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  • The Past as a Foreign Country

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on January 26th, 2021 (All posts by )

    I’ve just finished and released into the wild a WWII novel, My Dear Cousin, for which the concept came to me in a dream last July. Since the current year-long plus covidiocy demolished nearly every fall market and holiday event which would otherwise have taken up my time, I set to work and finished it in six months.  As much as is possible, I did my research – and the internet makes the kind of information I needed available at my fingertips: a detailed 1930s map of Singapore, a hand-written diary of a woman who escaped Malaya in early 1942, a breakdown of what constituted the tents and facilities for a frontline Army hospital in 1944, and the newspaper archives of the wartime Singapore Straits Times and Brisbane Courier Mail. All that and more went into an account of the war, as seen through the lives of two cousins, on opposite sides of the world.  Accuracy is what I strive for – and most times, I think I come very close. The rest of this entry is what I felt obliged to include in the notes at the back of the book.

    In the interests of fidelity to history and racial attitudes of the 1940s with regard to the Japanese and to a lesser extent, the Germans, the current social climate requires me to add the following caveat; yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist. However, this book is, as nearly as I can make it, written with an eye to fidelity to the historical record. I will not cut and tailor my fictional cloth in accordance with current fashion. ‘Presentism’, wherein the accepted fashionable attitudes and conventional opinions of the current day are retrofitted, however unsuited and historically unlikely, onto those characters living in past decades and centuries, is a grim transgression against the art of bringing a past era into life, warts and all. Writing a so-called historical novel merely by placing 21st century characters in different costumes and strange technological shortcomings is a disservice to the past, and a hampering to complete understanding. It’s the past – they did things differently, back then.

    As for wartime feelings, Americans, Britons, Australians, Chinese and other participants, even the ‘inadvertent by reason of geography’ had no reason to think well of the Japanese who made bloody, brutal, and imperial war upon them and plenty of excellent reasons to think ill. A brief list of those reasons begins with the war in China, including the ‘rape of Nanking’ and similar atrocities, the attack on Pearl Harbor while diplomatic negotiations were underway, the opening of aggressive hostilities throughout the Pacific theater of operations, extreme brutalities inflicted on those with the misfortune of living in Japanese occupied countries, and the horrific treatment of interned civilians and captured military by the Japanese. The most charitable comment which one can make on this all is that at least they were ecumenical in administering barbaric treatment to all those unlucky to experience the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere at first hand.

    Americans are, or at least used to be, conversant with the Bataan Death march, but that was just one of the gruesome atrocities against Allied POWs during the war front in the Pacific. Even ghastlier than the Bataan forced march of POWs was the Sandakan Death March, a series of forced marches which took place towards the end of the war on Borneo. Internees and POWs were forced by the retreating Japanese Army to abandon a massive camp at Sandakan airfield and retreat 160 miles through the jungle with them. Of 2,500 British and Australian POWs at the start of those marches, only six men survived by escaping during the confusion. Ritual cannibalism, medical experimentation on living prisoners, mass forced prostitution of women, the deliberate sinking of the AHS Centaur by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Brisbane, massacres of medical personnel and patients at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Singapore, mass executions of native military there and in Hong Kong, the execution of civilian and military personnel on Bangka Island, the executions of American POWs at Palawan towards the end of the war when all seemed to be lost for the Japanese, the horrific treatment and the death rates of impressed civilian laborers and POWs on the Burma-Siam railway, the wanton destruction of Manila… All of these and even uglier accounts of Japanese brutality were publicized in the last months and weeks of the war, just as the reality of German concentration and extermination camps emerged earlier in 1945. Knowledge of these horrors was why contemporary opinion approved with mild reservations the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even if many were startled by the suddenness of the events, baffled by the science, and apprehensive regarding the implications of atomic weapons.

    A further element had to do with knowing how fanatical Japanese resistance had been in New Guinea, on Guadalcanal, on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. An invasion of the Japanese home islands could only be much, much worse. And yet, planning for such an invasion went forward. Part of that planning involved a massive order of 1.5 million Purple Heart medals, in expectation of a huge number of American casualties. That backlog of medals was not drawn down sufficiently for another order until 2008; this after the end of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada and two wars in Gulf and the many pinprick casualties from random terrorism over the following seven decades. Knowing that the cost in blood and human lives would be almost unbearably high for a ground invasion of Japan, among the invading troops, the defending Japanese and the hapless Japanese civilians, the choice for atomic bombing was a necessary albeit cruel calculation. Japanese cities were being pounded unmercifully by American bombing, with destruction and death by many conventional bombs equal to a single atomic bomb … I’m on the side of those historians who believe that turning segments of Nagasaki and Hiroshima into radioactive glass saved lives. A cruel calculation, but one which saved the lives of Allied soldiers who would otherwise have died in an invasion, the lives of Japanese civilians who would have been thrown into the maelstrom and saved the lives of prisoners and internees all across the Japan-occupied territories who were about two weeks from being killed by starvation or hours and minutes of being murdered outright.

    Imagine, if you will; how it would have gone if President Truman had let the invasion of Japan go ahead – with all the casualties; the massive deaths of soldiers, civilians, prisoners, and internees … and then finding out that all that torment could have been avoided by dropping two bombs on Japanese cities (cities already being systematically destroyed by conventional bombing). No, the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, as many of these historical choices come down to – the least worst choice of the lot. This is why practically everyone who would have had a real stake in this choice – their lives, the lives of those whom they loved and who would now survive because of it – heaved a sigh of relief at the outcome of a mushroom-shaped cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A perilous choice and one with regrets attached. Because of that decision, they and the ones whom they loved – would live.

    The most amazing thing about writing historical fiction – is that most times, what really happened – is even more incredible and dramatic than anything which I could possibly create out of thin air.

     

    68 Responses to “The Past as a Foreign Country”

    1. Anonymous Says:

      Good for you, Mom. Looking forward to it. My dad (101st Aireborne) was packing up his stuff for reployment to the invasion of Japan when they were dropped. Given what happened to them at Normady, I believe I’m here because they never deployed. Harry Truman made one of the most difficult decisions.

      Death6

    2. Brian Says:

      Ugh. To steal a popular phrase from the SJWs, I am just so tired of this.
      Just say “Yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist. SO WHAT?”
      Apologizing for 50 years has just gotten us into our current predicament, with our society in ruins, because no one defends it, one side attacks ruthlessly and the other concedes and apologizes.
      There are no more hills to not fight on, there is no more ground to give.
      The dementia patient in chief said today that the 1776 Commission was offensive and racist.
      Better the racists of 1945 than the trash we have now.

    3. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I’m not apologizing, Brian – I’m nailing the flag of historical accuracy to my mast. I’m explaining with gritted teeth to the slow and ahistorical children, just what was at stake in 1945.

    4. BobtheRegisterredFool Says:

      Let it not go unspoken that modern ‘Anti-Racism’ is in no way morally superior to 1940s attitudes among the Allies.

      Modern ‘Anti-Racism’ is itself racist by any reciprocal standards. And the reciprocal/universal standards are the only sound basis for saying that racism is wrong in the first place.

      The allegation that civilized behavior is ‘white’ and ‘toxic’ will have an end result no more pleasant than Japanese colonialism in Korea.

