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Pearl Harbor, 5 myths and one "What the . . ."

Discussion in 'Pearl Harbor' started by OpanaPointer, Dec 23, 2008.

  1. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    You know there is no such provision in the attack plan, nor is it necessary to postulate one to believe that Yamamoto was concerned that the 14 part message be delivered on time.

    It's certain that Yamamoto wanted to catch the US carriers at Pearl Harbor, yet he included no provision in the attack plan to do so if it was discovered that they were not there. In fact, exactly that situation occurred and was discovered early enough for Nagumo's carriers to abort the attack, but it didn't happen.

    So just because there was no provision in the attack plan to abort the attack if the 14-part message was not delivered on time it does not prove Yamamoto was not concerned about the issue.
     
  2. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    In fact, it's another mystery. Why was it transmitted at all? Why did the Japanese think it was important that it be delivered before the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    It's obvious someone in the Japanese government or navy thought it important. If not Yamamoto, who? And Why?
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Gaimudaijin, the Japanese Foreign Office, whipped it up and sent off after the Chiefs of Staff okayed it IF it didn't tip the Japanese hand in any way. It was typically Japanese innuendo, "never say anything directly". The "Magic" Background to Pearl Harbor has discussion on the reasoning for sending it.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    What did Yamamoto know about the "14 part message"? Did he assume that it was a declaration of war? Given his time in America that might make some sense. I frankly don't know how well the IJN and the Japanese diplomatic corp communicated.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The only thing that concerned the Japanese High Command about the message was that it was not to tip their hand. (The Gaimudaijin knew better than to tick off the military, they'd seen what a few "off the reservation" officers had done to previous governments.) Logically, then, the message could not have contained information about the commencement of hostilities. So Yamamoto could not have been concerned about it being delivered before the start of the attack because it gave no warning of the attack.
     
  6. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    So why bother to send it at all? Why the apparent urgency? Your reasoning makes no sense.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    The Gaimudaijin insisted that only "cleared" personnel see the message before it was delivered, so they had to use "two-finger" typists, a process which slowed down the delivery. Additionally, the last part of the message was not sent "priority", so it was left with the rest of the mail on the Embassy doorstep, for several hours.

    It was a matter of "face" for the Gaimudaijin, basically a pro forma move. Not something a Westerner would consider smart. The reason they wanted to have it delivered at 1 PM D.C. time was so that it would be just a few minutes prior to the attack and no time for warning messages. But they didn't tell Kurusu & Co. to advise them of the delivery or non-delivery of the message. Without that notification there was no way the attack could have been halted if it wasn't delivered on time. In point of fact, after the "Niitaka Nobore, 12-8" message was sent, there was almost nothing that could have stopped the attack.

    What it boils down to is that Yamamoto didn't have a way to find out if the message had been delivered before the attack, so there was no way he could have stopped it, and, given this, no reason to believe he was worried about the message when he made his plans. So theories that he was upset about the late delivery just don't stand up to analysis.
     
  8. Steve Crandell

    Steve Crandell Member

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    Yamamoto didn't have to make his attack conditional on message delivery to be concerned about it being delivered on time. If he thought it included a declaration of war, he was quite possibly hoping and expecting it would be delivered just before commencement of his attack.

    It's just common sense to think he would be upset later when he found out a declaration of war hadn't preceded his attack. It isn't much of a reach to think he felt dishonored by what occured, but that doesn't mean that he would make his attack dependent on it.

    I'm afraid this falls into the same category of Capt Lindeman on Bismarck supposedly being upset about not being able to pursue PoW. We just have to accept the fact that we will probably never know what really happened.
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I have found no evidence that he even inquired about a declaration of war prior to the attack. Remember, he was a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War, losing a finger-tip on the bridge of Mikasa, so a "fire three times and yell HALT" tradition would have been part of his training.

    I know I can't prove a negative, but I've waited a long time for evidence that he DID give a hoot about a declaration. (And as noted elsewhere, no declaration of war was written until the meeting that convened at 12:33 PM, Honolulu Time. Hard to deliver a message that hasn't been written.
     
  10. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    That ignores the obvious fact that SOMEONE in the Japanese government or military did care, and have a sense of urgency, about sending the 14-part message. It was NOT a declaration of war, nor even a diplomatic message of any substance, so who cared, and why? If the obvious person, Yamamoto didn't care as you theorize, who was it, and why?

    You haven't convinced me that Yamamoto wasn't concerned, since there's at least circumstantial evidence that he was.
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    As I said, the Foreign Office sent the note. The High Command wasn't even concerned about the contents. They just insisted that it not tip their hand. Other than that, it was purely a "diplomatic dance step" and nothing more. Col. Berquist assumed it would be the first step, followed by a formal breaking of relations with the US, and then a declaration of war. The people in D.C. felt they had at least 36 hours from the time they first read the first 13 part of the message. Yamamoto wasn't involved in this, and may not have been informed that it was being sent. Even if he was informed, it would not have changed his plans, only an order from the High Command would have done that. It was and remains an irrelevant footnote to history.
     
  12. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    You still don't get it.

    It's not an irrelevant footnote. SOMEONE in the Japanese government thought it was very important, not only to send the message, but to have it delivered BEFORE the bombs started to fall. And it wasn't just some overeager embassy clerk. Who was it? And what did they expect to accomplish by it? If not Yamamoto, the obvious suspect, then who?

