Talk:Japanese prisoners of war in World War II

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Numbers are strange[edit]

First paragraph - "During World War II, it has been estimated that between 19,500 and 50,000 members of the Imperial Japanese military surrendered" end of the third paragraph - "Soviet Union continued to hold hundreds of thousands of Japanese POWs until the early 1950s" — Preceding unsigned comment added by Elendal (talkcontribs) 03:02, 12 October 2015 (UTC)


I've added some paragraphs that were missing from the section on Japanese attitudes. The way it was constructed now was biased and made it seem like the Japanese were basically fanatic automatons following mainly no-surrender orders. The few redeeming aspects regarding them knowing they would likely get killed even if they surrendered and acted on this knowledge had been hidden away at the end of the section on Allied attitudes. The aspect of the Japanese being well aware that their buddies were being mutilated had apparently somehow been excluded in its entirety from this article.--Stor stark7 Speak 13:20, 23 May 2010 (UTC)

Those topics were already covered in the article and reflect the weight accorded in the main sources on this topic, which argue that indoctrination against surrender was the key factor. I've removed the duplicate content you've added (particularly as the references didn't support the claim that this was known to the Japanese and deterred surrender). Nick-D (talk) 10:23, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Nothing was mentioned about the mutilations before I inserted it, dear Nick. And you spread the sources that argue the opposite, indoctrination was not the key factor, around in the text; Dower (the OWI report), Ferguson, and to some extent Jonson, thus making it indeed look as if they are not a significant viwpoint, but that only reflects your biased viewpoint Nick. And by the way, do you really wish to argue that the Japanese did not know that Japanese prisoners were being used as target practice, or that U.S. marines were walking around with Japanese ears and neck-chains made out of Japanese teeth, or was the lack of a cite just a convenient excuse? Especially since you already had a cite in the text noting that the Allied killing of Japanese prisoners influenced the rest in their decisions (johnston)? What happened to that cite exactly by the way?
You argue that the key factor was indoctrination, and minimize sources to the opposite, especially from the lede. You have left in this lone sentence cited to Dower "Moreover, fear of being killed after surrendering was one of the main factors which influenced Japanese troops to fight to the death, and a wartime U.S. Office of Wartime Information report stated that it may have been more important than fear of disgrace and a desire to die for Japan." I suppose it is you who inserted the caveat "may", while what Dower actually writes about the report is that the importance of the fear of being killed was "as much as, and probably more than, the other two major considerations". I find your text sometimes to have such softening caveats unsupported by the sources when I actually check them.
Another example is the text you inserted into the end of this sentence: For instance, recent research by Richard Aldrich of Nottingham University has found that what is allegedly a common perception of the Japanese soldier as being fanatically devoted to the Emperor and codes such as bushido us not necessarily true in all cases. (my emphasis) You added the completely pointless caveat at the end, making it look as if Aldrich supports the case for Bushido/Emperor in some cases.
You fill your text with excuses for why the Allies would want to kill surrendering Japanese, and then write very little about the actuall killing of surrendering Japanese, and indeed on killing of prisoners as well. The whole thing reeks of POV.
Take a simple thing such as the treatment of prisoners of war. You had said nothing about Japanese Surrendered Personnel, and there is still nothing about the sometimes bad treatment of Japanese prisoners after the war, for example the tough time those tens of thousands who were sent to the Rempang concentration camp.[1] Not interesting for the readers, or not the right type of POV?
Not to do with this article, but related, I think it is very indicative that despite your demonstrated deep knowledge of the topic of the killing of Japanese prisoners, indeed it was you who for other reasons led me to the source about the Australians doing so, It was I, and not you, who added the paragraphs to that effect to the Allied War crimes article, an article you otherwise are very active in when it comes to deleting things from it. Cheers--Stor stark7 Speak 09:55, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
