September 9, 2014

"It is nothing less than a self-destructive war," said Emperor Hirohito on July 31, 1941.

According to the newly released official history of the Japanese emperor, who reigned during WWII and died in 1989.
The 12,000-page history... contains little that will surprise historians... The most controversial aspect appears to be the fact that it took the Imperial Household Agency almost a quarter of a century to release its official history of Hirohito....

The agency... explained the delay by saying it took time to put together the 61-volume history from 3,152 documents and records, some of them never previously made public.


traditionalguy said...

That is all propaganda.

The little man gloried in every moment of every slaughter of the non-Nippon races of the world. He urged aggression and murder over and over and gloried in his victories... unless everyone else lied about his words and acts and finally The Truth he commands on his enslaved people has come out.

Craig Landon said...

He only learned about the war from the newspapers.

rhhardin said...

The SS has some doubts Mitchell and Webb.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I note the misuse of the word "exalting."("...which also shows him exalting at the victories of his armies in China, ")

Obviously,the word they intended was "exulting." Tsk, tsk.

traditionalguy said...

The similar trait among Hirohito, Hitler and Obama is a strong opinion that they are only losing because of their bad people who have let them down and since those bad people cannot win, then those bad people deserve to be destroyed.

The result of thinking like that is a no surrender but scorched earth on retreat and fight until all have died orders.

Hirohito only backed down when the truth that the B-29s could nuke his compound tomorrow sunk in.

But that is why Obama's game is suddenly being exposed as only loses and failures which has prompted the little man to go all out to destroy our electrical energy generation system and our border security on his way out.

Drago said...

At what point in time did the Japanese start losing WWII's war in the Pacific?

On the morning of Dec 7, 1941.

That an entire nation of militarists could plan an attack on Pearl while knowing that an invasion and occupation of the US was never even a remote possibility shows the ability of human beings to delude themselves utterly.

Even to the point of initiating an existential threat to ones own existence.

madAsHell said...

"I can run wild for six months … after that, I have no expectation of success".
-Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

His general staff was less than enthusiastic for war. I'm guessing that the papers are being released now after a complete white wash of the Hirohito legacy.

chillblaine said...

Oliver Stone will be delighted by this revelation. Stone and his fellow travelers are always looking for any data that allows them to blame America. This will be spun into the narrative that the embargo imposed on Imperial Japan provoked them into attacking us. Plus racism.

I am a much better at Marxist Critical Theory than any of those latte-sippers in the faculty lounge.

lgv said...

Drago used the correct description, "delusion".

Hirohito had no problem conquering and enslaving much of Asia, so he wasn't a "good" in any sense of the word. He was, however, not delusional like many of his generals. He simply saw aligning with the Axis and going to war with the US as a bad idea.

Other than Yamamoto, his military thought inside this cocoon of invincibility. Divine providence and bravery would lead to victory. Remember, most of the emperor's generals did not want to surrender.

This is like Himmler writing in his journal that he thought invading Russia was a bad idea. He would be correct, but no better a man.

Brando said...

It still boggles the mind what a collossal miscalculation the Japanese made. We cut off their oil and they were desperate, but what on earth could have made them think that a quick victory over us would make us give them oil afterward? They would have been just as well off cutting a deal with Stalin to get his oil, or attacking Britain and hoping they'd be desperate enough to sell them oil for peace as they already had a war on their hands.

How much power did monarchs like Hirohito (or the Kaiser) have over their respective countries? The books seem to imply they were more than just figureheads (like the British royals) but they had militaries and civil governments that made policy. Had either of those leaders been opposed to war, would they have been able to prevent it?

Drago said...

Brando: "It still boggles the mind what a collossal miscalculation the Japanese made. We cut off their oil and they were desperate, but what on earth could have made them think that a quick victory over us would make us give them oil afterward?"

The Japanese believed they could obtain all they needed in terms of oil, rubber, metals etc from China and acquired possessions in SouthEast Asia.

