PDA

View Full Version : My Thoughts on Imperial Japan



Gary D.
10-10-2009, 11:28 AM
My interest has been primarily focused on the Reich leadership, and I can pretend very little knowledge of that, particularly when confronted by really knowledgeable people. I do, however, have an interest in Japan.

I’ve read some books about wartime Imperial Japan and its Emperor. One sought to whitewash Hirohito (Hirohito, which came out in the 1960s, I think)—the other taking the opposite approach (Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy). There is also the excellent Imperial Tragedy, which is equally divided between the opening days of the war and the last. I can recommend all three books.

Hirohito was a prisoner of tradition and the Meijji Constitution, which theoretically gave him supreme control of the empire’s armed forces. When he toured England as crown prince, he was enchanted by the relative freedom of its royal family. One thing he took back to the Home Isles was his enjoyment of a good English breakfast, which he was forced to give up during the war.

Theoretically, Hirohito could have stopped Pearl Harbor, even though the high-line militarists wielded the actual power.

I come down on Hirohito’s side, because look at his conduct after the war. Can you imagine the pre-war Son of Heaven calling upon an American general? I can’t compare Hitler with Hirohito, but how would Hitler have reacted had he somehow been allowed to retain power, under a defeated Reich?

Even someone of the eminence of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was bound up by traditions. He lived and studied in the United States for some years and enjoyed a good game of poker with Americans. He was aware of the vast potential of this country, even though at the time the U.S. army’s strength was less than that of Greece’s. Yamamoto opposed Japan’s military adventurism in invading Manchuria and the war in China—and definitely didn’t want war with the United States.

His prediction, success for no more than six months (to a year) after Pearl Harbor, then a turnaround for the empire’s forces. Which, of course, was what happened—Midway in April 1942 halted Japanese advances in the Pacific, leading to its painful retreat.

Even to a non-military observer such as myself, it’s obvious that Japan’s strategy, as was Germany’s, was a quick, decisive knockout punch, bringing Britain/the U.S. to the negotiating table before American factories could begin churning out their overwhelming might.

Rising Sun*
10-10-2009, 12:02 PM
Go to the original source documents, and the background to them, leading to Japan's wars in China and against the West and you'll find that Hirohito was in all of it up to his scrawny little neck.

While you are correct in indicating that he was to some extent a captive of the militarists, and wisely wary of upsetting them to avoid his forebears' histories of being puppets or corpses of others, the fact remains that Hirohito took a great deal of interest in and pleasure from Japan's successes. He was not a passive observer but a player in formulating national war strategy.

He changed his mind when Japan's defeat became inevitable, and Japanese history has allowed him to do that in the same intellectually and morally deficient and unconvincing way that it has presented Japan's war and war conduct to the Japanese people and the rest of the world since 1945.

The best analysis of Hirohito, by several authors none of whom I can recall offhand, is that he was devoted to the survival of the Imperial line and acted always in that interest, whether as a supporter of the militarists or later as an advocate of surrender. When he is viewed in that light his otherwise inconsistent and extreme positions from rancid militarist to passive post-war head makes sense. And not much else does, unless one chooses to take a rather more brutal view of him as a man of no principle who always bent with the wind. Which is hardly a quality to commend him to his people or history as a worthwhile person or emperor.

Gary D.
10-10-2009, 01:30 PM
Go to the original source documents, and the background to them, leading to Japan's wars in China and against the West and you'll find that Hirohito was in all of it up to his scrawny little neck.

While you are correct in indicating that he was to some extent a captive of the militarists, and wisely wary of upsetting them to avoid his forebears' histories of being puppets or corpses of others, the fact remains that Hirohito took a great deal of interest in and pleasure from Japan's successes. He was not a passive observer but a player in formulating national war strategy.

He changed his mind when Japan's defeat became inevitable, and Japanese history has allowed him to do that in the same intellectually and morally deficient and unconvincing way that it has presented Japan's war and war conduct to the Japanese people and the rest of the world since 1945.

The best analysis of Hirohito, by several authors none of whom I can recall offhand, is that he was devoted to the survival of the Imperial line and acted always in that interest, whether as a supporter of the militarists or later as an advocate of surrender. When he is viewed in that light his otherwise inconsistent and extreme positions from rancid militarist to passive post-war head makes sense. And not much else does, unless one chooses to take a rather more brutal view of him as a man of no principle who always bent with the wind. Which is hardly a quality to commend him to his people or history as a worthwhile person or emperor.

Even if everything you say is true, and I respectfully disagree with much of it, if we had insisted that Hirohito--and the Imperial line be abolished--we would have had to sacrifice a million men--and the Japanese much more in fighting us for every inch of Japanese soil.

I have read about MacArthur's experience with the Emperor, and believe he knew best.

Rising Sun*
10-10-2009, 09:24 PM
Even if everything you say is true, and I respectfully disagree with much of it ...

If you're referring to my view that Hirohito was heavily involved in war planning, which is the foundation for my other views, there is ample evidence that he was, as recorded in primary documents such as the Sugiyama Memorandum. Peter Wetzler covers this reasonably briefly in Hirohito and War, at pages 29-40: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=BWqEkwH1KRMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=peter+wetzler#v=onepage&q=&f=false

The case for Hirohito's involvement and the cover ups that allowed him and the Japanese hierarchy to present him as a puppet of the militarists to preserve the imperial line is made out in great detail in David Bergamini's 1,200 or so pages Japan's Imperial Conspiracy published in 1971.

Writing nearly 30 years after Bergamini, Herbert Bix had the advantage of access to documents not available to Bergamini but he comes to similar conclusions to Bergamini in Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan.

These are not the dominant post-war views in large part because MacArthur, for reasons primarily to do with managing the Occupation as painlessly as possible for the Allies, in effect conspired with the Japanese to present Hirohito as a puppet of the militarists. MacArthur had to do that because that was the only way it could be argued that Hirohito should not stand trial as the leader of the most brutal of the Axis powers. So that version suited American and Japanese interests, but not the desires of some other Allies and notably China that Hirohito be tried as the war criminal he undoubtedly was.

Most of the world has accepted that fiction since the war. It's the best piece of propaganda that contradicts the facts and the worst piece of historical revisionism, in its adverse sense, that anyone has ever managed.

Gary D.
10-11-2009, 12:21 AM
I believe I read Imperial Conspiracy but wasn't persuaded by it. Undoubtedly, you have done more reading on the subject than I have, since my interest is primarily the Reich. I question if Japan's atrocities could have been any more horrible than the Nazis, even given the Nanking Massacre and the horrific 'medical' experiments. I stand by General MacArthur and the Emperor's post-war behavior. Originally, I might have shared your opinion of Hirohito, but subsequent readings have changed my opinion.

Rising Sun*
10-11-2009, 10:23 AM
I believe I read Imperial Conspiracy but wasn't persuaded by it.

My views have been formed more by the primary than secondary sources. The secondary sources to which I referred agree with, rather than formed, my own interpretations of the primary sources.

Hirohito pops up far too often in the primary sources as an active participant in Japan's expansionist plans to have been a mere dupe of those below him who supposedly controlled him. This is even more remarkable given the distance the Emperor had from those below him, if he wished to maintain it.


Undoubtedly, you have done more reading on the subject than I have, since my interest is primarily the Reich. I question if Japan's atrocities could have been any more horrible than the Nazis, even given the Nanking Massacre and the horrific 'medical' experiments.

I can't think of anything the Nazis did which came close to the Rape of Nanking.

I think that the contempt Japan had for Allied POWs and the brutality with which it treated them distinguished it even from the Nazis. I am not aware of anything the Nazis did with POWs comparable with the Burma Railway or the hell ships to Japan or the coal mines in Japan, which represented standard treatment of Allied POWs by the Japanese, albeit often carried out by the downtrodden Koreans who finally had someone below them to abuse as they had been abused by the Japanese after Japan colonised Korea. I am not aware of an equivalent to the Bataan Death March by the Nazis, at least of Western Allied POWs although some Soviet POWs experiences might qualify. Nor am I aware of any Nazi figure comparable to Colonel Tsuji rushing around the theatre urging and participating in the execution of Allied POWs and eating their livers to gain warrior strength. I am not aware of any instances of Nazi conduct in battle which extend to the cruelties inflicted upon and cannibalism of captured Allied troops which were typical of the Japanese at times in Papua New Guinea, such as wiring Allied troops to trees and bayoneting them for hours with the intention of not killing them but making them suffer or hacking their limbs off to cause a slow death as happened on the Kokoda Track and at Milne Bay against Australian troops.

Itís debatable whether the Japanese treatment of Chinese was equivalent to or worse than what the Einsatzgruppen did in the East, but the Sook Ching massacres in Singapore displayed, at least by European standards, a cruelty and barbarity that even the Nazis lacked.

These differences reflect, of course, the fact that the Nazis were essentially European and the Japanese weren't, and that the Japanese treatment of European POWs reflected a particular aspect of contemporary Japanese nationalist / militarist mentality and the resurgence of a primitive warrior mentality and conduct which was absent from European conflicts (even the Nazi fascination with medieval aspects of warrior initiation nothwithstanding), so weíre not comparing apples with apples.


I stand by General MacArthur and the Emperor's post-war behavior.

Iím more concerned by the Emperorís behaviour before and during the war, without which there might well have been no war if he had had the courage to exercise the huge power of his office.

While Hirohito said to American interrogators after the war that he believed he would have been killed by the militarists if he had stood in their way, this ignores the rather important, and inconvenient for "the Hirohito as militarist victim", fact that the militarists had constructed their nationalist edifice and the nation upon the basis of total loyalty to the Emperor and had also created the Emperor as a figure without which Japan could not exist. Itís a bit hard to see how the militarists could then knock him off if he didnít dance to their tune.