    I find it a compelling mystery and I still think Yamamoto was concerned.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Give me references that show Yamamoto was concerned, please. Also feel free to look over the appropriate volume of The "Magic" Background to Pearl Harbor.
     
  14. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    You, yourself, mentioned "The Reluctant Admiral" (by Hiroyuki Agawa) as one source indicating that Yamamoto was concerned about notifying the Americans before the bombs started falling. Another source, "Target Pearl Harbor" by Michael Slackman, indicates that SOMEONE in the Japanese military or government was concerned. Slackman says that Japanese officers, interrogated after the war, claim it was Hirohito, but he discounts that as whitewash intended to protect the Emperor from accusations of war crimes.

    Nevertheless, last-minute notification obviously did remain important to some Japanese, otherwise, why make such an issue of delivering the 14-part message with such precise timing? Clearly, it wasn't a declaration of war, nor even a warning, so there remains a mystery as to what happened within the Japanese hierarchy, and what was expected to be accomplished, and by WHOM.

    And thank you for your kind permission to read the MAGIC intercepts, but I've already read every one of the transcripts related to the MAGIC intelligence.
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I also pointed out that the Reluctant Admiral was wrong. As for Slackman, what proof does he present. (I don't have my copy with me, sorry.)
    I assume that since you've done such a wonderful job on research this question, unlike my own fumbling attempts, you have a good grip on what Prange says about the issue?
     
  16. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    No. What you pointed out was that Hiroyuki Agawa provided no confirming evicence in the matter of Yamamoto's concern. You cannot really know if he is wrong or not.

    Slackman presents no proof for the assertion that Hirohito was the person who insisted on the 14-part message. In fact, as I mentioned, he discounts it, arguing that it was an artifact of a postwar attempt by surviving Japanese officers to protect Hirohito from war crimes charges.

    Be that as it may, we do know that SOMEONE in the Japanese government or military DID insist on it and went to a great deal of trouble to make sure the 14-part message not only was transmitted, but also delivered just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    That is indisputable because it happened and we have the evidence surrounding the message itself. My question is who, if not Yamamoto (as you seem to believe) and why?

    I do not know, nor do I much care (as Prange has been badly discredited on many points by reecent scholarship) that Prange says anything on the matter; I certainly do not remember reading anything in any of his books on it.

    However, I have just reviewed Paul Dull's "Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy" (page 7) and Dull also asserts that Yamamoto "was led to understand, the attack would occur thirty minutes to an hour after a formal declaration of war." The very fact that the matter was apparently discussed with him leads me to believe it was a matter of some concern.

    Dull does not provide an attribution for this assertion, however, his book was based mostly on Japanese records and he was a careful researcher, so it's possible both he and Agawa based their comments on the same Japanese documents.
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    You've shown that the 14-part message was insignificant, at least as well as I could.

    As for Yamamoto, IF he was concerned, why no mechanism to stop the attack or at least delay it if message wasn't delivered. Being concerned but doing nothing about that concern gives one a good read on how important that concern was.
     
  18. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Hardly. If it was insignificant, why did the Japanese bother to send it? It was definitely important to somebody in the Japanese government or military, otherwise they wouldn't have delayed the destruction of the Purple code machine in the Washington embassy until it could be decoded. Nor would they have gone to so much trouble to try to time the delivery of it just minutes before the attack commenced. Further, according to Dull, it was either discussed with Yamamoto or he, himself, raised the issue during the planning stages, indicating it was an important issue.

    You can pretend it was insignificant if you like, but you can't prove everyone in Japan thought so.

    We've already covered that point. The timing of the delivery of the message, just minutes before the attack commenced, meant that the aircraft would already be approaching Pearl Harbor before it could be known if that part of the plan was successful or not. Therefore there could be no possibility of aborting the attack if it were not. Yamamoto, or whoever insisted on the 14-part message, had to simply trust that the embassy personnel would decode and deliver the message as planned.

    Similarly, it's indisputable that Yamamoto was extremely concerned about catching the US carriers at Pearl Harbor, and we know beyond doubt he was very disappointed when it didn't happen. Yet, there was no provision in Yamamoto's plan to abort the attack if the carriers were not there. Interestingly enough, the Japanese did discover there were no US carriers at Pearl Harbor in time to abort the attack, yet Yamamoto issued no orders to do so.

    So your logic in this issue really doesn't make any sense.
     
  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    What's so hard about the fact that the 14-part message was just a diplomatic ploy and never intended to accomplish anything?


    As for the carriers, Yoshikawa notified Japan they had sailed. The plans allowed for that. I thought you'd read them?
     
  20. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    That's an interesting assertion.

    You mean the Japanese Foreign Office was just kidding around? They just sent the 14-part message on a whim? It would be astonishing to discover the Japanese sent the 14-part message, and in the process risked telegraphing their intent to open hostilities, because some diplomats somewhere were bored and had nothing better to do. I can't believe anyone would seriously suggest such an absurd idea.

    Even "diplomatic ploys" are meant to accomplish something. Nations don't send diplomatic messages just for the hell of it. So what was the purpose behind this "diplomatic ploy"?


    Which says nothing about why Yamamoto didn't include a provision in the plan to abort if the carriers weren't there. After all, he was really concerned that the attack catch them in port. It was you who suggested that he would logically abort the attack if something he was really concerned about didn't eventuate.

    I thought your logic required Yamamoto to include an abort provision in the plan if everything wasn't going as he hoped it would? Your logic still doesn't track, and I'm beginning to wonder if you even understand what was really going on.
     

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