The Instructions for the Battlefield ( Kyūjitai: 戰陣訓; Shinjitai: 戦陣訓, Senjinkun, Japanese pronunciation: [se̞nʑiŋkũ͍ɴ] ) was a pocket-sized military code issued to soldiers in the Imperial Japanese forces on 8 January 1941 in the name of then-War Minister Hideki Tojo. It was in use at the outbreak of the Pacific War.
The Senjinkun was regarded as a supplement to the Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors , which was already required reading for the Japanese military. It listed a number of exhortations regarding military regulations, combat readiness, esprit de corps , filial piety, veneration of Shinto kami , and Japan's kokutai . The code specifically forbade retreat or surrender.The quote "Never live to experience shame as a prisoner" was repeatedly cited as the cause of numerous suicides committed by soldiers and civilians; in particular, the code resulted in considerably higher battle fatalities and extremely low surrender counts for Japanese ground forces, who would often launch suicide attacks or commit suicide outright when faced with defeat.
Japanese soldiers were instructed to "show mercy to those who surrender"—a response to prior misconduct on the battlefield.
Towards the end of the war, copies of the Senjinkun were also distributed to the civilian population of Japan as part of the preparation for Operation Downfall, the expected invasion of the Japanese home islands by Allied forces.
A similar military code titled Precepts Concerning the Decisive Battle was issued by War Minister Korechika Anami on 8 April 1945. The Precepts stipulated that Imperial Japanese Army officers and men should:
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