Archive for the 'Japan' Category
Posted by Trent Telenko on 25th July 2014 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
This Friday column on Chicago Boyz is normally reserved for the unknown stories of the End of World War 2 (WW2) in the Pacific, aimed at answering the question of “How would the American military have fought the Imperial Japanese in November 1945 had the A-bomb failed?” Today’s column, takes a completely different tack from any previous History Friday column. Rather than deconstructing the P-51 narrative, being a book review — See this link and this link — or exploring the moral character of the IDF’s Barak Brigade on the Golan Heights in 1973, this column will use the military geography of the past to explore the near future. And in specific, it will use the military geography of the 1945 Okinawa campaign and the proposed invasion of Japan, to explore the patterns of “future history” between Japan and China in the coming age of Unmanned Warfare. It is a column about China’s coming “Days of Future Past.”
The U.S. Air Force has deployed two of the unarmed Global Hawk aircraft to Japan for the first time at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. This move greatly enhances the U.S. military’s efforts to monitor nuclear activities in North Korea, Chinese naval operations in the region and respond to natural disasters and assist in humanitarian aid operations.
To begin at the beginning, see this Defense One column and this AP Column on the arrival of American Global Hawk Drones in Japan and Japan’s announcement that it is now a “Normal Power,” one that is able to sell arms internationally.
And in particular pay close attention to this passage from those links:
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Posted in China, Current Events, History, Japan, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 26 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st November 2013 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
I have written in past Pacific War columns about institutional or personally motivated false narratives, narrative hagiography, forgotten via classification narratives and forgotten via extinct organization narratives. Today’s column, like my previous “History Friday: 81st ID’s Peleliu Lessons for MacArthur’s Invasion of Japan” is another on how generational change makes it almost impossible to understand what the WW2 generation is telling us about it’s times without a lot of research. The case in point in this column is the confused development of the mechanized flamethrower tank.
Figure 1: This is US Army Signal Corps photo of a Hawaii built Flamethrower of the 713th Flame Tank Battalion on Okinawa. This was the second generation of Hawaii flame tanks used in combat in the Spring of 1945.
To take you there this time, first imagine a weapon who’s range and effectiveness varied from shot to shot. Who’s performance was dependent on the wind. Whether it was raining or it got soaked in salt water. Whether a rubber O-seal held pressure or the connection in which it was placed was properly seated. A weapon who had a two component ammunition, solid and liquid, you had to mix in the field before use. That required the chemicals in the solid component of ammunition to be properly ground to a consistent powder with no trace manufacturing contamination, and that required air and water tight packaging of your ammunition hold up in shipment. Which also required of the liquid batch of ammunition you were using not to have had too much water or alcohol contaminating it. And whose mixed performance rapidly and unpredictably deteriorated within hours to weeks since the manufacture of that batch of ammunition, when you did everything right.
It gets better.
This weapon has an effective range of 10 to 20 yards depending on all of the above, requiring a team of 7-15 other soldiers to cover you, as you move up to use it. Your last live fire training — in fact, any training at all — in using this 70 lb back pack weapon with your team happened more than 30 days before you use it. Which, by the way, has an effective firing time in combat of 8-to-10 seconds, and you as its operator are the enemy’s priority target on the battlefield.
Your mission, your life, and the lives of around you, are depending on this weapon. And worse, for all those problems, it was the only effective weapon you have…when it works.
Those were the facts of life and death for every American portable flame thrower operator in World War 2. It took 18 months of bloody infantry close combat from December 1943 to June 1944, with four increasingly better and more dependable portable flamethrower designs, to work out all those facts.
And it was not until November 1943, with the shatteringly high U.S. Marine casualties during the assault of Betio Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, that the American military began to seriously entertain fielding a flame throwing tank.
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Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 16th August 2013 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
One of the biggest problems with World War II (WW2) military histories is the issue of “lanes.” WW2 history writers tend to focus on their one thing, use the institutional historical narratives of their particular military theater and service and then make some appalling inaccurate statements of fact without understanding the wider background. Yet, they are in the generally understood narrative limits of the historical “lane” and everyone nods in agreement. This is an especially difficult problem with understanding MacArthur’s South West Pacific Area (SWPA) institutional culture and amphibious fighting style, as compared to the both the the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operation (ETO and MTO) and the Central Pacific style that dominates the post-war amphibious operations narrative.
For example, there were more and larger US Army run amphibious landings in WW2 than US Navy (USN) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) Central Pacific Drive, yet there is very little real examination or understanding of them as amphibious operations compared to the US Navy’s Central Pacific drive. Very few WW2 history writers try and trace the development of a military concept across several military theaters and see how it is expressed in various theaters’ institutional culture and war fighting styles. This is a vital methodology in understanding the ground truth of what happened.
For the research I am doing on the canceled invasion of Japan, knowing that US Army amphibious experience is absolutely essential to understand the orders for Kyushu invasion, since the US land based air forces were planning to replicate and improve on the Normandy D-Day aerial bombardment by dropping 200,000 tons of bombs on Kyushu in Oct 1945 plus another 80,000 tons of conventional bombs (180KT total!) on the Nov 1, 1945 X-day landing. (By way of comparison, Hiroshima was a 15KT nuclear blast.) US Army Air Force Generals Spaatz & Doolittle were commanding 20th & 8th Air Force to deliver that tonnage. That tonnage was in General Hap Arnold’s diary as a promise to MacArthur in the summer of 1945, yet USMC historians investigating Operation Olympic speak of the low density of naval fire support there would be on X-day compared to Okinawa and Iwo Jima, like that aerial bombardment didn’t exist!
