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

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    A chain of serendipity. If the Japanese found us first and destroyed our carriers it would the reverse. Japan would have Midway and a clear path to our west coast. We would have had to settle and that is what they wanted.
    I don't think the Japanese every had it in mind to attack the US West Coast or invade America. They just wanted to do their imperial thing in what they considered their sphere of influence. They did it brutally, but they were following similar imperial conquests and actions from Europe. This wasn't long after the European colonies were all over Asia. Laos (France), Cambodia (France), Philippines (Spain and then USA), Hong Kong (England), etc. In southeast Asia only Thailand resisted ever being "colonized" by the Europeans. Japan was following suit and wanted to create their own empire. Nationalism grew there as it had previously elsewhere and they became brutal and did horrible things to those who resisted their rule; especially but not exclusively the Chinese. America got themselves involved (not long after pulling out of their own occupation of Philippines; an occupation they took again after the war) and set out to cut off resources from Japan. It wasn't a humanitarian action by the US. It was their own power play. Japan took a gamble and struck out at the USA to break free that resource flow, and attacked pearl harbour (which is nowhere near the continental US) and within what Japan considered its sphere of influence.

    Had America stayed out Asia, Japan would not have attacked America. It was never a threat to the USA itself. It was a threat to other Asian countries and "US interests". The war ended when the USA bombed large centres of the civilian population of Japan, turning human beings into ash, not once, but twice.

  2. Top | #42
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly_Penguin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    A chain of serendipity. If the Japanese found us first and destroyed our carriers it would the reverse. Japan would have Midway and a clear path to our west coast. We would have had to settle and that is what they wanted.
    I don't think the Japanese every had it in mind to attack the US West Coast or invade America. They just wanted to do their imperial thing in what they considered their sphere of influence. They did it brutally, but they were following similar imperial conquests and actions from Europe. This wasn't long after the European colonies were all over Asia. Laos (France), Cambodia (France), Philippines (Spain and then USA), Hong Kong (England), etc. In southeast Asia only Thailand resisted ever being "colonized" by the Europeans. Japan was following suit and wanted to create their own empire. Nationalism grew there as it had previously elsewhere and they became brutal and did horrible things to those who resisted their rule; especially but not exclusively the Chinese. America got themselves involved (not long after pulling out of their own occupation of Philippines; an occupation they took again after the war) and set out to cut off resources from Japan. It wasn't a humanitarian action by the US. It was their own power play. Japan took a gamble and struck out at the USA to break free that resource flow, and attacked pearl harbour (which is nowhere near the continental US) and within what Japan considered its sphere of influence.

    Had America stayed out Asia, Japan would not have attacked America. It was never a threat to the USA itself. It was a threat to other Asian countries and "US interests". The war ended when the USA bombed large centres of the civilian population of Japan, turning human beings into ash, not once, but twice.
    Not twice, but hundreds of times. Between January 1944 and August 1945, the U.S. dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Japanese cities, according to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, which estimated that 333,000 people were killed. Japanese estimates suggest a death toll closer to 900,000.

    The two atomic bombs killed a 'mere' 120,000 people between them.

    The effects of bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not notably more horrific than the effects on Tokyo and other Japanese cities; They were remarkable mainly because of the relatively tiny number of US aircraft that were needed to achieve those effects.

    On a "dollars per enemy casualty" basis, the two atomic bombings were by far the most expensive military actions in history - even if you consider civilian casualties as being 'enemy' casualties (which by 1944, all nations engaged in WWII did).

    It's debatable whether the civilian population deserved it; But there's no doubt that the nation of Japan did - and the distinction between the two would have been alien to those in charge at the time, on both sides.

    Imperial Japan started a fight in the mid 1930s; Fought using increasingly dirty tactics for a decade, dragged in more and more enemies over that time, and got soundly beaten. They have no justification whatsoever for placing blame for their defeat, nor for any horrors visited upon them in its establishment, on anyone other than themselves. It was their choice to go to war; Their choice to fight it without regard for the niceties implied by the Geneva Conventions and by historical precedent; and their choice to drag the neutral USA into the conflict as an additional enemy at the end of 1941.

    Fuck 'em.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    It's debatable whether the civilian population deserved it
    Is it really? How can you argue that the civilian population of Japan deserved it? Do you think they voted in either the Emperor or the Military (who many believe operated without much control by the Emperor)?

    But there's no doubt that the nation of Japan did - and the distinction between the two would have been alien to those in charge at the time, on both sides.
    Doesn't make it good. Doesn't make the US not responsible for what was done to Japanese civilians. Its easy to look back on this through rose coloured glasses when your kids aren't the ones being turned to ash.

    Imperial Japan started a fight in the mid 1930s; Fought using increasingly dirty tactics for a decade, dragged in more and more enemies over that time, and got soundly beaten. They have no justification whatsoever for placing blame for their defeat, nor for any horrors visited upon them in its establishment, on anyone other than themselves.
    They were an awful regime for sure. Doesn't mean the Japanese people deserved what they got. The Japanese people were their first and last victims.