Not entirely incorrect.

However, just a simple back of the envelope calculation related to manufacturing and production "might" should have dissuaded the Japanese from thinking their military "edge" in the Pacific (to be obtained after hitting the fleet at Pearl) was sustainable over the long term.

Cedarford said...

Truth is the oil and other natural resources embargo was hurting Japan big time as it tried to get access to some natural resources and it's own colonial empire as the other Powers had grabbed in the 18th and 19th century.

The need for war to seize oil supplies in the Dutch East Indies came 1st. But access to Thai food reserves, plus natural resources in China, Burma, Indochina, the Philippines also drove military thinking.

Some naval officers like Yamamoto opposed war with the Western Powers because they would get the worst of it from the US, British Commonwealth and knew they could not match the "China of its day" - America - in manufacturing goods in cities blacks migrating from the South had yet to destroy - in astronomical amounts.
The Imperial Japanese Army was far more sanguine. They knew they could hold what they took with low casualties as long as the Navy and Japanese merchant marine could keep supplies going.

The Army believed that the more they conquered, the better their negotiating position with Russia, Germany and America would be. They saw the likely outcome of war the permanent end of the economic blockade and Japan left with less than it took - but still a nice-sized colonial empire full of resources. That America would not go all-out in war - but would accept the new Asia Japan was ushering in.

It is sometimes difficult to have people on the winning side accept the enemy is rational and had a decent plan. It was a high risk, but the embargo was strangling Japan and had to be broken.

George Bush's idea of invading and nation-building to make Muslims pro-West Noble Purple-fingered Freedom Lovers and Folks That Want Female Empowerment sounded plausible, though high risk, and like the Japanese Army's war - it got approved by most..The neocons were rational, just wrong.

SteveR said...

Conquering the Western Pacific from north to south is like trying to control North America in the early stages of a Risk game. However good it looks, its not sustainable. They had plenty or history to motivate them in China, but Micronesia, etc was stupidity.

JPS said...


"The books seem to imply they were more than just figureheads (like the British royals)....Had either of those leaders been opposed to war, would they have been able to prevent it?"

I don't know, but you've reminded me of a Churchill anecdote - think I read it in Stephen Ambrose's D-Day. He asked to accompany the Normandy invasion force, and Eisenhower of course said no. Churchill tried to insist, pointed out clever ways in which he could put himself beyond Eisenhower's authority to keep him away. In desperation Eisenhower appealed to the King, who said, Leave Winnie to me.

King George VI told Churchill that if the Prime Minister felt honor-bound to be part of the landing force, surely the King could do no less. Churchill withdrew his request.

Drago said...

Cedarford: "It is sometimes difficult to have people on the winning side accept the enemy is rational and had a decent plan. It was a high risk, but the embargo was strangling Japan and had to be broken."

The Japanese plan was not rational as the Japanese themselves saw no path whatsoever to military victory.

They instituted some unicorn thinking of their own in hoping that the US would be so thunderstruck after Pearl that it (the US) would sue for peace.

That was not a rational plan for victory.

Brando said...

"The Japanese believed they could obtain all they needed in terms of oil, rubber, metals etc from China and acquired possessions in SouthEast Asia."

If that's true, then couldn't they have just as easily achieved those ends without attacking the U.S.? We might have reacted negatively to their expanding the war against the Dutch, British and Chinese (as well as other neutral states) but it would have been hard for us to actually declare war on that basis alone.

I grant that they miscalculated big time in thinking a string of early victories would have presented us with a fait accompli rather than spurring us to a longer, bloodier struggle to destroy them. But even under their overly rosy assumption, it's difficult to imagine them getting anything they needed from us as a result.

Hitler's declaration of war on us--interestingly, the only formal declaration of war he made--was also against his interests, though he probably assumed that we were already basically at war with him anyway and making it official would inspire the Japanese to fight it out and not sue for an early peace.

