Japan’s Underground

Ammunition is removed from storage cave at Takatsuki Dump, Osaka.

General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

The Japanese mainland was still potentially a colossal armed camp, and there was an obvious military gamble in landing with only two and a half divisions, then confronted by fifty-nine Japanese divisions, thirty-six brigades, and forty-five-odd regiments plus naval and air forces.

In this, June 23, 2015 photo, journalists walk underground tunnels that Japan’s Imperial Navy once used as secret headquarters underneath of Hiyoshi Campus. (Eugene Hoshiko)

On a hillside overlooking a field where students play volleyball, an inconspicuous entrance leads down a slope—and seemingly back in time—to Japan’s secret Imperial Navy headquarters in the final months of World War II. Here, Japan’s navy leaders made plans for the fiercest battles from late 1944 to the war’s end in August 1945. The navy commanders went rushing to the underground command center whenever US B-29 bombers flew over. The tunnel had ventilation ducts, a battery room, food storage with ample stock of sake, and deciphering and communications departments.

Considerable stocks of war equipment were dispersed amid the tangled masses of fire blackened girders, in thousands of caches located deep in the hills, in carefully constructed tunnels and warehouses, and over miles of Japanese landscape. Along the shores near the great ports, there remained many permanent fortresses. Japan’s frantic preparations for a last ditch stand against invasion resulted in numerous hastily built coastal defenses. (Plate No. 41) The majority of these coastal defenses were manned by brigades. The larger and more permanent installations were equipped with heavy artillery and were concentrated in strategic locations such as the peninsula which forms Tokyo Bay, the northern entrance to the Inland Sea, the southern tip of Kyushu, and the coastline around Fukuoka. Almost three hundred airfields, ranging from bomber and supply strips to “Kamikaze” strips, sheltered some 6,000 Japanese combat aircraft capable of providing air cover and close support for the ground and naval forces. (Plate No. 42) Japanese arsenals, munitions factories, steel plants, aircraft factories, and ordnance depots were widely scattered throughout the country.   Japanese naval vessels consisting of carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, and auxiliary and maintenance craft were anchored in all of the major ports.

June 23, 2015 photo, staff members of Keio University walk underground tunnels that Japan’s Imperial Navy once used as secret headquarters underneath of Hiyoshi Campus in Yokohama. (Eugene Hoshiko)

In the Sixth Army zone during the month of November 1945, at least ten ports were in operation, and approximately 4,500 tons of ammunition were disposed of daily.

Records later indicated that actually some 2,468,665 rifles and carbines were received by the Occupation forces and later disposed of. The Japanese reported more artillery ammunition than small arms ammunition. Ammunition for the grenade launcher, often known as the “knee mortar,” was also more plentiful; some 51,000,000 rounds were reported, or an average of 1,794 rounds for each weapon.

This Japanese underground bunker consists of many rooms and was built by Korean and Chinese forced laborers during the Second World War.

a check on the police stations in Aomori, Hirosaki, and Sambongi (all towns in Aomori Prefecture) produced some 1,880 rifles, 1,881 bayonets, 18 light machine guns, 505,260 rounds of rifle and machine gun ammunition, 46,980 rounds of blank ammunition, one case of TNT, and 150 military swords. Daily G-2 and CIC reports revealed many instances of smaller caches, sometimes in school compounds.

The Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters (松代大本営跡, Matsushiro Daihon’ei Ato, “Matsushiro Imperial Headquarters Site”) was a large underground bunker complex built during WWII in the town of Matsushiro which is now a suburb of Nagano, Japan.  The facility was constructed so that the central organs of government of Imperial Japan could be transferred there. In its construction, three mountains that were symbolic of the Matsushiro municipality were damaged.

Entrance to the Matsushiro Zouzan underground shelter

Approximately seven million armed men, including those in the outlying theaters, had  laid down their weapons. In the accomplishment of the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous surrender of Japan, unique in the annals of history, not a shot was necessary, not even a drop of Allied blood was shed. 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

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Quarantine Humor –

“I’ve found the stupidity virus.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nancy Binetti – Roselle, NJ; Civilian, WWII, Canden Shipyards

Juan M. Covarrubias – Hanford, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/227/1st Air Calvary Division, KIA

Robert Drake (100) – Pueblo, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Hilty – MD; US Army, Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class, 1/227 Aviation Regiment/ 1/1st Calvary Division, KIA

Glenn Kraft – Cumberland, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pilot

Eldon “Pounce” Musgrave – Athens, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 crewman

Marshall Roberts – OK; Oklahoma Air National Guard, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Vera Schapps (106) – NYC, NY; Civilian, WWII, Air Raid Warden

Bob Underwood – DeWitt, AR; US Air Force, Korea, Sgt. (Airman 1st Class), Medic / Red Cross, Baptist Minister

Jennie Zito – Thompson’s Station, TN; Civilian, WWII, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 11, 2020, in Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 131 Comments.

