20 Upsetting and Gruesome Details about Japanese POW Camps During World War II

Aerial view of part of Batu Lintang camp, on or after 29 August 1945. Wikimedia Commons.

20. Almost 150,000 Allied soldiers were prisoners of war under the Japanese Empire, housed in more than 130 camps spread across East Asia

During the Second World War, the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces captured almost 140,00 Allied soldiers during the fighting in the Pacific and Southeast Asian Theaters. These prisoners of war, from dozens of nations, including but not limited to Great Britain, Australia, India, and the United States, were interred in camps throughout the enlarged territory of the Japanese Empire. In total, at least 130 such camps were opened in the course of the war to house Allied prisoners; some of these were prolonged, permanent facilities, whilst others were only in existence and use for brief periods of time.

These camps were spread across a vast area, deliberately so to prevent rescue missions and to provide material benefit to the local Japanese garrisons. Kept on the move, each time the Allies grew closer to liberating their captured comrades the Japanese relocated their prisoners. In addition to 36,000 Allied POWs transported to the Japanese Mainland, soldiers were imprisoned at locations in the Philippines, Singapore, China, Burma, Korea, and Hong Kong. Spanning a vast organizational complex, these individuals were eventually released after the surrender of the Japanese Empire on August 15, 1945.