Imperial Japanese Army Railways and Shipping Section

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The Imperial Japanese Army Railway and Shipping Section was the logistics unit of the Imperial Japanese Army charged with shipping personnel, material and equipment from metropolitan Japan to the combat front overseas.

Imperial Japanese Army Official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan, from 1868 to 1945

The Imperial Japanese Army was the official ground-based armed force of the Empire of Japan from 1868 to 1945. It was controlled by the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of the Army, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Aviation became the third agency with oversight of the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the Minister of the Army, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the Inspector General of Aviation, and the Inspector General of Military Training.

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Railway

Under it were the Railway Ministry, the South Manchuria Railway, Chinese Eastern Railway (later absorbed by the Manchukuo National Railway), the North China Transportation Company, the Central China Railway, Southern Asian Railway facilities amongst Civil Merchants shipping transports. It also worked with the Imperial Japanese Navy Shipping Services. The section was commanded by Okikatsu Arao, Sōsaku Suzuki and other Army officers.

South Manchuria Railway railway line

The South Manchuria Railway, officially South Manchuria Railway Company, or 滿鐵 for short, was a large National Policy Company of Japan whose primary function was the operation of railways on the Dalian–Fengtian (Mukden)–Changchun corridor in northeastern China, as well as on several branch lines. However, it was also involved in nearly every aspect of the economic, cultural and political life of Manchuria, from power generation to agricultural research, for which reason it was often referred to as "Japan's East India Company in China".

Chinese Eastern Railway railway line

The Chinese Eastern Railway or CER(Chinese: trad. 東清鐵路, simp. 东清铁路, Dōngqīng Tiělù; Russian: Китайско-Восточная железная дорога or КВЖД, Kitaysko-Vostochnaya Zheleznaya Doroga or KVZhD), also known as the Chinese Far East Railway and North Manchuria Railway, is the historical name for a railway across Manchuria.

Manchukuo National Railway

The Manchukuo National Railway was the state-owned national railway company of Manchukuo. Generally called the "國線", it was controlled by the Manchukuo Ministry of Transportation and had its lines primarily in the central and northern parts of the country. In local newspapers it was simply referred to it as "國鉄"

The section comprised the First (Operations) and Third (Transportation and Communications) bureaux, the 2nd (Operations) and 10th (Shipping and Railways) sections. To conduct operations on rivers and at sea the Japanese Army produced many kinds of vessel, i.e. landing craft, motorboats, gun boats, landing ships etc.

In the Pacific War, they built aircraft carriers and submarines. Besides the Army engineer units for river-crossing, the Japanese Army had their own shipping force to transport troops at sea which sometimes acted in concert with Japanese Navy vessels to transport their forces.

Pacific War theatre of war in the Second World War

The Pacific War, sometimes called the Asia–Pacific War, was the theater of World War II that was fought in the Pacific and Asia. It was fought over a vast area that included the Pacific Ocean and islands, the South West Pacific, South-East Asia, and in China.

It was a large force which employed 300,000 soldiers (Army Shipping Units) at maximum and managed 30% of Japanese transport ships. For the Japanese Army, the Pacific War was not only a battle on the ground, but also at sea. Many Japanese soldiers fought on board against enemy submarines, PT boats and airplanes. At last, they rode on a Kamikaze special-attack boat and dashed into the enemy ship.

Air transport

Air transport was charged to Hikōtai Transport Unit of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, sometimes both services were coordinated with amphibious transport services and other special wartime operations. In Manchukuo the Army was linked to transport services with local transport units of Kwantung Army Railway and Air Transport units and Manchukuoan Air and land Transport services which served in Kwantung, Northern China, Manchukuo and Chosen.

The Japanese Army Air Force Hikōtai Unit was an Imperial Japanese Army Air Service Air transport section whose mission was to transport personnel, weapons and equipment to occupied territories or the combat front in wartime. Such units supported Army airborne forces during their missions as well.

Imperial Japanese Army Air Service aerial warfare branch of the Imperial Japanese Army

The Imperial Japanese Army Air Service or Imperial Japanese Army Air Force or, more literally, the Greater Japan Empire Army Air Corps, was the aviation force of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). Just as the IJA in general was modeled mainly on the German Army, the IJAAS initially developed along similar lines to the Imperial German Army Aviation; its primary mission was to provide tactical close air support for ground forces, as well as a limited air interdiction capability. The IJAAS also provided aerial reconnaissance to other branches of the IJA. While the IJAAS engaged in strategic bombing of cities such as Shanghai, Nanking, Canton, Chongqing, Rangoon, and Mandalay, this was not the primary mission of the IJAAS, and it lacked a heavy bomber force.

