The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō, were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 (from a previous total of 1,320,000) men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.
|Kwantung Army (Kanto Army)|
|Active||April 1906 – August 1945|
|Country||Empire of Japan|
|Allegiance||Emperor of Japan|
|Branch||Imperial Japanese Army|
(Today: Changchun ,Jilin Province ,People's Republic of China)
|Nickname(s)||Toku (德兵團 Toku heidan), Special|
|Engagements||Second Sino-Japanese War
Following the Russo-Japanese War, Japan obtained the Kwantung Leased Territory and the areas adjacent to the South Manchurian Railway. "Kwantung" (traditional Chinese: 關東; simplified Chinese: 关东; pinyin: Guāndōng; Wade–Giles: Kwan1-tung1) means "east of Shanhaiguan", a guarded pass, east of which lies Manchuria. The Kwantung Garrison was established in 1906 to defend this territory, and originally was composed of an infantry division and a heavy siege artillery battalion, supplemented with six independent garrison battalions as railway guards deployed along the South Manchurian Railway Zone, for a total troop strength of 100,000 men. It was headquartered in Port Arthur, known as "Ryojun" in Japanese. After a reorganization in 1919, the Kwantung Garrison was renamed the Kwantung Army.
In the highly politicized Imperial Japanese Army of the 1920s and 1930s, the Kwantung Army was a stronghold of the radical "Imperial Way Faction", and many of its senior leaders overtly advocated political change in Japan through the violent overthrow of the civilian government to bring about a Shōwa Restoration, with a reorganization of society and the economy along totalitarian state fascist lines. They also advocated a more aggressive, expansionist foreign policy regarding the Asian mainland. Members or former members of the Kwantung Army were active in numerous coup d'état attempts against the civilian government, culminating with the February 26 Incident of 1936.
Although the Kwantung Army was nominally subordinate to the Imperial General Headquarters and the senior staff at the Army General Staff, its leadership often acted in direct violation of the orders from the mainland Japan without suffering any consequence. Conspirators within the junior officer corps of the Kwantung Army plotted and carried out the assassination of Manchurian warlord Chang Tsolin in the Huanggutun Incident of 1928. Afterwards, the Kwantung Army leadership engineered the Mukden Incident and the subsequent invasion of Manchuria in 1931 in a massive act of insubordination (gekokujo) against the express orders of the political and military leadership based in Tokyo.
Presented with the fait accompli, Imperial General Headquarters had little choice but to follow up on the actions of the Kwantung Army with reinforcements in the subsequent Pacification of Manchukuo. The success of the campaign meant that the insubordination of the Kwantung Army was rewarded rather than punished.
With the foundation of Manchukuo in 1932, the Kwantung Army played a controlling role in the political administration of the new state as well as in its defense. With the Kwantung Army administering all aspects of the politics and economic development of the new state, this made the Kwantung Army commanding officer equivalent to a Governor-general, with the authority to approve or countermand any command from the nominal emperor of Manchukuo, Puyi.
After the campaign to secure Manchukuo, the Kwantung Army continued to fight in numerous border skirmishes with China as part of its efforts to create a Japanese-dominated buffer zone in northern China. The Kwantung Army also fought in the opening phase of the Second Sino-Japanese War in Operation Nekka, and various actions in Inner Mongolia to extend Japanese domination over portions of northern China and Inner Mongolia. When war broke out in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937, its forces participated in Battle of Beiping-Tianjin and Operation Chahar. Later, Kwantung forces supported the war in China from time to time.
However, the much vaunted reputation of the Kwantung Army was severely challenged in battle against the Soviet Union's Red Army at the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938 and subsequent Battle of Nomonhan in 1939, during which time it sustained heavy casualties. After the Nomonhan incident, the Kwantung Army was purged of its more insubordinate elements, as well as proponents of the Hokushin-ron ("Northward Advance") doctrine who urged that Japan concentrate its expansionist efforts on Siberia rather southward towards China and Southeast Asia.
The Kwantung Army was heavily augmented over the next few years, up to a strength of 700,000 troops by 1941, and its headquarters was transferred to the new Manchukuo capital of Hsinking. The Kwantung Army also oversaw the creation, training, and equipping of an auxiliary force, the Manchukuo Imperial Army. During this time, Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda worked as liaison officer between the Imperial house and the Kwantung Army. Although a source of constant unrest during the 1930s, the Kwantung Army remained remarkably obedient during the 1940s. As combat spread south into central China and southern China in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and with the outbreak of the Pacific War, Manchukuo was largely a backwater to the conflict.
