Kempeitai

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Kempeitai
憲兵隊
Kenpei.JPG
Kempei officers aboard a train in 1935.
Active 1881–1945
Country  Empire of Japan
Branch  Imperial Japanese Army
Type Gendarmerie
Role Various duties including judicial, counterinsurgency and military roles
Size 7,500 (c.1945)
Part of Home Ministry (within Japanese home islands)
Ministry of War (overseas territories)
Disbanded August 1945

The Kempeitai (憲兵隊 Kenpeitai?, "Military Police Corps") was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945. It was not a conventional military police, but more of a secret police like Nazi Germany's Gestapo. Therefore, while it was institutionally part of the Imperial Japanese Army, it also discharged the functions of the military police for the Imperial Japanese Navy under the direction of the Admiralty Minister (although the IJN had its own much smaller Tokkeitai), those of the executive police under the direction of the Interior Minister, and those of the judicial police under the direction of the Justice Minister. A member of the corps was called a kempei.[1]

History[edit]

The Kempeitai was established in 1881 by a decree called the Kempei Ordinance (憲兵条例?), literally "articles concerning gendarmes".[2] Its model was the Gendarmerie of France. The details of the Kempeitai's military, executive and judicial police functions were defined by the Kempei Rei of 1898[3] which was subsequently amended twenty-six times before Japan's defeat in August 1945.

The force initially consisted of 349 men. The enforcement of the new conscription legislation was an important part of their duty, due to resistance from peasant families. The Kempeitai's general affairs branch was in charge of the force's policy, personnel management, internal discipline, as well as communication with the Ministries of the Admiralty, the Interior, and Justice. The operation branch was in charge of the distribution of military police units within the army, general public security and intelligence.[citation needed]

In 1907, the Kempeitai was ordered to Korea[4] where its main duty was legally defined as "preserving the (Japanese army's) peace", although it also functioned as a military police for the Japanese army stationed there. This status remained basically unchanged after Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910.

The Kempeitai maintained public order within Japan under the direction of the Interior Minister, and in the occupied territories under the direction of the Minister of War. Japan also had a civilian secret police force, Tokko, which was the Japanese acronym of Tokubetsu Kōtō Keisatsu ("Special Higher Police") part of the Interior Ministry. However, the Kempeitai had a Tokko branch of its own, and through it discharged the functions of a secret police.

When the Kempeitai arrested a civilian under the direction of the Justice Minister, the arrested person was nominally subject to civilian judicial proceedings.

The Kempeitai's brutality was particularly notorious in Korea and the other occupied territories. The Kempeitai were also abhorred in Japan's mainland as well, especially during World War II when Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō, formerly the Commander of the Kempeitai of the Japanese Army in Manchuria from 1935 to 1937,[5] used the Kempeitai extensively to make sure that everyone was loyal to the war.

According to United States Army TM-E 30-480, there were over 36,000 regular members of the Kempeitai at the end of the war; this did not include the many ethnic "auxiliaries". As many foreign territories fell under the Japanese military occupation during the 1930s and the early 1940s, the Kempeitai recruited a large number of locals in those territories. Taiwanese and Koreans were used extensively as auxiliaries to police the newly occupied territories in Southeast Asia, although the Kempeitai recruited French Indochinese (especially, from among the Cao Dai religious sect), Malays and others. The Kempeitai may have trained Trinh Minh The, a Vietnamese nationalist and military leader.

The Kempeitai was disarmed and disbanded after the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

Today, the post-war Self-Defense Forces' internal police is called Keimutai (See Japanese Self-Defense Forces). Each individual member is called Keimukan.

