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The Even Cooler Stuff From [History] Thread

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  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    Kana wrote: »
    That is only a reaaaaally skimpy coverage of the Japanese side of things, but clearly it's getting unwieldily long as it is. Next time, before we talk about the American decision to bomb, I'd like to talk about the phrase "unconditional surrender" and what it meant, and why it became such a major hanging point at the end of the war.

    This was a great read.

    I once found an old book in my grandfather's bookshelf that had a bunch of stories written by WW2 veterans. One of them talked about how Japan was already ready to surrender by the time the a-bombs dropped. I have some vague memory of that story stating that Japan had already communicated their surrender but things got lost in translation. Might be me misremembering the "unconditional surrender" thing.

    If I recall correctly, a Japanese Minister was asked for his stance on the Potsdam Declaration. The response he used would be accurately translated as "No Comment" or "Withholding statement at this time", but was widely reported as "Ignoring it", which may have played into fears that they're going to fight to the death.

    This is the so-called "mokusatsu" statement. Mokusatsu (黙殺) literally means to "kill with silence", but a number of revisionist historians, most notably Gar Alperovitz, have argued that it can more accurately translated as "no comment". They argue that Prime Minister Suzuki's use of the phrase was thus noncommital but seized upon by the American government as an excuse to claim that the Japanese had rejected the Potsdam Declaration. This is important as the traditional revisionist argument is that the Japanese were desperately trying to surrender at the time that we dropped the bomb. (Hasegawa, who has been mentioned a few times here, is different in that while he also argues that the US primarily dropped the bombs because of the Soviets, he does not argue that the Japanese were actively trying to surrender.)

    This argument is sheer nonsense.

    First off, there were in fact, two mokusatsu statements. The Japanese government held a meeting a few hours after receiving the Declaration and decided to release an edited version of the text and make no other comments. Suzuki said during this meeting that the government should "mokusatsu" the Declaration. This leaked to the press, who accordingly included the statement when they printed the the edited text of the Declaration. Call this the first mokusatsu statement. This noncommittal stance really pissed off the military, so at another meeting (held the following day) it was decided to make a public rejection.

    Thus Suzuki made his second mokusatsu statement at a press conference: "I believe the Joint Proclamation by the three countries is nothing but a rehash of the Cairo Declaration. As for the government, it does not find any important value in it, and there is no other recourse but to mokusatsu it entirely and resolutely fight for the successful conclusion of this war." Just look at the plain text of the statement, it's frankly shocking that anyone could argue that it was anything other than a rejection. Which shouldn't be a surprise, as this wasn't an off-the-cuff statement by Suzuki. It was a prepared statement written under direct military supervision.

    BTW, another Suzuki quote from the week after that public rejection of the Declaration? "For the enemy to say something like that means circumstances have arisen that force them also to end the war. That is why they are talking about unconditional surrender. Precisely at a time like this, if we hold firm, then they will yield before we do. It is not necessary to stop fighting just because they broadcast their declaration. You advisers may ask me to reconsider, but I don't think there is any need to stop [the war]." So he wasn't exactly conflicted about what stance he wanted to take on the issue.

    I wrote a paper on this topic when I was in grad school and was really shocked when I realized how weak the argument was given how widespread it is. I guess it's just a testament to how influential Alperovitz's Atomic Diplomacy was.

    KanaRMS OceanicElldrenKnuckle DraggerElvenshaeNSDFRand
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    I am learning more about Japan's surrender and the end of WWII from this thread than I did from all the history courses and History Channel shows I've had so far in my life. You guys are awesome!

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Yeah, if the Japanese leadership had one cardinal sin, it wasn't that they were evil war crime condoning Imperialists, (though some of them were) it's that they were criminally incompetent at the end of the war. The military was off in a homicidal fantasyland of samurai glory, while the civilians were all unwilling to publicly admit what they already had acknowledged in private months ago. They cared more about saving face than saving their country. Bombs are falling across Japan and Japan's leaders just... dithered.

    Though to be fair, some of the officer core even rebelled against the voice of the emperor by the end. A mere cabinet member who publicly advocated surrender would've been disappeared within the day.