Much as the Japanese might wish to avoid it, it seems probable that they had the misfortune to be burdened with a weak Emperor at a time when they needed a strong one to resist the militarist and nationalist forces which dragged Japan towards a disastrous war it could never win.

However, these problems go back to more complex issues and especially to the virulent anti-Chinese racism, akin to but perhaps worse than the Nazi anti-Semitism, which arose in Japan in the early part of the 20th century.

The time to stop Japanís journey to its destruction was not around 1940-41 but before it attacked in China, which in turn was something a stronger Emperor might have done, and something Hirohito did not do as he was also happily involved in Japanís expansion into China and aware of but not critical of its conduct and misconduct there.

Hirohito strikes me as in some respects another Kaiser Wilhelm II. Where the latter was forever in military uniform and playing at being a soldier but effectively unable to serve as a soldier due to his withered arm, Hirohito ponced about in military uniform on his horse while effectively unable to serve as a soldier due to his withered character. Both are strong arguments against inherited power, and against monarchy rather than meritocracy.


Originally, I might have shared your opinion of Hirohito, but subsequent readings have changed my opinion.

Which readings?

I have piloted the opposite course to you, where once I accepted unquestioningly the prevailing ďHirohito as victim of the militaristsĒ position until I started looking into primary sources and thinking about the incosistencies in the prevailing view.

Gary D.
10-11-2009, 11:21 AM
Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed: Secretary Morgenthal didn't get his wishes to transform Germany into an agricultural rump state, and Hirohito wasn't tried as a war criminal.

Egorka
10-11-2009, 01:16 PM
Very interesting post, Rising Sun.

Rising Sun*
10-11-2009, 11:33 PM
Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed ... Hirohito wasn't tried as a war criminal.

Iíd say more war weary and pragmatic than wise heads.

They traded avoidance of a potentially costly invasion of the home islands and an unopposed Occupation for preservation of the Emperor. And, unfortunately, everything that went with him.

This allowed some of the nationalistic elements which took Japan to war to continue right down to today in significant sectors of Japanese government and society, so that they still see no fault in Japanís conduct in starting the war or how it conducted its war and even consider themselves victims of the Allies.

One consequence is that Japanís relations with its regional neighbours are still clouded by its war past and the continuing deceit about that war by significant sectors in government and society.

Contrast this with Germany where the Allies implemented a de-Nazification program instead of, as they effectively did in some respects in Japan, allowing the Nazi regime to continue to run Germany. The consequences are that Germany is resolutely anti-Nazi nowadays and has been pretty much since the war ended but Japan even now remains at best ambivalent and at worst unrepentant about its war past.

Truly wise heads would not have allowed this to occur. The primary reason it did occur is attributable directly to MacArthurís management of the Occupation. After all, under the terms of surrender the Emperor and Japanese government were subject to MacArthurís control, which Macarthur exercised in part to suppress information which contradicted his absurd presentation of Hirohito as a peace-loving captive of the militarists who bore no responsibility for the war. More importantly, MacArthur retained, and the Occupation administration worked through, the imperial institutions and the bureaucracy so that the Ďdemocratizationí of Japan was filtered through two of the three (the third being the military) institutions which took Japan to war and thus preserved much of the old order.

I don't think this was fortunate, for Japan or the rest of the world.

royal744
10-21-2009, 09:32 PM
Plenty of people throughout southeast Asia and China wanted to see Hirohito tried as war criminal. I believe he was but the US was in need of a bulwark in the post war period and didn't want to risk an invasion and its attendant casualties. The rest is history. I'm not an admirer of Macarthur either.

Firefly
10-27-2009, 07:13 PM
Even someone of the eminence of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was bound up by traditions. He lived and studied in the United States for some years and enjoyed a good game of poker with Americans. He was aware of the vast potential of this country, even though at the time the U.S. army’s strength was less than that of Greece’s. Yamamoto opposed Japan’s military adventurism in invading Manchuria and the war in China—and definitely didn’t want war with the United States.

And yet, one could argue that he was the very instigator of his own prediction by attempting the extremely complex and unnecessary Midway operation. In my limited opinion Yamamato was constricted by the Japanese obsession of a decisive battle rather that a pragmatic approach of looking at HIS strengths and US weaknesses at the time, that being the absolute Japanese advantage of having the best carrier striking force at that time in the world as opposed to using it in a diminished capacity against a limited and unrealised goal.

steben
10-28-2009, 03:31 AM
A distinguishable difference between Hitler and Hirohito is their motives. Hitler came with his "project" and retoric enigma to power through elections and tried to implement it on the world.
Hirohito was born as emperor. He had to make decisions outside his own schemes.

Rising Sun*
10-28-2009, 06:38 AM
A distinguishable difference between Hitler and Hirohito is their motives. Hitler came with his "project" and retoric enigma to power through elections and tried to implement it on the world.
Hirohito was born as emperor. He had to make decisions outside his own schemes.

Yes and no.

They had different powers in differently organised regimes, but each of them was devoted to ensuring the survival of their regime.

Hirohito was the only one of the Axis power leaders who succeeded in ensuring his regime survived, albeit with the modest concession of renouncing his divine status.

royal744
12-08-2009, 06:48 PM
I think the matter of Hirohito's involvement in the Pacific War has been painstakingly researched. The commonly-held belief that Hirohito was a "prisoner of tradition" or a prisoner of the military is nonsense and primarily the result of ex-post-facto disinformation spread by MacArthur and his people. In my opinion, and supported by much research to substantiate it, Hirohito was in the war up to his eyeballs. He was a prisoner only of his own ambition. He should have been tried as the war criminal he was.

royal744
12-08-2009, 06:59 PM
The Japanese suffered from some serious hubris, believing themselves to be superior to everyone else. Yamato Nation my derriere. It is instructive in this regard, that following the initial victories against surprised and unprepared (and very distracted) enemies - who had some unrealistic pretensions of their own - Japan never again won another important or strategic victory. Nada. Niente. Nichts. From Guadalcanal onwards, it was all downhill.
They were so blinded by their own conviction of invincibility that they could not put a pencil to paper and make the simple calculation that if the US came into the war, victory was i m p o s s i b l e. They attacked anyway.

Rising Sun*
12-08-2009, 07:42 PM
They were so blinded by their own conviction of invincibility that they could not put a pencil to paper and make the simple calculation that if the US came into the war, victory was i m p o s s i b l e. They attacked anyway.

The central failure of Japan's grand strategy for the war was that it embodied a similar failure to the current Iraq and Afghanistan exercises: Excellent execution of the initial battle phase but inadequate consideration of and planning for the aftermath, in large part because of a failure to anticipate correctly the responses caused by the inavasions and occupations.

The Japanese worked on the basis that once they had acquired their Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere territory they could hold it for long enough to retain it permanently as a fait accompli because the colonial powers wouldn't be able to take it back. As far as I've ever been able to find out there was never any detailed analysis and planning to demonstrate how this was to occur. It was just an assumption.

If the Japanese leaders had any inkling of how Pearl Harbor would anger America they would have realised that there was no way America was going to leave them alone to enjoy the fruits of their conquests. Although Hitler's inspired lunancy in declaring war on America ensured that the Japanese got it easier than they would have otherwise as the 'Germany first' policy diverted the bulk of American men and materiel to the war against Germany.

Rising Sun*
12-08-2009, 08:22 PM
in Iwo Jima japanese soldiers killed themselves with grenades because they were taking casualties.

Yes, that probably seems like a highly effective way to reduce casualties to a numbskull like you.

Are you taking the piss with your idiotic comments in various threads, or are you genuinely stupid?

You've been warned before about this conduct before, for example http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?p=148709#post148709 , so stop it.

Deaf Smith
12-08-2009, 09:59 PM
Victory was always impossible for the Japanese in a military sense. Being an island nation with no real natural resources they were dependent on importing most of their vital metals, oil, and alot of their foodstuffs, mostly by ships.

It's been shown that we produced ten times what they could produce, even if we didn't interfere with their shipping.

And the time of Pearl Harbor, we were constructing six new battleships (South Carolina and North Dakota class) with two of them already being launched. We also had the first two Essex being built! One of the first of the next generation of fighter planes already in production (P-38.)

And these war production statistics shows it all:

http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm

But the Japanese did not fight the war with the hope of truly defeating us on the battlefield. Their leaders HOPED we would quit due to casualties. They felt if they could outlast us in a war of attrition (don't laugh, in Vietnam they did!)

The Japanese brainwashing with their twisted idea of Bushido, cleverly altered to indoctrinate the youths to die for their 'emperor' (instead of winning victories for him) was what they hoped to get us to quit. This is not unlike the Muslim extremist use of suicide bombers.

This indoctrination backfired in that many of them really did commit suicide on the battlefield instead of attacking the Allied forces. These cases of mass suicide actually helped us as we avoided having to fight them (and makes one wonder if there is a way to psyops the terrorist to just commit suicide to go see their 71 virgins...)

So the Japanese did not aim to defeat us military. They aimed to defeat us psychologically., but with insufficient resources to force that.

Deaf

royal744
12-10-2009, 11:33 PM
Maybe it was a case of simple greed: I want that; I'm going to take it; and I'll try to beat you up to keep you from taking it back. To make that work, you actually have to rationally calculate that you can do this instead of believing your "fighting spirit" can overcome impossible odds. Really, for all their technical sophistication and ability to copy and improve on other folks' equipment, the fundamental underlayment of rational, cold and sober thinking was missing. To this day, the Japanese have never admitted that they started anything at all and even recently made fools of themselves by insisting that "we" fired the first shot by dropping depth charges on their submarine that was attempting to enter Pearl Harbor! Any nation capable of such brazen lies to themselves as well as to others is beneath contempt. Read Hirohito's broadcast to the nation and see for yourself that he never admitted any culpability whatsoever, nor that the Japanese were actually defeated. They cannot admit that they were beaten, especially by us contemptible "gaijin". What kind of nation, I ask, is that?