    5. Brian Says:

      Sgt Mom, please don’t think I was criticizing you. I think your writing was clear and concise and accurate and appropriate. I’m speaking generally about We Conservatives. We’ve let the left wrong-foot us backwards off the cliff, and it’s way past time we stop.

    6. miguel cervantes Says:

      well it’s an interesting notion, I think that truman might have bitten more than he could chew if the invasion had proceded forward, since there was no vice president, perhaps james byrnes, the secretary of state, would have ended up in the catsbird seat, one presumes the war would have continued for the other allies as well, the french and the brits,the former in indochina, the latter in burma and india, would gandhi’s satygha movement have still caught steam if the war continued, Now in Japan proper the soviets had already stolen a march, so perhaps they would have partitioned from the northern islands as with germany in the east,

    7. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Bravo for ignoring Political Correctness, Sgt Mom. Apparently, lots of US students are denied the opportunity to read “Huckleberry Finn” in class because Twain used the word “nigger” — even though he used the word in the context of a story about a white boy helping Jim escape from slavery. There have been polls suggesting that 4 out of 5 of us are fed up with Political Correctness. It is time we made our numbers felt.

      A suggestion for a future historical fiction project, Sgt Mom. The life story of a Sioux Indian who, as a little 6 year old boy, sat on a rock at Little Big Horn and watched Custer’s forces cut down by bows & arrows and scalped, and as a 75 year old man sat on a hilltop overlooking Nagasaki and watched the city die in a nuclear attack. Filling in the years between those events would be a challenge — he would have been 47 when the US entered WWI, too old for active duty; but maybe he went to Europe in a supporting role? Perhaps he had a daughter who married a Japanese-American, and he joined them in going to Japan in the 1930s to escape the depression?

    8. Gringo Says:

      In the interests of fidelity to history and racial attitudes of the 1940s with regard to the Japanese and to a lesser extent, the Germans, the current social climate requires me to add the following caveat; yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist.

      True, that.
      Rest assured that the Japanese had attitudes just as racist, if not more so, towards their opponents.

      As Sgt. Mom points out, attitudes towards the Japanese hardened as the Japanese repeatedly made it clear they intended to fight to the last man.Having racist views of the Japs helped one get into the mindset that because very few had the inclination to surrender, one had to kill as many as possible. Given that the “kill to the last man” mindset was needed to be successful in that conflict, it is interesting how fast it disappeared during the occupation of Japan.

    9. Xennady Says:

      I’m explaining with gritted teeth to the slow and ahistorical children, just what was at stake in 1945.

      I appreciate what you’re attempting to do, but in my opinion you’re being much nicer and more respectful than they deserve.

      After my experience interacting with these folks, I’d simply tell them that they’re pig-ignorant savages who should go read a book and stop brainlessly chanting the lies their murderer-loving communist professors told them.

      I’ve concluded that one big honking reason why these scum are as successful as they are is because normal people aren’t willing to be as nasty to them as they are to everyone else.

      Bottom line: They’re scum. Let them know.

      Again, just my opinion, and I certainly have no right to tell you how to conduct your online or in person interactions with anyone.

    10. Xennady Says:

      Having racist views of the Japs helped one get into the mindset that because very few had the inclination to surrender, one had to kill as many as possible. Given that the “kill to the last man” mindset was needed to be successful in that conflict, it is interesting how fast it disappeared during the occupation of Japan.

      My recollection is that often Japanese soldiers would pretend to surrender, then kill soldiers who let down their guard. That lesson is taught quickly- do not believe attempts to surrender. Also, the Japanese nickname for Guadalcanal was a pun that meant “Starvation Island,” leading to cannibalism of you-know-who. I don’t think it’s racist to not like people who do that.

      And then it went away postwar because the Japanese regime had been discredited for bringing ruin upon their nation and also because the occupying Americans brought food and weren’t the murderous killers the failed regime claimed they would be.

    11. MCS Says:

      One tiny quibble. You hint at the extent of the Japanese atrocities without doing then true justice. A more economical approach would be to list the areas under their control where they didn’t commit systematic murderous brutality. This list is empty. Another case where, like in Germany, the need to forestall the Soviets trumped more than a cursory accounting.

      My father was required to watch the extensive footage that the Japanese made of the Bataan Death March as part of the process of declassifying them. The decision was reached then to release only a very small, carefully edited part. As far as I know, little if any of the rest has seen light of day.

      A more deserved aspect of the racist shame of the West was the willful blindness toward the Japanese atrocities in China for the decade before Pearl Harbor.

      In one of her books several years ago, Michelle Malkin made the assertion that among the Japanese internees were thousands of would be Japanese agents.

      Reconciling the picture of Japan from around 1930-1945, a very dark and bloody picture indeed, with the image of modern Japan is beyond my ability. It’s probably for the best that nearly all from that era are beyond earthly accounting.

    12. Brian Says:

      “Reconciling the picture of Japan from around 1930-1945, a very dark and bloody picture indeed, with the image of modern Japan is beyond my ability”
      I think it is very hard for contemporary Americans to wrap their heads around how viciously tribal/racist most of the world is, and how much worse it was in the past.
      We might think Japan today is “just like us” but they really, really aren’t. Go ahead and try to emigrate there, haha. And it’s no coincidence that the two losing countries of WWII have been seen bizarre sexual perversions become commonplace, and complete demographic collapse of the natives.

    13. David Foster Says:

      MCS…”A more deserved aspect of the racist shame of the West was the willful blindness toward the Japanese atrocities in China for the decade before Pearl Harbor.”

      My impression was that there was actually a lot of sympathy toward China in America, partly as a result of the American missionaries who had worked in China and developed a feeling of connection with the country and its people. Was this wrong?

    14. MCS Says:

      David,
      You’re not wrong and I’m a long way from being an expert on the reporting then. I may be too harsh, especially when you recall all the stories from more recent history. Think Saddam’s shredder, Bosnia, the list goes on. Just deploring them did little good.

      What I’ve seen of the coverage from the ’30s seems much more detached than it would have been for Europeans. Most of the outrage seems to have been reserved for Europeans and Americans caught up in the various incidents.

      The news reels and articles still leave me with the feeling that for most people, Asia might as well of been another planet where the agitations among the natives was sort of a quaint custom, like basket making. Then there is the question of whether the depredations of the Japanese differed in any way except degree, if that, from those of the war between the Nationalists and Communists.

      What if anything we could have done to change anything is even more questionable. Again from recent history, nothing short of a full scale ejection of Japan from China would have stopped it. We couldn’t stop Saddam with ten years of BS.

    15. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

      Where do I get a copy?

    16. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

      Found it! Tonight being g payday, I shall buy a copy! HUZZAH!

    17. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

      And so I did!

    18. Xennady Says:

      A more deserved aspect of the racist shame of the West was the willful blindness toward the Japanese atrocities in China for the decade before Pearl Harbor.

      No, no, no. This is a fine example of the endless apologizing we’ve been doing for the last fifty years that Brian mentioned above. We were not responsible for the endless atrocities of Japan back then nor were we responsible to stop them, any more than we are responsible to stop the present Chinese genocide against the Uighyers today.

