WWII, Japan’s blessing in (major) disguise…
**WARNING, POLITICALLY INCORRECT MATERIAL AHEAD…… YOU’VE BEEN WARNED**
Okay, before anyone lynches me, I am not advocating war as a road that we should all traverse. War is a, sadly, necessary evil in these and other perilous times. Now that I have gotten all the qualifiers out of the way, I can actually write.
The time period is the 1920’s. WWI, the so called “War to end all others” had been over for only a couple years(since 1918), the spirits of the people were flying (even amidst Prohibition), and the economy was entering the period known as the “Roarin’ 20’s”(think the musical “Chicago”). Little did anyone know that there was a storm brewing. A storm by the name of Adolf Hitler, a former corporal in the Austrian Army. Hitler had something of a bumpy road to get from birth to dictator. Starting out as a paper hanger (which almost nobody really knows what that is anymore anyway), he bacame a corporal in time for WWI, and after a narrow brush with death in combat (an American GI had him in his sights, and took pity of Hitler because he was injured at the time… letting him live) found himself in prison in Germany. We all pretty much know the story from there… writes a book (Mein Kampf), gets let out of prison(for some gooky reason), becomes head of the Nazi party, becomes Chancellor of Germany, and goes on a road trip through Europe. However, we can often forget that there were two other portions to WWII… named Italy and Japan. While Italy didn’t do THAT much in WWII (other than filling bodybags), Japan got rocked during the war.
Misconception No. 1: Pearl Harbor was the first step of the US into World War II. Untrue. The first foray of the United States was officially the Lend/Lease act of the 1930’s, and not the attack of 1941. Basically, England was getting thumped by the Germans during the Nazi air raids on London in the mid-late 30’s. The American politicians were faced with a tough decision… help England by sending in the military, or subject to the voters and stay un-involved in the “European’s War”. The compromise? The Lend/Lease Act. Basically it gave Congress the authority to lend or lease US military equipment and personel to people fighting the Nazis. Later the language was revised to include any people’s standing up against a foreign aggressor. This act led to several actions by the government, including the buliding of an American airbase on English turf, that also allowed the politicians to claim that we were not part of the War. In this light, Pearl Harbor was more of a “Welcome Wagon” to WWII than it was an unprovoked attack… think of it as an explosive “Thank you” card.
Misconception No. 2: Japan only planned to attack Pearl Harbor and were surprised at how dosey the response was. Also untrue. The original plan tied to the Pearl Harbor, was that Japan would send multiple waves of fighters to crush the entire naval facility(boats and air fighters included) at Pearl Harbor, effectively cutting off the entire Pacific Command from any form of retaliation. However, the original idea also consisted of the Japanese embassy delivering an ultimatum declaring war, and one hour later the attack would hit the harbor. Unfortunately for Japan, the ultimatum wasn’t delivered on time (due to difficulty translating the ultimatum to English), so the attack was halted after the first wave. Realizing that they had provoked the American populace to action by attacking prior to delivering an ultimatum, the leadership of the Japanese command figured that prudence was the better part of valor and began “circling the wagons” if you will. This was a rather untimely error, because the Pearl Harbor facility was still a functional base. The US Navy began cycling hardware from San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco out to the then-US Protectorate of Hawaii. From Hawaii, the military began cutting a bloody swath across the ocean, from open water naval sorties, to the island hopping of troops. Midway, Iwo Jima, and the Philippines, just to name a couple. All of this combat was to serve one purpose… to get aircraft carriers close enough to be able to hit the Japanese mainland. This is where the story gets interesting.
At the time of WWII, Japan’s cities were mostly made of wood, or some kind of thatched reed… to the point that Tokoyo (dang that’s a funny word) was called a “wooden city”. The admirals of the Navy viewed this as an opportunity to try out one of their newly invented “toys”… firebombing. The idea of using fire as a projectile was not a new idea (the greeks and Assyrians did it back in the BCE era), but the idea of a bomb who’s main effect was to set stuff on fire instead of blowing it up was. By the time Japan surrendered to US forces, 15 of Japan’s biggest economic centers including Tokyo and Okinawa had been at least 50% destroyed by the firebombing. This not a commonly known or talked about fact.
The average person knows about Hiroshima… and a select few would be able to name Nagasaki as well. It’s only the few who really know their stuff that would have been able to tell you about the massive fire campaign that started it all off. The question I’m sure many are asking is something along the lines of, how is this a blessing? Consider this, o reader, when is the last time you bought something produced by Sony, Nintendo or Toshiba? By leveling most of the country, Japan was forced to rebuild. Because of the time period (1950), there were many new building materials available other than wood, not to mention many advances in the realms of architecture (Art deco being one of them). When the war ended, there was also a big push for democracy, leading to the current government and the free market economy to be found there.
It’s hard to think that just fifty years ago, Japan was pretty much a broken, war-torn country… now it is one of the wealthiest and most modern nations around. They went from a somewhat lackluster empire (after losing Manchuria to China), to one of the leading scientific giants to be found on earth (they are seriously attempting to make the world’s first Android, need I say more?). I kind of wonder if what is going on now is somehow God’s sense of justice. He gave Japan a choice to oppose Hitler and stand for the Jews, they made a wrong choice, got thumped in the war, and now they are recieving crazy financial provision. Plus hey, Tokyo is featured in almost every half-decent/nostalgic Godzilla movie ever made… that’s gotta count for something, right? Anyway, that’s my history lesson.