    It was their choice to go to war
    Not the people's choice. The military's and possibly the Emperor's (though that is unclear).

    Their choice to fight it without regard for the niceties implied by the Geneva Conventions and by historical precedent
    The Geneva conventions sure. But historical precedent? Hardly. They were following on the heels of European empires that had spread to Asia. Japan never made it as far as conquering and "colonizing" or enslaving Europeans for their resources.

    and their choice to drag the neutral USA into the conflict as an additional enemy at the end of 1941.
    The USA was not neutral in the pacific. The USA had occupied the Philippines (taking it after the Spanish had occupied it) and were choking the resources off of Japan. Pearl Harbour wasn't entirely unpredictable or unprovoked.

    Fuck 'em
    And the US of the time with them. The US who before then didn't bother to come fight with the allies in Europe against the Nazis.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly_Penguin View Post

    Is it really? How can you argue that the civilian population of Japan deserved it? Do you think they voted in either the Emperor or the Military (who many believe operated without much control by the Emperor)?

    Doesn't make it good. Doesn't make the US not responsible for what was done to Japanese civilians. Its easy to look back on this through rose coloured glasses when your kids aren't the ones being turned to ash.

    Imperial Japan started a fight in the mid 1930s; Fought using increasingly dirty tactics for a decade, dragged in more and more enemies over that time, and got soundly beaten. They have no justification whatsoever for placing blame for their defeat, nor for any horrors visited upon them in its establishment, on anyone other than themselves.
    They were an awful regime for sure. Doesn't mean the Japanese people deserved what they got. The Japanese people were their first and last victims.

    It was their choice to go to war
    Not the people's choice. The military's and possibly the Emperor's (though that is unclear).

    Their choice to fight it without regard for the niceties implied by the Geneva Conventions and by historical precedent
    The Geneva conventions sure. But historical precedent? Hardly. They were following on the heels of European empires that had spread to Asia. Japan never made it as far as conquering and "colonizing" or enslaving Europeans for their resources.

    and their choice to drag the neutral USA into the conflict as an additional enemy at the end of 1941.
    The USA was not neutral in the pacific. The USA had occupied the Philippines (taking it after the Spanish had occupied it) and were choking the resources off of Japan. Pearl Harbour wasn't entirely unpredictable or unprovoked.

    Fuck 'em
    And the US of the time with them. The US who before then didn't bother to come fight with the allies in Europe against the Nazis.
    What a weird mindset you have.

    It is war itself that is 'evil' (but often a better option than not responding to attack) regardless of the ethnicity or nationality of those involved. Also through history, it is the civilians of the country being invaded that suffer most be they be Asian, European, African, etc.

    Do you have some specific ethnic hatred of peoples of European descent?

    Both the Nazis and Japanese were despicable regimes. Both committed unbelievable, inhumane atrocities against those they conquered. Personal opinion is that the Japanese were worse because they spared no one. The U.S. took so long to become involved because the people of the U.S. were overwhelmingly pacifists. It was the Japanese attack and Germany declaring war against the U.S. that brought them into the war.

    The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (demonstrating to the Japanese the power of a new weapon) was a means to persuade them to end the war. This would avoid the necessity of a land invasion in which many more Japanese would die than in those two cities since the Japanese people were determined to fight to the death. Sorta like the Churchillian fighting them on the beaches with pitchforks.

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    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    Japanese cultural norms produced much of the brutality of their soldiers. If we in the USA have a 'gun culture' or a 'rape culture,' Japan of the time can be said to have a 'war culture.'

    Individual Japanese civilians bear as much responsibility for upholding their imperialist culture as typical British civilians have for their colonial culture. How much is that?

    I will note, however, in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, there were sizable resistance movements against their regimes, which saved many lives and contributed greatly to Allied victory. I know of no such movement in Japan.

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    From the actions of Japanese civilians and soldiers in the island campaigns if the Empower ordered it the Japanese people would have fought to the last in an invasion. IMO an invasion would have meant the end of Japanese culture.

    Tokyo was taken off the atomic bomb target list with an eye to post war Japan.

    IMO the use of atomic weapons saved the Japanese culture from extinction. There were little left in the way of military and industrial targets. An invasion would have been preceded by booming the country to rubble.

    There are films of Japanese men, women, and children so convinced by Japanese propaganda that if captured they would be they jumped off a sea cliff. Used to be on the net. Probably taken down with our current political correctness.

    When the people heard the empower speak about surrender by radio over public speakers they bowed and kneeled.

    It all hinged on the American carriers. They were not at Pearl Harbor. There is a long running conspiracy theory that FDR kept the carriers away and allowed the Japanese to strike. The conspiracy theory says the Brits sighted the Japanese fleet and notified Washington.

    For a while Enterprise was the only carrier in the region. If all 3 carriers hand been lost at Midway it wood gave been game over.

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    Someone should start a thread Historical America Bashing: Moral Hindsight.

