Miscellaneous Japanese Militaria

            This section is for a potpourri of military-related items from Imperial Japan (to 1945). I also have some WWII-era magazines I will add soon.


Military Certificates

            Among the things Japanese soldiers and reservists were to keep in their hokobukuro (service bags) were certificates evidencing various military qualifications. Here are three certificates for the same man, Mr. Sadao Kijima. They are all the same size, about 9.5” by 11.5” and printed on very thick paper, almost like card stock.

            The first one is his graduation certificate from Army Nursing School, dated November 27, Taisho 11 (1922). He was at that time a second class private in the second railway regiment. I am not sure whether nurse or medic is the right term to use in this context.


            This is his Good Conduct (zenko) Certificate dated October 15, Taisho 12 (1924). He was now a Superior Private, still in the second railway regiment.


            The last of these three is his certificate of qualification as an NCO (riku-gun-ka-shi-teki-nin-sho-sho). It is dated November 25, Showa 2 (1928). It says he is recognized as qualified to be a hospital steward (literally, head nurse). This was an NCO ranak position.


            This certificate was issued by the Keijo Kempeitai. Keijo was what the Japanese called Seoul, Korea during the long period when they occupied and colonized Korea (they called Korea Chosen). Kempeitai is usually translated as “military police”, but this is somewhat misleading. Military police to most people conveys the idea of a force to drag drunken soldiers from brawls in seedy bars and throw them in the brig. The kempeitai certainly did that if necessary, but they were also in charge of thought control, economic control and suppressing any dissent on the part of people in the areas the Japanese had occupied. As such they were often in the forefront of committing attrocities against local people and often used their role in economic control to profit from corruption, counterfeiting and other nefarious activities. They might be compared in some ways to the Gestapo, though I am not knowledgeable enough about the latter to be sure how far to take the analogy.

            Anyway, this certificate was issued on September 20, Showa 2 (1927) to Corporal Ichizo Kunizaki for meritorious service (koro). It bears the stamp of the Commanding Officer of the Chosen Kempeitai, Army Major General (shosho) Michinori Hikabe.



            Like any big organization, the Army had to have manuals to codify procedures and to facilitate training. I have several of these Army field manuals. They are shirt- pocket size, about 75mm X 108mm (2 15/16” by 4 ¼”). The first four all belonged to the same man, Mr. Suekichi Asano. According to his notes in the backs of two of the books, he was assigned to the “infantry artillery battery”.


            This one is ki-kan-ju, ho-hei-ho-sha-geki-kyo-han, “textbook on firing machine guns and infantry artillery”. It is dated August 12, Showa 8 (1933) and has 194 pages plus a large number of foldouts in the back.


            This one is dated January 19, Showa 7 (1932) and is entitled jin-chu-yo-mu-rei, “important orders for being in the field”. It has over 300 pages. Like all of them it is printed on very thin paper.


            Another one with the same date (January 19, 1932). This one is sen-to-ko-yo, “Essentials of fighting”. It has 308 pages.


            The last and thinnest of the four, with just 24 pages. Ei-ju-jo-rei-ei-ju-kin-mu-rei means garrison regulations and garrison duty orders.


            Mr. Asano put his name stamp on the dge of the book.


            This one is Riku-gun-en-shu rei, “Regulations for Army Manouevres”. It is dated January 28, Showa 4 (1929). The name Konishi is handwritten in pencil  in fine cursive English handwriting in the back.


          This manual is entitled Hohei soten, “Infantry drill”. It is dated February 25, Showa 15 (1940). It has 376 pages and a couple of fold-out diagrams in the back.


          The title of this one is Kaisei zaigo gunjinkai kokoroe, “Revised Rules of the Imperial Reservists’ Association”. It was issued on January 8, Taisho 1 (1911). I didn’t notice at first, but the back has some cursive handwriting that seems to indicate 20th Regiment, 1st Company, Mr. Ueda. His given name started with Kiyo-, but I can’t make out the last two characters. The piece of paper glued to the upper right corner of the front cover seems to have a red name stamp on it, but it is too faded to read.



Greater Japan Defense Women’s Association

            This association was set up to mobilize Japanese women to support the Reservists’ Association and other military organizations and events around Japan and eventually included most women. The right side of this sash says dai-nip-pon-koku-bo-fu-jin-kai, which is the name of the organization in Japanese. The left side says Tokyo Regional Headquarters.


            The other side of the left part says bun-kai, “local chapter”. Normally the name of the town would be hand written above this.


            Here is the label. It’s pretty blurry. Right now all I can make out is Kyoto, the city name.



            Last updated: November11, 2004. All contents are copyright Teri unless otherwise specified and may not be used elsewhere in any form without prior permission.

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