However, as the war situation began to deteriorate for the Imperial Japanese Army on all fronts, the large, well-trained, and well-equipped Kwantung Army could no longer be held in strategic reserve. Many of its front line units were systematically stripped of their best units and equipment, which were sent south against the forces of the United States in the Pacific Islands or the Philippines. Other units were sent south into China for Operation Ichi-Go.
By 1945, the Kwantung Army consisted of 713,000 personnel, divided into 31 infantry divisions, nine infantry brigades, two tank brigades, and one special purpose brigade. It also possessed 1,155 light tanks, 5,360 guns, and 1,800 aircraft. The quality of troops had fallen drastically, as all the best men and materiel were siphoned off for use in other theaters. These forces were replaced by militia, draft levies, reservists, and cannibalized smaller units, all equipped with woefully outdated equipment. The Kwantung Army had also bacteriological weapons, prepared for use against Soviet troops (see Unit 731). The bulk of military equipment (artillery, tanks, aircraft) was developed in the 1930s, and very few of the soldiers had sufficient training or any real experience.
The final commanding officer of the Kwantung Army, General Otozō Yamada, ordered a surrender on August 16, 1945, one day after Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan in a radio announcement. Some Japanese divisions refused to surrender, and combat continued for the next few days. Marshal Hata received the "ultimatum to surrender" from Soviet General Georgii Shelakhov in Harbin on August 18, 1945. He was one of the senior generals who agreed with the decision to surrender, and on August 19, 1945, Hata met with Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, but asked that he be stripped of his rank of Field Marshal in atonement for the Army's failures in the war.
The remnants of the Kwantung Army were either dead or on their way to Soviet prisoner-of-war camps. Over 500,000 Japanese prisoners of war were sent to work in Soviet labor camps in Siberia, Russian Far East and Mongolia. They were largely repatriated, in stages, over the next five years, though some continued to be held well into the 1950s.
After the surrender of Japan, the Soviet Red Army discovered secret installations for experimenting with and producing chemical weapons and biological weapons of mass destruction centered around secret Army Unit 731 and its subsidiaries. At these locations, the Kwantung Army was also responsible for some of the most infamous Japanese war crimes, including the operation of several human experimentation programs using live Chinese, American and Russian civilians, and POWs, directed by Dr. Shiro Ishii.
Arrested by the American occupation authorities, Ishii and the 20,000 members of Unit 731 received immunity from prosecution of war-crimes before the Tokyo tribunal of 1948, in exchange for germ warfare data based on human experimentation. On May 6, 1947, General Douglas MacArthur wrote to Washington that "additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii probably can be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as 'War Crimes' evidence". The deal was concluded in 1948. However, twelve members of Unit 731 and some members of the World War II leadership of the Kwantung Army were sentenced as war criminals by the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials, while others were taken into custody by the United States, and sentenced at the 1948 International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. Among those sentenced to death were former generals Seishirō Itagaki, Iwane Matsui, Kenji Doihara, Hideki Tōjō and Akira Mutō.
|1-||General Tachibana Kōichirō||1919||6 January 1921|
|2||General Misao Kawai||6 January 1921||10 May 1922|
|3||General Shinobu Ono||10 May 1922||10 October 1923|
|4||General Yoshinori Shirakawa||10 October 1923||28 July 1926|
|5||Field Marshal Baron Nobuyoshi Mutō||28 July 1926||26 August 1927|
|6||General Chotaro Muraoka||26 August 1927||1 July 1929|
|7||General Eitaro Hata||1 July 1929||31 May 1930|
|8||General Takashi Hishikari||3 June 1930||1 August 1931|
|9||General Shigeru Honjō||1 August 1931||8 August 1932|
|10||Field Marshal Baron Nobuyoshi Mutō||8 August 1932||27 July 1933|
|11||General Takashi Hishikari||29 July 1933||10 December 1934|
|12||General Jirō Minami||10 December 1934||6 March 1936|
|13||General Kenkichi Ueda||6 March 1936||7 September 1939|
|14||General Yoshijirō Umezu||7 September 1939||18 July 1944|
|14||General Otozō Yamada||18 July 1944||11 August 1945|
|1||Major General Matasuke Hamamo||12 April 1919||11 March 1921|
|2||Major General Kaya Fukuhara||11 March 1921||6 August 1923|
|3||Major General Kawada Akiji||6 August 1923||2 December 1925|
|4||Major General Tsune Saito||2 December 1925||10 August 1928|
|5||Lieutenant General Koji Miyake||10 August 1928||8 August 1932|
|6||General Kuniaki Koiso||8 August 1932||5 March 1934|