So much for assuming good faith. I'm bemused by the number of factually wrong statements about the article and my edits above. Nick-D (talk) 10:03, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I've posted notifications of this discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Japan and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Military history Nick-D (talk) 10:08, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm fine with that Nick, I know from the past that you are in the habit of posting notifications on notice boards and elsewhere. And I do try to assume good faith, as far as possible. I'm curious to hear more about your bemusement by the way.--Stor stark7 Speak 10:32, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Without engaging with your unjustified claims about my motivations or material for which you have not provided citations:
  • "You argue that the key factor was indoctrination..." - I 'argue' no such thing. I've written the article to reflect the sources I've consulted, which include all the books I could find on this topic (the literature on this topic is surprisingly limited). There are differing views on this, and they were presented in the article (the 'Japanese attitudes' section noted that not all Japanese personnel agreed with the official line and the 'Allied attitudes' section noted that prisoner killing was a major deterrent to surrender and one report concluded that it may have been the main factor - this report was cited by both John Dower, who also stressed the importance of indoctrination, and Niall Ferguson (via a citation to Dower). What you claim is a strategy to bury material was actually how I thought it flowed better (Japanese attitudes followed by Allied attitudes followed by the results of these attitudes).
    • Basically this reflects your POV ranking of the information, I would have included the Japanese reaction to Allied atrocities in the section on Japanese attitudes which it should be if the article had been neutral in tone. You instead restricted it to two sentences and put it at the very end of the section of American attitudes. And even now in the current version, though you graciously let Ferguson remain (albeit reworded), you left him in the Japanese section together with the mutilations, and kept the others who agree at the end of the American section.
  • "...and minimize sources to the opposite, especially from the lede. You have left in this lone sentence cited to Dower" - I've not removed anything from the lead, and actually added the above sentence cited to Dower rather than 'left [it] in'. I also went out of my way to research widely on this topic, as demonstrated by the lengthy number of entries in the 'References' section (not all of which have yet been used), though I make no claims about having exhausted the literature (this is only a B class article so far).
    • In the lede, in your original version[2] we see no mention of the fact that prisoners were being killed after capture, and of those executed while trying to surrender we have only the very vague "unwillingness to take prisoners". And we certainly have nothing in the lede about the Japanese being reluctant to surrender due to Australians and Americans killing a fair share of those who tried. In the current version you changed my "awareness" into "believing". wouldnt it have been more fair to at least insert "justly believing"? Why believing? People believe in ghosts and deities, these soldiers knew their comrades were being killed.
  • The source actually uses the word 'perception', which means the same thing as 'believing'
    • Come on, as an apparent native English speaker you should know better. "the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding."[3], "understanding, idea"[4]. Essentially the more accurate synonym would be "understanding", putting "believing "there is just the result of POV.
  • "I suppose it is you who inserted the caveat "may"" - I used that word as it seems a good summary of "as much as, and probably more than", which is hardly unequivocal (I'm taking your quote at good faith here).
    • Wouldn't you say that "may" is a rather weak qualifier, when I know that in the past you have used the qualifier "at least" which here would seem to be a better qualifier, or why not write "probably more"? May seems quite dodgy to me.
  • It seems OK to me, but I'm not going to die in a ditch over it Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • "You added the completely pointless caveat at the end, making it look as if Aldrich supports the case for Bushido/Emperor in some cases" - I'll borrow the book tomorrow and see what it says (as opposed to relying on a news story which wrongly states that findings of the book which are common in serious historical works about the Pacific War are new). More generally, why should this book be emphasised? - these really aren't new arguments, as John Dower was making many of them as early as 1986, and they don't represent a consensus on the issue (as no such consensus exists)
