The Type 2 Ka-Mi was based on the Army's Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, but with an all-welded hull with rubber seals in place of the riveted armor. It was intended to be water-tight. Large, hollow pontoons made from steel plates were attached to the front glacis plate and rear decking to give the necessary buoyancy. The front pontoon was internally divided into eight separate compartments to minimize the effects of damage from flooding and shellfire. These flotation devices could be jettisoned from inside the tank once the tank landed and commenced ground combat operations.
The Type 2 Ka-Mi's gun turret with a high-velocity Type 1 37 mm gun and a coaxial Type 97 light machine gun was able to rotate 360°. A second Type 97 light machine gun was located in the tank's bow. Occasionally Type 2 Ka-Mi's were armed with a pair of naval torpedoes; one on either side of the hull. The Type 2 Ka-Mi could also be launched from the deck of a submarine.
The Type 2 Ka-Mi was capable of attaining speeds of 10 km/h in the water with a range of 150 km through two propellers situated at the rear of the hull, powered by the tank's engine. Steering was in the control of the tank commander, who operated a pair of rudders from the turret through cables.
That the crew included an onboard mechanic is an indication of the complexity of the design.
As early as 1928, the Japanese Army had been developing and testing amphibious tanks and created several experimental models such as the SR-II, the Type 1 Mi-Sha and the Type 92 A-I-Go which either never made it off the drawing board or were produced only as one-off prototypes for concept testing. In 1940, The Navy took over development of amphibious vehicles and two years later came up with the Type 2 Ka-Mi. The Type 2 Ka-Mi was designed for the Navy's Special Naval Landing Forces for the amphibious invasion of Pacific Islands without adequate port facilities, and for various special operations missions.
Only 184 units of the Type 2 Ka-Mi were built, beginning in 1942, due to the number of complex components and due to the fact that it had to be nearly completely hand-built.