Japanese Secret Services and the Axis Powers[edit]

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Kempeitai forged various connections with certain pre-war European intelligence services. Later when Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, the Japanese Secret Services formed formal links with these intelligence units, now under German and Italian fascists, known as the Abwehr and the Italian SIM. Along these lines, the Japanese Army and Navy, contacted their corresponding Wehrmacht intelligence units, Schutzstaffel (SS), or Kriegsmarine concerning information regarding Europe and vice versa. Europe and Japan realized the benefits of these exchanges (for example, the Japanese sent data about Soviet forces in the Far East and in Operation Barbarossa from the Japanese Embassy, and Admiral Canaris offered aid in respect to the Portuguese neutrality question in Timor).

One important contact point was at the Penang Submarine base, in British Malaya. This base served Axis submarine forces: (Italian Regia Marina, German Kriegsmarine, and the Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun, or Imperial Japanese Navy). Here at regular intervals, technological and information exchanges occurred. Until the end of conflict, Axis forces used the bases in Italian occupied Ethiopia, the Vichy France territory of Madagascar and some "officially" neutral places like the Portuguese Colonies of Goa in India.

This intelligence collaboration was maintained until early 1945, though continued in a greatly reduced form until circa August 1945.

Organization[edit]

The Kempeitai maintained a headquarters in each relevant Area Army, commanded by a Shosho (Major General) with a Taisa (Colonel) as Executive Officer and comprising two or three field offices, commanded by a Chusa (Lieutenant Colonel) and with a Shosa (Major) as executive officer and each with approximately 375 personnel.

The field office in turn was divided into 65-man sections called 'buntai'. Each was commanded by a Tai-i (Captain) with a Chu-i (1st Lieutenant) as his Executive Officer and had 65 other troops. The buntai were further divided into detachments called bunkentai, commanded by a Sho-i (2nd Lieutenant) with a Junshikan (Warrant Officer) as Executive Officer and 20 other troops. Each detachment contained three squads: a police squad or keimu han, an administration squad or naikin han, and a special duties squad or Tokumu han.

Kempeitai Auxiliary units consisting of regional ethnic forces were organized in occupied areas. Troops supplemented the Kempeitai and were considered part of the organization but were limited to the rank of Shocho (Sergeant Major).

The Kempeitai had 315 officers and 6,000 enlisted men by 1937. These were the members of the known, public forces. Allies estimated that by the end of World War II, there were at least 7,500 members[6] of the Kempeitai, figuring in undercover personnel and so on. This number might be even higher.

Wartime mission[edit]

A Kempeitai Sōchō uniform at the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence.

The Kempeitai was responsible for the following:

  • Travel permits
  • Labor recruitment
  • Counterintelligence and counter-propaganda (run by the Tokko-Kempeitai as 'anti-ideological work')
  • Supply requisitioning and rationing
  • Psychological operations and propaganda
  • Rear area security

By 1944, despite the obvious tide of war, the kempeitai were arresting people for antiwar sentiment and defeatism.[7]

Uniform[edit]

Personnel wore either the standard M1938 field uniform or the cavalry uniform with high black leather boots. Civilian clothes were also authorized but badges of rank or the imperial chrysanthemum were worn under the jacket lapel. Uniformed personnel also wore a black chevron on their uniforms and a white armband on the left arm with the characters ken (憲, "law") and hei (兵, "soldier").

A full dress uniform comprising a red kepi, gold and red waist sash, dark blue tunic and trousers with black facings was authorized for officers of the Kempeitai to wear on ceremonial occasions until 1942. Rank insignia comprised gold Austrian knots and epaulettes.

Personnel were armed with either a cavalry sabre and pistol for officers and a pistol and bayonet for enlisted men. Junior NCOs carried a shinai (竹刀, "bamboo kendo sword") especially when dealing with prisoners.

Japanese Secret Services and Conquest Planning[edit]

Japanese Secret Services provided the Imperial High Command, the Army and the Navy with intelligence information which had some bearing on their strategy of conquering the "Southern Theatre".

The Japanese Army General Staff obtained such information through their channels in China and the Soviet Union under the Japanese strategic planning for mainland Asia (1905-1940). The Army strategists saw detailed data in their Intelligence headquarters in Manchukuo and Kwantung.

