Instead we have 130,000 troops of which 40,000 are logistics, administration and medical support leaving 80,000 troops to combat. Prime Minister Suzuki, however, ignored their advice because the emperor and the army were not on board. The link to Frank's article is here: To the horror of American troops advancing on Saipan, they saw mothers clutching their babies hurling themselves over the cliffs rather than be taken prisoner. Japan may have surrendered to the Allies on August 15, 1945, but many Japanese soldiers did not get word until much later. Together with the British Empire and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declarationon July 26, 1945—the … Preserving their conservative system of rule with the emperor at the apex was their ultimate end; war termination their political means." I think he pretty much hits it right on the head. Zooey72 last edited by . The American presidents you point out, weren't and aren't defeated in the field with cities reduced to rubble and no armies in the field. Fighting in isolated pockets is their only effective means to battle a the far superior US forces. OK, and by that yardstick neither did Al Queda. Your cavalier attitude is similar to those of the cowardly chicken-hawks in the Bush administration who fail to take a realistic view of events on the ground and adapt accordingly. Frank’s basic case -that it was reasonable of Truman to think he needed to drop atom bombs to compel Japan’s surrender- is convincing, within the context he carefully frames to best undergird his ultimately not very original thesis. He never spoke explicitly about 'surrender' or 'defeat', but simply remarked that the war 'did not turn in Japan's favour'. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Again, yesterday (14) Marines were killed by IED on the Syrian border. During the 1930s, when many Japanese had private doubts about the monarchy, right-wingers and ultra-nationalists used this amuletic word as a weapon for attacking their opponents. More notable still is the almost comically simplistic view of national and international actors they represent. For an emperor mindful of the impact of America's "new and most cruel bomb", surrender (even if he chose not to use the term) was a means of avoiding the total destruction of Japan … The notion of unconditional surrender is a central aspect of understanding why Japan remained undeterred amid extensive bombing campaigns, and to a lesser extent, why Germany fought until the fall of Berlin. So it was with Japan's decision-makers trying to end their war of aggression while their subjects faced the real prospect of physical annihilation. Mr. Bix, author of Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan (HarperCollins, 2000), writes on problems of war and empire and is a Japan Focus associate. But the U.S. had already crossed a terrifying moral threshold when it accepted the targeting of civilians as a legitimate instrument of warfare. The use of the A-bomb was inevitable. In waging and losing the Vietnam war, Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon never once placed the interests of the American or Vietnamese people first. It is unclear at what point Hirohito abandoned the illusion that his armed forces remained capable of delivering at least one devastating blow to the enemy so that his diplomats could negotiate a surrender on face saving terms. Washington has believed ever since that the atomic bomb decisively forced Japan's surrender. But some cabinet ministers and members of a cabinet advisory committee, composed largely of the leaders of big business, revisited the Potsdam Declaration, arguing that it had been a mistake to postpone acceptance of its terms. "What issue most impeded their decision to surrender?" -- Bix’s take on Russia’s role in Japan’s surrender is nearly incoherent. Last updated 2011-02-17. The recent bombings in Britain and Egypt clearly show the reach of non-nation state combatants. In the end, Stalin got a bunch of territory for doing nothing militarily in the East. We may never know the actual thinking of Hirohito when he decided to surrender. Unless you understand the tactics employed by 4th generation warfare (4GW), then you cannot possibly understand what is going on in either Iraq and Afghanistan. They are heavily compromised by insiders, lack the equipment of their US counterparts and are mostly assigned to security patrol duty to which they are continually subject to ambush. As a Libertarian I neither support the Democratic platform nor have I ever listened to Air America. Lieutenant Onoda, by contrast, doggedly refused to lay down his arms until he received formal orders to surrender. The “traditionalist school” accepts the explanation given by President Truman, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and others in the government in the aftermath of the war. Yo By this time Tokyo was already a smoldering heap from months of fire bombing. Of the 100 units planned by Don Rumsfield only 3 are fully operational to date. I can't speak for the Weekly Standard, but I'd say it's worth noting that the article by Frank is linked by the Chronicle of Higher Education in their column on things to read from the wider press. That question weighed on their minds when the Potsdam Declaration arrived (July 27-28), calling on them to surrender unconditionally or face immediate destruction. How