SWPA M-18 Hellcat Landing in the Philippines
This column on “MacArthur’s Amphibious Fighting Style” will use that “tracing an idea across historical lanes” methodology to compare and contrast the various American WW2 amphibious fighting styles with short “thumb nail” descriptions so you can understand this problem with the WW2 historical narrative and appreciate the coordination issues for the “canceled by atomic bomb” Operation Olympic landing in Japan.
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Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, USA, War and Peace | 20 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 10th August 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
In a BOOKWORM post about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Book’s mother was in a Japanese concentration camp at the time–read the link), the discussion turned to the Japanese maltreatment of prisoners. I noted that Japanese treatment of Russian POWs in the Russo-Japanese war (1904) seems to have been quite decent, in strong contrast with their abominable treatment of just about all prisoners in the period…only 30 years later…beginning with the invasion of Manchuria and continuing through the Second World War, and I said:
“It is interesting and frightening how quickly a culture can change. If you were looking for a place to live in Europe in 1913, Germany would have looked pretty good…even (especially?) if you were Jewish. Only 20 years later, a significant % of the population was barking mad, and almost all of the rest were clueless or cowed into submission.”
Commenter Danny Lemieux, agreeing with the point about culture change, cited a Cherokee legend: the story of the two wolves.
One of the main reasons why Barack Obama is such a disaster as a leader is that he always chooses to feed the Bad Wolf.
Posted in China, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Japan, USA, War and Peace | 16 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th February 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Spengler has a new column that points out the coming collapse of Islam as a demographic entity. I have thought for years that Iran, if the population ever succeeds in overthrowing the regime, will abandon Islam as its first priority. Spengler points to a column by David Ignatius that belatedly recognizes a phenomenon that has been noted by others for years.
Something startling is happening in the Muslim world — and no, I don’t mean the Arab Spring or the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. According to a leading demographer, a “sea change” is producing a sharp decline in Muslim fertility rates and a “flight from marriage” among Arab women.
Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, documented these findings in two recent papers. They tell a story that contradicts the usual picture of a continuing population explosion in Muslim lands. Population is indeed rising, but if current trends continue, the bulge won’t last long.
The second class status of women in the Muslim world has led to important changes in their beliefs, especially about the religion that oppresses them.
Eberstadt’s first paper was expressively titled “Fertility Decline in the Muslim World: A Veritable Sea-Change, Still Curiously Unnoticed.” Using data for 49 Muslim-majority countries and territories, he found that fertility rates declined an average of 41 percent between 1975-80 and 2005-10, a deeper drop than the 33 percent decline for the world as a whole.
Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories had fertility declines of 50 percent or more. The sharpest drops were in Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Libya, Albania, Qatar and Kuwait, which all recorded declines of 60 percent or more over three decades.
The present fertility rate in Iran is about equal to that of irreligious Europe.
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Posted in Christianity, Europe, History, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Islam, Japan, Middle East, Religion, Terrorism | 23 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 3rd January 2013 (All posts by David Foster)
Until recently, the world’s only flyable WWII B-29 bomber was “Fifi,” operated by the Commemorative Air Force. Unfortunately, the airplane has…at least temporarily…lost its flyable status due to the need for expensive engine repairs. You can contribute to Fifi’s engine fund here.
The B-29 Superfortress was the most technically advanced bomber of WWII: it featured pressurization, a centralized fire-control system for its guns, and both higher speed and a greater bomb load than the B-17. Visually, it is also a very beautiful airplane, at least to my eye. Design of the aircraft that was to become the Superfortress began in 1938 with the receipt by Boeing of a request from the Army Air Corps–Boeing funded much of the initial development itself since the Air Corps did not at that point have funding for the project. The initial production order was not placed until May 1941…remarkably, production aircraft were being delivered by the end of 1943…total production would reach almost 4000 aircraft. Thousand of subcontractors were involved. My back-of-the-envelope calculation based on numbers in this factsheet suggests that there must have been somewhere around 100,000 workers involved at one level or another in B-29 production.
Japanese fighter pilot Ryuji Nagatsuka described his first encounter with the B-29, on a combat training mission in late 1944:
At a distance of 1000 feet, I had a clear view of this famous bomber for the first time. It was like some fabulous flying castle. Its elegant, uncamouflaged fuselage made me think of a monstrous flying fish. What imposing fins, what a rudder! The most disquieting thing about it was those six domes: two gun turrets on its back and four defense turrets operated by remote control…The four engines developed 8800 horsepower. The white star that stood out against a black background seemed to me like a challenge. It was the mark of the enemy.
The efficacy of the B-29′s centralized fire control system…which provided not only remote control of the guns but automatic computer calculation of necessary offsets (“leads”) to hit the target…has been questioned–but Nagatsuka gives it a good review:
Their central firing computer, controlling the gun turrets by remote control, had proved extraordinarily efficient. An isolated B-29, on a photographic mission one day over the Nipponese archipelago, had been attacked by more than ninety of our fighters, and, lo and behold, the enemy plane, which was not equipped for a bombing mission, managed to repulse their attack by climbing to a very high altitude and putting on all possible speed. During this battle, which lasted more than half an hour, he shot down seven of our fighters and finally escaped.
However, most of the gunnery equipment was removed from the B-29s when US General Curtis LeMay ordered a change in tactics from high-altitude day bombing to low-altitude night bombing, focusing on the use of incendiary bombs. Wide areas of Toyko and several other cities were destroyed: the total number of Japanese killed in these raids has been estimated variously but was certainly at least 100,000.
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school
They said, ‘Here are the maps’; we burned the cities.