For the Japanese Navy Staff, the information came from western colonies in Southeast Asia, and the Pacific area. Navy experts analyzed all aspects of these countries in their Intelligence HQ at Taihoku, Formosa.

At the same time, another important point in planning was in relation to future confrontation with the United States linked to these conquest strategies. These details were studied at Imperial House and Central Government Intelligence organizations in Tokyo.

When all intelligence organizations analyzed the Japanese Army defeats in their strategy in the Russian-Japanese Incidents during 1929–39, the situation stayed in favour of the Japanese Navy ideologists in their proposed South Seas conquest strategy. This changed the political balance in favour of the Navy in 1941, using their proposals in the Southern Area.

The Japanese Secret Services provided important economic, industrial, and social data to help in the organization of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere economic conquest doctrine, with Japanese conquest planning. This recovery of information continued during the Japanese occupation period until August 1945.

After the outbreak of World War I, Japan sided with the Allies, and Japanese intelligence then monitored the German colonies in the Pacific. Japan occupied Palau Island, the Marshall Islands, and the Caroline Islands. They used the islands as sea and air bases for their intelligence operations, spying on shipping lanes. Dutch New Guinea was a hotbed of Japanese espionage.

Overseas services and collaborators[edit]

Japanese undercover actions in United States and Mexico[edit]

Japanese Secret Services used some "covers" to protect their activities. For example, the Molino Rojo (Red Mill) in Tijuana, Mexico was a brothel used by Japanese intelligence agents for conferences and as a meeting place. The Molino Rojo was located in Tijuana's notorious Zona Norte, with its many bars and brothels. This location is significant because it is less than 15 miles from the U.S. Navy's San Diego Destroyer Base (now Naval Station San Diego) and the North Island Naval Air Station. An Imperial Navy Lieutenant Commander and subversive agent, formerly an exchange student at California's Stanford University, recruited an ex-U.S. Navy yeoman as an American spy. Starting with a $500 lure and $200 monthly payment, Japanese agents persuaded the American to board U.S. Navy ships dressed in a yeoman's uniform, to obtain intelligence from the crews. The Japanese recruited an American in San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles, two hours drive up the California coast, and the location of Fort Arthur MacArthur artillery base and school, just across the Main Channel from Terminal Island Naval Air Base, and the town where sailors came ashore when fleet elements anchored in the Outer Harbor. [8] This American was detected by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and was later sentenced to 15 years in prison.[citation needed]

Japanese intelligence and secret societies underground actions[edit]

The Japanese, like their counterparts in China, developed espionage programs by linking secret societies with ultra-nationalist aims—such as Genyosha (Dark Ocean Society), Kokuryu-kai (Amur River Society or Black Dragon Society, as Amur River is also known as Black Dragon River in several East Asian languages) — and organized criminal enterprises — such as Yakuza crime syndicates. Indeed, Dark Ocean and the Black Dragons supplied espionage and subversion services to the Empire in Korea in 1895 and perhaps earlier. Dark Ocean founder and Black Dragon mentor Mitsuru Toyama, as well secret society links to the Japanese Kempeitai, a functional equivalent to Hitler's Gestapo that relied upon the secret societies for manpower and support.[citation needed]

The Black Dragons were the Amur River Society (Kokuryu-kai) in 1930s and 1940s Japan. The Black Dragons were ultra-nationalists heavily involved in the conquest of China, and as spies and fifth columnists subverting nations targeted for conquest. The Black Dragons were active up and down the Pacific Coast of North and South America.

