Factoids from Tommy’s Wars

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World War II

Pre-War:

Day Japan Set in Motion the Pacific Theater

Sept. 6, 1941, Japan’s dysfunctional government held another in a summer-long series of cabinet-level and emperor-level conferences, this one to consider if and when to begin the Pacific theater of operations of World War II.

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Post-War:

President Obama did not attend China’s massive celebration of the end of World War II because the government in power was not the government the United States helped to drive out of the country to end the war. In fact, Mao Tse-tung’s Communist Party, the forerunner of today’s government in China, and proudly so, was more of a hindrance than a help to Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Party, the major power during the war and the legitimate government recognized by the United States and Allied forces. The civil war between the two parties, Mao with strong support by the U.S.S.R, the new enemy of the U.S., overthrew Chiang and sent him fleeing to what is now Taiwan to establish a non-communist government there. If Taiwan had celebrated in a major way like mainland China, no doubt Obama would be there, just as President Putin attended the China celeb ration.

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Pre-War:

In one of the war’s many ironies, the United States was asia empiresresponsible for Japan ending 200 years of isolation in the mid-1800s and opening itself to global trade. When it did, Japan discovered it and the rest of Asia were surrounded by white Europeans who had turned the various nations into colonies. It set out to change that.

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As the military coc-j warntinued to raise tensions with China, Hirohito summoned General Kazushige Ugaki at the beginning of 1937 to order him to keep the peace in Asia and to do nothing that could be interpreted as Japan aggression.  At mid-year, the countries were at war with each other.

 

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Japan’s growing belligerence with other nations was the subject of debate hirohitowithin its own leadership, including Hirohito, through much of the 1930s. Many within the leadership questioned the sanity of what they believed was preparation for war with either the United States or the Soviet Union.

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Japan’s Kwantung Army, formed to protect its railroad-connected interests in the mukden incidentManchuria section of China, became somewhat of a renegade army at the end of the summer of 1931. It decided to act on its own without seeking permission from Tokyo or even warning the national government, and staged an incident near Mukden (now Shenyang) as an excuse to expand the territory under its protection down to China’s Great Wall and just north of Beiping. The same conquering army gave Manchuria a new name, Manchukuo.

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When Japan began its war with China on July 7, 1937 with the Marco Polo Bridge incident as its excuse, it expected the conflict to last no more than a year or two. After all, ever since its Open Door Policy seventy-five years earlier, all of Japan’s conflicts had been short and victorious. And those were just the latest of a 2,600-year history of no defeats.

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Japan and China had been mortal foes, yet by the late 1930s the invader had no japan's china territoryplan to defeat and occupy all of China.  Japan did not have the manpower or other means to defeat and hold a country that large, not even a China that at the time was weak militarily and distracted by its own threatening civil war.

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Beforetripartite pact the Tripartite Pact was signed, the Soviet Union had offered to join Germany, Italy and Japan as what would become the Axis Powers, mainly allied against the  United States. But Joseph Stalin demanded more land concessions in Europe than Germany was willing to concede, so the Soviet offer was rejected.

Tommy Hawaii:

Persons of Japanese ancestry numbered nearly 160,000 in Hawaii in 1940, about jap-hawaii40 percent of its total population. It should come as no surprise then that the FBI, along with various military and other government divisions, was accumulating a long list of Japanese in Hawaii.

Tommy in Japan:

Beginning in the school years when they became teenagers, all boys had to undergo an hour or two of near daily military training taught by a retired military officer assigned to each school. In those school classes, they were taught how to use a rifle, actually a piece of wood shaped like one, and particularly the bayonet as if they had japanese bayonetone. To the Japanese, the bayonet is considered the modern version of the sword of an exalted samurai warrior, and thus considered to be an extension of his spirit. Through that bayonet, the user gained some of the samurai power, so misuse was not condoned.

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japanese judo Students also were offered a choice of learning judo, the art of close-up fighting with arm and leg thrusts, jabs and kicks and other tactics, and kendo, use of a bamboo stick in similar close-up fighting.

Wartime:

The war games scenarios most nations construct and constantly revise to meet changing times also were kept in Japan. The latest version in September, 1941 still maintained that Japan would not have the resources to carry on a war japan flag v uswith the United States for more than three years, meaning defeat if it lasted that long.  Military leaders also objected to starting any other wars as they attempted to defend the vast territory they held and attempted to hold in Southeast Asia.

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In the Imperial Japanese Army, a superior was anyone with even a day more of service than the lowest-ranked soldiers, usually teenagers pulled from their classroomjapanese master privates near the end of the war. In early 1944, the minimum draft age was changed from age 20 to 19. The older soldier, perhaps only 20, held sway over the younger, even to the point of forcing him to serve as a sort of slave.

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The Japanese military had its “Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors” and itojon 1941, War Minister Hideki Tojo, soon to become prime minister, added his own “Battlefield Guidelines” that meant either surviving a victorious and thus honorable battle or dying an honorable death in the emperor’s service, by your own hand, if necessary. Nothing else was an option, certainly not surrender.

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Japan and France had an uneasy relationship in South Asia during the war. Rather than be ousted from what it called French Indochina–Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam–France cowed to Japan and allowed it to operate across the region. The US worked with a Vietnamese man in exile, named Ho Chi Minh, to harass the Japanese in northern Vietnam. Also fearing a US invasion via China, Japan responded in early March, 1945, by grabbing all of Vietnam and establishing its own government. Later, at Potsdam, Allied leaders split the country at the 16th parallel, allowing China to grab the north, returning to France its former French colony, which it managed to govern for only another nine years. The rest is familiar history.

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In September, 1943, the Japanese Navy’s Rear Admiral began a study of the progress of the war to that point. Five months later came his conclusion: it would be impossible for Japan to win so it should begin to seek peace. Separately, an economist for the cabinet’s planning board reached the same conclusion, offering facts and figures to justify the widespread opinion of Japan’s former statesmen and the emperor’s top adviser that the war should be ended. After other behind-the-scenes efforts to get a peace deal failed, Japan sent a delegation to the Soviet Union on May 8 to intervene as a peace negotiator, not knowing of the deadline triggered by Germany’s fall.

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Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945 triggered a three-month deadline for the Soviet Union to declare war on Japan and invade its territory in China’s Manchuria. The Soviet met the deadline with minutes to spare and its entry into the Pacific theater of the war was a major contribution to Japan’s surrender and the end of all of World War II.

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