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"Regulations Governing Japanese Troops Occupying Conquered Areas" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on WWII Japanese regulations for their occupation troops is taken from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 20, March 11, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. 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.]


Having consolidated their earlier gains of the war in the Southwest Pacific area, the Japanese began to advance to the south and to the east in the spring of 1942. The push southward has been marked by the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese occupation and loss of Guadalcanal, and the fighting in southeastern New Guinea. Such operations involved not only the capture of the land areas concerned, but also their administration and defense so that they might be available as bases for future operations. Troops were specially detailed to follow the initial attack or advance and take over the administration and defense of the captured areas. They might be referred to as occupation or base troops.

Such elements undoubtedly moved south to the large Japanese advance base at Rabaul, New Britain, in the spring of 1942, as part of a major operation intended to culminate in an attack on Australia. By May 1942 Japanese troops had landed on Tulagi near Guadalcanal, and by the middle of July work had been begun on Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. On July 1, 1942 the Japanese "8th Base Force" was at Rabaul, though elements thereof had already probably moved south. There follows a translation of a Japanese document dealing with the duties of the "Guard Forces," i.e., the troops detailed to the administration and defense of captured areas.

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Eighth Base Force - Regulations No. 3
July 1, 1942 (Rabaul)
Duties of the Guard Forces

a. General Principles

(1) The areas to be defended by these forces include the land, sea, and air in the regions occupied by the Imperial Forces southeast of the equator to New Guinea and to the east thereof.

At the important points within the wide areas which these units will control, bases will be established from which to advance the plans for attacking the east coast of Australia, in conjunction with other friendly forces. These units will also guard the conquered areas, preserve the peace, and protect the sea lanes. A most important duty will be to enforce military rule in conquered areas.

The areas which these units are to defend, and from which advances will be made, is near the focal point of the concentrated strength of U.S., British, and Australian forces. Our units are to perfect the defenses of the important areas and then advance, intercepting the enemy, wrecking his combined operations, and annihilating him. This operation, we believe, is the key to the successful termination of the Greater East Asia War.

(2) All men of these units should consider the above-mentioned duties as being of foremost importance; and they must fight daringly in the front lines of this, the most important battleground beneath the southern stars, overcoming all difficulties and breaking down all barriers, concentrating all efforts and striving always at fever pitch for Japan--vowing to win this great battle.

However, that enemy sea, land, and air attacks will become vigorous and persistent, is something that we naturally expect from a standpoint of strategy. For this reason, take proper security measures in all defensive patrols and in an emergency be ready to launch immediately a full-scale counterattack. While bearing in mind that defensive measures may have to be taken, always retain the initiative and make it your number-one duty to overpower the enemy. The various units which are assigned to the defense of important points will desperately defend their allotted areas, and will also concentrate their efforts on keeping to a minimum the damage caused by enemy attacks.

(3) Discipline is the core of a military force, and naturally, in times of battle, all duties will be performed in a soldierly manner. The noble ideals of loyalty and patriotism are naturally related to leadership and obedience, and these are the basis for the fighting strength so manifest in the Imperial Forces. This is brought about by harmony and order within the unit itself. The soldier, showing his love for the soul and spirit of Japan, adds luster to his unit, and if this spirit be shown by one who has undergone hardships, then he gives greater glory to the Imperial Forces.

Front-line duty involves many factors which make it different from peacetime duty on board a warship or within a unit. At the present time, in the Imperial Forces, this is evident in stricter discipline and a flourishing martial spirit. The importance of these factors must never be overlooked.

If you think that due to a hasty expedition to foreign parts, or because of special circumstances occurring once in ten thousand times, there is any exception to this rule of strict discipline, you are under a great illusion. All commanders must make this matter their first concern and never relax their vigilance, being always ready to guide their men along the right path.

(4) If these units obey and follow their duty as outlined above, their strategic mission in offensive and defensive actions and in the guarding of the sea lanes will be successfully accomplished. However, in places where no civil government has been established, this force will also, without neglecting its strategical duties, enforce order within the various areas and assist in the civil administration. While one can say that a knowledge of how to govern foreign people is not easily come by, the indomitable, peerless Imperial Forces, who never violate a solemn and fearful discipline, will be able to work together with these people and rule. However, there should be a period in which the subordinate people should be led and trained.

b. General Functions

(1) Commands will be strictly carried out by these units, whether acting alone or in conjunction with other units.

When operations involving large forces and concentrated efforts are necessary in order to carry out the strategy within the areas in question, the methods to be adopted will depend on the orders of the commander-in-chief of the operations as a whole. In cases where remnants of the enemy within these areas are to be mopped up, or where the troops are to be used for the maintenance of order, these tasks will be carried out according to the plan of the guard-force or garrison-force commanders.

