By Lee Pennington


I. Introduction
II. Bibliographic Directories
III. Dictionaries of Military Terms
IV. Directories of Military Officers
V. Timelines and Maps
VI. English-language Materials
VII. Online Bibliographic Guides


Modern Japanese history (1868-present) can be narrated as a period of modern warfare. Rather than viewing warfare as an aberrant feature of Japanese history, periods of conflict constitute important phases within Japanese historical consciousness and historiography. Neat categories of 'wartime' and 'peacetime' and the military-civilian binary often erode under analysis, as social movements, popular culture, and works of literature can both reflect the influence of distant military campaigns and present popular interpretations of military developments. What bibliographic guides exist for researchers studying modern Japanese military affairs, or for the non-specialist who happens across references to military campaigns or military officers?

Bibliographic Directories are essential for scholars requiring primary or secondary source materials. The best bibliographies on the Japanese military have been produced by Japanese scholars and compilers, and serve as excellent guides to locating secondary sources in either book or article form. Nichigai Asoshiêtsu should be commended for compiling guides not only to these secondary works, but also to periodical articles, literature, and artwork produced during the years of the Greater East Asia War. Unfortunately, easy-to-use bibliographic guides to Meiji wars and military affairs are lacking. Compiled bibliographic data on these earlier military campaigns and concerns takes primary form as inclusions within directories of military officers and dictionaries of military terms. Such directories and dictionaries are usually complementary rather than mutually-exclusive, combining elements of both such research tools into handy aids for specialist and non-specialist researchers alike.

Timelines also present interesting compendia of information, if not for the timeline itself then for the numerous charts and appendices that accompany the chronological registries. The two works cited below, along with the volume of maps, help at rounding out a basic bibliography of Meiji to mid-twentieth century military affairs. English-language materials, while useful for researchers unable to manipulate Japanese-language bibliographic materials, pose quite a few problems, be they reliance on English-language primary sources; exclusion of kanji; or even the best-intentions step of rendering book titles in English rather than in the original Japanese. Still, such works possess their own merits, and a variety of potentially-useful texts are listed below.

The internet possesses great potential as a tool for researchers, as many library collections and bibliographic guides can be easily placed online and be accessed simply via modem connection. However, high-quality online bibliographic guides to modern Japanese military affairs are difficult to find on the internet: searches for military-related websites produce everything from condemnations of war atrocities carried out by the military to personal homepages of die-cast model makers. The website listed below is provided as an example of a well-conceived (albeit limited) bibliographic sites as opposed to websites that are limited use for scholars due to questionable reliability, either in terms of representation of historical fact or in accessibility and permanence within cyberspace.

Whereas additional bibliographic resources concerning military affairs certainly do exist, the following selection of titles presents both a wide range of materials and serves as a 'basic library' for research into modern Japanese military affairs.


Fukushima Jurô and Ôkubo Hisao, eds., <Shirîzu Dai Tôa Sensôka no kiroku I> Dai Tôa Sensô shoshi. 3 vols. Nichigai Asoshiêtsu: Kinokuniya Shoten, 1981.
Call no. Z6207.W6F77 1981

Fukushima Jurô and Ôkubo Hisao, eds., <Shirîzu Dai Tôa Sensôka no kiroku II> Senjika no genron. 2 vols. Nichigai Asoshiêtsu: Kinokuniya Shoten, 1982.
Call no. Z6207.W8F773 1982

This valuable series by Nichigai Asoshiêtsu catalogues 83,000 articles that appeared within 2000 periodicals published between September 1938 and April 1945. The three volumes of Dai Tôa Sensô shoshi arrange their entries according to the following typology: politics; international affairs; diplomacy; military affairs; national defense; finances; economics; industry; society; women; education; history; literature (including novels and poetry); war diaries; and other (including songs, photographs and art, and wartime commentaries). These categories are repeated through three overreaching chronological chapters in each volume: the China Incident, World War II, and the Greater East Asia War. Entries are arranged in gojûon order by title, and include author, name of the source, and date of publication; no descriptive material is provided. The second set of two volumes, Senjika no genron, is a listing of the authors whose works appeared in the accompanying bibliography (volume one: a through so; volume two: ta through wa). Authors are listed according to gojûon order by name, and a list of his or her publications included in the bibliography and the corresponding page numbers for each entry is given, along with date-of-birth, date-of-death, and professional information. (The information on each author is not very descriptive, yet useful for amassing a list of works by an individual.) (No furigana.)

