By dying you will avoid leaving a stain on your honor. Prisoners of the Japanese found themselves in camps in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and other Japanese-occupied countries. The human tragedy and the suffering of the Crimean Turks who were taken hostage as prisoners of war in German prison camps during World War II. The Soviet Union gradually released some POWs throughout the next few decades, but some did not return until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, while others who had settled and started families in the Soviet Union opted to remain. 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. [49], The Japanese government sought to suppress information about captured personnel. [21] During the later years of the war Japanese troops' morale deteriorated as a result of Allied victories, leading to an increase in the number who were prepared to surrender or desert. The lack of communication with their families increased the POWs feelings of being cut off from Japanese society. Back of map of Imperial Japanese-run prisoner-of-war camps with a list of the camps categorized geographically and an additional detailed map of camps located on the Japanese archipelago . Some Japanese accounts put the number at … 2. [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. [20] 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. [20], Not all Japanese military personnel chose to follow the precepts set out on the Senjinkun. In practice though, many Allied soldiers were unwilling to accept the surrender of Japanese troops because of atrocities committed by the Japanese. 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. 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. Her new book, Prisoners of the Empire: POWs and Their Captors in the Pacific, was published by Harvard University Press in September 2020. [76] 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. Doctor Walker is the only woman to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. 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. Director: Jean Negulesco | Stars: Claudette Colbert , Patric Knowles , Florence Desmond , Sessue Hayakawa 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. Sixty seven Army nurses and sixteen Navy nurses spent three years as prisoners of the Japanese. After arriving in these camps, the prisoners were interrogated again, and their conversations were wiretapped and analysed. Soviet and Chinese forces accepted the surrender of 1.6 million Japanese and the western allies took the surrender of millions more in Japan, South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. 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. Belle Boyd spied for the Confederacy by carrying important letters and papers across enemy lines. [6] This policy reflected the practices of Japanese warfare in the pre-modern era. Series 1 – Army, Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland,, 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. 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 … [33], Despite the attitudes of combat troops and nature of the fighting, Allied militaries made systematic efforts to take Japanese prisoners throughout the war. 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". [28], Estimates of the numbers of Japanese personnel taken prisoner during the Pacific War differ. [1] Soviet troops seized and imprisoned more than half a million Japanese troops and civilians in China and other places. In three years, between 1942 (the year the Japanese occupied Singapore) and 1945, Changi has earned its reputation as the most feared Japanese prison. [71] News of the incidents at Cowra and Featherston was suppressed in Japan,[72] but the Japanese Government lodged protests with the Australian and New Zealand governments as a propaganda tactic. 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 was because the Nationalists wished to seize as many weapons as possible, ensure that the departure of the Japanese military didn't create a security vacuum and discourage Japanese personnel from fighting alongside the Chinese communists. However, a factor equally strong or even stronger to those, was the fear of torture after capture. While the Bureau cataloged information provided by the Allies via the Red Cross identifying POWs, it did not pass this information on to the families of the prisoners. Prisoner of war camps in Japan housed both capture military personnel and civilians who had been in the East before the outbreak of war. Each US Army division was assigned a team of Japanese Americans whose duties included attempting to persuade Japanese personnel to surrender. Japanese POWs were forced to undertake hard labour and were held in primitive conditions with inadequate food and medical treatments. [52] This view proved incorrect, however, and many Japanese POWs provided valuable intelligence during interrogations. 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. [1][28] Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata states that up to 50,000 Japanese became POWs before Japan's surrender. During the fighting between the POWs and their guards 257 Japanese and four Australians were killed. [20][28] Australian soldiers were also reluctant to take Japanese prisoners for similar reasons. Wikimedia Commons [17] Aircrew from Japanese aircraft which crashed over Allied-held territory also typically committed suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured. [24] 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". The POWs then attacked the other guards, who opened fire and killed 48 prisoners and wounded another 74. In addition, wounded Japanese soldiers sometimes tried to use hand grenades to kill Allied troops attempting to assist them. Amongst the three hundred thirty five Japanese prisoners held at Morotai are about one hundred who are listed as war criminals. [15] Most Japanese military personnel were told that they would be killed or tortured by the Allies if they were taken prisoner. More than 60 percent of them were of German nationality, but Polish women, those from the Soviet Union and one Dutch woman were transferred into the “special task forces.” 