All the information given in this section was obtained
from Japanese prisoners; therefore, it is not necessarily
correct in all particulars, and should be treated with
reserve. The comments are presented according to subject matter.
2. THE COMMENTS
a. Regarding Morale
Several prisoners have stated that they were opposed
to going to war against the United States and
Great Britain. One prisoner remarked that Japanese soldiers
and sailors were talking among themselves about
the prospects of losing the war. He said there was considerable
fear of Russia "turning on Japan and using Vladivostok
as a base for bombing operations."
At least two prisoners deserted because of difficulties
with their commanding officers. One of them, suffering
from malaria and confined at a rest camp in New Guinea, declared
that his superior officer accused him
of "gold-bricking" and "kicked, pushed, and beat me." He
intimated that this treatment made him so miserable
he went into the jungle and wandered three days
until he reached the Australian lines.
Another prisoner wandered off into the jungle toward
the U.S. lines on Guadalcanal after his commanding
officer had reprimanded him because he asked for more
rice than the individual rationed allotment. He was
captured by natives while stealing food, and was turned
over to U.S. troops.
When asked what he thought about fighting the war, the prisoner
replied that he didn't think--he just followed orders. He
refused to write home, and said he would like to settle in
the United States after the war is over.
There is a difference of opinion among prisoners as
to their reception in Japan after the war. Most of the
prisoners have insisted that it is a life-time disgrace to
be captured. One prisoner questioned recently declared
that all those captured would be killed when they
were returned to their country. He said that even his
own father and mother would not receive him. However,
he intimated that there might be a possibility of
some kind of adjustment.
Another prisoner thought he would be able to return
and live a normal life provided he did not resettle in
his native district.
In regard to "saving face," another prisoner stated
that the correct procedure for the commander of a
badly defeated regiment would be to return to the district
where his unit was formed and commit suicide
According to one prisoner's story, Japanese enlisted
men are forbidden to make allotments from their pay
for dependents. In explaining this statement, the
prisoner said the army felt that the enlisted men
needed all of their pay to buy necessities.
Japanese soldiers may keep diaries in Japan and in
other areas not close to the theater of operations, according
to another prisoner. On his departure from
Rabaul, the prisoner said his commanding officer read
an order forbidding diaries to be taken to New Guinea
or to be written there. The order did not apply to officers, he
said, and noncoms in some instances could obtain
permission to keep diaries.
b. Regarding Equipment
(1) Collapsible Boats.--One prisoner described a
collapsible boat made of wood and reinforced with
rubber. The boat, according to the prisoner, was constructed
in four independent and water-tight sections, which
hook together. The hooked joints were reinforced
with rubber. The maximum capacity for the boat is 10 men.
Another prisoner described a collapsible rubber boat, which
was inflated by a foot pump. The floor of the
boat was made of folding wooden slats, which were
fitted into a side frame to provide rigidity. The overall
length of the boat was about 8 feet and the width
about 6 feet. The inside measurements were
about 5 feet by 3 feet. The boat, which weighed
approximately 100 pounds, accommodated two or three men. The
occupants propelled it by paddling with their hands.
(2) For Infantry Squad.--A prisoner said each infantry
squad, of 12 men, carried the following: 4 shovels,
1 axe, 1 hammer, 1 large tree saw, 3 picks,
1 hatchet, 1 pair of wire cutters, and nails and staples.
He said the squad did not carry barbed wire.
(3) Footwear.--Before leaving Japan, each soldier
is issued hobnailed shoes and rubber-soled canvas shoes,
according to a prisoner. The latter are worn, he said,
when leaving a ship because ordinary shoes are too slippery.
(4) Camouflage.--A prisoner stated that in addition
to a camouflage headnet, each Japanese soldier in jungle
areas is issued a pair of greenish cotton gloves.
(5) Identification Badges.--A prisoner explained
that infantry troops are identified by a circular khaki
cloth badge, 1 1/4 inches in diameter, which is worn
above the left breast pocket. The prisoner said that
the Japanese character denoting infantry was marked on the badge.