** World War II -- Japan strategic concepts








World War II: Japanese Strategic Concepts (1939-45)


Figure 1.--The Militarists that took Japan to war were convinced that the martial spirit instilled in the Japanese people would prevailed over the Americans who they saw as weak and decadent. They convinced themselves that this could overcome the industrial superiority of the United States. Here boys from an Osaka seconday school drill. They would soon be conscripted. The military indocrination of boys like this was remarkably successful. Rarely did Japanese soldiers surrender, even recruits in impossible situatins. And this became the principal Japanese strategy, to make the United States advance so bloody and costly that the American public would be unwilling to pay the price. The problm for the Japanese was not only tht the Americans would be willing to pay the price, but the Japanese themselves would pay a far greater price.

The Japanese faced a quandry. They had achieved sucess after success in China, but still the war dragged on. The war in China put substantial demands on the Japanese economy. To make matters worse, their primary source of resources to conduct the war in China as the United States. This was especially true of petroleum. Japan would have to end the war in China or find alternative supplies of natural resources. German successes in Europe opened up the prospects of seizing the resource rich British, Dutch, and French colonies in Southeast Asia. But situated between the Home Island and those resources were the American Phillipine Islands and the implied threat threat of the Pacific Fleet which President Roosevelt had moved forward to Pearl Harbor. One of the not yet fully inderstood questions of World War II is why the Japanese did nor strike north at the Siviets after the Germans had destroyed much of the Red Army. Once the Japanese had decided on war with America. Their focus became the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese strategic concept was to smash the Pacific Fleet and seize a huge empire with the resources it needed and then fortify it so that it would be enormously costly for the Americans to retake. The resources from the empire which the Japanese called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere were to be used to support the Japanese military. The Japanese with little knowledge of America were convinved that America would never make the sacrifices needed to retake the Japanese conquests. This strategic concept was fataly flawed. First, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a starteling military success, but a strategic blunder of incalcuable proportions. The attack turned a biterly divided America into a unified, mortal enemy. Second, the Japanese strategy had no provision for attacking the industrial base of the United States, an industrial base far exceeding the industrial capacity of Japan. This industrial base allowed American to build a military force that Japan could not possibly match. Third, the Japanese were unprepared for the American submarine campaign, a campaign which by 1943 was beginning to deny Japanese industry the resources from their newly won empire. The Japanese found their army bogged down in unwinnable campaigns in China and Burma and morooned on isolated Pacific islands that they could no longer supply or even defend. Nor could the resources of their empire be brought back to the factories on the Home Island. Japan at the time of its surrender in 1945 was approaching starvation.

Japanese Invasion of China (1937)

Japan invaded China proper (1937). Many historians date this as the beginning of World War II. Fighting began with an incident at the Marco Polo Bridge (1937). Japanese forces in Manchuko poured south and a full-scale war erupted. Again the Kwantung army acted independently, but was soon supported by the Japanese Government now dominated by the military. Within months the Japanese had seized Shanghai and reached the Chinese capital at Naking and conducted one of the most apauling attrocities of modern times, known as the Rape of Nanking. The Japanese occupied the entire coast of China and attempted to move inland to attack Nationalist strongholds. The Japanese seized large areas, but away from the coast wityh China's primitive transportation network andc rugged terraine were unable to defeat the Nationalist Army and the Communists in even more remote areas in the northwerst. Press reports of Japanese cruelty engendered considerable sympsathy for the Chinese in the Western democracies. As the Japanese proved unable to fully fefeat the Chinese, the war thus dragged on absorbing enormous resources. The Chinese were able to get small quantities of military assistance through British and French controllked ports in Burma and Indo China.

Japanese Quandry

The Japanese faced a quandry. They had achieved sucess after success in China, but still the war dragged on. The Japanese had occuoied large areas of China and the Nationalist Army was unable to drive them out. The Japanese, however, were unable to come to grips with the Nationalist Government or the Communists, bith of which had withdrawn into the remote hinterland of China. The war was stalemated. At the same time, rather than supporting the Japanese economy with increased markets and raw materials, the war in China was putting substantial demands on the Japanese economy. The whole purpose of invading China had been to strenggthen the economy. The actual impact was to weaken the Japanese economy. The military was not about to admit defeat and withdraw. Thus the only way out of their quandry was to obtain new resources with which the war in China could be continued. The only problem is that not matter where they looked, the United stayes blocked their way.

