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Microform: US Military Intelligence Reports: Japan, 1918-1941

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA MF 463-493
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: Microform: US Military Intelligence Reports: Japan, 1918-1941
Date(s): 1918-1941, 1986
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 31 reels
Name of creator(s): US Military Intelligence Division


Administrative/Biographical history:

From 1918 to 1941, the US military attaché, US Military Intelligence Division (MID), Japan, produced reports relating to Japanese military, political, social, and economic development. During this period the Japanese Empire consisted of the home islands, the former Kingdom of Korea, which was annexed in 1908, portions of Siberia, the former German Pacific island possessions seized by Japan following World War One, the dependent Kingdom of Manchukuo (Manchuria), and the occupied territories of northern China seized after 1931. The major function of the MID was the collection of military information about foreign nations. Military attachés and observers assigned to foreign countries were the principal means by which the MID collected such information. The main duties of the military attaché were to observe and report on the training, organisation, equipment, doctrine, and operations of foreign armed forces. Although the US first dispatched military attaches to foreign countries in 1889, it did not accredit an attaché to Japan until the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894. Two years later a second military attaché was sent out, but the Spanish-American War cut short his tenure. A permanent military attaché was finally assigned in 1901 when the US and Japan were co-operating closely in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China. For the subsequent forty years, until the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, a US military attaché was assigned to Japan. During the period 1918-1941, the military attaché's office in Tokyo usually had two assistants and a number of 'language officers'. The latter were assigned specifically to learn Japanese whilst attached to Japanese Imperial Army regiments as observers. While the military attaché advised the US Ambassador to Japan on military matters, acted as a liaison between US Army and the Japanese Imperial Army Headquarters, and gathered and disseminated intelligence, the 'language officers' translated training and technical manuals and reported on conditions in Japanese military units.


Scope and content/abstract:

US Military Intelligence Reports: Japan, 1918-1941 is a themed microfilm collection relating to US Military Intelligence Division (MID) in Japan, 1918- 1941. Included in the collection are microfilmed copies of US MID reports from the military attaché and his staff, and correspondence and telegrams between the military attaché, his staff, US Army Headquarters and the Japanese Imperial Army Headquarters, and US and foreign diplomats throughout the Far East. These documents have been arranged into eight sections: general conditions, political conditions, economic conditions, general conditions in Korea, army, field artillery, navy, and aviation. These sections are not mutually exclusive and all include a range of routine and special reports. Reports on domestic policy cover the rise of right wing, socialist, and communist organisations in Japan; the effects of the 1923 earthquake; Japanese industrial expansion, notably the securing of raw materials from neighbouring countries; the South Manchurian Railway Company; oil prospecting; and the iron and steel industries. Military and foreign policy reports concern the occupation of Korea, Siberia, Manchuria (Manchukuo), and the 1919 independence demonstrations in Korea. Specific military reports cover Japanese military tactics; military regulations; combat principles; training; organisation, the social attitude of officers; civil-military relations; aviation technology and statistics; the annual budgets of the Japanese War Ministry; naval building programmes; the scrapping of warships in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922; naval operations in World War One; the use of air power against China; and the construction of offensive airfields in Indo-China.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged into eight sections, according to subject matter, and chronologically therein.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to University Publications of America, Inc, 4520 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD, 20814-3389, USA.

Finding aids:

Summary guide available on-line at, and in hard copy in the Centre's reading room, Robert Lester (ed.), US Military Intelligence Reports: Japan, 1918-1941 (University Publications of America, Inc, Bethesda, MD, 1986).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Date of compilation: Oct 1999

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