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2nd Division
The Japanese 2d Division celebrates landing at Merak, Java.jpg
The IJA 2nd Division celebrates landing at Merak, Java during World War II.
Active 1888 - 1945
Country Empire of Japan Empire of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Army
Type Infantry
Garrison/HQ Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
Nickname(s) "Courageous Division"
Engagements First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
Battle of Khalkhin Gol
Battle of Java
Guadalcanal campaign
Battle of Central Burma

The 2nd Division (第2師団 Daini shidan?) was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. Its call-sign was Courageous Division (勇兵団 Isamu-heidan?).


The 2nd Division was formed in Sendai, Miyagi, in January 1871 as the Sendai Garrison (仙台鎮台 Sendai chindai?), one of six regional commands created in the fledgling Imperial Japanese Army. The Sendai Garrison had responsibility for northern region of Honshū (Tohoku district), ranging from Fukushima Prefecture to Aomori Prefecture. The six regional commands were transformed into divisions under the army reorganization of 14 May 1888.

The headquarters of the 2nd Division was located in the Ni-no-maru of Sendai Castle, where the campus of Tohoku University is now located. Its original composition included the 4th Infantry Regiment (raised in Sendai), 5th Infantry Regiment (raised in Aomori), 16th Infantry Regiment (raised in Shibata) and the 17th Infantry Regiment (raised in Akita). In the reorganization prior to World War II, the 29th Infantry Regiment (raised in Wakamatsu) was added.

As one of the oldest divisions in the Imperial Japanese Army, the 2nd Division saw combat in the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, where it gained a reputation for excellence in night operations.

Some of its more noteworthy commanders included Sakuma Samata, Nogi Maresuke, Nishi Kanjiro, Nitahara Shigeyuki, HIH Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko, and Umezu Yoshijiro.

From 1930 to 1933, the 2nd Division was under the command of Lieutenant-General Jiro Tamon. In 1931, transferred to the Kwantung Army in Manchuria, it took the lead in the initial operations of the invasion of Manchuria, then in the Jiangqiao Campaign, Chinchow Operation, and in overcoming the defense of Harbin, following the Mukden Incident.

Later in 1939, the 2nd Division was under 3rd Army which was facing the southern half of the border of the Maritime province of the Soviet Union from Korea northward. The Katayama Detachment from 2nd Division, (consisting of the 15th Infantry Brigade, with 16th and 30th Infantry Regiments, and a field artillery battalion) fought small actions near Akiyama heights, or Heights 997 on 6th -10 September 1939. 2nd Division (and the 4th Division) was attached to Japanese Sixth Army in the Nomonhan/Khalkhin Gol Campaign as reinforcement for a projected counterattack that was canceled when a cease fire was signed.

With the start of hostilities in the Second Sino-Japanese War, 15th Mixed Brigade from the 2nd Division saw combat in the invasion of Chahar and in the Battle of Xuzhou where 3rd Infantry Brigade was temporarily assigned to the North China Area Army.

After the start of the Pacific War, the 2nd Division was reassigned to the southern front under Field Marshal Terauchi Hisaichi's Southern Command, and was one of the divisions which occupied the Dutch East Indies. It lost over 7,000 men in the disastrous Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Afterwards, it was assigned to garrison duties in occupied Malaya and Singapore.

In 1944, it was ordered to Burma to resist the British reoccupation. After performing coastal duties in Arakan the division was reassigned directly to Burma Area Army in May. Used as a strategic reserve it was largely annihilated in the subsequent conflict. Its remnants were assigned to the Japanese 38th Army in French Indochina, and disbanded at the end of World War II.


 Operated in the Invasion of Manchuria and later the Pacification of Manchukuo.

 Detached 15th Mixed Brigade served in Operation Chahar.

  • 27 September 1940: Eastern Army, Japan.

 For the operation against Java.


Originally a square division the Order of Battle for the 2nd Division was:

2nd Division

  • 3rd Infantry Brigade
    • 4th Infantry Regiment
    • 29th Infantry Regiment
  • 15th Infantry Brigade
    • 16th Infantry Regiment
    • 30th Infantry Regiment
  • 2nd Cavalry Regiment
  • 2nd Field Artillery Regiment
  • 2nd Engineer Regiment
  • 2nd Transport Regiment

After the Battle of Nomonhan and prior to the outbreak of war with the United States, the Division was made triangular:

2nd Division

  • 2nd Infantry Brigade Group
    • 4th Infantry Regiment (Sendai)
    • 29th Infantry Regiment (Wakamatsudisambiguation needed)
    • 16th Infantry Regiment (Shibatadisambiguation needed)
    • 17th infantry Regiment (Akita)
  • 2nd Recon Regiment
  • 2nd Field Artillery Regiment
  • 2nd Engineer Regiment
  • 2nd Transport Regiment


  • Madej, W. Victor, Japanese Armed Forces Order of Battle, 1937-1945 [2 vols], Allentown, PA: 1981.
  • Coox, Alvin D., Nomonhan, Japan Against Russia, 1939. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA: 1985. ISBN 0-8047-1835-0

See also

External links

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