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Thread: Was Japan ever a real threat to the USA in WW2?

  1. Top | #21
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    It is fatuous to think that Japan not attacking Pearl Harbor would have led to the fall of Moscow.
    Indeed it is. That's why I threw it in as an additional premise, not as a consequence.
    I don't even understand why you think the two were related.
    That should have been you cue to re-consider whether what you read was what I intended, then.
    America was giving Lend-Lease aid to the USSR from October 41, and there's no reason to think it was decisive in the defense of Moscow, as things took time to get delivered and deployed.
    Perhaps; Though the Germans came so damn close to capturing Moscow that even the tiniest change in their favour could have been decisive. But I am more thinking about what the Japanese planners would have assumed - at the time that the plans to attack the US were being made, a German victory over the USSR was not a bad assumption to make.
    I've said it before, the Axis lost when Japan chose to invade China instead of waiting and coordinating efforts with Germany to defeat the USSR and British Empire. Both the USSR and the British Empire were intrinsically stronger than their Axis opponents. The only hope the Axis had was to concentrate their forces on them and use what advantages they had to the fullest. Instead, they dissipated their forces on attacking other countries, simultaneously overextending themselves, alienating potential allies, and provoking the United States. It is not far fetched to think that maybe China could have become an Axis power itself, given the anti-communist bent of their leaders, had Germany and Japan had a more coherent and less hypocritical strategy.
    Japan and Germany were in two independent wars; They weren't really one World War until Hitler declared war on the US in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

    Hitler's smart move would have been to declare war on Japan - Citing the Yellow Peril and the temerity of Asians attacking Aryans, or some similar racist shit. That would have been completely consistent with his nutty ideology, and would have kept the two wars separate, to his enormous advantage.

    The US would have crushed Japan, but at the cost of an allied defeat in the European theatre.
    The "Asia for Asians" thing was just propaganda. Most of Japan's victims were asians, and the first country they attacked was one of the few independent Asian countries. US sanctions which people say were 'provoking' to Japan were put in place because of Japan's brutal and unprovoked invasion of China. You might as well say that the sanctions imposed on the USSR after their invasion of Afganistan was a 'provocation.'
    I agree.

    And yes, making apologetics for Imperial Japan is offensive, just as doing so for Nazi Germany. It's too bad you don't understand that. The points of view presented are so distorted, incomplete and inaccurate that I judge they are a product of deliberate misinformation.
    I agree with that too.

  2. Top | #22
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio Parker View Post
    The Japanese were not going to be drawn into war with a Russia. And without them, the Germans could not take Moscow. Stalin stripped the far eastern front to make the Dec ‘41 counteroffensive.

    Also, I’m no scientist but I’ve read that without the electricity generated by damming the Columbia river, the US wouldn’t have been able to produce the aluminum necessary to develop an atomic bomb. So if the US barely had the capacity, it seems unlikely that Germany would have.
    Aluminium isn't necessary to make an atomic bomb.

    It is necessary to make a trans-Pacific bomber aircraft capable of delivering one from the US to Japan. But Germany didn't need to get a bomb that far. London is a lot closer to France than Hiroshima is to Tinian.

    And the Germans were the only people who could build ballistic missiles - the space race was, as Tom Lehrer remarked, made possible by "Good old American know-how, as provided by good old Americans like Dr Wernher von Braun".

  3. Top | #23
    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    Ok, I revise my opinion of your argument from incorrect to having too many differing assumptions to produce a valuable discussion. Germany was close geographically, but not militarily to capturing Moscow. The tanks were literally breaking down and supplies were running out. Meanwhile, the Russians were at the one spot in their vast region where their infrastructure was well developed and troops could be easily transported to. I've mentioned it before, but can repeat that an earlier start probably wouldn't have changed that, as the muddy fall of Russia can be just as hard on vehicles and supply lines as winter. And there's no guarantee that taking Moscow would have put the USSR out of business. The Chinese survived the fall of Nanking, after all.