      We didn’t ignore the atrocities, either. We stopped trading with Japan, to a significant degree, in an effort to get them to stop. The end result was that the US sanctions against Japan drove them into attacking Pearl Harbor, resulting in the end to their atrocities as a byproduct of the ensuing war, no doubt saving millions of Chinese lives. Our reward then was a Chinese attack on US forces in Korea a few years later, followed up by decades of hostility and lately, strenuous efforts to wreck the US economy by every means possible.

      And the people who never stop shrieking racist, racist, racist against Americans? They have no trouble at all with the genocide of the Uighyers and no interest in sanctioning China in any attempt to stop it.

      It’s time we stopped the endless self-flagellation demanded by our enemies, foreign and domestic, and notice that we have been less murderous than they have been in the past, and less murderous than their friends are now.

    19. MCS Says:

      We did stop trading eventually. Like the same period in Europe, it seems so easy in retrospect to pick out the the lines that should have been drawn and weren’t. In Europe, Hitler at least made the effort to dissemble and try to hide what he was doing. The Japanese didn’t have to do anything except let distance and an unfamiliar language draw a veil.

      Our imports from Japan were negligible. In the end, we hit them where we could, in energy, raw materials and turned a blind eye to Chennault. I can’t think of anything short of invasion that would have dislodged them from China and that is inconceivable. So I am probably guilty of posturing.

      A more salient question to answer is what we can and should do now in similar situations. It seems that every effort we make to discourage future would be Hitlers is to be obstructed by our allies that just see sanctions as an opportunity for trade and increased profit margins. We are, for the moment, the king pin of world finance and have had some success using that as a stick to keep our allies in line but i doubt that will last indefinitely. The present regime in Washington will not likely maintain the front.

    20. Mike K Says:

      I’m explaining with gritted teeth to the slow and ahistorical children, just what was at stake in 1945.

      My oldest daughter, who is now 53, was in 6th grade when her teacher conducted a “war crimes” trial of President Truman for the atomic bombs on Japan. He was “convicted” by the kids. It’s not that recent.

      An entire generation of Japanese men were killed off in the war. Perhaps that has had something to do with the change in attitude by the Japanese people since then. The militarism was devastating to them, plus the benign rule of MacArthur. I agree that the Japanese remain even more racist than the Han Chinese. One reason why Mongolia remains a loyal ally is that we have helped them keep the Han Chinese at bay.

      I would add that there was another potential strategy in 1945, one that was supported by the Navy. That was to continue the blockade and starve the Japanese people to death. I doubt the invasion would ever have come off as there were major problems shifting the army to the Pacific. Congress refused to continue Selective Service past 1944 and Marshal and Eisenhower were desperate for soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. The “Point system” would have removed a lot of senior noncoms and company grade officers from the invading army unless repealed by Congress.

    21. Martin Peterson Says:

      Friends,
      In regard to Mom’s comments about anti-Japanese ” general attitudes” that were “viciously and unrepentantly racist.”
      Both my father and uncle were in the CBI theater, China Burma India, in combat against the Imperial Japanese Army.
      My father’s take at the time: “The day the Japanese surrendered was the worst day of the war.
      I had hoped that we would exterminate them.”

      Five years later he was stationed in Tokyo.
      He wrote me, reminded me of his take on the war’s end and wrote, “I was completely wrong.
      I am working with the same Japanese we fought against.
      These are fine people.
      I have complete respect for them.”

      When my mother and siblings joined Dad in Tokyo, 1952, I was in high school.
      By then no one referred to the Japanese as “Japs,” disparaged them or discriminated against them.
      Our fellow students included Nisei, second generation Americans of Japanese descent, a normal part of our social group.

      The general attitudes disappeared when we discovered Japan.
      Our experience with the power of the Japanese culture caused a complete reverse of general attitudes held ten years before.

      I think that Mom’s take on the general attitudes is both correct and important.
      It gives people born well after these events a base line to see how fast and how completely “general attitudes” can change.
      Q

    22. JefftheBobcat Says:

      I have a newspaper account in one of my family history books of a distant cousin who was a Missionary with her husband in the Philippines. They were captured and beheaded by the Japanese.

      Using today’s standards to judge history has always seemed to me to be an exercise in arrogance and hubris.

      Needless to say, I don’t think any of my living relatives hold the Japanese accountable for the atrocity visited upon us eighty years ago.

    23. phwest Says:

      One the subject of surrender and the Japanese Army, Victor David Hanson makes an interesting point in his book on Okinawa that the “body count” generalship in Vietnam had a lot to do with the experience of those generals in the war against Japan. There were plenty of commonalities if you think about it, so it’s not all that surprising that the differences took a while to become clear at not inconsiderable cost.

      Even in the European theater WWII US Army strategy was fundamentally one of attrition (Patton notwithstanding). Vietnam marked a real transition is US war fighting, and it’s easy to project the current US approach back further in time than it actually was. The past is indeed a different country.

    24. Ginny Says:

      Sgt. Mom, Your industry and clarity are greatly appreciated.

      I suspect some culture critic (not contemporary ones who are often too busy with delusions) might find the contrast in our reaction to our eastern and western as well as ideological foes interesting. And perhaps more interesting would be pop culture’s use (or non-use) of them decades later.

    25. rcocean Says:

      The amazing thing about Ww 2 was how nice and gentle we were to the Japanese after the war. We should be patting ourselves on the back, or patting the 40s generation on the back, for being so noble and Christian toward a nation that attacked us without warning or good reason, murdered our Pow’s, committed vicious atrocities toward the Chinese and other people’s of East Asia and Indonesia, and generally behaved like a pack of 10th Century Barbarians.

      I have no idea why our bourgeoise is so obsessed with “Racism” and being worried they might be saying something unkind to anyone who’s not male, white, or straight.

    26. rcocean Says:

      OF course, maybe the 40s Generation understood the difference between the Japanese Government and the average Japanese. Something lost on people in the 21st Century.

    27. miguel cervantes Says:

      yes old china hand, stanley hornbeck was in charge of that section of the state department, and he was pushing the sanctions against the control junta, most of the worst offenders like prince chiribuchi, were never held accountable for wake island or nanking or even the razing of manila, yamashita got the short end of the stick

    28. Kirk Says:

      My sainted maternal grandmother was what we’d call a “hoarder” today. She kept everything, to include the entire collection of magazines and notable issues of newspapers throughout her life. When I was a kid, I spent countless hours going through her collection in the basement.

      Lemme tell you what… The modern “conventional wisdom” about America and American history from that period? It’s laughably inaccurate. There was stuff in those piles of printed material that would have blown the minds of today’s ignoramus “elites”, particularly those with educations.

      The “racist” attitudes towards Japan and the Japanese really didn’t harden or even get mentioned until well into their Chinese adventurism, and it flowed outward from the abuses reported by the various missionary organizations in China. My family had involvement with the Methodist missionary community, and some of the Lutherans, as well. Those organizations published periodicals that made their way into the stacks of literature that my grandmother preserved, and they were eye-opening. I don’t think that the average American then or now knows what was really happening in China, perpetrated by Japan. The ones that did know, they knew a lot of details that left them entirely unsurprised at the things Japan did during WWII.