(2) The guard-force command will make the plans for the defense of the areas under its control, plan the distribution of manpower, guns, boats, and weapons, establish a system of defense, give the orders for carrying out a successful defense, and generally prepare for battle.

(3) The guard forces will, conditions permitting, carry out mopping-up operations within the area, particularly against enemy communication facilities. At the same time they will extend the zone of our influence.

(4) The guard forces will, taking into account local conditions, establish observation posts and communication centers, and send out patrols. Communications will be established as quickly as possible; this is one of the most important factors in a successful defense.

(5) Protection of sea-borne traffic depends largely on ships and planes, and will be under the control of the superior commander. The guard-force commander and the garrison-force commanders will devote careful attention to the conditions of enemy and friendly sea lanes within their areas, and inform approaching friendly ships of these conditions. Also, the commanders will assist in guarding ships entering and leaving port, taking on or unloading cargo, and at anchor.

(6) In case friendly ships are present within their zone of command, the base forces and guard forces will, as the home force, assist the ships in carrying out their strategy, replenish supplies, and enable them to get some rest, etc. This is one of the most important points in carrying out the strategy of the Imperial Forces, and in manifesting their cooperation. The advancement of war strategy in this area depends largely on the work of the air force, and cooperation is therefore doubly important.

(7) In case there should be an airbase in the area, the air defense organization and patrol will be under the command of the air force; but the guarding of the area and the AA defense will be the duty of the guard force. Therefore, it is necessary to assist the air force in building up a speedy system of communications for patrol work.

(8) In case a friendly force under a different command stops in the area, it is necessary for the commanders to assure cooperation by reaching an understanding regarding any operations and by making clear the responsibilities of each.

(9) Keep the communication instruments always in a state of perfect preparation. In case they are not prepared, you must be ready to handle important communications swiftly and surely by such auxiliary means as flags, signal fires, and rockets.

In the case of reports and messages, you must not, by vainly concentrating on speed of delivery at the expense of essential accuracy, cause superior officers and friendly forces to err in their dispositions. Speed is to be sought after having prepared the important points of the message (for example, with regard to attack of enemy planes--the number of planes, types, direction of attack and withdrawal, results, damage, etc.), and having made the text simple and clear.

(10) It is the duty of the superior officers to see that guard forces in remote outlying districts get necessary reports and suitable supplies, medical care, etc. However, since there are many cases when it is not easy to do this on account of the conditions of communications and tactical situation, each unit must do its best to improvise as required, and each commander must advance of his own accord and strive to grasp the general situation.

c. Internal Duties

(1) The daily routine depends upon the orders of the superior commander, but there is nothing to prevent the guard-force commander from making changes in accordance with the military situation, the work being done, the weather, etc. In short, it is most essential to promote a bright, interesting, pleasant life in the field: on the one hand, by planning an appropriate daily routine, weekly routine, and work schedule, thus achieving the best and most efficient plan for every sort of situation; and, on the other hand, by appropriate training, rest, and recreation.

(2) Leisure time should be utilized to the fullest possible extent in ardent training which should be carried out realistically. Also, encourage proficiency in military arts and athletics. This is the best way to improve and refine the efficiency of the whole force, make it energetic, and promote discipline and morale. The commanding officer must always give thought to these matters and not neglect to put them into practice.

When activities against the enemy are comparatively simple, "spiritual laxity" may easily arise before you know it in the environment of the front lines. It exhibits itself first in careless dress and sloppy saluting; then, in not a few cases, discipline relaxes and fighting power is lowered, so attention is required on this point.

(3) In combat, and in everyday training and duty, it is most essential both for the display of the force's military strength and for the promotion of efficiency in every sort of work that the officers be among the ranks, leading and supervising. Because the effect of this is to form a crack unit in which officers and men are harmoniously united, it is traditionally a virtue of the Imperial Navy. In forces engaged in operations and in front-line duty, the officers must give attention to this point.

(4) In operations in the pestilential and torrid tropics, great care is necessary to avoid losses due to sickness, particularly the epidemic diseases peculiar to these regions. The points to which this force should pay attention in the various areas which it guards are as follows:

(a) Divide up the area occupied by the units, and the important places of the vicinity, and within these areas and, insofar as possible, outside of them, make it impossible for disease-carrying insects to appear or spread. (We refer you to the results obtained in the area at Rashun taken over by the navy after the invasion, where mosquitoes were virtually eliminated after 2 1/2 months and the sanitary situation greatly improved).

