Imperial Japanese Army


January 23, 2022

Imperial Japanese Army (Japanese 大 日本 帝國 陸軍; modern spelling 大 日本 帝国 陸軍 Dai-Nippon Teikoku Rikugun; full name: Imperial Land Army of Great Japan) - the name of the Japanese land forces, formed in 1867. The activities of the army were directed by the Imperial Headquarters (Dai-hon'ei) and the Ministry of War of Japan (Rikugun-shō, literally the Ministry of the Army).


The Imperial Japanese Army was founded in 1867 during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912). The period of the reign of the Tokugawa shoguns ended, the emperor was restored to full power, and there was a period of opening and modernization following the Western pattern. General and compulsory conscription to the army was introduced. The Imperial Army was created with the cooperation of France and Prussia. Over time, the Japanese land forces became the strongest army in Asia, perfectly trained and armed. However, compared to the European armies of the time, the Japanese ground forces were less equipped with artillery, tanks, and other combat vehicles. With the development of aviation, an air force was also created. Prior to Japan's accession to World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army was used in: The First Sino-Japanese War in 1894–1895; the seizure of Taiwan in 1895; the Russo-Japanese War in 1905; the conquest of Korea in 1910; World War I (conquest of the German colony of Qingdao in 1914); annexation of Manchuria in 1931; The Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937–1945; Soviet-Japanese border battles in 1938–1939; operations to fill French Indochina in 1940–1941 In December 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan entered World War II on the side of the Axis powers. As a result of intensifying nationalist and imperialist sentiments, the Empire of Japan became militarized in the 1930s. The economy was fully controlled by military circles. This favored the development of the armaments industry for the needs of the army. They wanted to make Japan a power of the Far East, and the task of the army and navy was to implement these plans. During the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II, the Japanese army was characterized by extreme brutality and fanaticism. In the occupied territories, the Imperial Japanese Army committed mass murders, rapes and looting, and at least one case (the Nanjing Massacre) is considered genocide. Japan did not recognize any international obligations regarding the humane treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. After the war, many Japanese military (including Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō) were brought before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East on suspicion of committing war crimes. The Imperial Japanese Army itself was disbanded with the surrender of Japan in September 1945. In its place, in 1954 the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (Jieitai) were established.


Japanese nationalism created a vision of Japan according to which a rich state should be a military power. Japan was believed to be a country under divine providence and the care of Shinto kami deities. Military service was equated with service to the emperor, considered a descendant of the gods. It was an honor to die for the emperor. The idea of ​​Yamato-damashii (the spirit of Yamato, ancient Japan) played an essential role in the behavior of every soldier: not to give up and not lose faith in victory. Military theorist Sadao Araki developed a version of the bushidō for the army called seishin-kyōiku (spiritual training). According to this doctrine, a soldier should give up everything in life, because he needs nothing but honor.

See also

Kwantung Army Kempeitai Tokkeitai

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