The Soldiers of Imperial Japan
In 1931 the Imperial Japanese Army numbered just under 200,000 men and officers. It was with this force that they invaded Manchuria under the guise of protecting Japanese owned railroads against Chinese bandit attacks. This eventually blossomed in all out war between China and Japan. That war that lasted until 1945.
Not content to be fighting bandits and the Chinese army, they used their client state in Manchuria as a launching pad into the Soviet Union. Yes, from 1932 to 1941 the Russians and Japanese were fighting all along the Chinese border. Remember that from the history books? In 1941 the two sides agreed on a non-aggression pact that ended that conflict. There were only a few actual battles. Most of which the Russians won. Very little territory changed hands. Bigger wars were on the horizon for each.
The men that made up the army were conscripted, given medical examinations and classified with Class 1-A. The highest classification that said the men were fit for duty. There were a total of five classifications. Depending on if the nation was at war or not would depend on what happened to the men after they received their classifications. It was possible that a full mobilization of the male population would have been serving in the military in some way shape or form.
In 1941 the Imperial Army numbered around 1.7 million troops, most of which would be serving in China with the rest spread out across the Pacific. By the 1945 the army numbered more than 5.5 million.
As far as casualties suffered during World War Two, approximately 2.5 million killed. Presumed dead and missing totaled around 800,000 and just about 7,500 prisoners of war. Yes, that number is correct and reflects that something in the men behind those numbers. Death was preferable to capture and dishonor. Let that sink in for a minute when you look at the photo.
One other thing to think about. The last official surrender by an Imperial Japanese soldier occurred in December 1974, almost thirty years after the war ended.