Wizard
01-12-2010, 09:06 PM
The Japanese suffered from some serious hubris, believing themselves to be superior to everyone else. Yamato Nation my derriere. It is instructive in this regard, that following the initial victories against surprised and unprepared (and very distracted) enemies - who had some unrealistic pretensions of their own - Japan never again won another important or strategic victory. Nada. Niente. Nichts. From Guadalcanal onwards, it was all downhill.
They were so blinded by their own conviction of invincibility that they could not put a pencil to paper and make the simple calculation that if the US came into the war, victory was i m p o s s i b l e. They attacked anyway.

Agreed. It's not easy to start, and lose, a war in one morning.

Yamamoto, who supposedly "knew" the Americans, chose the one way guaranteed to render the Japan's war strategy impossible.

Also agree that Hirohito was no innocent dupe of the militarists, but responsible for most of the decisions taken by Japan on it's path to war. His performance during the 2/26 incident proves the militarists did not control him. Hell, even many of the Japanese felt he should have been tried as a war criminal. It was MacArthur's decision and he botched it.

Rising Sun*
01-13-2010, 08:01 AM
Yamamoto, who supposedly "knew" the Americans, chose the one way guaranteed to render the Japan's war strategy impossible.

Or did he, as a loyal Japanese naval officer and strategist obliged to serve in a war he knew Japan would almost certainly lose once America marshalled its industrial and manpower might, do the best he could to deliver a crushing blow to his nation's enemy at the outset?

From a naval viewpoint, what else could he have done in the first attack that would or could have crippled American naval power better than Pearl Harbor, and that was within the capacity of Japan?

Rising Sun*
01-13-2010, 08:34 AM
Also agree that Hirohito was no innocent dupe of the militarists, but responsible for most of the decisions taken by Japan on it's path to war. His performance during the 2/26 incident proves the militarists did not control him.

Agreed.

But it's an interesting path he took to 2/26 as he started out exercising his power with the Tanaka government some years earlier.

I've made a very modest study of this history and the best I can conclude is that there were elements in Japanese political and other institutions which operated in ways which are largely beyond the comprehension of Westerners because of the obscure intricacies of those Japanese institutions etc and Japanese society, plus the controls steadily imposed by the militarists (which is a convenient term here for all the fascist, ultra-nationalist, etc elements in Japan between the wars).

While it should be apparent that I'm no fan of the "Hirohito as a puppet of the militarists" view, it also needs to be recognised that the history of emperors in Japan was that they could be captives to various interests, either or both physically or in other ways.

Hirohito was potentially and rather slightly in the same position and by all accounts aware of it, but with the unusual benefit of the militarists boosting him as the soul of the nation and thereby making it virtually impossible for them to assassinate him as he later claimed was a risk if he disobeyed them.

Overall, after looking at his whole history, he comes across as a sneaky little bastard who was always willing to back a winner and to ditch him once he looked like a loser who could threaten the survival of Hirohito and or the imperial line. Which is pretty much the history of most hereditary rulers around the world.

Rising Sun*
01-13-2010, 08:58 AM
It was MacArthur's decision and he botched it.

Definitely, but understandably

I think MacArthur was an affront to justice and humanity in the way he ran the Occupation and the post-war trials of the Japanese.

I also think he gave the survival of the Emperor more importance than the little bastard, and the institution, deserved.

The big question for MacArthur etc at the end of the war was whether the Japanese would be governable if the Emperor was tried for war crimes.

Personally, I think they would have been.

The Japanese then were not a people to challenge authority. The Emperor had told them in his surrender broadcast, in his quaint way of avoiding admitting anything including defeat, that they were beaten. That meant they would co-operate with the Allies in the Occupation.

Or, and this is the question which is rarely deeply considered in the 'What if' discussions: What would have happened if the Allies had tried the Emperor for war crimes and hanged the little bastard like he deserved?

Well, for a start, the Japanese should (but not necessarily would) have seen a connection between the Emperor's conduct and the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in his name and under his command. So maybe they would have some understanding of their guilt for such events.

In those circumstances would they have engaged in another of their brilliant if stunningly empty post-war moral and intellectual gymnastics by rendering the Emperor a victim of unjust victor's justice, rather like they make Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims of an unjust victor (which victor didn't start the war and which victor suffered an attack about as relatively devastating in 1941 as could be mounted in 1945 with a new weapon).

Wizard
01-13-2010, 02:29 PM
Or did he, as a loyal Japanese naval officer and strategist obliged to serve in a war he knew Japan would almost certainly lose once America marshalled its industrial and manpower might, do the best he could to deliver a crushing blow to his nation's enemy at the outset?

From a naval viewpoint, what else could he have done in the first attack that would or could have crippled American naval power better than Pearl Harbor, and that was within the capacity of Japan?

There are three premises in your argument that need to be examined;

!. Pearl Harbor "crippled" American naval power.

2. Yamamoto as a "strategist".

3. Yamamoto as a "loyal" naval officer.

I would argue, and I think the correct answer is manifest, that the Pearl Harbor strike did not cripple American naval power in the Pacific. The most important naval losses at Pearl Harbor were the eight battleships berthed there. Of those eight ships, three were never repaired and the other five eventually were repaired and returned to service. Another twelve vessels were damaged or sunk, but none of these ships were all that important to the operations of the Pacific Fleet. The three Pacific Fleet carriers, which should have been the primary targets, were absent from the base.

In fact, none of the damaged and destroyed ships were, in the event of war with Japan, tasked with anything other than defending Pearl Harbor. Contrary to Yamamoto's supposition, these eight old battleships weren't going to try to intervene in Japan's First Phase operations and wouldn't have found themselves engaging the Japanese fleet off Sumatra or Java, even if they had remained operational. These battleships badly need refits and rebuilding to give them any chance of competing with the rebuilt capital ships of the IJN. Moreover, even if these battleships had been of the most modern types, there were not enough destroyers to screen both them and the US carriers, nor the required support and replenishment vessels to allow them to operate further west than about the region of Midway.

The ships of the Pacific Fleet with the greatest offensive potential, Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga (soon to be joined by the Yorktown and Hornet), were still operational, and utilizing almost all of the available screening destroyers and support ships. These carriers were, in effect, the total effective power of the Pacific Fleet and were untouched by Yamamoto's attack on Pearl Harbor.

So at the expense of completely negating the only reasonably viable strategy available to Japan, and uniting the will and determination of an entire country behind an enemy war effort, what did Yamamoto accomplish? The destruction of three old battleships and the temporary removal of five more from the task of defending an advanced base, which the Japanese, in any case, had no chance of successfully destroying.

Let's now examine Yamamoto as a "strategist". We've already seen how he managed to destroy, on the first day of the war, the only potentially "winning" strategy Japan could pursue to obtain a successful end to the war, but what about his military strategy? There are only two major battles which can fairly be attributed to Yamamoto's strategic "genius"; Pearl Harbor and Midway. Pearl Harbor, of course, was a brilliant tactical victory, but an abysmally stupid strategic mistake. In my opinion, the tactical aspects of Pearl Harbor must be credited to Yamamoto's air staff which did the detail planning for Pearl Harbor, so even the tactical success cannot, in all fairness, be accorded to Yamamoto.

That leaves Midway. Midway was, of course, a huge tactical disaster for Japan. Strategically, it cost Japan the initiative in the Pacific. But it must be admitted that Japan was fatally over-extended and would have soon lost the strategic initiative, no matter what the outcome of Midway. However, from a strategic perspective, Midway makes absolutely no sense even if the operation had been successful. The island is too small to support much more than a local air defense, is too distant from Japan and too close to a major American base to be easily supplied, and could only be held if the IJN was willing to commit a major portion of it's naval, air, and logistical resources to it's defense. These arguments were made prior to Midway, by the Japanese Naval General Staff, but Yamamoto, arrogantly and foolishly, ignored them.

It could be argued that Yamamoto realized that Midway was not the prize, but only a kind of bait to lure the remnants of the US Pacific Fleet to it's annihilation. But if that was the intent of the operation, it is only necessary to point out that Yamamoto deployed the major portion of the Japanese Navy, something like 164 combatant ships, and only managed to bring that concentrated fire power on a single major unit of the American Navy, and only managed to sink that ship through the fortuitous intervention of a single Japanese submarine.

I'm afraid any rational person, informed of Yamamoto's record, would not be likely to conclude he was a competent strategist.

Finally, was Yamamoto a "loyal" naval officer? Well, I don't think his superior, Nagano Osami, would give an unequivocal answer to that question. Yamamoto, at the beginning of the war, was Commander of the Combined Fleet which was more a concept than an actual fleet. The Combined Fleet encompassed the major combatant components of the Japanese Navy. These vessels may or may not have been under the direct command of Yamamoto depending on the circumstances and ongoing operations. The US counterpart of Yamamoto's position would be Commander in Chief of the US Fleet or, Cominch in US Navy parlance. Admiral King held this post during WW II, but combined it with the position of Chief of Naval Operations. In the Japanese Navy, Commander, Combined Fleet, reported to the Chief of the Naval General Staff, Admiral Nagano, who was responsible for planning strategy and coordinating operations.

However, for the two most important, and strategically disastrous, battles in the early part of the war, Pearl Harbor and Midway, Yamamoto usurped Admiral Nagano's authority by forcing his opinions and desires on the Naval General Staff. Moreover, these opinions were not shared by the Naval General Staff and Yamamoto only got his way by threatening to resign if the operations were not approved. The situation is analogous to Nimitz forcing his opinions on strategy on the JCS. That such a thing would be tolerated in the Japanese Navy cannot be explained by resort to western notions of organizational discipline and loyalty. But even in Japan, Yamamoto may have been termed patriotic, but certainly not "loyal".