are our troops going to be able to come home as heated battle in Iraq continues daily? If we are to win this war it will take additional boots on the ground. Namely, one who would start a war and commit fellow citizens to die in it, but who evaded serving in military combat himself. Japan barely scratched US soil during WWII and Vietnam had no designs or capability to do so during the Southeast Asian War. Regards, The article itself is generally quite excellent, by the way, and most of other comments about here rife with many other instances of confusion and misattribution. Other, smaller groups continued fighting on Guadalcanal, Peleliu and in various parts of the Philippines right up to 1948. So we come to the question of ideology, or the national polity and essence, which they called kokutai. He argues that the attack on Pearl Harbor provoked a rage bordering on the genocidal among Americans. 3.) As Napoleon marched through Russia decisively winning battles he failed to comprehend the Russian mindset until Moscow was ablaze and he was buried under a cold blanket of snow. Go pedal your defeatist nonsense elsewhere please. They did not surrender after the first atomic bomb due to the amount of time it usually would take to officially declare surrender, which in this case would have been a bit longer considering japan was not so keen on surrender. Do you think the A-bombs did it? As historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa puts it, “The Soviet entry into the war played a much greater role than the atomic bombs in inducing Japan to surrender because it dashed any hope that Japan could terminate the war through Moscow's mediation.” That’s the key point: the Japanese weren’t fighting to win. That is a counterfactual argument that cannot be conclusively proven or disproven by reference to the actual decoded intercepts. In early 1941, General Robert Brooke-Popham, Commander-in-Chief of British forces in the Far East, reported that one of his battalion commanders had lamented, 'Don't you think (our men) are worthy of some better enemy than the Japanese?'. And, by the way, congratulations on your pointless dig at Mr. Ryan for his typo on Bix's name. Even assuming your interpretation of the decoded Japanese messages is correct, I cannot locate the supposed "conflict" between this and Bix's article. Former prime minister Prince Konoe Fumimaro, former foreign minister Shigemitsu Mamoru, the emperor's brother, Prince Takamatsu, and their respective secretaries and advisers all fell into this category. It seems to me that Bix is guilty of exactly the same kind Manichaean logic for which those on the left repeatedly – and correctly – fault the Bush administration: either you are with us, or you are with the bad buys. But if they were to control the immediate postwar situation, the surrender had to be very carefully choreographed. Today, in the era of inevitable U.S. defeat in Iraq, the highest U.S. officials who foisted the war on the American people face a similar situation. To me, that is quite a large commitment of resources. From figures of derision, they were turned into supermen - an image that was to endure and harden as the intensity and savagery of fighting increased. The issue here is Bix's historiographical take on the Japanese surrender, e.g. In his book, yes. The central and west of Iraq where the heavy fighting is underway has estimates ranging between 20,000 and 100,000 fighters. I come from a military family and although I did not serve after high school in 1978, as I chose college, I currently serve the DAV and have spent many weekend afternoons at VA Hospitals. Most Japanese did not know what kokutai meant, though the term had had a legal content ever since 1925. For an emperor mindful of the impact of America's "new and most cruel bomb", surrender (even if he chose not to use the term) was a means of avoiding the total destruction of Japan … I have long wondered why Truman, once he had the bomb and had decided to use it, still bargained with Stalin to get what at that point was a militarily useless and absurly late nth hour declaration of war from the USSR. This article first appeared at Japan Focus and is reprinted with permission. This is why General Shinseki asked for 350,000 to 400,000 troops en masse at the wars outset. I hit the submit button prematurely, I was not commenting on your views, but that of the author. I approached this article with real enthusiasm, hoping I would learn something new about one of the most interesting and important questions of recent history. "Shouldn't they have cared more for the safety of their own people after the war had long been irrevocably lost? With numbers like that they should be, you know, actually fighting! It implies a consistency and integrity that does not exist. the decrypts publicized by Frank) contradict a side remark of the author here (Bix). Japan didn't surrender before the bombing because they wanted to get more favorable terms of surrender. ...Japanese fighting men did not surrender, even in the face of insuperable odds. Articles on this website tend not to cite sources, however. They don't have the strength or resources. . With time accelerating and their sense of the urgency of the situation deepening, Hirohito responded to this defeat by forcing the army and navy leaders to agree to the idea of an"early peace." I find it