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Thpugh to be fair to Alperovitz, Japan's public vows to keep fighting were pretty accurately considered to be nothing but bluster by the state department, who had a far more accurate idea of Japan's internal politics thanks to cracking all of Japan's diplomatic codes. Japan had already been sending out semi-official peace feelers out for weeks before Potsdam.

    Of course it's also not unreasonable for America to be like, "fuck your diplomatic mealy-mouthing, when you're ready to surrender man up and say so, you saving face is not on our agenda."

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
    Gnome-InterruptusElvenshae
  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    There was also the fact that a lot of the Japanese leadership knew that the moment Japan surrendered their lives where not worth spit. That when the butchers bill came due, they where not going to be found on the side of the angels. This was especially true in the military, but the civilian government had its share of criminals.

    One part of the Potsdam declaration was that war criminals where to be put on trial by an international tribunal like Nuremberg. That was a pretty strong signal that they where not going to be allowed to retire to their estates.

    When you take that into account Japanese government actions reads a lot more like "Hoping the Horse will learn to sing", than trying to surrender. If Japan held out long enough, America would relent on the trial part. As it was it turned out to be correct.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • ThomamelasThomamelas Only one man can kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me! Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    Yeah, if the Japanese leadership had one cardinal sin, it wasn't that they were evil war crime condoning Imperialists, (though some of them were) it's that they were criminally incompetent at the end of the war. The military was off in a homicidal fantasyland of samurai glory, while the civilians were all unwilling to publicly admit what they already had acknowledged in private months ago. They cared more about saving face than saving their country. Bombs are falling across Japan and Japan's leaders just... dithered.

    Though to be fair, some of the officer core even rebelled against the voice of the emperor by the end. A mere cabinet member who publicly advocated surrender would've been disappeared within the day.

    The IJN and the IJA developed a pattern of assassination while debating which way to expand the empire. There is a certain tendency to assume a degree of blind loyalty to the Emperor and a certain degree of monolithic behavior out of the Japanese Military when in fact it tended to be very riddled with competing factions. The IJN and the IJA didn't work together well at all as a general rule. Then you had factions within various forces. The Kōdōha and the Control Factions within the Army for instance. The Kōdōha tended to be focused on aggressive expansion and tended to be pretty strong advocates of a military takeover. The Control Faction agreed with the idea of strengthening the military they tended towards the idea of slower expansion and working with certain elements in goverment and business. These two factions had a tendency to assassinate each other. Nagata who was one of the leading members of the Control Faction and he's killed with a sword by a member of the Kōdōha.

    The Kōdōha had a huge amount of influence in the Kwantung Army. The Kwantung Army was stationed in territory aquired from the Russians during the Russo-Japanese War. It was famed for it's "independent actions" which is a military euphemism for someone who violated orders but is going to get praised for it for various reasons mostly because it would look politically bad if you didn't. Some political assassinations for Chinese citizens, some land grabs and that kind of cheeky shenanigans. There is some interesting parallels with British behavior in colonial Africa. Someone goes and does something often against orders and the Army gets sent in to do something about it because it would look bad if they didn't. They aren't solely responsible for the Second Sino-Japanese war but they did quite a bit to fan the flames, provide the fuel, matches and a spark.

    Kōdōha also tried a coup d'état. It leads to a pretty significant purge of the Kōdōha from high ranking positions but you still end up with a lot of them as junior officers in the Kwantung Army. Eventually they get purged. Or killed in battle.

    So I can have a fair amount of sympathy for civilian leadership who dithered at the end of the war. It doesn't matter much if you die because an American bomb killed you, or you were stabbed with a sword by an Army/Navy officer. You're still dead.

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  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    Nah. I mean... I'll cut Alperovitz some slack in that he didn't have the sources available to him in 1965 that we have today. And he deserves some credit for pointing out that the mainstream narrative put forth by Stimson and Truman about the bombs wasn't exactly the unvarnished truth. But he played fast and loose with his sources even back then, and by the time he rehashed all his old arguments in his 1995 book, he certainly should have known better.

