Few American soldiers fighting in the Pacific are aware of the position of
military police in the Japanese military system. Actually
the Kempei—which is Jap for "Military Police"—is a semi-independent
organization one of whose most important functions is to provide counterintelligence
for the Japanese intelligence organization.
The Kempei is a separate combat branch of the Japanese Army and
operates under the command of a lieutenant general, who holds the post
of Provost Marshal General. Charged with the main responsibility for the
suppression of espionage and sabotage by foreign agents, and with the
responsibility for coordinating civil and military security
measures, the Kempei has established a police network throughout
the Jap-held world.
Actually, the Japanese Military Police is composed of two parts—the
Field Military Police and the Regular Military Police. Each has its own auxiliary
branch of personnel, who act in a subordinate capacity as assistants.
The Field Military Police, who are organized only in wartime, are the upper
strata of the Kempei organization. They are recruited chiefly from
Japanese Foreign Office personnel, and Japanese embassy and consular police
overseas. Most Field MP's are officers and warrant officers, and are better
paid than regular MP's. They may wear civilian clothes or disguises, which, with
the necessary identification papers, permit them to move freely among native
populations. Field MP's are assisted by auxiliary personnel recruited from
civilian employees of the Special Service Organization—the intelligence
collecting espionage branch of the Japanese G-2.
The Field Military Police may be regarded as the advance agents of
the Kempei. Undoubtedly, many of these agents had operated in
Far Eastern countries long before the arrival of invading Japanese
troops. The Field MP's and the espionage agents of the Special Service
Organization work in close coordination, and an MP section often is
assigned to a Special Service Organization headquarters. Although the
Field MP's are concerned primarily with counterintelligence operations, their
work often overlaps that of the intelligence-collecting Special Service
men. This overlap makes it possible to check the interpretation and evaluation of
information, and it ensures that all phases of intelligence are covered by one
group or the other. While working with the Special Service men, the Field
MP's seem to be concerned chiefly with operations conducted among the local
After an area has been occupied by the Japanese Army, the Field MP's continue, and
undoubtedly expand, their counterintelligence activities among the population of
the occupied country. Their authority also extends over the Jap troops, not
only in counterintelligence and security matters, but in the normal duties
which generally devolve upon MP's. Combat intelligence work also is
engaged in, mainly through the use of native agents and native reconnaissance
patrols. In this way, MP's frequently are able to secure information of
operational value. Such information is supposed to be forwarded to the
organization primarily concerned.
The Regular Military Police comprise most of the MP's on duty in Jap-occupied
territory under military jurisdiction. Their basic duties are very similar to
those of our own MP's, and, in general, they do not take over from the
Field MP's until the area concerned has been placed officially under garrison
regulations. Although their duties are theoretically confined to police
work, they are a combat arm of service. They also have an auxiliary
corps, which provides deputies who have the same responsibilities and
authority as the regular MP's.
In all areas in which the Kempei operates, the authority of the
Regular and Field MP's exceeds that of the civilian police. Similarly, the
Field MP's exceed the Regulars in authority.
The main duties of both branches of the Kempei are the maintenance of
military discipline, the enforcement of security, the protection of vital
military zones, the execution of conscription laws, the detection of crimes
committed by Army personnel, the issue of travel permits, the suppression
of subversive rumors, and the detection and arrest of fifth columnists. Such
work as traffic control and the guarding of essential installations is
carried out as an occasional duty, but usually line troops are used.
In combat zones and occupied areas, certain other duties have been assigned
to the Kempei. These duties include the requisitioning of native foods
and supplies, the recruiting of native labor, and the organization of native
counterespionage. On occasion, MP units have been charged with maintaining
espionage nets behind enemy lines.
Military Police control over native populations and foreign residents is
exercised only so far as actual policing is concerned. However, such control
includes the investigation of political sympathies, individual character and
loyalty, suspicious acts, subversive activities, and mail censorship. Native
agents, Jap civilian employees, and the intelligence personnel of other agencies
assist the Kempei in this work. Files of information on all suspected
persons are kept at MP headquarters, and a double check on persons under
suspicion is kept through liaison with the Special Service Organization
and the local army headquarters.
Practically all members of the Kempei are volunteers—both commissioned
and enlisted personnel—and the standards for admission to the organization are
high. This is particularly true of the educational requirements. Since there are
several different grades of MP's within the organization, the requirements
for assignment differ, as do the limits to which members of each
grade may advance.
A Jap who has been accepted for MP duty receives further education in
the Kempei schools. An enemy source indicates that in one such school the
curriculum included such subjects as law, the manual of arms, fencing,
horsemanship, unarmed combat, languages, espionage, and counterespionage. Specific
attention was given in classrooms to such things as invisible
writing, shadowing, methods of entering and leaving buildings, and
similar tricks of the detective's trade.
This policy of selection and education has produced in the Jap MP an individual
of much higher caliber than the average Japanese soldier. But though
the I.Q. of Kempei men is higher than that of the rest of the
Jap Army, it in no way has decreased their cruelty, or their devotion
to the Emperor, as the residents of Jap-occupied territory will certify.