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 repeatedly forced Allied prisoners of war to embark on prolonged marches with little to no provisions, resulting in the deaths of thousands During Word War II, American author Agnes Newton Keith is imprisoned by the Japanese in various POW camps in North Borneo and Sarawak. For Allied personnel held as POWs by Japan, see. This tactic was initially rejected by General MacArthur when it was proposed to him in mid-1943 on the grounds that it violated the Hague and Geneva Conventions, and the fear of being identified after surrendering could harden Japanese resistance. The prisoners appreciated the opportunity to converse with Japanese-speaking Americans and felt that the food, clothing and medical treatment they were provided with meant that they owed favours to their captors. [50], The Allies gained considerable quantities of intelligence from Japanese POWs. [10], The Japanese military's attitude towards surrender was institutionalized in the 1941 "Code of Battlefield Conduct" (Senjinkun), which was issued to all Japanese soldiers. This treatment was similar to that experienced by German POWs in the Soviet Union. 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. [43], Repatriation of some Japanese POWs was delayed by Allied authorities. The Changi prison in Singapore, built by the British administration in 1936, was converted into a concentration camp for prisoners during the Second World War. [19] Japanese attitudes towards surrender also contributed to the harsh treatment which was inflicted on the Allied personnel they captured. [40], Allied forces continued to kill many Japanese personnel who were attempting to surrender throughout the war. In particular healthy and good-looking women prisoners between the ages of 17 and 35 caught the eye of SS recruiters. 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. Redouble your efforts and respond to their expectations. 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. [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. [22] 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. [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. 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. Sexually explicit memoir of women’s abuse in Nazi camps finally sees light Second-generation trauma expert Helen Epstein publishes late mother … [47]a, As the Japanese forces in China were mainly on the offensive and suffered relatively few casualties, few Japanese soldiers surrendered to Chinese forces prior to August 1945. [15], The indoctrination of Japanese military personnel to have little respect for the act of surrendering led to conduct which Allied soldiers found deceptive. The last Japanese prisoner returned from China in 1964. 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. MacArthur reversed his position in December of that year, however, but only allowed the publication of photos that did not identify individual POWs. 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. American prisoners of war celebrate the Fourth of July in the Japanese prison camp of Casisange. [26], The Western Allies sought to treat captured Japanese in accordance with international agreements which governed the treatment of POWs. Those who know shame are weak. After the last major repatriation in 1956, the Soviets continued to hold some POWs and release them in small increments. During the first two years following the US entry into the war, US combatants were generally unwilling to accept the surrender of Japanese soldiers due to a combination of racist attitudes and anger at Japan's war crimes committed against US and Allied nationals such as its widespread mistreatment or summary execution of Allied POWs. 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. (2008), Japanese prisoners of war of World War II, 1929 Geneva Convention for the Sick and Wounded Armies in the Field, war crimes committed against US and Allied nationals, Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union,,, "Understanding the Enemy: Military Intelligence, Political Warfare and Japanese Prisoners of War in Australia, 1942–45", United States Army Center of Military History, Australia in the War of 1939–1945. [27], Allied combatants were reluctant to take Japanese prisoners at the start of the Pacific War. The continuous wiretapping at both locations may have also violated the spirit of the Geneva Convention. Some of the conditions at Camp Tracy violated Geneva Convention requirements, such as insufficient exercise time being provided. 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. The government was, however, concerned about reports that 300 POWs had joined the Chinese Communists and had been trained to spread anti-Japanese propaganda. [7] During the Meiji period the Japanese government adopted western policies towards POWs, and few of the Japanese personnel who surrendered in the Russo-Japanese War were punished at the end of the war. He also directed that the photos "should be truthful and factual and not designed to exaggerate". During the Pacific War, there were incidents where Japanese soldiers feigned surrender in order to lure Allied troops into ambushes. [77] At least 81,090 Japanese personnel died in areas occupied by the western Allies and China before they could be repatriated to Japan. 