View Full Version : Japanese Imperial Army/ Shirata Sensei

Ernesto Lemke
6th August 2002, 13:34
Dear friends,

For some time I have been in the process of writing a book on the life of the late Rinjiro Shirata Sensei of aikido fame. I知 currently focusing more on the period of his life when he was conducted to serve into the Japanese Imperial Army. I知 hoping that someone might be able to help me out on the following for I知 kinda stuck.

-What I知 very interested in is some more detailed information on the specific training that soldiers received before being send to the frontlines.
-Furthermore, how the doctrine of Bushido was laid upon young men during this period and also the implications of this doctrine to their perception of Japan痴 role in the war.
-Also, how the Japanese school system contributed to help create the societies mental attitude to the forward run of the war. I知 thinking of the role of the 租ivine Emperor. For example, does anyone know how your basic day of school began? Meaning, where students forced to say aloud a certain motto before class began?

Does anyone have the answers to these questions or can anyone suggest some good resources or reading for this?

For further details, I have a picture of a young Shirata Sensei dressed in formal army wear. It is my understanding he served as an officer and was responsible for a unit of men. However, I do not hold the copyrights to this picture so I will not post this right here. If anyone feels he/ she might tell something by looking at it, I壇 be more then happy to send it to you privately. For anyone interested please contact me at ernestolemke@hotmail.com

[Shirata Sensei started training in 1932 under Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido. Located firstly in Tokyo, then Osaka, Shirata Sensei served as one of the leading substitute teachers in Ueshiba痴 absence. Shirata Sensei was called into the Japanese Army where he served as an officer, first in Manchuria later in Burma from 1937 to July 1946. He was a prisoner of war shortly before being repatriated and apparently was listed as being 徒illed in action.脳

ANY thoughts, comments, suggestions are welcome.

Best regards,

Ernesto Lemke

John Lindsey
6th August 2002, 15:41
Have you read the book called Zen at War by Brian Victoria? It might shed some light into the mindset of the Japanese before and during the war.

Ernesto Lemke
6th August 2002, 15:56
I have not. I will look into this immediately.
Thank you kindly,

Ernesto Lemke

Anyone else?

Joseph Svinth
9th August 2002, 08:34
The literature, at least in English, is enormous. A few examples:

Abe, Ikuo, Yasuharu Kiyohara, and Ken Nakajima. "Sport and Physical Education under Fascistization in Japan," http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_abe_0600.htm

Allen, Louis. "The Nakano School," Japan Society Proceedings, 10, 1985, 9-15

Amano, Ikuo. Education and Examination in Modern Japan, translated from the Japanese by William K. Cummings and Fumiko Cummings (Tokyo: University of Tokyo, 1990)

Brownlee, John S. Japanese Historians and the National Myths, 1600-1945: The Age of the Gods and Emperor Jinmu (Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press, 1997)

Daws, Gavan. Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific (New York: William Morrow, 1994); see also http://vikingphoenix.com/public/rongstad/military/pow/pwcmps-2.htm

Friday, Karl F. "Bushid or Bull? A Medieval Historian痴 Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition," http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_friday_0301.htm

Harries, Meirion and Susie Harries. Sheathing the Sword: The Demilitarisation of Japan (New York: Macmillan, 1987)

-----. Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army (New York: Random House, 1991)

Militarism, Sacrifice and Emperor Worship: The Expendable Male Body in Fascist Japanese Martial Culture by J A Mangan and Takeshi Komagome, http://www.frankcass.com/jnls/sh_16-4.htm , extract:

By the twentieth century the Emperor had become a sacred, omnipotent figurehead. As emperor he was expected to define the uniqueness and superiority of the 遷apanese race to this end he was deified. The result was the Emperor Cult. This essay is devoted to a discussion of the ideological indoctrination into a Japanese Fascist militaristic manhood which sacrificed itself willingly for the emperor, to the successful introduction of associated military training into the education system from the pre-Fascist period of the mid-1920s onwards and to an analysis of the recruitment and training of the Youth Volunteer Army for Pioneering Manchuria in the latter half of the 1930s a case-study of Fascist socialization.

Morris, Ivan I. Nationalism and the Right Wing in Japan: A Study of Post-War Trends (London: Oxford University Press, 1960)

-----. The Nobility of Failure (New York: New American Library, 1975)

Also look at the influence of the Japanese Navy on Ueshiba. See, for example, http://www.aikidojournal.com/ubb/Forum13/HTML/000045.html

Ernesto Lemke
9th August 2002, 10:08
Dear Mr. Svinth,

Thank you for your concern and your suggestions. Actually I have read Karl Friday's article and Gavan Daws book, along with some other material as well.
The way the cultural indoctrination took place is in most literature described in a more or less scholarly fashion, which is a great source of information of course. However, most (I say most, not all) of these types of work tend to focus more on explaining the how and why instead of showing, meaning through example.
I fear I'm not getting my point across.