American Diplomatic Opposition

Not only was the conquest of China beginning to look like atalemate, but it had generated substabtial international diplomatic opposition. The opposition was led by the United states. While diplomatic criticism did not overly concerned the Japanese militarists, the opposition of the United States posed some very realstrategic problems. The primary source of resources to conduct the war in China ws the United States. This was especially true of petroleum. Another important raw material sources in the United states was scrap iron. The Roosevelt Administration made it clear that Japan would have to end the war in China or face sanctions. And when the Japanese moved into Indo-China, the United States embargoed oil and other strategic materials. This meant Japan would have to end the war in China or go to war with America. To give teeth to the embargoes, The Roosevelt Administration decided to move the Pacific Fleet forward to a relatively undeveloped naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.

Oil

Modern war requires oil. This was especially the case if Japan planned to wage a naval war in the vast straches of the Pacific. Japan was a densly populated, resource poor country. Expansion into Korea and Manchuria (Manchuko) managed to acquire many needed resources. The most critical resource that Japan lacked was oil. And to make matters worse Japan's principal supplier was the United States--the country the United States would have to fight if it was to seize an empire in the resource-rich South Pacific--especially the DEI which had developed important oil fields. The United States attempted to disuade Japan from waging aggressibe war in China. The Unnited States began a series of trade restrictions until it became clear with Japan's move into southern Indichina that Japan was preparing to launch a major aggressive war in the Pacific. America responded with an oil mbargo. Japan has oil stockpiles that could supply its normal needs for 2 years, but only about 1 year if Japan went to war because of the huge increased requirements to fight a naval war. This set in motion a time table. Japan had either to decide to cease aggression in China or go to war before it ran out of oil.

The Axis

The Japanese joined the Axis primarily to offset the power of the United States. Japan began to develop as an imperial power with the seizure of Formoda (Taiwan) from China (1895). Next Japan seized Korea (19??). Japan's participation in World War I with the allies brought it Germany's Chinese and Pacific possessions. Prince Konoe, a future primeminister, declared that "as a result of [Japan's] one million annual increase in population, our national economic life is heavily burdened. We cannot wait for a rationalizing sdjustment of the world system." (1928) [Schom] The march to World War II began with the seizure of Manchuria (1931) and next the invasion of China (1937). Isolated by world public opinion, Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and looked to two other outcast nations, Germany and Italy, for allies. Japan's desire for colonies brought her into conflict with both the Soviets and the Allies (Britain and France) as well as the Americans. To confront these powers Japan would need allies which in the end lead her to join the Axis (September 27, 1940). Despite this, there was very little coordination of strategy among Axis members. The Germans did not consult with the Japanese before invading the Soviet Union (June 1941). Nor did the Japanese consult with the Germans before attacking the American Pacofic Fleer=t at Pearl Harbor (December 1941).

Aftermath of an Axis Victory

The Axis was a marriage of convenience, rather like the relationship between the Western Allies and Soviets. Inevitably there would have been a clash between the NAZIs but one has to consider what would come after the war. Inevitably there would have been a clash between Germany and Japan. But unlike the Cold War, the two sides would not have been evenly matched. Germany was by far the strongest power. One has to wonder just what the Japanese were thinking. In a world dominated by military might, they would have been at the mercy of the NAZIs. And while the NAZIs granted the Japanese Honorary Aryan status during World War II, it is very questionable how long that would have lasted. The Japanese seem singularly focused on first China and then the Americans. There seems to have been no real thought given to what would occur after an Axis victory. There were susicions in Japan about the NAZIs, but no real thought was given to the future. It is notable how little strategic planning there was between Germany and Japan during the War and NAZI sharing og high-technology occurred only after the War began to go wrong for them. and even then the Japanese had to pay for it. Almost surely a climatic war would have occurred, both a sea and on land. And based on how the Japanese fared against the Soviets (in Manchuria) and the Americans (in the Pacific), it would not have gone well for Japan.

Soviet Union

One of the not yet fully inderstood questions of World War II is why the Japanese did nor strike north at the Soviets after the Germans had destroyed much of the existing Red Army. It is known that the Japanese military was strongly anti-Bolshevik. We do not have access to Japanese documents describing the debate with in the Japanese goverment. We do know that striking north was one of the options considered. One question rarely asked is if the Japanese really wanted a German victory. As much as they hate the Bolsheviks, surely a Germany dominating both Europe and the Soviet Union was more of a danger than a Soviet Union facing the Germans. The Japanese joined the Axis because they wanted a strategic partner to counter the United States, not because they wanted Germany to conquer Europe and Soviet Asia. Another factor weighing against a northern strike was the Japanese experience with the Soviet Union in the suumer 1939 conflict. The Japanese Army seems to have concluded that the Amricans and British were softer targets than the Soviets. But the principal reason may well have been that Siberia with all its resources dis not have what the Japanese needed most of all--oil. This is what argued for a strike south--the resources of Southeast Asia. Not only dud the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) have productive oil fields, but other countries in the region had other important resources, including rubber and rice.