We’ve talked here before about the dangers of the loss of historical knowledge. I believe that keeping FiFi flying is a useful contribution to maintaining the continuity of American historical memory. Again, you can donate here.
ShrinkWrapped has published his father’s recollections of flying 50 missions as a B-24 tail gunner. There are 6 different posts in the collection–start at the bottom for the first one.
Thoughts about strategic bombing at my post Dresden
Excerpts of some of Randall Jarrell’s WWII Air Corps poems, here
The Ryuji Nagatsuka quotes are from his memoir I Was a Kamikaze (obviously, an unsuccessful one)…an interesting book that is worthy of a review one of these days.
Posted in Aviation, History, Japan, Management, USA, War and Peace | 16 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 7th December 2012 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
It isn’t often that a book utterly alters my understanding of the past, but the book “ECHOES OVER THE PACIFIC — An overview of Allied Air Warning Radar in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines Campaign” by Ed Simmonds and Norm Smith has done just that for me regards for both WW2 in general, and for today, Pearl Harbor.
ECHOS is the story of Australian and wider Aglosphere efforts to field radar in the Pacific during WW2. I am still reading it at page 60 of under 300 pages — but it has these passages regards Pearl Harbor:
Page 18 –
The following is summarised from Radar in WWII by Henry E Guerlac and an article ‘The
Air Warning Service and The Signal Company, Aircraft Warning, Hawaii’ by Stephen L
The strategic importance of Oahu was recognised in late 1939 and the Air Warning Service
(AWS) was to provide warning of approaching enemy aircraft using the newly developed
Extensive negotiations were needed as the sites, for the three SCR271s received in Hawaii on
3 June 1941, were located on land owned by either the Department of Interior National Parks
Service or the Territory of Hawaii. In addition access roads, power supply, water supply,
buildings et cetera had to be constructed – which occasioned even further delay. The net
result was that none of the SCR271s had been installed by 7 December 1941 !
Six mobile SCR270Bs arrived in Hawaii on 1 August 1941 and were shortly thereafter put
into operation because very little site preparation was required. Extensive testing of the sets
was carried out in the next few months on installations at Kaaawa, Kawailoa, Waianae and
Koko Head, Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
On 27 September 1941 the SCR270Bs were tested in an exercise which, in retrospect,
resembled to a remarkable degree the actual attack of 7 December. The exercise began at
0430 hours. Attacking planes were detected by the equipment at Waianae and Koko Head as
they assembled near the carrier from which they had taken off 85 miles away. When they had
assembled, the planes headed for Hawaii. The ‘enemy’ were clearly seen on the cathode ray
tube and fighter aircraft were notified within about six minutes. They took off and intercepted
the incoming bombers at about 25 miles from Pearl Harbour.
Under the control of the Signal Corps, Air Warning, Hawaii, the Schofield training SCR270B
was moved to the site at Opana about two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbour. The
construction of a temporary Combat Information Centre (CIC) was in progress and training
of the personnel at the centre was under way with reporting coming from six mobiles
SCR270Bs. Ironically the program was to hand the CIC over to the Air Corps when the
installation had been completed and the personnel had been properly trained – scheduled for
about two weeks after Pearl Harbour.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Japan, Military Affairs, Okinawa 65, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 14 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 9th August 2012 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have become an annual rallying point for the Left to beat up America for doing what needed to be done to win World War Two with the minimum amount of blood. In recent years a few people including me have started taking this moment to remind people of the truth of the cost of invading Japan as opposed to the Left’s revisionist history/morality play on the A-bomb. See my past Happy V-J Day! and Hiroshima — The A-bomb plus 65 year! posts. This year most of my work in trying to draft such a reminder was done by FORBES contributor Henry I. Miller, who wrote “ The Nuking Of Japan Was A Tactical And Moral Imperative!“
See this text:
The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated that an invasion of Japan’s home islands would result in approximately 1.2 million American casualties, with 267,000 deaths. A study performed by physicist William Shockley for the staff of Secretary of War Henry Stimson estimated that the invasion of Japan would cost 1.7-4 million American casualties, including 400,000-800,000 fatalities, and five to ten million Japanese deaths. These fatality estimates were of course, in addition to those who had already perished during four long years of war; American deaths were already about 292,000. In other words, the invasion of Japan could have resulted in the death of twice as many Americans as had already been killed in the European, North African and Pacific theaters!
A critical element of Shockley’s analysis was the assumption of large-scale participation by civilians in repelling invading forces. This assumption is supported by the research described in, “The Most Controversial Decision,” by the Rev. Wilson Miscamble, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, who blames “the twisted neo-samurai who led the Japanese military geared up with true banzai spirit to engage the whole population in a kind of kamikaze campaign.” He added, “Their stupidity and perfidy in perpetuating and prolonging the struggle should not be ignored.”
Much has been made of the moral line that supposedly was crossed by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, but far more significant in that regard were the decisions earlier in the war to adopt widespread bombing of civilians – initially by Hitler in attacking English cities and later by the Allied devastation of, for example, Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo.
Historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson has called attention to two factors that for both tactical and ethical reasons argued for the use of America’s nuclear weapons against Japan. First, “thousands of Asians and allied prisoners were dying daily throughout the still-occupied Japanese Empire, and would do so as long as Japan was able to pursue the war. (Gideon Rose, the editor of the journal Foreign Affairs, has estimated that during every month of 1945 in which the war continued, Japanese forces were causing the deaths of between 100,000 and 250,000 noncombatants.)
Thank God for the Atomic Bomb.
