Koreans and Military Training in Japan, 1947-48

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in a single box at the US National Archives — otherwise known as RG331 (Allied Operational and Occupation HQ), SCAP Government Section, Administrative Division, Purge Miscellaneous File, 1945-51, box 2054, “Administration to Directives [Screened].”

This is a box of “screened” purge candidates. It is hugely disorganized, with no real folders, everything mixed in together, but amid the probably 2000 pages there are many single documents of great interest. Without comment, I’ll offer excerpts from two.

> Hans H. Baerwald to Major Napier, re: “The Korean Democratic National Defense Body,” 2 August 1948.

“For a period of about four months, [the Chiba Military Govt. Team, HW, Second Cavalry Brigade and 24th CIC Detachment] is reported as an organization affording military and quasi-military training to a group of Koreans within the meaning of paragraph 1f of SCAPIN 548….”

“The organization conducts military drills, has some uniforms made of the same material as uniforms of the Japanese army officers, and has as its main objective the formation of a Korean national defense army in Japan. The organization at present has a membership of 17 people of which 12 call themselves officers of the organization. To date the organization has not engaged in any strong-arm or terrorist activities, however…its existence [is] a definite violation of SCAPIN 548.”

“Inasmuch as the organization is composed of virulent Korean nationalists who wish to defend the Southern zone of Korea against the expected onslaught by the Korean communists residing North of the 38th Parallel, it is believed that, if possible, the officers and members of the organization concerned be given the opportunity to return to their fatherland and there to give aid to their fellow countrymen.”

> Application for Remaining in Office, by KABA Isao, 1 Dec. 1947, to First Demob Bureau; Letter by K Asakai, Director of General Affairs, Central Liasion office, re: “Request for Temporary Retention of KABA, Isao in First Demobilization Bureau,” 29 December 1947.

“Investigation of the missing ex-soldiers from Korea (Koreans) has been dealt with in the same manner as in the case of Japanese, but at present, as Korea is separated from Japan, the psychology of the family members of the demobilized or the dead is different from that of the Japanese, so in some cases they were not satisfied with such treatment…to transact this kind of work justly one who understands the psychology of the Koreans and who knows the conscription system applied to them is absolutely necessary but we had not been able to the suitable person for the business up to the present until we found him.”

“Mr. Kaba was naturalized as a Japanese in February 1938 to succeed to the linage of Kaba family. He was formerly a Korean, so he is of course well versed in the mentality of Koreans. Furthermore, he had served in a unit in Korea for three years since 1933. He was, in addition, in the Chosen Army HQs for eight years from 1937 up to the war’s end. Again, the is the only man who took charge of the business concerning the Special Volunteer System an the Conscription System applied to the Koreans, so he is the first man who knows the things pertaining to the ex-soldiers from Korea” Besides he is well acquainted with key men in Korea during his service in the Chosen Army HQs, and is a pretty famous person in that country.”

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