Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Japanese Surrendered Personnel (JSP)

Term used to describe Japanese forces surrendered to the British at the end of World War II. Japanese Surrendered Personnel (JSP) comprised some 633,000 Japanese officers and men surrendered to the largely British South-East Asia Command (SEAC). The British treated these servicemen as Japanese Surrendered Personnel, rather than as prisoners of war (POWs) under international law, an unprecedented and special status that differed in terms of the protection of conventional international law.

According to the SEAC order of 28 August 1945, those POW officers under full British control would be isolated from their men and interned. They would, however, be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention in every respect, including the provision of subsistence based on the high British levels of supplies allocated for POWs. The JSP, in contrast, remained under the authority of their own officers and in their original units. Japanese commanders were held responsible for maintaining discipline and proper conduct among their subordinates.

Because of these differences, the British did not treat the JSP according to the Hague Convention regulations relative to the laws and customs of land warfare and the Geneva POW Convention. Furthermore, British forces failed to fulfill Article 9 of the Potsdam Declaration, which stated that Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, should be permitted to return to their homes. After July 1946, when most of the Allied powers (with the notable exception of the Soviet Union) had returned Japanese military personnel to Japan, British forces continued to detain about 106,000 JSP throughout Southeast Asia, demanding various services of them to facilitate the postwar recovery and to increase food production. Only at the end of October 1947 were the last JSP repatriated from Singapore. Compulsory labor for JSP included much dangerous and unhealthy work, including disposing of ammunition stocks, quarrying, cutting trees, doing sewage work, and guarding British quarters from bandits. Moreover, rations for JSP were limited, and the diet was monotonous. JSP received only about half of the standard ration for British military personnel.

The British paid no wages for the work done by JSP. Indeed, from the beginning, the British announced that their forces would not pay wages because JSP were not POWs. Poor sanitary conditions, malnutrition, and forced labor in difficult conditions led to outbreaks of tuberculosis, beriberi, and other diseases. By October 1947, 8,971 JSP had died and 20,084 had been wounded or fallen ill. In French Indochina and Netherlands Java and Sumatra, the SEAC rearmed the JSP and commanded them to maintain order and forcibly suppress nationalist uprisings. As a result, nearly 1,000 JSP were killed in action in these operations. Such SEAC treatment of Japanese servicemen violated international law.

Kita Yoshito


Further Reading
Peter, Dennis. Troubled Days of Peace: Mountbatten and South East Asia Command, 1945–46. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.; Yoshito, Kita. "The Japanese Military's Attitude toward International Law and the Treatment of Prisoners of War." In Ian T. M. Gow, Yoichi Hirama, and John Chapman, eds., The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1660–2000, vol. 3, The Military Dimension, 1600–2000. London: Palgrave, 2002.
 

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