hard to believe that anyone can be so naive. Although some Japanese were taken prisoner, most fought until they were killed or committed suicide. This rule does indeed make “off-limits” your prior litanies on the subject of “"chickenhawks", "neo-cons" and "traitors". "The troops will likely start heading home in the spring." We witnessed civilian bungling in Vietnam as our military leaders had their hands tied. With everything at stake, he stepped forward live, as it were, in the form of a recorded message, speaking directly to the Japanese people in their worst moment of pain. It is odd for me to support an administration who does not have any leaders, other than Don Rumsfield, who served in the military. Even today, the word 'kamikaze' evokes among Japan's former enemies visions of crazed, mindless destruction. -- Bix makes superfluous and unfounded claims throughout his article about the role of the US in recent world history. Do you realize how absurdly high that figure is? 609 - 614. he inquired. After Iwo Jima and Okinawa (sp? Especially memorable to many Japanese was the emperor's expression of"profound solicitude" for"those who fell on the fields of battle""or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families." I would prefer that military leaders lead our troops and civilians direct administrative efforts. As with some aspects of science, many facets of history are not definitive. We see the difficulty in suppressing resistance in Iraq a country the size of Texas with 1/3 the population of 1940's Japan and nowhere near the military capability of the Japanese. I pity you and your ideoligcal straightjacket. It is not my intention to refute Mr. Bix's thesis, but to point out that his failure to address pertinent evidence weakens his argument. Not only were there virtually no survivors of the 30,000 strong Japanese garrison on Saipan, two out of every three civilians - some 22,000 in all - also died. The Army and Navy Ministers and Chiefs of Staff, and others who took part in the emperor's last two imperial conferences or who influenced the final outcome, also comprised the core ruling elite. I took a rummage through HNN’s Hiroshima laundry basket It is a nice bit of hypocrisy from someone who just last week faulted others for "cheap pot shots." As expected, the intercept messages (most of which were made public three decades ago) are an ambiguous jumble, but on balance tend to support Frank’s argument, though not to the extent hyped by him. If troops pull 12 hour duty that means only 40,000 troops on watch for any half day period. Maybe the US should nuke Baghdad and the we would win this war too. The USSR did essentially zilch in the war against Japan, and could not have been expected to have much time to do much once the US started its atomic annihilation. Yes, I'm simpleminded enough to point out that your comments are deviod of actual content, but instead rely on emotioanlly empty terms like "chickenhawk", "neo-con" and "traitor". All those who start wars are uniformly aggressive leaders who deliberately sacrifice the lives of others in pursuit of their own political aims. Thanks for the reference, Mr. Mutschler (no online link I suppose ? Bix, not "Blix" is the author you quote. That would be right here: Emperor Hirohito and his chief political adviser, Kido Koichi, stuck with the militarists and insisted on continuing with preparations for final battles on the home islands even in late June, when all organized resistance on Okinawa had ended, and an estimated 120,000 Japanese combatants (including Koreans and Taiwanese) and 150,000 to 170,000 non-combatants lay dead. Kirkuk and Mosel are off limits to US troops. It was a classic piece of understatement. As a student of military history I can site numerous errors in US war planning that has put our troops in this position. If he did not act immediately with the Russians bearing down on Japan and the national capacity for protracted resistance nearly exhausted, the monarchy, which he equated with the state, would be destroyed. It is also true that with the exception of Konoe, no one in the government or even the Court Group ever proposed opening direct negotiations with Washington, though most of them knew that the acting U.S. Secretary of State in summer 1945 was Joseph C. Grew, the former ambassador in Tokyo, a man sympathetic to the emperor and the"moderates" around the throne. Read more. I am not saying you are wrong, but Bix's account is at least plausible to me, absent solid and convincing counter-evidence. 4. So too did Admiral Takagi Sokichi, an adviser to Konoe and Takamatsu. Since Mr. Frank does not work for the Weekly Standard any more than Mr. Bix works for HNN, your peremptory dismissal of his argument on the basis of its association is either lazy or mindless. They are surely not conclusive -- no single piece of evidence could be on such a topic -- and they may well contain ambiguous or even contradictory evidence within them. I will nonetheless consider it as a possibility, but am not going to take the undocumented opinions of a few HNN posters as a definitive conclusion without some better substantiation, nor will I do their homework for them in trying to evaluate their questionable case. He claims for example, that Vietnam and the current war in Iraq were wars of aggression on par with Japan’s imperial expansion in the years