It saved millions, including my wife’s grandfather, who was one of the men slated for the Operation Olympic.
Complete article for the quoted text above at this link:
Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, USA | 31 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 7th December 2011 (All posts by Jonathan)
7 December 1941.
Another year passes. One feels the cultural memory slipping away.
Again Google ignores it and Bing.com makes a point of showing a USS Arizona Memorial wallpaper pic. Perhaps Bing only does this as a counterpoint to Google. Whatever the reason, it’s good that someone notes the date.
Perhaps some of us here will post more on this anniversary. In the meantime, here’s a link to previous Chicagoboyz Pearl Harbor posts.
Posted in History, Japan, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 9 Comments »
Posted by Shannon Love on 5th December 2011 (All posts by Shannon Love)
So, a new memo has surfaced regarding US military intelligence prior to Pearl Harbor.
In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR’s declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, “In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii.”
That’s supposed to be a significant revelations? What, previous memos only warned about Japan’s keen interest in Minnesota? I hate to tell people who are all a twitter about this memo and other similar “revelations” but nobody in the American military or government was really surprised there was an attack on Pearl Harbor or any other major US pacific military asset. The entire Pacific was under a war warning and the entire US military was prepping for a possible Japanese attack somewhere. The US carriers were not caught at Pearl Harbor because they had been deployed to ferry aircraft to points in the western Pacific where an attack was anticipated, e.g., Wake Island.
Pearl Harbor wasn’t a surprise of intent, it was a surprise of capability.
No one in the US Navy thought the Japanese had the physical capability to strike Pearl Harbor with carrier aircraft. That was the surprise.
Yamamoto surprised the US Navy, and everyone else, because he was a “black swan”, i.e., a rare and unpredictable outlier.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in History, Japan, National Security, Predictions, War and Peace | 25 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 9th September 2011 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
Sixty six years ago today, had Japan not surrendered to the Allies after the dual A-Bomb attacks and the Soviet Invasion of Manchuria, the armed forces of the British Empire would have stormed the western beaches of Malaya at Port Dickson and Port Swettenham with two infantry divisions, one infantry brigade, lead by a regiment of DD-tanks and flame throwing landing vehicles. This invasion would have set off a chain of events that would have seen hundreds of thousands, if not millions, murdered and killed before the Allies put down the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces, starting with Allied Prisoners of War. The word of that atrocity would have prevented a later Japanese surrender as the British and American public’s rage would have left the American President and British Prime Minister no other options.
This is was a very near run thing as Britain’s ambassador to Japan Hugh Cortazzi (1980 to 1984) said here:
On Aug. 15, 1945, the Japanese authorities “announced that although Nippon had agreed to unconditional surrender, Field Marshal Count Terauchi, Commander in Chief of the Southern Army, did not associate himself with it and intended to fight on. What we did not know then was that a plan existed at Count Terauchi’s Saigon headquarters to execute all prisoners in case of invasion.”
This passage on page 573 of “Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb“ by George Feifer, makes clear the human cost of that “Kill All” order being executed:
“After the fall of Okinawa, Field Marshal Count Hisaichi Terauchin issued an order directing his prison camp officers to kill all their captives the moment the enemy entered his southeast Asia theater. That would have been when those 200,000 British landed to retake Singapore, less than three weeks after the Japanese surrender. There was a real chance that Terauchi’s order would have been carried out, in case up to 400,000 people would have been massacred.”
And it would not have stopped there. When the British reached Singapore, it would have found a repeat of “The Rape of Nanking without wartime censorship being able to cover it up. More importantly, Allies Ultra and Magic code breaking let Allied leaders know this was on the table.
From Truman’s August 9, 1945 Radio Report to the American People on the Potsdam Conference.
I realize the tragic significance of the atomic bomb.
Its production and its use were not lightly undertaken by this Government. But we knew that our enemies were on the search for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we knew the disaster which would come to this Nation, and to all peace-loving nations, to all civilization, if they had found it first.
That is why we felt compelled to undertake the long and uncertain and costly labor of discovery and production.
We won the race of discovery against the Germans.
Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.
We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.
Emperor Hirohito took the hint and sent a personal representative known to Field Marshal Count Terauchi to get the Count to enforce a surrender on his troops.
11 Sep 2011 UPDATE (Below the Fold)
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Posted in Britain, History, Japan, Military Affairs, Okinawa 65, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 12 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 7th June 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
Wise words from two old masters…
Posted in Arts & Letters, India, Japan, Music | Comments Off
Posted by Charles Cameron on 1st April 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about William Carlos Williams and his observation in Asphodel, That Greeny Flower:
Our news media blare with (apocalyptic but not revelatory) trumpets…
while Hokusai, painting circa 1831, conveys the vulnerability of the (Japanese and human) situation with his image of boats in a storm.
Here’s Dr. Barnett, in my own transcript of his video this week:
The surprise factor here really shouldn’t exist in our minds. I mean the mega-disaster of a tsunami plus and earthquake plus a nuclear meltdown in Japan – well, those three are already highly linked. Japan highly depends on nuclear power, it’s one of the most seismically active island chains in the world, and tsunami is a Japanese word. So if you are going to put a forty year old very aging early technology nuclear power plant right on the coast in Japan, the only mega-disaster you’re going to get there is an earthquake-triggered, tsunami-delivered nuclear meltdown. So these are not surprising connections, we’re just bumping into the connectivity that’s natural and only becoming more expansive as globalization advances.
That’s exactly right – and Hokusai should have been an early warning.
The only thing missing from Barnett’s analysis, and present in Hokusai, is Mt. Fuji – or what TS Eliot (to circle back again to “verbal” poetry) would call “the still point of the turning world”.
Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Japan, Media, Poetry, Rhetoric | 1 Comment »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 20th March 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ by Charles Cameron -- cross-posted from Zenpundit ]
My son, Emlyn, turns sixteen today.
He’s not terribly fond of computers to be honest — but he does follow xkcd with appreciation, as do I from time to time: indeed, I am led to believe I receive some credit for that fact.
So… this is a birthday greeting to Emlyn, among other things. And a round of applause for Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd. And a post comparing more reliable and less reliable statistics, because that’s a singularly important issue — the more reliable ones in this/ case coming from a single individual with an expert friend, the less reliable ones coming from a huge corporation celebrated for its intelligence and creativity… and with a hat-tip to Cheryl Rofer of the Phronesisaical blog.
Today, xkcd surpassed itself / his Randallself / ourselves, with a graphic showing different levels of radiation exposure from sleeping next to someone (0.05 muSv, represented by one tiny blue square top left) or eating a banana (twice as dangerous, but only a tenth as nice) up through the levels (all the blue squares combined equal three of the tiny green ones, all the green squares combined equal 7.5 of the little brown ones, and the largest patch of brown (8Sv) is the level where immediate treatment doesn’t stand a chance of saving your life)…
The unit is Sieverts, Sv: 1000 muSv = 1 mSv, 1000 mSv= 1 Sv, sleeping next to someone is an acceptable risk at 0.05 muSv, a mammogram (3 mSv) delivers a little over 50,000 times that level of risk and saves countless lives, 250 mSv is the dose limit for emergency workers in life-saving ops — oh, and cell phone use is risk-free, zero muSv, radiation-wise, although dangerous when driving. [I apologize for needing to write "mu" when I intend the Greek letter by that name, btw -- software glitch with the ZP version of WordPress.]
The xkcd diagram comes with this disclaimer:
There’s a lot of discussion of radiation from the Fukushima plants, along with comparisons to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Radiation levels are often described as “ times the normal level” or “% over the legal limit,” which can be pretty confusing.
Ellen, a friend of mine who’s a student at Reed and Senior Reactor Operator at the Reed Research Reactor, has been spending the last few days answering questions about radiation dosage virtually nonstop (I’ve actually seen her interrupt them with “brb, reactor”). She suggested a chart might help put different amounts of radiation into perspective, and so with her help, I put one together. She also made one of her own; it has fewer colors, but contains more information about what radiation exposure consists of and how it affects the body.
I’m not an expert in radiation and I’m sure I’ve got a lot of mistakes in here, but there’s so much wild misinformation out there that I figured a broad comparison of different types of dosages might be good anyway. I don’t include too much about the Fukushima reactor because the situation seems to be changing by the hour, but I hope the chart provides some helpful context.
Blog-friend Cheryl Rofer, whose work has included remediation of uranium tailings at the Sillamäe site in Estonia (she co-edited the book on it, Turning a Problem Into a Resource: Remediation and Waste Management at the Sillamäe Site, Estonia) links to xkcd’s effort at the top of her post The Latest on Fukushima and Some Great Web Resources and tells us it “seems both accurate and capable of giving some sense of the relative exposures that are relevant to understanding the issues at Fukushima” — contrast her comments on a recent New York Times graphic:
In other radiation news, the New York Times may have maxed out on the potential for causing radiation hysteria. They’ve got a graphic that shows everybody dead within a mile from the Fukushima plant. As I noted yesterday, you need dose rate and time to calculate an exposure. The Times didn’t bother with that second little detail.
In any case, many thanks, Cheryl — WTF, NYT? — and WTG, xkcd!
Once again, xkcd nails it.
I’ve run into this problem myself, trying to use Google to gauge the relative frequencies of words or phrases that interest me — things like moshiach + soon vs “second coming” + soon vs mahdi + soon, you know the kinds of things that I’m curious about, I forget the specific examples where it finally dawned on me how utterly useless Google’s “About XYZ,000 results (0.21 seconds)” rankings really are — but the word needs to get out.
Paging Edward Tufte.
Happy Birthday, Emlyn!
Posted in Announcements, Arts & Letters, Blogging, Diversions, Internet, Japan, Science, Statistics, The Press | 4 Comments »
Posted by James R. Rummel on 17th March 2011 (All posts by James R. Rummel)
Minutes ago I received an Email. It seems that the US military has ordered a “voluntary evacuation of military dependents from the Tokyo/Yokosuka region.”
As my source has a very young child, her husband and daughter will be leaving the country very soon. Details are sketchy at this time, but it appears that they will be flown to Korea before repatriation to the States.
Posted in Announcements, Japan, Military Affairs | 7 Comments »
Posted by onparkstreet on 12th March 2011 (All posts by onparkstreet)
This past Wednesday, I heard Bing West give a talk about Afghanistan and his new book The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan, at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. When I get a chance, I will write up a post. He is a very good public speaker: energetic, lively, clear.
Boston.com’s The Big Picture has some truly horrifying photos of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake. Here is the American Red Cross link. If our readers and commenters have additional links or sites they think important, please leave them in the comments section.
I think the following two articles might be of interest for our readers:
Bryson has pulled off a marvelous feat. He devotes almost every chapter to a room in his Victorian house in England. He then considers why the room is the way it is and what preceded it. In doing so he produces an important economic history, only some of which will be familiar to economic historians and almost all of which will be unfamiliar to pretty much everyone else. A large percentage of it is important, for two reasons: One, you get to pinch yourself, realizing just how wealthy you are; and two, you get a better understanding than you’ll get from almost any high school or college history textbook of the economic progress that made you wealthy. Not surprisingly, given that I’m an economist and Bryson isn’t, I have a few criticisms of places where he misleads by commission or omission. But At Home’s net effect on readers is likely to be a huge increase in understanding and appreciation of how we got to where we are.
