13th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

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13th Division
Former official residence of the 13th Division of Japanese Army.jpg
former IJA 13th Division HQ in Joetsu, Niigata
Active 1 April 1905 – 1 May 1925
10 September 1937 – 1945
Country Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Size 25,000 men
Garrison/HQ Takata, Japan
Nickname(s) Mirror Division
Engagements Russo-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Statue of Theodor Edler von Lerch at Joetsu, Niigata

The 13th Division (第13師団 Dai Jūsan Shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its tsūshōgō code name was the Mirror Division (鏡兵団 Kyō-heidan?), and its military symbol was 13D.


Russo-Japanese War[edit]

The 13th 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 13th Division was initially raised from men in Niigata Prefecture under the command of Lieutenant General Haraguchi Kensai. It was given the independent assignment of occupying Sakhalin before the conclusion of the Portsmouth Treaty,[1] landing on Sakhalin on 7 July, only three months after being formed, and securing the island by 1 August 1905. As a result of its successful operation, Japan was awarded southern Karafuto during the Portsmouth Treaty, one of Japan’s few territorial gains during the war.

Interwar period[edit]

The division returned on 6 November 1908 to its original divisional headquarters located in Takata, Niigata prefecture. Future Chinese premier Chiang Kai-shek served in the field artillery battalion of the 13th Division while it was based at Takada. Also while at Takada, under the command of Lieutenant General Nagaoka Gaishi, a military advisor from the Empire of Austria-Hungary, Theodor Edler von Lerch, was invited to teach mountain warfare and skiing to the troops of the IJA 58th Infantry Regiment in Takada.[2] under the 13th Division in early 1913.

On 12 April 1913, the division was ordered to Liaoyang in Manchuria, where it remained until 3 June 1915 on garrison duty under the command of Lieutenant General Akiyama Yoshifuru before returning to Takata. After a brief period on garrison duty in Korea, the 13th Division was one of the divisions selected to participate in the Japanese intervention in Siberia in 1920.

However, on 1 May 1925, it was one of the four division dissolved by Minister of War Ugaki Kazushige as part of a cost-saving measure during the Kato Takaaki administration.

Second Sino-Japanese War[edit]

In July 1937, open hostilities broke out against China and the Second Sino-Japanese War commenced. The 13th Division was re-established in Sendai on 10 September 1937 as a triangular division, out of the reserve forces of the IJA 2nd Division. Under the command of Lieutenant General Rippei Ogisu, it was assigned to Shanghai Expeditionary Army and saw combat during the Battle of Shanghai and Battle of Nanjing, although as a reserve force it was not present at the subsequent Nanjing Massacre. It came under the control of the Central China Expeditionary Army from February 1938, the 13th Division it was at the Battle of Xuzhou, and as part of the Japanese Second Army from July 1938, it was at the Battle of Wuhan under the command of Lieutenant General Shizuichi Tanaka.

From November 1938, the 13th Division was assigned to the Japanese Eleventh Army and remained in China throughout the Pacific War, participating in numerous campaigns and battles, including the Battle of West Hubei and Battle of Changde It was also part of Operation Ichi-Go (the Battle of Henan-Hunan-Guangxi). Although there were plans to send the 13th Division to Guam in September 1943 to counter the threat posed by the United States in the Pacific War, only a 300-man detachment was sent,[3]and the 13th Division ended the war in Changsha, Hunan Province.

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. ^ Allen, John B (2011). Historical Dictionary of Skiing. ISBN 0810868024: The Scarecrow Press.  page 117
  3. ^ Rottman, Gordon (2004). Guam 1941 & 1944: Loss and Reconquest. ISBN 1841768111: Osprey Publishing.  page 40