The Only War We've Got

"Do not give up under any circumstances"

(The Japanese Field Service Code, adopted 8 Jan 1941)

The battlefield is where the Imperial Army, acting under the Imperial command, displays its true character, conquering wherever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in combat, in order to spread Kodo [Literally "The Imperial Way," whereby the Japanese people, achieving a unity of mind, with Emperor as Master and serving Him with loyalty and devotion, endeavor to establish a highly moral nation through whose moral influence they hope to contribute to the peace and welfare of the world] far and wide so that the enemy may look up in awe to the august virtues of His Majesty. Those who march to the battlefield, therefore, should exalt throughout the world the glories of the Empire by fully realizing what the country stands for and firmly upholding the moral tenets of the Imperial Army.

The Imperial Rescript to the armed forces is explicit, while the regulations and manuals clearly define the conduct in combat and methods of training. Conditions in the zone of combat, however, tend to cause soldiers to be swayed by immediate events and become forgetful of their duty. Indeed, they should be wary there lest they run counter to their duties as soldiers. The purpose of this code lies in providing concrete rules of conduct, in the light of past experience, so that those in the zone of combat may wholly abide by the Imperial Rescript to enhance the moral virtues of the Imperial Army.

1. The Empire

Japan is the Kokosu (Empire). The Tenno (Emperor) rules over it everlasting in a line unbroken through the ages as the successor in the high and broad cause established by the Imperial Ancestor at the time of the founding of the Empire. Imperial benevolence is extended to all without favour, while the Imperial virtues enlighten the world. The people too, handing down the traditions of loyalty, filial piety, and valour from generation to generation, and enhancing thereby the morality peculiar to the Empire, have assisted the Throne-a perfect national unity under the Throne-which has brought about the present national prosperity.

Soldiers in the field should seek to achieve, with unshakable determination, their mission of defending the Empire by laying to heart the essential character of the national polity.

2. The Imperial Army

The Army, under command of the Emperor, assists in furthering the Imperial fortunes by enhancing the glories of the Empire through the embodiment of the lofty spirit of valour. This spirit is the basic factor in realizing universal peace; for it is the spirit of justice combined with valour and of valour tempered by benevolence, in conformity with the Imperial wishes. Valour requires strictness, while benevolence must be universal. Should there be an enemy who dares to oppose the Imperial Army, the Army must resolutely resort to force of arms and deal him a rushing blow. However, even though force may compel the enemy to submit, should a lapse in virtue occur by striking of those who do not resist or by failure to show kindness to those who surrender, it cannot be said that such an army is perfect.

Modesty in its strength, unostentatious in its kindness, the Imperial Army becomes the object of admiration when it quietly displays its valour and benevolence.

The mission of the Imperial Army lies in making the Imperial virtues the objects of universal admiration through the exercise of justice tempered with mercy.

3. Discipline

The essence of discipline in the Imperial Army lies in the lofty spirit of complete obedience to His Majesty, the Grand Marshal. High and low must have deeply engraved in their minds the solemnity of the right of command; those above should exercise the right in all seriousness, while those below should obey the commands in the utmost sincerity. Essential to victory and requisite for maintaining peace is the condition wherein the entire Army, united in the bonds of absolute loyalty, moves as one in response to a command.

Especially on the battlefield is the utmost observance of the spirit of obedience necessary. The spirit of the soldier is best exemplified by those who silently do their duty, joyfully braving death in obedience to a command given at a time when they are undergoing great hardships.

The Lady and the Tigers

4. Unity

The Army looks up in awe to His Majesty as its august head; it must be united in compliance with the Imperial Will, as one in spirit and in body and in single-hearted loyalty.

In keeping with the basic principles of command, an army unit should form a solid yet genial group with its commander as its centre.

It is essential that each man, high and low, dutifully observing his place, should be determined always to sacrifice himself for the whole, in accordance with the intentions of the commander, by reposing every confidence in his comrades, and without giving even the slightest thought to personal interest and to life or death.

5. Cooperation

Soldiers should not only be united in mind in carrying out their tasks, but should display the spirit of cooperation by forgetting themselves for the sake of victory.

Every unit should carry out its mission with responsibility, upholding its honour, placing confidence in others and assisting one another, volunteering to face hardships, exerting all its strength in cooperation, and fighting valiantly to achieve its objective.

6. Aggressiveness

Aggressiveness should constantly prevail in combat, which must be carried out with bravery and determination. When attacking, be determined and positive, always taking the initiative, fighting vigorously and stubbornly, vowing not to cease until the enemy is crushed. In defence, always retain the spirit of attack and always maintain freedom of action; never give up a position but rather die. In pursuit, be thorough and inexorable.

Act boldly intent on victory; be fearless and calm, meeting the situation courageously, undergoing hardships with indomitable perseverance so as to overcome all obstacles.

7. The Conviction to Win

Faith is strength. He who has faith in combat is always the victor.

The conviction to win grows from constant and rigorous training. Develop the strength to conquer the enemy by every possible effort and by improving every moment.

The destiny of the Empire rests upon victory or defeat in battle. Do not give up under any circumstances, keeping in mind your responsibility not to tarnish the glorious history of the Imperial Army with its tradition of invincibility.

[1] Tokyo Gazette, Vol. IV, no. 9, 343-6.

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