Southeast Asia

It was the resources of Southeast Asia that decided Japanese strategy. It would be a strike south. Japan would have to end the war in China or find alternative supplies of natural resources. German successes in Europe opened up the prospects of seizing the resource rich British, Dutch, and French colonies in Southeast Asia. France and the Netherlands had been occupied by the Germans and had only weak military forces in the area. The British were fully occupied in Europe and would be unable to deploy significant forces to the Pacifuc. In fact, the Australian Army, the most substantial force in the area, had been deployed in North Africa to support the British. The American oil embargo sent a clock ticjking. The Japanese only had petroleum resources on hand to continue the war in China for ? months. Thus they needed to seize the Dutch East Indies fields vefore their oil stockpiles were exhausted. But situated between the Home Island and the resources of Southeast Asia were the American Phillipine Islands and the implied threat of the Pacific Fleet which President Roosevelt had moved forward to Pearl Harbor.

Imperial Conference (July 2, 1941)

The Japanese essentially made the decesion to go to war at a Imperal Conference attended by the Emperor (July 2, 1941). At that time the Germans had launched Barbarossa and the Japanese would have been aware of enormous German victories in the eaely fighting. The Japanese decided to establish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. And central to this was the resolution of what the Japanese referred to as the China Indident, meaning the invasion of China. This was seen to involve advance in the "Southern Regions" and a settlement of the Soviet Question. The Japanese descided to force the surrender of the Chinese Nationalists by actions "from the Southern approaches". This meant cutting the Burma Road. The Japanese maintained a degree of flexibility, depending on developments in the German invasion of the Soviet Union and on negotiations with the United States. The official record of the conference, which was at the tome secret, included the stipulation, "In carrying out the preceding article all plans, especially the use of armed forces, will be carried out in such a way as to place no serious obstacles in the path of our basic military preparations for a war with England and America."

Why Did Japan Think That They Could Win the Pacific War?

Thiscquestion is commonly asked in a different way, why did Japan lose the Pacific War? Nut the answer to that is so obvious that is hardly worth discussing. At the time World War II began, the United States had a ecinomt about five the size of the Japanese economy. (See HBC World Economic Comparisons'.) By the end of the War, the American economy was ten times as large. In purely industrial power the disparity was even greater. And naval war is by definition an industrial war. This in a nutshell is why Japan lost the war. At the time of World War, Japan was essentially bankrupting itself while A merica was devoting less than 2 percent of its GDP to military spending--yet the two navies were comparable. So why did Japan think they could win?. First, the Japanese had defeated one gret power in the past -- Russo-Japamese War. Second, The decisons were being made by poorly educted military men with little experience outside of Japan itself. Third, the value system of the Jaoanese milarists did not rank economics and commerce very highly. What was impotant to them was martial spirit abd they saw very little of that in America. Few had been to America, but they had seen Hollywood films and the take away was any country that let their women dominate them could not produce warriors. Fourth, they say German Panzers racing toward Moscow and thought the Soviet Ynion ws defeated. Thus the United Syates would have to focus its resources in the in Europe. (The stunning Soviet counter offensive before Moscow showing that the Red Army was not defeated was launched on virtually the sane day as Pearl Harbor.) Fifth. the Peace Preservation Laws (1894) were designed to curtail any critiscusm of the military and to supredd the Freedom and Peole's Rights Movement. [Ienaga] By peace the Government meant internal order. Sixth, censorship and the supression of acafemoc frredom. As a result there was no real discussion of the waging ar outsude of mikitary curcles. [Ienaga]

Pearl Harbor (December 1941)

Once the Japanese had decided on war with America. Their focus became the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Yamamoto who opposed a war with America, devised a daring plan to destroy the America Pacific Fleet in its morings at Pearl Harbor. With traditions formed in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), the Japanese opted to decide the war in a decisive fleet action. America was expecting a Japanese attack, but not at Pearl Harbor. The result, was a stunning Japanese victory. Perhaos never in hitory has a war been lsaunched with so stunning a victory. All eught battleships of the Pacific fleet were sunk. My chance, however, the carriers Yamamoto hoped to destroy were not at Pearl. Admiral Nagumop opted agajnst a third strike. Thus the all important oil bunkers and dockyards were left in tact. More importantly, while the eight battleships were sunk, only two were destroyed. While fires still simmerefd, experts were being flow in from the mainland to begin the greatest salavage operation in naval history.