leading up to WWII. Further discussions ensued in Tokyo over what course of action the Japanese should take and “even in the face of these blows, it took nearly a week to reach the point of surrender”. The"ruling elites," denoted primarily the Court Group around Emperor Hirohito plus the participants in the Supreme War Leadership Council, the first group to formally discuss the Potsdam Declaration. It is just as nonsensical for a historian to entirely dismiss a source because of perceived bias as it is to entirely accept a source without consideration of bias. The great classic of Bushido - 'Hagakure' written in the early 18th century - begins with the words, 'Bushido is a way of dying'. Mr. Siegler, 3. They did not surrender after the first atomic bomb due to the amount of time it usually would take to officially declare surrender, which in this case would have been a bit longer considering japan was not so keen on surrender. The word "chickenhawk" is normally used in reference to a certain kind of hypocrite. The term "chickenhawk" contains no general implication whatsosever concerning which sort of people "are fit to make war decisions". The current administration seems to have been pulling a smoke and mirror campaign from the run up to the war... 911 Investigation Cover-up, Downing Street Memo, Plame Game and Halliburton Profiteering... then now passes off disinformation about the war itself as if the public is to ignorant to the questions of what is going wrong in Iraq. The US military used to say 5,000, then started saying 20,000- 25,000, but frankly I don't think they have any idea..." I am not familiar with the scholarship of Richard Frank, a non-academic history-writer, but am certainly not impressed by his remarkably evasive and long-winded answer to a straightforward question (why wait only three days before hitting Nagasaki ?) Again comparing WWII and Iraq makes no sense. Many historians say the bombings did not lead to the Japanese surrender, and the Soviet declaration of war on Japan two days later was a bigger shock. that Hirohito et al were not self-sacrificing heros who bravely faced up to Japan's defeat, but instead delayers of the inevitable wanting to salvage their own hold on power. What I and others have argued is that the Magic intercepts on which it is based serve as important evidence of what Truman and his advisors knew, or at least believed, about Japan's intentions. Leaders of an imperialist state in the process of going down to defeat in war invariably behave this way. Bix's position is not very clear in this passage, but he implies that since (according to him) it was the Soviet entry forced the change in Japan's position, therefore the dropping of the first bomb (which preceeded Stalin's declaration) WAS at least indirectly important in changing the Japanese government's mind. Preserving their conservative system of rule with the emperor at the apex was their ultimate end; war termination their political means. I'm starting to feel a draft after the 2006 election cycle. With reference to the long, circuitous prior thread that started here, But the facts show that Hiroshima did not force Japan to surrender. For Hirohito, kokutai meant not only preservation of the dynasty but his own continuation on the throne. And these historians are driven by ideology (US = bad) and must ignore a mountain of evidence to maintain this point of view. The New York Times is always accurate, right? Heisler - The UN has given its approval to the US presence in Iraq, as has the Iraqi and US governments. When Japan began its military adventures in China in 1931, it was a society in turmoil. No wonder that the mystique of the throne, albeit diminished by defeat, carried over into the post-surrender period! Your suggestion to the contrary is not supported by anything in the text. Their goal is to remove the West from Arab homelands, destabilize Israel, free Palestine and create theocratic states in Muslim lands. Yet, even though nearly 5,000 of them blazed their way into the world's collective memory in such spectacular fashion, it is sobering to realise that the number of British airmen who gave their lives in World War Two was ten times greater. But to anyone who believes the kamikaze were mindless automatons, they have only to read some of the letters they left behind. Within this framework, the supreme sacrifice of life itself was regarded as the purest of accomplishments. No two wars are the same so comparisons are of little value. For surrender to the Soviet Union would surely have doomed the monarchy, whereas the Potsdam Declaration, which Truman had deliberately prevented Stalin from signing, held out the slim possibility of maintaining it. They were clearly dissembling. Typically an occupying force should hold a 10 to 1 numerical advantage over it's foe. It advised soldiers in part, “Do not give up under any cir­cum­stances, keeping in mind your re­spon­si­bil­ity not to tar­nish the glo­ri­ous his­tory of the Im­perial Army with its tradi­tion of in­vin­ci­bil­ity.” The military became increasingly uncontrollable, and Japan was gripped by the politics of assassination. ...the strategy behind the kamikaze was born purely out of desperation. This repeats an error made by Juan Cole when he mistranslated an interview with the Iraqi Intel Chief General Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani. Getting back to the article as to why Japan delayed surrender is that the militarist truly believed the Japanese mainland was well enough fortified to prevent being overrun. Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay. Although this idea certainly appealed to the ideologues, what probably motivated Japanese soldiers at the more basic level were more mundane pressures. Japan did not surrender until a week after the Nagasaki bombing. in this PBS forum: In any case, I am not yet persuaded that the intercepts are as clear cut about Japanese determination to fight as you and Richardson are ready to believe. If you believe he has a case, it would be "lazy or mindless" to foist the job of documenting that case on those YOU want to convince of it. Most of that thread could have been short-circuited had Richardson (a) cited the HNN link to Frank, (b) acknowledged the essential agreement between Bix and Frank (in Frank’s words: “right to the very end, the Japanese pursued twin goals: not only the preservation of the imperial system, but also preservation of the old order in Japan “) and (c) recognized the thus essentially tangential nature of his claim that new undocumented evidence (e.g. My own estimate had been 100,000. With defeat imminent, Japan's leaders feared that without the imperial house, the state and their own power would be devalued and diminished in the eyes of the people, and that the state would ultimately disintegrate. If the military posed no threat to the imperial house, the people did. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the “unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces.” Failure to comply … Their object was to reorganize the state, stamp out criticism of the military, and silence liberals and socialists. The Iraqi Police/Army is fairing very poorly. Your contention that Insurgent troop strength is 200,000. General MacArthur would not allow him to be questioned. The other enduring image of total sacrifice is that of the kamikaze pilot, ploughing his plane packed with high explosives into an enemy warship. No wonder Iraq smells like Vietnam revisited. In the early morning hours of August 10 they made their decision and over the next four days crafted the myth that the emperor had saved the nation by his heroic intervention in favor of peace. Only users with topic management privileges can see it. It was a classic piece of understatement. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers abolished all forms of censorship and controls on freedom of speech, which was also integrated into Article 21 of the 1947 Constitution of Japan. I really think it's up to you to cite chapter and verse of Magic, and put it into an overal context, if you think it disproves this position of Bix (a position which is not quite as you described it initially). This would make little sense and the argument against the bombs use is badly discredited on this foundation of thought. Wasn't the U.S. nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the real reason they finally surrendered?" But for all who participated in the last imperial conferences that produced the surrender decision, kokutai meant a sovereign, politically empowered monarchy based on the orthodox State Shinto view of the state, in which the people existed to assist the imperial destiny. U.S. combat losses in the battle of Okinawa were approximately 12,520 killed and over 33,000 wounded. As my 2nd post stated - I was commenting on the author’s pros, not Mr. Heisler's. Grateful to Washington and GHQ for protecting Hirohito and preserving the monarchy, Japan's ruling elites never demanded that the U.S. apologize or show contrition for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A truthful, public post-mortem on both Hirohito's"green light" for war in 1941 and his true role in the surrender process was never conducted. Mr. Richardson, And a few posters here seem to strongly support civilian leaders calling the shots for our military. Despite the second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, Japan did not immediately surrender to the United States. Moreover, he at least partially contradicts himself by pointing out that Truman had deliberately kept Russia from signing the Potsdam Declaration, a fact which “kept alive the slim possibility of maintaining (the monarchy).” If, as Bix argues, this was the chief concern of Japanese leaders at the time, then the Potsdam terms should have been appealing right from the start. So if you suspect that he didn't and you want to ding him for that, you'll have to read it or at least check the bibliography and footnotes carefully. Even today, Hiroo Onoda insists they believed the missions were enemy tricks designed to lower their guard. The same cannot be said of the Special Attack Forces, more popularly known as kamikaze. Hirohito said something similar in 1946 in the"Monologue" that he dictated to his palace entourage. Returning prisoners from Japan's previous major war with Russia in 1904-5 had been treated as social outcasts. 6. No, not at all - the loss of these lives is regrettable. If the Magic intercepts can be reasonably interpreted to suggest otherwise -- and credible scholars believe they can -- then a number of his supporting arguments come unraveled. The second bomb was also dropped just 3 days later. 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