Didn't the Japanese take any decent photos in WWII?

I’m currently working on a project regarding Japanese Rifles in WWI and WWII, and have been trying to find contemporary photos of Japanese Soldiers clearly armed with either Type 38 or Type 99 Arisaka Rifles… and after searching for hours, I’ve yet to find any taken by the Japanese in which you can clearly see much at all.

In fact, there don’t seem to be many photos taken by the Japanese during WWII, full stop.

Most of the photos I’ve found that were taken by the Japanese in WWII are either apparently coprighted by individual people in the US (I’m not entirely sure how you can hold copyright on photos taken by someone else in a country your nation was at war with, 60 years ago, but I digress), of appalling quality, or don’t show anyone with rifles.

Most of the photos taken in the Pacific have been taken by American, British, or Australian personnel (as you’d expect), but almost none by Japanese personnel. I’m guessing it’s because the Japanese didn’t have the facilities in newly conquered areas to process photos (or else the average Japanese soldier didn’t have a camera), but even so, the comparative lack of Propaganda Photos (“The Superior Japanese Soldier strikes another blow at the Imperialist Warmongering Pigs!” and so on) seems… unusual, given everyone else’s propensity for this.

So, anyone know why there are so few Japanese photos of WWII, and, while we’re here, where I can find some non-copyrighted (or free use) photos of Japanese soldiers with Arisaka Rifles at all?

Here’s some., didn’t spot too many rifles skimming through though.

Thanks, Operation Ripper… I’d already found those. As you can see, they’re copyrighted, although I don’t see how that’s legal:

Here’s a few more, with additional links to others, probably got them too, probably copyrighted as well, feh, I give up.

hm you can check on youtube.com for videos, hope it help. You can printscreen those WW2 videos 2.

Thanks for the help! You can see what’s been driving me mad these past few days… I’ll reiterate the question in the OP: Why are there so few photos taken by the Japanese in WWII?

Any ideas?

Could be that anything captured in the field was considered a potential source of intelligence, and was filed away in some musty archive after the war.

Many of the phots taken were destoyed by the 1945 bombing campaigns, or lost on sunken ships. Also he Japanese military had an obsession with secrecy and would not permit many photos taken. There are very few good photos of Japanese warships taken in the 42-45 period. The carrier Shinano has only one good photo of her taken during her sea trials.

Yeah, perhaps generally Japanese soldiers tried to destroy all documents including photos during retreats, prior to their apparent “last” battle or capture, hence not a lot of pics still floating around. Feh, that doesn’t really seem likely, just a WAG.

Firebombings sounds like a pretty realistic reason. Though I would imagine that, that would be more linked to photos people had in their homes.

I mostly stopped in, though, to note that for a good time after the introduction of the camera (1850s) that Japanese were fearful that it would “steal their soul.” I wouldn’t imagine that they would still hold to this superstition by the 1940s, but you could postulate that cameras might not have been as popular in the country as others. We would need to know the number of cameras sold previous to WWII to verify that though.

It’s possible, though.

From what I’ve seen though, I just don’t think that many Japanese soldiers had cameras, and the few surviving photos are very “Official Portrait”-y. As has been mentioned, the Japanese were paranoid about secrecy, which might explain it!

I finally tracked down some photos that migh be OK through Google Image Search, too. Ironically, the photos were taken by US soldiers, who got the a Japanese to pose for them after they’d surrendered… :slight_smile:

Enough photos of Japanese military atrocities (i.e using Chinese prisoners for bayonet practice and beheading Allied prisoners) have survived to make you glad that the quality is relatively poor.

I believe there are some such photos in the recently published book “Flyboys”.

The Japanese Army of World War II was in many ways not ‘of World War II.’ It was a primitive, manpower-intensive force that had very rickety supply lines. Units were usually expected to live off the land for most things.

Now compare this to the Germans (who had armed propaganda units) the Soviets, who filmed all sort of heroic stuff and the Anglo-Americans who were so much richer.

In addition to the very good ideas mentioned by others, I would like to point out the Japanese did not see a need for a lot of photos. They did not have the large logistical tail of other armies. The photos may not exist because they were destroyed, or because they were never taken in the first place.

Would be interesting to compare how many days pay was required for each nation’s soldiers to buy whatever cheap common camera was produced in their country.
I’m guessing that for the Japanese they would have been very expensive and for GIs they would have been very cheap, with the Brits, Germans and Soviets somewhere in between, which would account for the non-official photos.

As for propaganda, I get the impression that the Japanese were quite deficient in this area, especially when compared to the Germans and Soviets.

Most New Zealand, Canadian, and Australian troops in WWII had personal cameras on them, and as a result the war from their perspective is VERY well covered. The War was initially regarded as being a sort of Package Tour for the New Zealanders in the beginning- sun, sand, booze, and women in exotic, far off places, and possibly some light warfare just before dinner- and so most families have Grandad’s photo album containing photos taken in North Africa and Italy (some of which you probably don’t want the kids seeing :wink: ).

It is sad that most of the WWII Japanese photos do concern the atrocities in China- I think many of them were taken by horrified foreign photographers rather than the Japanese themselves, though- at least before 1940 or so.

Maybe they couldn’t afford the silver for the film?

But … but … the Japanese were imperialists! That wouldn’t make a very good insult for them to toss at others :smiley:

Operation Ripper, you may want to clear that excess “feh” out of your throat.

I can tell you that motion pictures were extremely popular in pre-war Japan, and from 1922 to 1970 the U.S. and Japan alternated in producing the most feature films per year.

I dunno, I’ve seen plenty of WWII phots of Japan and Japanese forces. They may well be copyrighted now, but that’s hardly illicit. It just means that someone (probably from the relatively affluent victorious Allies) offered hard cash for those war photos from desperate, defeated (and ashamed) Japanese soldiers and families.

Compare the Rape of Nanking to the German camps. The Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi had far more atrocity photos (and diary entries, etc.) on their front page than all German newspapers put together. Their officers shot photos aplenty, looking much like the stereotypical Japanese tourist scrapbook of today.

Copyrighted != nonexistent

BTW, do you know Japanese? Is your computer set up to search in hiragana (or better, hiragna and kanji)? If not, you are probably missing 90%+ of what’s out there, and only seeing stuff that has been catalogued and captioned in English – and not surprisingly, owned or licensed by western owners.

I’m not mocking you. I learned Japanese in college, but my computer isn’t set up to handle it. Heck I don’t even know what their major search engines are.