    Alperovitz's main source for the mokusatsu argument is fairly interesting, btw. It's a 1950 article by Kawai Kazuo that was perhaps the first to put forth the argument that "the Japanese were trying to surrender", but with a unique twist: it was all the Soviet's fault that the US dropped the bombs because they didn't pass on word that Japan was trying to surrender.

  • TraceTrace GNU Terry Pratchett; GNU Gus; GNU Carrie Fisher; GNU Adam We Registered User regular
    As I learn more and more about the bullshit the military pulled in Japan during this time Article 9 starts to make much more sense.

    RichyEdith Upwards
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    There was also the "Bonfire of the Bureaucrats" that occurred immediately after Japan announced their surrender, where political officials tried to destroy as much documentation of what they did before Allied forces showed up and confiscated them and used them to press charges.

    Which meant that the majority of evidence for atrocities committed by the Japanese during wartime are either personal accounts of those who suffered or committed them, or in the case of some areas like Nanking, written documentation by foreign civilians in the area.

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Paul Ham's Hiroshima Nagasaki pretty much agrees as well. Even given the most generous reading of Japan's pronouncements, it's still absurd to expect American leadership to concern itself with the cultural delicacy of Japanese high diplomacy in the middle of a bloody war.

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
    Elvenshae
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    I've seen a fair amount of criticism for Bix, who tries to pin Hirohito for basically everything. I haven't read his book myself though.
    I'm only up to the 1920s when his father died and Hirohito went from regent to Emperor. I'm going into it with the opinion that he had more involvement than what has classically been presumed, but that his intentions were 'good' (from the perspective of someone leading a country onto the world stage beginning in the 1910s-20s) and that his value as a figurehead postwar, during the reconstruction of Japan, and after, in terms of keeping the country stable and pulling it back together, made absolving him the correct way to go. But he's not shameless when it comes to the butcher's bill.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    cckerberos wrote: »
    Nah. I mean... I'll cut Alperovitz some slack in that he didn't have the sources available to him in 1965 that we have today. And he deserves some credit for pointing out that the mainstream narrative put forth by Stimson and Truman about the bombs wasn't exactly the unvarnished truth. But he played fast and loose with his sources even back then, and by the time he rehashed all his old arguments in his 1995 book, he certainly should have known better.

    Alperovitz's main source for the mokusatsu argument is fairly interesting, btw. It's a 1950 article by Kawai Kazuo that was perhaps the first to put forth the argument that "the Japanese were trying to surrender", but with a unique twist: it was all the Soviet's fault that the US dropped the bombs because they didn't pass on word that Japan was trying to surrender.

    The USSR playing silly games does kinda make sense as an argument from a 1950 perspective, when you remember that by joining the war instead of facilitating surrender the Red Army is able to seize all of Manchuria and what is now Best Korea, and hand it over to the Chinese Communist party rather than China's Government, which gives them a pretty solid base with which to prosecute the renewed Civil War and win it in 1949, giving Russia a big friendly neighbour in the Pacific.

    I dunno if the newspaper's claims and my speculations on Soviet motivations are true, or even if I've done the post war events justice, but I can see where that newspaper is coming from.

  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    The soviets were pretty open about their contacts with the Japanese as far as I've read, and even if they weren't the Americans were reading their diplomatic cables anyway.

    But I'm not sure if either of those facts were publicly available in 1950.

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    Kōdōha also tried a coup d'état. It leads to a pretty significant purge of the Kōdōha from high ranking positions but you still end up with a lot of them as junior officers in the Kwantung Army. Eventually they get purged. Or killed in battle.

    Agree with your post, but I want to clarify one thing here because it's a really common misconception.

    The coup you're referring to (the February 26 Incident) wasn't actually carried out by the Kodo-ha, but rather by a group of young officers that referred to themselves the Kokutai Genri-ha ("the kokutai principle faction"). This group supported the Kodo-ha, but wasn't actually part of it; there was a lost of classism in the Japanese military and the Kodo-ha and Tosei-ha (Control faction) were exclusively made up of graduates from the elite Army War College. Officers (like the ones who made up the Kokutai Genri-ha) who hadn't been able to make it into the Army War College were considered inferior and would never be given a position in the army leadership. The Kokutai Genri-ha were also the closest thing to actual fascists ever seen in Japan and had a lot of quasi-socialist beliefs (wealth redistribution, breaking up the zaibatsu, etc.) that the Kodo-ha would never have gone along with.