You ask, what else could Yamamoto have done to cripple American naval power? This question, of course, is misleading, because Yamamoto's plan did not cripple American Naval power, and in fact, barely touched the effective naval power of the Pacific Fleet. But I will answer that what Yamamoto should have done was to follow orders like a loyal naval officer and carry out his assigned duties, leaving strategic planning to those duly authorized to develop war plans. If Pearl harbor had not been attacked, it would have had little effect on the Japanese First Phase operations, but would have avoided the outrage felt by the American public and government, and would have left alive the possibility, slight though it may have realistically been, of a negotiated peace.

Wizard
01-13-2010, 02:52 PM
Agreed.

But it's an interesting path he took to 2/26 as he started out exercising his power with the Tanaka government some years earlier.

I've made a very modest study of this history and the best I can conclude is that there were elements in Japanese political and other institutions which operated in ways which are largely beyond the comprehension of Westerners because of the obscure intricacies of those Japanese institutions etc and Japanese society, plus the controls steadily imposed by the militarists (which is a convenient term here for all the fascist, ultra-nationalist, etc elements in Japan between the wars).

While it should be apparent that I'm no fan of the "Hirohito as a puppet of the militarists" view, it also needs to be recognised that the history of emperors in Japan was that they could be captives to various interests, either or both physically or in other ways.

Hirohito was potentially and rather slightly in the same position and by all accounts aware of it, but with the unusual benefit of the militarists boosting him as the soul of the nation and thereby making it virtually impossible for them to assassinate him as he later claimed was a risk if he disobeyed them.

Overall, after looking at his whole history, he comes across as a sneaky little bastard who was always willing to back a winner and to ditch him once he looked like a loser who could threaten the survival of Hirohito and or the imperial line. Which is pretty much the history of most hereditary rulers around the world.

I generally agree with your sentiments about Hirohito. I think the 2/26 incident demonstrates he was more or less secure from any directly coercive influence the militarists might have attempted to exercise. Certainly he does not seem to have been susceptible, barring the possibility of an irrational individual (always a possibility in interwar Japan), to any assassination threats from his political or military opponents.

However, it should be noted that Hirohito, as Crown Prince before his ascension to the throne, on 27 December, 1923, did have a pistol fired into his carriage en route to the Diet, by Namba Daisuke, a son of a Diet member and a Communist activist who was later executed for the act. Whether or not this was a serious assassination attempt is open to question.

As Herbert Bix hints several times in his book on Hirohito, it seems to me that the most serious threat to Hirohito's life and continued political reign were his own brothers with whom he had a rather rocky relationship. I agree Hirohito came across as a sneaky little manipulative bastard. I also wonder about his relationship with MacArthur, specifically, who was using whom? But that's one tangled puzzle that I doubt will ever be sorted out properly

Wizard
01-13-2010, 03:02 PM
Definitely, but understandably

I think MacArthur was an affront to justice and humanity in the way he ran the Occupation and the post-war trials of the Japanese.

I also think he gave the survival of the Emperor more importance than the little bastard, and the institution, deserved.

The big question for MacArthur etc at the end of the war was whether the Japanese would be governable if the Emperor was tried for war crimes.

Personally, I think they would have been.

The Japanese then were not a people to challenge authority. The Emperor had told them in his surrender broadcast, in his quaint way of avoiding admitting anything including defeat, that they were beaten. That meant they would co-operate with the Allies in the Occupation.

Or, and this is the question which is rarely deeply considered in the 'What if' discussions: What would have happened if the Allies had tried the Emperor for war crimes and hanged the little bastard like he deserved?

Well, for a start, the Japanese should (but not necessarily would) have seen a connection between the Emperor's conduct and the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in his name and under his command. So maybe they would have some understanding of their guilt for such events.

In those circumstances would they have engaged in another of their brilliant if stunningly empty post-war moral and intellectual gymnastics by rendering the Emperor a victim of unjust victor's justice, rather like they make Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims of an unjust victor (which victor didn't start the war and which victor suffered an attack about as relatively devastating in 1941 as could be mounted in 1945 with a new weapon).

Can't really disagree with anything you write. I will only say that I think if justice had actually been done, and Hirohito had breathed his last at the end of a gallows rope that it would have been far more difficult for the Japanese to rationalize their behavior during the war.

As for being governable if Hirohito had been tried, I really believe the Japanese would have been; Akihito was what? Twelve or thirteen by that time, and one of Hirohito's brothers would have been appointed as a regent until he became of age to ascend the throne. Frankly I think that would have better served at least MacArthur's purposes, if not that of the Allies.

Rising Sun*
01-14-2010, 06:57 AM
There are three premises in your argument that need to be examined;

!. Pearl Harbor "crippled" American naval power.

....

I would argue, and I think the correct answer is manifest, that the Pearl Harbor strike did not cripple American naval power in the Pacific.

I wasn't arguing that he crippled it, just that he tried to but at best only postponed the US response through the USN.



In fact, none of the damaged and destroyed ships were, in the event of war with Japan, tasked with anything other than defending Pearl Harbor. Contrary to Yamamoto's supposition, these eight old battleships weren't going to try to intervene in Japan's First Phase operations and wouldn't have found themselves engaging the Japanese fleet off Sumatra or Java, even if they had remained operational. These battleships badly need refits and rebuilding to give them any chance of competing with the rebuilt capital ships of the IJN. Moreover, even if these battleships had been of the most modern types, there were not enough destroyers to screen both them and the US carriers, nor the required support and replenishment vessels to allow them to operate further west than about the region of Midway.

I confess to being confused by the endless versions of and amendments to ORANGE and RAINBOW, but my understanding is that the US Pacific Fleet based in Hawaii was tasked with considerably more than just defending Hawaii, as is outlined in RAINBOW FIVE (WPL-46) promulgated in May 1941:


CHAPTER II. FORCES IN THE PACIFIC AREA

Section 1. THE U. S. PACIFIC FLEET

3211. The U. S. PACIFIC FLEET (Chapter III, Appendix II) will be
organized into task forces as follows:
a. Task forces as directed by the Commander in Chief, U. S. PACIFIC
FLEET;
b. NAVAL STATION, SAMOA
c. NAVAL STATION, GUAM.

3212. The U. S. PACIFIC FLEET is assigned the following tasks within the
PACIFIC AREA:
a. TASK
SUPPORT THE FORCES OF THE ASSOCIATED POWERS IN THE FAR EAST BY
DIVERTING ENEMY STRENGTH AWAY FROM THE MALAY BARRIER, THROUGH THE
DENIAL AND CAPTURE OF POSITIONS IN THE MARSHALLS, AND THROUGH
RAIDS ON ENEMY SEA COMMUNICATIONS AND POSITIONS;
b. TASK
PREPARE TO CAPTURE AND ESTABLISH CONTROL OVER THE CAROLINE AND
MARSHALL ISLAND AREA, AND TO ESTABLISH AN ADVANCED FLEET BASE IN
TRUK;
c. TASK
DESTROY AXIS SEA COMMUNICATIONS BY CAPTURING OR DESTROYING VESSELS
TRADING DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY WITH THE ENEMY;
d. TASK
SUPPORT BRITISH NAVAL FORCES IN THE AREA SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR AS
FAR WEST AS LONGITUDE 155 EAST;
[28]
e. TASK
DEFEND SAMOA IN CATEGORY "D";
f. TASK
DEFEND GUAM IN CATEGORY "F";
g. TASK
PROTECT THE SEA COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ASSOCIATED POWERS BY
ESCORTING, COVERING, AND PATROLLING AS REQUIRED BY CIRCUMSTANCES,
AND BY DESTROYING ENEMY RAIDING FORCES (See Part III, Chapter V,
Section 1);
h. TASK
PROTECT THE TERRITORY OF THE ASSOCIATED POWERS IN THE PACIFIC AREA
AND PREVENT THE EXTENSION OF ENEMY MILITARY POWER INTO THE WESTERN
HEMISPHERE BY DESTROYING HOSTILE EXPEDITIONS AND BY SUPPORTING
LAND AND AIR FORCES IN DENYING THE ENEMY THE USE OF LAND POSITIONS
IN THAT HEMISPHERE;
i. TASK
COVER THE OPERATIONS OF THE NAVAL COASTAL FRONTIER FORCES;
j. TASK
ESTABLISH FLEET CONTROL ZONES, DEFINING THEIR LIMITS FROM TIME TO
TIME AS CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE;
k. TASK
ROUTE SHIPPING OF ASSOCIATED POWERS WITHIN THE FLEET CONTROL
ZONES.
[29]
3213. a. Units assigned to the ATLANTIC REINFORCEMENT in Chapter III,
Appendix II, will be transferred from the U. S. PACIFIC FLEET, to the U.
S. ATLANTIC FLEET, when directed by the Chief of Naval Operations.

b. The SOUTHEAST PACIFIC FORCE (Chapter IV, Appendix II), will be
established under the immediate command of the Chief of Naval
Operations, when so directed by that officer.

c. Until detached, the units assigned to the ATLANTIC REINFORCEMENT and
the SOUTHEAST PACIFIC FORCE will be under the command of the Commander in Chief, U. S. PACIFIC FLEET, and may be employed as desired by him, so long as they remain in the PACIFIC AREA. They shall not be sent such distances from PEARL HARBOR as would prevent their arrival in
the CANAL ZONE twenty-one days after the Chief of Naval Operations
directs their transfer from the PACIFIC AREA. http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/rainbow5.html

Rising Sun*
01-14-2010, 07:15 AM
So at the expense of completely negating the only reasonably viable strategy available to Japan, and uniting the will and determination of an entire country behind an enemy war effort, what did Yamamoto accomplish? The destruction of three old battleships and the temporary removal of five more from the task of defending an advanced base, which the Japanese, in any case, had no chance of successfully destroying.

