Russian Japanology Review

Advanced search

Japanese Prisoners of War in the USSR: Facts, Versions, Questions

Full Text:


The capture of servicemen of the Kwantung army by the Soviet troops in Manchuria in August 1945, their further detention in labor camps in the USSR, as well as their repatriation to Japan, which dragged on for nearly ten years, are among the most difficult and sensitive issues in relations between the USSR and Japan. They were not written about or discussed in the Soviet Union for many years until the early 1990s, when access to previously classified documents was opened. It was at that time that the issue became a matter for scholarly research by historians of the two countries and then put on the agenda of political negotiations at the head-of-state level. This first happened during the official visit to Japan of the first Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, in April 1991, and then this mission was taken over by the Government of the Russian Federation. However, there are still questions that absorb the attention of researchers and the public and that still need to be fully answered.

About the Author

E. L. Katasonova
Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation


1. AVP RF 1946 - AVP RF (Arkhiv vneshney politiki Rossiyskoy Federatsii) [Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation] (1946, September 15). Sluzhebnaya zapiska zamestitelya ministra inostrannykh del Ya. A. Malika na imya ministra V. M. Molotova. [Office memo by Deputy Foreign Minister Ya. A. Malik to Minister V. M. Molotov]. F. 18, op. 5, d. 119, l. 46-47. (In Russian)

2. Efremov, Mukhin, Andronnikov, Grebenyuk 1997 - Efremov, A. D., Mukhin, V. V., Andronnikov, N. G. & Grebenyuk, S. V. (ed.) (1997). Russkiy arkhiv. Sovetsko-yaponskaya voyna 1945 goda: istoriya voyennopoliticheskogo protivostoyaniya dvukh derzhav. Dokumenty i materialy [Russian Archive. Soviet-Japanese War of 1945: the history of the militarypolitical confrontation between the two powers. Documents and materials.]. Vol. 18 (7-1). Moscow: Terra. (In Russian)

3. GA RF 1956 - GA RF (Gosudarstvennyy arkhiv Rossiyskoy Federatsii) [State Archives of the Russian Federation] (1956). Spravka o kolichestve voyennoplennykh byvshey yaponskoy armii, vzyatykh v plen sovetskimi voyskami v 1945 godu [Information on the number of prisoners of war of the former Japanese army captured by Soviet troops in 1945]. F. 9401, op. 2, d. 582, l. 9-12. (In Russian)

4. Galitskiy 1991 - Galitskiy, V. P. (1991). Yaponskiye voyennoplennyye v SSSR: pravda i domysly [Japanese Prisoners of War in the USSR: Facts and Factoids]. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal. 4, 58-73. (In Russian)

5. Gareev 1991 - Gareev, M. A. (1991). O mifakh starykh i novykh. [On Old and New Myths]. Voyenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal. 4, 40-51. (In Russian)

6. Gavrilov, Katasonova (ed.) 2013 - Gavrilov, V. A., Katasonova, E. L. (ed.) (2013). Yaponskiye voyennoplennyye v SSSR: 1945-1956. Sbornik dokumentov. [Japanese Prisoners of War in the USSR: 1945-1956. A Collection of Documents]. Moscow: MFD. (In Russian)

7. Karpov 1997 - Karpov, V. V. (1997). Plenniki Stalina. Sibirskoye internirovaniye yaponskoy armii 1945-1956 gg. [Stalin’s Prisoners. The Siberian Interment of the Japanese Army in 1945-1956]. Kiyev-L’vov: Institute of Ukrainian Studies. (In Russian)

8. Katasonova 2003 - Katasonova, E. L. (2003). Yaponskiye voyennoplennyye v SSSR: bol’shaya igra velikikh derzhav. [Japanese Prisoners of War in the USSR: a Great Game of the Great Powers]. Moscow: Institute of Oriental Studies RAS. (In Russian)

