Japanese Army rations have been found to be entirely
edible, and ordinarily may be utilized by U.S.
forces as supplementary rations when captured. If at
all possible, such rations should be examined by a medical
officer before being used.
Observers (including high-ranking combat officers)
recommend that U.S. troop leaders be informed about
the more common Japanese foods before going into
battle, so that our troops may utilize captured enemy
rations if they are needed. Under other conditions, an
enterprising mess sergeant may often break the monotony
of his unit's diet, and add to it an unusual touch,
by employing some of the less common Japanese foods.
He can also use the ever-present rice as a staple when it
is captured in quantity.
2. STANDARD RATIONS1
Contrary to the belief of some persons, the Japanese
soldier does not live entirely on rice. To him, rice is
a staple food, just as bread is to us; and, if he had only
rice for his meal, he would be as displeased as we would
be with only bread to eat. However, rice does constitute
well over 50 percent of the Japanese soldier's diet.
Both polished and unpolished rice has been captured
from the enemy. Polished rice is more common, probably
because it can be preserved longer than unpolished
rice. To increase the palatability of rice, the Japanese
usually season it with a soy-bean sauce (shoyu) or
miso paste, which is made of fermented soy beans and
which is more commonly used for preparing soup.
U.S. rations weigh more and have a higher calorific
value than the Japanese.
Although the Japanese have standard rations, they
supplement these whenever possible with various foods
obtained locally—even when standard rations are easily
available. There have been many instances during
the warfare in Pacific theaters when the enemy has
run extremely low on rations, due to loss of shipping
and successful United Nations attacks against the
Japanese land forces.
As a general rule, the Japanese field ration in the
South Pacific theaters of operations has not been standardized,
but has varied from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds per
man per day. Theoretically, the field ration is approximately
1.5 kilograms (3.3 lbs.). Two types of specially
packed field rations, "A" and "B," have been noted
frequently. The "A" ration normally consists of
30.7 ounces of rice, 5.3 ounces of meat or fish, and a small
amount of seasoning and flavoring. The "B" ration
normally consists of 24.4 ounces of hard biscuits in
three paper bags (enough for three meals), 2.1 ounces
of meat or fish, and a small amount of seasoning (salt
In New Guinea (June, 1943) a Japanese table of ration
allowances listed three separate categories of issue:
Basic: 1.3 Kilograms (when transportation is adequate)
"A": 1.13 Kilograms (when transportation is difficult)
"B": .86 1/2 Kilogram (when transportation is very difficult)
Under the "A" ration, sweet potatoes, fresh vegetables,
bananas, and papayas were to supplement deficiencies
to the extent of .85 kilogram (524 calories),
while under the "B" issue these local foods were to
provide 1.8 kilograms (1,218 calories).
It is known that the Japanese use vitamin pills quite
frequently as a part of their rations. Vitamin B is
supplied in three forms: (1) tablets, (2) as a liquid,
and (3) a tube of paste.
A "Polished Rice Combination Case" captured by
U.S. forces on Bougainville Island contained 40 "portions" (mostly
rice). The contents were packed loose
in an air-tight tin case enclosed in a wooden crate. A
single portion was calculated to include the following:
10 1/2 oz. of polished rice
1/2 oz. of dehydrated Miso paste
Vitamin B supplementary food
Vitamins A and D tablets
Powdered tea (to supply vitamin C)
A portion of fuel and matches.
Small extra amounts of all items were included so
that the rations could be stretched or slightly increased. The
fuel was in 3-ounce cans, one can being intended to
cook two portions of rice.
The daily ration per man for the Japanese garrison
on Kolombangara from April to July, 1943, was
approximately as follows:
Polished rice ..... 1 lb. 7 oz.
Canned goods ..... 2.8 oz.
Dehydrated food ..... 2.8 oz.
Sugar ..... .7 oz.
Salt ..... .35 oz.
Pickles ..... .5 oz.
Soy-bean sauce ..... .07 pint
The garrison commander on Kolombangara in May
issued an order which read: "Burdock, chopped seaweed,
white kidney beans, sweet potatoes, and dried
gourd shavings will be issued as dehydrated food.
Canned goods will be issued mainly from broken boxes
in order to get rid of the goods in the broken boxes.
Since the fixed quantity of powdered soy-bean sauce
and sugar is not available, they will be distributed proportionately
from goods on hand."
Emergency air-crew rations found recently in a
wrecked Japanese plane (New Guinea) included 20
ounces of unpolished rice and the following other
items: puffed wheat, biscuits, a dried fish, two small
bottles of concentrated wine (35 percent alcohol), some
candy wrapped in colored cellophane, large salt tablets,
and a portable water-purifying set. These items were
divided among five transparent, water-proof bags.
Probably the most common type of Japanese canned
food found to date in the South Pacific is compressed
fish (principally salmon and bonito), which may
sometimes require soaking and salting to make it palatable.
Other items of Japanese food found included: pickled
plums, dehydrated vegetables (beans, peas, cabbage,
horseradish, burdock, seaweed), compressed barley
cakes, rice cakes, canned oranges and tangerines, sake
(rice beer), powdered tea leaves, slices of ginger, salted
plum cake, canned beef, cooked whale meat, confections,
and vitamin tablets.
On Makin Island, stored food found by U.S. troops
consisted largely of rice, which was contained in heavy,
woven rice-straw bags. It is interesting to note that
after the bags were emptied they were filled with sand
and used to protect underground shelters, defensive
positions, and so forth. In addition to rice, our troops
found considerable stores of canned fish (mostly salmon
and sardines), meat, vegetables, fruit, and milk.
3. SUPPLEMENTARY RATIONS
The Japanese use a variety of methods to obtain supplementary
rations, or food to meet emergencies. These
methods include gardening, fishing (sometimes by use
of dynamite), dealing with natives, and foraging by
individuals and small groups.
The Japanese soldier has a fondness for sweets,
which he usually gets in "comfort bags" sent from
home. He also is issued sweets at certain times, along
with a ration of sake. Such issues are usually made to
coincide with a Japanese national festival or holiday.2
4. FOOD CONTAINERS
The packaging of Japanese rations has been varied
and inconsistent. During the earlier stages of the
South Pacific operations, the enemy lost a great deal
of rice and dried food because these were improperly
packed for tropical conditions.
To float rations ashore from ships or submarines,
the Japanese have used 50-gallon drums, each of which
held 120 rations, or enough for one company for one
day. On top of each drum was a hole, 2 inches in
diameter, which was closed by a water-tight screw cap
while the drum was being floated to shore.
The Japanese (in New Guinea) also employed
water-tight rubber containers, inclosed within waterproof
canvas bags, to float food to shore. Each container
accommodated about 130 pounds of rations.
One full container was considered sufficient to supply
one man with food for one month.
On Bougainville Island the rations for a Japanese
landing force were carried in air-tight tin cases which
were packed tightly into wooden crates (see par. 2,
The Japanese have frequently used sections of bamboo
and burlap bags to pack food. For food drops by
parachute, the enemy has employed 120-pound cardboard
containers. A single light bomber is able to drop
six of these containers per trip.
1In connection with this section, reference
should be made to a previous Intelligence Bulletin
article, "Japanese Food" (Vol. I, No. 1, pp. 77-79).
2See Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. I, No. 3, for
a list of Japanese festivals and holidays.