Come to think of it, WWII was a long string of governments completely miscalculating others--British assuming appeasement would hold off Hitler, Stalin assuming his non-aggression pact would do the same, Hitler assuming the Japanese needed the moral uplift of his formal declaration against the U.S., the Japanese completely miscalculating our reaction to their attack...

Fortunately we have steadier heads running our State Department today! Remember John Kerry has been almost exactly wrong on each foreign policy issue that arose since he entered public life.

buwaya said...

The immediate Japanese strategic objective was indeed oil, from European-owned sources in British Borneo and Dutch Indonesia.
The rest of their conquests were a buffer to absorb the inevitable counterattack.
As for Hirohito, there are few things as opaque as what went on in the Japanese government and high military command in WWII, sort of like the Obama administration. There have been smokescreens upon smokescreens. A lot of the Japanese "permanent government" remained in place post WWII, all loyal to the emperor.

lgv said...

Hirohito and more importantly, Tojo, didn't really understand the US as did Yamamoto (Tojo's nemesis).

It's not about a rational strategy. The prevailing attitude at the time was that Japan had no choice. America had backed them in a corner. That is the first hand account of relatives who were there at the time.

Combine this with a bit of manifest destiny and an air of invincibility from having crushed all those other countries and you get the recipe for what happened next.

buwaya said...

Part of the Japanese problem was pure internal politics.
They had a colonial empire, a very large one in terms of subjects and resources. They had Korea and a huge section of North China (Manchuria).
Nobody gave a ^%*(^ about that.
Then, as a consequence of a nasty economy (the Great Depression hit them hard), a failing extremist government tried to rescue their reputation through a foreign adventure. They provoked a war with the Chinese, absurdly attempting to conquer China. That turned into an extremely costly stalemate and got them into trouble with the Western Powers. Their entry into WWII was a desperate attempt to cover their bad bets with more bad bets.

Brando said...

It's interesting to wonder how things might have played out if the Japanese avoided attacking us. The U.S. was still pretty much against war in either theater, and FDR had to stretch things a bit to send supplies to the Brits and fight off German U-boats in the Atlantic. There may eventually have been a pretense that would have allowed war, but a later entry might have left a different equation in Europe.

Hitler's decision to attack Russia was of course the most fateful mistake, and a fortunate one for the free world. The Eurasian landmass divided between the Axis and the Soviets would have been ugly.

Skyler said...

The delay was caused by the need to white wash his evil.

He was put in power. He had power. That he chose to ignore the evil done in his name was his choice and no one else's.

I don't agree that he was merely a passive ruler. I think he was decidedly active and directing the prime minister and the army and navy. Else why would they have squabbled?

Damn him and his apologists.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

Alfred Thayer Mahan and Hector Bywater lived in the head of the Japanese military.

buwaya said...

A lot of Japanese behavior in their China war and in WWII is mysterious.
Various historians are reduced to concluding that the Japanese military was "out of control" and conducting their wars semi-independently.
This is simply not credible in modern warfare. Anything significant has logistic implications going all the way back to the civilian economy. There are complex coordination issues across branches.
The only reasonable conclusion is that a lot of the Japanese government and military leadership did a lot of fibbing after the war. Some of them seem to have "taken one for the team", like Yamashita.

The Godfather said...

I really don't care about a dead Japanese emperor. All of WWII was a result of miscalculation. Germany could and did conquer (western) continental Europe, but they didn't have the capability of getting enough troops across the Channel to conquer England -- same problem Napoleon had. So they decided to conquer Russia instead, and found that the distances topography and climate were too much for them -- same problem Napoleon had. The Japanese largely succeeded in wiping out the American fleet, but because they couldn't reach our homeland, we were able to build a new and stronger fleet in a relatively short time. Within six months, the US was pushing them back. The entire war was a vast mistake by the aggressors and was doomed to fail.

Isn't hindsight wonderful?

Jason said...