- David R. Henderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
The disturbing truth that modern Western COIN theory is built on a handful of books based upon practitioner experiences in a handful of 20th-century conflicts is not mitigated by the less famous but broader COIN works. Country studies by lesser known writers are similarly restricted. The core texts cover Vietnam (French Indochina), Algeria, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, and Malaya. The less-well-known writers will go on to discuss Mozambique, Angola, El Salvador, or Afghanistan under the Soviets. Only the most adventurous writers and theorists braved traveling as far as Kashmir or India to look at what could be learned there. Subsequently, the modern study of counterinsurgency and the doctrine it gave birth to are limited to less than two dozen conflicts in a century that witnessed more than 150 wars and lesser conflicts, domestic and interstate (see table 1).
– Sebastian L.v. Gorka and David Kilcullen, Joint Force Quarterly (JFQ)
Posted in Academia, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Economics & Finance, History, International Affairs, Japan, Medicine, National Security | Comments Off
Posted by David Foster on 14th January 2011 (All posts by David Foster)
(or at least “less”)
…to rare earths
There has been much concern, and rightly so, about the increasing dependence of the U.S. and other economies on the elements known as rare earths, for which the primary current supplier is China. These concerns have been further increased by the rather high-handed manner in which the Chinese government has conducted itself in this matter. As a result, stocks of companies with access to rare-earth mineral deposits outside of China have been doing pretty well.
A couple of weeks ago, General Electric posted about their efforts to reduce the need for rhenium in jet engines. Although it is not technically a rare earth, rhenium is indeed rare–world production about 50 tons per year–and expensive. GE’s rhenium-reduction project has three elements: recycling metal grindings from the manufacturing process, developing alloys that require less or no rhenium, and reclaiming rhenium from used engine parts.
When reading the GE post, it struck me that just about every company that is highly dependent on rare earths probably has similar projects underway. Comes now Toyota, with an announcement that it’s making good progress in developing an electric motor (for hybrids) which has no need of neodymium, a mainly-Chinese-source element that is a key component in today’s hybrid motors. (Toyota’s new motor is based on the induction-motor principle–scarcely a new technology, but one that has required considerable reengineering to meet the weight and efficiency needs of the hybrid application.)
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Posted in Business, China, Economics & Finance, Japan, Tech | 10 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 10th August 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
Richard Fernandez, AKA blogger Wretchard the Cat, has a post on Pajamas Media titled The Foundations of Our World on the modern politically correct myths surrounding Hiroshima — America was the original “nuclear sinner” and war criminal while Japan was “innocent victim” — that have become “The Narrative” that the Ruling classes promulgate through the Western education establishment and main stream media.
Just because this is “The Narrative” does not make it the objective truth. There is still a lot of historical information still being unearthed about that era. Information highly destructive of the politically correct narrative in the form of the unearthed history of the Japanese chemical warfare program.
The bottom line up front is that Hiroshima was a center of chemical weapons production for the Japanese and the weapons produced there were used in against Chinese, British and American troops in World War Two.
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Posted by Trent Telenko on 9th August 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
On August 6th, the Enola Gay took off for Hiroshima.
On August 9th, Bockscar took off for Nagasaki.
They both delivered the psychological blows to the Japanese leadership necessary to allowed them to surrender.
1) Two Atom bomb strikes, and
2) The destruction of the Imperial Japanese Manchurian Army by the Soviets (See August Storm: Soviet Tactical and Operational Combat in Manchuria, 1945 and August Storm: Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria, by David Glantz.),
to shock the IJA generals into inaction for long enough so Emperor Hirohito could surrender to the Allies over the armed objections of IJA junior officers.
Lacking either of those factors, and America would have had to conduct a genocial campaign of extermination against the Japanese people.
Point in fact, the USAAF has already destroyed more urban space and killed more Japanese in the Tokyo firebombings than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The USAAF was also starving the Japanese people via it’s aerial B-29 mining campaign and was set to go after Japan’s railroads, which would have destroyed remaining Japanese urban food distribution.
Yet the IJA was still raring to fight on.
The Japanese military had in all but name turned into a death cult that was set to consume millions.
The Japanese Emperor Hirohito knew from his viewing of the aftermath of the B-29 firbombing raid of Tokyo that if he allowed the irrational Samurai death cult military leaders running his government to fight to the end, the Japanese people would turn against the institution of the emperor.
Too paraphrase Mel Brooks in the movie “Blazing Saddles,” our air power made the continuation of the war “a threat to his phony baloney job.”
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Posted by Trent Telenko on 6th August 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
These are post strike USAAF photo of the Aug 06, 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima
The best way I can think of to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is to review an article by historian Richard B. Frank that was published in the Weekly Standard in 2005. In it, Frank lays out the competing visions of history that have grown up after the event, and its most recent turns, that refresh our understanding of that day.
Why Truman Dropped the Bomb
Sixty years after Hiroshima, we now have the secret intercepts that influenced his decision.
by Richard B. Frank
08/08/2005, Volume 010, Issue 44
The sixtieth anniversary of Hiroshima seems to be shaping up as a subdued affair–though not for any lack of significance. A survey of news editors in 1999 ranked the dropping of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, first among the top one hundred stories of the twentieth century. And any thoughtful list of controversies in American history would place it near the top again. It was not always so. In 1945, an overwhelming majority of Americans regarded as a matter of course that the United States had used atomic bombs to end the Pacific war. They further believed that those bombs had actually ended the war and saved countless lives. This set of beliefs is now sometimes labeled by academic historians the “traditionalist” view. One unkindly dubbed it the “patriotic orthodoxy.”