Kokubô gunji ni kansuru 27 nenkan no zasshi bunken mokuroku Shôwa 23 nen - Shôwa 49 nen. Nichigai Asoshiêtsu, 1981.
Call no. REF Z3308.D44K64

One of Nichigai Asoshiêtsu's signature compendia culled from the National Diet Library's Zasshi kiji sakuin, this work catalogues 10,600 journal and periodical articles concerning military affairs and defense that appeared from 1948 to 1974. The content matter of the articles is not limited solely to Japanese military affairs, but to foreign military affairs as well. The clear, easy-to-use index arranges the entries according to the following criteria: general articles; articles related to foreign militaries; and Japan, which is broken down into nuclear issues; military base issues; military history; constitutional issues; and self-defense issues. Entries appear according to gojûon order for author, and includes title, periodical or journal name and volume number, publisher and publication date, and page number. (No furigana.)

Nishimura Masamori, ed., <Sengo kankô> Senshi senki sômokuroku: rikugun hen. Hara Shobô, 1987.
Call no. REF Z6207.W8S45 1987

This small volume is helpful when researching a specific division of the Japanese Army. It lists about 1200 titles of National Diet Library holdings (books and monographs) published between 1945 and 1987 that concern particular Army divisions and units. Entries are arranged according to division number, and are divided into the following sections: infantry; calvary; gunnery; military engineers mobile infantry; and air force. Two type of information are provided within each bibliographic entry: divisional information and bibliographic information. Divisional information includes division name, size, area of origin, and sites of tours. Bibliographic information includes title, author, publisher and publication date, number of pages, and serial number of the publication. (No furigana.)

Taiheiyô sensô tosho mokuroku, 45-94 [The Pacific War Books, 1945-1994: A Catalogue]. Nichigai Asoshiêtsu: Kinokuniya Shoten, 1995.
Call no. REF Z6207.W8T35 1995

This work contains 14,200 entries cataloguing holdings of the National Diet Library that relate to the Pacific War, published between 1945 and 1994. This is an extremely useful bibliography, as it includes an author index, subject index, and a short timeline detailing military affairs of the 1930's and 1940's. The entries are organized in four topical categories: general histories of the Fifteen Years' War; prelude to the Pacific War; works on the Pacific War; unsettled problems and postwar evaluations of the Pacific War. As is evident by these categories, although the titles makes clear reference to the Pacific War, this work does not limit its holdings to works using that particular name for Japan's mid-century conflict. Entries are arranged according to author's name, and includes title and volume; publisher and publication date; number of pages; dimensions; series title if applicable; cover price; Nippon decimal call number; ISBN number and a short description of the book's contents and organization. (No furigana.)

Tanaka Hiromi, ed., <Bei gikai toshokan shozô> Senryô sesshû kyû riku kaigun shiryô sômokuroku [A Comprehensive Catalogue of Publications of the Former Imperial Army and Navy, Requisitioned by the Occupation Forces, and now in the Collection of the U.S. Library of Congress]. Tôyô Shorin: Hara Shobô, 1995.
Call no. REF Z6726.T36 1995

This catalogue lists military documents and related materials (3400 Army items, 2000 Navy items) that were confiscated by the postwar Occupation administration and that are now housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The materials listed fall into four general types: items from military schools, institutes, and units located in the various war theaters and across Japan; investigative reports, studies, and articles of the Japanese military; textbooks, handbooks, and technical manuals for soldiers; and battle records. These materials are then catalogued as being either Army documents, Navy documents, ministerial documents, or other. They catalogue arranges them in gojûon order by title, and provides the Washington Document Center registration number; the source of the item (Army, Navy); author; date; dimensions; number of pages; details on print style; number of volumes; and, where possible, method of acquisition. No descriptive text accompanies the catalogue entries. The Library of Congress collection is unique in its holdings, and this catalogue provides a first step in navigating through it. (No furigana.)


Gunji yôgo 20000: Ei-Wa Wa-Ei. Intâ Puresu, 1984.
Call no. REF U24.G85 1984

Easy-to-use compact desktop English-Japanese and Japanese-English dictionary of modern military terminology. Entries include explanatory symbols identifying if a term is used by a specific branch of the military or in a certain type of warfare (gas, nuclear, etc.). (No furigana.)


Fukukawa Hideki, ed., Nihon riku kaigun jinmei jiten. Fuyô Shobô Shuppan, 1999.
Call no. REF U54.J3F85 1999

This directory lists Army officers above the rank of Major General, high-ranking Navy officers, and prominent enlisted men from important historical incidents from the beginning of the Meiji Period until 1945. (3625 Army officer entries, 1888 Navy entries.) Biographical entries are arranged according to gojûon order, and include rank, birthplace, date of assuming highest rank, date-of-birth and date-of-death, and military institution and graduation date. Charts in the back of the book list officers who held prominent Army and Navy ministerial posts from 1868 to 1945. (No furigana except for guides on the tops of pages.)