Black Dragons were a concern to Lieutenant Commander K. D. Ringle of U.S. Navy Intelligence and other security officials. They were a secret society with political aims. Many of its members served in industry and government including diplomatic posts and bureaucratic and military roles such as the Kempeitai secret political police. The veiled relationship of secret societies such as Black Dragon to government and business exemplifies a Japanese social phenomena.[citation needed]

Secret Japanese documents titled "The Three Power Alliance and the American/Japanese War" were alleged to have been stolen from an intelligence officer of the Black Dragon Society by an anti-Japanese Korean patriot. The documents were purported to detail Japanese war plans for the simultaneous invasion of the Panama Canal Zone, Alaska, California and Washington State. He was said to have obtained the documents by clandestine means in a Los Angeles hotel room in 1940.[citation needed]

In the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, as in the U.S. and Mexican west coasts, throngs of Japanese fishermen pulled nets and took notes and pictures for the Empire. Japan's fishing fleets were augmented by farmers, mining engineers, industrialists and merchants, barbers, house-boys, maids and prostitutes, especially in those areas designated as part of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. In this sea of ordinary Japanese, was submerged a potent fifth column of spies, subversives and saboteurs. There is a story of a French writer traveling worldwide, observing Japanese spy rings operating in Malaya, India, Burma, Ceylon, Thailand[nb 1] and as far away as Middle East, Morocco, Port Said, Egypt and Italian-occupied Ethiopia[citation needed].

Notes
  1. ^ On 5 June 1944, B-29's targeted on the Memorial Bridge, Bangkok, accidentally destroyed a Japanese military hospital and the Japanese secret police headquarters.

Japanese secret services operations in Europe[edit]

In neutral Spain, spy masters operating under the aegis of Japan's ambassador controlled TO spy rings worldwide and coordinated exchanges of intelligence with the other Axis powers through Germany's Abwehr general staff intelligence agency and Italy's Military Secret service. In neutral Portugal, the Japanese ambassador provided a vital link and source of intelligence for the Axis. In Germany, the Japanese ambassador outranked both the Japanese diplomat in Madrid and in Lisbon, and much of the TO intelligence was funneled through Japan's Embassy.[citation needed]

In Berlin, where the Japanese ambassador enjoyed a close friendship with the chief of Germany's secret services, a diplomat relayed TO information to Tokyo along with messages coordinating policies and operations between the three Axis powers. Japan's diplomats in Afghanistan spied on the Soviet Union, Iran and India and fed information into the Japanese Madrid center. This pattern of diplomatic cover and use of neutral third countries and Japanese people of ordinary backgrounds was repeated around the world.[citation needed]

The TO network even operated in Great Britain, where an eyewitness said that he had run TO operations from England and stated that the "Spanish leader knew every detail of our activities with the Axis". Early on, the Japanese ambassador in Spain established a successful spy ring in the U.S. aided by a Spanish operative introduced by Spain's Foreign Minister Ramón Serrano Suñer. In this net were some Japanese spies operating in a U.S. city in Pacific area.[citation needed]

Political Department[edit]

The Political Department refers to the political and ideological section of the Kempeitai military police of pre-Pacific War Japan. It was meant to counter hostile ideological or political influences, and to reinforce the ideology of military units.

It worked through political propaganda and as an ideological representative of the Imperial Japanese Army's Kodoha (Imperial Way Faction, or war party). In the first phase this section drove against communist propaganda, but extended its responsibilities in other directions, at home and overseas.

It acted in Manchukuo and other areas on the Asian mainland. It was a rough equivalent to the NKVD political sections and or politruk (political commissar) units of the Soviets; or the German Nazi SS propaganda departments. They promoted racial superiority, racialist theories, counterespionage, intelligence, political sabotage and infiltration of enemy lines. They liaised with the Manchukuo military police, intelligence service, regular police, 'Residents' committees, local Nationalist Parties and the Japanese Secret Service detachment in Manchukuo. The section in Manchukuo used some agents from White Russian, Chinese, Manchu, Mongol and other foreign backgrounds for special services or covert actions at home and abroad.