War Strategy

War with the Unted States was a huge gamble for Japan with a much smaller population and industrial base. Primeminister Tojo and the military high command, however, were convinced that they would achieve victory. The Japanese strategic concept was to smash the Pacific Fleet and seize a huge empire with the resources it needed to finish thewar inChina. They then planned fortify it so that it would be enormously costly for the Americans to retake. The Japanese calculated that the resources they obtained would enable them to wage war indefinitely. The Japanese war stategy was premissed on two assumptions. First, the Japanese militarists with little knowledge of America were convinved that the United States would never make the sacrifices needed to retake the Japanese conquests. They seem to have believe that the superior fighting spirit of the Japanese soldier was the key to victory. They were convinced that the Americans were not capable of such commitment. It is difficult to say how they came about this conclusion. The familiarity with America among the militarists who made the fateful decesion for war was very limited--essentialy viewing Hollywood movies. The alleged subservience to women in such movies impressed many Japanese. Second, the Japanese military planners assumed that the naval and air superority they used to seize their empire would continue unchallenged. Another reason that they believed they could maintain naval and air dominance is that when the Japanese war plans were being finalized, the Germans had achieved enormous victories in Europe and beginning in June 1941 had launched Barbarossa which looked like it would add the Siviet Union. Thus the Japanese planners were convinced that the United States would be faced with a powerful NAZI Germany that had conquerred Europe. Ironically, the decesion to attack the United States contained the seeds that would undermine the Japanese and overall Axis war plan. Japan signed a neutrality pact with the Soviet Union. This allowed the Soviets to transfer Siberia divisions west that played a key role in the defense of Moscow. This proved to be the turning point of World War II.

Japanese Conquests (December 1941-May 1942)

Admiral Yamamoto proficized that he could run riolt in the Pacific for 6 months, but after that he could make no guarantees. This is precisly what hapened. The Japanese before the War Had Korea, Manchuria, ;arge areas in Chuna, Formosa, and several South Pacific islands obtained from the Germans in World war I. She added Indo-China to those possession (October 1940). After Pearl Harbor, the Japanse seem ed strike every where at the same time. Initial actions include seizing Hong Kong, the Gilbert Islands, Wake Island, and Guam. Them there was the invasion of Malaysia ending in the stunning surrender of the British bastion of Singapore (February 1942). They forced Thailand to become an alied state abd then invaded Burma. American Marines held out in Batan on the Philippines, but eventually without supplies and suffering fom tropical diseases were forced to surrender (April 9). News of the Batan Death Msrch soon reached america. Weak naval forces failed to stop the Japanese from seizing the Dutch West Indies. A naval task force entered the Indian Ocean. Finally the Japanese seized nothern New Guinea and began moving down the Solonmon chain. The unending series of Japanese victories did not end until the day after General Wainwright on Corregidor ws forced to surrender the Philippines (May 6). American carriers forced a Japanese landing force targeting Port Moresby to turn around in the Mattle of the Coral Sea (May 7-8). By that time the Japsnese had carved out a huge empire with vast resources.

Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

The Japanese in an effort to sell their new role to Asian nationalists, called thrir empire the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (GEACPS). This was actually a much more of an old-fashioned empire than the Eyropeans had installed. Economically the British had for the most part permitted free trade. The GEACPS streaching from Manchuria south to Burma and New Guinea, included Korea, Formosa, China, Indochina, Thailand, Malaya, the Philippines and the DEI. It involved both territorial and trade hegemony. The progressive sounding name was a cover for for brutal imperialism and exploitive trade policies. The Japanese seized resources without comprnation to the local economies. The result was famine. The most severe was in the DEI where over millions Indonesians perished during the Japanese occupation. There was a total breakdown in the rule of law. The result in the DEI. The overall goal was to modernize the region on a Japanese model, such as the one pursued in both Formosa and Korea. Nationalist leaders primarily focused on European colonialists cooperated to varying degrees with the Japanese. This was particularly true of Sukarno in the DEI and Aung San in Burma. The Brutal Japanese rule, especially the requisitioning of supplies and the conscripting of labor made the Japanese very unpopular. Promises of indepedence of course never materialized. Nationalists foir the most part filly understood the real nature of the GEACPS before the end of the War.