The Japanese war plan:

1. Attack Pearl Harbor!

2. Invade the Aleutians

3. ???


traditionalguy said...

The Japanese Empire stopped winning the war at 10:30 AM on June 4, 1942. The Japanese Empire began losing the war about 3:00 AM on September 13, 1942.In both cases individual warriors were in the right place at the right time by God's providence.

On June 4th Richard Best flew his SBD dive bomber down at the carrier Akagi using his the first of his 1,000 lbs bomb hits on two of four Jap Carriers that had to be sunk if the USA Navy was to stop the invasion of Midway and thereby the invasion of Honolulu and thereby the invasion of California.

On September 13th Merritt Eidson was rallying the few men left of his 800 Marines on top of Bloody Ridge and stopping the third attack waive of 4,000 Japanese soldiers that night which were only 500 yards from taking the airfield on Guadalcanal.

Anonymous said...

When Hirohito spoke to the nation over the radio following the surrender, hardly anyone could understand him. He spoke in an archaic form of Japanese that no one outside the Imperial household had used in centuries. It would be like listening to a speech by Chaucer.


sinz52 said...

Brando: "WWII was a long string of governments completely miscalculating others"

So were most other wars:

Major miscalculations led to World War I, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and--of course--the Iraq War of 2003.

This is why pre-emptive war is so fraught with risk. The side that goes first is most prone to miscalculating the enemy, since all they have to go on is intelligence reports and guesswork. Whereas the other side has the attacking side's actions to plan against.

Japan tried pre-emption in 1941. Saddam tried pre-emption in 1990. The U.S. tried it in 2003.

All failed.

Drago said...

The Godfather: "So they decided to conquer Russia instead, and found that the distances topography and climate were too much for them -- same problem Napoleon had. "


Hitler had Stalin defeated and Moscow within his sights prior to getting a bit too nervous about a couple of Soviet Army groups to the South in Caucasus and diverting his Central Army Group South to deal with them.

If not for that fateful decision, the Soviet Union would have fallen, Hitlers armies would have controlled about 70% of Russian productive capacity and also spent the winter in Moscow nicely warmed and fed.

Stalin would have been toppled and the US and the West would have had a much more serious problem on their hands.

I strongly recommend you read R.H.S. Stolfi's "Hitlers Panzers East".

Clark said...

I'm skeptical.

Unknown said...

The Japanese war plan:

1. Attack Pearl Harbor
2. Attack and conquer various territories in the Pacific
3. Fight to the last man and inflict intolerable casualties when the inevitable counterattack by the stronger opponent finally materializes.
4. Negotiate a peace with the logistically and militarily stronger but "morally weak" enemy that involves handing back some but not all of the territories you conquered.

It's actually not a bad plan and entirely rational. A variation on Step 4 worked pretty well for the communists in Korea and even better in Vietnam. Osama bin Laden was banking on the same general strategy on 9/11 and if Al Gore or Barack Obama had been President that day instead of Bush, it might have worked.

Japan's biggest miscalculation was probably the same as OBL's -- Americans, even leftist pacifists, tend to react very, very badly when the homeland is attacked. If the Japanese and OBL had stayed away from American soil, the outcome might have been quite different. Admittedly, destroying the American fleet at Pearl was pretty much a requirement for the rest of the Japanese strategy so they had to play that card. In their defense, they had little reason to predict the isolationist US would respond so ferociously.

Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union is similarly rational in context. All he had to go on was the Soviets' atrocious performance in their invasion of Finland following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. The Soviets looked like (and were) a bunch of hapless no-hopers; why shouldn't the Wehrmacht beat them handily? Just like Napoleon, Hitler couldn't have predicted one of the worst winters ever to frustrate his invasion plans -- and he failed to factor in the Russians' willingness to die by the millions to protect their home soil.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

I guess murdering Chinese was OK, just not attacking a country that could fight back.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

John Constantius -

What Hitler had to go on was that Germany beat Russia in WW1. Everyone forgets that. Russia was totally defeated in 1918. The only reason it survived was that the Western Allies won in France. Otherwise the USSR very likely would not have happened.