Kwantung Army military unit

The Kwantung Army was an army group of the Imperial Japanese Army in the first half of the 20th century. It became the largest and most prestigious command in the IJA. Many of its personnel, such as Chiefs of staff Seishirō Itagaki and Hideki Tōjō were promoted to high positions in both the military and civil government in the Empire of Japan and it was largely responsible for the creation of the Japanese-dominated Empire of Manchuria. In August 1945, the army group, around 713,000 men at the time, was defeated by and surrendered to Soviet troops as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

On land the Army also used the services of Kwantung Army Field Railway Command (in Manchukuo), the 1st and 2nd Field Railway Commands, China Expeditionary Army (Chinese occupied lands) and Southeast Asia Field Railway Command of Southern Army in its controlled lands along with land transports services in its Army units in combat front joining rail services previously mentioned.

Actually, shipping and aircraft were parts of a vicious circle. In order to realize increased production of aircraft, raw materials had to be conveyed by ship from overseas. Since vessels were lost in the process, a shortage of materials resulted. This affected the output of planes. But if aircraft were not turned out in increased numbers, surface shipping could not be covered from the air. Thus, the more ships were sunk, the less airplanes could be manufactured. Herein lay the cause for increasingly bitter antagonism between the Army and the Navy.

Shipping operations

The loss of ships increased sharply as the war went on. In round figures, the total tonnage of Army, Navy, and commercial shipping sunk mounted from year to year; that is, from about 880,000 tons in 1942 to 1,600,000 tons by the next year. The approximate net difference between new construction and losses amounted to minus 460,000 tons in 1942, and to minus 490,000 tons in 1943. (Prior to the start of the War, shipping losses had been expected to total some 800,000 tons during the first year of hostilities, and only 600,000 tons during the second.)

In 1944 shipping losses soared: 290,000 tons in January; 380,000 tons in February; and 340,000 tons in March. Because of this critical situation, convoy measures became a pressing problem of the Army and the Navy.

An agreement had been reached between the two armed services, whereby the Navy was to assume responsibility for convoying ships. But the Navy was preoccupied with combat operations and could not take care of shipping protection. The personnel charged with Army shipping operations felt that the prerequisite for victory in the Pacific War was safeguarding surface transportation. They argued strongly that the Combined Fleet should devote its main strength to convoy work, like the British Navy had done during World War I. In order to gain naval victory, Japan should use both aircraft carriers and island bases (the so-called "unsinkable carriers") to knock out enemy warships from the air. Efforts should meanwhile be made to reinforce air power by making surface transportation secure-thus accelerating aircraft production, in turn. Although the Navy set up a Shipping Convoy Headquarters toward the end of 1943, the tonnage of losses did not decrease. The Army therefore adopted its own measures for coping with the problem:

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

  1. Hurriedly build wartime-type vessels
  2. Construct transport submarines and special convoy vessels (a kind of special escort/aircraft carrier)
  3. Produce anti-submarine radar weapons
  4. Arm merchantmen with anti-submarine guns

By 1944, measures to counter the mounting losses of ships had become imperative, and both of the armed services were conducting joint investigations. On March 17, 1944, a Joint Army-Navy Conference was held in the presence of the Emperor, to study methods of meeting the shipping-loss problem. The Army sent its Chief of Staff, the two Deputy Chiefs, the heads of the First (Operations) and Third (Transportation and Communications) bureaus, the heads of the 2nd (Operations) and 10th (Shipping and Railways) sections, the Vice-Minister of the Army, the Chief of the Bureau of Military Affairs, and the head of the Military Affairs Section. The Navy was represented by its counterparts.

There was no precedent for such a session, which indicates the gravity of the shipping menace. The conference took 2 hours, and the Army finally decided to adopt certain major measures:

War Minister Hideki Tōjō had good reasons for adhering to his opinion during the arguments with the Army High Command about the problem of requisitioning operational shipping space.

Previously, in June 1938, the Army had established the Tama Army Technical Research Institute, with the objective of speeding up the practical application of radar devices. Ground and aerial investigations which, until then, had been pursued separately, were to be integrated and developed along military lines. In order to devise efficient radar weapons for practical use as soon as possible, however, both the Army and the Navy should have pooled their research facilities; but here again the serious rivalry between the armed services stood in the way. The Army itself studied and manufactured anti-submarine radar equipment to be installed on its own transports.

Among those concerned with Army operations, incidentally, not a few were of the opinion that the inferiority of anti-submarine radar devices was a cause for Japan's defeat. In other words, the country lost out in the logistical sense because of great shipping losses, which were in turn directly attributable to the radar weaknesses.

Accompanying the decline in maritime transportation potential, the Army began to seek an improvement in the movement capacity of the railroads on the Asiatic Continent-to make up for deficiencies at sea. On February 10, 1944, the Army accordingly reinforced and redeployed its railway forces on a large scale. Four organizations were set up:

List of commanders and units in Railways and Shipping Section

General commanders in Railways and Shipping services

Shipping units commanders

Railways units commanders

Transport units commanders

List Japanese Army watercraft used during the Pacific War

River-crossing craft

Motorized landing craft

Liaison motorboats

Special attack motorboat

Patrol boats/gun boats

Landing craft carriers

Transport vessels

See also

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