Chapter VI
Japanese Military Police

1. ADMINISTRATION. a. The military police (Kempei) form a branch of the Army under the Provost Marshal General who is responsible to the Minister of War. They are sometimes erroneously referred to as gendarmerie. Under Acts of 1898 and 1929 the headquarters is divided into two sections:

The General Affairs Section concerns itself with policy, personnel, discipline, records, and the control of thought in the Armed Forces. The Service Section has three main functions: the supply, organization, and training of police units; security; and counterespionage.

b. The military police take orders from different authorities according to the areas in which they are stationed. For example, in Japan during peacetime, they were responsible to the Minister of War for their normal military duties, to the Minister of Home Affairs insofar as they assisted the civil police, and to the Minister of Justice for duties connected with law administration. In fortress zones they come under the command of the fortress commanders. In Manchuria, Korea, and Formosa, although they are primarily responsible to the commanders-in-chief, they also may be called upon to assist the local civilian authorities. In all areas their broad duties are the surveillance of military discipline, the enforcement of security, the protection of vital military zones, the execution of conscription laws, and the detection of crime among soldiers. In combat areas and occupied areas additional duties have been allotted to them (see par. 7).

2. RECRUITING. The Military Police consists of officers, non-commissioned officers, and superior privates only; lower ranks are attached from other services when needed. Officers are obtained by transfer from other branches of the Army and are permanently assigned to the military police. In peacetime men are recruited voluntarily; they are supposed to be of good character and of a high physical standard. In time of war such additional police as are necessary are drawn from all branches of the service. Both officers and enlisted men undergo training either in military-police schools or training units, as well as in their unit barracks. The principal schools are in Tokyo and Keijo (Korea). The duration of these courses in wartime is not known, but in peacetime a noncommissioned officer's course would last 6 months and an officer's course 1 year.

3. UNIFORM AND EQUIPMENT. On normal duty the military police wear the usual uniform of the mounted services, with heavy boots of undressed leather. They are equipped with a cavalry saber and a pistol. A white band bearing two characters reading Kempei is worn on the left arm. The color of the insignia is black. In combat areas the military police usually will be armed as infantry, but while on special duties they may wear civilian clothes.

4. STRENGTH. In 1937 there were believed to be 315 officers and over 6,000 men in the Japanese Military Police. In 1942 the evidence suggests that there were a minimum of 601 regular officers in military-police units. In 1942, these officers are believed to have been distributed as follows:

Japan and Karafuto       142
Manchuria       114
Korea       23
Formosa       24
North China       100
Central China       97
South China       16
Southern Area (including Field Units)       85

No information is available about reserve officers who have been recalled to the colors to perform military-police duty since the outbreak of the present war. A number of military-police units which are known to have existed in 1941 have not been reported since. However, they must be assumed still to exist, for otherwise a number of important prefectures in Japan would be without military police. Therefore this list of military-police officers is incomplete and the total strength of the forces cannot be estimated accurately.

5. UNITS. According to a report from China dated March, 1940, the basic military-police unit consisted of a section of 40 men under a captain or lieutenant. These sections were grouped in detachments and distributed throughout China. It is clear, however, that detachments vary in size and composition according to the areas in which they operate and the nature of their duties. No recent confirmation has been received of evidence that the section of 40 is the basic organization.

6. DISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO AREAS. a. Military police are divided into three main categories:

(1) Regional organizations which come under the command of area army headquarters and perform


duties in the homeland, or in static or base areas such as Manchuria, Korea, and North China.

(2) Numbered field units (Yasen Kempei Tai) which provide parties or sections to operate in the fighting or forward operational areas.

(3) Military police auxiliaries.

b. Regional organizations. Regional organizations are to be found in the military police districts of Japan proper under the direct command of military police headquarters at Tokyo, and in the Kwantung Army (Manchuria), the Korean Army, the Taiwan Army (Formosa), the North China Area Army, and the Southern Expeditionary Force under regional headquarters.

(1) Japan and Karafuto. In peacetime the military police in Japan were organized into units to correspond with the 14 divisional districts and their headquarters were at the headquarters of the depot division concerned. A small section would form part of the staff of the depot division. In wartime, however, military police districts do not necessarily correspond with the divisional areas. They are in fact designated by the Minister of War according to the density of the population and the strategic or industrial importance of the area. For example, Kobe, strategically a part of the Hanshin industrial belt, which comes in the Himeji divisional area, is assigned to the Osaka Military Police District. There undoubtedly have been several important changes in organization since 1941, notably the establishment of new units at Kure and Yokosuka, the naval bases.

(2) Korea and Formosa. The military police in Korea and Formosa are both commanded by major generals. Detachments are to be found in all the main towns.

(3) Manchuria. The Kwantung Military Police are commanded by a lieutenant general with headquarters at Hsinking. Under him come a number of units and detachments allocated to industrial and strategic areas.

(4) China. In North and Central China the military police are under a major general; in South China under a colonel.

(5) Southern Area. A Southern Expeditionary Force Military Police Training Unit was established in August 1942, presumably at Singapore, probably for the training of natives. It is thought that the military-police work throughout the whole of the Southern Area, at present occupied by the Japanese Army, comes under the charge of the Field Military Police Units.

c. Numbered field military-police units. Numbered field military-police units have been identified. These units probably are based at important headquarters (one has been identified atRabaul, the headquarters of the area army in charge of operations in the Solomons-Bismarcks area) and are responsible for specified geographic sections. It seems likely that these units provide sections not only for duty with divisions and other field units but also for the enforcement of discipline in the base areas. Small military-police sections normally appear to accompany divisions operating in the field.

d. Military-police auxiliaries. Laws dated 1919 and 1937 established volunteer native auxiliaries to the military police in Korea and Manchuria. They may hold ranks up to the equivalent of sergeant major, and presumably come under the orders of the Japanese military-police units in the areas concerned. No information is available about their strength. Natives also have been employed in the Pacific areas as police and espionage agents.

7. MILITARY POLICE DUTIES IN THE FIELD. In addition to the normal military and field security police duties, such as the issue of travel permits, the detection and arrest of fifth columnists, and the scotching of subversive rumors, field military-police sections are assigned various duties connected with the natives in the occupied areas and may also engage in combat. In the Pacific area they are responsible for pacifying hostile natives and for settling disputes between the natives and Japanese soldiers, as well as for requisitioning native foods and supplies. They also are charged with the recruitment of native labor and the organization of native espionage nets operating in and behind Allied lines. According to reports, the military police were given charge of a native force in New Guinea both for reconnaissance purposes and in order to harass the enemy. An order to the Lae military-police commander directed him, in addition to continuing his present duties, to "complete the training of the native 'army' and form a roving defense of the left bank of the Markham river. He will send the native 'army' forward in the right bank section and will be responsible for directing the harassing of the enemy's rear."

8. MORALE AND VALUE FOR WAR OF MILITARY POLICE. Testimony varies as to the qualities of the Japanese military policeman. There is little question but that in peacetime they were picked and well-trained men who carried out their duties efficiently. Like all persons in authority in wartime they are frequently disliked and feared, and complaints have been made by the ordinary line soldiers about their strictness- and abuse of power. But it seems likely that, as in other armies, they are first-class troops who carry out their many and varied duties competently.


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