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TM-E 30-480: Handbook on Japanese Military Forces
Technical Manual, U.S. War Department, October 1, 1944
[DISCLAIMER: The following text and illustrations are taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Technical Manual. As with all wartime manuals, the text may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the contents of the original technical manual. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

Chapter I: Recruitment and Training

Section II: Conscription System

1. GENERAL. a. In peacetime all male Japanese subjects between the ages of 17 and 40 are subject to service in the Armed Forces. Some may postpone their service, but only those seriously disabled and certain criminals are exempted by law. Since all Japanese are obliged by law to attend primary school for 6 years, this is the minimum educational standard for the Army. The 20-year-olds were examined yearly and classified according to fitness for service. From those fit for active service, the desired number was inducted into the Army and given 2 years' training. All others were put into a reserve designed for furnishing replacements and given a small amount of training. Those classified as fit for limited service were given no training but were put into the 2d National Army, where they, as well as the boys between 17 and 20 years of age, were liable to call in case of emergency.

b. Under the stress of war, many modifications have occurred. The term of enlistment has been prolonged to 3 years and more, depending upon the circumstances. Reservists of various categories have been called up as needed to form new units or to furnish replacements for units in the field. The extent to which men assigned to the 2d National Army have been used is not clear. The recruits continue to be called up, but the training given them usually takes the form of 3 months in Japan proper and as much more in Japan or occupied areas as circumstances require. (See fig. 2.)

[Figure 2. Classes of service in peacetime.]
Figure 2. Classes of service in peacetime.

2. CONSCRIPTION SYSTEM AS OF 1941. a. Conscription classes. Every Japanese male is subject to military service. If a youth's twentieth birthday occurs before 2 December, he reports and is examined for service in the 16 April-31 July period preceding his birthday. If his twentieth birthday occurs after 2 December, he reports and is examined in the 16 April-31 July period following his birthday. He is given physical and mental examinations and classified according to his fitness for military service in the following manner:

Class A—Not less than 152 meters (5 ft.) in height, and in good physical condition. Available for active service.

Class B-1. Taller than 1.5 meters (4 ft. 11 in.) but under the standard of Class A. Available for active service.

Class B-2—Same as B-1, but with poorer hearing and eyesight. Available for 1st Conscript Reserve.

Class B-3—Same as B-2, but with poorer eyesight and general physical condition. Available for 2d Conscript Reserve.

Class C—(a) Same height as B-3, but in poorer physical condition. (b) Of 1.45 meters (4 ft. 9 in.) to 1.5 meters (4 ft. 11 in.) in height, and not suffering from a disabling ailment. Available for service in the National Army; assigned to 2d National Army.

Class D—(a) Less than 1.45 meters in height. (b) Suffering from certain specific ailments which are not readily improved by treatment. Rejected as unfit for service.

Class F—Suffering from a temporary ailment. Reexamined yearly.

Enough men from Classes A and B-1 are chosen to fill the requirements of the Armed Forces, and the others are put in the Conscript Reserve, along with men from Classes B-2 and B-3. All men of Class C automatically go into the 2d National Army, along with those between 17 and 20 who are not in the Armed Forces.

b. Active service conscripts (Genekihei). Those men who are assigned to active service in a given year are called to the colors for a period of 2 years as of 1 December of that year. They have already been classified according to physical condition, aptitude, and training, and allotted accordingly to the various arms and services, while certain promising individuals have been earmarked as officer material. Training begins on various dates from 1 December and lasts until November of the second year. Upon completion of 2 years of active service, trainees are assigned to the First Reserve (Yobieki) for 15 years 4 months. During that time they may be called for training for five periods up to 35 days each, or for fewer periods if any tour of duty is prolonged as much as 50 days. While in reserve they are also subject to the annual inspection muster. After this service in the First Reserve, they go into the 1st National Army until they reach the age of 40.

c. Conscript, or replacement, reservists (Hojuhei). These are made up of men from Classes B-2 and B-3, and from those in Classes A and B-1 who are not needed to fill the yearly quota of the standing army. They may be summoned for a period of training not to exceed 180 days, and after 17 years 4 months, during which time they are subject to an annual inspection muster, they, too, enter the 1st National Army until they reach the age of 40. The Conscript Reserve is divided into the 1st Conscript Reserve and the 2d Conscript Reserve, the distinction between the two being based purely on the physical qualifications of the men.

d. National Army conscripts (Kokuminhei). The 1st National Army is composed of men between the ages of 37 and 40 years who have served in the First Reserve and the Conscript Reserve and who are therefore either fully or partly trained. The 2d National Army is composed mainly of men who have been classified as fit only for limited service (Class C). They are given no training but are subject to call in emergency. Men between 17 and 20 years of age who are not in the Armed Forces are, automatically, also a part of the 2d National Army.

e. Exemption and deferment. No exemption is allowed by law except for criminals and the permanently disabled. Japanese living abroad, except those in Manchuria and China, may request postponement of examination annually for a period of 1 year, and unless they return to Japan for more than 90 days at a time they will be excused from military service upon reaching the age of 37 years. When a man's enlistment will work a hardship on his family, his service may be deferred for 2 years, and if the distress lasts until he is 37 years of age, he is excused from service. Students who have not finished their education may postpone their service up to various ages, depending upon the school they attend, but in no instance beyond 26 years of age.

f. Reduction and extension. Graduates of normal schools may have their terms of service shortened by not more than 60 days, and graduates of youth schools (sec. IV, par. 1a) by an indefinite period. The terms of all conscripts may be lengthened in cases of necessity.

g. Volunteers. Two kinds of volunteers are recognized by law: males between the ages of 17 and 20 years, over 1.60 meters (5 feet 2.8 inches) in height, and in Class A or B-1 as to physical condition; and conscripts who volunteer for immediate service without waiting to be selected. A special Army volunteer system was established for Koreans in 1938 and for Formosans in 1942. There is also an extensive apprentice system which trains youthful volunteers for technical work in both Army and Navy.

3. RECENT CHANGES IN THE CONSCRIPTION SYSTEM. a. Age limits. The military age has been lowered to 19, and the liability for service extended to 31 March of the year in which the subject becomes 45.

b. Deferment. Deferment has been cancelled for all students except those in specified types of study, mainly technical or scientific; and for Japanese in the southern regions occupied by the Japanese Army, where, as formerly for Japanese in Manchuria and China, examinations are conducted at nearby military headquarters or consulates.

c. Conscription of Koreans. Military conscription of Koreans has been decreed, to begin in 1944, and of Formosans, to begin in 1945. Koreans and Formosans have been recruited in increasing numbers during the past few years as civilian laborers under the direct supervision of the Army and the Navy. These laborers, who receive no military training, are used in construction corps.

d. Exemption of specialists and technicians. It is reported that exemption from military service now is granted to specialist and skilled technicians, especially in airplane industries, arsenals, and munition factories.

e. Term of service. The nominal term of service is now 3 years.

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