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Koreans & Taiwanese in the Imperial Army

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
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Postby Klemen L. on 18 Mar 2007 14:25

Hello Kim & Joe,

I thank you for revealing to me the name of this interesting character. :) So you would agree with me that Colonel Lee Gun-Suk would be the most appropriate spelling of his name and surname? According to this website [*], I would say yes.

[*] http://www.korean-war.com/AirWar/ROKAF.html

It seems that most of the sources agree that he, while being probably mortally wounded, crashed his airplane into the North Korean tanks.

I thank you for his biography. I see he was actually from North Korea.

Klemen L, was your source the book "The Anguish of Surrender"? it pops up on Google with a similar quote to what you said, "Aoki" was Lee. Does any other source say it?

Yes, your asseumption is correct. My source on this is "The Anguish of Surrender". I haven't been able to find out any further information about him from any other sources. But recently a new book has been published about Japanese POWs in India 1942-46 so perhaps this new source has some extra information.

Per "Bloody Shambles" vol 1 by Shores et al, the 77th Sentai lost 3 Ki-27's Dec 25 1941 (and the 64th Sentai 2 Ki-43's) escorting Ki-21 bombers (4 lost) over Rangoon, against 67th Sdn RAF Buffalo's (4 lost) and AVG P-40's (2 lost), each side's claims at the time higher of course. One of the 77th pilots missing and presumed dead by his unit was a Warrant Officer Aoki, so that fits. Being so early in the Pacific War 20 victories does seem highly unlikely, but it seems he actually did fly combat against the Allies.

Yes, indeed. The story seems to match up perfectly. I also haven't been able to find him on any Japanese Army or Navy ace list, that is assuming he flew as Aoki Akira and not under any other assumed Japanese surname. Assuming he already completed the flight course in 1934 one would expect him to see some action over China before World War 2, where it is possible that he shot down some (any) Chinese aircraft.

On the other side (of the Korean War) the vice chief of the NK air force at the start of the war, Lee Whal (李闊) was a graduate of the "Nagoya AF school" per the book "Buk han inmingun daesa" (北韓人民軍隊史) and his JAAF service is also mentioned in US intel documents, the source there being the Yak-9 pilot Bak Gyung-Ok shot down and captured right at the beginning of the KW.

Thank you for sharing this interesting piece of information. Do you have perhaps any further details about his war service with the IJAAF?

I would also otherwise be interested in some information about Koreans who served in the IJAAF, IJNAF and Imperial Navy. While I was able to find some information about Koreans in the Labour Corps and IJA, they seem to be rather rare in the other three branches.
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Postby Kim Sung on 18 Mar 2007 15:48

Klemen L. wrote:Hello Kim & Joe,

I thank you for revealing to me the name of this interesting character. :) So you would agree with me that Colonel Lee Gun-Suk would be the most appropriate spelling of his name and surname?


Yes, Lee (Yi) Kun-Suk is a correct spelling. He is a very famous man in the history of ROKAF. His statue is erected in Yongsan War Memorial.
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Postby JoeB on 18 Mar 2007 20:01

Klemen L. wrote:1. Assuming he already completed the flight course in 1934 one would expect him to see some action over China before World War 2, where it is possible that he shot down some (any) Chinese aircraft.

2. ... Lee Whal (李闊)...
Do you have perhaps any further details about his war service with the IJAAF?

1. Seems very possible he served in China, or even against the Soviets in 1939 if he served in another unit, but no specific info. The 77th Sentai fought in China in 1937-9 with Type 95 fighters (Ki-10). It was stationed in Manchuria out of combat from transition to Type 97 (Ki-27) in fall 1939 to the outbreak of the Pac War.

2. Unfortunately no. If war time Japanese careers are still a bit sensitive in ROK, the NK position is that *only* the ROK armed forces contained ex-Japanese military personnel, at least in any leadership positions, although it's obviously not so. But no open NK sources will be found dealing with an issue like that. I'm very interested to know too, but it's probably part of my dream to visit North Korean archives and have free reign :D

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Postby Kim Sung on 19 Mar 2007 14:45

JoeB wrote:If war time Japanese careers are still a bit sensitive in ROK, the NK position is that *only* the ROK armed forces contained ex-Japanese military personnel, at least in any leadership positions, although it's obviously not so. But no open NK sources will be found dealing with an issue like that.


It's an open secret that NKPA also absorbed a lot of former collaborators just as ROK forces did.

Even Kim Il-Sung's brother Kim Yong-Joo (김영주) worked in Japanese military police.

Huh Min-Koon (허민군) - Commander of the 9th Division

General Kang Chi-Woo (강치우)

Colonel Kim Ki-Ok (김기옥)

Colonel Kim Han-Wook (김한욱 )

NKPA air force absorbed 20 former Japanese officers and 10 Manchukuo officers.

