12th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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12th Division
Type4 15cm Howitzer at Kokura Castle.JPG
Type 4 15-cm howitzer at site former IJA 12th Division HQ at Kokura Castle
Active 1 October 1898 – 1945
Country Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Size 25,000 men
Garrison/HQ Kokura, Japan
Nickname(s) Sword Division
Engagements Russo-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II

The 12th Division (第12師団 Dai Jūni Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Sword Division (剣兵団 Ken-heidan?), and its military symbol was 12D.


Russo-Japanese War[edit]

The 12th Division was one of six new infantry divisions raised by the Imperial Japanese Army after the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895). The division received its colors on 1 October 1898. Its troops were recruited primarily from communities in the northern portion of the island of Kyūshū [1] and it was originally headquartered within Kokura Castle (now part of the city of Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka) During the Russo-Japanese War, under the command of Lieutenant General Inoue Hikaru, the division deployed to Manchuria as part of the Japanese First Army. It returned to Kokura after the war, and was deployed again to the continent during the Japanese intervention in Siberia in August 1918.[2]

The 12th Division headquarters was relocated to Kurumi, another city in Fukuoka prefecture in 1925. In February 1932, following the First Shanghai Incident, the IJA 24th Infantry Regiment of the 12th Division was reinforced with additional artillery units, becoming the 24th Mixed Brigade, which was deployed to Shanghai, and which was later (from April 1936) assigned to Manchukuo.

In 1940, the division was reorganized into a triangular division, with its IJA 14th Infantry Regiment joining the IJA 25th Division. The 12th Division, under Lieutenant General Masakazu Kawabe was then deployed to Manchukuo from July 1940, coming under the control of the Japanese Third Army in Dongning and was used primarily for policing and anti-partisan activities.

However, in 1944 as the Pacific War situation became increasing unfavorable for Japan, the 12th Division was transferred to Hsinchu, Taiwan, where it bolstered the defenses of the Japanese Tenth Area Army against as possible Allied invasion. However, the Allies bypassed Taiwan and landed on Okinawa instead, so the 12th Division ended World War II as a garrison force in Taiwan without having seen combat.

Notable commanders of the 12th Division include: Ando Sadami, Uchiyama Kojiro, Oi Shigemoto, Shiba Goro, and Hajime Sugiyama.

See also[edit]


  • Kowner, Rotem (2006). Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War. ISBN 0-8108-4927-5: The Scarecrow Press. 
  • Madej, W. Victor. Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981


  1. ^ Kowner, Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War, p. 107.
  2. ^ Harald Fuess (1998). The Japanese empire in East Asia and its postwar legacy 3. Iudicium-Verlag. ISBN 9783891295021.