Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kempeitai (憲兵隊, "Law Soldier Regiment") was the military police of the Imperial Japanese Army. It also operated as secret police agency in Imperial Japan and the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It ran chemical weapons and biological weapons research facilities in China and Korea.
Chain of Command
Ultimately they were responsible to the Emperor as a branch of the army, they were also responsible to the following agencies:
- Ministry of War -for military service
- Ministry of Home Affairs -for civil police functions
- Ministry of Justice -for Law administration functions.
They were the visible arm of the government, the guardians of the law, the Public Censors, and the keepers and overseers of private thoughts and morals. They also served as the symbols of decorum. Japan and its territories did not have the writ of habeas corpus, so individuals had no rights and was presumed guilty when arrested.
The Kempeitai maintained a Headquarters in each relevant army area. These Headquarters contained two to three field offices for each army with each containing 375 personnel. These Field Offices were divided into 65 man Sections called buntai , which were further divided into numerous sub-sections, called bunkentai, of 25 personnel. These sub-sections contained three squads; the police or keimu han, the administration or naikin han and the special duties or Tokumu han.
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
- Pyschological operations and propaganda
- Rear area security
- Running prisoner of war and forced labor and special camps - they operated several 'human experimentation' units to which the kempeitai sent any 'difficult' prisoners which included over 3,500 Americans, Chinese, Europeans, Koreans and Russians sent to Unit 100 and Unit 731. Where they were identified as 'logs' and who were chosen and transported by the 'Human Materials Procurement Arm'. There were numerous other facilities were medical and environmental experiments were conducted on the victims. Unit 516 conducted chemical warfare experiments.
- Provision of "comfort" women ( jugun ianfu) to man the "comfort houses". These were bordellos maintained by the IJA for the use of its troops. Many Chinese, Korean and Formosa women were forced into prostitution this way. They also regulated the accomadations of the brothels, checked the identity of their customers, and controled the violence and drunkeness within.
- Reprisal Operations - were conducted by the IJA and 'auxiliary forces' against rebelling natives and local insurgents, who fought with or without allied forces help. During these operations, IJA forces routinely beat and sexually assaulted the local population and carried out many massacres. Others were seized and deported for slavery and forced labor where many subsequently died.
The kempeitai could arrest any civilian, except for the most seniorist government officials, and they could arrest all military personnel that they outranked and up to three ranks higher than them. All assigned personnel were superior privates, Noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and officers. Other personnel were attached as needed.
Personnel wore either the standard M1938 field uniform, the cavalry uniform with high black leather boots. Civilian clothes were authorized but badges of rank or the imperial chrysanthemum worn under the jacket lapel. Uniformed personnel also wore a black chevron on their uniform and a white armband on the left arm with the characters ken (for law) and hei (for soldier). Personnel were armed with either a cavalry saber and pistol for officers and a pistol and bayonet for enlisted. Junior nco's carried a bamboo kendo sword' especially when dealing with prisoners.
According to US Army TM-E 30-480 there were over 36,000 regular kempeitai personnel by the end of the war, this did not include the many native "auxiliaries" used for pacification purposes. The Kempeitai also used criminals and outlaws as law enforcers with torture commonly used to get confessions.The Japanese placed heavy emphasis on physical violence to maintain discipline with even the most infractions being dealt with immediately. This organization may have trained Trinh Minh The, a Vietnamese nationalist and military leader. The Kempeitai had recruited paramilitary troopers of the Cao Dai faith. It also recruited a large auxiliary consisting of Formosa indigenous peoples and Koreans.
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