    The end of WWII shows what sets apart modern western systems form historical antecedents.

    The USA was the standing superpower with atomic weapons. We did not enslave, exact tribute, enact retribution, or inflict mass punishment much like the Japanese and Germans did, as well as the Russians to a degree post war. They raped, pillaged, plundered, and enslaved. A great many Germans disappeared into Russia post war.

    We rebuilt Japan, Germany, and helped Europe in general. We did not dictate. We opposed Soviet imperialism. The result Japan, Italy, and Germany are free states with our general liberal police values. Totally out of character for historical victors.

    If you look at the USA from an idealistic black and white morality then nothing good will emerge. But then compared to what?

    Typical anti American speak. Make excuses for Japan and Germany and make a moral case against the USA. Paint the use of atomic weapons as a horrific crime whil ignoring the unsepakble Japnese cruelty in China.

    To this day the lack of a clear apology from Japan is a very sensitive issue in China. When conservatives came to power in Japan post war the history books for schools was sanitized. The emperor who had been spared prosecution painted himself as the savior of Japan, he kept communism at bay.

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    is well known history that post WWI the American people were isolationist with no interest in getting drawn into European affairs. Joe Kennedy Sr as ambassador to England thought we should let them fight it out and then deal with whoever won out.

    FDR knew what was coming and within constraints was able to start things in motion. The B17 and B29 I believe were both on the drawing board before Pearl Harbor as were new Naval fighters.

    Carrier development was in full swing.

    Churchill's speeches in the USA are credited with changing political views. He played up his American wife and our common cultural roots. They should be online.

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    Senior Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    is well known history that post WWI the American people were isolationist with no interest in getting drawn into European affairs. Joe Kennedy Sr as ambassador to England thought we should let them fight it out and then deal with whoever won out.

    FDR knew what was coming and within constraints was able to start things in motion. The B17 and B29 I believe were both on the drawing board before Pearl Harbor as were new Naval fighters.

    Carrier development was in full swing.

    Churchill's speeches in the USA are credited with changing political views. He played up his American wife and our common cultural roots. They should be online.
    As an aside, the B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber was developed by the US Army Air Force in the mid Thirties and was our standard operational heavy bomber at the start of WWII. The name, Flying Fortress, referred not to its defensive armament, as is often thought and reported. Actually the initial models had relatively light defensive armament. Rather, the name came from the fact that the plane was developed to protect our shores from foreign navies. It was thought of as a coastal fortress that could fly. In the early years of its deployment there was much ballyhoo over its ability to intercept ships far out at sea. So actually it was designed to bolster America’s isolationist tendencies.

    The specs for the B-29 “Super Fortress” were released for bidding in December 1939. Whether that was in reaction to the start of WWII, three of four months earlier, I can’t say.

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    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. First, Pearl Harbour isn't on the US mainland, but nearly half way around the world. After the Spanish, who had conquered the Philippines and made them a colony, faded in power, the US came in and invaded the Philippines. Japan also had its eye on this power vacuum and Japan had agreed to the US taking the Philippines in return for the US not objecting to Japan annexing Korea. Eventually the Philippines won its independence from the US, and Japan became bolder in wanting to conquer Asia. The war in WW2 happened because the US cut off Japanese supplies, Hitler wanted to distract the US from interfering too much in the Atlantic so supported Japan, and Japan saw an opportunity to break the US holding it back, so Japan gabled and attacked Pearl Habour.

    The Japanese goal was to create an Asian empire, that would span from China to Eastern Russia to the Philippines. But I've found no indication that the Japanese nationalists (nasty as they were) wanted anything to do with the USA other than to get the USA to stay our of their affairs. Is this true, or did I miss something? Is anyone aware of plans of the Japanese to attack American cities? Or was this mostly a resource war for America? If not, then this seems pretty relevant when people try to justify dropping the atom bomb on Japan. Why wasn't it dropped on Germany? Maybe I've got the timeline mixed up? I'm not a WW2 historian.

    One other thing I learned was that after the Japanese conquered the Philippines, Filipino underground would set off signal fires and radio the US fleet about Japanese naval positions. Their thanks was being invaded yet again by the US after the war, and then eventually getting independence again.

    I also learned that the Emperor of Japan wasn't as much of a top down director as I thought, and some argue he was merely ceremonial. It was the Admirals and Generals in the nationalistic military that were primarily responsible for the atrocities committed by Japan (especially against Chinese) and they managed to control things primarily because the law dictated the cabinet must have a minister of defence who is an active admiral / general, so by not providing one unless they were happy with all other other posts filled, and had effective control over the government, they could shut the government down. The civilian government was thereby shut down, and were also largely kept in the dark regarding the nasty things the military was doing outside the country (that's probably true of most militaries though, including the US)
    A threat? List all the nations that have unleashed nuclear weaponry upon civilian populations like we did on Japan. Who is where militarily now? Who drops a bomb every 12 minutes? Who has on the order of 1000 military bases and installations across the globe?

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