      Probably the number-one question people really need to ask about what went on is just how Japan went from being a universally-praised belligerent during the Russo-Japanese War and WWI, to what they did in China and Korea. Everybody who’d had contact with the Japanese military of the late 19th Century and first decades of the 20th did nothing but praise them, some even saying that the Japanese were more chivalrous than any European nation. And, even more bizarrely, attributing that to their Bushido code…

      Even the Russians had little to criticize them for, with regards to their treatment of prisoners, hard though that may be to believe, given all we “know” today.

      Precisely what changed in Japan and Japanese culture during the years after WWI? You’ll hear a lot of different explanations and excuses, but I lay it down to them just being people, and thus prone to the same sort of mindless barbarism that the Germans fell prey to, and mostly for the same reasons: Racism and dehumanizing the “other” were useful tools in radicalizing the populace.

      I look around me at what is going on with the left here in the US, and I see many of the same things going on that happened in Japan. The parallels are surprisingly easy to see, when you examine it all: The demonization of the moderate politicians, the assassination attempts by the radicals, the praise of the violence that the radicals use to make their political points? All the same–Only real difference is that in Japan, it was the militarists going after the moderates instead of the left-wing Democrats going against everyone else.

      Probably going to end the same way, as well. Think it can’t happen here? Guess what, sweeties, it already is. Only difference I can see is that the left here in the US isn’t focused on international targets, but internal ones… They’re psyching themselves up for their little pogroms and programs of re-education, which they’re going to try putting into place. Where that ends, I dunno–I don’t see them having the broad support they’re going to need to make it work, but the radicals are probably going to try.

    29. MCS Says:

      It has always annoyed me that the Germans continue to beaten about the head with the Holocaust, not withstanding that virtually no living German that had any connection survives, various reparations, and uncountable demonstrations of remorse, while the Japanese continue to treat any suggestion of Japanese atrocities as some sort of baseless racist calumny. The victims of both need to be remembered.

      The Japanese never industrialized their killing the way the Nazis did which makes me suspect that even they weren’t in on the technical details of the Final Solution. Instead, they adopted the techniques of Stalin.

      Of course, the allied side included both of the top two mass murderers in history so far. The overwhelming majority of Stalin’s victims were by any definition white, it didn’t seem to do them much good.

    30. Kirk Says:

      @MCS,

      Japanese culture allows for an awful lot of wishful thinking and reinvention to go on, as well as a proclivity for outright fantastic denial.

      They aren’t alone, either–Witness the Korean ability to simultaneously denounce the Japanese over the whole “Comfort Women” controversy, while at the same time, ignoring the fact that the majority of the pimps and procuresses who managed the entire sorry affair were Korean!

      Also, note the inability of Koreans to recognize that the same things they denounce the Japanese for, they were doing themselves all through the post-war era. About the only difference between a young Korean farmgirl sold off for debt peonage in 1938 and 1958 was the set of likely eventual clients. Yet, nobody’s excoriating the Americans for taking advantage of the services offered up by various and sundry Korean pimps and procuresses… Mainly because of the fact that the Koreans were doing all that to themselves is entirely undeniable.

      I have to conclude that there’s a lot of delusion in many Asian cultures, and that ability to ignore reality is key and critical to why there was little to no Japanese introspection or remorse–And, why the Koreans still feel victimized to this day, despite the fact that they did it to themselves. It wasn’t members of the IJA that were going out into the countryside and dragging young women off the farms to be prostitutes–The Koreans mostly managed that for themselves, as sub-contractors that made pretty good money pimping and procuring for the IJA.

    31. Sgt. Mom Says:

      And I have also seen it recorded (can’t recall where or when) that some of the most brutal “Japanese” guards over POWs were actually Korean – low-caste conscripts, given the most lowly and humiliating duty by their Japanese overlords … and permitted to exercise their worst bullying impulses towards those even lower down on the totem pole than them. For what it’s worth…

    32. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

      I have read that the Korean guards were particularly hated by the POWs, for their viciousness.

    33. Kirk Says:

      There are reasons that Ian Fleming chose to make his Oddjob character a Korean. The record for their utter depravity as POW guards and soldiers in general was well-known.

      It is also a fact that the Koreans were the first and possibly most abused Japanese “colony” on Asia, and that there was significant history between the two countries going back centuries.

      To a degree, you can kind of look at what the Koreans did to Allied POWs during WWII as payback for Westerners having mostly written Korea off as a “ward” of the Japanese, who treated them like crap.

      Anybody accusing Americans of racism needs to go take a long, hard look at Japan, where they are still denying full citizenship to Koreans who’ve been living in Japan since shortly after the Russo-Japanese War. Which is really ironic, when you further consider that the Japanese stopped excavation of the Imperial tombs from way back when due to the indicators that were showing up that much of Japanese culture was transmitted to them from China via Korea… And, that the Imperial line may actually run back to Koreans.

      Ah, Asia. Lovely cultural accomplishments, lovely food, and some of the most ‘effed-up history in the world, when it comes to tolerance and love for your fellow man.

    34. MCS Says:

      Kirk,
      It’s not like there has ever been a shortage of genuine American pimps and procurers. It’s not a profession with a reputation for civic responsibility or patriotic sacrifice. As I alluded to, the Chinese have been doing as bad or worse to themselves for most of their history. It doesn’t absolve the Japanese.

      The Germans would have much rather forgotten the Holocaust, they weren’t allowed to.

      As I said, an annoyance, increasingly irrelevant. I don’t spend much time worrying about a resurgent Japanese Empire. National self delusion is hardly confined to the Far East.

    35. Bob Hodges Says:

      Speaking of the Japanese, the Russians, the Germans, and strange stories of World War II, there was (or may have been) Yang Kyoungjong

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Kyoungjong

    36. pst314 Says:

      David Foster “My impression was that there was actually a lot of sympathy toward China in America”

      Yes, there was. My parents and grandparents spoke of this. Much sympathy for China, much anger at Japan.

    37. Mike K Says:

      Another subject that is related is the propaganda campaign against Germany and Germans around World War I. A large share of midwesterners were of German stock. Lincoln specifically recruited German voters in 1860. The midwest was full of them as an ethnic group. My uncle, who was a boy around 1900, told me that there were portraits of the Kaiser in Chicago public schools. All that changed with WWI.

      There is a whole controversy about why the British went to war against Germany instead of traditional enemy, France. Some of it was “Bertie,” the Prince of Wales who became Edward VII. He was a Francophile and spent a lot of time whoring and partying in Paris. He and his nephew Wilhelm II hated each other. The British treatment of Germany in the Boer War was a factor in Wilhelm deciding to build a High Seas Fleet.

      Yes, once the war began, Germans behaved like Germans with the rape of Belgium but the war ended the British Empire, even though it took another 20 years to die. There is some evidence that France was by no means innocent in the origins and Clemenceau certainly took the naive Wilson to the cleaners at Versailles.

      We are still living with the consequences of that war.

    38. Pettifogger Says:

      My wife and I are streaming “Bletchley Circle-San Francisco.” It’s entertaining enough, but I’m constantly bothered how the main characters, set in the post-WWII era, have 21st Century racial attitudes. You know it’s not realistic, and to watch it, you must accept that the producers chose to display their virtue rather than produce an accurate period piece.