|7||General Toshizo Nishio||5 March 1934||23 March 1936|
|8||General Seishirō Itagaki||23 March 1936||1 March 1937|
|9||General Hideki Tōjō||1 March 1937||30 May 1938|
|10||Lieutenant General Rensuke Isogai||18 June 1938||7 September 1939|
|11||Lieutenant General Jo Iimura||7 September 1939||22 October 1940|
|12||General Heitarō Kimura||22 October 1940||10 April 1941|
|13||General Teiichi Yoshimoto||10 April 1941||1 August 1942|
|14||Lieutenant General Yukio Kasahara||1 August 1942||7 April 1945|
|15||Lieutenant General Hikosaburo Hata||7 April 1945||11 August 1945|
The Concordia Association (Chinese: 滿洲國協和會; pinyin: Mǎnzhōuguó Xiéhehuì; Wade–Giles: Man3-chou1-kuo2 Hsieh2-ho-hui4 Japanese Hepburn: Manshū-koku Kyōwakai) was a political party in Manchukuo. Established to promote the ideals of Pan-Asianism and the creation of a multi-ethnic nation-state and to create a structure which would gradually replace military rule over Manchukuo with civilian control, the party was unable to fulfill its promise, and was eventually subverted into an instrument of totalitarian state-control by the Japanese Kwantung Army.Huanggutun incident
The Huanggutun Incident (Chinese: 皇姑屯事件; pinyin: Huánggū Tún Shìjiàn), or Zhang Zuolin Explosion Death Incident (Japanese: 張作霖爆殺事件, Hepburn: Chōsakurin bakusatsu jiken), was an assassination plotted and committed on June 4, 1928, by the Japanese Kwantung Army that targeted Fengtian warlord Zhang Zuolin. It took place at the Huanggutun Railway Station near Shenyang, where Zhang's personal train was destroyed by a railside explosion. This incident was concealed in Japan at the time and was referred only as "A Certain Important Incident in Manchuria" (満州某重大事件, Manshu bou judai jiken).Japanese invasion of Manchuria
The Japanese invasion of Manchuria began on 18 September 1931, when the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria immediately following the Mukden Incident. After the war, the Japanese established the puppet state of Manchukuo. Their occupation lasted until the Soviet Union and Mongolia launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation in 1945.
The South Manchuria railway zone and the Korean Peninsula were already under the control of the Japanese empire since the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. Japan's ongoing industrialization and militarization ensured their growing dependence on oil and metal imports from the US. The American sanctions which prevented trade with the United States (which had occupied the Philippines around the same time) resulted in Japan furthering their expansion in the territory of China and Southeast Asia.Jirō Minami
Jirō Minami (南 次郎, Minami Jirō, 10 August 1874 – 5 December 1955) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and Governor-General of Korea between 1936 and 1942. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment.Kantokuen
KANTOKUEN (Japanese: 関特演, from 関東軍特別演習, Kantogun Tokubetsu Enshu, "Kwantung Army Special Maneuvers") was an operational plan created by the General Staff of the Imperial Japanese Army for an invasion and occupation of the far eastern region of the Soviet Union, capitalizing on the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941. Involving seven Japanese armies as well as a major portion of the empire's naval and air forces, it would have been the largest single combined arms operation in Japanese history, and one of the largest of all time.The plan was approved in part by Emperor Hirohito on July 7 and involved a three-step readiness phase followed by a three-phase offensive to isolate and destroy the Soviet defenders in no more than six months. It envisioned heavy use of chemical and biological weapons and would have enforced a murderous occupation regime on the Soviets. After growing conflict with simultaneous preparations for an offensive in Southeast Asia, together with the demands of the Second Sino-Japanese War and dimming prospects for a swift German victory in Europe, Kantokuen began to fall out of favor at Imperial General Headquarters and was eventually abandoned following increased sanctions by the United States and its allies in late July and early August 1941. Nevertheless, the presence of large Japanese forces in Manchuria forced the Soviets, who had long anticipated an attack from that direction, to keep considerable military resources on standby for the duration of World War II.Kenkichi Ueda
Kenkichi Ueda (植田 謙吉, Ueda Kenkichi, 8 March 1875 – 11 September 1962) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. He played an active role in the Soviet-Japanese Border Wars of the late 1930s.Manchuria Aviation Company
Manchuria Aviation Company(traditional Chinese/Kyūjitai: 滿洲航空株式會社; simplified Chinese: 满州航空株式会社; Shinjitai: 満州航空株式会社; Hanyu Pinyin: Mǎnzhōu Hángkōng Zhūshì Huìshè; Wade–Giles: Man3-chou1 Hang2-k'ung1 Chu1-shih4 Hui4-she4 Japanese Hepburn: Manshū Kōkū Kabushiki-gaisha, "MKKK")
was the national airline of Manchukuo.