But in the 1960s, what were previously modest and scattered challenges of the decision to use the bombs began to crystallize into a rival canon. The challengers were branded “revisionists,” but this is inapt. Any historian who gains possession of significant new evidence has a duty to revise his appreciation of the relevant events. These challengers are better termed critics.
The critics share three fundamental premises. The first is that Japan’s situation in 1945 was catastrophically hopeless. The second is that Japan’s leaders recognized that fact and were seeking to surrender in the summer of 1945. The third is that thanks to decoded Japanese diplomatic messages, American leaders knew that Japan was about to surrender when they unleashed needless nuclear devastation. The critics divide over what prompted the decision to drop the bombs in spite of the impending surrender, with the most provocative arguments focusing on Washington’s desire to intimidate the Kremlin. Among an important stratum of American society–and still more perhaps abroad–the critics’ interpretation displaced the traditionalist view.
These rival narratives clashed in a major battle over the exhibition of the Enola Gay, the airplane from which the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, at the Smithsonian Institution in 1995. That confrontation froze many people’s understanding of the competing views. Since then, however, a sheaf of new archival discoveries and publications has expanded our understanding of the events of August 1945. This new evidence requires serious revision of the terms of the debate. What is perhaps the most interesting feature of the new findings is that they make a case President Harry S. Truman deliberately chose not to make publicly in defense of his decision to use the bomb.
I hope the last line whets your curiosity enough to go to the link and finish reading the article.
It is well worth your time.
Posted in Academia, History, Japan, Military Affairs, National Security, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 45 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 3rd July 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
In researching old, on-line, US Army records on the use of flame throwing tanks and napalm bombs by US Army forces in 1945, Luzon, Philippines fighting. I found a 15 March 1945 report by the US Sixth Army Chemical Warfare officer. He stated that some time between 03 Feb thru 03 Mar 1945 — during the bitter urban fighting between American troops and a combination of Japanese naval base troops and three Imperial Japanese Army infantry battalions of the Shimbu Group — Japanese troops attacked troopers of the American 1st Cavalry Division with hand held and 75mm gun fired chemical munitions.
The Japanese crossed the chemical warfare threshold in World War 2.
Report of the Luzon campaign, 9 January 1945 – 30 June 1945 in four Volumes, Volume III.
REPORTS OF GENERAL AND SPECIAL STAFF SECTIONS
Annex No. 2 Annex 5 to Adm 0 17,
ANNEX N O. 2
HEADQUARTERS SIXTH ARMY
A. P. O. 442
0800 15 March 1945
1. Enemy Chemical warfare Activities.
Catured enemy toxic munitions on Luzon to date consist of tear gas (CN), vomiting gas (DC), and Chlorpicrin (ps). Isolated instances were reported of the use of tear gas and vomiting gas in the form of self projecting gas candles and artillery shells against elements of the 1st Cavalry Division in Manila. Indications are that the employment of these munitions was against the policy of the Imperial Japanese Army as no large scale coordinated attack utilizing available toxic munitions was attempted. The gas was employed by fanatical suicide squads defending the city. The enemy is capable of using blister gas in chemical land mines only. In case of such action. The contaminated areas must be by-passed as no protective clothing will be carried into the operation.
And American military commanders choose not to retaliate…immediately.
But they did plan to retaliate.
The senior officers who planned Operation DETACHMENT, the invasion of Iwo Jima in Feb 45, had agreed to attack the island with gas first.
It was to be struck by a combination of the naval gun bombardment from landing ships LCI(M) mortar gunboats fitted with Chemical Warfare Service 4.2 inch chemical mortars (US naval guns lacked shells with lethal gas filling) and air delivered M47A1 100 lb bombs carrying phosgene and mustard gas.
This gas bombardment was personally vetoed President Roosevelt, who died two months after Iwo Jima.
When I first read about that Roosevelt veto, I had wondered why it was necessary. The USA had a chemical warfare “No-First-Use” policy in WW2. The American military did not initiate what we call “weapon of mass destruction” attacks independent of specific political authorization then, any more than they would today.
What this Sixth Army document means is that President Roosevelt didn’t veto American chemical warfare _first use_ at Iwo Jima by the US military.
He vetoed American Military RETALIATION.
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Posted by Trent Telenko on 27th June 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
The fighting on Okinawa saw many M4 Sherman tanks destroyed by the improved Japanese anti-tank defense build around the 47mm Type 01 anti-tank gun. Mid-May 1945 the US Army Ordnance branch took upon itself the task to send 12 of the Sherman’s successor tank, the M26 Pershing, to Okinawa. In my previous post on the priority shipments to Okinawa spoke of a LCT convoy from Okinawa to Hawaii to pick up M26 Pershings on Hawaii.
That story was wrong.
Korean War Mail Delivery, M26 Pershing Style
I found several references after that post including Kenneth Estes’ MARINES UNDER ARMOR: The Marine Corps ans Armored fighting Vehicles, 1916-2000 that had dates of Pershing Delivery varying from 21 July to 31 July 1945. It turns the 31 July 1945 date is correct and the landing craft tank (LCT) I mentioned were at Okinawa the whole time, not in a round trip convoy to Hawaii.
