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Hakodate POW Camps

Hokkaido Map of POW Camps
Hakodate: circa 1930

I am indebted to the late Roger Mansell and Toru Fukubayashi for most of the information contained on this page.

Their web sites, and that of the POW Research Network Japan are invaluable sources of material on all aspects of the Far Fast Prisoners of War.

The Links page on this site lists these and many other sites.

In the early stages of the Pacific War, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) captured some 350,000 Allied soldiers as prisoners of war from the areas the Japanese conquered in South East Asia and the Western Pacific. Japan imprisoned approximately 140,000 allied soldiers in the camps established in the territories where they were captured.

In April 1942 the Japanese Government decided to transport some of the Allied POWs to Japan in order to supplement the Japanese work force, which was running short of manpower. Thus, the camps were mainly set up at mines and in industrial areas.

32,418 POWs were detained in POW camps in Japan. Some 3,500 POWs died in Japan while they were imprisoned. In addition, another 11,000 POWs tragically lost their lives when allied air and submarine forces attacked the ships transporting the POWs to Japan.

Hakodate Main Camp was established in December 1942 to administer all the camps on Hokkaido Island (and those in the north eastern part of Honshu Island until April 1945). The camp commandant was also the superior commandant for the whole Group.

The locations of the Hakodate Camp Group are shown on a map on Richard Mansell's web site, as well as on my map below. Under the main camp, branch camps, dispatched camps, and detached camps were opened. In a Branch Camp (Bunsho) the IJA supplied all the housing, food, and clothing for the POWs. In a Dispatched (Hakensho) camp food, housing, and clothing were provided by the companies and the IJA only provided the POWs and military staff. The detached camp is a branch camp in a smaller size.

Hokkaido Map of POW Camps
Map of Hakodate POW Camp Group, Hokkaido

Hakodate Main POW Camp was established temporarily on 1st December and officially on 26th December 1942, at Hakodate Quarantine. The POWs were used by Hakodate Ship Building Company, Hakodate Port Transportation Company and others. This camp moved to Bibai on 7th June 1945 where the POWs worked for Mitsui Mining Company.

Kamiiso Dispatched Camp (Hakodate No.1 Dispatched Camp) at the site of Asano Cement factory in Kamiiso was established on 1st October 1943. It also closed on 7th June 1945 and the POWs were moved to Hakodate Main Camp now at Bibai and Ashibetsu Branch Camp. At Bibai the POWs were used by Matsui Mining Company.

Kameda Dispatched Camp was established as Hakodate No.2 Dispatched Camp at Kameda, Hakodate City on 13th March 1945. It was the closest of the dispatched and branch camps to Hakodate main camp. It closed on 7th June 1945 and the POWs were moved to Akabira Branch Camp. The POWs were used by Hakodate Port Transportation Company.

Yakumo Detached Camp was established as Hakodate No.1 Detached Camp on 16th June 1943. It closed on 25th October 1943 and the POWs were moved to Hakodate Main Camp and Muroran Branch Camp.

Muroran Branch Camp / Ashibetsu Branch Camp was established as Hakodate No.1 Branch Camp in Muroran City on 6th December 1942. It moved elsewhere within Muroran City on 15th January 1943 and to Raijo, Ashibetsu on 7th June 1945. The POWs were used by Nippon Steel Company and Mitsui Mining Company.

Akabira Branch Camp was established as Hakodate No. 2 Branch Camp on June 7, 1945, where the POWs were used by Sumitomo Mining Company.

Utashinai Branch Camp was established as Hakodate No.3 Branch Camp in July, 1945. The POWs were used by Hokkaido Coal Mining Company.

Nishi Ashibetsu Branch Camp was established as Hakodate No.4 Branch Camp on June 29, 1945. The POWs worked in a coal mine for Jisakuno Mining