I don't think we can lay all that on Yamamoto. He was, after all, just the instrument of national policy devised by others.

You might find this an interesting paper on the wider topic of what I think has reasonably been called "a strategic imbecility", but also on the failures of thinking and policy on both sides leading to the war with Japan: http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Japan_s_Decision_for_War_in_1941.pdf

Wizard
01-14-2010, 06:06 PM
I don't think we can lay all that on Yamamoto. He was, after all, just the instrument of national policy devised by others.

Where else can we lay the blame? The plan to attack Pearl Harbor was conceived by Yamamoto, when no one else in the Japanese political hierarchy thought it was necessary. When even his own service opposed the plan as too risky, and considered the potential results not justified by the likely costs, Yamamoto put his career on the line to by threatening resignation if the plan were not approved. Had it not been for Yamamoto, the Pearl Harbor attack would never have taken place. There is no other Japanese individual or group of individuals who felt the plan was necessary to the success of the Japanese First Phase of operations. On the contrary, many Japanese thought the war effort would be better off without the Pearl Harbor attack. So Yamamoto is directly and primarily responsible for the strategic results.


You might find this an interesting paper on the wider topic of what I think has reasonably been called "a strategic imbecility", but also on the failures of thinking and policy on both sides leading to the war with Japan: http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Japan_s_Decision_for_War_in_1941.pdf

Yes, it was interesting. Aside from some factual errors, it seems well reasoned, although I do not completely agree with the author's views. I think the conclusion that Japan was faced with two mutually unacceptable options is wrong, as is the depiction of the likely demands of the US. I also believe that for a nation, pride, ideology and "honor" are no excuse for irrational behavior. Nor for wishful thinking, and a willful refusal to face unpleasant facts.

Wizard
01-14-2010, 06:29 PM
I wasn't arguing that he crippled it, just that he tried to but at best only postponed the US response through the USN.

Well, that was the rationale for the attack, and it failed. Which leads one to question why he thought he could be successful in crippling the Pacific Fleet with a carrier raid on a handful of ships, particularly a raid planned with inadequate intelligence about the US carriers.


I confess to being confused by the endless versions of and amendments to ORANGE and RAINBOW, but my understanding is that the US Pacific Fleet based in Hawaii was tasked with considerably more than just defending Hawaii, as is outlined in RAINBOW FIVE (WPL-46) promulgated in May 1941:

http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/rainbow5.html

It's not easy to wade through the US war Plans of the period and some are internally inconsistent, as if hastily prepared and inadequately reviewed before publication. In the version you quoted, I believe there is a provision (almost literally in the "fine print" section) to the effect that reinforcements from the Pacific Fleet would be not provided for the defense (or recapture) of Guam and the capture of the Marshalls and there is another little zinger to the effect that no units of the Pacific Fleet shall be sent further west than would allow them to steam to the Panama Canal zone in 21 days. When one considers the practical requirements of that kind of voyage, this provision limits deployment of Pacific Fleet units to about the longitude of Midway

Rising Sun*
01-14-2010, 07:03 PM
Where else can we lay the blame?

The IJN general staff. Yamamoto didn't act unilaterally. Without general staff approval Pearl Harbor wouldn't have happened.

In the end it was the general staff which weighed up the arguments for Pearl by Yamamoto and against it by others and decided to go for Pearl.

Rising Sun*
01-14-2010, 07:35 PM
Well, that was the rationale for the attack, and it failed. Which leads one to question why he thought he could be successful in crippling the Pacific Fleet with a carrier raid on a handful of ships, particularly a raid planned with inadequate intelligence about the US carriers.

My understanding is that Yamamoto thought he had a better chance of limiting the USN response to Japan's attack on the Philippines by hitting ships at anchor in Pearl than being brought to battle at sea. If the Pearl plan worked there was no damage to the IJN, which would not be the case with a sea battle.

It also had the advantage of Japan taking the initiative and dictating the time and place of battle, instead of responding to USN initiatives which Yamamoto considered would wear down his numerically inferior force over time. This fear was reinforced by IJN war games that had been run for battles at sea up to mid-1941 consistently resulting in the IJN coming off worse than the USN.

In view of your point about the ships at Pearl being old and inadequate against the Japanese fleet, and your quoted comment above about deficient intelligence about the US carriers, do you know if Yamamoto was properly informed about the essential futility of his attack in destroying the USN response by hitting more or less unimportant ships? I would have thought that he would have had good intelligence about the capacity of the ships at Pearl in view of the extensive Japanese networks in Hawaii.



Ö there is another little zinger to the effect that no units of the Pacific Fleet shall be sent further west than would allow them to steam to the Panama Canal zone in 21 days. When one considers the practical requirements of that kind of voyage, this provision limits deployment of Pacific Fleet units to about the longitude of Midway

I noticed that and wondered what it meant in practical terms. Thanks for clearing that up.

I assume that that was because the US planners anticipated an attack on the Canal, which Yamamoto actually began to plan before his death later in the war.

There is also a reference in RAINBOW 5 to "SUPPORT BRITISH NAVAL FORCES IN THE AREA SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR AS FAR WEST AS LONGITUDE 155 EAST". Do you know where those boundaries would be in relation to various landmarks?

Wizard
01-14-2010, 08:02 PM
The IJN general staff. Yamamoto didn't act unilaterally. Without general staff approval Pearl Harbor wouldn't have happened.

In the end it was the general staff which weighed up the arguments for Pearl by Yamamoto and against it by others and decided to go for Pearl.

No, The General Stall did not willingly approve the Pearl Harbor plan.

Actually, the Army section of IGHQ never expressed an official opinion, but privately tended to think it was a reckless idea.

The Navy section, headed by Admiral Nagano Osami, disapproved of the idea, and felt it was very,very risky, and unnecessary to boot. Nagano continued to oppose Yamamoto's plan for the Pearl Harbor attack until Yamamoto threatened to resign if the plan were not approved. Admiral Nagano, on shaky ground with the Emperor, felt he could not afford to oppose a figure of Yamamoto's popularity, and capitulated.

"In heated arguments during the summer of 1941 between the general staff and Yamamoto's Combined Fleet staff over the wisdom and propriety of the Hawaii operation, the chief of the staff's Operations Section, Captain Tomioka Sadatoshi, provided an extensive list of objections to the Hawaii plan. In sum, he argued that the Japanese navy could not afford to wager its carefully built-up naval air strength in such a desperately risky venture, particularly in view of the fact that it would be needed in other major operations. More than anything else, Tomioka feared that diverting surface and air strength to the Hawaii attack would critically undermine the southern operations and, hence, the major objectives of the coming war. Even if the navy were willing to undertake such an enormous gamble, in Tomioka's view, the Pearl Harbor strike was not truly necessary. Of course, there was the danger that the U.S. Pacific Fleet might try to hit the southern operations in the flank, but Tomioka argued that the enemy would far more likely launch an attack on the Marshall Islands. That would be all to the good since the navy had great confidence that it could intercept the enemy there and launch a smashing counterattack.

The bitter controversy between the general staff and the Combined Fleet staff was not resolved during the summer of 1941, even as training and preparations for the Pearl Harbor operation continued. Nor was it resolved during the September map exercises at the staff college or in October aboard the Nagato; those discussions and exercises relating to the Hawaii operation were held separately and were accessible only to those few naval officers who would be involved in carrying it out. Of all the points of contention, the sharpest concerned the number of aircraft carriers to be used in the attack. Yamamoto had originally proposed four; the September map exercises simulated an attack with three, which the umpires judged to have achieved only marginal results. But those on the general staff working out the details for the invasion of Southeast Asia insisted on reserving some carriers for the southern operations since the navy's land-based air power, specifically its fighters, did not have the range to reach the necessary targets and return.

Then, in early October, the navy general staff was brought around to Yamamoto's idea. There were several reasons for this volte-face, some operational, some bureaucratic. To begin with, the compromise between the army and navy on nearly simultaneous attacks on the Philippines and Malaya eased navy planning considerably. The availability of the splendid new carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku in late September permitted two other carriers to be released for the southern operations and thus eliminated one of the general staff's key objections to the Yamamoto plan. Finally, Yamamoto had carefully and quietly passed the word to the high command that rejection of the Pearl Harbor plan would result in his resignation. Keenly aware of Yamamoto's popularity and prestige within both the navy and the government and faced with the prospect of disharmony, the general staff gave in."

http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3531646.html

In the Spring of 1942, essentially the same thing happened with the Midway Operation; the Naval section of the IGHQ opposed Yamamoto's plan and Yamamoto threatened to resign if it was not approved. Admiral Nagano and the NGS caved in a second time, but this time the NGS proved to be correct; Midway was a disaster for the IJN.

Wizard
01-14-2010, 09:46 PM
My understanding is that Yamamoto thought he had a better chance of limiting the USN response to Japan's attack on the Philippines by hitting ships at anchor in Pearl than being brought to battle at sea. If the Pearl plan worked there was no damage to the IJN, which would not be the case with a sea battle.

The Japanese NGS argued that the likelihood of the Pearl Harbor Strike force retiring without damage was just about zero, and war games conducted to test the plan indicated that Japan would probably lose three to four carriers, even if surprise were achieved. Even Yamamoto admitted that the Japanese carriers might suffer such casualties that they would be prevented from further participation in the war for at least six months. Yamamoto felt that crippling the US Pacific Fleet was worth the potential cost. Almost no one in the Japanese Navy felt there would be no damage to the fleet as a consequence of Pearl Harbor


It also had the advantage of Japan taking the initiative and dictating the time and place of battle, instead of responding to USN initiatives which Yamamoto considered would wear down his numerically inferior force over time. This fear was reinforced by IJN war games that had been run for battles at sea up to mid-1941 consistently resulting in the IJN coming off worse than the USN.

