Japanese Fifth Area Army

Japanese Fifth Area Army

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Japanese Fifth Area Army

caption= Border between Japanese Karafuto and Soviet Sakhalin
dates= 1944-03-16 - 1945-08-15
country= Empire of Japan
branch= Imperial Japanese Army
type= Infantry
role= Field Army
nickname=達(Tatsu = “attain”)
battles=Operation August Storm
command structure
name= Japanese Fifth Area Army
parent=General Defense Command

* 7th Infantry Division
* 42nd Infantry Division
* 88th Infantry Division
* 89th Infantry Division
* 91st Infantry Division
* IJA 101st Independent Mixed Brigade
* IJA 129th Independent Mixed Brigade
The nihongo| Japanese Fifth Area Army|第5方面軍|Dai go hōmen gun was a field army of the Imperial Japanese Army during the closing stages of World War II. It saw combat against the Soviet Union in Japan’s northern territories.


The Japanese 5th Area Army was formed on 1944-03-16 under the General Defense Command as part of the last desperate defense effort by the Empire of Japan to deter possible landings of Allied forces in Hokkaidō, Karafuto/South Sakhalin and the Chishima Islands/Kuriles during Operation Downfall (or nihongo|Operation Ketsugō|決号作戦|Ketsugō sakusen in Japanese terminology). It remained directly under the Imperial General Headquarters and was headquartered in Sapporo. The 5th Area Army leadership also held equivalent posts in the Northern District Army, and had the honor of receiving their appointments personally from Emperor Hirohito rather than the Imperial General Headquarters.

Although the Japanese were able to raise large numbers of new soldiers, equipping them was more difficult. By August, the Japanese Army had the equivalent of 65 divisions in the homeland but only enough equipment for 40 and only enough ammunition for 30. [Frank, "Downfall", p. 176.]  The 5th Area Army consisted mostly of poorly-trained reservists, conscripted students and home guard militia. In addition, the Japanese had organized the Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps — which included all healthy men aged 15–60 and women 17–40 — to perform combat support, and ultimately combat jobs. Weapons, training, and uniforms were generally lacking: some men were armed with nothing better than muzzle-loading muskets, longbows, or bamboo spears; nevertheless, they were expected to make do with what they had. [Frank, "Downfall", p. 188–9. ]

Operation August Storm

After repudiating the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, the Soviet Union invaded Karafuto and the Kurile Islands on 11 August 1945, just four days before the surrender of Japan. Although the Red Army outnumbered the Japanese 88th Division by three to one, it was unable to advance until additional reinforcements arrived on 16 August due to strong Japanese resistance. Actual fighting continued until 21 August, and the capital of Toyohara fell on 25 August.

Many surviving soldiers of the 5th Area Army in Karafuto and Chishima, became prisoners in Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union until the mid-1950s. Units of the 5th Area Army based in Hokkaidō were demobilized at the surrender of Japan on 15 August 1945.

List of Commanders

Commanding officer

Chief of Staff



*cite book
last = Drea
first = Edward J.
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1998
chapter = Japanese Preparations for the Defense of the Homeland & Intelligence Forecasting for the Invasion of Japan
title = In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army
publisher = University of Nebraska Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-8032-1708-0

*cite book
last = Frank
first = Richard B
coauthors =
year = 1999
title = Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
publisher = Random House
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-679-41424-X

*cite book
last = Jowett
first = Bernard
coauthors =
year = 1999
title = The Japanese Army 1931-45 (Volume 2, 1942-45)
publisher = Osprey Publishing
location =
id = ISBN 1841763543

*cite book
last = Madej
first = Victor
coauthors =
year = 1981
title = Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945
publisher = Game Publishing Company
location =
id = ASIN: B000L4CYWW

*cite book
last = Marston
first = Daniel
coauthors =
year = 2005
title = The Pacific War Companion: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima
publisher = Osprey Publishing
location =
id = ISBN 1841768820

*cite book
last = Skates
first = John Ray
coauthors =
year = 1994
title = The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb Downfall
publisher = University of South Carolina Press
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-87249-972-3

External links

*cite web
last = Wendel
first = Marcus
url = http://www.axishistory.com/index.php?id=6743
title = Axis History Factbook
work = Japanese Eighth Area Army


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