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Japanese Warfare: A Summary
Military Intelligence Service, Information Bulletin No. 16, May 20, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from a WWII U.S. War Department Information Bulletin. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The success of the Japanese in the current Far Eastern conflict has been due primarily to thorough pre-war preparations, to experience gained in more than 4 years of war in China, to development of tactics peculiarly suited to the theaters of operations, to close coordination of air, land, and sea forces into efficiently working combat teams, and to the proximity of Japanese armed forces to the scene of conflict.

The pre-war preparations included the training of perhaps 3,000,000 men in the methods of modern warfare, the development of new landing tactics and equipment well adapted for attack on the coveted areas, the perfection of jungle tactics, the collection of supplies and armament at strategic points, and the indoctrination of almost fanatical morale among the Japanese armed forces. Furthermore, Japan spread propaganda undermining the influence of the white race throughout southern Asia and the southwest Pacific islands and developed a Fifth Column which has surpassed all previous examples of this new phase of warfare-all to aid her armed forces once ashore.

The Japanese used China as a proving ground for tactical theories in land, sea, and air operations which they have later used against the United Nations. Their staff officers were keen to anticipate the types of opposition that would be encountered and the conditions under which their men would have to fight-and they planned accordingly.

Because of close proximity to the theater of operations, Japan has been able to mass quickly concentrations of overwhelming forces at critical points. And in order that full benefit could be derived from this initial advantage, armed forces were organized, equipped, and trained to function with high speed and mobility.

Japanese training stresses the necessity for aggressive fighting spirit, for resourcefulness, and for initiative. The Japanese Army has always laid special emphasis on the fundamental fighting virtues of good physical condition, of ability to perform long marches and to cross difficult terrain, swimming where necessary, and of being able to fight with tenacity. Operations show that the cooperation of all arms has also been stressed. This is indicated by the close liaison in battle between the supporting aircraft and front-line company commanders, who communicated with each other by radio, and by the aid that the engineers, have rendered to the leading infantry and armored elements in the speedy repair of demolished bridges and the speedy removal of obstacles. These doctrines, combined with the ability to exploit readily usable captured matériel, have given the Japanese a battle technique well suited to the tropical Far East theaters of war. Not merely imitators, as some have believed, the Japanese are quick to adapt foreign techniques to their own requirements.

The high standard of discipline obtained in the Japanese armed forces is due, at least in part, to the almost universal belief in Japan that the emperor is a direct descendant of a "heavenly" sun goddess and that no sacrifice is too great for the "Son of Heaven." The Japanese believe that no greater honor is possible for a warrior than death on the field of battle.


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