Sources on the Korean Special Volunteer Soldier Program in 1938

I have finished my first draft on this topic, and I think the bibliography might be useful to others as well.

Official Documents
I used the Japanese government’s (the Government General in Korea and Chosengun) documents mostly as primary sources.

  • Chōsengun, Chōsenjin Shiganhei Seido ni Kansuru Iken (The Opinions Concerning the Korean Volunteer System), June 1937, available at:
  • Chōsengun, Chōsenjin Shiganhei Seido Jisshi Yōkō, (The Regulations on the Implementation of the Volunteer Solder Program for Koreans), November 1937, available at:
  • Chōsengun, Chōsenjin Shiganhei Seido ni Kansuru ken Kaitō (The Response Regarding the Volunteer Soldier System), November 1937, available at:
  • Chōsengun, Chōsen Shisō Undō Gaikyō in Miyata Setsuko eds. Jūgonen Sensō Gokuhi Shiryōshū: Chōsen Shisō Undō Gaikyō (Collection of Top Secret Documents of the Fifteen Year War: The Situation of Ideological Movements in Korea) Fuji Shuppan: Tokyo, 1991.
  • Chōsen Sōtokufu Teikokugikai Setsumei Shiryō (Documents of the Explanations from the Government-General in Korea to the Japanese Imperial Parliament), Fuji Shuppan: Tokyo, 1994. Vol. 1.
  • Tokko Gaiji Geppo 1936-1938

Many books discuss the 1938 volunteer program and the 1943/44 conscription policy together. The most oft-cited book that separated the two is:

  • Miyata, Setsuko 宮田節子. Chōsen Minshū to ‘Kōminka’ Seisaku 朝鮮民衆と「皇民化」政策(Korean Masses and Kōminka Policy), Miraisha; Tokyo, 1985.

Miyata examines Korean people’s reactions to the 1937 Sino-Japanese war, the 1938 Korean Volunteer Soldier program and the 1944 universal military draft system through police/army records on rumors, thought crimes and ‘dangerous’ activities of Korean people. She presents great details of these records and subtle differences in expressions, etc. My major problem with her work is that she presumes the ‘rational’ masses who “knew the real nature of the volunteer program,” and the cruel yet desperate Japanese gov/army which had always been “craving Korean human resources as ‘military manpower.” It seems to me very teleological.

  • Palmer, Brandon. Japan’s Mobilization of Koreans for War, 1937-1945. Diss. to University of Hawaii, 2005.

Compared to Miyata, Palmer is more cautious about teleology in understanding the Japanese colonial government’s motivations. He also gives a nice summary of available sources in the first chapter regarding the Kominka mobilization. The big theme for him is James Scott’s “weapons of the weak.” The research part of his dissertation was very very useful for me, but I think we need a little more complex theory of ‘agency’ in understanding the place of ‘colonial subjects.’

  • Fujitani, Takashi. “Right to Kill, Right to Make Live: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans During WWII,” Representations, Summer 2007:99, pp.13-39.

I found Fujitani’s article at the last minute, and it was helpful in theorizing my findings. He draws upon Foucault’s ‘governmentality’ and ‘biopower’ to understand the Japanese government’s logic of power. By showing that the increase in the social welfare and control over health and bodies of the Korean population went together with the recruitment of Korean soldiers, he argues that the Japanese government expanded its governmentality over its colonies. It partially supports my argument, but the article was difficult to cite since it inevitably drags me into these Foucauldian jargons, which I am trying my best to limit the usage of.

I did not have enough time to explore Korean publications on the issue but one of the few I read is:

  • Ch’oe, Yuri. Ilche Malggi Simminchi Jibechŏngch’aek Yŏngu (A Study on Japanese colonial policy in the late imperialism), Kukhak Ch’aryowon: Seoul, 1997.

Ch’oe devotes a lot of pages to analyzing subtle changes in the Kominka slogans and concepts between the Governments-General, but I cannot help wondering how honest/serious these governors were in expressing their *real* thoughts through slogans and speeches. In other words, I am not sure of how important it was for them to make subtle differences in their expressions.

  • Chou, Wan-yao. “The Kōminka Movement in Taiwan and Korea: Comparisons and Interpretations” in Duus, Mayers and Peattie, The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931-1945, Princeton University Press, 1996.

