In the 1930s, Tankettes were in vogue in the world of military hardware. About the size of a car, these small armoured vehicles were used for infantry support and scouting. Just like many other countries, Japanese military officials were fully on board with the tankette trend.
In 1936, Tokyo Gasu Denki (now Hino Motors) developed the Type 97 Te-Ke Tankette to replace the outdated Type 94 light tank. The Type 97 had several key differences – notably, the engine was in the rear and the gun turret was in the middle. Designed as a fast reconnaissance vehicle, the Type 97 Te-Ke Tankette would go on to be used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War, at Nomonhan against the Soviet Union, and in World War II.