  1. This is an amazing part of the history of Imperial Japan that was totally new to me–thanks so much for sharing this with us, GP. Your research has been truly enlightening. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Steve. I feel the same about your site. It seems most people only remember JFK when it comes to PT boats – so keep them in the light!

      Like

  2. Fantastic piece of history gp, wonder if there is an English publication of this article, who knows maybe down the track of time, this same scenario might be reenacted, only this time with China, thank Heavens for the pleasures of old age.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thank you its great

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heel interessante post en wat jij er toch fantastisch veel over.Graag gelezen

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I wish “following” you meant I actually got notice when you publish posts…. I love that you keep so much fading detail of history alive! Thank you….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should, at least, appear on the Reader page – correct? I know your posts appear on my Reader.
      Thank you for your interest, history has gotten to be a forgotten subject these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The things you learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LOL. Yes, Matsushiro. Dang, these Japanese names are hard to remember! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. GP, very interesting. First time I heard of Japan’s underground tunnels. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Boggles the mind to imagine that much ammunition.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, I bet they all just wanted it to be over and go home. Keep posting, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Japanese built an extraordinary maze of tunnels to house tons of ammunition and other supplies, not just in Japan but in the Philippines, too. Not only inside the mountains but underneath buildings. In my mother’s hometown, there was a tunnel under the church going to the sea where they transported cotton for shipment to Japan near the end of the war. Glad the war ended when it did. Can you imagine the casualties if the war continued?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, they had years to complete their tunnels in the Philippines. I covered some of that when I was covering my father’s movements during the war. They had incredible complexes.

      Like

  12. So interesting and like those comics (as usual )

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A little piece of history they do not teach in school

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Oooo… very intriguing, GP. This might also give me some ideas for a backstory for my Hiroto Minamoto character. (Yes, Hiroto is the name you suggested. 😀 ) Still working on that November novel. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Isn’t it interesting that the Japanese men guarding the sub had the same feeling of the fellow whose letter you recently shared: they just wanted it to be over, and to go home. Coincidentally, look at this historic photo of a small Japanese sub I came across on the web today. (If the link doesn’t work, I’ll copy the photo and add it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • The link worked just fine and thank you for adding it to the post, Linda. The Japanese soldiers didn’t surprise me – we always knew that war is carried out by them, but started by the politicians. (no matter which side you’re talking about).

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Amazing! Just amazing the steps taken to carry on the war if necessary. And then to think they just laid down their arms. Without the two bombs the war would have lasted for …
    Again, great post, GP

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Yet more evidence that the decision to use the bombs was valid. It seems to have taken a long time for this information to surface. I must have been looking in the wrong places. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. A very informative article but a very scary one too! How many casualties would have occurred if 7,000,000 armed fanatics had decided to disobey orders and to defend their homeland? It doesn’t bear thinking about and thank goodness that my Dad wasn’t sent there and the war in the East finished with no more deaths.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am very lucky that they surrendered. I know exactly where my father would have gone into Japan to invade – and the odds of him surviving sure would not have been good!!

      Liked by 2 people

  19. The Japanese certainly had their underground areas well-stocked. Are the underground areas in the United States today anything similar? It was amazing that the weapons surrender took place without any shots being fired. Hard to believe!

    Liked by 2 people

    • In the US most of our underground areas are better designed, sometimes hard to believe you are underground, like the one under the White House.
      Once the Emperor gave his speech, the majority of Japan followed his orders.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. A great post as always- what a relief it must have been to be done with it all! And cartoons are spot on as always, too 😂.
    (I made it over to check out your rationing article, too, finally. Seriously considering trying a wwii recipe per week this summer- you shared so many good ones!)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thanks for sharing this remarkable story! It underscores the calculations that the Allies were making about likely losses during Operation Coronet and its successors – and why, in the end, the atomic bomb seemed the better way. I’ve seen figures estimated at a million casualties from a direct invasion and subsequent fighting. Either choice, of course, was going to cost lives and carry a high moral burden for those making the decision.