Yes, that is correct. Yamamoto was aware that the strategy of the "decisive Battle" had the drawback of surrendering the initiative to the USN, which might delay confronting the IJN until they had overwhelming superiority. If the issue had been purely a naval confrontation, that would have definitely been a correct assessment. But in reality, given the overall Japanese plan of campaign, the US could not simply ignore the Japanese advances. As a consequence, Japan would have gained the initiative, in any event.


In view of your point about the ships at Pearl being old and inadequate against the Japanese fleet, and your quoted comment above about deficient intelligence about the US carriers, do you know if Yamamoto was properly informed about the essential futility of his attack in destroying the USN response by hitting more or less unimportant ships? I would have thought that he would have had good intelligence about the capacity of the ships at Pearl in view of the extensive Japanese networks in Hawaii.

Little has been written on this issue. John Prados in "Combined Fleet Decoded" wrote that Yamamoto, in early 1941, began keeping a binder on Pearl Harbor and the ships stationed there. What, exactly, was contained in that binder, I do not know, but I would assume the characteristics of the major units of the Pacific Fleet would be available to Yamamoto. Professional essays about the speed, armament, and other particulars of the Pacific Fleet ships were being published in Journals such as the Naval Institute "Proceedings" fairly frequently in the 1930's up until the advent of war. Moreover, the units assigned to the Pacific Fleet were well known to the Japanese, and certainly that information would have been available to Yamamoto. It's inconceivable to me that Yamamoto, as a professional naval officer, would not have had an accurate picture of the capabilities and limitations of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

As for the movements of these ships, he was probably less well informed, and certainly could not have predicted, except in more or less general terms, whether any given ship would be in port on any given day. The movements of the US aircraft carriers were especially problematical for Japanese intelligence because, being few in number, they were particularly busy in the second half of 1941. As an example, the Enterprise was scheduled to arrive at Pearl Harbor on Saturday, 6 December, 1941, but bad weather had delayed the fueling of her destroyer screen, and thus she was behind schedule and did not arrive at Pearl Harbor until after the attack.

I do not believe Yamamoto was aware of any of the specifics of Rainbow 5, and only generally aware of the intent of the various versions of War Plan Orange. While he should have been able to deduce a fairly accurate picture of what the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was capable of in terms of operations in the western Pacific against the IJN, whether he ever actually conducted a realistic assessment of Pacific Fleet capabilities, I do not know.

I have my own theory why Yamamoto was so keen to execute an attack on Pearl Harbor, despite a seeming lack of necessity, but at this point, most of the evidence supporting my theory is circumstantial.


I noticed that and wondered what it meant in practical terms. Thanks for clearing that up.

I assume that that was because the US planners anticipated an attack on the Canal, which Yamamoto actually began to plan before his death later in the war.

Yes, although, I know of no concrete evidence of a Japanese plan, other than the building of some aircraft-carrying submarines, for an attack on the Panama Canal, such an attack scared the hell out of US Navy planners because the Canal was effectively a very valuable force multiplier. It was considered the southern apex of the "Strategic Triangle" which was more or less a "sacred cow" in pre-war US defense planning, trumping even the "Europe First" strategy. An attack on the Panama Canal was considered even more threatening than an attack on the continental US.


There is also a reference in RAINBOW 5 to "SUPPORT BRITISH NAVAL FORCES IN THE AREA SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR AS FAR WEST AS LONGITUDE 155 EAST". Do you know where those boundaries would be in relation to various landmarks?

Well, the southern Solomon islands are about 8 degrees south of the equator and about 159 East longitude, so the equator is about 500 miles north of the Solomons and 155 east longitude is about 250 miles east of the southern Solomons. The Gilbert islands straddle the equator, and lie about 172-175 East longitude, and were British territory up until the start of WW II. Also included in this area would be Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand. Essentially this would encompass the southern end of the Hawaii-Australia sea route, except for the east coast of Australia. It would appear that this provision was designed to cover cooperation with any British (or Australian/New Zealand??) naval forces maintaining the sea communications between Hawaii and Australia.

royal744
01-19-2010, 07:59 PM
Or did he, as a loyal Japanese naval officer and strategist obliged to serve in a war he knew Japan would almost certainly lose once America marshalled its industrial and manpower might, do the best he could to deliver a crushing blow to his nation's enemy at the outset?

From a naval viewpoint, what else could he have done in the first attack that would or could have crippled American naval power better than Pearl Harbor, and that was within the capacity of Japan?


Actually, RS, I believe that the smartest thing would have been NOT to attack Pearl Harbor. Had they not done so and had they not attacked the Philippines, the US never would have declared war on the Japanese for attacking the British, French and Dutch. Japan's thinking was deeply flawed here.

Rising Sun*
01-19-2010, 11:30 PM
Actually, RS, I believe that the smartest thing would have been NOT to attack Pearl Harbor. Had they not done so and had they not attacked the Philippines, the US never would have declared war on the Japanese for attacking the British, French and Dutch. Japan's thinking was deeply flawed here.

Yes and no.

It would have been better not to attack the Philippines if that guaranteed keeping America out of the war, but how could the Japanese be sure the Americans who with the British were applying embargoes to Japan wouldn't go to war when the Japanese attacked Malaya?

If you were a Japanese strategist, would you be worried that if you countered the oil embargo by attacking the NEI, which from memory had something like a third of the world production of oil at the time, then the Americans might go to war with you to try to deny you that oil as well?

And as a Japanese strategist wouldn't you be worried about the possibility that if the Americans went to war and you ignored the Philippines then you'd be faced with an American base in your new backyard and across your LOC to your conquests? Plus if you ignored Hawaii a base in the mid-Pacific from which the USN could sail westards to counter your attempts to take a long route home east of the Philippines?

It was probably a case for the Japanese of damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better if Britain and America didn't impose the condition of Japan withdrawing from China as a condition of lifting the embargoes, because Japan was never going to agree to that. Perhaps then a solution might have been found which avoided war.

Wizard
01-20-2010, 12:53 AM
Yes and no.

It would have been better not to attack the Philippines if that guaranteed keeping America out of the war, but how could the Japanese be sure the Americans who with the British were applying embargoes to Japan wouldn't go to war when the Japanese attacked Malaya?

If you were a Japanese strategist, would you be worried that if you countered the oil embargo by attacking the NEI, which from memory had something like a third of the world production of oil at the time, then the Americans might go to war with you to try to deny you that oil as well?

And as a Japanese strategist wouldn't you be worried about the possibility that if the Americans went to war and you ignored the Philippines then you'd be faced with an American base in your new backyard and across your LOC to your conquests? Plus if you ignored Hawaii a base in the mid-Pacific from which the USN could sail westards to counter your attempts to take a long route home east of the Philippines?

It was probably a case for the Japanese of damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better if Britain and America didn't impose the condition of Japan withdrawing from China as a condition of lifting the embargoes, because Japan was never going to agree to that. Perhaps then a solution might have been found which avoided war.

I agree with you that The Japanese were in a corner over the attack on Malaya, Borneo and Singapore; They could never be sure that the US wouldn't declare war and attack their sea communications, particularly the bottleneck of the Luzon Straits. Neither could they expect the US to remain quiescent over a blatant attack on Britain when it was in a life and death struggle with Nazi Germany. Better for the Japanese to be safe and neutralize the Philippines by occupying them.

I do not agree, however, that it was necessary to attack Oahu; The Pacific Fleet was in no shape to threaten the Japanese First Phase operations in Asia. And it was the nature of the attack on Oahu that destroyed any chance of a negotiated resolution to the war. It would have been much better for the Japanese to attack only the Philippines and let the sleeping dogs at Oahu lie.

As for the oil embargo, it should have been imposed much earlier, say in 1938. The Roosevelt administration really had no alternative in 1941. To continue doing business as usual with Japan, even when the US knew the Japanese were positioning themselves for an imminent war with the US and it's potential allies, simply was not acceptable, at least not in a democracy where the public's opinion counts for something. Had the war developed while Roosevelt was still allowing exports of oil and other strategic materials to the Japanese, it would have been very difficult to explain that to the American public.

The US demand for a Japanese withdrawal from China was also a reasonable demand. The withdrawal from Indochina was, of course, not negotiable as far as the US and Britain were concerned for the Japanese occupation was tantamount to an act of war. But the withdrawal from China could have been negotiated, and certainly could have been phased to allow the Japanese to save a reasonable amount of "face". It's likely that Japan would have held on to Manchuria because the US made no mention of Manchuria in it's initial demands on Japan. That would have left Japan with Formosa, Korea, Manchuria and southern Sakhalin. Had they been satisfied with these territories, and withdrawing from a war they couldn't win anyway, they would have had no need for additional oil, over and above what the US was willing to supply. and the US would have been quite willing to resume normal trade relations. It was the Imperial Japanese Army that refused to make any concessions whatsoever, ordering the US about like it was some inconsequential banana republic. Without some meaningful concessions, the US wasn't inclined to make any itself, and there was no basis for any alternative but war.

BTW, I remember reading in one source that in 1940, the us produced approximately 61% of the world's oil, another 14% was produced by South America, 10% was produced by the Soviets and less than 3% was produced by the NEI, not 30%.

Source; http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1940/1940%20-%202302.html

Rising Sun*
01-20-2010, 01:41 AM
BTW, I remember reading in one source that in 1940, the us produced approximately 61% of the world's oil, another 14% was produced by South America, 10% was produced by the Soviets and less than 3% was produced by the NEI, not 30%.

