Minseibu Japanese civil administration (Overview text)
Module name: Relationships (Japanese perspective)
This page was contributed by Dr Iwamoto Hiromitsu
The Japanese Navy set up Minseibu (Civil Administration Unit) at Rabaul on 10 March 1942. Its official name was ‘New Britain Minseibu’. A branch office was set up at Kavieng at the end of April 1942. The 8th Navy Development Department was another civil administration unit, which was set up at Wewak in February 1943, but it was short-lived and moved to Kairiru Island in March 1944 then to Hollandia in the same month as the fighting became fierce. New Britain Minseibu was a well-organised administration with sufficient manpower, and it was placed under the command of the Headquarters of the 8th Base Unit. As the primary purpose of the Japanese occupation of New Guinea was to consolidate the defense in the periphery of the Central South Pacific, Minseibu’s tasks were aimed at supporting military operations – the restoration of law and order, building a self-supporting force and commencing research on important natural resources necessary for national defence. To govern the local population Minseibu had three tiers of organisations – central administration, local administration and village organisation – with local collaborators at each tier. One of Minseibu's major tasks was recruitment of villagers to supply labour to private companies that were brought in Rabaul for resource development, construction units, military police and other various units. It is estimated that at least several thousand villagers were recruited as labourers.