Hara Takeshi and Yasuoka Aki, eds., Nihon riku kaigun jiten. Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha, 1997.
Call no. REF UA847.N544 1997

This dictionary is a combined directory of officers and general dictionary of military terms, and covers the period from the Boshin War to the Greater East Asia War. Overall, there is very broad coverage in terms of entries, and it is handy as a combined directory and dictionary, yet not as thorough as independent volumes in such veins. Numerous charts and figures add to the attractiveness of this work: casualty statistics; listings of campaign names and dates; navy tonnage statistics; and entries on foreigners who influenced the organization of the Japanese military. Author credits are provided for each entry. Arranged in gojûon order by hiragana.

Nihon Kindai Shiryô Kenkyûkai, ed., Nihon riku kaigun no seido soshiki jinji. Tokyo Daigaku Shuppansha, 1971. [Reprinted in 1989.]
Call no. REF UA847.N53 1971

This work does not contain much descriptive biographical text, yet the entries provide more dates than those in the Nihon riku kaigun jinmei jiten. There are 1222 biographies (819 Army, 403 Navy) of high-ranking officers, cabinet ministers, and individuals in fields of politics, economics, society, and thought who influenced the modern Japanese military system. Although not as expansive as Nihon riku kaigun jinmei jiten, readings are provided for each name as well as information on family members with connections to the military (for example, sons who enlisted or wives whose fathers were military officers) and chronological listings of prominent graduates from the different divisions of the military institutes. Densely-organized charts in the back provide structural information of officers' positions and posts; these are very detailed, yet a researcher needs to know what to look for when using them. (Furigana included with entries.)


Bôeichô Bôei Kenshûjo Senshibu, ed., <Senshi sôsho> Riku kaigun nenpyô: tsuketari heigo yôgo no kaisetsu. Vol. 102 of Dai Tôa (Taiheiyô) Sensô senshi no sôshi, Asagumo Shimbunsha, 1980.
Call no. 210.86 B63 v. 102

This timeline covers the period from July 1937 to February 1946, with separate sections broken up according to calender year. Events and occurances included in the timeline are imperial political affairs (international and domestic) deemed important to military affairs; events related to war leadership, military organization, and individuals; Army and Navy campaigns and movements; and the leaderships, campaigns, and movements of opponent countries. The timeline uses the kanji used at the time for names of divisions and warships, and uses the Japanese names given for occupied territories (Shônan for Singapore, etc.). A dictionary of military terms and acronyms is also included in this volume. The entire volume is cross-reference to other volumes in the series Dai Tôa (Taiheiyô) Sensô senshi no sôshi, and a list of subjects for each volume in the series is provided. Seven appendices round out the attractiveness of this work: names of covert military strategies; names of geographical areas and regions where military maneuvers took place; a chart of military symbols and codes for maps; artillery specifications; a list of military offices who served as cabinet minsters; officers who sat in important staff positions; and a flow chart of military chains-of-command. (No furigana.)

Nishioka Toranosuke and Hattori Shisô, eds., Nihon rekishi chizu. Zenkoku Kyôiku Tosho Kabushiki Gaisha, 1956.
Call no. REF G2356.SIn5 1956

This collection of historical maps contains several maps of interest to researchers studying Japan's modern military: uprisings during 1871-74 over conscription and the 'blood tax' (page 252); military preparations and advances into mainland Asia during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars (pages 272-74); the annexation of Korea (pages 275-78); Japan and World War I (pages 279-82); the Siberian Intervention (page 287); the Manchurian Incident and the Japan-China War (pages 295-98); and the Pacific War (pages 299-306). Most of the maps are in color, and some have romanized spellings of place names. (No furigana.)

Takayanagi Mitsutoshi, ed., Dai Nihon senshi nenpyô. Sankô Shoin, 1941.
Call no. DS838.D34 1941

This timeline is helpful for researchers interested in the span of Japanese history from the mid-7th century until 1940. Although limited in its listings of actual events upon the timeline, several features make this work useful in a pinch: dates are given according to the Western calender, imperial calender (which set the year 1940 as the 2600th anniversary of the founding of Japan), the Chinese imperial calender, and the sexagenary cycle. The Dai Nihon senshi nenpyô can be difficult to use, as many kanji are written in old style rather than modern simplified form. (No furigana.)