Source; http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1940/1940%20-%202302.html

Oh, well, at least there is a 3 in it. :D

royal744
01-20-2010, 10:20 AM
One thing to keep in mind here is that unless the US were directly attacked either in Hawaii or in the Philippines, the United States would not have gone to war, period. Politically, there was no way, and Congress would not have gone along with Roosevelt in declaring war over the NEI, Singapore or any other possession owned by any other colonial power. Believing it would have done so is silly, since the US didn't go to war over France, Holland, or Great Britain in the first instance where greater strategic interests were at play from the get-go.

royal744
01-20-2010, 10:25 AM
I read somewhere in one of my books on the Pacific War that the US allocated about 10% of its overall war-making resources to the war in the Pacific with the remainder going to Europe. Think about that - 10%. If there had been no war at all in Europe, Japan would have been finished in 1943. This is akin to fighting your enemy with one arm broken and one arm tied behind your back and there still being no doubt of eventual victory.

Nickdfresh
01-20-2010, 01:32 PM
I read somewhere in one of my books on the Pacific War that the US allocated about 10% of its overall war-making resources to the war in the Pacific with the remainder going to Europe. Think about that - 10%. If there had been no war at all in Europe, Japan would have been finished in 1943. This is akin to fighting your enemy with one arm broken and one arm tied behind your back and there still being no doubt of eventual victory.

That's true. But keep in mind that Japan was also occupying China with large numbers of men not only engaged in combat against the Kuomintang and Peoples Liberation Armies, but also to deter any Soviet aggression. Britain and Australia both also allocated resources against Japan, not least of which were significant numbers of ground troops. Secondly, the "resources" have to be looked at. I believe in At Army at Dawn, Atkinson states that it took essentially two cargo ships resupply an avg. US division in the Mediterranean (for a certain period of time), North Africa, or Europe whereas in the Pacific it took ten ships, making a quick rolling up of the IJA in say--Manchuria--a very costly, difficult task.

Adm. King, an Anglophobe (people-phobe actually :D ), pushed for a Pacific "First" strategy in the midst of contentious talks with the British. I believe Marshall and FDR asked him what his plan was, he began to sputter as he had none, which effectively ended any internal debate...

Wizard
01-20-2010, 06:07 PM
That's true. But keep in mind that Japan was also occupying China with large numbers of men not only engaged in combat against the Kuomintang and Peoples Liberation Armies, but also to deter any Soviet aggression. Britain and Australia both also allocated resources against Japan, not least of which were significant numbers of ground troops. Secondly, the "resources" have to be looked at. I believe in At Army at Dawn, Atkinson states that it took essentially two cargo ships resupply an avg. US division in the Mediterranean (for a certain period of time), North Africa, or Europe whereas in the Pacific it took ten ships, making a quick rolling up of the IJA in say--Manchuria--a very costly, difficult task.

I don't think anyone in the US thought seriously about pushing teh Japanese out of Manchuria; That was clearly up to either the Soviets or Chinese. The Soviets actually accomplished at the very end of WW II, but quickly withdrew and allowed the Chinese Nationalists to occupy the province.


Adm. King, an Anglophobe (people-phobe actually :D ), pushed for a Pacific "First" strategy in the midst of contentious talks with the British. I believe Marshall and FDR asked him what his plan was, he began to sputter as he had none, which effectively ended any internal debate...

I'd be interested in the source of this statement? Everything I have read about King was that he was never at a loss for words, and, moreover, did have plans for offensives in the Pacific. Certainly, Marshall found out he had several plans for Pacific offensives when Mac proposed a campaign that King thought was foolhardy. As Robert Love, a Professor of Naval history at the US Naval Academy, has pointed out, Admiral King was one of the most "lethal" strategists in history.

Wizard
01-20-2010, 06:17 PM
One thing to keep in mind here is that unless the US were directly attacked either in Hawaii or in the Philippines, the United States would not have gone to war, period. Politically, there was no way, and Congress would not have gone along with Roosevelt in declaring war over the NEI, Singapore or any other possession owned by any other colonial power. Believing it would have done so is silly, since the US didn't go to war over France, Holland, or Great Britain in the first instance where greater strategic interests were at play from the get-go.

I don't think that was a forgone conclusion at all. There was about an even chance that the US would have declared war on Japan, absent any attacks on American territory. Even if it hadn't, the US certainly would have continued it's buildup in the Philippines, which would have been just as threatening to the Japanese. The Roosevelt administration had already warned the Japanese that any hostile move against the British or Dutch would be viewed as an act of war. Furthermore, the US had made it plain that British and Dutch naval and air forces were welcome, in the event of war with Japan, to use American facilities in the Philippines.

The fact that the US didn't go to war over Holland, France, or Britain doesn't prove anything about what might have happened in the Pacific against Japan. Remember, the war in Europe was perceived as a ground/air war, whereas the Pacific war was seen as a naval/air war. Also, public opinion about the Pacific war was different than it's perception of the European war.

Nickdfresh
01-20-2010, 06:35 PM
I don't think anyone in the US thought seriously about pushing teh Japanese out of Manchuria; That was clearly up to either the Soviets or Chinese. The Soviets actually accomplished at the very end of WW II, but quickly withdrew and allowed the Chinese Nationalists to occupy the province.

I was speaking hypothetically in a War with Japan only. As Manchuria was almost prime tank country, the depleted Japanese were rolled up there quickly...



be interested in the source of this statement? Everything I have read about King was that he was never at a loss for words, and, moreover, did have plans for offensives in the Pacific. Certainly, Marshall found out he had several plans for Pacific offensives when Mac proposed a campaign that King thought was foolhardy. As Robert Love, a Professor of Naval history at the US Naval Academy, has pointed out, Admiral King was one of the most "lethal" strategists in history.

From An Army at Dawn, p. 16. Rick Atkins writes:


"Following another visit by Churchill to Washington in mid-June 1942, the fraternal bickering intensified and the Anglo-Americans entered what turned out to be the most fractious weeks of their wartime marriage. On July 10, Marshall and the chief of naval operations, Admiral Ernest J. King, suggested to Roosevelt that if the British continued to insist on 'scatterization' in North Africa, 'the U.S. should turn to the Pacific for decisive action against Japan.' The irascible King, who had once been accused by Roosevelt of shaving with a blowtorch, went so far as to predict that the British would never invade Europe 'except behind a Scotch bagpipe band.' Roosevelt likened this repudiation of Germany-first (policy) as 'taking your dishes and going away.': he asked Marshall and King to send detailed plans for 'your Pacific Ocean alternative' that very afternoon--knowing that no plans existed."

I agree that King was brilliant. But he was hardly infallible with dropping the ball regarding the initially marauding U-boats off the East Coast. As for plans, how detailed and ready they were is up to perhaps whether one considers tentative contingency planning to be a war plan. I believe he was one of the backers of "Operation Sledgehammer," (an early, emergency invasion of France) which could more aptly have been called Operation Ball-peen hammer...

royal744
01-20-2010, 06:38 PM
I don't think that was a forgone conclusion at all. There was about an even chance that the US would have declared war on Japan, absent any attacks on American territory. Even if it hadn't, the US certainly would have continued it's buildup in the Philippines, which would have been just as threatening to the Japanese. The Roosevelt administration had already warned the Japanese that any hostile move against the British or Dutch would be viewed as an act of war. Furthermore, the US had made it plain that British and Dutch naval and air forces were welcome, in the event of war with Japan, to use American facilities in the Philippines.

The fact that the US didn't go to war over Holland, France, or Britain doesn't prove anything about what might have happened in the Pacific against Japan. Remember, the war in Europe was perceived as a ground/air war, whereas the Pacific war was seen as a naval/air war. Also, public opinion about the Pacific war was different than it's perception of the European war.

We'll just have to disagree on this. Roosevelt (like Wilson before him) had run on a platform of staying out of the war. I think that a reading of the contemporaneous record, especially having to do with Congress, would show that there was no voting support for a unilateral declaration of war absent a direct attack. It didn't matter that the NEI, British and French "deserved" our support, Roosevelt just couldn't do it. Nor can I imagine the US public supporting a war over Malaysia or Singapore or Hong Kong. Most Americans didn't even know where Pearl Harbor was, much less any of those places. Honestly, I think the fact that we didn't act when western Europe was invaded does tell the story.

Rising Sun*
01-20-2010, 06:56 PM
It didn't matter that the NEI, British and French "deserved" our support, Roosevelt just couldn't do it.

Regardless of the American domestic situation, a major problem facing America in deciding whether to support the NEI was uncertainty about how the NEI would react to a threat from Japan. The last thing America needed was to commit itself to the support of the NEI if the NEI was going to accommodate Japan rather than fight.

While the article focuses on the Australian-Dutch relationship regarding the NEI, America was central to that war planning so American considerations about defending the NEI are covered in some detail here. http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j29/herman.asp

Digger
01-20-2010, 07:15 PM
Actually, RS, I believe that the smartest thing would have been NOT to attack Pearl Harbor. Had they not done so and had they not attacked the Philippines, the US never would have declared war on the Japanese for attacking the British, French and Dutch. Japan's thinking was deeply flawed here.

And thus Hitler would have no reason to declare war on the USA.

So in effect the Japanese by their actions set in train a chain reaction of events that would lead to the defeat of their Axis partner.

The alternative raises the possibility of a Nazi victory against the Soviet Union and England.

Either way, war was certain.

digger

Wizard
01-20-2010, 07:26 PM
From An Army at Dawn, p. 16. Rick Atkins writes:

I agree that King was brilliant. But he was hardly infallible with dropping the ball regarding the initially marauding U-boats off the East Coast. As for plans, how detailed and ready they were is up to perhaps whether one considers tentative contingency planning to be a war plan. I believe he was one of the backers of "Operation Sledgehammer," (an early, emergency invasion of France) which could more aptly have been called Operation Ball-peen hammer...