    • Again, why did you add the caveat? It wasn't there in my version. -- As to your question on "why this book"? Well, it is written by a professor who apparently took a new tack, actually reading the diaries of the people there, so his work is presumably less colored by the influences of wartime propaganda. Also it is one of the newest sources, so it represent the most up to date research. And if it independently supports what Dower already wrote, then so much the better. Why hadn't you already inserted what Dower wrote on this?
  • I've borrowed the book, and he writes in it that "the personal content of Japanese diaries can often [emphasis added] overturn the stereotype of the 'robot warrior' that still abounds in historical literature. Few of those who wrote were genuinely at ease with war and its distorting effects on human relationships" (p. 9). The book is actually a lengthy (639 pages) collection of excerpts from diaries rather than new 'research' into this topic per se, though there is a 21 page introduction which discusses themes which apparently arise from the excerpts. There's also some brief descriptions of events in the war between some of the diary excerpts to provide context, though several of the few I've read suffer from factual errors and the introduction wrongly implies that the small number of Japanese POWs kept in the US was the total of those captured. Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • "[you] then write very little about the actuall killing of surrendering Japanese, and indeed on killing of prisoners as well" - three of the four paragraphs in the 'Allied attitudes' section discuss Allied troops killing surrendering Japanese personnel and it is stated that "in many instances Japanese soldiers who had surrendered were killed on the front line or while being taken to POW compounds". I don't see any need to drop in individual accounts of killings given that sources which discuss this at the aggregate level are available. The sources which discussed conditions in western Allied POW camps said they met or exceeded those required by the Geneva Conventions and the problems with Chinese POW camps are noted (from memory, the source provided no details of how exactly the Chinese camps didn't meet the Geneva Conventions' requirements).
    • Indeed, and the amount of text providing justifications for the killings actually seems to take up equal space to these few sentences. Looking at what you wrote I see you wrote as part causing elements "anger at Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and", while a closer look at the source states "the "sneaky" and humiliating attack on pearl harbor". Note the hyphens around sneaky? If you had to pick a word from that source then humiliating would have been the better one, or if you feel you must include "sneaky", then to also copy the authors hyphens around "sneaky", if indeed such a unencyklopedic assessment should be included in the text. Another check shows that you wrote: " the majority of Japanese military personnel did not accept that the Allies treated prisoners correctly." Even though you do write about propaganda in the preceding sentences, the unwary reader might be given the impression that the source claims that the Allies indeed treated prisoners correctly (we already know prisoners were often shot close to the front) instead of realizing that it refers to allied propaganda that prisoners were treated correctly.
  • What you claim are "justifications" seem more like explanations to me. It seems sensible to place events in context, and this what the sources do (prisoner killing is generally discussed in the context of the nature of the war and the atrocities committed on both sides). Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • "You had said nothing about Japanese Surrendered Personnel" - three of the four paragraphs in the 'Post-war' section were entirely the topic of Japanese POWs being retained for years after the war.
  • Yes, you had created a Post war section. Nowhere in it did you mention that post war the prisoners were labelled Japanese Surrendered Personnel (JSP) instead of the one that gives Geneva convention protection; Prisoner of War. And you certainly never linked to the JSP article. In addition, in the section prisoner of war camps you never mention the conditions the prisoners had to endure post-surrender, such as for example the Rempang concentration camp.[5] And this is one of the reasons there is a NPOV tag on the article now. I presume that after your literature review you were not unaware of the camps, or the conditions in them? As well, the "post war" section should be entitled post-surrender since formally the U.S. and japan were still at war, it was just that japan had surrendered. End of war with japan was declared much later, and cessation of hostilities was not proclaimed until December 1946. As well, how many Japanese died in combat against the freedom fighters in the colonies when they were made to help the Brittish military?
