16th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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16th Division
Kyoto Seibogakuin.jpg
IJA 16th Division HQ in Kyoto
Active 1905 - 1945
Country Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Size 25,000 men
Garrison/HQ Kyoto
Nickname Wall Division
Engagements Russo-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II

The 16th Division (第16師団 Dai Jūroku Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Wall Division (垣兵団 Kaki Heidan?), and its military symbol was 16D.


The 16th Division was one of four new infantry divisions raised by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) in the closing stages of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). With Japan's limited resources towards the end of that conflict, the entire IJA was committed to combat in Manchuria, leaving not a single division to guard the Japanese home islands from attack. The 16th Division was initially raised from men in the Kyoto area under the command of Lieutenant General Yamanaka Nobuyoshi, and was immediately deployed to Manchuria on 5 September 1905. However, the Treaty of Portsmouth was concluded before the division could see any combat.

On 28 March 1907 the divisional headquarters was established in what is now the city of Takaishi, Osaka, but was relocated to Kyoto at the end of October 1908. It was then ordered to Manchuria as a garrison force in 1919. It returned to Kyoto once, but was reassigned to Manchuria from 1929 to 1934.

While in Kyoto in 1935, the division was called upon to provide emergency relief efforts during massive flooding of the Kamogawa river. Sappers from the division helped shore up dikes and construct temporary bridges, while over a 1000 men assisted with traffic control and rescue efforts at the request of the Kyoto city government.

In July 1937, open hostilities broke out against China and the Second Sino-Japanese War commenced. The 16th Division, under the command of Lieutenant General Kesago Nakajima, was assigned to the Second Army, as part of the Northern China Area Army. The division participated in the Second Shanghai Incident, the Battle of Nanjing (1937), the Battle of Xuzhou (1938) and the Battle of Wuhan (1938). It was thus one of the Japanese military units implicated n the Nanjing Massacre.

The division was withdrawn from China and returned to Japan in August 1939. At that time, the division was re-organized into a triangular division, with the IJA 38th Infantry Regiment transferred to become the core of the newly-formed IJA 29th Division

With the start of war in the Pacific, the 16th Division was assigned to the 14th Area Army and participated in the Philippines Campaign (1941–42), and was based Manila as a garrison force after the fall of the Philippines to Japan.

However, as the war situation deteriorated in August 1944, the Imperial General Headquarters ordered the 16th Division to Leyte Island as part of the 35th Army for a final decisive stand against Allied forces. Of the approximately 13,000 men in the 16th Division, only 620 survived the Battle of Leyte. Its final divisional command, Lieutenant General Shiro Makino committed suicide after the battle.

Noteworthy commanders in the history of the 16th Division have included: HIH Prince Nashimoto (Morimasa), Minami Jiro, and Kanji Ishiwara.

See also[edit]

Reference and further reading[edit]

  • Madej, W. Victor. Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981
  • Yamamoto, Masahiro. Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity. Greenwood Publishing, (2000) ISBN 0275969045
  • Rottman, Gordon. Japanese Army in World War II: Conquest of the Pacific 1941-42. Osprey Publishing (2005) ISBN 1841767891
  • Cannon, M. Hamlin. War in the Pacific: Leyte, Return to the Philippines. Government Printing Office (1954) LOC 53-61979