Manchuria Aviation Company was established on 26 September 1931 in Fengtian by order of the Japanese Kwantung Army, out of the Manchurian branch office of Japan Air Transport, the forerunner of Imperial Japanese Airways. It officially adopted the name Manchuria Aviation Company on the proclamation of the independence of Manchukuo. Major shareholders were the Manchukuo government, the South Manchurian Railway Company and the Sumitomo zaibatsu.
From the beginning, the Manchuria Aviation Company was a paramilitary airline, whose primary purpose was to provide transport and logistical support for the military, and for the transport of mail. Civilian passengers were carried and charter operations undertaken on a lower priority.
In 1936, an "Independent Volunteer Battalion" of the MKKK consisting of 13 aircraft fought on the side of the Inner Mongolian Army against Kuomintang-held Suiyuan.The airline had a "hub" in Hsinking and was linked by regular flight routes from Harbin, Shamussi (Kiamusze), Kirin, Mukden, Antung, Chinchow, Chengde, Tsitsihar, Hailar, and the Kwantung Leased Territory and Korea areas, for connections with Imperial Japanese Airways (Dai Nippon Koku KK) to Japan itself or foreign routes. A long distance route between Hsinking and Berlin was also pioneered in 1938.
The repair shops of the MKKK produced copies of the Fokker Super Universal (Nakajima Ki-6) and the De Havilland DH.80 "Pussmoth"
The Manchuria Aviation Company ceased operations in August 1945 during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. However, wartime fuel and equipment shortages had previously curtailed its operations considerably. Remaining aircraft, goods and equipment were confiscated, to the benefit of the Soviet Union and Communist Chinese, after the conflict.Mukden Incident
The Mukden Incident, or Manchurian Incident, was an event staged by Japanese military personnel as a pretext for the Japanese invasion in 1931 of northeastern China, known as Manchuria.On 18 September 1931, Lt. Suemori Kawamoto of the Independent Garrison Unit (独立守備隊) detonated a small quantity of dynamite close to a railway line owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway near Mukden (now Shenyang). The explosion was so weak that it failed to destroy the track, and a train passed over it minutes later. The Imperial Japanese Army accused Chinese dissidents of the act and responded with a full invasion that led to the occupation of Manchuria, in which Japan established its puppet state of Manchukuo six months later. The deception was soon exposed by the Lytton Report of 1932, leading Japan to diplomatic isolation and its March 1933 withdrawal from the League of Nations.The bombing act is known as the Liutiaohu Incident (simplified Chinese: 柳条湖事变; traditional Chinese: 柳條湖事變; pinyin: Liǔtiáohú Shìbiàn, Japanese: 柳条湖事件, Ryūjōko-jiken), and the entire episode of events is known in Japan as the Manchurian Incident (Kyūjitai: 滿洲事變, Shinjitai: 満州事変, Manshū-jihen) and in China as the September 18 Incident (simplified Chinese: 九一八事变; traditional Chinese: 九一八事變; pinyin: Jiǔyībā Shìbiàn).Operation Chahar
Operation Chahar (Japanese: チャハル作戦, romanized: Chaharu Sakusen), known in Chinese as the Nankou Campaign (Chinese: 南口戰役; pinyin: Nankou Zhanyi), occurred in August 1937, following the Battle of Beiping-Tianjin at the beginning of Second Sino-Japanese War.