    39. Gringo Says:

      Mike K
      Another subject that is related is the propaganda campaign against Germany and Germans around World War I. A large share of midwesterners were of German stock. Lincoln specifically recruited German voters in 1860.

      A neighbor in my New England hometown told us that she dropped out of high school during WW1 because of the flack she got from her German surname. As she inherited the family farm, dropping out of high school didn’t particularly harm her occupational future.

      To my later regret, I never asked my German-surnamed grandfather and great-uncle about anti-German propaganda in the Midwest. My great-uncle did serve in the Army in France in WW1.

      One semester in grad school I had a roommate from El Paso who was up in arms about the mistreatment of citizens of Japanese origin during WW2. I told him that paralleled the experience of citizens of German origin during WW1.

    40. Kirk Says:

      @Gringo,

      Fair and equitable treatment of the various victims of Woodrow Wilson’s BS police state would require a.) acknowledging that it happened, and b.) admitting that it’s not just “racial minorities” that get it in the neck when it’s politically expedient to go after someone.

      Likewise, the future alienation and othering of conservatives won’t be equated with the Japanese internment, ‘cos “they deserve it, being white and all…”.

      Any of this crap needs to be stopped as soon as its nasty little nose rises up, but the hypocrites of the world find it too valuable. Wilson did what he did to the German-Americans because he could, and it was OK largely because he’d already gotten away with it going after blacks.

      Which is another argument to go after the people doing these things, no matter who they’re going after. I wager that a large part of the reason the German-Americans were targeted the way they were was because of the same reasons the Confederacy went after them in Texas–They were heirs to the finer liberal traditions of Germanic culture, and not at all on board with things like the KKK and race hatred of the blacks.

      It would be interesting to be able to trace out what Germany would have been like, had all those emigrant Germans stayed there and put up more of a fight against the Imperial German impulses. I think a good argument can be made that Germany was what it was because of the escape valve offered by American emigration, and that without it, the years after 1848 would have looked a lot different than they did in Central Europe…

      But, yeah… The German-Americans got screwed, and I think that Wilson did it at least partially due to the perception that the Germans weren’t on-board with the anti-black racism he favored.

      I still think that the smartest thing anyone with a time machine could do is go back to about 1890 and knock off most of the Wilsonian Progressives, with malice aforethought. Everything they brought in has been devisive and destructive of the American “best interest”.

    41. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I wonder at this late date and for what it is worth — that the disparate treatment/reaction of Americans, et al, to German and Japanese WWII atrocities wasn’t somewhat race-based, but not quite as expected. In that – well, Germany is a western nation and a huge part of our own culture/inheritance, so we hold them to a high standard. They’re nearly us! so their horrific treatment of Jews and occupied Europeans is an offense against Western values. Japanese – well, they’re an alien culture, so … it’s what they do. They’re not held to so high a standard, since they are heathens, “lesser breeds without the law” as Kipling put it. Heathens do barbarism … civilized people don’t.
      I think that the difference between the German and Italian internees in WWII and the Japanese in the US was that those Germans and Italians who were interned were those who had given some evidence of sympathies towards the Nazis and the Italian Fascists. I’ve talked to some local people in Fredericksburg about this – the only ones who wound up in Crystal City were those who were die-hard Nazi symps, or who were suspected of being such.
      For the Japanese – nope: internment across the board. That was the difference. All interned, not just those who were suspect.

    42. David Foster Says:

      I don’t know which view is correct, but I’ve heard it argued that Kipling’s “lesser breeds without the law” refers not to Britain’s subject colonial native peoples, but rather to nations that he felt were lawless in their behavior, including the Germans and possibly also the Russians.

    43. miguel cervantes Says:

      The Russians at the opening of Reilly’s Ace of Spies, showed they were so contemptuous of their rivals, they couldn’t imagine they would attack port arthur, reilly relayed it to the brits, and they wouldn’t act so he cornered the markets on commodities,

    44. Xennady Says:

      I don’t know which view is correct, but I’ve heard it argued that Kipling’s “lesser breeds without the law” refers not to Britain’s subject colonial native peoples, but rather to nations that he felt were lawless in their behavior, including the Germans and possibly also the Russians.

      I make no comment about Kipling but I recently reread Jac Weller’s book Wellington in India and he repeatedly made the point that the reason the British were able to succeed in India was because they treated the masses significantly better than the local rulers ever did. Eventually, they ruled the entire subcontinent.

      Compare and contrast how the present American oligarchy treats Americans- and ponder the lessons from history of how this will eventually reward them.

    45. Anonymous Says:

      David, Xennady —

      Yeah, can you imagine some Raja writing “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din”?

      Me neither.

    46. Gringo Says:

      Sgt. Mom

      I think that the difference between the German and Italian internees in WWII and the Japanese in the US was that those Germans and Italians who were interned were those who had given some evidence of sympathies towards the Nazis and the Italian Fascists. I’ve talked to some local people in Fredericksburg about this – the only ones who wound up in Crystal City were those who were die-hard Nazi symps, or who were suspected of being such.

      I worked in Latin America with a German expat who, with the exception of university in Germany, spent his life in Latin America. (His father was a mining engineer in Peru.)

      His uncle, a German national, spent WW2 in the US in an internment camp. His uncle told him he got very well treated in the internment camp. Regarding his uncle having sympathy or not towards the Nazis, I have no idea. I got the impression that his German passport was the sole reason for being interned.

      I worked in Alta Verapaz in Guatemala, an area once had a lot of German coffee plantation owners. It wasn’t difficult to locate German traces, such as blondes speaking Qekchi, the local Indian language. At the time of WW2, most of the German coffee plantation owners still had German citizenship. Most of them got deported and their land confiscated.

      One time I met a local who said that his German grandfather,after losing his land and being deported, still returned to Guatemala after WW2. He said that his grandfather was Jewish, but he was able to survive in Nazi Germany because it was assumed that a German deported from Guatemala was 100% Aryan. I wonder if all he told me was true. In any case, it made for a good story.

    47. MCS Says:

      Gringo,
      It’s 100% routine for Enemy Aliens to be interred for the duration or until they can be repatriated. It happened to American and British civilians caught in Germany when the war started as well. They were treated decently as far as I’ve heard in contrast to those in Asia.

      Sgt. Mom is talking about American citizens. There were a good many million Americans of German ancestry at the time and all of them couldn’t have been interred. Those that were had done something to merit special attention. See the German-American Bund. There were British Nazis that spent the war in camps as well. The alternative was watching, catching them doing something overt and shooting them.

      A hundred-something thousand Japanese were a different proposition. They also tended to maintain closer ties to Japan and belong to various Fatherland organizations. They mostly tended to be much more recent immigrants.

      Then there was very real racism directed at East Asians, specifically Chinese with Japanese included because who could tell the difference? See the Chinese Exclusion Act:
      https://www.history.com/topics/immigration/chinese-exclusion-act-1882

      Anybody that claims there wasn’t a very pronounced racist slant to our attitude toward Japan as an enemy is simply wrong. The most surprising thing, as talked about above, is how quickly it turned around after the war was over.

      There was a very active German intelligence apparatus in South and Central America, many ended up as Soviet assets after the war. The same was true of Japan wherever there was a significant number of immigrants. Not just here but Peru and Chile notably, as well.