The following story of the shipment of 12 Pershings to Okinawa is from PERSHING: A History of the Medium Tank T20 Series by R.P. Hunnicutt:
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Posted by Trent Telenko on 25th June 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
I ran across more data on the priority shipping CDL Tanks and deploying Recoilless Rifles for Okinawa that made some of the things I posted my here factually wrong. There was also additional information of the “VT” proximity fuse in US Army artillery.
Taken together, what didn’t make it to Okinawa would amount to a technological surprise for the Japanese defending the beaches of Kyushu, had the A-bomb failed to get a surrender.
The M3 CDL tanks were assembled at Rock Island Arsenal. Instead of a main gun turret the tank chassis mounted a steel box containing a 13 million candle power carbon arc lamp backed by mirrors to focus the beam, a machine gun and fake cannon. A 10Kw generator was mounted on the back and run by a power take off from the engine. The 75mm sponson gun was retained. Some 500 M3 CDLs were produced in 1943-44. Some 300 entered US Army service with a few used during the battle for the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, Germany. Eighteen CDL arrived on Okinawa in June 1945 after the fighting ended
First, it turns out that the June 1945 arrival of the M3 Grant medium tank based “Canal Defense Light” (CDL) tanks was not based on a April 1945 emergency request during Okinawa fighting like the Pershing, but instead was due to a trip by a US Army Ordnance officer working for 10th Army to Washington DC months earlier.
ON BEACHHEAD AND BATTLEFRONT
Chapter 23, pages 453-453
What of New Weapons?
Colonel Daniels thought good use could be made of Canal Defense Light tanks. The Japanese in their campaign in Malaya had successfully made end runs at night along the coast, landing tanks from boats, and could be expected to do the same thing along the coast of Okinawa. Against such attacks, the CDL’s with their blinding searchlights might be used to very good effect. General Buckner had never heard of the CDL’s but after having been furnished a description he gave Daniels permission for a flight to Washington to round up a company. When Daniels got to Washington, he found that all of these special tanks had gone to England for shipment to France, but that he might expect some in several months. Accordingly, he put in a request for about 18 or 20 CDL’s, and an officer and men trained in operating them. They did not arrive until late June 1945, after the Okinawa campaign was over.25
25. Ltr, Brig Gen Robert W. Daniels to Lida Mayo, 23 Nov 63, OCMH. When the CDL’s arrived Daniels got one ashore and showed it to Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, who had succeeded Buckner as Commanding General of Tenth Army. Stilwell was impressed. Ibid.
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Posted by Trent Telenko on 22nd June 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
21 June 1945
On Okinawa, the Japanese headquarters on Hill 89 is taken by the forces of the US 32nd Infantry Regiment, part of US 7th Division. The body of General Ushijima, commanding the Japanese 32nd Army is found nearby.
Five hours after 10th Army commander USMC Major General Geiger declares Okinawa “Secure” the Japanese high command delivered its last kikusui or “Floating Chrysanthemum” suicide strike of the Okinawa campaign.
Several Kamikaze slip through and strike ships at the at the Kerma Ritto anchorage. Sea Plane tenders Kenneth Whiting and Curtis are both struck and the Curtis is heavily damaged by fire.
LSM-59 is hit and sunk towing the hulk of the decommissioned USS Barry, which is also sunk in the same attack. The Barry’s new mission was to be a kamikaze decoy, for which it succeeded sooner than intended.
RAISING THE AMERICAN FLAG on 22 June denoted the end of organized Japanese resistance.
22 June 1945
The US Navy suffers a suicide strike on LSM-213 at Kimmu Wan. The landing ship suffers heavy structural damage with three killed and 10 wounded.
At Nakagusuku Wan the beached LST-534 suffers a bow door strike from a Kamikaze with three killed and 35 wounded. The nearby USS Ellyson is near missed by a Kamikaze with one killed and four wounded.
Radar Picket Station 15, with USS Massey and USS Dyson present, is heavily attacked, but the fighter cover killed 29 out of an estimated 40 attackers without damage to either ship.
On Okinawa, the battle with organized ground forces has ended. The 10th Army starts a 10 plan to mop up remaining unorganized Japanese ground forces.
American forces have lost 12,500 dead and 35,500 wounded.
In the air, the American forces have lost 763 planes.
The Japanese losses include 120,000 military and 42,000 civilian dead.
For the first time in the war, there are a relatively large number of Japanese prisoners: 10,755.
American reports claim the Japanese have lost 7,830 planes.
Including today’s suicide strikes, the US Navy had 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged by the end of the Okinawa campaign.
Okinawa Background — The Death of Generals Ushijima and Cho
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Posted by Trent Telenko on 20th June 2010 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
19 June 1945
On Okinawa, the insistent use of propaganda by means of leaflets and loudspeakers, by the American forces, induces some 343 Japanese troops to surrender.
Japanese forces fall back in some disorder along the frontage of the US 3rd Amphibious Corps but continue to resist along the line held by the US 24th Corps.
FIGHTING TOWARD HILL 89, tanks of the 769th Tank Battalion attack a bypassed Japanese strong point on top of Yaeju-Dake, 18 June 1945
20 June 1945
On Okinawa, Japanese resistance along the center of the line, held by the US 24th Corps, continues to be strong.
The US 32nd Infantry Regiment (US 7th Division) reaches Height 89, near Mabuni, where the Japanese headquarters have been identified.
On the flanks, the American Marines on the right and the infantry on the left advance virtually unopposed, capturing over 1000 Japanese and reaching the southern coast of the island at several points.
The scale of surrenders is unprecedented for the forces of the Imperial Army.
Okinawa Background — Japanese Resistance Collapses
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