    As you pointed out, Japan's and Germany's wars were separate, and that was precisely their problem. They failed to cooperate effectively, while the Allies did. Heck, Germany and Italy didn't coordinate together very well, until the Germans essentially took over. I've mentioned that I don't think Germany declaring war on Japan would have changed anything, except perhaps the order the campaigns occurred. Germany was NOT winning at the end of 1941. By then, they had captured western Europe, but failed to defeat either the British Empire or the USSR, and the USA was already giving lend lease aid to both. A delay in bringing the USA into the war with Germany would have only delayed the defeat of Germany, not let them win. The USA, British Empire, and the USSR were all superpowers, while none of the Axis powers were. At the height of the Axis power, the Allies still had a 2.5 to 1 superiority in economic output. Without effective cooperation, the Axis were doomed.

    I'm content with pointing out the flaws of the axis strategy. I don't like to play the 'how could the axis have won' game, as there were so many reasons they lost, and the other players are often distasteful.

  4. Top | #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly_Penguin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Don2 (Don1 Revised) View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly_Penguin View Post
    When I was a child, I thought that the Pacific part of WW2 was about Japan attacking the US unprovoked and trying to conquer the US. I was way off.
    Emphasis added. Where did you hear that?
    In school as a child.
    You must have misheard or misremembered that one. Either that or you could show it is part of a curriculum somewhere.

  5. Top | #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Trade sanctions over Japan in China was hurting Japan. It is like calling the Iran attack on SA unprovoked. It is a response to American sanctions.
    That seems to be a rather liberal interpretation of provocative. The U.S. stopped selling our oil and scrap metal to Japan because we didn't want to supply them with the means to continue their expansion and atrocities they committed on those they conquered. Now if we were sinking their tankers bringing oil from some of the areas they conquered then that would be provocative.
    Japan's motto was 'Asia for Asians'.

    Pearl Harbor was attacked because Japan felt it had no choice. The embargo on US scrap metal among other things was hurting Japan. They have little in the way of resources. I believe the USA was ready getting ready to give the PI independence.

    Before Pearl Harbor FDR authorized Army pilots to quietly resign and fight as mercenaries in China, the American Volunteer Group aka Flying Tigers. They provided crucial short term opposition to the Japanese. Gebneral Chennault.

    Modern Japanese imperialism began in the 19th century with a resurgence of Bushido.

    Were they a threat? From the books I read it could have gone either way. Nimitz rolled the dice at Midway. IMO the great American victory at Midway was in large part due to fortunate lucky timing. Guadalcanal could have gone either way. Halsey saved the day, a largely unsung hero.

    The Japanese were smart, educated, experienced, and motivated. If anything it was overconfidence that got them. They made no provisions for losses and extended war.

    As soon as there were experienced combat pilots the Americans sent them home to train others, A pipeline was created. Once Midway and Marianas Turkey Shoot happened Japan could not replace pilots. They lost air superiority, after that ir was over.
    Our breaking their code so we knew their war plans (where their fleet was deploying, their ruses, traps, and feints) as well as their admirals that were carrying them out didn't hurt either.
    That is what I said, we boxed Japan into a corner. One of the first moves was siezing rubber and oil resources.

    The Pearl Harbor code breakers were important but not crucil. They coud get parts of Japnese communications but not like a book.

    They were small scale and undefunded compared to the British tem with Turing. They cracked Enigma and were able to read German naval communications. It alloed interspets iof subs and cargo to North Africa. They limited usage to avoid making the Germans suspicious.

    At Midway we knew generally where the Japanese were coming from and they knew wehre our carriers would be.

    The important intercept was figuring out Midway was a target and not a deception. They did it by having Midway transmit in the clear their seawater distillers were broken. They intercepted a communication about the distillers and thereby learned the code word for Midway. Brilliant work.

    A little known fact was that a personal rivalry between the jead of the Pearl codebreakers and somebody higher up almost sunk the project.

  6. Top | #26
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    Neither the Germans nor the Japanese were equipped to wage long term war with an equal opponent.

    Macarthur's island hopping strategy worked. Only invade islands that were necessary as a path to Japan and isolate the rest.

    Like Germany Japan could not compete with American and Canadian manufacturing resources untouched by war.