NAZI Assessment

Japan not only hoped that the NAZIs in Europe would prevent the United States from bringing the full force of its industrial might to bear in the Pacific War. The NAZIs also hoped that their Asian Axis partner would distract the United Sates from the European War. The War in the West was forcing the Germnans to orient the NAZI war industries to the West rather than supporting the Ostkrieg. The Japanese had an admirer in Berlin. NAZI propsaganda Minister a few weeks after Pearl Harbor wrote in his diary, "The Japanese Foreign Minister, Togo, delivered an extraordinarily firm, manly, and diplomatically clever speech in Parliament. He rejected the theory of race struggle, streached out the hand of peace to the South American states, and above all handled the peoples in East asia, who are oppressed by the English and Americans, with exceptional psychological skill. The Japanese are pursuing a tactical course fraught with extrordinary danger both for England and the United States. It is evident that the Japanese have had considerable political and diplomatic experience. Added to their military powers this experience is calculated to achieve corresponding success." [January 22, 1942--Goebbels, p. 36.] There are several interesting aspects to Goebbels assessment. The most interesting is the fact that he was impressed with the Japanese skill in disgusing their racial and explotive policies. Goebbels came to think that the NAZIs would have been well advised to have pursued similar policies. Note that Goebbels wrote his entry more tha na month after the Red Army countet offensive befor Moscow and it wasx obvious that the Red Army had not been destroyed in a short summer campaign as expected.

Kantai Kessen

Kantai Kessen (decisive battle) Doctrine dominated the thinking of the upper echleons of Japanese naval thinking. This was cemented by the great victory of the fledgling Japanese Imperial Navy commanded by Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō over the Russian Fleet in the Tashima Straits (May 1905). It was Japan's Trafalgar, but unlike the British Royal Navy, the Imperial Navy was a very recent creation with few influential traditions. But as Japan embarked onthe Pacific War, Tsushima and Katai Kessen was deeply embedded in the mind of every officer who has passed through the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy located in of all places--Etajima, Hiroshima. (It had been founded in Ngasaki.) Interesting, the U.S. Navy came up with a very similar doctrine -- War Plan Orange. The U.S. Navy had a much longer history, but had never before conducted a major fleet action against a serios enemy fleet. The similar naval plan reflects the importance of naval U.S. naval officer and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan at the time. [Mahan] Plan Orange was U.S. Navy's strategy of how to wage a war with Japan. Both Katai Kessen and Plan Orange were based on the assumption that Japan would quickly seize the Philippine Islands and neutralise the small U.S. Asiatic Fleet. And thus the decisive battle would occur when America's primary striking force (the Pacific Fleet) would sail West and engage the Imperial Fleet just as the Russian Fleet had sailed east. There were differences as to just where this engagement would take place (Japan's mandate territories, the Philippines, or the Home Islands), but it was envisioned by both the Americans and Japanese that it would be in the western Pacific. The planning in the inter-War era did not take in account the vital impotance of both air power and the submarine. Both navies were thinking primarily of battleships. Which is why the Japanese constructed two super battleships (Yamato amd Musachi) and planned a third. Unfortunately for the Japanese, they were so sucessful at Pearl Harbor that the U.S. Pacific Fleet no longer had operational battleships (December 1941). Thus the Pacufic Fleet did not have thevships needed to execute Plan Orange. Admiral Nimitz had to devise a new strategy and the tactics for the ships that were left -- most importantly the carriers. Even before Pearl Harbor the U.S. Navy had begun to revise its war plans--the new Rainbow Plans. [Spector, Eagle ..., p. 59.] The U.S. Navy had revised the assumptions and plans for Rainbow 5 in the Plan Dog memo, which concluded that the United States would adhere to a Europe-first strategy in World War II. The Japanese did not revise their Katai Kessen doctrine even after Pearl Harbor, but by the time that the United States had built up its fleet, the Imperial Fleet had been so attritted that it had no realistic possibility of winning a major fleet action. The United Srates also lost vessels, but had the industrial capacity to build enormous numbers of new vessels. The Japanese did not. The Japanese Kntai Kessen doctrine was flawed because it did not take into account the enormous industrial capacity of the United States as well as the unlikely prospect that America, like the Russians in 1905, would be willing to make peace after losing a major naval battle. Pearl Harbor had just thebopposite of the impact intended. The American people who had wanted to avoid war wwere now united with a desire to wage war.

