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Innoshima Prisoner of War Camp

Nomoto, Akira

Taken from National Archives and Records Survey in the matter of Japanese War Crimes and the ill treatment of Prisoners of War at Innoshima Prisoner of War Camp, Japan between October 1941 and September 1945. (No. 16169)

Innoshima POW Camp on the Inland Sea of Japan (from a painting by G S Coxhead)

Conditions of INNOSHIMA Compound

This compound was established on 27th November 1942. Major Wright and one hundred other Britishers arrived from the JAVA POW Camps. One hundred Britishers arrived from the HONG KONG POW camps on 15th November of the following year.

Security precautions for the camp were assigned to a non-commissioned officer and 15 others who were dispatched from the FUKUYAMA regiment upon the establishment of the camp. Security measures for the camp and the escorting of prisoners of war to and from work was handled by the men from the FUKUYAMA regiment

In late November of 1943, the soldiers were withdrawn when factories took over the guard duties. This continued until the end of the war.


Food was provided by the army from 27th November 1942 to 30th November 1943. The main courses were rice and barley (7.05 grams). Bread was also provided with the rations of flour. As for side dishes, meat was supplied in large quantities by the army. Although only in small quantities, eggs were also obtained every month. However, due to the gradual decrease in meat provisions, a plan was formed to raise pigs in the compound. From 1st November 1943, it was decided that food would be obtained from the factories so it was distributed by the factory ration boards. Because rations for the army were stopped, hardly any meat rations were obtainable, therefore pigs raised in the compound were slaughtered to supplement the meat rations.

Although only in small quantities fish was obtained from the factory ration board. This consisted mainly of frozen fish. Necessary quantities of vegetables were obtained until May 1944, but from June these were hardly obtainable from their places of production due to weather conditions and the change in the staple food of the country. A satisfactory amount was hardly obtainable until December. Therefore the vegetable ration was supplemented by obtaining dehydrated vegetables from other prefectures (sources).

The staple food allowance was changed to 710 grams of rations obtained from the factories. Meals in the compound were taken to each individual's room in a military fashion. While working at the factory meals were prepared at the compound, delivered before meal time and distributed by the person in charge.


Under military regulations, clothing was issued only in cases when it was worn and not usable. Working clothes were obtained from the factories. Working clothes, underwear and caps were provided. Repairs were done by two shoe makers, one tailor and a carpenter at the factory. One prisoner of war was assigned to laundry duties for the entire group.

Daily schedule for the prisoners of war (mainly with regard to men working at the factories)

Reveille - 05.30 am; morning roll call - 05.40 am; breakfast - 06.00 am; leave the compound 0.06.30 am; arrival at the place of work - 07.00; rest period - 10.00 am (thirty minutes); leave working area - 17.00 pm; arrive at compound - 17.20 pm; evening roll call - immediately after return. The evening schedule included a bath, dinner and sleep (bath once in two days). POWs were free after evening roll call.

Types of work

a) Installation of ships, steel plates, selection and transportation of rivets.

b) Arrangement of planed lumber.

c) Transporting of lumber and metal equipment (with trucks) and the maintenance of railways.

d) Arrangement of iron materials.

e) Cleaning of the interior of the factory.

f) Cleaning of the ships interior and exterior and the unloading of coal.

g) Electrical work.

Establishment of air raid shelters

A small number were established at first for the use of prisoners of war, but later six more were built for their use.

a) One horizontal cave for air raid shelter on the hill outside of the compound.

b) One horizontal cave (for prisoner of war usage) beside the mess hall in the factory.

c) One horizontal cave in the working area at the factory.

d) Five shelters in various places in the vicinity of the working area.

Work was usually suspended with the sounding of an alarm. In cases when air raids were anticipated all members were assembled in the mess hall and were ordered into the air raid shelters.

Relief Goods

Articles of food were received on four occasions (from the Red Cross), clothing twice (from the Red Cross) and medical supplies three times (from the Red Cross)


The army was responsible for sanitation and medical supplies were obtained from the army hospital or from local merchants. The medical officer was responsible for the FUKUYAMA regiment and the INNOSHIMA prisoner of war compound. The majority of the patients became ill enroute from JAVA and were suffering from malnutrition (colitis?) and many were stretcher cases. These were immediately hospitalised and given treatment at the INNOSHIMA hospital. However, eight persons died within one month after arrival due to malnutrition (colitis?) and one died of heart failure due to beriberi. Later, three died of acute pneumonia and one from colitis (?)

Stoves were installed in the rooms from December to February. Supplies were in abundance and the health conditions of the prisoners of war were thoroughly maintained when provisions were under army regulations. However, with the factories taking over the distribution of rations and food and with the condition of the country becoming critical due to the weather in May and June of 1943, main courses were satisfactory but side dishes, such as green vegetables were hardly obtainable and prisoners of war suffered from loss of weight. Efforts were made to obtain materials but results were meagre for all the work done.

Recreational facilities

Musical instruments, balls, ping-pong equipment and other miscellaneous articles were obtained with relief funds. Also, an electric phonograph was obtained and broadcasts were made to the rooms of the prisoners. Entertainment was permitted on all occasions. Swimming was permitted in the summer on the beach east of the compound. The distance from the compound to the mess hall at the working area was about one kilometre.