    The two groups had an interesting dynamic: the Kokutai Genri-ha got increased access and influence by supporting the Kodo-ha and the Kodo-ha were able to use their supposed "control" over the young officers to shield themselves and increase their prestige. This all bit the Kodo-ha's in the ass when, as you said, the failed Kokutai Genri-ha coup was followed by a purge of Kodo-ha officers. I believe that the Kodo-ha did have a bit of a comeback towards the end of the war once it turned out how bad Tosei-ha leadership was, but I don't know much about that.

    (It's my understanding that a lot of our understanding of Japanese army factionalism comes from interrogations of important officers prior to the Tokyo war crime trials. Since most of those officers were Tosei-ha, it's led to a somewhat biased perspective of things that recent scholarship has been trying to correct. A lot of that hasn't made it into English yet, though.)

  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    The USSR playing silly games does kinda make sense as an argument from a 1950 perspective
    Kana wrote: »
    But I'm not sure if either of those facts were publicly available in 1950.

    It was definitely a valid theory to put forward at the time, even if we know now that it was way off.

    It's my understanding that a very small number of MAGIC (Japanese diplomatic traffic) intercepts began to be made available in the 50's, followed by a heavily censored release of all intercepts in 1978, but the complete, uncensored text only became available in 1995. That's one of the reasons that we've had so much good research come out in the last 20 years.

    Kana
  • Morat242Morat242 Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    The military were pinning their hopes on an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Destruction of cities was mostly pointless to this plan, as the military had their own hardened stockpiles of fuel, food, and ammunition which were fireproof and usually kept away from cities, as the military had no interest in losing supplies to useless starving civilians. The military were hardening the east coast of Japan, accurately predicting America's planned landing sites, and hoping that Okinawa-like extreme losses on both sides would eventually force the Americans to accept a peace settlement. Swiss diplomatic cables from Japan intercepted by allied code breakers explained as much, "Many [Japanese] eagerly desire the landing of the Americans in Japan proper, since they think it would be the last chance to inflict upon the Americans a defeat serious enough to make them come to terms."
    Which was probably an accurate read of the situation, not merely jingoistic propaganda. The landing zones in Kyushu had nearly equal numbers of defenders as the invasion force, and that is a recipe for enormous losses. It's plausible that the US would not have accepted several hundred thousand additional casualties, particularly when waiting six months or a year would likely have resulted in a massive famine and the collapse of the militarist government.
    Meanwhile the so-called "Peace Party", mostly made up of civilian members of the Supreme Council, wanted to use Russia as a diplomatic go-between, brokering a peace that maintained a few of their imperial possessions, protected Japan from war crimes trials (already started by now in Nuremberg), and above all else to preserve the Emperor as the head of the Japanese state. Not that the Emperor held power in the same way as a European monarch did, but he was an innate religious and cultural symbol of Japan, and the idea of the Emperor tried in a war crimes court seemed even worse than the idea of the destruction of Japan.
    I think it is important to note that the "civilian members of the Supreme Council" consisted of one person, Foreign Minister Togo. The other five members were all flag officers, and only Navy Minister Admiral Yonai could really be considered a moderate until after at least Hiroshima.

