[75] In order to prevent resistance to the order to surrender, Japan's Imperial Headquarters included a statement that "servicemen who come under the control of enemy forces after the proclamation of the Imperial Rescript will not be regarded as POWs" in its orders announcing the end of the war. The protest turned violent when the camp's deputy commander shot one of the protest's leaders. 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. [35] This included dropping copies of the Geneva Conventions and 'surrender passes' on Japanese positions. [48] It has been estimated that at the end of the war Chinese Nationalist and Communist forces held around 8,300 Japanese prisoners. [74], Millions of Japanese military personnel surrendered following the end of the war. After arriving in these camps, the prisoners were interrogated again, and their conversations were wiretapped and analysed. Always think of [preserving] the honor of your community and be a credit to yourself and your family. These prisoners—being Australian—promptly told the Japanese to do one. In 1942, four Australian POWs did the unthinkable, and tried to escape from their Japanese prisoner of war camp. 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. [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. 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 - … This treatment was similar to that experienced by German POWs in the Soviet Union. Those who know shame are weak. The nationalists retained over 50,000 POWs, most of whom had technical skills, until the second half of 1946, however. [63], Most Japanese captured by US forces after September 1942 were turned over to Australia or New Zealand for internment. However, a factor equally strong or even stronger to those, was the fear of torture after capture. [59], Japanese POWs held in Allied prisoner of war camps were treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. 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". Top 35 Prisoners of War Movies. [28], Estimates of the numbers of Japanese personnel taken prisoner during the Pacific War differ. 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. [33], Despite the attitudes of combat troops and nature of the fighting, Allied militaries made systematic efforts to take Japanese prisoners throughout the war. 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. [60] By 1943 the Allied governments were aware that personnel who had been captured by the Japanese military were being held in harsh conditions. [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. [67] There were several incidents at POW camps, however. 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. In addition, wounded Japanese soldiers sometimes tried to use hand grenades to kill Allied troops attempting to assist them. 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. In three years, between 1942 (the year the Japanese occupied Singapore) and 1945, Changi has earned its reputation as the most feared Japanese prison. Wikimedia Commons Some, having spent decades away and having started families of their own, elected not to permanently settle in Japan and remain where they were. 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. They were also questioned once they reached a POW camp in Australia, New Zealand, India or the United States. It was against Japanese regulations and discovery would have meant death, but the men celebrated the occasion anyway. On 27 December 1941, it established a POW Information Bureau within the Ministry of the Army to manage information concerning Japanese POWs. Those who chose to surrender did so for a range of reasons including not believing that suicide was appropriate or lacking the will to commit the act, bitterness towards officers, and Allied propaganda promising good treatment. [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. [23], Japanese soldiers' reluctance to surrender was also influenced by a perception that Allied forces would kill them if they did surrender, and historian Niall Ferguson has argued that this had a more important influence in discouraging surrenders than the fear of disciplinary action or dishonor. [43], Repatriation of some Japanese POWs was delayed by Allied authorities. As a result of these factors, Japanese POWs were often cooperative and truthful during interrogation sessions. [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". 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. Each US Army division was assigned a team of Japanese Americans whose duties included attempting to persuade Japanese personnel to surrender. [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. 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. [29] Furthermore, in many instances, Japanese soldiers who had surrendered were killed on the front line or while being taken to POW compounds. [52] This view proved incorrect, however, and many Japanese POWs provided valuable intelligence during interrogations. [58] POWs also provided advice on the wording for propaganda leaflets which were dropped on Japanese cities by heavy bombers in the final months of the war. The Soviet Union claimed to have taken 594,000 Japanese POWs, of whom 70,880 were immediately released, but Japanese researchers have estimated that 850,000 were captured. The Japanese became so incensed that they ordered every POW in the Changi peninsula to sign an agreement promising not to escape. Sergeant Mutsuhiro “The Bird” Watanabe at a series of Japanese POW camps. On 25 February 1943, POWs at the Featherston prisoner of war camp in New Zealand staged a strike after being ordered to work. The number of women who were held as prisoners of war remains unclear, with few official records available. 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. Sexually explicit memoir of women’s abuse in Nazi camps finally sees light Second-generation trauma expert Helen Epstein publishes late mother … [8] 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 Allied interrogators found that exaggerating the amount they knew about the Japanese forces and asking the POWs to 'confirm' details was also a successful approach. While the Japanese feared that they would be subjected to reprisals, they were generally treated well. [9] Attitudes towards surrender hardened after World War I. [20], Not all Japanese military personnel chose to follow the precepts set out on the Senjinkun. Not really. 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 … Philippines, 1942. The submarines which took prisoners normally did so towards the end of their patrols so that they did not have to be guarded for a long time. [62] Nevertheless, Japanese POWs in Allied camps continued to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions until the end of the war. During the Pacific War, there were incidents where Japanese soldiers feigned surrender in order to lure Allied troops into ambushes. [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. 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. [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. 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. [46] Alison B. Gilmore has also calculated that Allied forces in the South West Pacific Area alone captured at least 19,500 Japanese. A movie about women in prison, a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, no less, and it wasn`t on during the February sweeps? [34] Allied forces mounted an extensive psychological warfare campaign against their Japanese opponents to lower their morale and encourage surrender. [15] Most Japanese military personnel were told that they would be killed or tortured by the Allies if they were taken prisoner. When individuals wrote to the Bureau to inquire if their relative had been taken prisoner, it appears that the Bureau provided a reply which neither confirmed or denied whether the man was a prisoner. Her new book, Prisoners of the Empire: POWs and Their Captors in the Pacific, was published by Harvard University Press in September 2020. 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. In addition, soldiers who witnessed Japanese troops surrender were more willing to take prisoners themselves. [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". Prisoner of war camps in Japan housed both capture military personnel and civilians who had been in the East before the outbreak of war. 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 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. This attitude was reinforced by the indoctrination of young people. 2. [57] This included developing propaganda leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts which were designed to encourage other Japanese personnel to surrender. [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. [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. In particular healthy and good-looking women prisoners between the ages of 17 and 35 caught the eye of SS recruiters. 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. The Japanese repeatedly forced Allied prisoners of war to embark on prolonged marches with little to no provisions, resulting in the deaths of thousands [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. MacArthur reversed his position in December of that year, however, but only allowed the publication of photos that did not identify individual POWs. [66], Japanese POWs generally adjusted to life in prison camps and few attempted to escape. In these reports Americans were portrayed as "deranged, primitive, racist and inhuman". The programs were partially successful, and contributed to US troops taking more prisoners. The Japanese government expressed no concern for these abuses, however, as it did not want IJA soldiers to even consider surrendering. Japanese POWs often believed that by surrendering they had broken all ties with Japan, and many provided military intelligence to the Allies. [42] Instances of Japanese personnel being killed while attempting to surrender are not well documented, though anecdotal accounts provide evidence that this occurred. 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. She was imprisoned in a Union prison for her espionage activities. 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. For Allied personnel held as POWs by Japan, see. 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. 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. [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. 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