H. T. (Harry Thornton) Cresswell, A Dictionary of Military Terms, English-Japanese, Japanese-English. 2 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942.
Call no. REF U25.C7 1942

The English-Japanese half (volume one), arranged in alphabetical order, includes the romanized pronunciation and kanji for each Japanese-language equivalent. The Japanese-English half (volume two) is arranged alphabetically according to romanized Japanese-language terms, and each entry includes the kanji along with the English translation. A helpful feature in volume one is a series of four appendices: English and Japanese military abbreviations; grades of British, Japanese, and American military officers; British, Japanese, and American military medals and orders; and Japanese, English, and Metric system conversion equivalents for money, weights, and measures.

Richard Fuller, Shokan, Hirohito's Samurai. London: Arms and Armour, 1992.
Call no. DS838.7.F86 1992g

This volume is geared toward the collector of Japanese swords, yet is might be useful for researchers who are uncomfortable with using Japanese-language guides to military officers. Shokan contains an index of 820 Army generals and 258 Navy admirals who served between 1931 and 1945. A limitation is the fact that the index is drawn from English-language sources. Individuals are listed by last name (no kanji are given), yet biographical information is often sketchy or inconsistent between entries: some entries provide date-of-birth while many do not. The book contains numerous charts and interesting features: charts of military and civilian government organizations; charts of officer rank; a chronology focusing on 1931-45 yet begins with the Russo-Japanese War; a chapter on surrender ceremonies throughout the Asia-Pacific, which provides sample surrender documents; and charts and maps detailing the location and distribution of army units in August-September 1945. The lack of Japanese-language sources make this a dubious guide, but it could be useful as a stepping-stone to more in-depth research.

Shinji Kondô, Japanese Military History: A Guide to the Literature. Vol. 5 of Military History Bibliographies. New York: Garland Publishers, 1984.
Call no. Z3308.M5D65 1984

A problematic yet possibly useful bibliography for English-language research. This work contains six essays on different types of works on Japanese military history, which are followed by a bibliography of 443 Japanese-language studies of military affairs. The bibliography is arranged alphabetically by author's last name; its major failings are that no kanji are provided at all, neither for the authors nor for the titles of the works being cited, and the book titles are given only in English translation. Still, the six essays may be of some use. The essays concern: general military histories of the modern period; military histories from the medieval period to the Meiji Restoration; works detailing the period from the creation of the modern army to the China Incident; survey histories of the Pacific War; campaign and combat histories of the Pacific War; and histories on the ending of the Pacific War, memoirs, and biographies. The final essay contains a short section on noteworthy library collections with military affairs holdings.

Yukuo Uyehara, Military Japanese: A Manual in Japanese for the Armed Forces. South Pasadena, CA: P. D. and Ione Perkins, 1943.
Call no. PL535.U9

This is a textbook published in 1943 for teaching Japanese to American solidiers; its author, Yukuo Uyehara, was an Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of Hawaii. The four aims of the short textbook are to teach soldiers how to question prisoners-of-war and understand their answers; to teach soldiers how to question Japanese civilians; to teach soldiers how to understand and employ simple military commands; and to teach soldiers how to identify simple written Japanese. The book consists of three parts: language lessons, materials for interpreting and translating (syllabaries; chronologies; tables of money, weight, and measure; branches of the armed forces; Japanese prefectures; symbol and map reading charts), and a brief English-Japanese dictionary of military and general terms (all romanized).


The Australia-Japan Research Project

This website stems from a joint undertaking between the Australian War Memorial and the Embassy of Japan, both in Canberra, Australia. The joint project is geared toward researchers interested in Australian-Japanese relations, particularly during wartime. The website was inaugurated in June 1998 and provides information on the holdings of Australia War Memorial library, which possesses a collection of 800 materials obtained by the Australian government upon the Japanese surrender in 1945 (many of which are items confiscated from surrendered Japanese soldiers). The searchable bibliography lists the holdings of the collection, but does not provide the actual documents aside from short comments provided in the bibliographic entries. A free word search engine of the collection based on certain search criteria has been provided, but the site is easier to navigate using the pre-set parameters provided by the site (geographical location; media (letter, map, etc.); conflict (World War II, Pacific War, etc.); keyword (propaganda, etc.); personal names; unit names; year of a document's creation. A glossary of military terms, sorted alphabetically in both English or Japanese, is provided, yet no kanji are included in the entries. One of the more attractive features is a bibliography of 1200 Japanese-language titles concerning modern military affairs; the entries can be displayed by either last name of the author; English translation of the title; keyword; or geographical area being discussed. The bibliography provides kanji for author's name and title within each entry, but cannot be searched using Japanese.