Special equipment[edit]

In line with their particular functions, Japanese secret agents utilized specialized equipment:

Radios[edit]

  • Long-range shortwave radio
  • Short-range shortwave radio

Electronic devices[edit]

  • Certain asdic or sonar equipment
  • special radar equipment
  • other types of electronic devices

Special code handbooks[edit]

  • Japanese army code handbook
  • Diplomatic services code handbook

Cipher machines[edit]

  • Japanese navy
    • "JADE" cypher machine
    • "CORAL" cypher machine
    • "Type 91" or "RED" cypher machine
  • Diplomatic service
    • "PURPLE" or "J" cypher machine
    • "GREEN" Japanese derivative of the German Enigma machine
  • Special codes:
    • Purple code
    • Red code
    • J code

Weapons[edit]

Uniforms[edit]

Depending upon the secret mission, the Japanese Secret Services wore regular uniforms, special forces uniforms, police uniforms, captured enemy military or police uniforms, or simply civilian clothing.

Transport[edit]

During special operations, the Japanese Secret Services used various local or captured types of transport:

Aircraft[edit]

Vessels and submarines[edit]

Japanese Secret Services also used merchant vessels, transport cruisers, coastal or modern high sea fishing vessels, sea or river patrols, Surface Navy War Vessels, regular or modified light boats, and modified or regular Midget or larger Submarines between another vessels types.

Land transports[edit]

During land operations, the Japanese Secret Services used cars, trucks, jeeps, motorcycles/sidecars, bicycles, armed or unarmed armored troops transports, light or medium tanks or railway services.

Structure of Japanese Secret Services[edit]

(The author of this section is advised to provide the audience with sources and to transfer this section and any relevant section below to another article.)

Japanese Secret Services Supreme Commander and associated Operative Chiefs[edit]

  • The Supreme Commander (possibly nominally) of intelligence services is the Tenno in the post of commander of Imperial Armed Forces.
    • Another chief was Hideki Tōjō, the High Operative Leader in Japanese Intelligence Services in wartime.
    • Kesago Nakajima, Since 1921 relevant military intelligence chief,also from 1941 lead Japanese State Police among the Kempeitai operation inside Japan and Asia during wartimes
    • Yakichiro Suma, Japan's Ambassador to Spain, Chief of the Japanese spy network code named "TO".
    • Kōki Hirota: former Foreign Minister and head of the Black Dragons (Also guided intelligence services in the group)
    • "Darkside Emperor" was the title of supreme leader of "Soshi" (Brave Knights) overseas secret agents of Black Dragon Society in first stages of World War II,
    • Prince Takeda: underground, supreme chief and secret agent in Japanese Secret Service in Manchukuo.
    • Torashirō Kawabe: Staff Officer (Operations; Intelligence), Kwantung Army
    • Kanji Tsuneoka Directed the Mongol department of Kwantung Army inland and native saboteurs and secret agent units.
    • Hiroshi Akita: Chief of German Section of Japanese Military Intelligence.
    • Tadashi Hanaya: Head of Special Services Agency, Kwantung Army
    • Kenji Doihara: Head of Special Service Agency, Kwantung Army
    • Jinzo Nomoto: Head of Mongol unit in Special Service Agency of Kwantung Army. He served in Tibet and Sinkiang areas in wartime.

Beneath the Supreme Commander was:

National defense[edit]

Japanese national defense organization[edit]

Both perform similar work to German Military Intelligence units Abwehr im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ("Abwehr"), the Brandenburg Unit and the German Naval Intelligence section.

The Japanese Intelligence Services also organized a spy network code named "TO" and others. The system collected any relevant intelligence data for future objectives or anything related to national defense and the Japanese Army or Navy military plans.

Other complimentary military intelligence units:

  • In Chisima Archipielago:
    • Matsuwa Air Intelligence Unit
    • Uruppu Air Intelligence Unit (800 men)
    • Etorofu Air Intelligence Unit

Kempeitai intelligence section[edit]

  • Decoding & Codebreaking Department
  • Political Department (linked with Kodoha party)
  • Counterespionage/Counterintelligence Department
  • Propaganda and Indoctrination Department
  • Subversion and Sabotage Department
  • Kempei Tai (Army Secret Security) (previously known as the Service Section)

Security doctrine[edit]

  • Kempeitai used Kikosaku as a method of punishment.

