The core of Japan’s military institution, the Imperial Japanese Army, began its ascendancy to political dominance in the 1930’s.
The core of Japan’s military institution, the
The U.S. government, together with a number of Western European nations, sought to oppose the Japanese expansion. These nations launched an economic
In 1940 Japan had established bases in French
The isolated Central Pacific U.S. bases at Guam and Wake Island fell quickly to the Japanese, who also occupied both Kiska and Attu, in Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain, forestalling any move by the United States to use the Aleutians as a base in a retaliatory attack.
The British defense of
The Japanese had advanced into both Burma and the Dutch East
The euphoria of these early Japanese victories had disappeared by mid-1942. Their advance in the Pacific islands was far less successful. In April of that year, U.S. B-25
Simultaneously, the U.S. Navy began a series of attacks on Japanese island bases in the
By August, 1945, U.S. military forces had succeeded in reconquering all of the Pacific bases previously seized by the Japanese. They had even captured the island of
World War II: Japan and the Pacific Theater
The enlisted man in the Japanese army was dressed poorly. He seldom shaved and wore a patched uniform with unpolished boots and insignia. He was poorly armed, with only a rifle and a bayonet. He walked rather than marched. Extremely fit, he covered surprising distances.
The quality of the machine
The Japanese air
On May 11, 1945, in the Pacific theater, two Japanese kamikaze pilots directed their aircraft into the USS Bunker Hill off Kyushu.
Japan had, by 1940, become a
The war in China had, however, decimated both Japan’s manpower and its resources. By mid-1941 Japan had already lost 185,000 soldiers, and peace in China remained elusive to Japanese planners. The
One critical factor continued to plague the military hierarchy throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s: An intense rivalry existed between the army and navy
The Japanese army saw Japan’s major long-term enemy to be the Soviet
The Japanese navy saw the United
Both arms of the Japanese military maintained their own separate air forces, as did those of the United States. However, the U.S. Army and Navy generally cooperated, with joint strategies. The Japanese army and navy did not; the two arms operated individually, often without effective communication. For example, in December, 1941, during the first naval attack on Clark Field in the Philippines, Japanese army bombers flew into the path of the incoming naval aircraft conducting an assault of the field.
On occasion the two separate air arms deliberately withheld critical information from each other. At Nagoya’s Mitsubishi factory, workers strung a curtain between projects separately assigned to the site by the army and navy, thus preventing an interchange of ideas between the two groups. Throughout the war the army and navy took turns condemning the other for operational failures.
Both the Japanese army and navy adopted the warrior code of
The tail section of a Japanese Suisei aircraft on the deck of the USS Kitkun Bay after exploding over the ship.
The officer caste demonstrated an even greater degree of commitment to bushidō. When faced with certain defeat, many officers chose to commit
In late 1944 in the Philippines, and later during the
Japanese officer candidates began at the age of fourteen as recruits in military prep schools. At seventeen, promising aspirants transferred to a more advanced preparatory school in Tokyo, where their real training began. Future officers completed their schooling at the military academy in
Throughout the many battles for the islands of the Pacific, the sites were secured by invading U.S. soldiers only after every last Japanese fighter was killed. On Saipan and Okinawa, Japanese civilians, both men and women, joined the doomed soldiers in the final conflict. In the case of Okinawa, 150,000 civilians, one-third of the island’s population, died following the U.S. invasion, often accompanying and aiding soldiers and sailors of the Imperial Army and Navy.
The bushidō code had its dark side. By Western standards Japanese army and navy units engaged in substantial violations of human rights in their contact with civilian populations in conquered lands and with captured military prisoners. After seizing the city of
In another example of contempt for those who chose to surrender, during the so-called Bataan Death March
The overall strategy of the Japanese military counted on the capture of critical
Tactically the Japanese military depended on the tenacity of its
With the use of
English translations of Japanese texts actually written during World War II are rare. Some insight into the Japanese thinking at the time can be found in
The best contemporary American source of information on Japanese thinking and action can be found in
The writings of American military personnel found in government reports and military journals also furnish a Western analysis of Japanese military activity. Among these are The Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway (1947), compiled by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence and published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. There are also official histories by the British, such as
Agawa, Hiroyuki. The Reluctant Admiral: Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1979. Allen, Thomas B., and Norman Polmar. Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995. Astor, Gerald. Operation Iceberg: The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II. New York: Dell, 1995. Goldstein, David M., and Katherine V. Dillon, eds. Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-1945. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991. Harries, Meirion, and Susie Harries. Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army. New York: Random House, 1991. Jones, Don. Oba, the Last Samurai: Saipan, 1944-1945. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1986. Jowett, Philip. The Japanese Army, 1933-45: 1931-42. New York: Osprey, 2002. _______. The Japanese Army, 1933-45: 1942-45. New York: Osprey, 2002. Rottman, Gordon L. Japanese Army in World War II: Conquest of the Pacific, 1941-42. New York: Osprey, 2005. _______. Japanese Army in World War II: The South Pacific and New Guinea, 1942-43. New York: Osprey, 2005. Sakai, Saburo. Samurai! New York: Pocket Books, 1996. Sakaida, Henry. Imperial Japanese Navy Aces, 1937-45. New York: Osprey, 1998. _______. Japanese Army Air Force Aces, 1937-45. New York: Osprey, 1997. Taaffe, Stephen R. MacArthur’s Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. Yahara, Hiromichi. The Battle for Okinawa. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1995. Enola Gay and the Bombing of Japan. Documentary. Brookside Media, 1995. Kamikaze: Death from the Sky. Documentary. MPI Home Video, 1989. Letters from Iwo Jima. Feature film. Malpaso/Amblin, 2006. Okinawa: The Final Battle. Documentary. History Channel, 1996. Pearl Harbor: Two Hours That Changed the World. Documentary. ABC, 1991. Survivors. Documentary. Steven Okazaki, 1982. The World at War. Documentary. Thames Television, 1973.
World War II: United States, Britain, and France
World War II: The Soviet Union
World War II: Germany and Italy
Small Arms and Machine Guns
Tanks and Armored Vehicles
Aircraft, Bombs, and Guidance Systems
Rockets, Missiles, and Nuclear Weapons
Chemical and Biological Weapons
Sieges and Siege Techniques: Modern
Armies and Infantry: Modern
Naval Development: The Age of Propulsion
The Age of Bismarck
The “Great” War: World War I
The Spanish Civil War