Captured Japanese rations—particularly certain types of canned foods which were
familiar items in American grocery stores prior to the war—may furnish welcome
variety to U.S. troops as auxiliary rations or for emergency use. (This statement of course
presupposes that the use of such captured foods has been approved by competent and
|Common Japanese Emergency Rations.|
Some enemy foods, such as canned crabmeat, salmon, tuna, mandarin orange sections, canned
pineapple and other fruits, rice, tea, and sugar, are familiar to American tastes. These
items can easily be used provided that they are in good condition. Certain other Japanese
foods, including dried fish, edible seaweed, pickled radishes, and pre-cooked rice
flour, are strange to most American tastes. But, if rations are short, these items may be
eaten and will supply nourishment.
The Japanese soldier in adequately supplied garrisons, eating perhaps twice as well as
his family at home, does not live on rice alone, although this staple, supplemented
with fish and a few vegetables, is his most important food. The average
Japanese family eats very little meat. The daily diet revolves around the basic
rice-fish-vegetable combination, and other foods are used principally for flavoring
and seasoning, or as savories and relishes.
To this basic diet, the Japanese armed forces have added some meat, fruits, extra
vegetables1, and sweets. But, as at home in Japan, these extras are used
chiefly to flavor and vary the rice-and-fish staple, and do not provide a complete
change of ration from day to day. It is worth noting, too, that Japanese
soldiers, even in rear echelons, do not have anything comparable to the American
company or squadron mess; each Japanese soldier prepares and cooks his own
food, usually cooking enough at one time for a 24-hour supply.
The following foods are included in Japanese field rations:
Canned meat—roast beef, corned beef, beef-and-vegetable mixture, pork-and-vegetable mixture.
Canned fish—salmon, tuna, sardines, bonito, mackerel. (Also clams.)
Canned vegetables (in the meat mixtures)—beans, bean sprouts, peas, bamboo
sprouts, spinach, water chestnuts. (Also rice, in compressed cakes or cooked with red beans.)
Canned fruit—cherries, plums, peaches, pineapple, pears, mandarin orange sections.
Canned eggs—hardboiled (in one Naval Air Force emergency ration.)
Dehydrated vegetables—beans, peas, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions,
radishes, mushrooms, burdock, edible seaweed, taro root (a starchy tuber, from
which Hawaiians make their poi).
Dehydrated fish—bonito (salt-water fish of the mackerel family).
Condiments, preserves—soy sauce (powdered or liquid), bean paste, dried plum
cakes, pickled giant radishes, butter, jellies.
Staples—rice (polished or unpolished), granulated sugar, salt. Some rations
contain biscuits or crackers.
Beverages—tea, milk (condensed or powdered), cider, whisky.
Sweets—caramels, hard candies, chocolate.
Most of these foods are familiar to Americans. A number of the canned foods, such as
crabmeat, tuna and salmon, and the mandarin oranges, formerly were widely stocked by
American grocers. The liquid soy-bean sauce is similar to that found in all U.S. Chinese
restaurants, although it is saltier and "hotter." The bamboo and bean sprouts also are
well known. The dehydrated vegetables can be reconstituted by American procedures, although
the soaking time may be different and a certain amount of experimenting may be
necessary. Rice, polished (white) or unpolished (brown), may be used in
regular U.S. Army recipes. Cooked, this rice may be added to American B-ration meat
items. The canned meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits may be used in the customary ways.
|Standard labeling system used on the Compressed Emergency Ration
package. Note location of title of ration and date stamp.|
|Standard labeling system used on front of package of Rice Flour and Side-dish Ration. Note location of title of ration and date.|
|Standard directions on rear of package of Rice Flour and Side-dish Ration.|
|Standard labeling on front of Side-dish package of Rice Flour and Side-dish Ration. Note location of title of ration and date.|
METHODS OF PACKAGING
All canned foods, whether in large or small cans, are encased in wooden boxes
bound with grass rope.
Rice usually is packed in large burlap or straw bags. Flour, sugar, and salt are
packed the same way. Rice, and occasionally barley and wheat, also are packed in
cans in the form of compressed cakes (sometimes cooked and mixed with red beans).
The liquid soy sauce is packed in wooden barrels; the powdered form, in gallon cans.
Dehydrated vegetables are shipped in large, rectangular cans.
The Japanese soldier going into combat usually carries rice and bags of small, hard
biscuits. Whenever possible, canned meat is carried. There are also two types of
especially packaged rations. One, wrapped in brown crepe paper, is a small
package, 3 3/4 by 3 1/2 by 1 3/4 inches, and weighs about 9 ounces. Each
package equals a Japanese meal, and consists of several rectangular cakes of compressed
wheat or barley, four cakes of sugar, three brown cakes of dried fish, and one or
more pink cakes of very salty dried plums. The sugar and the grain cakes are of
good quality. The cakes may be eaten as they are, or, with the addition of water, made
into a hot breakfast cereal.
The second type of combat ration is packed in a transparent wrapper tied at both
ends with a string. This wrapper contains two paper sacks, each with identical
contents: two cakes of compressed fish-and-vegetable mixture and a sack of finely
milled pre-cooked rice flour. Japanese soldiers mix the flour with water to
make a dough, and eat it cold. This is not palatable to Americans, but may be
used in an emergency.
|Figure 11. Explanation of Japanese method of writing dates, with
ideographs for 1941 through 1944. (In the box giving ideographs
for these four years, the ideograph meaning "year" has not been included.)
Several types of Japanese emergency aviation rations have been found. Examples are
two for the Naval Air Force. One comprises dried fish (bonito), biscuits, pickled
plum, peas, hard candy, caramels, and—last but not least—a cardboard
tube containing chocolate and whisky.
Another naval air ration includes rice cakes, hard-boiled eggs, canned meat-and-vegetables, canned
pineapple, cider, chocolate, and whisky.
Japanese hospital and canteen foods may be captured, and these are more likely to
satisfy American palates. Among the foods are canned fruits, canned meat and
fish, condensed and powdered milk, butter, jellies, and candy.
It is most important that a U.S. medical officer inspect and approve all
captured enemy food supplies before they are eaten by American personnel. Under
emergency conditions, if food supplies are short or if competent medical
personnel is not available to inspect the food, the exact identification of a food
item may not be important. However, it is important to know whether food is
safe to eat. In such circumstances, the canned goods are safest, provided
that (1) the can does not bulge, (2) the can is not seriously
rusted, and (3) the contents do not yield any kind of questionable odor.
The Quartermaster General advises the fullest use of captured enemy food, after it
has been inspected and approved by competent personnel. Packaged foods should
not be opened—or opened, partially used, and then discarded—except when
necessary. The principal thought in using captured foods should be to ease our
own supply problem to some extent. To waste supplies—even enemy
1 At established garrisons in occupied territories the Japanese have been cultivating gardens to
supply fresh vegetables.