*** World War II Japanese military training

World War II: The Japanese Military--Training

Japanese military training
Figure 1.--The Imperial Army training program was the harshest in the world. Not only was it demanding, but the recruits were routinely beaten. And this was not uncommon after training as well. The iudea wa to instill unquestiuining and immediate obedience. A Japanese veteran describes how, "we were beaten every day, hit really hard. They forged you into a strong sodier by beating. The basic principolr meant beatings happened daily in the Japanese Army. They wanted absolute obedience. If you were to revel a kittke you's be hit and hit. No objection was allowed." [Yuichi Hatto, conscripted 1943.]

New recruits entered service on January 10. The first 7 months were basic training. We note many descriotions of the Jpanese soldiers and sailors furing World War II as 'well trained'. Recruits were subjected to extensive, rigorous training wjhich lasted a year. As the war progressed, training was gradually shortened, eventually dropping to 3 months, sometimes less. Training was even conducted in combat theaters. The Japanese military training program involved a great deal of physical abusive, including beatings. And this continued even after the training phase. There were apparently efforts to limit this, but with only limited effect. The purpose of this butal treatment of subordinates was to instill obedience--unquestioning absolute obedience. And in this connection, it seems to have been successful. The Japangese soldier and sailor did what he was told, including fighting to the death in hopless situations. The Japanese soldier was the most determed soldier of the War. His effectiveness was limited, however, by the the ooor quality of Japanese weaons, the country's t-reakuvely small industrial base, and the military leadership. Here while the naval leadershio was of high qlkality, the Armyn leadeership was basically incompetent. After the early vicyories against poorly trained and armed colonial peace forces. Once they encountered well traineda and armed combat forces (Guadalcanal and New Guinea), the victories ceased. And this at first meant the Guadalcanal camapign in whivh the Japanese outnumbered the Americans and had many advantages. Tactics were basically to chrage headlong into fixed Marine positiions. One has to ask where officers like Col. Ichiki at Aligator Creek (Battle of the Tenaru) learned his tactics. Japanese Naval commanders exhibited a much higher degree of competence.

Imperial Army

The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) established the Office of Inspectorate General of Military Training (教育総監部 Kyoiku sokanbu--OIGMA) (1898). Its mission was to provide centralized oversight for the Imperial Japanese Army training efforts. This included the Imperial Japanese Army Academy, specialized weaponry and technical training schools, and the various military preparatory schools located around the country. The OIGMA was also responsible for tactical training. Over time the OIGMA acquired added responsibilities concerning over Army logistics, transportation, and support matters. The OIGMA also acquired considerable prestige and political power within the Japanese Army. He reported directly to the Emperor through the Imperial General Headquarters rather than to the Army Minister or the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office. The IG post thus by the 1930s had become the third most powerful position within the Imperial Army. As a result, the IG position was one of intense competition among senior Army commanders. Competition for the IG post played a role in February 26 incident in which IJA soldiers staged a coup d'etat in Tokyo (1936). The tactical competence of the IJA officer core proved lacking during World War II. There was no lack of discipline in the IJA, but tactical competence is a different matter. The individual Japanese conscript was among the most disciplined and committed soldier of the War. He was well trained. Unfortunately for him, his weapons were inferior and poorly supplied. In addition the officers who led him in many cases more indoctrinated than professionally trained. The Japanese Army proved highly effective against poorly led and armed Chinese troops. And they scored a major victory over the British in Malaya, but against well led Allied trips the Japanese fared badly. Officers were prone to lead frontal attacks into entrenched positions. This proved disastrous on Guadalcanal (1942). They did prove adept at defensive tactics designed to kill as many Americans as possible, although Japanese soldiers were sacrificed in much larger numbers. One of the Japanese atrocities often ignored is he way the Japanese Army through away the lives of its young soldiers in hopeless battles or no battles at all. Japanese soldiers throughout the Pacific were starving at the end of the War, but still not allowed to surrender.

Imperial Navy

Air Forces

Not only were the Japanese unable to compete in industrial terms with the United States, but the Japanese pilot training program proved an abject failure. Both the Army and Navy had aviation training programs. At this time we know mostly about the naval program. The Japanese pilot and other air crew training program was excellent, at least for the war in China. They trained excellent pilots and their skill was on display both at Pearl Harbor and throughout the Pacific for the first months of the war. What the Japanese did not plan for was losses once they went to war against an industrialized enemy that had an modern air force. The British, locked into a life and death struggle with the Germans in Europe, did not have the industrial power to spare much of its aircraft to the Pacific. The Americans did, although its aircraft were still largely obsolete at the outbreak of the Pacific War (December 1941). The Japanese given their early successes, made no effort to substantially expand pilot training, not only for the increasing needs of the Pacific War or to replace the inevitable losses. This strategic lapse caught up with the Japanese at Midway (June 1942). On one single day Japan lost a substantial number of its superbly trained and experienced aviators. By the end of the year, many of the survivors of Midway had been lost in air combat in the South Pacific. As a result, when advanced American aircraft began to reach the Pacific (1943), the Japanese were left with not only increasingly inadequate aircraft, but with minimally trained aviators.


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Created: 6:08 AM 10/10/2020
Last updated: 6:09 AM 10/10/2020