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. [55] 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. Often ignored by history is the story of the women prisoners of war taken captive during World War Two. In these reports Americans were portrayed as "deranged, primitive, racist and inhuman". [34] Allied forces mounted an extensive psychological warfare campaign against their Japanese opponents to lower their morale and encourage surrender. The Japanese government expressed no concern for these abuses, however, as it did not want IJA soldiers to even consider surrendering. 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. [2] The number of Japanese soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who surrendered was limited by the Japanese military indoctrinating its personnel to fight to the death, Allied combat personnel often being unwilling to take prisoners,[3] and many Japanese soldiers believing that those who surrendered would be killed by their captors.[4][5]. US Navy submarines were occasionally ordered to obtain prisoners for intelligence purposes, and formed special teams of personnel for this purpose. [70] In addition, 24 Japanese POWs killed themselves at Camp Paita, New Caledonia in January 1944 after a planned uprising was foiled. The protest turned violent when the camp's deputy commander shot one of the protest's leaders. These interrogations were painful and stressful for the POWs. Some ended up spending decades living in the Soviet Union, and could only return to Japan in the 1990s. The nationalists retained over 50,000 POWs, most of whom had technical skills, until the second half of 1946, however. [44] Ulrich Straus states that about 35,000 were captured by western Allied and Chinese forces,[45] and Robert C. Doyle gives a figure of 38,666 Japanese POWs in captivity in camps run by the western Allies at the end of the war. These programs highlighted the intelligence which could be gained from Japanese POWs, the need to honor surrender leaflets, and the benefits which could be gained by encouraging Japanese forces to not fight to the last man. 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 - … [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. Menu. [30] As a result, Allied troops believed that their Japanese opponents would not surrender and that any attempts to surrender were deceptive;[31] for instance, the Australian jungle warfare school advised soldiers to shoot any Japanese troops who had their hands closed while surrendering. During the war, this led to wounded personnel being either killed by medical officers or given grenades to commit suicide. [3] 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. [38], Survivors of ships sunk by Allied submarines frequently refused to surrender, and many of the prisoners who were captured by submariners were taken by force. These prisoners—being Australian—promptly told the Japanese to do one. [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. 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. [39] Overall, however, Allied submariners usually did not attempt to take prisoners, and the number of Japanese personnel they captured was relatively small. 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. [5] In addition, the Japanese public was aware that US troops sometimes mutilated Japanese casualties and sent trophies made out of body-parts home from media reports of two high-profile incidents in 1944 in which a letter-opener carved from a bone of a Japanese soldier was presented to President Roosevelt and a photo of the skull of a Japanese soldier which had been sent home by a US soldier was published in the magazine Life. ... Jim Horton describes his time spent in a Japanese POW camp during WWII. In 1942, four Australian POWs did the unthinkable, and tried to escape from their Japanese prisoner of war camp. [83] The treatment of Japanese POWs in Siberia was also similar to that suffered by Soviet prisoners who were being held in the area. Few Japanese were aware of the Geneva Convention and the rights it gave prisoners to not respond to questioning. She was imprisoned in a Union prison for her espionage activities. [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. Philippines, 1942. 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. Wikimedia Commons. [62] Nevertheless, Japanese POWs in Allied camps continued to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions until the end of the war. [28], ^a Gilmore provides the following numbers of Japanese POWs taken in the SWPA during each year of the war; 1942: 1,167, 1943: 1,064, 1944: 5,122, 1945: 12,194[47], This article is about personnel from Japan held as POWs by the Allies. [29] 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. They were also questioned once they reached a POW camp in Australia, New Zealand, India or the United States. On 25 February 1943, POWs at the Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand staged a strike after being ordered to work. Not really. The Japanese became so incensed that they ordered every POW in the Changi peninsula to sign an agreement promising not to escape. 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.