(b) Always get rid of waste water, and do not permit even a small amount of stagnant water to stand in empty tin cans.

(c) Always cut weeds short, and try to see that air circulates well through the trees.

(d) All garbage is to be transported to an established place at some distance and disposed of. Combustible matter is to be burnt every day.

(e) When there are damp areas with poor drainage in the vicinity, quickly devise means of draining them, and also cover them with waste oil.

(f) Men must sleep under mosquito netting.

(g) When moving about in the bush, be especially careful about your clothes (do not have your legs exposed, and if necessary use an anti-mosquito mask and gloves), and when resting or going to bed take strict precautions against mosquitoes.

(h) Follow strictly medical directions as to the taking of preventive medicines.

(5) The commanding officer of a remote guard force must take care to report to his superiors without delay the tactical situation, and also from time to time the general situation, health conditions, and other essential matters. Also, he must be alert to utilize boats and airplanes for the transmission of reports, orders, etc., to keep his force fully supplied, to maintain close liaison with his superior officers, and to prevent delays in the military preparations and ordinary duties of his own unit. In case of wounds or sudden illness in a force which has no doctor, the commanding officer is to get instructions quickly by message.

(6) Enemy property and captured goods must be properly disposed of in accordance with the various regulations. For this reason the commanding officer is to be conversant beforehand with the rules concerned. There is nothing to prevent the force from requisitioning and using whatever it needs from enemy produce, boats, houses, furniture, etc.; however, since the chief items, such as radio stations, power plants, etc., must be treated as national property from now on, you must report on their condition and strive to repair and preserve them.

(7) You should utilize spare time from duties to cultivate vegetables and fruit trees, and to raise chickens, pigs, etc., thus giving some ease and interest to your life and supplying some of your own provisions.

d. Treatment of Natives and Foreigners

(1) The natives of this area are in general simple and docile and tend to respect their masters. Each village is controlled autonomously under its chief (sometimes there is a main chief over the chiefs of a certain area or a number of villages), and if you can get the chiefs to direct the people favorably, it will make control comparatively easy and contribute a good deal of efficiency to labor conditions.

On the other hand, because of the past system of control, they have the habit of asserting their rights (they easily forget their duties), and many of them, having been affected by church education and being led by white missionaries, persist in those manners. The following points should be the general standard in leading and handling the natives:

(a) By the application of the authoritative and strict rules of the Imperial Army and by judicious direction, bring them to give us true respect and obedience. Induce them to become Japanese subjects. Make them realize that the Imperial Army will protect their lives and property, and that at the same time they must faithfully perform their duties.

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

(c) Although you may make every effort to instill 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) Although the administration of justice is controlled by the civil government, the rendering of fair decisions in unimportant local matters will contribute to public order. Be especially careful that there are none among them who through contacts with or induced by Europeans and Americans, give aid to the enemy. In such cases take severe measures, and when the offense is serious seek the direction of higher authority.

(e) Do not enter their dwellings nor chat with them on a level of equality.

(f) In view of the fact that they respect their women and have the custom of taking a fierce and daring revenge for offenses against them, never approach the native women.

(g) Since they respect property, always pay a proper price for things, and especially pay them properly when they have finished their work. In this matter follow the regulations of the civil government.

(h) Choose the chief carefully, respect and support his position as intermediary, and make him display his authority and ability in directing the people.

(i) Try to have labor and service carried out under the orders and direction of the chief; it is necessary that supervision be strict. Use experienced natives for the sanitary improvement set forth in paragraph 4 of part c above. Furthermore, in view of the fact that under the old regime, the natives used to work twice a week on the nearby roads under the direction of their chief and this was considered a duty, have them continue the custom.

(2) The Chinese are scattered about in the various areas to be controlled, living in small communities, and making use of their characteristic commercial talents to gain an economic foothold. In not a few cases they exploit the natives' labor. We may make use of the trades and business agencies of those who cooperate with us in good faith; however, in view of the actual situation in this area, where there are no remaining Japanese residents, the Chinese must not be permitted to extend excessively their economic foothold.

(3) Enemy aliens who are hostile are naturally to be dealt with according to regulations. However, in the case of those who are not hostile and who honestly wish to cooperate with us, investigate them and seek the instructions of higher authority.