  • I wasn't aware of that article until you linked to it (my searches for existing articles only found the article on the POWs in the Soviet Union, which was linked). The Japanese Surrendered Personnel article doesn't state that this terminology was used as a legal dodge, much less provide a reference for this claim - could you please provide this? (there was a statement in the article that the US objected to the term, but the reference actually stated that the US objected to Britain retaining POWs for so long so I've corrected it). In regards to post war camps, I refer you to the above comments that the article is not complete and several sources are presently unused. Your argument that the US and Japan were still at war after September 1945 is unusual - they plainly weren't, except possibly in legal terms - and I'm not sure what value this would add to the article. Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
    • It adds the value of accuracy. And I disagree with your "correction", but since the source is ambiguous I've made a straight quote out of it instead.
  • No you haven't - you've, rightfully, added new material to the article supported by a reference to a reliable source which also wasn't previously used in that article. I'm a bit confused about why you miss-explain your own edit. Nick-D (talk) 11:04, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Confused indeed, recheck the edit you link to above and you will see that the second sentence is now a straight quote. Are you unhappy I didn't write about the addition of a first sentence there at the same time? I added that one now because it wasn't needed before your original missinterpretation. But since you were not previously aware of the existance of JSP it is understandable that you would not be aware of the purpose of the designation and indeed would edit a bit before reading up.--Stor stark7 Speak 11:45, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Sorry, I see that the quote is pretty much the same as the previous wording - I'm not sure what the "missinterpretation" in my edit was though, particularly given that it was correcting a clear miss-quote. Your personal attacks are rather unnecessary - could you please stop them? Nick-D (talk) 12:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Please don't make bogus accusations about personal attacks, Im refering to editing practice and not individuals. There was no "miss-quote" by the way, it is you who are mistaken in your edit, and apparently you still don't see it.-- (talk) 15:27, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
  • "your demonstrated deep knowledge of the topic of the killing of Japanese prisoners" - thank you for the compliment, but I have no such knowledge. I was aware of the book you refer to only as it is one of few serious works on the combat experiences of Australian soldiers in World War II. From memory, I've provided it as a reference in at least one other article to note that Australian troops also committed war crimes on occasion. Nick-D (talk) 11:54, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
    • You were using the book by Johnston at least as early as 2008 [6] and aparently have it easily accessible, since you made a point out of quickly checking my references.[7]. Your answer never touched on the topic of why you never added this type of information to the war crimes article where it is most relevant?
  • I'm really not sure what point you're trying to make here, particularly as it seems to relate to another article. Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
    • My point is visible in the original question
Further I note that you made no attempt to challenge the following points.
  • "Nothing was mentioned about the mutilations before I inserted it." And this is quite puzzling since you are one of the most active contributors/removers in that specific article.
  • "do you really wish to argue that the Japanese did not know that Japanese prisoners were being used as target practice"? (see this [8])
  • "there is still nothing about the sometimes bad treatment of Japanese prisoners after the war, for example the tough time those tens of thousands who were sent to the Rempang concentration camp"
  • Why do I need to "challenge" everything? Please also see my earlier comment about not engaging with personal attacks. Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
In addition to this I just now noted that you have rephrased the section on Aldrich noticing from diaries that Japanese were quite human and not Bushido robots. You have put it after the section on demoralization later in the war, and made it look like Aldrichs work supports that, or that he is only referring to the Japanese later in the war. But I hope this mistake was not your deliberate intention.--Stor stark7 Speak 14:53, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
I've moved it to the middle of the para to avoid that misinterpretation. I've removed the examples as I don't think they add anything to the statement or are particularly relevant to this particular topic and they sit awkwardly when placed in the middle of the para. Nick-D (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Deaths of Japanese POW after Surrender[edit]

