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"How the Japanese Treat Natives in S.W. Pacific" from Intelligence Bulletin, April 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following report on Japanese treatment of natives during WWII was originally published in the Intelligence Bulletin, April 1943.

[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.]



This section deals with the harsh methods used by the Japanese in dealing with the natives on the Southwest Pacific islands which the enemy has occupied. The information comes from Japanese documents, which have been paraphrased for the sake of clarity. These methods are described below to acquaint our troops further with some of the ruthless acts of the enemy, and to give them some pointers on how not to treat the natives.


a. General

The natives of this island are to be made to cooperate with the Imperial Army. Unless they submit to 30 days of forced labor, they cannot obtain a resident's badge. However, women, persons under 14 and over 50 years old, and the crippled and diseased will be excused.

b. How to Handle Forced Laborers

Those who submit to forced labor without resistance will appear at a designated place and be registered. Thereafter they must live apart from their families in an area to be called the "fixed dwelling place."

While submitting to forced labor, they will be given a temporary resident's badge and will be provided with food and other things necessary for housekeeping (from government supplies). One stick of tobacco will be given to each laborer per week. As a rule, give two sticks to the "boss boy" only. Upon completion of the 30 days of labor, give a loin cloth or other good gift to laborers who have good records.

All laborers will work 10 hours per day.

c. Discharge of Forced Laborers

When they have completed their 30 days of labor and have permission from the officer in charge, the laborers can return to their former abode or move to a suitable place.

If the forced laborers are negligent in their work, their temporary residence badges will be taken from them after the third offense and they will have to work 10 additional days. After five offenses, they will work 20 additional days.

Those who conduct themselves well and are diligent will receive good-conduct badges.

Those who receive the highest good-conduct badges will be made chiefs and otherwise rewarded.

Divide the chiefs into big and little ones, and give a big chief jurisdiction over two or more little chiefs.

The chief will receive his control of village affairs from the government [Japanese], and will act on the orders of the government.


The natives of this area are generally simple and docile and habitually respect their masters. In some respects, however, because of the previous system of control, they have a habit of asserting their rights (they easily forget their duties), and many of them, affected by missionary education and leadership, persist in those manners.

The following points should be the general standard in handling the natives:

a. By the authoritative and strict rules of the Imperial Army, see that they give us true respect and obedience. Induce them to become Japanese subjects.

b. Prohibit the religious teaching (usually accompanied by schooling), which they have had from the missionaries, but do not restrict the individual faith of the natives.

c. Although you may try to indoctrinate them with the Japanese type of spiritual training in its entirety, it will be hard for them to understand and usually there will be no results. For the present, make them understand well the great power and prestige of Japan and the superiority of the Japanese race, and bring them to trust us, admire us, and be devoted to us.

d. Be sure none of the natives serve as spies for the enemy. In such cases, take severe measures.

e. Do not enter their dwellings or chat with them on a level of equality.

f. The missionaries and Axis country nationals (those remaining are mostly Germans) use their positions as priests and as citizens of allied nations to maintain their former rights, profits, and foothold. On the surface, they promise to cooperate with us, but the real intentions of many are to further their own interests. Investigate them very strictly and, without being excessively high-handed on the surface, direct matters in such a way as to gradually destroy their power, interests, enterprises, and so forth. If necessary, seek additional instructions from higher authority.

g. In the new Imperial territory, the churches, their proselyting, and their education are to be prohibited.

h. The land and all natural resources are government property, and, for the present, private ownership of them will not be recognized.


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