Minster of Justice Jang Hun-Kun (장헌근) collaborated with the Japanese as a member of the Commoners

Chairman of the People's Committee Kang Yang-Wook (강양욱) worked as a member of local government under the Japanese rule

Lee Sung-Yop (이승엽) was a member of pro-Japanese organization Yamato Juku (大和塾)

Vice minister of Culture and Propaganda Jung Goon-Eun (정군은) and Cho Il-Myong (조일명) worked as a Japanese secret police
High-ranking official of National Security Agency Kim Jong-Je (김정제) was also a high ranking official during the Japanese rule
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Postby JoeB on 19 Mar 2007 18:32

Kim Sung wrote:1. It's an open secret that NKPA also absorbed a lot of former collaborators just as ROK forces did.

2. Colonel Kim Ki-Ok (김기옥)

3. NKPA air force absorbed 20 former Japanese officers and 10 Manchukuo officers.

1. Yes, it could hardly be otherwise. Korea was part of Japan for 35 yrs, Korean resistance armies even outside Korea were small. So to quickly build Korean armed forces, it was unavoidable to use Koreans with Japanese military experience, North and South. There may be a partial element of truth in the NK claims. that they did it a little bit less. The Communists had access to Koreans with military experience in the Soviet Army and the Korean Volunteer Army (of the PLA), besides the smaller Korean Communist anti-Japanese armies. The ROK didn't have any sizeable source of people with military experience other than in the Japanese armed forces. There was a practical difference, besides ideology.

2. The leading "ace" of the KPA Air Corps (per their claims) in the Korean War, and eventually chief of that force? Do you have a source and any details? Are any of the other officers you mentioned air force?

3. Yes "Organizational History of the North Korean People's Army" (北韓人民軍隊史) p 66-67 gives those figures too.

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Postby Kim Sung on 02 Apr 2007 06:16

Yi Kun-Suk was killed in the initial air operation against PKA air force.

Image


Yi Kun-Suk's ID card

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Yi Kun-Suk's statue in Taegu

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http://www.warmemo.co.kr
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Taiwanese Soldiers of IJA during World War II

Postby hansioux on 06 Apr 2007 17:29

Taiwanese Soldiers of IJA during World War II, And some of their stories.

This is my article at Chinese history Forum. I go by the name naruwan there.

http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?showtopic=16760

Most of the information here are limited to Korean side of the story. Few regarding Taiwanese in IJA are somewhat incorrect. I'd like to add Formosan side of the IJA stories.

First thing I'd like to correct is former president Lee Deng-hui was not involved in the Imperial Japanese Army. His brother was and died in the Philippines.

My Grandmother's brother was a volunteer for the IJA and never returned. I saw his pictures in an old family album and began my personal search. Phtos are in my CHF Old Family Pictures thread.

http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?showtopic=16737&st=0&p=4881640&#entry4881640

During World War II the Japanese Prefectorate recruited 200,000 Taiwanese into the war. About 30,000+ Taiwanese enlisted men or crew of the Imperial Japanese Army died in the In the Pacific Campaign, of which 3,000 were Aboriginals. Another 20,000 missing but I guess they are all dead too. Most of them were drafted into crew services doing hard manual labor. A smaller percentage were actual volunteers, though even within the volunteer units some were forced draftees especially towards the end of the war. These were enlisted men.

There were several cases of Taiwanese recruited into the Kamakazi 神風特攻隊. In fact Yi-Lan Taiwan was a base for the Kamakazi planes. Few recorded Taiwanese Kamakazi crew that I read about, one is a Miaoli man, named Kawakami *something* 泉川正宏 (sorry, my Japanese is very poor) who was on the mission to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and never returned. A pilot named Qio Jing-Chuen 邱錦春 recalled before the Kamakazi crew goes on a mission, the pilots doesn't yell out "Long Live the Emperor", instead they yell out "Mother".

A famous division of the Taiwanese troops in World War II was the Takasago Volunteer Units 高砂義勇隊, The Aboriginal Volunteer Units. It was first named 高砂挺身報國隊, but after their impressive performance in Batan, IJA renamed the unit to it's better known name. There were a total of 7 divisions of the Volunteer Units, varing in numbers from 100 to 600 Aboriginal men, totaling about 4,000.

The first division's 500 Aboriginal Volunteers set the Americans back in Batan islands. Most of the divisions were sent to New Guinea. A few thousand Taiwanese aboriginals were grouped into the "special volunteer divisions", such as the Saito Special Volunteer Division 齊藤特別義勇隊, and sent to Luson island in the Philippines.

Casualties were extremely high for all Aboriginal Volunteer Units. In most cases none has returned after the war. According to some veteran Japanese soldiers, the Aboriginal units were about to perform scouting missions in roadless jungles. They were able to pick up far away sounds and lay down ambush. They were able to hunt for food and identify edible food sources. They were considered one of the best units in the South Pacifics.