The US Center for Military History has the Reports of General MacArthur online.[9]


See Chap V Page 130 Note 36- There is a 1948 schedule that shows 81,090 Japanese deaths after surrender in Allied hands(non-Soviet)--Woogie10w (talk) 15:49, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

The figure of over 60,000 for the USSR is not complete since it includes only deaths in the USSR camps, they do not include dead and missing in holding camps in Manchuria and Korea prior to reaching the USSR itself. See Nemo's Behind the Curtain of Silence page 36 This is also mentioned in the Reports of General MacArthur online see pages 159-161 and 179-186

This was an issue in Japan after the war, they disputed the Soviet claim that all POw had been accounted for, according to Nemo who cited Japanese government figures showing 347,000 dead and missing in the USSR, Sakalin, Korea and Manchuria. This dispute is also mentioned in John W. Dowers War without MercyP363--Woogie10w (talk) 15:49, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

For the Doubting Thomas’s you can do a cross check with Glantz’s August Storm [10]

See note 4 Chap 3 on Japanese force levels

Glantz remarks in the notes to Chap 11 on Soviet POW figures This figure ignores the large number of missing Japanese soldiers

The Japanese had about 1 million men in the 1945 Campaign, the Soviets claimed only 640,105 POW.--Woogie10w (talk) 19:14, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Thanks a lot for that research. The Reports of General MacArthur need to be used with a lot of caution caution as they were prepeared by his staff as a monument to him, and contain a lot of nonsense as a result. That said, there seems to be no particular reason to doubt the number of post-war deaths of Japanese in Allied areas as the Allies would have had access to the relevant records. I'd treat the figures for numbers prisoners in Soviet hands and their deathrate as highly unreliable though given that the report was written before the final Japanese POWs were released by the Soviets and MacArthur's staff obviously didn't have access to whatever records the Soviets were being kept on the prisoners - while I wouldn't be suprised if their estimate of the number of deaths was much too low as a result, it should also be rememembered that the reports were prepared at the start of the Cold War for an unusually anti-Communist (and very politically engaged) US Army General, so they could also be a deliberate over-estimate! Nick-D (talk) 22:48, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Nick, We have additional support besides MacArthurs crew

Here is a review of Nimmos book [11] It is serious scholarship, not pop history. It was published by Greenwood Publishing Group Nimmo used post war Japanese sources

Dower is a well known and respected historian of Japan’s role in the war. He does not mouth cold war propaganda, he opposed the Vietnam War.

MacArthurs’s office was the source of Dower's data in his other book on Post War Japan. Facing Defeat--Woogie10w (talk) 00:07, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

The Japanese government estimated over 1.3 million Japanese soldiers and civilians surrendered to the USSR in Manchuria and northern Asia in August 1945, but over the course of the next four years only 1 million were repatriated to Japan-leaving more than 300,000 unaccounted for and presumed to have died after August of 1945.

The condition of the Imperial forces was so wretched by war’s end that over 81,000 Japanese died overseas after the cease-fire before they could be repatriated by their Allied captors

Source: John W. Dower War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (1986; Pantheon; ISBN 0-394-75172-8) Pages 298-299

John W. Dower was on the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars. He definitely is not a cold warrior, in fact he has been a persistent critic of US foreign policy--Woogie10w (talk) 01:44, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm familiar with Dower's work and agree that he's well regarded ('War Without Mercy' is frequently discussed in other works on the Pacific War and 'Embracing Defeat' earned a Pulitzer Prize and is a very impressive book). I'm surprised that there isn't a better source of data than in MacArthur's reports though - this seems a shame. The introduction to the reports here states that "In publishing them, the Department of the Army must therefore disclaim any responsibility for their accuracy" as even MacArthur believed they contained mistakes which needed to be corrected. Thanks for the cites from 'War Without Mercy' - I've been trying to get my hands of a copy of it for the last couple of weeks, but the copies I can normally borrow from libraries are out at the moment. Nick-D (talk) 08:08, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
Dower did not rely on MacArthur for the figures of dead & missing in the USSR, he used Japanese gov data.I would rely on the Japanese figures not Soviet era data that got posted to the internet--Woogie10w (talk) 12:48, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for that. I agree that Japanese post-war data would be greatly superior to anything the USSR recorded Nick-D (talk) 00:02, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

POV Tag[edit]

I added this because the article is suspicious. One important detail that is missing is that surrendering Japanese would sometimes attack their captors in a suicide mission. I don't know how common that was, but it definitely happened and should be addressed.Tuntable (talk) 01:28, 3 October 2016 (UTC)

@Tuntable: This is a major topic of the second paragraph of the "Allied attitudes" section (eg, the section you've just tagged) and the fourth paragraph of the "Japanese attitudes to surrender" section. Do you have any suggestions to improve this material? Nick-D (talk) 05:46, 3 October 2016 (UTC)