Imperial Guard of Japan

Imperial Guard of Japan

The Japanese nihongo|Imperial Guard|近衛師団|Konoe Shidan is an organization which is dedicated to protection of the Emperor of Japan and his family, palaces and other imperial properties. The Guard also served as a unit within the Imperial Japanese Army. Following the end of World War II the guard was dissolved, and in 1947 a new Imperial Guard was formed as part of the National Police Agency.

The Imperial Guard of the Army

The Imperial Guard was formed in 1867 (1st and 2nd Guards Infantry Regiments in the 1st Guards Infantry Brigade and the 3rd and 4th Guards Infantry Regiments in the 2nd Guards infantry Brigade) from palace guard units and became part of the army when the Emperor Meiji assumed all the powers of the state and formed an army based on European lines during the Meiji Restoration. It saw action in the Satsuma Rebellion. This army consisted of 12,000 men originally organized and trained along French lines, but was retrained and organized by German officers after the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War. By 1885 the Imperial Japanese Army consisted of seven divisions, one of which was the Imperial Guard, with each division consisted of four regiments of two battalions each. The Imperial Guard was based on the Prussian Garde du Korps so it recruited nationally for duty in Tokyo. It stayed at one division until 1905 when, after the Russo-Japanese War, two Guard Brigades were formed from indigenous Formosans, who in Japan were widely believed to be headhunters. In 1920 the Guards Cavalry Regiment, Guards Field Artillery Regiment, Guards Engineer Battalion, Guards Transport Battalion, plus other Guards service units were added. From 1937 to 1939 the Guards Engineer Battalion was expanded into a regiment as was the Guards Transport Battalion.

The Imperial Guard in the Second World War

In September 1939, the division was split in half. The 1st Guards Brigade was transferred to South China and became known as the Guards Mixed Brigade. It took with it the 1st and 2nd Guards Infantry Regiments, the cavalry regiment, and about half of the support units. In October 1940, it joined other Japanese units occupying French Indo-China. In April 1941 it returned to Tokyo, but did not re-join the division.

The remainder of the division (3rd and 4th Guards Regiments) became the 2nd Guards Brigade. In 1940 it went to China as well, stopping in Shanghai before receiving a posting to Hainan Island. In June 1941, the 5th Guards Infantry Regiment joined it there and the brigade became the Imperial Guard Division again. It later saw action in the Battles of Malaya and Singapore with Tomoyuki Yamashita's 25th Army.

In Malaya and Singapore, the Guard Division was involved in notorious Japanese war crimes such as the Parit Sulong Massacre and the Sook Ching massacre. Lt Gen. Takuma Nishimura, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a British military court in relation to the Sook Ching killings, was later convicted of war crimes by an Australian Military Court in relation to the Parit Sulong massacre. He was executed by hanging on June 11, 1951. [ [ 7th Battalion The Cameronians Multiple Sclerosis Research Initiative ] ]

The Guards Mixed Brigade remained in Tokyo, becoming 1st Guards Division in May 1943 while the Imperial Guard Division became 2nd Guards Division. The 1st Guards Division consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 6th Guard Regiments.

The 3rd Guards Division was formed in 1944 from the 8th, 9th and 10th Guards Regiments and stayed in Japan.

It is unclear if there ever was a 7th Guard Regiment.

The Imperial Guard was dissolved at the end of World War II and was reformed in 1947 as part of the National Police Agency, which itself is part of the National Public Safety Commission.

Guards Uniforms

"See article: Imperial Japanese Army Uniforms"

Until 1939 the Cavalry of the Imperial Guard wore a French style parade uniform consisting of a dark-blue tunic with red Brandenburg braiding, a red kepi and red breeches. The red kepi had a white plume with a red base. Off duty, a dark blue tunic with 5 rows of black mohair froggings with dark blue breeches with a red stripe down each seam, were worn. Prior to the general adoption of khaki by the Japanese Army after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) an all white linen uniform had been worn in hot weather.

The Infantry of the Imperial Guard wore a dark blue uniform with white leggings for both parade and service wear until 1905. It was distinguished from that of the line infantry by a red band and piping on the peaked service cap (instead of yellow). Following the adoption of a khaki service dress the Guard Infantry wore this on all occasions. In the field the army's basic uniform was worn. It was worn with either a crysanthemum or a star in a wreath.


* Madej, W. Victor, Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981

ee also

*Imperial Guard
*Manchukuo Imperial Guards
*Imperial Japanese Army


* Madej, W. Victor, Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols] Allentown, PA: 1981.

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