    48. Kirk Says:

      Japan pulled off the perfect surrender. Like a smaller dog that got its ass kicked in a fight with a bigger one, they rolled over, showed their bellies, and did everything right to “make nice” with the big dog.

      Anyone besides the US or the UK would have wiped them out, given things like Unit 731 and the recreational eating of POWs taken in the islands.

      And, I think the Japanese knew it, at least instinctively.

      The only objection I have to describing the issues of Asians in the US as being “racist” is that such a characterization totally ignores the centuries of equivalent BS wherein the Asian nations like China and Japan did the exact same thing to Westerners and any of their fellow Asians who did terrible things like convert to Christianity. How long was it before the Japanese weren’t massacring shipwrecked sailors out of hand?

      The problem with the whole “Oh, the Americans are uniquely racist…” argument is that it ain’t actually so. What was the Chinese policy towards trade with the rest of the world, and why did they refuse it for so long? Oh; that’s right–It was because they were the “Middle Kingdom”, the font of all civilization, and had no need to trade with their inferiors. Never mind the fact that they were sucking all the silver out of the world market because of it all, with deleterious effect on the world.

      Hell, absent the Chinese attitudes towards foreigners, much of the abuse of the various and sundry South American nations would never have happened, because world trade would have (admittedly, potentially…) been on a much more equitable basis. Spain did what it did mostly because they needed the silver to trade for Chinese products to take to Europe.

      The whole thing was not entirely a one-way street, where the “Eeevull White Male” was oppressing everyone. Hell, even in the Old West, a lot of the reasons that the Chinese were gone after so hard were the results of the things they did trying to make a buck. You want to know why rural people in the PNW loathe Asians? Look at the way they go out and destroy the environment looking for mushrooms and other forest products to sell for profit, raping the commons. There are entire swathes of forest where we used to sustainably harvest Chanterelle mushrooms back when I was a kid. Now? LOL… All that’s gone, utterly destroyed by the way the Vietnamese and others have come in like so many vacuum cleaners and taken literally everything, without leaving a damn thing for anyone else. You go out there now, and it looks like the forest floor has been gone over by a horde of locust-like wild boar, with all the rooting and earth-moving that’s been done in search of the mushrooms that used to be there.

      Some of the things that “conventional wisdom” decries as “racist thought and action” really, truly aren’t–Those things are the rational reaction of cultural conflict and misunderstandings that have legitimate roots in the way that different cultures see the world and make use of it. If you think that Native American tribes have it in for the White Man, get some of them talking about how they feel about the Asians that have come in since the 1970s. The tribal groups that historically still relied on hunting and gathering utterly loathe the Asian immigrant community, and to a degree you’d find mind-boggling as a plain white-bread American.

    49. rcocean Says:

      You’ll look long and hard to find any country rending its garments over how they treated the enemy when the attacked without warning or provocation. But the USA is an exception. There’ve always been Americans who morally high off of attacking their own country, and saying “we’re just as bad as they are”. Its hilarious to a certain extent. But then it ties into the same, odd, “crusading” lets get ourselves killed for foreigners impulse.

      Personally, i hate war, and don’t see any reason for it, except self-defense. but plenty of Americans in the 20th century couldn’t wait to run get themselves maimed and killed defending “Foreign Group No. 1” from “Foreign Group No. 2”.

      Of course, a large percentage of Americans were opposed to all these “Crusades to make the world safe for Democracy”. And that includes WW 2. Almost 80% of Americans were AGAINST getting involved in Ww 2, prior to December 7th, and another 25-30% were willing to make a negotiated peace with the Germans (not Hitler).

      After the WW2, large numbers thought we’d been suckers, since all we’d accomplished is replaced the Germans and Japanese fascists, with Russian and Chinese Communists as the enemy. but time went by, and pretty soon ww2 was renamed the “Good war”.

    50. miguel cervantes Says:

      remember warren delano, franklin’s father was a long time trader in china, henry luce son of missionaries in china, was another significant figure, at state you had stanley hornbeck, franklin also had a long held animus against japan back to the 30s, but some of the other figures like stimson, draper et al, not so much,

      it was due to the last’s influence that the scap reforms were curtailed, class a war criminals like kodama, kishi, (the grandfather of outgoing prime minister abe) sasagawa, were released, in order to form the ldp,

    51. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

      Sgt.Mom, that is a ripping yarn! I am at the 60% mark, and quite enjoying the book! Badger Approved!

    52. Nitay Arbel Says:

      Bought and on my reading queue :)

    53. Mark Says:

      I spent years in Japan in the early 1970s, courtesy of the Marine Corps, taught several English classes and got to know some people quite well, including a girl in one class to whom I am still married. There were no grades, this is no sordid student-teacher affair, both of us were in our mid twenties, so scandal mongers can calm down.

      My wife’s parents were survivors of the Hiroshima bombing and blessed with some very good luck. Her father had something wrong with his hand, and was thus unfit for military service, a source of shame at the time. He worked in the shipyards in Hiroshima, and a fellow worker traded days off with him, or my wife would never have been born. They used the opportunity to forage for firewood and had my wife’s older sister with them, and thus were even farther from the city center when the bomb exploded. They were physically unharmed, and found a badly burned young boy on the way back to their home, who they cared for until he died. I’ll not repeat the entire story, if you want to see similar nightmares, visit the museum at Peace Park in Hiroshima. Let you think I’ve joined the other team, I’m sure those who burned to death on the Arizona suffered just as much. Anyway, my wife’s parents were people with no particular reason to care for or even tolerate Americans, especially a Marine.

      When my wife told them she was going to marry me, the strongest opponents were her brother and sister. As my mother-in-law told them at the time, are you going to make your sister happy? They were always gracious to us when we were able to visit, and I’ll wager plenty of people reading this had worse in-laws. I miss her. She only spoke of the war once, so I let her have the last word about the bomb. Terrible as it was, at least the war was ended.

      My uncle was a Marine who fought at Peleliu and Okinawa, and he would likely have not survived the war. Dad was a P-47 pilot in Europe, and would probably have been sent to the Pacific for the invasion. The only less than complimentary words I ever heard were from my great Aunt who said “i don’t like orientals, but she’s a pretty girl.”

      I’m going to read your book.

    54. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Thank you – Scott and Nitay and Mark and all – if you read and really like the book, can I ask for a review on Amazon? A lot of reviews means a boost in exposure … and I wouldn’t mind a larger readership!

    55. JefftheBobcat Says:

      Hi Sgt. Mom,

      When will your new book come out in print? I prefer a real book to a Kindle.

      I am getting ready to reread the entire Luna City series as soon as I finish my current book. They are a fun read!

      Thanks!

      JefftheBobcat

    56. Deana Says:

      I needed to read this article. It seems like one of the most sane essays I have read in the past couple of months. And yes, I’m just exhausted by the revision of history by people who don’t really grasp what things were like for people all over the world throughout time. The constant drive to pervert everyone’s understanding. Sometimes I would give anything to go back to a time when our country had not taken leave of its senses.

    57. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Jeff, I hope to have the print version available by mid-Feb: we’re still putting finishing touches on the full-span version of the cover.

    58. JefftheBobcat Says:

      Excellent!