What I mean is, there's a difference between a scholarly study and a historical based novel, evidently. Both having stronger and weaker points. My own approach tends to linger in between. It's rather influenced by the type of work such as Romulus Hillsborough's "Ryoma - Life of a renaissance samurai." (ISBN 0-9667401-7-3)

So what I'm looking for is both, explainatory as well as narrative. The latter, it seems, is a bit harder to find without being biased or 'over the top.'

Still, my thanks. I will certainly look into your suggestions.

The "Zen at war" seemed highly interesting.


Ernesto Lemke

Joseph Svinth
10th August 2002, 05:56
The easiest way to get stories about education in Japan in the 1930s is to talk to Kibei (a.k.a. Kibei Nisei). If for some reason you can't do that, then buy their books. See, for example, Kiyota's Beyond Loyalty (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1997). Lots of websites, too, typically written by the kids. Tule Lake was where many Mainland Kibei spent WWII. There are also websites, typically written by Sansei about their fathers or grandfathers. See, for instance, Garrett Hongo's story at http://www.poets.org/poems/prose.cfm?prmID=2126 .

Alternatively, read the pre-WWII Osaka Mainichi and Japan Times, both of which are English-language papers that are readily available on microfilm. Mangan and Komagome is dry, but still gives as good of a short description of the Japanese mindset of the era. (Basically, the Nazis wished they got kind of mass compliance.)

If you're really dedicated, then go to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, where there is a warehouse full of SCAP documents devoted to every aspect of Japanese educational policy.

For "I was there" accounts of life in the Japanese military during WWII, start with Jim Yoshida with Bill Hosokawa, The Two Worlds of Jim Yoshida (New York: William Morrow, 1972) and Yoshida, Mitsuru. Requiem for Battleship Yamato, translated from the Japanese by Richard H. Minear (Seattle: University of Washington, 1985). BTW, if my spies are correct, the radio intercept officer on Yamato was from Idaho originally. Nisei don't like talking about this sort of thing, but if you ask specifically what happened to Cousin Bob, often you find he went to Japan in 1935 and never came back. (Often didn't die, but didn't come back.)

Finally, a good account of WWII from a Japanese perspective is Ienaga, Saburo. The Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978).

Larry Hairgrove
16th August 2002, 14:52
A verry good book that I have is "Fighting techniques of a Japanese Infantryman" 1941- 1945 training,techniques,and wepons by Leo J. Daugherty.Averry simple book with lots of pics.It shows all the training selection of Elite units and differant enlistment obligations.Unit minumim equipment list .Tables of alotment of equip etc.

17th August 2002, 13:16
Originally posted by Larry Hairgrove
A verry good book that I have is "Fighting techniques of a Japanese Infantryman" 1941- 1945 training,techniques,and wepons by Leo J. Daugherty.

Verry, eh? This must be really good, way better that simply 'very'. I always wanted to know how to use 'wepons' too.

Originally posted by Larry Hairgrove
Averry simple book with lots of pics.

I'm not sure what 'averry' is, but I cannot help but feel that the fact it was 'simple with lots of pics' was a fortunate occurrence
for you.

Originally posted by Larry Hairgrove
It shows all the training selection of Elite units and differant enlistment obligations.Unit minumim equipment list .Tables of alotment of equip etc.

'Differant' enlistment obligations must have based on varied understanding of the 'minumim' equipment list and the 'alotment' of said equipment, no doubt.

Joseph Svinth
20th August 2002, 11:22
Now be nice, you're going to scare the guy off from posting.

Daugherty's other book is Fighting Techniques of the US Marines. This one was only released in April 2002. Daughterty is quite busy -- he's doing a history of Marine Security Guard Battalion for the USMC, too. (An official history -- he's a GySgt, and a grad student.) Amazon.com US doesn't carry it, but Amazon in France does. Go figure. (Neither, BTW, does Barnes and Noble.)

Anyway, Library of Congress is still processing their acquisition, but here's the info:

Daugherty, Leo.
Fighting techniques of a Japanese infantryman 1941-1945 : training, techniques and weapons / Leo J. Daugherty III.
Staplehurst : Spellmount, 2002.
96 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm.

Meanwhile, the Osprey Men-at-Arms series really are excellent books. There are at least two titles, "The Japanese Army 1931-1942," and "The Japanese Army, 1942-1945." The latter was just released in May 2002, so it's really new. Cost is about $14.95 new, but shop around, as you should find places cheaper online.

See http://m2reviews.cnsi.net/others/books/shoopjaw2a.htm and http://www.internetmodeler.com/2002/june/new-releases/book_osprey-japanese.htm

The original 1-volume book was recently re-released, so if you're really dedicated, buy all three.

20th August 2002, 15:53
Sorry, Mr. Svinth. Anyway, will have to keep an eye out for the second Osprey book (1942-1945). I have 'The Japanese Army 1931-1942' - it's excellent.