Hutou Ww2 Japanese Fortress Guns China

Hutou Fort – Fighting 11 Days After WW2 Ended


The Emperor declared the war over. But what happens?

The fighting goes on.

Not believing a radio message that Japan had surrendered, the defenders of Hutou Fortress fought the Soviets for 11 days after World War Two.

Hutou Ww2 Japanese Fortress China
Japanese Koto Fortress: Map of Hotou defence lines BELOW: Archive photo of Japanese artillery emplacement; and today, old shells in underground storage bunker.

In the hills of north-east China are the ruins of Japan’s secret fortresses, where the last battle took place in August 1945.

The fortress at Hutou (known as Koto Fortress to the Japanese) housed 12,000 troops.

japanese koto fortress tunnels hutou fort museum china
Inside the underground fortress at Hutou in Northern China, Wei and I explored a complex of tunnels inside the Japanese Fortress of Koto. Tunnels that led to facilities including barracks, storage rooms, fuel depots, kitchens, bathrooms, schools, wells, hospitals, power stations, command centers, observation posts, bunkers, fight-back points and artillery emplacements.

Japanese Koto Fortress – a Secret Frontier of Forts

Hutou’s fortification zone was series of underground bases across several hills and ran 16 kilometres long and went 30 kilometres wide.

Tunnels and trenches to subterranean bases connected hundreds of concrete bunkers and armoured gun turrets.

Hotou Ww2 Japanese Fortress Museum China
Entrance to the Hutou Fortress Museum on the underground site of the Japanese Koto Fortress. Now, a 2,000-meter tunnel system has been opened to the public. But it only encompasses about 1/10th of the fortifications.

And Hutou Fort was one of 17 large defensive bases along the Chinese-Russian, Chinese-Mongolian, Chinese-North Korean borders, encompassing an area of northern China which had been occupied by Japan since the early 1930s.

Entrance to Hutou Fortress Museum is FREE

From their secret bases in north-east China – in Manchuria – bordering Russia, the Japanese military had planned to attack the Soviet Union.

Koto Fortress was at the core of a chain of forts within reach of Vladivostok and the Soviet’s Far East railway system

japanese koto fortress tunnels hutou fort museum china world war two Japanese artillery
Hutou Fortress Museum display of Japanese guns and rusted artillery shells in foreground. (I’m not sure how many of these images apply to Hutou Fort but reflect various military archives from the Manchurian defense line).

(And this was the thinking in the 1930s – attack Russia. That was before the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe in 1939 and later Japan’s Pacific War with the USA in 1941.).

Forced labor constructed Hutou Fortress

Building Hutou Fort began in 1934 and was mostly completed in 1939, yet parts remained unfinished in 1945.

200,000 Chinese forced-laborers did construction.

second world war bunkers at Japanese Koto Fortress at Hutou in China
Inside, tunnels lead to concealed bunkers in Japanese Koto Fortress (that would have been manned with heavy machine-gun teams).

The Japanese worked them hard. Many died.

And after completion of the fortress – to keep the site secret, they slaughtered most of the laborers.

Gun Battery Ruins Hutou Fortress Battle
Destroyed gun batteries from Soviet War Archives @

Even when the Japanese Emperor Hirohito declared the unconditional surrender of Japanese troops on August 15, 1945, around 1,500 Japanese soldiers continued to occupy the fort and fought stubbornly against the joint armies of China and the Soviet Union.

After 17 days of intense fighting, 1,380 Japanese soldiers were killed and 53 captured. More than 600 (civilian) relatives of the Japanese officers also died during the war.

Statistics from Russian war records show that 1,490 soldiers of the Soviet Union Far East Army died in the battle.

SOURCE: China Daily

Japanese Koto Fortress battle pictures
Today, another hidden bunker amid the forest slopes and dirt trenches. Below: Images from the Hotou Museum: Map of the battle with the Soviets crossing the river border and heading West/Left; Archive pics from Soviet Army.
Hutou World war 2 Japanese Fort War Memorial
War memorial commemorating the Russian (& Chinese) victory at Hutou Fort in a war that China fought against Japan from 1931 to 1945. (Note: The date on the monument shows 1933 – the year the Japanese invaded the Hutou area and when Chinese fighters started their resistance against the occupation.)

Travels in China – 2019

Join the Journey

Get my FREE book of Crazy Travels & occasional updates

Join the Journey

Get my FREE book of Crazy Travels & occasional updates