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Questions about Post WW2 Japanese hold outs, specifically, Japanese holdouts in China

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Brian Ghilliotti, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Brian Ghilliotti

    Brian Ghilliotti New Member

    Apr 16, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Middletown, Connecticut
    This is a question about Post WW2 Japanese hold outs. Specifically, Japanese holdouts in China.

    I have seen this quoted many times in sites that cover this topic:

    "An estimated 10-20,000 well equipped Japanese troops were trapped in the mountains of Manchuria and did not surrender until late in 1948. They were caught in a no man's land of civil war stuck between the warring Nationalist and Communist forces and were unable to surrender."

    I have also seen this presented on many history forums, but the general consensus is that "this could hot have happened".

    "Operation Beleaguer", all but forgotten in the annals of US military history, was an effort by US Marines to occupy coastal areas in northeast China to help repatriate Japanese soldiers still in China after the war. After a while, these operations were disrupted by clashes between Chinese Communist forces and the Marines.

    If the quoted statement about 10-20,000 well equipped Japanese troops were trapped in the mountains of Manchuria is true, then I guess the Marines did not manage to get them all. This is a fairly sizable force, and who ever maintained command over this pocket must have had to enforce strict field sanitation and food rationing for his encircled command. The fact that the Russian invading forces did not destroy this pocket in 1945 suggests that this pocket was well fortified in a city or in tough mountainous terrain. Also, it is my understanding that it can get brutally cold in Manchuria during the winter, so they had to protect themselves from the elements for atleast three years. How did they find shelter? Did they build bunkers and seek shelter in these fortifications? Perhaps these Japanese holdouts made an arrangement with the local village populations, who were probably sick of war, and offered to protect them from both the Chinese Communist and Nationalist warring factions, in exchange for allowing them shelter and providing them food?

    However, I did not find any independent book or newspaper sources that could confirm this claim, until I came across this webpage:

    Delaware County Daily Times from Chester, Pennsylvania on February 25, 1948 · Page 24

    This is a newspaper archive site, that you must pay for, that seems to have an article discussing Japanese holdouts in China, and Japanese efforts to bring them back. You can not see the microfiche image, but there is a crude text translation provided.

    "In Manchuria Japanese troops are known to be maintaining themselves there. Chinese intelligence reports have variously estimated the total number up to 90,000. About 225,000 troops of the former Japanese [batison] in Manchuria, according to official American estimates, were never repatriated and remain unaccounted for. Others are said serving with the Chinese Communists. Some are believed operating independently and particularly in two large pockets, in Northwestern Manchuria and in Klrln Province near the Korean border. Okamura is said to be employed in an attempt to effect the "neutralization" of the Japanese forces and prevent them from going over to the Communists.The reported pocket of Japanese troops lie within what is at least nominally regarded as Communist held territory. The Chinese Communists charge that Okamura its being retained by the National government as a..."

    So I guess we have a more of a clue: "Northwestern Manchuria" and "Kirin province near the Korean border". The blurb also suggests that the number of Japanese holdouts was much bigger than what the first -and most quoted- source suggests.

    I guess it is worth a shot; are there any advanced historians here who know more details of these Japanese holdouts in Manchuria? Were they ever "repatriated" to Japan, did they just fight both Chinese factions to the death, or surrender to one of them?

    Probably the most authoritative source of information would come from a Japanese or Chinese military history source. Do any exist? If they do exist, I doubt they are in English...

    Thanks for your input.

    Brian Ghilliotti
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

    Jul 24, 2007
    Likes Received:
    From my reading the IJA troops left in Manchuria could hardly be described as "well equipped" even before the Soviet invasion. I can't see how their situation would have improved after the Soviets attacked especially a couple of years later.

    *** edit for ***
    You might find the following of some interest in this regards:
    In particular at the bottom of page 32 it states: " ...equipment and materiel shortages plagued the Kwantung Army at every level. The Japanese considered none of the Kwantung Army divisions combat ready and some divisions only 15 percent ready." (typos and spelling errors likely mine as I couldn't copy and paste)
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017

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