Many of the Pacific islands after the war had a problem with renegade Japanese soldiers hiding because they didn't know the war was over. The last WW2 Japanese soldier surrendered in 1974. He went by the name "Nakamura Teruo" 中村輝夫, and he was Taiwanese.

Nakamura Teruo was a Taiwanese Puyuma aboriginal. Nakamura was quiet an athlete in scool. He was a great baseball player and track and field athlete. He probably was drafted, rather than volunteered, by IJA into the 4th Takasago Volunteers Unit 高砂義勇隊 in 1943. He was then sent the South Pacific where he eventually ended up on Morotai island, Indonesia in 1945. During a battle he lost contact with his troops and hid in the jungle and lived by himself for 31 years using his Taiwanese aboriginal knowledge to survive in the jungle. In 1974, the Indonesian air force base in Morotai found him in the jungle and arrested him. Making him the LAST Japanese soldier to surrender.

He returned to Taiwan then adapted a Han name "Lee Guang-Hui" 李光輝 due to government policy. He lived for 5 more years before he died of lung cancer.

Photos of him taken in 1977, he is the one on the right.

http://www.wretch.cc/blog/chaotang&article_id=5043112
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Postby Kim Sung on 06 Apr 2007 17:46

Here is a detailed info on Taiwanese draftees for imperial Japan. According to this source, the Taiwanese draftees had a higher casualty rate than the Korean draftees.

台籍日本兵


Here is an interesting article on Taiwanese psychology on their identity before WWII.

第二次大戰前「台灣人意識」的探討
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Postby Klemen L. on 08 Apr 2007 22:36

Dear hansioux,

Thank you for your interesting article about the Taiwanese in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

I thank you for the correction in case of the Lee Deng-hui's family.

The first division's 500 Aboriginal Volunteers set the Americans back in Batan islands. Most of the divisions were sent to New Guinea. A few thousand Taiwanese aboriginals were grouped into the "special volunteer divisions", such as the Saito Special Volunteer Division 齊藤特別義勇隊, and sent to Luson island in the Philippines.

Which place do you have here on your mind? Bataan or Batan Islands? This are not one and the same thing. Bataan is peninsula west of Manila, while Batan Islands is a small chain of islands north of Aparri, between Luzon and Taiwan. They have been one of the first places occupied by the Japanese during the Philippines Campaign who then constructed there a small seaplan base. However, I have never heard that the occupation force in December 1941 consisted of Takasago volunteers. Are you sure about that???

There were several cases of Taiwanese recruited into the Kamakazi 神風特攻隊. In fact Yi-Lan Taiwan was a base for the Kamakazi planes. Few recorded Taiwanese Kamakazi crew that I read about, one is a Miaoli man, named Kawakami *something* 泉川正宏 (sorry, my Japanese is very poor) who was on the mission to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and never returned. A pilot named Qio Jing-Chuen 邱錦春 recalled before the Kamakazi crew goes on a mission, the pilots doesn't yell out "Long Live the Emperor", instead they yell out "Mother".

You have failed to mention in your article an important chapter from the history of the Takasago Volunteers. In October 1944 they have participated in the airborne attack on American held airfields on Leyte. The unit which carried out this attack was the Kaoru Airborne Raiding Detachment under Lieutenant Shigeo Naka. This was former 1st Guerilla Company, which remained on Luzon, while the 2nd Guerilla Company was send to Morotai in September 1944, after the American landings. Nakamura Teruo was one of her members.

The attack was carried on November 26th with four Type 0 "Tabby" transport airplanes carrying some 40 Kaoru Unit raiders under Lt. Naka. The attack itself was not much of a success and its seems that most of the raiders have been killed during the attack itself or later during the fighting with the troops of 16th Division on Leyte.

Still a very interesting story. I whole heartedily recommend a book by Akira Takizawa and Gordon Rottman about Japanese Paratroop Forces of World War II by osprey Publishing House, 2005. Taki shares some more details about the Takasago Volunteers and Japanese airborne warfare.

Casualties were extremely high for all Aboriginal Volunteer Units. In most cases none has returned after the war. According to some veteran Japanese soldiers, the Aboriginal units were about to perform scouting missions in roadless jungles. They were able to pick up far away sounds and lay down ambush. They were able to hunt for food and identify edible food sources. They were considered one of the best units in the South Pacifics.

You can find some details about the Takasago Volunteers on New Guinea on this website:

http://ajrp.awm.gov.au/AJRP/AJRP2.nsf/0 ... enDocument

Here is a detailed info on Taiwanese draftees for imperial Japan. According to this source, the Taiwanese draftees had a higher casualty rate than the Korean draftees.
台籍日本兵

May I ask who is this man on the photo and what was his background in the Imperial Navy? Are there are information about Taiwanese in the Imperial Navy in this Wikipedia article?

http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Image077.jpg
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