20th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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20th Division
Active 1915–1945
Country Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Garrison/HQ Keijo, Korea
Nickname Morning Division
Engagements Pacific War

The 20th Division (第20師団 Dai-niju Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call sign was the Morning Division (朝兵団 Asa Heidan?).


The 20th Division and the 19th Division were raised on 24 December 1915 as a garrison force for Korea. After Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War, and subsequent occupation, and then annexation of Korea, the need was felt for a dedicated garrison force, raised from people with local knowledge. The 20th Division was stationed in central Korea, in what is now Yongsan-gu, Seoul and was responsible for the security of southern Korea. Although officially raised in 1915, due to budgetary issues, the 20th Division existed only on paper until 1918.

After the Manchurian Incident, its strength was increased by the addition of the 29th Infantry Regiment. In 1931, the 20th Division was stationed in the Liaodong Peninsula at Jinzhou. In 1937 it was present at the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. However, in July 1937, without having seen any combat, it was withdrawn back to Keijo.

In September, 1942, its 77th Infantry Regiment was elevated into the 30th Division. From 1943, the remainder of the 20th Infantry Division was transferred to the Japanese Eighteenth Army in the Southern Area Command (New Guinea). Of the approximately 25,000 men dispatched, only 1,711 survived the war. More men died in New Guinea from malaria and malnutrition than from combat with the Americans or Australians.


The original order of battle for the 20th Division included:

  • 39th Infantry Regiment
  • 40th Infantry Regiment
  • 28th Cavalry Regiment
  • 26th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 20th Engineering Regiment

As of July 1937, the 20th Division was a (Square Division) commanded by Lieutenant-General Bunsaburo Kawakishi:

IJA 20th Division

  • 39th Infantry Brigade
    • 77th Infantry Regiment
    • 78th Infantry Regiment
  • 40th Infantry Brigade
    • 79th Infantry Regiment
    • 80th Infantry Regiment
  • 26th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 28th Cavalry Regiment
  • 20th Engineer Regiment
  • 20th Transport Regiment

See also[edit]

Reference and further reading[edit]

  • Madej, W. Victor. Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937–1945 [2 vols], Allentown, PA: 1981