    59. James O'Neil Says:

      I also quite agree dropping Little Boy and Fat man saved many American and Japanese lives.

      Yes around 210 thousand lives were lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it ended the war.

      The fire bombing in Tokyo, earlier in March, took around 100,000 lives in one day but did nothing to deter Japan’s will to fight.

    60. Kirk Says:

      Japan would not exist today if the bombs hadn’t been dropped. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were sacrificed that Japan might live on, instead of being utterly eradicated.

      And, it would have happened no matter what went on during the invasion. Given the state of Japanese defense preparations, the already-issued orders to the military and civil authorities, and what they had done in terms of arming and propagandizing the general public? Factor all of that together, and you get a set of circumstances that would have interlocked perfectly with the intent of those members of the American leadership that wanted to turn Japan into a desert.

      The intent was that the Japanese military was to use the civilian population as cannon fodder, with school-age children being given mass-produced spears and pikes to attack American soldiers from ambush. If the level of resistance and outright insanity displayed by the Japanese people came even close to the levels experienced on Okinawa (which was, in the final analysis, a colony of the Japanese whose residents weren’t all that happy to be Japanese…), well… Yeah. It would have been a bloodbath.

      Which would have triggered one of several options. One, the Americans would have doubled-down, and just killed everything they ran across without remorse, leaving little of Japan intact and most of the populace dead in combat, or two, they’d have backed off on the invasion plans and just let nature take its course after sinking or destroying all forms of transport from the air. Japan could not and even now cannot feed itself absent shipping. Destroy that, wait a year or two, and then all you need to do is land occupation forces to clean up the dead. It would be even quicker if you spent that year or so using carrier aviation and going after anything that moved, like oxen or workers out in the paddies trying to grow rice. Eventual result would have been the same, however–Just with fewer American casualties. And, without the American public buying into the idea of “mercy” for the Japanese, the political environment would have meant outright effective extermination of the Japanese.

      So… Yeah. Bitch about the bomb all you like, but there really aren’t any “good for Japan” historical outcomes you can gin up that don’t involve their use or the arrival of Japanese-speaking alien space bats.

    61. A. Nonymous Says:

      On the subject of Imperial Japan, I highly recommend the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4uDfg38gyk

      Yes, it’s technical and rambling. Yes, the audio quality is simply horrendous at times. But, when you put together some of the pieces from their discussion, well, you realize just what the US was up against.

      I’ll try to summarize (I really should write this up right and pastebin it or something):

      Japanese High Command, from the very beginning, believed that other races were weak and deserving of subjugation or death. The US, in particular, was viewed as a “mongrel” race of mixed ethnicities, tied together only by a desire for the foolish nonsense of individual liberty, which was just another way of saying “Me first”. As such, they were not expected to put up a lasting fight–punch a weak-willed bully in the nose, and they collapse. The values and value systems of a plurality of Americans, and the idea of individuals coming together in the temporary voluntary associations that Tocqueville so admired, was a completely alien concept (and the strong ties between American culture and its versions of Protestantism, vice Shintoism, further muddied the waters). The key thing to understand is that High Command (Hirohito, his war cabinet, and senior officers) *never* understood any of this, viewing it from their own perspectives towards humanity (and in particular, other races).

      So, when faced with an opponent with a larger navy, and literally half the world’s oil production and industrial potential, they convinced themselves that all they had to do was wipe out half the USN, kill a bunch of Americans, and Joe and Jane Public, being chiefly concerned for their own decadent lives and prosperity, would demand that the US Government enter into peace talks, where Japan, with its willingness to continue the war, would hold all the cards.

      The key point here is that *this view never changed*, even in 1944 and 1945, when the remainder of the IJN had been broken by the frankly-ludicrous might of the Fast Carrier Task Force. And, while my generation laughed at how silly they must have been to think that Americans–AMERICANS!–would have meekly thrown in the towel, were they really all that wrong? The same playbook has essentially been tried in virtually every conflict since then that America has participated in, and other than Desert Storm, which was too lopsided, it hasn’t performed all that poorly. It’s been said that Americans get shocked and angry for 3-4 years, but then the fury abates, and if the war is still going on, they start to disunite (although after 9/11, this happened in 3-4 *weeks*).

      So, as the noose closed in on them, High Command decided that the only thing they were doing wrong was that they simply weren’t killing enough Americans. Spill enough blood, and the voters will force the US to the table. Once at the table, every time the State Department disagrees with the Japanese negotiators, simply threaten to break off talks and resume the war, until they cave. Japan might not get *everything* they wanted back in ’41, but they could at least get China and the SEA oil fields, and who knows what else the Americans might be pressured into?

      This was the Grand Strategy for Japan in the last year of the war, if not necessarily a spoken one, or even clearly defined. This encouraged the switch from “honorable” Banzai Charges to hiding in caves, and the expansion of the kamikaze operations. And it defined the defense of the Home Islands.

      High Command knew the Americans were coming. They weren’t stupid, they just had different value systems; they were wearing different blinders, if you will. They correctly predicted when and where the invasions would be, and even got the exact beaches right (they had plenty of raw data to sort through from all of the island-hopping). They knew Kyushu was first, *had* to be first, because the US preferred to fight within range of land-based air cover to supplement the carriers. Weather patterns narrowed down the possible dates. It was just a matter of setting up the defenses to kill as many GIs as possible.

      How many? Well, High Command guessed that a million dead GIs (together with probably ~10 million wounded) would do the trick. At what cost? Again, an estimate was generated, and predicted that roughly 20 million Japanese (a quarter of the entire population of the Home Islands) would be lost; most of these would be civilians pressed into service to perform suicide attacks.

      20 million dead Japanese, mostly civilians? That was considered CHEAP! An easy price to pay for meeting some or most of Japan’s pre-war goals. In fact, High Command was more than willing to deliberately expend twice as many–up to 40 million Japanese, half the population–in order to win. And the ONLY reason they weren’t willing to go higher was because their own internal police had produced reports estimating that if half the population was killed, a significant number of the surviving half might turn on the government, at least enough of them to potentially bring it down and threaten the lives of the members of the High Command (including the Emperor himself). If not for that fear, they would gladly have fought to the last civilian life (and some generals wanted to, right to the very end).

      Plans and preparations were made, including thousands of suicide planes with just enough fuel to reach the invasion beaches, suicide boats, even suicide frogmen. All for the purpose of spilling so much blood that the American people would give up rather than continue the war. Never mind the firebombing, the new and highly-effective B-29 coastal mining campaign, or the leaflets warning of a new and deadlier type of weapon. Japan would still win out, in the end.

      And suddenly, one summer morning, a second sun dawned over Hiroshima. Panic! Panic? Well, maybe not–Japanese nuclear scientists, working from reports of the damage, were able to (correctly!) estimate not just the power of the blast, but how much bomb-grade uranium it would have required. Furthermore, they estimated that the US would only be able to enrich enough uranium ore to make perhaps 2 bombs a year. While nasty, the new weapon was far less deadly than the firebombing raids had been. The American invasion would still happen on schedule, and Japan would still win in the end.

