Japanese casualties in Pacific theatre

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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Imad
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Post by Imad » 09 Dec 2004 04:23

There is something to be said about all the postings on this thread, most of it good. As far as the disparity in casualties, particularly in KIA, I really think the main factors were: Allied use of massive firepower to reduce their own casualties, the fact that Japan had completely run out of resources 2 years before the war ended (e.g in the Pacific campaign the average Japanese soldier had access to 2 pounds of equipment and supplies while the average marine or G.I had access to 4 tons of the same), the Japanese propensity to launch suicidal banzai charges when cornered, the Japanese tendency to commit suicide when out of ammo, lack of proper medical care and adequate rescue services, and above all, a really puzzling lack of flexibility in tactical thinking. Japanese would suffer enormous casualties attacking a single position over and over again even though if obviously unprofitable to do so. This was demonstrated vividly during the Imphal/ Kohima campaigns. This was in stark contrast to the Germans, who were considered superlative defensive fighters. At Iwo Jima the Japanese truly showed what formidable opponents they could be when they used sound military logic and put aside Bushido for a while. An ill trained and assorted group of solders, airmen and sailors, commanded by a redoubtable general (Kuribayashi) and making skillful use of terrain managed to inflict murderous losses on one of the most vaunted elite corps in the world - the United States Marines. It is frightening to think of what the Japanese could have accomplished had they followed the same methodology in the rest of their campaigns. How truly did Viscount General Slim speak when he stated that the Japanese soldier was the best soldier to fight on either side of the war. Any thoughts?

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 09 Dec 2004 12:40

Slim also commented that the Japanese were "as ruthless and bold as ants while their designs went well",but found their inflexibility to be their undoing.

Further:

Slim knew how to defeat them,having learned the secret from a Chinese general:

"His experience was that the Japanese,confident in their own prowess,frequently attacked on a very small adminstrative margin of safety.He estimated that a Japanese force would usually have no more than nine day's supplies available.If you could hold the Japanese for that time,prevent them from capturing your supplies,and then counterattack,you could destroy them."


War in the Tropics,article by Prof Phillip Parotti,in The Great World war 1914-45.

While the battle ethos of the Japanese infantry was magnificent,as already mentioned their inflexibility sometimes surprised the Allies.An Australian MG crew in New Guinea,sighted down a track,was amazed that for a week Japanese columns continued to move along the route,each echelon meeting the same fate as the other, being shot up and wiped out.A short detour around the position would have solved the problem.

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Barrett
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Post by Barrett » 13 Dec 2004 18:27

richardrli wrote:The Japanese never really put an emphasis into firepower.


There's a lot to that statement. As a history-oriented shooter, it's always amazed me that the IJA had little understanding of firearms. (Exhibit A: bayonet lugs on their light machine guns!) And look at wartime films: IJA troops inevitably advance with rifles held at "trail" rather than many Western troops at port arms--ready to fire. The Arisaka rifle was mainly considered a handy mount for a long bayonet.

A friend of mine, who received a Medal of Honor for Guadalcanal, said "If the ***s had known how to shoot, I wouldn't be here."

The other factors noted here also are valid, especially the terrain of so many Pacific battles. But another aspect undoubtedly was Japanese military culture: only the Soviets came close to matching banzai tactics with human wave assaults against prepared positions with MGs and registered mortars/artillery.

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Imad
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Post by Imad » 14 Dec 2004 00:04

I have also heard that Japan's best troops were not facing the Allies but were part of the Kwantung Army in China in anticipation of a Russian attack. The statement that the ***s did not know how to shoot is highly dubious. Many Marines and G.Is made statements about the enemy based on their own prejudices, not on observation. We have to remember there were a lot of hard feelings in that war. If the Japanese couldn't shoot straight how, may I ask, did they inflict such heavy casualties on their opponents in spite of their being outgunned?

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Barrett
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Post by Barrett » 14 Dec 2004 01:08

The word of a Medal of Honor marine may be "dubious" in some quarters, but none of my acquaintance. Col. (then Platoon Sgt) Mitch Paige certainly spoke from experience rather than prejudice, having been missed by a full magazine of Nambu ammo from c. 20 yds distance.

The conventional wisdom that the IJA had most of its combat on the asian mainland is true--that's why the Ichiki Detachment tried a head-on attack against prepared positions of the 1st MarDiv. It had always worked against the Chinese (!)

Most US casualties against the IJA seem to be from arty & mortars, with MGs highest among firearms. Veterans of Tarawa and elsewhere distinguish between the IJA and IJN's rikusentai, special naval infantry, which definitely could shoot straight. That may be partly because SNI lacked the heavy weapons of the army, and did what it could with what it had.

