Department   Undergraduate School  , School of Global Japanese Studies
   Position   Professor
Date 2018/03/22
Presentation Theme How Did the Japanese Describe Unintended Encounters with African Soldiers During World War II?: A Preliminary Report Based on Contemporary Writings and Memoirs Written in Japanese
Conference International Conference on Colonial Mobilization in Africa and Asia during the Second World War: Soldiers, Labourers and Women (COLMOB2018)
Conference Type Workshop/Symposium
Presentation Type Speech (General)
Contribution Type Individual
Venue Rakuyu Kaikan, Kyoto University
Details This paper is a preliminary report of the author's ongoing research on the Japanese view of African soldiers who fought (were forced to fight) against the Japanese Army in the India-Burma theatre during World War II. It refers to the Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo edition), which was one of the major national newspapers in wartime Japan, as well as published and unpublished diaries and memoirs written by Japanese ex-officers and ex-soldiers during and after the war. Unpublished items are in the possession of the Military Archival Library of the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) of the Ministry of Defense of Japan.
The existing studies on African soldiers who were despatched to the India-Burma theatre during World War II have not referred sufficiently to records and memories of the Japanese people who fought against them. However, through this preliminary research, the author has confirmed newspaper articles, diaries and memoirs of ex-officers and ex-soldiers exist that mention African soldiers, although the number is very limited and the information is fragmentary.
The Asahi Shimbun used the term 'African soldiers (troops)', 'Negro solders' and 'black soldiers' for individual soldiers. However, it did not use the names of units organised in East Africa such as the 11th East Africa Division (or King's African Rifles), while it used the name of 'Seia 81 Shidan (the 81st West Africa Division)' for African units appearing in the newspaper after August 1944.
On the other hand, it has been confirmed diaries from some of ex-officers recorded the movements of the 81st / 82nd West Africa Divisions and East African military units such as the 11th East Africa Division, as well as information about the damages of 'black' troops. Furthermore, some of the memoirs written by ex-officers and ex-soldiers during or after the war refer to African soldiers in combat in addition to those in detention camps.