Japanese POWs were forced to undertake hard labour and were held in primitive conditions with inadequate food and medical treatments. 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. 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. Jenny Martin was born in a prisoner of war camp in Singapore and her story is being remembered to mark 75 years since Hiroshima and the end of World War 2. [9] Attitudes towards surrender hardened after World War I. A campaign launched in 1944 to encourage prisoner-taking was partially successful, and the number of prisoners taken increased significantly in the last year of the war. This week we are looking at movies that explore the prisoner of war (POW) experience. [78][79], Nationalist Chinese forces took the surrender of 1.2 million Japanese military personnel following the war. This treatment was similar to that experienced by German POWs in the Soviet Union. Historian John W. Dower has attributed these deaths to the "wretched" condition of Japanese military units at the end of the war. The government was, however, concerned about reports that 300 POWs had joined the Chinese Communists and had been trained to spread anti-Japanese propaganda. [43] 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. [49], The Japanese government sought to suppress information about captured personnel. Soviet troops seized and imprisoned more than half a million Japanese troops and civilians in China and other places. This is the story of the Japanese prisoner of war camps on the island of Taiwan (Formosa) during the Second World War and of the men who were interned in them. [77] At least 81,090 Japanese personnel died in areas occupied by the western Allies and China before they could be repatriated to Japan. [14] While the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) did not issue a document equivalent to the Senjinkun, naval personnel were expected to exhibit similar behavior and not surrender. Some Japanese accounts put the number at … These interrogations were painful and stressful for the POWs. [84] 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. [43] The Japanese Government's wartime POW Information Bureau believed that 42,543 Japanese surrendered during the war;[17] a figure also used by Niall Ferguson who states that it refers to prisoners taken by United States and Australian forces. [54] Similarly, Japanese sailors rescued from sunken ships by the US Navy were questioned at the Navy's interrogation centres in Brisbane, Honolulu and Noumea. [25] During the Pacific War the majority of Japanese military personnel did not believe that the Allies treated prisoners correctly, and even a majority of those who surrendered expected to be killed. They were gradually released under a series of amnesties between 1953 and 1956. [32] The nature of jungle warfare also contributed to prisoners not being taken, as many battles were fought at close ranges where participants "often had no choice but to shoot first and ask questions later". [35] This included dropping copies of the Geneva Conventions and 'surrender passes' on Japanese positions. In particular healthy and good-looking women prisoners between the ages of 17 and 35 caught the eye of SS recruiters. 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 wording of this material sought to overcome the indoctrination which Japanese soldiers had received by stating that they should "cease resistance" rather than "surrender". Because they had been indoctrinated to believe that by surrendering they had broken all ties with Japan, many captured personnel provided their interrogators with information on the Japanese military. [57] This included developing propaganda leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts which were designed to encourage other Japanese personnel to 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. [81][82], Hundreds of thousands of Japanese also surrendered to Soviet forces in the last weeks of the war and after Japan's surrender. [39] Overall, however, Allied submariners usually did not attempt to take prisoners, and the number of Japanese personnel they captured was relatively small. She was imprisoned in a Union prison for her espionage activities. [13] The Japanese Government accompanied the Senjinkun's implementation with a propaganda campaign which celebrated people who had fought to the death rather than surrender during Japan's wars. In most instances the troops who surrendered were not taken into captivity, and were repatriated to the Japanese home islands after giving up their weapons. Until late 1946, the United States retained almost 70,000 POWs to dismantle military facilities in the Philippines, Okinawa, central Pacific, and Hawaii. Those who know shame are weak. Many of these men were recently conscripted members of Boeitai home guard units who had not received the same indoctrination as regular Army personnel, but substantial numbers of IJA soldiers also surrendered. [24], 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. While the Japanese feared that they would be subjected to reprisals, they were generally treated well. [2][85], Due to the shame associated with surrendering, few Japanese POWs wrote memoirs after the war. [69] Other confrontations between Japanese POWs and their guards occurred at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin during May 1944 as well as a camp in Bikaner, India during 1945; these did not result in any fatalities. A map (front) of Imperial Japanese-run prisoner-of-war camps within the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere known during World War II from 1941 to 1945. MacArthur reversed his position in December of that year, however, but only allowed the publication of photos that did not identify individual POWs. [15] Most Japanese military personnel were told that they would be killed or tortured by the Allies if they were taken prisoner. 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. Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Claudette Colbert , Patric Knowles , Florence Desmond , Sessue Hayakawa [56], Some Japanese POWs also played an important role in helping the Allied militaries develop propaganda and politically indoctrinate their fellow prisoners. Western Allied governments and senior military commanders directed that Japanese POWs be treated in accordance with relevant international conventions. 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. [27], Allied combatants were reluctant to take Japanese prisoners at the start of the Pacific War. Some ended up spending decades living in the Soviet Union, and could only return to Japan in the 1990s. [33], Despite the attitudes of combat troops and nature of the fighting, Allied militaries made systematic efforts to take Japanese prisoners throughout the war. Amongst the three hundred thirty five Japanese prisoners held at Morotai are about one hundred who are listed as war criminals. Prisoners captured in the central Pacific or who were believed to have particular intelligence value were held in camps in the United States. US Navy submarines were occasionally ordered to obtain prisoners for intelligence purposes, and formed special teams of personnel for this purpose. 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 Japanese Government responded stating that while it had not signed the convention, Japan would treat POWs in accordance with its terms; in effect though, Japan had willfully ignored the convention's requirements. [18], While scholars disagree over whether the Senjinkun was legally binding on Japanese soldiers, the document reflected Japan's societal norms and had great force over both military personnel and civilians. [76] Hundreds of Japanese POWs were killed fighting for the People's Liberation Army during the Chinese Civil War. However, a factor equally strong or even stronger to those, was the fear of torture after capture. The continuous wiretapping at both locations may have also violated the spirit of the Geneva Convention. They are: During the Civil War Dr. Mary Walker was held for four months in a Confederate prison camp, accused of being a spy for the Union Army. 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. [50], The Allies gained considerable quantities of intelligence from Japanese POWs. During the Pacific War, there were incidents where Japanese soldiers feigned surrender in order to lure Allied troops into ambushes. Sixty seven Army nurses and sixteen Navy nurses spent three years as prisoners of the Japanese. The last Japanese prisoner returned from China in 1964. British authorities retained 113,500 of the approximately 750,000 POWs in south and south-east Asia until 1947; the last POWs captured in Burma and Malaya returned to Japan in October 1947. Following this they were rapidly moved to rear areas where they were interrogated by successive echelons of the Allied military. 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. Sergeant Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe at a series of Japanese POW camps. Doctor Walker is the only woman to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In 1942, four Australian POWs did the unthinkable, and tried to escape from their Japanese prisoner of war camp. 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. This fear grew out of years of battle experiences in China, where the Chinese guerrillas were considered expert torturers, and this fear was projected onto the American soldiers who also were expected to torture and kill surrendered Japanese. [80] Over the next few months, most Japanese prisoners in China, along with Japanese civilian settlers, were returned to Japan. As a result of these factors, Japanese POWs were often cooperative and truthful during interrogation sessions. The programs were partially successful, and contributed to US troops taking more prisoners. For Allied personnel held as POWs by Japan, see. During the war, this led to wounded personnel being either killed by medical officers or given grenades to commit suicide. Although the Bureau's role included facilitating mail between POWs and their families, this was not carried out as the families were not notified and few POWs wrote home. Although not prisoners per se three of the crewmembers on the EP-3E Aries II Surveillance Plane who were detained in China are military women. [41] 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.