    The peace feelers failed because they didn't have the support of the military (who still believed that the US would invade and they could get a favorable peace deal after the bloodbath). As the Big Six could not agree on terms, Togo couldn't tell the negotiators what terms Japan would accept, and therefore the negotiations were utterly pointless. And I think that the mystical aspects are overstated. The militarists wanted to preserve the rule of the military, not merely the life of the Emperor. The exchanges between Togo and Ambassador Sato in Moscow make this very clear.
    The peace party plan was actually pretty logical - Japan really didn't want to fall under the control of communist Russia, but if they could play the Russians and Americans off against each other, Japan might be able to get a better deal in defeat. The emperor, with private reservations about the suicidal last stand that the military was planning, dispatched Prince Konoe, a member of the imperial family, to Russia in mid-July of 1945. Konoe had been out of favor since 1941, when he resigned in opposition to the planned attack on Pearl Harbor, but as the war worsened his stock again rose, and as early as February of 1945 he had told the Emperor that the war was already lost. The hardline militarists, Konoe said, were "the greatest obstacle to a termination of the conflict [...] they are likely to continue fighting to the very end merely to save face."
    I would argue that Togo's plan was incredibly illogical. There was no reason to believe that the USSR had any interest whatsoever in brokering a peace deal, much less one acceptable to the militarists who held the whip hand. The USSR was looking at Japan like prey, there was nothing that Japan was willing to offer that Stalin wasn't on the verge of seizing by force. In the event, they took the southern half of Sakhalin, the Kuriles (which had never been Russian territory), Manchuria, half of Korea, etc., and were preparing for an invasion of Hokkaido when the war ended. And again, Konoe was dispatched without terms to negotiate about. Dispatching a higher-status negotiator who still couldn't actually negotiate was just as useless as the talks in Tokyo and Moscow involving the respective ambassadors had been.
    By 7am the Japanese foreign news service, secretly avoiding the Imperial army censors, forwarded on a message to Washington that the Japanese government was ready to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, on the understanding that it would not "prejudice the prerogatives of his Majesty as a sovereign ruler". Washington privately accepted the terms, while publicly declaring Japan's unconditional surrender.
    IIRC, the US publicly accepting the terms would have effectively granted Hirohito veto powers over the occupying force, as he had enormous theoretical powers (like supreme command of the military) that had never officially been rescinded. State Department noted this, which is why the US broadcasted to the Japanese people that their government had surrendered, ignoring the preconditions. The resulting collapse of the public will to fight made further resistance impossible, so Japan accepted the modified terms.

  • ElldrenElldren Is a woman dammit I'm a good person yes it's trueRegistered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    I've seen a fair amount of criticism for Bix, who tries to pin Hirohito for basically everything. I haven't read his book myself though.

    Not that Hirohito was some innocent or only a puppet, he's certainly complicit in the aggressive military expansion of imperial Japan and the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, prosecuting national leaders for colonial adventuring would have been pretty rich coming from the allies, and there's little reason to think Hirohito would've had any ability to stop the military from committing more specific atrocities. He couldn't even stop the military from assassinating his advisors that they didn't like, and had to surrender in secret to protect himself from the armed wackos who claimed loyalty to him.

    Which kind of goes to the big cultural difference with a Japanese emperor. The Japanese obviously had immense religious respect for the emperor, but at the same time it was not the emperor's traditional role to make decisions. His advisors would make decisions, and then after the fact the emperor would quietly and subtly express his pleasure or displeasure with the actions taken in his name. And it wasn't at all unlikely that if he wasn't appropriately Imperial, the military leadership would replace him with an emperor who would act appropriately.

    After the war though those considerations were pretty much immaterial though. America knew that keeping the emperor was necessary to maintaining a peaceful Japan, and even during the war were already pretty set on the idea they'd keep him in power. Instead the war crimes trials attempted to pin almost everything on Tojo, who was prime minister during the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was as much a political choice for domestic American consumption as anything else. Tojo was hardly a saint, but he was far from the worst of the Japanese leadership.

    Having read the book I would not characterize it as "trying to pin Hirohito for everything"

    It certainly makes the argument that he was at least complicit in all the high level decisions though, and that he did personally advance more than a few