    Japan also underestimated the American will to fight and die. The first torpedo planes and dive bombers that found the Japanese carriers at Midway attacked without hesitation without any fighter support. That initiated the sequence that ked r to the loss of four Japanese carriers and a stunning defeat.

    At Guadalcanal a superior Japanese force was blunted by Marines. The Japanese command at home refused to believe reports on the situation.

  7. Top | #27
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    Ok, I revise my opinion of your argument from incorrect to having too many differing assumptions to produce a valuable discussion. Germany was close geographically, but not militarily to capturing Moscow. The tanks were literally breaking down and supplies were running out. Meanwhile, the Russians were at the one spot in their vast region where their infrastructure was well developed and troops could be easily transported to. I've mentioned it before, but can repeat that an earlier start probably wouldn't have changed that, as the muddy fall of Russia can be just as hard on vehicles and supply lines as winter. And there's no guarantee that taking Moscow would have put the USSR out of business. The Chinese survived the fall of Nanking, after all.

    As you pointed out, Japan's and Germany's wars were separate, and that was precisely their problem. They failed to cooperate effectively, while the Allies did. Heck, Germany and Italy didn't coordinate together very well, until the Germans essentially took over. I've mentioned that I don't think Germany declaring war on Japan would have changed anything, except perhaps the order the campaigns occurred. Germany was NOT winning at the end of 1941. By then, they had captured western Europe, but failed to defeat either the British Empire or the USSR, and the USA was already giving lend lease aid to both. A delay in bringing the USA into the war with Germany would have only delayed the defeat of Germany, not let them win. The USA, British Empire, and the USSR were all superpowers, while none of the Axis powers were. At the height of the Axis power, the Allies still had a 2.5 to 1 superiority in economic output. Without effective cooperation, the Axis were doomed.

    I'm content with pointing out the flaws of the axis strategy. I don't like to play the 'how could the axis have won' game, as there were so many reasons they lost, and the other players are often distasteful.
    Well, differing assumptions are inevitable when discussing a hypothetical.

    Without any assumptions, we can say that Japan was never a threat to the US because Japan was beaten by the US.

    I agree that there are some people whose motives for discussing how the Axis could have win are pretty ugly. But I am unconvinced that it is always a bad idea to have such discussions. There's a difference between alternative history and cheerleading for Nazis.

  8. Top | #28
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    The Pearl Harbor code breakers were important but not crucil. They coud get parts of Japnese communications but not like a book.
    The code breakers understood enough of the Japanese code to know Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's flight schedule on his inspection tour. We used the information to plan and execute an intercept mission where we shot down his aircraft killing him. I'd say that a pretty good knowledge of Japanese code would be required for such a feat - a flight of P-38s dispatched to intercept a specific enemy aircraft several hundred miles inside Japanese controlled area.
    Last edited by skepticalbip; 09-20-2019 at 10:42 AM.

  9. Top | #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    The Pearl Harbor code breakers were important but not crucil. They coud get parts of Japnese communications but not like a book.
    The code breakers understood enough of the Japanese code to know Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's flight schedule on his inspection tour. We used the information to plan and execute an intercept mission where we shot down his aircraft killing him. I'd say that a pretty good knowledge of Japanese code would be required for such a feat - a flight of P-38s dispatched to intercept a specific enemy aircraft several hundred miles inside Japanese controlled area.
    Yes, a well known fact. I believe they used P38 Lightning fighters for the intercept. It was the fastest American interceptor.

    I do not think the Pacific codebreakers were as crucial as the British team regarding the Atlantic and North African campaigns. The Brits cut off Rommel's supplies intercepting cargo ships. The Germans never realized they had been compromised, they considered Enigma unbreakable. That is story of its own.

    The crucial hack in the Pacific was Midway. There was indecision as to whether Midway was a target or a feint. . It was know a Japanese fleet had sailed but there were no sightings. Midway was the turning point. Jaapa lost four main carriers and experienced crews along with a major portion of its naval combat pilots.

    From the book I read on Midway the movie Midway is an accurate rendering of how it all unfolded. Serendipity was part of it.

    Nimitz rolled the dice based on the codebreakers. Literally.

  10. Top | #30
    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    Just because you win a fight with someone, doesn't mean they were never a threat.

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