9. Katasonova 2005 - Katasonova, E. L. (2005). Posledniye plenniki Vtoroy mirovoy voyny. Maloizvestnyye stranitsy rossiysko-yaponskikh otnosheniy [The Last Prisoners of the Second World War. Obscure Pages of Russian-Japanese Relations]. Moscow: Institute of Oriental Studies RAS. (In Russian)

10. Kobayashi 2018 - Kobayashi A. (2018). Shiberia yokuryū. Beisō kankei no naka de no hen’yō [The Siberian Interment Amid the Changing Soviet-American Relations]. Tokyo: Iwanami shoten. (In Japanese)

11. Kuznetsov 1997 - Kuznetsov, S. I. (1997). Yapontsy v sibirskom plenu (1945-1956) [The Japanese in Siberian Captivity]. Irkutsk: Sibir’. (In Russian)

12. MacArthur 2001 - MacArthur, D. (2001). Reminiscences. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.

13. Perepiska Predsedatelya Soveta Ministrov SSSR 1958 - Perepiska Predsedatelya Soveta Ministrov SSSR c Prezidentami SShA i Prem’yer-ministrami Velikobritanii vo vremya Velikoy Otechestvennoy voyny 1941-1945 gg. [Correspondence of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR with the Presidents of the USA and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain during the Great Patriotic War] (1958). Vol. 2. Moscow: Gospolitizdat. (In Russian)

14. Potsdam Declaration 1945 - Potsdam Declaration. (1945, July 26). National Diet Library. (accessed: 08 July 2020).

15. Saitō 1995 - Saitō R. (1995). Shiberia no banka [The Song of Siberia in the Declining Years]. Tsuruoka: Shūsen shiryōkan shuppan-bu. (In Japanese)

16. Semiryaga 1995 - Semiryaga, M. I. (1995). Kak my upravlyali Germaniyey [How We Governed Germany]. Moscow: Rosspen. (In Russian)

17. Soglasheniye mezhdu pravitel’stvami 1991 - Soglasheniye mezhdu pravitel’stvami Sovetskogo Soyuza i Yaponii o litsakh, nakhodivshikhsya v lageryakh dlya voyennoplennykh [Agreement Between the Governments of the Soviet Union and Japan on Detainees in POW Camps]. April 18, 1991.Tekhexpert. (accessed: 08 July 2020). (In Russian)

18. TSAMO 1945a - TSAMO (Tsentral’nyy arkhiv ministerstva oborony) [Central Archives of the Russian Defence Ministry] (1945, August 16). Direktiva Narkomata oborony i Narkomata vnutrennikh del Glavnokomanduyushchemu sovetskimi voyskami na Dal’nem Vostoke o poryadke okhrany tyla frontov i organizatsii lagerey dlya voyennoplennykh v Man’chzhurii [Directive of the People’s Commissariat of Defense and the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs to the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet troops in the Far East on the procedure for protecting the rear of the fronts and organizing camps for prisoners of war in Manchuria]. F. 66, op. 178499, d. 3, l. 220-221. (In Russian)

19. TSAMO 1945b - TSAMO (Tsentral’nyy arkhiv ministerstva oborony) [Central of Archives the Russian Defence Ministry] (1945, August 23). Postanovleniye GKO SSSR o priyeme, razmeshchenii i trudovom ispol’zovanii voyennoplennykh yaponskoy armii № 9898ss [Resolution of the State Defense Committee of the USSR on reception, placement and employment of prisoners of war of the Japanese army No. 9898ss]. F. 66, op. 78499, d. 1, l. 593-598. (In Russian)

20. USSR-Japan Joint Declaration 1956 - USSR-Japan Joint Declaration. October, 19, 1956. United Nations Treaty Collection. (accessed: 08 July 2020)

21. Vsemirnaya istoriya 1965 - Vsemirnaya istoriya [World History]. (1965). Vol. 10. Moscow: Mysl’. (In Russian)


For citations:

Katasonova E.L. Japanese Prisoners of War in the USSR: Facts, Versions, Questions. Russian Japanology Review. 2020;3(2):52-67. (In Russ.)

Views: 129

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

ISSN 2658-6444 (Print)
ISSN 2658-6789 (Online)