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"Japanese Rations" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on Japanese rations in WWII was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 7, Sept. 10, 1942.

[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.]


The use by modern armies of concentrated foods is nothing new, and the development tends to become more widely exploited as the war takes on the character of large-scale activities on many fronts.

Japanese parachutists are using iron rations made in wafer form and composed of ground rice and wheat with some sesame seed. Besides this, they have an extract of mussel flesh, dried plums, preserved ginger, crushed bean meal, and nori (dried seaweed containing alkali, soda and iodine). For one meal these rations weigh about one-half pound. They have been successfully tried out in the climates of Malaya, East Indies, Philippines, China, Manchuria, and Siberia.

All foreign iron rations were previously tested, but the Japanese selected the above type as most suitable for the Japanese soldier.

It seems that the Japanese parachutists in Sumatra and Celebes had to carry considerable quantities of food, which had to be light in weight. One Japanese authority spent 17 years in research on these rations before presenting his findings to the Japanese Diet.

The Japanese have three types of field rations, a variable emergency ration, and a "peacetime" ration. Rice, sometimes barley, is the basic food in each type of ration.

a. "Peacetime" Ration. This consists of 21.16 ounces of rice, 6.6 ounces of barley, and a cash allowance per man of approximately 9 1/2 cents per day. The cash allowance is spent on meat, fish, vegetables, and sometimes for extra cooking and heating fuel. The caloric value of the ration in kind is 2,780. A total food equivalent for each man of 3,500 calories a day is allowed in barracks, and 3,700 to 4,000 calories a day is allowed on maneuvers. The American garrison ration allows 5,140 calories per day, and the field ration is approximately the same. The caloric allowance is slightly higher in cold climates.

b. Emergency Rations. These are of two types--the "A" scale and the "B" scale. In Burma, Japanese orders showed that each soldier carried rations for three days on the "A' scale and for one day on the "B" scale. Neither was to be eaten except on orders of the commanding officer when the unit was separated from its supply column.

(1) "A" Scale. This scale consists of about 1 pound 3 ounces of rice (sufficient for two meals) and one small can of mixed beef and vegetables per man. The rice, which is simple to prepare, is frequently cooked by the soldier in a small bucket carried for that purpose.

(2) "B" Scale. It consists of three paper bags of hard biscuits sufficient for three meals).

c. Field Ration. These generally are of two types, "normal" and "special", although an "alternative" ration may be substituted for either of them. The "special" ration usually is issued when the rations are carried on the soldier. The following table shows the make-up of the three rations:

Types of Food   Normal   Special   Alternative
Cereal or
Rice: 23.3 oz.
Barley: 7.4 oz.
Rice: 20.46 oz.
Biscuit, or com-
pressed ration:
8.113 oz.
One of the following:
Rice: 30.69 oz.
Bread: 36 oz.
Biscuit: 24.34 oz.
Compressed ration: 24.34 oz.
Other cereals: 31.75 oz.
Meat or fish Raw meat:
7.4 oz.
Tinned meat: 5.3 oz.
(or) Dried meat:
2.1 oz.
Smoked salted meat: 3.175 oz.
(or) Eggs: 6.35 oz.
Vegetables Raw: 21.16 oz. Dried: 4.23 oz. ------------------------
Pickles Pickled rad-
ish: 2.1 oz.
Dried plum: 1.09 oz.
Salt or sweet pickles: 4.23 oz.
Flavoring Powdered
.08 qt.

Bean paste:
2.6 oz.
Powdered soybeans:
1.06 oz.

(or) Powdered soy-
bean extract: 1.4 oz.

Powdered bean paste:
1.06 oz.
Bean paste: 5.3 oz.
(or) Vinegar: .08 qt.
(or) Sauce: .08 qt.
Flavoring Salt: .176 oz.
Sugar: .7 oz.
Salt: .176 oz.
Sugar: .7 oz.
Tea Tea: .1 oz. Tea: .7 oz. -------------------------
Nutriments ------------ Nutritive food: 1.09 oz. -------------------------
Extras ------------ Japanese sake*: .4 qt.
(or) Sweets: 4.23 oz.
Tobacco: 20 cigarettes
*The chief alcoholic beverage of the Japanese; a kind of beer made from rice.

d. Vitamins. The Japanese are using vitamin tablets to supplement their rations, and also as an emergency ration in the jungle. Some of the vitamin tablets are known to consist mainly of vitamins A and D.


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