Brando said...

Hitler's miscalculation in Russia was based on a big underestimation of Soviet industrial strength. The Germans destroyed in 1941 more tanks and divisions than they initially believed the Russians had--and essentially wiped out the equivalent of a large army. The thing was, Stalin had created a massive industrial base, most of it far east of the border, and could churn out T-34s and draft peasants for cannon fodder at enough of a rate to completely replace everything the Germans destroyed.

Plus, the focus on three separate zones (north, south and center) meant delaying a big push for Moscow, giving the Soviets enough time to prepare defenses for their capital and largest city. This diversion of effort became necessary because of Russia's size, industrial strength and population, and consequently took time--meaning winter hit at a time when the Germans had expected to already win the war. Not being well prepared for winter, and facing a massive counterattack, the Germans were significantly weakened in late '41 and despite being able to advance again the next year, were facing a replenishing Soviet force with a lot of the best German divisions weakened or destroyed.

Surely Hitler looked at the Soviet bumbling in Finland the previous winter as well as their failure to take Poland in 1920 and Russia's performance in WWI, and figured one good kick at the door would bring down the whole structure. But Russia had a lot more fight in them than that, and a war to not just defeat the Russians but conquer their country was going to need a lot of things to go right, and a lot of luck, and that didn't work out.

Japan surely looked at their own unbroken string of successes since 1904 and figured a good smash in our nose would have gotten us to negotiate something with them--a fatal miscalculation of how Americans would react to being attacked. Had they avoided that fate, they may have eventually lost their empire, but it probably would have taken a lot longer.

Bad Lieutenant said...

John C,

Your four step plan works all the better absent the Bomb. Operation Coronet or Olympus, iirc, with no alternative, might have made a negotiated peace look tolerable. Yes total blockade. Then again, we didn't do the Anaconda Plan either. Not our style-and of course then there's the USSR to consider.

If Hitler had launched Barbarossa in March instead of in June, the Russian language would be spoken only in hell.

We won the war in 2003. Please don't fool yourself. We lost the peace.

Unknown said...

Unknown, I am well aware we won the war in 2003. Don't think I'm someone I'm not. By saying, "Please don't fool yourself" I can only conclude that you're arguing with someone else from your own life, not with me. It is very clear to me that the current administration has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Beyond that, Hitler was never going to beat the Russians, any more than the Japanese could have "beat" the Americans. Russia did not "lose" WWI, which is why Germany did not end the war holding large swathes of Russian territory. Rather, the Bolsheviks beat the Czar and cut a deal with the Germans for peace so they could consolidate their control of the country. The Germans were happy to oblige so they could concentrate on the Western front (which they lost a little while later anyway).

Hitler should have learned more from Napoleon, who actually did conquer Moscow only to find it a useless prize. Conquering Russia is not about conquering territory but about beating the Russian people. Unfortunately for Napoleon and Hitler, the Russians, much like Americans, will readily surrender their rights and freedoms to a fellow countryman but will die before they turn them over to an invader.

Good point on the Bomb. After Iwo Jima and Okinawa, it was pretty clear that "negotiated peace" would be the rational end result absent a true game changer. The Japanese plan was eminently sensible but didn't account for Oppenheimer and his band of techno-wizards.

Bad Lieutenant said...

John, we needn't quibble over "2003." I beg your pardon. That was sinz52, not you. I blame rotten stinking Android.

In particular, the invasion of the Nipponese home islands would have had to wait on another graduating class of American youth.

I do think however that if Hitler had made his original objectives in 1941 he would have been sitting pretty on the eastern front. He might have run out of road in Siberia, say, but Hitler's logistics issues were different from Napoleon's.

Ultimately he would have lost because the Allies controlled the oceans but no - the people who say Russia could have won the war alone, no, it's not true. in fact they would have lost without lend--lease