(4) The missionaries and Axis nationals (those remaining are mostly Germans) insist on being treated as priests and citizens of allied nations and, on the surface, promise to cooperate with us, but the real intention of many of them is to maintain their former rights, profits, and foothold, and to extend their businesses and try to prepare for the period after the war. Investigate them very strictly and, without being excessively high-handed on the surface, direct matters in such a way as to emasculate gradually their power, interests, enterprises, etc. If necessary, seek instructions from higher authority. Base your relations with, and treatment of these people on the following standard:

(a) Under the former regime the churches and their institutions were recognized as a form of the national government. As part of Imperial territory, their churches and their proselyting and education are now to be prohibited.

(b) Under the former government, with the exception of land belonging to the churches, private ownership of land was not recognized, and all enterprises relating to land were regulated by a lease granted for a definite period of time. For this reason the property and enterprises of the churches cannot be permitted to continue in their present status of vested interests. Of course, that which is already clearly private property is to be respected.

(c) At the beginning of this war, the Australian government rigorously selected from among the missionaries of Axis countries those who showed real sincerity in cooperating with Australia and who promised never to aid the enemies of Australia during the war; these were allowed to remain. At present there are quite a number of Germans and Italians who have been sent to Australia and detained there. Accordingly, there is a good deal of doubt about letting the present Axis missionaries simply go on exercising their special rights in our occupied areas, as "religionists" under international law.

(d) In case there is argument regarding the grounds and procedure in the above paragraphs, avoid entering deeply into vain discussions and seek instructions from higher authority.

e. Military Administration

The government of the occupied territories is in the hands of the Japanese civil administration, but, since the guard force must cooperate with and assist the civil authorities, we summarize here the essential points of the military administration policies of this force.

(1) Government

(a) This force will try to extend military administration over the occupied areas and to control them, quickly eliminating any hostile activity and restoring public order and discipline. Also, the force will devise means of self-support, and search for and secure important defense materials.

(b) Root out the white man's influence by the policy of controlling important points with the power of the Imperial Forces, and gradually extend the power of the administration over the whole area.

(c) Govern the natives, with the chiefs as the core of local autonomous government, under the direct guidance of the civil authority or a substitute organization. We may use carefully selected white men who cooperate with us and swear loyalty for this purpose.

(d) The churches and church-supported education of the old regime is prohibited. Respect the religious faith, customs, and private property of the natives. Guide the masses of the people so as to make them gratefully contented with the prestige and authority of the Imperial Forces; make them return quickly to their occupations and cooperate actively with our policies.

(e) Always endeavor to mollify the masses with propaganda and to make them understand the meaning of our policies. Drive home the fact that it is natural that in war time the special demands of production, and the monetary and labor policies, should occasion heavy burdens to the people. Make them realize that behind the favors and the soothing propaganda is the might of the brave Imperial Forces, and that they have no other course than to rely on us and cooperate with us.

(f) Endeavor to restore and utilize the native constabulary system of the former government. Prohibit entirely the carrying of weapons by the natives.

(g) Restore the native public schools as quickly as possible, and give instruction with suitable persons as teachers. Furthermore, make propaganda capital out of giving the natives free medical service insofar as the exigencies of the war permit.

(2) Development of Industry and Expansion of Production

(a) For the present the first thing in the development of industry is to meet the requirements for the support of the force and of the various policies adopted, and at the same time to get as much as possible of the products of the land to help out the "Materials Movement Plan in Japan."*

(b) Do all you can to get the men and materials needed for development from local resources. Endeavor to use the labor of the natives, and try to make practical use of local facilities and materials.

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

(d) The leasing, renting, and developing of government lands and resources will be permitted in the case of influential, trusted Japanese commercial firms. (All matters under this paragraph will be executed by the civil administration.)

Permits granted in this area at present are as follows:

Nanyo Bocki Kaisha (South Seas Trading Company)
Nankyo Suisan Kaisha (Southern Development Marine Products Company)

(e) The expansion of production for the present will emphasize materials necessary to military operations and the production of provisions necessary for the support of the force. Otherwise, expansion will be managed according to the "Industrial Development and Production Expansion Plan,"** established by the civil government. Apart from the above, the securing and investigation of essential resources are in the hands of the civil government.

(3) Finance and Currency

(a) For the present, war notes*** will be the currency.

(b) In view of the fact that financial and monetary problems will have a serious effect on the future government, everyone will follow the policies fixed by the civil administration and endeavor to be economical.

*The Materials Movement Plan is evidently designed to effect the movement of raw materials, such as iron ore, petroleum, manganese, nickel ore, and bauxite, from the occupied areas to Japan.

**The Industrial Development and Production Expansion Plan is probably that part of Japan's economic policy which is concerned with obtaining the raw materials for the Materials Movement Plan, as well as rehabilitating and developing local industries to producing goods for local military needs.

***Special currency issued in occupied areas.


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