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Morat242 wrote: »
    Kana wrote: »
    The military were pinning their hopes on an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Destruction of cities was mostly pointless to this plan, as the military had their own hardened stockpiles of fuel, food, and ammunition which were fireproof and usually kept away from cities, as the military had no interest in losing supplies to useless starving civilians. The military were hardening the east coast of Japan, accurately predicting America's planned landing sites, and hoping that Okinawa-like extreme losses on both sides would eventually force the Americans to accept a peace settlement. Swiss diplomatic cables from Japan intercepted by allied code breakers explained as much, "Many [Japanese] eagerly desire the landing of the Americans in Japan proper, since they think it would be the last chance to inflict upon the Americans a defeat serious enough to make them come to terms."
    Which was probably an accurate read of the situation, not merely jingoistic propaganda. The landing zones in Kyushu had nearly equal numbers of defenders as the invasion force, and that is a recipe for enormous losses. It's plausible that the US would not have accepted several hundred thousand additional casualties, particularly when waiting six months or a year would likely have resulted in a massive famine and the collapse of the militarist government.

    I'll talk about some of this on the American side of things, but it's worth noting that while on paper the Japanese had huge reserves ready to repel beach landings, the actual quantities were often far, far less. Many in the defense force were ill-equipped child soldiers, and the Japanese struggled to move many of their resources to the eastern beachheads when their infrastructure had already been so devastated. The mass movement of troops without fuel gets pretty tricky. But yeah, there was little reason to think that an invasion would be necessary, when massive famine was already on the horizon and bombing runs were being made unopposed, and the US knew that it was exactly what their enemy wanted them to do.
    Meanwhile the so-called "Peace Party", mostly made up of civilian members of the Supreme Council, wanted to use Russia as a diplomatic go-between, brokering a peace that maintained a few of their imperial possessions, protected Japan from war crimes trials (already started by now in Nuremberg), and above all else to preserve the Emperor as the head of the Japanese state. Not that the Emperor held power in the same way as a European monarch did, but he was an innate religious and cultural symbol of Japan, and the idea of the Emperor tried in a war crimes court seemed even worse than the idea of the destruction of Japan.
    I think it is important to note that the "civilian members of the Supreme Council" consisted of one person, Foreign Minister Togo. The other five members were all flag officers, and only Navy Minister Admiral Yonai could really be considered a moderate until after at least Hiroshima.

    Suzuki, Togo, and Yonai are generally identified as the "moderates" of the big 6. Togo and Yonai especially were pushing for peace when the Supreme Council listened to the Potsdam Declaration on the 26th of July, with Suzuki kinda middling and then the 3 military hardliners Anami, Umezu, and Toyoda pretty much opposing anything. You're right though that Togo is the only proper civilian at that point, though there's more in the cabinet who have influence in the debate.
    The peace feelers failed because they didn't have the support of the military (who still believed that the US would invade and they could get a favorable peace deal after the bloodbath). As the Big Six could not agree on terms, Togo couldn't tell the negotiators what terms Japan would accept, and therefore the negotiations were utterly pointless. And I think that the mystical aspects are overstated. The militarists wanted to preserve the rule of the military, not merely the life of the Emperor. The exchanges between Togo and Ambassador Sato in Moscow make this very clear.

    I mostly agree with you about the military obstructing peace, although it's important to note that even their plan was holding out for better terms of defeat - the argument at that point wasn't admitting defeat, but hoping to hold out for 4 conditions. I also agree that the military was trying to cover their own butts - but they were also overwhelmingly serious about the preservation of the Emperor. He was the core religious and Imperial symbol of Japan, the bedrock of kokutai, and it's a mistake for us living in a secular society to easily brush off the overwhelming power of religious and cultural convictions - although like any religion, different folks felt the pull with different strengths. Certainly after the surrender of Japan ritual suicide was quite common for a while among militarists who weren't particularly in danger of war crimes trials.

    Even dangerously disrespectful Sato, the diplomat to Stalin, argued that the only thing they should be insisting on for as a surrender term would be a preservation of the imperial line, and in every other way to unconditionally surrender.
    The peace party plan was actually pretty logical - Japan really didn't want to fall under the control of communist Russia, but if they could play the Russians and Americans off against each other, Japan might be able to get a better deal in defeat. The emperor, with private reservations about the suicidal last stand that the military was planning, dispatched Prince Konoe, a member of the imperial family, to Russia in mid-July of 1945. Konoe had been out of favor since 1941, when he resigned in opposition to the planned attack on Pearl Harbor, but as the war worsened his stock again rose, and as early as February of 1945 he had told the Emperor that the war was already lost. The hardline militarists, Konoe said, were "the greatest obstacle to a termination of the conflict [...] they are likely to continue fighting to the very end merely to save face."

