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"Japanese Intelligence and Security Measures" from Intelligence Bulletin, June 1944

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following U.S. military report on Japanese intelligence and security measures was originally published in the Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 10, June 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



Some Japanese measures concerning intelligence and security are presented below. For additional information on these subjects, see Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 7, pages 43-46, and the following issues of Vol. I: No. 12, pages 65-71; No. 10, page 86; No. 8, pages 58-59; and No. 6, pages 16-17.

Japanese intelligence apparently was not completely up to date on U.S. equipment at the time our forces landed on Makin Island. The defending enemy troops evidently thought our amphibious personnel carriers (alligators) were landing boats, and waited for the infantry to disembark before opening fire. When the alligators came out of the water, the Japanese fled their positions, apparently believing the alligators were tanks.

That the Japanese are interested not only in details of U.S. arms and equipment but also in the characteristics of the U.S. soldier is borne out from the following quotation from an enemy treatise:

It is very important to know the enemy [Americans]. What about him? If you do not know the enemy, you cannot prepare against him. If you understand the enemy's way of thinking and the combat methods he has used in the past, you can make preparations before you oppose him.


The views of a Japanese naval ensign on handling prisoners of war are presented below. While these views are not necessarily enemy doctrine, it is believed that they are pretty well in line with Japanese thought on the subject. The ensign's views tend to verify that the enemy is very much interested in prisoner-of-war information, and that he is aware of the talkative tendencies of some United Nations soldiers. The ensign's views:

a. Insofar as possible, prisoners should be picked up separately.

b. Conversation and communication between prisoners should be restricted.

c. Captured documents, messages, and other items of intelligence value should be used in connection with the interrogation of prisoners. These should be studied and arranged in a manner convenient for reference. The main idea is to get the prisoners to interpret these documents as completely as possible.

d. In interrogating, force should be the guiding principle. Because the prisoner's native language is different from ours, it is difficult to take advantage of any slip of his tongue, to give a detailed examination, or to use indirect-questioning methods (especially when the interrogator lacks confidence in his vocabulary). Therefore, it is easier (for the interrogator) to conduct a formal interview. The feeling that the victor is superior and the loser inferior should pervade the interrogation. If necessary, you should demand that questions and answers be made in writing.

e. Until the object of the interrogation has been attained, the prisoner should be made to feel anxious about his fate, should become physically exhausted. Consideration should be given to his quarters, food and drink, surveillance, and so forth.


Reliable Japanese sources indicate that the enemy often buries arms and equipment he cannot evacuate during withdrawals.

The following order was issued to a Japanese unit:

All unrequired ammunition will be buried in order to prevent hostile forces from using it when they penetrate our position.

Another unit received the following order:

If time permits, bury the gun in a safe location. The breechblock and gun sight will be removed and carried back at the time of retreat.

U.S. troops are warned that the Japanese have been known to booby-trap buried arms and equipment, and that the proper precautions should be taken when this buried "treasure" is located.


Within recent months the Japanese have adopted the following standards for censoring mail:

a. In letters you will not mention any unusual condition of forces, any Army plans, or any thoughts that might affect morale at home.

b. You will make no comment regarding unit dispositions, supplies and allowances, or any other matter that would be militarily injurious.

c. You will not even hazard a guess as to the sector of operations or your location.

d. You will not refer to the progress of operations, or to our losses (personnel, equipment, supplies, and so forth).

e. You will not mention identification numbers of forces or names of commanding officers above the rank of force commanders.

f. You may write about air attacks, but not about the effectiveness of our antiaircraft weapons and so forth.

g. You will not mention anything about low morale or make any comment which might become the source of wild rumors.

h. You will not make exaggerated comments concerning hardships or suffering in the combat zones.

i. You will not write about any lingering desire to go home, or about any matter that might lead those at home to presume our morale is low.


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