If I'm reading Atkinson correctly, he's claiming that on July 10, 1942, that King had no specific plans relative to an offensive in the Pacific, that he could show to Roosevelt? And Roosevelt knew that no such plans existed?

Does Atkinson offer any kind of footnotes on this statement?

The reason I ask is that on April 16, Turner, Chief of Naval planning under King, presented a four-phase plan for the USN"s offensives in the Pacific and Roosevelt approved it. By July 10, King and Marshall had worked out detailed planning for the Solomons campaign, which was adopted on July 2 by the JCS. On July 6, MacArthur agreed to provide support for the offensive. So by July 10th, there could hardly be any doubt that detailed plans existed for Marshall's and King's intended moves in the Pacific.

Moreover, King did not "drop the ball" over the initial U-boat offensive off the East Coast. That is a false assertion made primarily by British historians who have employed sloppy and just plain poor scholarship. Clay Blair, in "Hitler's U-boat War" has demolished that little myth. if you want, I will dig out the specific citations by Blair to that effect.

Wizard
01-20-2010, 07:33 PM
We'll just have to disagree on this. Roosevelt (like Wilson before him) had run on a platform of staying out of the war. I think that a reading of the contemporaneous record, especially having to do with Congress, would show that there was no voting support for a unilateral declaration of war absent a direct attack. It didn't matter that the NEI, British and French "deserved" our support, Roosevelt just couldn't do it. Nor can I imagine the US public supporting a war over Malaysia or Singapore or Hong Kong. Most Americans didn't even know where Pearl Harbor was, much less any of those places. Honestly, I think the fact that we didn't act when western Europe was invaded does tell the story.

Well, that's alright with me. I definitely think the US would end up in any war between the Brits and the Japanese; the only question would be how long would it take for Roosevelt to get the votes in the Senate.

And by the Fall of 1941, the US was definitely in the war against Germany, at least the US Navy was in the shooting war against Germany in the Atlantic; Hitler had plenty of reason to declare war on the US months before Pearl Harbor.

I think you are giving too much credence to American public opinion about staying out of any war. By 1941, the attitude had changed dramatically.

Nickdfresh
01-22-2010, 10:20 AM
We'll just have to disagree on this. Roosevelt (like Wilson before him) had run on a platform of staying out of the war. I think that a reading of the contemporaneous record, especially having to do with Congress, would show that there was no voting support for a unilateral declaration of war absent a direct attack. It didn't matter that the NEI, British and French "deserved" our support, Roosevelt just couldn't do it. Nor can I imagine the US public supporting a war over Malaysia or Singapore or Hong Kong. Most Americans didn't even know where Pearl Harbor was, much less any of those places. Honestly, I think the fact that we didn't act when western Europe was invaded does tell the story.

Roosevelt ran on a peace/modified-isolationist platform, then proceeded to introduce the first peacetime conscription, and one of the largest arms buildup, in US history. He was also attempting to goad the Germans into "incidents" by authorizing what amounted to a secret, undeclared War on the U-boats resulting in a few confrontations between US destroyers and Kriegsmarine subs resulting in the sinking of a US Navy destroyer IIRC. The Fall of France had changed things dramatically in the US and even many isolationists were clamoring for an overhaul and modernization of the US military...

Above all else, if the the Japanese had launched operations against everyone short of the US, there is little doubt that even if the US hadn't become a direct belligerent, there would have been various political and military escalations designed to force a conflict between the US and Japan. It's not out of realm of possibly that the US could have sent active fighter squadrons to China, rather than the Flying Tiger mercenaries, under the guise of protecting the Chinese from Japanese aggression and area bombing...

Wizard
01-22-2010, 03:51 PM
Roosevelt ran on a peace/modified-isolationist platform, then proceeded to introduce the first peacetime conscription, and one of the largest arms buildup, in US history. He was also attempting to goad the Germans into "incidents" by authorizing what amounted to a secret, undeclared War on the U-boats resulting in a few confrontations between US destroyers and Kriegsmarine subs resulting in the sinking of a US Navy destroyer IIRC. The Fall of France had changed things dramatically in the US and even many isolationists were clamoring for an overhaul and modernization of the US military...

Above all else, if the the Japanese had launched operations against everyone short of the US, there is little doubt that even if the US hadn't become a direct belligerent, there would have been various political and military escalations designed to force a conflict between the US and Japan. It's not out of realm of possibly that the US could have sent active fighter squadrons to China, rather than the Flying Tiger mercenaries, under the guise of protecting the Chinese from Japanese aggression and area bombing...

All quite true. I seriously doubt that there was any way Roosevelt could have sat idly by and let the Japanese rampage through the western Pacific.

The fall of France in June, 1940, changed the political reality in the US. Nothing exemplifies this more than the passage of the Two-Ocean Navy Act in July of that year. Just as it's name implies, the Two Ocean Navy Act authorized the establishment of a Navy capable of successfully fighting in the Atlantic and Pacific simultaneously. In both cases, the enemy would be Axis countries; Germany and Italy in the Atlantic, and Japan in the Pacific. By 1941, Roosevelt had the political support necessary to declare war on Japan if it attacked Britain or the Netherlands, or their territories, in the Pacific.

Nickdfresh
01-23-2010, 01:16 PM
I agree. Furthermore, a general Japanese offensive against the Brits and Dutch probably would have mistakenly killed some US personnel at some point...

royal744
01-27-2010, 03:38 PM
I agree. Furthermore, a general Japanese offensive against the Brits and Dutch probably would have mistakenly killed some US personnel at some point...

Probably, Nickd, but it would also probably not have resulted in a declaration of war by the US. There were already US personnel being killed in the Atlantic and that did not lead to a declaration of war against the Germans. Personally, I am certain the Roosevelt DID want to get in on the war for the simple reason that he was pretty sure we would have to do so eventually. The political reality in Congress and around the country made it impossible for him to make a unilateral declaration of war no matter how mkuch he might have wished it. We sometimes thjink of the US as being some sort of monolith - at least back then - but it was anything but that. US involvement in WW2 seems inevitable today, but it wasn't.

royal744
01-27-2010, 03:44 PM
And thus Hitler would have no reason to declare war on the USA.

So in effect the Japanese by their actions set in train a chain reaction of events that would lead to the defeat of their Axis partner.

The alternative raises the possibility of a Nazi victory against the Soviet Union and England.

Either way, war was certain.

digger

Interesting, but I doubt either outcome would have occurred. The Germans were actually incapable of invading England and their navy couldn't guarantee a corridor wide enough to afford protection to the army. Add to that the fact that they had already been defeated in the air by the RAF and invasion was basically unthinkable.
As for the Russians, frankly, they could have defeated the Germans all on their own. It would just have taken longer and cost even more lives than the horrific numbers already incurred. The allied invasion of Europe shortened the war by about two years, I figure, but the Germans were already statistically beaten. Of course, massive amounts of allied aid played a crucial part in all this. Not to mention, by the by, that a Russian defeat of Germany would have engulfed all of western Europe in the process, save for England, not a happy prospect.

royal744
01-27-2010, 03:56 PM
That's true. But keep in mind that Japan was also occupying China with large numbers of men not only engaged in combat against the Kuomintang and Peoples Liberation Armies, but also to deter any Soviet aggression. Britain and Australia both also allocated resources against Japan, not least of which were significant numbers of ground troops. Secondly, the "resources" have to be looked at. I believe in At Army at Dawn, Atkinson states that it took essentially two cargo ships resupply an avg. US division in the Mediterranean (for a certain period of time), North Africa, or Europe whereas in the Pacific it took ten ships, making a quick rolling up of the IJA in say--Manchuria--a very costly, difficult task.

Adm. King, an Anglophobe (people-phobe actually :D ), pushed for a Pacific "First" strategy in the midst of contentious talks with the British. I believe Marshall and FDR asked him what his plan was, he began to sputter as he had none, which effectively ended any internal debate...

It is true that Japan's main concern was China. That and oil, and that was in the DEI. The Pacific War for Japan didn't consume all that many troops but was for the most part a naval war. Once their navy was finished, it was basically all over for Japan in the Pacific.

Wizard
01-27-2010, 07:15 PM
Interesting, but I doubt either outcome would have occurred. The Germans were actually incapable of invading England and their navy couldn't guarantee a corridor wide enough to afford protection to the army. Add to that the fact that they had already been defeated in the air by the RAF and invasion was basically unthinkable.

I pretty much agree with you here; a German invasion of Britain during WW II just wasn't a practical possibility due to the weakness of the German navy, and the inability of the Luftwaffe to suppress the RAF.


As for the Russians, frankly, they could have defeated the Germans all on their own. It would just have taken longer and cost even more lives than the horrific numbers already incurred. The allied invasion of Europe shortened the war by about two years, I figure, but the Germans were already statistically beaten. Of course, massive amounts of allied aid played a crucial part in all this. Not to mention, by the by, that a Russian defeat of Germany would have engulfed all of western Europe in the process, save for England, not a happy prospect.

I also pretty much agree that the Soviets probably could have beaten the Germans eventually, though the timing would be long term. I do however see the possibility of a stalemate between the Germans and Soviets; something along the lines of WW I, when Russia was not defeated outright but was unable to stay in the war due to domestic troubles being exacerbated by the war. I think that could have happened to either the Soviets or the Germans.

However, in either case, Japan would have seen numerous opportunities to profit by grabbing territories in Asia and the Pacific. The only way I can see the US staying out of a Pacific war, is if Japan had refrained from "striking South" and attacked the Soviet Union. The United States perceived it as vital to US interests to maintain trade relations with China and the rest of Asia. That was directly contrary to Japanese ambitions of hegemony in Asia and everyone knew it. Once the United States passed the "Two Ocean Navy Act" in 1940, was with Japan was inevitable; neither country was willing to give up what each perceived as their vital interests in Asia.