Asian Nationalism

The Japanese in only a few stunning months after Pearl Harbor carved out a huge empire in the Pacufic and Southeast Asia. And it looked for a time that it might not only be a permanent situation, but perhaps be expanded to include Australia and India. In fact, the Japanest conquests lasted only 2-3 years. While the Japanese East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere lasted only a few years, the impact for Asia was nothing short of monentous. The Japanese conquests has a stunning impct on Asian nationalism. Asia at the time of World War II was largely colonized or strongly influenced by European countries (Britain, France, the Ntherlands, and Portugal). Nationalist movements within the European empires were, except for India, weak anf poorly organized. There were no Europeam plans to grant independence. Only in the Phillipines was the United States moving toward independence. Britain was moving Ceylon and India toward domestic self rule, but not indepencence. Thus the Japanese conquests were seen in Asia in a very different light than the NAZI conquests in Europe. It also explains why resistance movements (except in Indochina and the Philippines) were weak and of little impact on the War. And the Japanese were able to orgnize local military formations (Burma, India, and Indonesia) to fight the Allies. The outcome was a notable impetus to nationalist movements throughout Asia. And within a few years after the War, the European colonial powers had granted independence to their former colonies.

Fatal Flaws

The Japanese strategic concept was fataly flawed. There were four fundametal weaknesses in Japan's war plan that rather than strenthening theAxis actually weaknd it. First, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a startling tactical success, but a strategic blunder of incalcuable proportions. The attack turned to be of only moderate importance, failing to achieve the primary goal of destroying the American carriers. Far more importantly, it turned a biterly divided America into a unified, mortal enemy. Second, the Japanese strategy had no provision for attacking the industrial base of the United States, an industrial base far exceeding the industrial capacity of Japan. This industrial base allowed American to build a military force that Japan could not possibly match. Third, the Japanese were unprepared for the American submarine campaign, a campaign which by 1943 was beginning to deny Japanese industry the resources from their newly won empire. The Japanese found their army bogged down in unwinnable campaigns in China and Burma and morooned on isolated Pacific islands that they could no longer supply or even defend. Nor could the resources of their empire be brought back to the factories on the Home Island. Japan at the time of its surrender in 1945 was approaching starvation. Fourth, the Japanese war plan was based on Germnan success in Europe which until December 1941 seemed like a safe gambel. Ironically, the choice to attack America rather than the Soviet Union, undermined the Axis war effort. At vitually the same time that Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, the Red Army launched a counter offensive before Moscow tht would prove to be the turning point in the War.

Subsequent Japanese Strategy

The Japanese war strategy was fundamentallu unrailed by the loss of four carriers and the further depletion of the small corps of skilled aviators at the Battle of Midway (June 1942). After Guadacanal and the Solomons naval campaign (August-November 1942), Japan was permanently forced on the defensive. As the balance of power shifted to the United States as a result of steadily increaing industrial production, the Japanese were forced to adopt one single strategic concept--fighting to the death. The Japanese soldiers were ordered to fight to the death. This was part of the Bushido code. Only the Japanese who began the War believed that sacrifices would bring success and victory. When victory no longer was possible, the Japanese miitarists who brought Japan into the War now hoped that such fearsom resistance would make the United States advance in the Pacific so costly that the American people would be unwilling to bear the sacrifice. It was clear to even the most ravid militarists that the war was becoming a disaster for Japan. After the Marianas diaster, Primeminister Tojo was forced to resign (1944). Even so, the Japanese Government still hope to avoid total defeat and occupation. The new governmen, however, continued the stategy of attempting to inflict casualties on the advancing Americans. This strategy proved as poorly thought out as the initial decesion to engage the United States. Despite the ferocity of the Pacific Island battles, the American losses in the Pacific were only fraction of those sustained in the European theater. And the American losses were only a fraction of the staggering Japanese losses. The ratio in some battles were as high as ten to one. In addition, America's industrial superority was able to bring technolgy and industry to bear to increase Japanese losses and minimize American losses. Even before the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan's wood and paper cities were tuned into ashes and the country was facing starvation.

Sources

Goebbels, Joseph. ed, Louis B. Lochner, The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-1943 (Doubleday: New York, 1948), 566p.

Ienaga, Saburo. The Oacuidic War, 1931-1945 (1978). Iebega's book is extensuvly dicumented. I








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Created: 2:04 AM 8/1/2008
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