Chou basically shows the Kominka movement was all about ‘ethnic’ conversion. This is a very classic point of view, and it nicely represents the standard literature on Kominka for good and bad. I had my classmates read this chapter before my presentation of my paper, and it was probably funny for them to see Chou’s serious argument on the ‘substantial differences’ between Korea and Taiwan, since the class had been comparing a wide variety of ‘colonialism’s of the twentieth century across the world.

The rest is just a list of stuff that I found useful:

There are a number of memoirs and interviews available. Here are some of them:

  • Kikan Gendaishi, “Aru Chōsenjin Motoheishi no Danwa (a Story of a Former Korean Soldier),” Kikan Gendaishi, vol.8, Summer 1974. pp.140-144
  • Utsumi Aiko, “Chosenjin ‘Kogun’ Heishitachi no Senso,” Iwanami, 1991
  • Higuchi Yuichi, “Kogun Heishi nisareta Chosenjin,” Shakai Hyoronsha, 1991

In my research, I tried to go beyond the Kominka framework both in time and space. The following works on the Japanese rural mobilization were very informative:

  • Smethurst, Richard. A Social Basis of Prewar Japanese Militarism: The Army and the Rural Community, University of California Press, 1974.
  • Yui, Masaomi. “Sōryokusen Junbi to Kokumin Tōgō (Preparation for All-Out War and National Unification),” Shikan, Vol. 86/87, 1973. pp.110-124.
  • Ōe, Shinobu. Kokumin Kyōiku to Guntai (National Education and Military), Shinnihon Shuppansha: Tokyo, 1974.
  • Fujii Tadatoshi, “Minshū Dōin ni tsuite kangaetakoto (A Thought on the Popular Mobilization),” Kikan Gendaishi, vol.5, Spring 1973. pp.5-18.
  • Fujii Tadatoshi, “Heishi: Guntai ni Dōin sareta Minshū (Soldiers: Masses Mobilized by the Military),” Kikan Gendaishi, vol.8, Summer 1974. pp.5-23.
  • Katō, Yōko. Chōheisei to Kindai Nippon 1868-1945 (The Conscription System and Modern Japan), Yoshikawa Kōbunkan: Tokyo, 1996.
  • Nagata, Tetsuzan. “Kokka Sōdōin to Seinen Kunren (National Total Mobilization and Youth Training),” Kokka Sōdōin no Igi (The Meaning of National Total Mobilization), Aoyama Shoten: Tokyo, 1926. (This is a primary source on how the Army pictured “国家総力戦”Smilie: ;)

Works on the 1930s Korea were also helpful:

  • Matsumura, Junko. “Chōsen ni okeru ‘Kōkoku Shinmin’ ka Seisaku no Tenkai (The Development of the ‘Imperialization’ Policy in Korea),” Shikan, Vol. 86/87, 1973. pp.136-150
  • Miyata, Setsuko. “Chōsen ni okeru ‘Nōson Shinkō Undō’ (‘Rural Development Movement’ in Korea)” Kikan Gendaishi, vol.5, Spring 1973. pp.52-90.
  • Tomita, Akiko. “Nōson Shinkō Undōkano Chūken Jinbutsu no Yōsei (Training of Chūken Figures under the Rural Development Movement),” Chōsenshi Kenkyūkai Ronbunshū, no. 18, March 1981. pp.150-171.

The biographies and diaries of the Governors-General, Ugaki Kazushige and Minami Jiro were interesting.

  • Ugaki, Kazushige. Ugaki Nikki (The Ugaki Diary), Asahi Shimbunsha: Tokyo, 1954. (This is what Ugaki himself compiled and published)
  • Ugaki Kazushige, Ugaki Kazushige Nikki (The Diary of Ugaki Kazushige) I, II, III, Misuzu Shobō: Tokyo, 1968, 1970. (This is the complete version of his diary published after his death)
  • Inoue, Kiyoshi. Ugaki Kazushige, Asahi Shimbunsha: Tokyo, 1975.
  • Mitarai, Tatsuo. Minami Jirō, Minami Jirō Denki Kankōkai: Tokyo, 1957.
Category(s): Academic, History, Japan, Korea, Military, Research

4 Responses to Sources on the Korean Special Volunteer Soldier Program in 1938

  1. Ran into this site while googling for kominka :p

  2. cool!!

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