      And the scientists were (roughly) correct–it would have taken far too long for the US to produce enough bomb-grade uranium to matter. And Plutonium? You can’t make a bomb with that, it’s too “hot”! When you set it off, it’ll explode so fast that most of the fuel won’t even have time to absorb a neutron and explode! It’ll fizzle. And they were right again, because the US had given up on the Thin Man design of gun-type plutonium bombs.

      And then, three days later, Nagasaki blew up. Panic? PANIC! What did the scientists miss? How did the Americans do that? Their propaganda says they have hundreds more of these things? Might that actually be true? What if… what if these were just the opening salvos in a new bombing campaign? What if dozens of Japanese cities are going to be flattened each and every week? What if the Americans can kill more than 40 million Japanese *before the first GI wades ashore*?

      There were still generals who wanted to fight on. But, Hirohito, who had at least tacitly supported the war up to this point, blinked. He saw the possibility of not just his own death, but the destruction of his throne at the hands of furious peasant rebels. He would go down in history as the last Emperor of Japan. And he had something the generals didn’t have–a Golden Parachute. You see, while individual Japanese soldiers had surrendered on occasion, no unit had. The US knew this all too well. If the Emperor was deposed, how many officers would order their men to fight to the death wherever they were, rather than lay down their arms? Who else *other* than the Emperor could issue an order to the IJA to surrender en masse, and expect that order to be largely obeyed? So, despite their official demand for “unconditional surrender”, US diplomats had secretly offered Hirohito a side deal, one that would keep him alive, and just as important, keep the throne intact.

      Hirohito took the deal. He turned against the generals who wanted to fight on, joined the previously-weak peace faction, and went off to make the famous recording that, when broadcast over the radio, was the first time that almost any Japanese had heard their ruler’s voice. And even then, he almost got deposed in the attempt; several hardliners launched a coup attempt that, while it was unlikely to have ever succeeded, was ironically stopped in its tracks by a nighttime bombing raid that had placed sentries on full alert.

      But the true irony is that Hirohito had, in essence, bluffed himself into believing US propaganda. There were no hundreds of bombs. While the US *had* come up with something new–the implosion-type bomb, allowing the use of the much-faster-to-make plutonium, there was no assembly line, and every bomb was essentially hand-made. There was a third warhead already built, which could have been installed into a bomb and dropped in another week or so. After that, there would be a small gap, and then atomic bombs would have been completed roughly 10 days apart, or three a month. Japan might have held out until the Kyushu invasion that fall, and depending on how *that* had gone, might have stuck it out until the invasion of Honshu in the spring, leading to millions of deaths and an uncertain future. Not to mention the orders already in place to murder all surviving POWs on the day of the invasion, or the hundred thousand or so of Asian civilians being murdered by their Japanese occupiers every month. Or, the millions of Japanese the Emperor and his generals were more than willing to sacrifice for their goals.

      I wonder, sometimes, after he learned the truth about the Manhattan Project, just what, exactly, Hirohito thought about that.

      Oh, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria? Go watch the video. Giangreco covers the plans that Japan had to deal with them (basically, lure them in, and then cut them off from their supply lines with a counterattack from mountainous Korea) quite well. Would it have worked, against a Soviet offensive ultimately supported only by the logistics of the Trans-Siberian Railroad? I don’t know enough to say.

    62. Stephen St. Onge Says:

              You want some idea how the invasion of Japan would have gone, read David Westheimer’s novel LIGHTER THAN A FEATHER.  It’s an alternate history novel in which the Manhattan Project doesn’t work in time, and the ground invasion takes place.  Millions die on both sides.

    63. Delilah Says:

      Oh FFS, opposition to Japan was NOT racist. It was based on the very real, exhaustively documented, barbaric actions of a militaristic imperial (and supremely racist) Japanese society. The Allies fought Japan, not because of WHO they WERE, but because of WHAT they DID. As Sgt Mom relates in detail, the Japanese did horrific things to everyone they encountered — military and civilian, young and old, natives and expats, medical personnel and soldiers. Any country that did what Japan did in just one country would be unanymously condemned by the whole world. The mere fact that Japan has a clearly defined ethnic/racial composition has nothing to do with it.

    64. William A Befort Says:

      It should be remembered, if only for context, that there was an enormously profitable and omnipresent prostitution industry catering to American servicemen in occupied Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines during the quarter-century after WW2, before rising Asian prosperity gradually altered the bargaining situation. The US armed services fostered the industry by paying servicemen at rates that made them inordinately wealthy in local terms. US-Asian relations might have been much improved by maintaining our citizen-soldiers at an economic level closer to that of the Asians they lived among, and the servicemen themselves might have benefited if the difference had been banked for their return. The laissez-faire approach meant that ordinary Asians and ordinary Americans learned over many years to regard each other chiefly as sellers and buyers in the vice trade, not a flattering perspective from either end.

    65. Kirk Says:

      @William A Befort,

      Yeah, the sex trade is a disturbing feature of post-WWII overseas experience for many Americans. It had a lot of bad, morally questionable features to it all, on all sides and from all directions.

      However… There were some positive features to it. You’re not bloody likely to keep treating the locals badly when you’re making love to them, and while it may be something that produces one-sided relations, the fact is, you come to see them as human.

      Do note that the Palestinians complain that the Israelis don’t see them as human because Israeli troops eschew the rape and pillage thing when operating in Palestinian territories. There’s something deeply rooted in the psychology of it all, when you get down to it–Conquered populations usually roll over pretty quickly, if they’re smart, and make nice with the conquerors, breeding up a healthy next generation of half-breeds. Everywhere you look and this mechanism has been short-circuited, you have these unending conflicts that become functionally immortal. Look at India and the various conquerors who came in, enshrined breeding with their own as caste, and see how that ends in terms of damping out the conflict.

      I’m of a mind that had there not been plenty of boy-girl congress going on, then both the occupation of Germany and that of Japan would have been far less congenial and a lot less peaceful. It’s hard to hold a grudge when your grandkids are hybrids with the conquerors…

    66. MidwestObserver Says:

      One more addition to the book references

      “Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan 1945-1947”
      D. M. Giangreco

      Nonfiction. Covers the strategic calculation and policy decisions/tradeoffs regarding the endgame with Japan. In addition to the purely campaign driven analysis, there is a lot of good insight into the likely effects on the domestic political environment.

      This has been around for a while and is still available in print. I first encountered it about six-seven years ago and, IIRC, I suspect Trent Telenko has made references (either direst or oblique) to this as source documentation for his periodic assessments of WW2 strategy.

    67. MCS Says:

      A minor point: All the points of the last few comments have been hashed over and more here already. Here is a very good place to start:
      https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/author/trent-telenko/

      Here’s another good book that goes into some detail about the maneuverings of the various sides in Japan between the bombs and the actual surrender:
      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22928886-last-to-die

    68. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

      About four years ago, I bought a 1:6 scale action figure of Buck Rodger’s pal, Wilma Deering.Ever since I posted my review of the figure, I have had Amazon think I am Wilma Deering, not the purchaser of one, as about half of my reviews get credited to Wilma Deering. So anyhow, they did it to me again, so I did post a review. I have given up trying to correct them. I wonder what would happen if some actually named Wilma Deering reads your book? Would she be credited to SCOTTtheBADGER? TURKEY TROTS TO WATER THE WORLD WONDERS!