Hiroshima Insight

Volunteer Army Corps

Engaged in creating fire lanes and defending the public

The Volunteer Army Corps consisted of groups that were formed in residential communities, or working places, near the end of World War II. They were mainly engaged in efforts to dismantle buildings to create fire lanes in the event of air raids, and defend the public. The corps was made up of men, ages 12 to 65, and women, ages 12 to 45.

In practice, students in junior high schools and girls’ high schools were mobilized for work. Males older than junior high school age were drafted into the military. The corps also included many men and women older than 40. Nominally, it was known as the “volunteer labor service.”

The effort to mobilize the nation’s citizens was launched with the National Mobilization Law, which was legislated in 1938, one year after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The decision to organize the Volunteer Army Corps was made by the government in March 1945.

According to research conducted in 2010 by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the number of people in the Volunteer Army Corps in the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, both those in residential communities and work places, totaled 11,633. Of this number, 4,632 were killed in the atomic bombing.