Hiroshima Insight

Army’s Second General Headquarters

Expanding the role of a military city

In April 1945, Japan faced deteriorating war conditions as the United States intensified its air attacks and invaded Okinawa in preparation for an anticipated assault on the mainland. In response, the Japanese Imperial Army positioned the Second General Headquarters, with authority over western Japan, in the city of Hiroshima.

The First General Headquarters was located in Tokyo and commanded eastern Japan. According to the book, “The History of War Damage in Hiroshima Prefecture,” published in 1988, placing the Second General Headquarters in Hiroshima was intended to maintain Japan’s capacity to fight even if the nation were to be divided in half by the U.S. invasion.

Hiroshima had a history of serving as a military city. During the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), the Imperial Headquarters was located in Hiroshima, on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle. Ujina Port, found in today’s Minami Ward, was the departure site for soldiers heading into battle by ship.

Hiroshima’s role as a military city grew when the Army's Second General Headquarters was established here.

But when the atomic bomb exploded above the city, the buildings housing the headquarters, located about 1.8 kilometers from the hypocenter, were consumed by fire and largely destroyed.