    I would argue that Togo's plan was incredibly illogical. There was no reason to believe that the USSR had any interest whatsoever in brokering a peace deal, much less one acceptable to the militarists who held the whip hand. The USSR was looking at Japan like prey, there was nothing that Japan was willing to offer that Stalin wasn't on the verge of seizing by force. In the event, they took the southern half of Sakhalin, the Kuriles (which had never been Russian territory), Manchuria, half of Korea, etc., and were preparing for an invasion of Hokkaido when the war ended. And again, Konoe was dispatched without terms to negotiate about. Dispatching a higher-status negotiator who still couldn't actually negotiate was just as useless as the talks in Tokyo and Moscow involving the respective ambassadors had been.

    I think you're making a counterfactual argument here. Konoe never got the chance to negotiate, because Stalin never talked to him - he had already agreed with the allies to draw out and delay his interactions with the Japanese. But Konoe had been charged by the emperor with broad authority to negotiate terms, and in the end it's the emperor's authority to make peace that did end the war. Maybe Konoe could have accomplished something or maybe it wouldn't have been accepted, but we have no way of knowing what didn't happen. I'm not going to get too much into the US side of things, since I've got a post about that coming up anyway, but they also didn't exactly go out of their way to investigate these peace floaters (and they were more that I didn't even get to), or to sooth fears on the Emperor question, despite privately already concluding that they were going to preserve the imperial line.
    By 7am the Japanese foreign news service, secretly avoiding the Imperial army censors, forwarded on a message to Washington that the Japanese government was ready to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, on the understanding that it would not "prejudice the prerogatives of his Majesty as a sovereign ruler". Washington privately accepted the terms, while publicly declaring Japan's unconditional surrender.

    IIRC, the US publicly accepting the terms would have effectively granted Hirohito veto powers over the occupying force, as he had enormous theoretical powers (like supreme command of the military) that had never officially been rescinded. State Department noted this, which is why the US broadcasted to the Japanese people that their government had surrendered, ignoring the preconditions. The resulting collapse of the public will to fight made further resistance impossible, so Japan accepted the modified terms.

    The Byrnes Note, the American reply to the Japanese surrender terms, was essentially designed to re-paint the concession as an American demand, as James Byrnes himself acknowledged. From Truman, "They wanted to make a condition precedent to the surrender ... They wanted to keep the Emperor. We told 'em we'd tell 'em how to keep him, but we'd make the terms." The fear wasn't really that the Emperor would overrule the occupation forces - lots of men with guns and the threat of war crimes trials would work pretty well all by themselves on that issue - but that Truman would be crucified by the American public if he was seen as being soft on the Japanese.

    Following the reception of the Byrnes note, the supreme council debated, and then again ceded to the Emperor's will and accepted his decision to accept the peace terms, without any war crimes protections for themselves.

    Of the big 6 at the end of the war,

    Togo died in prison, convicted of war crimes
    Umezu died in prison, convicted of war crimes
    Toyoda was tried for war crimes but acquitted
    Anami - the hardest of the hardliners - committed seppuku, with the suicide note, "I - with my death - humbly apologize to the Emperor for the great crime."
    Suzuki and Yonai were not charged

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  • TraceTrace GNU Terry Pratchett; GNU Gus; GNU Carrie Fisher; GNU Adam We Registered User regular
    Like straight up seppuku? Guts and head slicing and everything?

  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    Trace wrote: »
    Like straight up seppuku? Guts and head slicing and everything?

    Yes and no. He cut himself but reportedly refused the beheading. Judging from his (very) blood stained suicide note (on display at Yasukuni Shrine), it was an extremely messy death.

    cckerberos on
  • TraceTrace GNU Terry Pratchett; GNU Gus; GNU Carrie Fisher; GNU Adam We Registered User regular
    jeeeeeze.


