Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by Skipper, Oct 24, 2016.
I didn't realize we fought Chiang and Stalin too.
For the men of the Zuikaku.
I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, these are men facing death. That saddens me. On the other hand, they knowingly served a vile government that encouraged violence toward their own people and their captives. That angers me. Which one is on top depends on the day.
The thread title may have been ill chosen but the sinking of a grand ship is none the less a traumatic experience for her crew what ever their nationality. Further I am not aware of any gross war crimes committed by her crew or the ship, at least none worse than those committed by Allied ships in other theaters.
Some context is required I think that does not excuse the very real war crimes of Imperial Japan during WW II, but places blame where it properly belongs.
Less than 100 years before Pearl Harbor was struck by the Kido Butai, Japan's physical isolation had created a country that had more in common with Richard the Lion Heart's England than it did with a world that had progressed scientifically, militarily, economically and culturally some 800 years. Commodore Perry's warships ended Japan's splendid isolation and spurred a crash program to emulate the west in all its worst aspects while trying to maintain as much of their feudal culture as possible.
They built tremendous industry and a military second to none in their part of the world, but did so at considerable cost. No Renaissance, no Age of Reason, no Shakespeare or Dickens, no Rights of Man, nothing that greatly changed the cultural or spiritual nature of the common Japanese man or woman. They were either serfs working the land or wage slaves feeding the industrial beast's. Education, except for a very small percentage to go to college, was terribly rudimentary and was suffused with a militaristic and jingoistic bent that would make Goebbels weep with envy.
Japan had several generations to create a modern compliant and obedient professional warrior class to replace the Samurai that preceded it. The common soldier was horribly brutalized by his own superiors long before they ever saw a enemy in the field. Taught death in battle was their ultimate expression of duty to state and Emperor. There was no concept of Citizen Soldier as with America and to some extent other countries. No history of political dissent, no concept that those who ruled might in the slightest way be fallible or mistaken in what they demanded of those who took the Imperial coin.
Japan had a veneer of a modern civilized nation, but only the veneer.
The Imperial soldier (and most atrocities were committed by the Army) went into battle with a minimal education, heavily infused with a philosophy rank with racism and jingoistic rhetoric. Told they served the will and destiny of a semi divine Emperor and provided with limited logistics that all but ensured they make up the difference from any local population they encountered. While some commanders attempted to control their troops, this was far from the norm, indeed orders often called for draconian acts to be committed, while in other cases a blind eye was turned to bestial acts as a 'reward'.
There is no denying war crimes and crimes against humanity were done in the name of Imperial Japan, but many of these acts were committed by men wearing Scarlet coats or by troops standing under Red, White and Blue banners two hundred, or even a hundred years before to create similar empires or in the name of Manifest Destiny. Timing can not excuse acts entirely of course and the Japanese leadership knew better, but chose to send such men into battle they knew would act as they did, whether they were ordered to or not. Properly the bulk of the blame lay there.
What I see in these pictures is men proud of their ship and loyal to their Emperor. Were they ill used, probably, but most knew no better and those who did were gutless.
Pearl Harbor wasn't really treacherously attacked. You could (and you can today) deliver the declaration of war to a country and then bomb it to smithereens ten milliseconds later.
It seems some people think a declaration is needed so their country could properly prepare for war, assume a graceful position like some Jedi knight, and then start fighting. Nothing further from the truth.
It's main role is to properly inform the other side and, more importantly the neutral countries, that from now on they will be burdened with additional responsibilities (detailed in the Hague Conventions) and that's all.
In the case of Pearl Harbor the Japanese were late with their declaration, and some say they wanted it that way.
But we know as fact (and it was known then) that a timely declaration of war wouldn't change anything - Pearl Harbor still would be destroyed as it was destroyed.
Regardless how the Japs did it, or wanted it to play out, they were pretty chicken shit about the whole Pearl Harbor thing. And it sure did come back to bite them in the ass. In spades.
International law required a declaration of war prior to initiating hostilities. Japan didn't even make an attempt at declaring war prior to attacking PH. So indeed it was "treacherous". Had they declared war on say the 6th of Dec PH may have been better defended (or not). In any case it was hardly "destroyed".
As far as I know they were trying to deliver the note but weren't successful (some say they wanted it to be unsuccessful).
Anyway they could have delivered it a minute before their planes entered the Pearl Harbour aerospace and it would be legit. The declaration of war couldn't save Pearl Harbour - this fact makes it pointless, and equally pointless allocating "treacherous" or "non-treacherous" labels.
A declaration of war is required, and those responsible for the (intentional or not) failure should have been punished as a warning to others, that all the laws of war are to be respected. But this one is a formal one, it's military role is non-existent.
The "note" as you call it was not a declaration of war. It was a declaration that the current talks were at an impasse.
Not really. Look at the governing agreement. It's listed here:
The launching of the aircraft would be a pretty clear commencement of hostilities. Some would argue that launching the raid constituted such and it would have some merit.
That very much depends on when the declaration was made and how the US reacted to it, however it's lack does indeed mean that the labeling the raid "treacherous" is reasonable. Such a label would be accurate even if the US forces had been ready and turned back the raid. So even if your "fact" was indeed a fact it would not be pointless.
I don't agree with this. In Togo's book "The Cause of Japan", he claims that the delay in delivering the note was not intentional. As Foreign Minister he tried to do what he could to avoid war. Unfortunately, there were so many factions in Japanese government it's almost impossible to divine who was really in charge. Ministers were known to change their minds depending upon whom they were speaking to. The diplomats in Washington never knew who to follow.
Although there is nothing there about the time between a reasoned declaration of war and the war itself.
On the international waters anybody can launch their planes. Especially that military deception, including flying a false flag - so called ruses of war were/are explicitly allowed.
It's actually no different than the American bombers with nuclear weapons flying along the Soviet borders during the cold war, and ready to cross the border at any time.
The point is a properly prepared attack makes the declaration of war useless as an early warning tool.
You appeared to have plenty of time to preach to others. A more nuanced and open view towards history leads to a better understanding of it. I suppose if your goal is to feel good about yourself and country then you're on the right track, but I think we'd be better off and less apt to repeat history if you could move beyond that. One can have pride and empathy.
Then don't preach how others should feel or think.
@R.A.L & G.801
I have just expressed my own personal opinion on the subject. Who is on the pulpit here?
You are Preacher...
Don't recall your first post in this thread?
Hmmm...Telling Skip what to think...
Let me guess...That for your next trick, you will promise to make no promises.
OK Takao, You have deserved a "salute" for your meticulous remark!
My dear friend,
I am terribly sorry for correcting you in my post #4 . It wasn't my intention to interfere with your personal opinion.
I hope you will accept my sincere apologies.
Any ship sinking with an attendant loss of lives will qualify as a tragedy. As to your qualifications, I already know something about you and your leanings. Don't make it too obvious?
Let me make a parallel, not a parallel to any previously stated opinion - I am making a parallel to the idea behind this conversation. So don't think anyone's views are challenged whatsoever. I don't intend to oppose any particular view expressed here but I just open another similar question:
is the death of Adolf Hitler a tragedy? and ...
Is the death of any of his followers a tragedy?
I know: it isn't. I am not asking anyone to share my opinion. I just exercise here the freedom of choice and expression, whether you like it or not. I simply don't have any sympathy for bastards, of any kind.
So, in your opinion, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff was not a tragedy...
Nor were the sinkings of the General von Steuben, Cap Arcona, any of the Japanese "Hell Ships", Awa Maru, etc.
How about the sinkings of Allied ships that resulted in large losses of life?