This was the second attack by the Kwantung Army and the Inner Mongolian Army of Prince Teh Wang on Inner Mongolia after the failure of the Suiyuan Campaign (1936). The Chahar Expeditionary Force was under the direct command of General Hideki Tōjō, the chief of staff of the Kwantung Army. A second force from the Peiping Railway Garrison Force, later the 1st Army under General Kiyoshi Katsuki, was also involved.Organization of the Kwantung Army
Organization of the Kwantung Army of Japan
The following are commanders and units of the Japanese army which was stationed in the Kwantung peninsula of Manchuria from 1910 to 1945.Otozō Yamada
Otozō Yamada (山田 乙三, Yamada Otozō, 6 November 1881 – 18 July 1965) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.Politics of Manchukuo
Manchukuo was a puppet state set up by the Empire of Japan in Manchuria which existed from 1931 to 1945. The Manchukuo regime was established four months after the Japanese withdrawal from Shanghai with Puyi as the nominal but powerless head of state to add some semblance of legitimacy, as he was a former emperor and an ethnic Manchu.Seishirō Itagaki
Seishirō Itagaki (板垣 征四郎, Itagaki Seishirō, 21 January 1885 – 23 December 1948) was a General in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II and a War Minister. Convicted of war crimes, he was executed in 1948.South Manchuria Railway Zone
The South Manchuria Railway Zone (南満州鉄道附属地, Minami Manshū Tetsudō Fuzoku-chi) (Hanyu Pinyin: Nán Mǎnzhōu Tiědào Fùshǔ-dì; Wade–Giles: Nan2 Man3-chou1 Tʻieh3-tao4 Fu4-shu3-ti4) or SMR Zone, was the area of Japanese extraterritorial rights in northeast China, in connection with the operation of the South Manchurian Railway.Soviet invasion of Manchuria
The Soviet invasion of Manchuria, formally known as the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation (Манчжурская стратегическая наступательная операция, lit. Manchzhurskaya Strategicheskaya Nastupatelnaya Operatsiya) or simply the Manchurian Operation (Маньчжурская операция), began on 9 August 1945 with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. It was the last campaign of the Second World War, and the largest of the 1945 Soviet–Japanese War, which resumed hostilities between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Empire of Japan after almost six years of peace. Soviet gains on the continent were Manchukuo, Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia) and northern Korea. The Soviet entry into the war and the defeat of the Kwantung Army was a significant factor in the Japanese government's decision to surrender unconditionally, as it made apparent the Soviet Union had no intention of acting as a third party in negotiating an end to hostilities on conditional terms.Since 1983, the operation has sometimes been called Operation August Storm after U.S. Army historian David Glantz used this title for a paper on the subject.Soviet–Japanese War
The Operation August Storm (Russian: Советско-японская война; Japanese: ソ連対日参戦, soren tai nichi sansen "Soviet Union entry into war against Japan") was a military conflict within World War II beginning soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, with the Soviet invasion of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. The Soviets and Mongolians terminated Japanese control of Manchukuo, Mengjiang (Inner Mongolia), northern Korea, Karafuto, and the Chishima Islands (Kuril Islands). The defeat of Japan's Kwantung Army helped in the Japanese surrender and the termination of World War II. The Soviet entry into the war was a significant factor in the Japanese government's decision to surrender unconditionally, as it made apparent the Soviet Union would no longer be willing to act as a third party in negotiating an end to hostilities on conditional terms.Takashi Hishikari
Takashi Hishikari (菱刈 隆, Hishikari Takashi, 27 December 1871 – 31 July 1952) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army.Third Army (Japan)
The Japanese 3rd Army (第3軍, Dai-san gun) was an army of the Imperial Japanese Army based in Manchukuo as a garrison force under the overall command of the Kwantung Army during World War II, but its history dates to the Russo-Japanese War.Tsūshōgō
Tsūshōgō (通称号) were unit code names used by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during World War II.
Each tsūshōgō consisted of a "Unit Character Code" (兵団文字符, Heidan Mojifu) and a "Code Number" (通称番号, tsūshō bangō). Unit Character Codes typically consisted of one character, although some units established in the late stages of the war had two-character codes. Unmobilized units were assigned area codes, such as "east" (東部, tōbu) for those units under the jurisdiction of the Eastern District Army. Code Numbers were three to five digit long numbers unique to each IJA unit.
For example, the 116th Division was assigned Arashi (嵐, "storm") as its Unit Character Code. The tsūshōgō of some of its subordinate units were:
Arashi 6212 - 120th Infantry Regiment (嵐第6213部隊, Arashi Dai 6213 Butai)
Arashi 6213 - 109th Infantry Regiment
Arashi 6214 - 133rd Infantry Regiment
Arashi 6222 - 122nd Field Artillery Regiment
Arashi 6225 - 116th Construction Regiment
Arashi 6227 - 116th Transport RegimentUnit 731 is another example of a tsūshōgō. Officially named the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department for the Kwantung Army (関東軍防疫給水部本部), the unit was assigned the code name Manshū 731. Manshū (満州, "Manchuria") was the Unit Character Code assigned to some units of the Kwantung Army.
|Yale Romanization||Gwāan dūng gwān|
|Jyutping||Gwaan1 dung1 gwan1|
Kwantung Army (1945)