    Liked by 2 people

    • True all the way around, Matthew. But the bomb would have been dropped no matter what the situation. FDR had created secret cities to develop the bomb, and spent millions (in today would have been billions) that Congress knew nothing about. Sooner or later it would have to be revealed, and the cost and secrecy had to be accounted for.

      Like

  22. Very interesting post, as well as the comments from readers.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Pierre Lagacé

    Most interesting. I have learned something.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Great job, GP. I really loved the photos.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Great research and story, GP. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Thank you for the very interesting post, GP! So true, they were in need of storage space. Now, it seems every country had used forced labourers building shelters and caves. So much manpower at least for nothing. Be well and stay save.
    Here we are in fantastic shape – as we believe the official airings. But the first phase isnt over yet. The Spain Flu consisted of three waves/ phases. Are we prepared better, these days?
    By the way: The last days i remembering more and more ….. from the movie “Con Air”. Lol
    With Jim Malcovich as Cyrus “The Virus”, and the fabulous Steve Buscemi singing “”He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  27. You’d think Congress would have herd immunity to the stupidity virus by now. I guess it keeps mutating.

    I had to laugh at, “food storage with ample stock of sake.” The military understands priorities.

    I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t have to invade the mainland.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. Disposing of that stuff was my brother’s job in Iraq. It is a task that requires that you know what you are doing and is very intolerant of error.

    One of the most beautiful and tragic films of the aftermath of WWII is Land of Mine. I highly recommend it.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. We saw this when I went to Japan with my military kids. It’s as amazing as it looks.

    Liked by 4 people

  30. Extraordinary story GP. It should be read by anyone with any doubt about using the bomb to save American lives. It certainly would make one think really hard. Stay well and best regards.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Great post. The Japanese military was “dug in” for the long term. The surrender by the Japanese saved countless lives on both sides. I also believe that the Japanese people were ready for the war to end. Many just wanted to get on with their lives.

    Liked by 4 people

  32. Interesting article.

    Also, it would do no good to quarantine Congress . . . they are but a reflection of the people who voted them into office.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We try to vote on the better of two evils, sometimes we chose wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The problem — a HUGE problem — is that we’ve been conditioned into thinking there are only two choices. Most people don’t even realize the constitution makes no provisions for political parties. None. Zero. Zilch. We are supposed to be represented by individuals who look after our interests, not those of the party.

      The peripheral problem is that after we make our “lesser-than-two-evil” choice, we don’t hold anyone to a higher standard. Once we choose crap, no one tries to turn it into healthy compost (if you want a metaphor).

      Plus, it’s convenient for corporations and the ultra-rich to have two entities that squabble over superficial issues while acting in unison on matters they really care about (power and money).

      But, hey, whatever keeps the masses happy.

      Sorry . . . not the place to discuss this. I guess it’s time for one of my rants on my blog.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I understand what you’re saying. The thing is, there are always independents on the ballot, but you know they won’t win and it feels like you’re throwing your vote away.

        Like

  33. Pretty impressive underground. I think congress should be quarantined, maybe forever.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Very interesting article, GP. The Japanese are thorough and methodical as demonstrated by their underground facilities. • The best part of this post, however, was the “Quarantine Congress” cartoon. 👍👍👍👍

    Liked by 4 people

  35. That italicised footnote is scarcely credible

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Japan with its mountainous terrain, with the massive amount of war materiel and a will to fight to the death, would have been able to fight the American invasion for at least another year. Fortunately, after the atomic attack, the Japanese surrendered and thus avoided the total destruction of their country.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. The tunnels are fascinating, so many all over the world due to wars.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. Your research is amazing. I’ve never heard of Japan’s underground stashes. Thanks for sharing so diligently. As a blogger, I know it is a commitment. Take care,

    Liked by 3 people

  39. This is an amazing story. Did the Japanese people surrender so peacefully because their emperor told them to? Once again we were lucky to have MacArthur in charge during this period. Wish we were as lucky today…. Love the cartoons and memes.

    Liked by 4 people

  40. Extraordinary story.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. Well worth reading….thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  42. The cleanup of armaments is a pointed validation of the number of lives that would have been lost in an invasion.

    Liked by 5 people

  43. Thank you, Tony.

    Like

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