Red Cross Stretcher Bearer Competition

Women stretcher bearers from the Japanese Red Cross compete in an exhibition designed to increase public morale. While an impressive display, many of these volunteers were killed because they could not outrun the firebombings on foot. They were also maimed or killed by antipersonnel bombs. The Japanese Red Cross (Nihon Sekijujisha) was favored by the Imperial Family. The millions of Red Cross volunteers provided medical assistance during the bombings. Food parcels and letters to and from Allied prisoners of war through the international office in Geneva, Switzerland. 230,000 letters were processed for camps in Malaya, Java, Shanghai, Hong Kong, China, Burma and Japan. The Allies were able to get some food through the Red Cross to some captives, but much was stolen or rerouted, and many prisoners were not acknowledged by the Japanese. As the war progressed, and Japan moved further away from honoring the Geneva Convention, it was harder for the Red Cross to operate in the camps. After the war, the Japanese Red Cross assisted plaintiffs suing the Japanese government for war crimes involving slave labor. The Red Cross also took possession of human remains recovered from prisoner of war camps and tried to identify and return them to their home country.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Monday, November 1, 1943
Tokyo Prefecture