Headquarter locations[edit]

The Japanese Navy Intelligence Center was located in Taiwan and the Japanese Army Intelligence Headquarters was in Manchukuo.

Intelligence departments by region[edit]

  • China
  • North America & South America
  • Soviet Union / Russia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Western Europe
  • Middle East & Africa

Special services[edit]

Such sections were under the command of Joho-Kikan (Japanese Army intelligence), Tokumu Kikan (Japanese Army Espionage service) and Kempei Tai Intelligence unit. The Japanese Navy has some similar intelligence units.

Central government[edit]

  • Imperial House Affairs Ministry (Intelligence section)
  • Foreign Affairs Ministry (Intelligence office)
  • Greater Asian Affairs Ministry (Intelligence unit)
  • Bureau of Economic Research(Intelligence department)
  • Naimusho (Home Ministry) (Intelligence unit)
  • Shihisho (Ministry of Justice) (Internal Intelligence security)
  • Information Department

Annex intelligence units outside Japan[edit]

Korea (Chosen)[edit]

  • Kempeitai Training school in Keijo (Seoul)
  • Kempei Tai Chosen unit (Japanese/Korean units)
  • Japanese Army Chosen Army Intelligence Branch

Manchukuo and Kwantung[edit]

Mengchiang[edit]

Reformed Chinese state[edit]

Formosa[edit]

  • Kempeitai Formosa unit
  • Japanese Army Taiwan Army Intelligence Branch

South Pacific Mandate[edit]

  • Kempeitai South Pacific Mandate unit
  • Japanese Army South Seas Army Intelligence Branch

Southeast Asia[edit]

  • Kempeitai branches in area (Japanese/native units)
  • Kempeitai Training Singapore School branch
  • Kempeitai Training Manila School branch

Other intelligence sections[edit]

  • Kempeitai (Imperial Japanese Gendarmerie)

had responsibilities similar to German Schutzstaffel ("SS") and Sicherheitsdienst ("SD") (German Security Service) or Soviet Russian NKVD, and Politruk unit, for watching exterior enemies or suspicious persons and watching inside of own unit for possible defectors or traitors; and used the security doctrine of "Kikosaku".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Masae Takahashi (editor and annotator), Zoku Gendaishi Shiryo ("Materials on Contemporary History, Second Series"), Volume 6, Gunji Keisatsu ("Military Police"), (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, 1982), pp. v–xxx.
  2. ^ Dajokan-Tatsu (Decree in Grand Council of the State) of 11 March 1881 (14th Year of Meiji), No. 11. This decree was subsequently amended by Chokurei (Order in Privy Council) of 28 March 1889 (22nd Year of Meiji), No. 43.
  3. ^ Order in Privy Council of 29 November 1898 (31st year of Meiji), No. 337.
  4. ^ Order in Privy Council of 1907 (40th Year of Meiji), No. 323.
  5. ^ Naohiro Asao, et al. ed., Simpan Nihonshi Jiten ("Dictionary of Japanese History, New Edition", (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1997) p. 742 ("Tojo Hideki"), and pp. 348–9 ("Kempei").
  6. ^ The Japanese achievement, Hugh Cortazzi, Page 231, [1]
  7. ^ Edwin P. Hoyt, Japan's War, p 397 ISBN 0-07-030612-5
  8. ^ McKinzie, Joe; San Pedro A Postcard History; 2007; Arcadia Publishing, Charleston SC

Further reading[edit]

  • Deacon, Richard, Kempei Tai: A History of the Japanese Secret Service Berkley; Reprint edition 1990. ISBN 0425074587

External links[edit]