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Post by richardrli » 14 Dec 2004 02:26

Barrett, I really don't think you should compare the Japanese with the Russians, one had a much better understanding of firepower than the other.

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Post by Barrett » 14 Dec 2004 05:25

Hey, no argument on the firepower front. The Soviets understood Mass in a way that nobody else ever did. I used to know a USSR artillery officer who said, "If 5 shells would do the job, you got 45 more if they were needed or not." My comparison was use of massed attack waves against a defended position.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 14 Dec 2004 08:53

Barrett wrote:Most US casualties against the IJA seem to be from arty & mortars, with MGs highest among firearms. Veterans of Tarawa and elsewhere distinguish between the IJA and IJN's rikusentai, special naval infantry, which definitely could shoot straight. That may be partly because SNI lacked the heavy weapons of the army, and did what it could with what it had.


Agree,something like 60% of Allied casualties were caused by artillery,mortars.The latter,including the knee-mortars,also did a lot of damage.As a contrast Japanese grenades were deemed somewhat ineffective.

The Japanese 13mm anti-aircraft machine gun(also converted to an anti-personnel role) was very effective on Tarawa--the garrison had twenty seven 13mm single mount,and four dual-mount infantry heavy machine-guns,plus another thirty one single/dual mounted dual-purpose antiaircraft machine guns.A very dangerous weapon,especially used on the flat terrain of Betio.

Image
http://www.peleliu.net/Images/Jap13mm.jpg

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Imad
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Post by Imad » 14 Dec 2004 23:52

Peter H wrote [quote] Agree, something like 60% of Allied casualties were caused by artillery, mortars.
Could someone tell me what percentage of Japanese casualties were caused by artillery and mortars? And in that case, on what criteria do we judge that Japanese small arms fire was ineffective, as Barrett suggested?

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Post by Barrett » 15 Dec 2004 01:50

I'll see what I can find about causes of Japanese casualties: Rich Frank is the only one I can think of who might have something, but I doubt that such figures were ever compiled. Most island battles resulted in 90% Japanese KIA (some like Tarawa approached 100%), so the survivors were in no position to make a survey. Any US/Allied studies would necessarily have been incomplete but it appears certain that naval gunfire and aerial bombing were far less significant than starvation and disease, especially in prolonged battles such as Guadalcanal and Burma.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 15 Dec 2004 10:17

Could someone tell me what percentage of Japanese casualties were caused by artillery and mortars? And in that case, on what criteria do we judge that Japanese small arms fire was ineffective, as Barrett suggested?


Refer page 1 of this topic and the US Strategic Bombing Survey Report I quoted---Japanese survey had 25% killed by air attacks,58% by small arms fire,15% by artillery,2% other causes.

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Barrett
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Post by Barrett » 15 Dec 2004 17:24

Thanks Peter!

It'd be interesting to know what included "the southern region." I'd guess New Guinea, as it's hard to fathom that 25% KIAs by air would apply in the Solomons. Rich Frank, who wrote THE book on Guadalcanal, notes that the marines likely inflicted more casualties with smallarms than the army, but by far the greatest Japanese losses there were due to starvation.

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Japanese sources on casualties 1937-45

Post by thorwald77 » 24 Oct 2007 02:52

I would like to resurrect this old thread on Japanese losses. My question is for those Forum members who read Japanese. Are their official sources in Japan that have a detailed breakout of the war losses.? We depend on Allied estimates rather than Japanese sources.

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Re: Japanese sources on casualties 1937-45

Post by Akira Takizawa » 24 Oct 2007 05:22

thorwald77 wrote:I would like to resurrect this old thread on Japanese losses. My question is for those Forum members who read Japanese. Are their official sources in Japan that have a detailed breakout of the war losses.? We depend on Allied estimates rather than Japanese sources.


http://www.geocities.co.jp/WallStreet/2 ... ryo16.html

It is from the official data by Japanese Government.

The header of table

Army - Navy - Total
Survive - Dead - Survive - Dead - Survive - Dead

Japan Homeland
Ogasawara
Okinawa
Taiwan
Korea
Karafuto, Kurils
Manchuria
China
Russia
Pacific
Philippines
Indochina
Thai
Burma, India
Malaya, Singapore
New Guinea
Other
Total


- Taki

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thorwald77
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Post by thorwald77 » 24 Oct 2007 17:08

Thank you Takizawa for the information, maybe you also have data on the Chinese troops fighting for Japan. The Wang-ching-we Nanking government Army.

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