. During the Pacific War, there were incidents where Japanese soldiers feigned surrender in order to lure Allied troops into ambushes. , During the 1920s and 1930s, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) adopted an ethos which required soldiers to fight to the death rather than surrender. In an attempt to win better treatment for their POWs, the Allies made extensive efforts to notify the Japanese government of the good conditions in Allied POW camps. Series 1 – Army, Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Japanese_prisoners_of_war_in_World_War_II&oldid=998252066, Military history of Japan during World War II, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 14:25. For the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, we spoke with Sarah Kovner about her new book, Prisoners of the Empire: Inside Japanese POW Camps, which goes beyond the horrific accounts of captivity to actually explain why inmates were neglected and abused, and contributes to ongoing debates over POW treatment across myriad war zones, even to the present day. A burial detail of American and Filipino prisoners of war using improvised litters to carry fallen comrades following the Bataan Death March, Camp O’Donnell (c. 1942). The United States provided these countries with aid through the Lend Lease program to cover the costs of maintaining the prisoners, and retained responsibility for repatriating the men to Japan at the end of the war. This document sought to establish standards of behavior for Japanese troops and improve discipline and morale within the Army, and included a prohibition against being taken prisoner. Director: Burak ... a British colonel tries to bridge the cultural divides between a British POW and the Japanese camp commander in order to avoid bloodshed. The wording of this material sought to overcome the indoctrination which Japanese soldiers had received by stating that they should "cease resistance" rather than "surrender". Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Claudette Colbert , Patric Knowles , Florence Desmond , Sessue Hayakawa Career: 1938 - 41 Trainee Nurse, 1941 - 14 February 1942 Nurse in St John's Ambulance Brigade, and Voluntary Aid Detachment, 14 February 1942 - 1945 Prisoner of Japanese, 1946 - …  There were several incidents at POW camps, however. Although documentation is scarce, as with the end of the war Japanese Armed Forces systematically destroyed much of the limited available documentation related to their POW Camps, enough remains, in addition to survivor and witness accounts, to provide a horrific picture of life and captivity for Allied prisoners of war in the Pacific Theater. She was imprisoned in a Union prison for her espionage activities. During World War II, it has been estimated that between 19,500 and 50,000 members of the Imperial Japanese military were captured alive or surrendered to Western Allied combatants, prior to the end of the Pacific War in August 1945. Menu.  It is likely that more Japanese soldiers would have surrendered if they had not believed that they would be killed by the Allies while trying to do so. This was the only time that the Japanese Government officially recognized that some members of the country's military had surrendered. , Nationalist Chinese forces took the surrender of 1.2 million Japanese military personnel following the war. The conditions these POWs were held in generally did not meet the standards required by international law. Those taken by the Soviet Union were treated harshly in work camps located in Siberia. Belle Boyd spied for
the Confederacy by carrying important letters and papers across
enemy lines. , Allied forces continued to kill many Japanese personnel who were attempting to surrender throughout the war. Most Japanese soldiers were interrogated by intelligence officers of the battalion or regiment which had captured them for information which could be used by these units. It was against Japanese regulations and discovery would have meant death, but the men celebrated the occasion anyway. While the Japanese feared that they would be subjected to reprisals, they were generally treated well.  Soviet troops seized and imprisoned more than half a million Japanese troops and civilians in China and other places. , Japanese POWs were interrogated multiple times during their captivity. Some of the conditions at Camp Tracy violated Geneva Convention requirements, such as insufficient exercise time being provided. , The Allies distributed photographs of Japanese POWs in camps to induce other Japanese personnel to surrender. During the fighting between the POWs and their guards 257 Japanese and four Australians were killed.  News of the incidents at Cowra and Featherston was suppressed in Japan, but the Japanese Government lodged protests with the Australian and New Zealand governments as a propaganda tactic.  Australian and US troops and senior officers commonly believed that captured Japanese troops were very unlikely to divulge any information of military value, leading to them having little motivation to take prisoners. A movie about women in prison, a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, no less, and it wasn`t on during the February sweeps? Sixty seven Army nurses and sixteen Navy nurses spent three years as prisoners of the Japanese.  Between 1946 and 1950, many of the Japanese POWs in Soviet captivity were released; those remaining after 1950 were mainly those convicted of various crimes. The last Japanese prisoner returned from China in 1964. Always think of [preserving] the honor of your community and be a credit to yourself and your family. Wikimedia Commons Those who know shame are weak. Prisoners captured by Japanese forces during this and the First Sino-Japanese War and World War I were also treated in accordance with international standards. However, prisoners at this camp were given special benefits, such as high quality food and access to a shop, and the interrogation sessions were relatively relaxed. , The causes of the phenomenon that Japanese often continued to fight even in hopeless situations has been traced to a combination of Shinto, messhi hōkō (self-sacrifice for the sake of group), and Bushido. Until late 1946, the United States retained almost 70,000 POWs to dismantle military facilities in the Philippines, Okinawa, central Pacific, and Hawaii. The POWs then attacked the other guards, who opened fire and killed 48 prisoners and wounded another 74. On 25 February 1943, POWs at the Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand staged a strike after being ordered to work.  This policy reflected the practices of Japanese warfare in the pre-modern era.  Australian soldiers were also reluctant to take Japanese prisoners for similar reasons. The continuous wiretapping at both locations may have also violated the spirit of the Geneva Convention. Following the war, the victorious Chinese Communist government began repatriating Japanese prisoners home, though some were put on trial for war crimes and had to serve prison sentences of varying length before being allowed to return. The prisoners taken by the Western Allies were held in generally good conditions in camps located in Australia, New Zealand, India and the United States.  Similarly, Japanese sailors rescued from sunken ships by the US Navy were questioned at the Navy's interrogation centres in Brisbane, Honolulu and Noumea. 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