    Isn't the beheading something like a mercy stroke regarding seppuku?

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    I think a few people involved in the August 14th/15th coup attempt chose seppuku, but quite a few more plumped for a gun.

    KanaElldren
  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    Seppuku seems like the gutsier option.

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  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    Rhan9 wrote: »
    Seppuku seems like the gutsier option.

    Traditional seppuku is a fairly fast death, even without the mercy stroke from a second.

    If the tanto is the proper length and the cut in the right area you sever the abdominal arota (second largest blood vessel, next to the primary aorta just off the heart) and odds are you pass out within 20 seconds and full bleed out in a couple of minutes.

    Course you're also cutting through multiple organs and the abdominal wall, so those few seconds before you pass out would probably hurt something fierce.

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  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    Trace wrote: »
    jeeeeeze.


    Isn't the beheading something like a mercy stroke regarding seppuku?
    Yes, but I'm also thinking that there was a certain level of improvisation given when he did it, so aside from not having the traditional second there to chop, there might not have been the right tool for it, or the guy didn't have the stomach to go through with it.

    Giggles_Funsworthtuxkamen
  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    edited March 2015
    Trace wrote: »
    jeeeeeze.


    Isn't the beheading something like a mercy stroke regarding seppuku?
    Yes, but I'm also thinking that there was a certain level of improvisation given when he did it, so aside from not having the traditional second there to chop, there might not have been the right tool for it, or the guy didn't have the stomach to go through with it.

    I'm pretty sure he had the intestinal fortitude to go through with it, so I'd go with the tool not being present.

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  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    Oh bloody hell. An honest mistake, didn't even notice until now.

    I feel dirty.

    Giggles_Funsworth
  • ThomamelasThomamelas Only one man can kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me! Registered User regular
    The wreckage of the Mushashi has been found. She was one of two Yamato class battleships, and one of the biggest battleships ever built. She was sunk after being hit with 19 torpedo and 17 bombs during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    The wreckage of the Mushashi has been found. She was one of two Yamato class battleships, and one of the biggest battleships ever built. She was sunk after being hit with 19 torpedo and 17 bombs during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.


    Think there's enough to turn into a spaceship?

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  • ThomamelasThomamelas Only one man can kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me! Registered User regular
    Thomamelas wrote: »
    The wreckage of the Mushashi has been found. She was one of two Yamato class battleships, and one of the biggest battleships ever built. She was sunk after being hit with 19 torpedo and 17 bombs during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.


    Think there's enough to turn into a spaceship?

    No. Although she's likely more intact then the Yamato was since the main magazines of the Mushashi didn't all go off at once. Also she has less symbolic importance then the Yamato. So no anime on the subject.

    It was kind of a semi cursed ship class. The Yamato saw very little action. She was part of the Battle off Samar and engaged with Taffy 3. But was driven off. Then sent on a final suicide mission to defend Okinawa but is found and engaged by aircraft before it could get within range of the island. The Mushashi was sunk in a different part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She never engaged any surface units. The third hull that was supposed to be part of the class was turned into the carrier Shinano. The Shinano wasn't finished yet and was en route to pick up a complement of aircraft when the Archerfish found it and sunk it.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Huh, the Olympic Class of ginormous battleships.

  • ThomamelasThomamelas Only one man can kill this many Russians. Bring his guitar to me! Registered User regular
    Huh, the Olympic Class of ginormous battleships.

    Somewhat. Keep in mind that much of the Japanese fleet ends up at the bottom of the ocean and these three ships had huge targets painted on them for morale and tactical reasons. Mostly semi cursed because they were a huge use of resources that didn't pay off at all.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Huh, the Olympic Class of ginormous battleships.

    No, because at least the Olympic class saw some use. As was pointed out, the Yamato class hulls basically never really saw any combat, in large part because they were more symbolic (both in a national pride sense and in a "we deserve a seat at the grown ups table" sense.) Once Japan lost their access to fuel and other supplies, the cost of deployment made them into dock queens.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    Rhan9 wrote: »
    Seppuku seems like the gutsier option.

    Traditional seppuku is a fairly fast death, even without the mercy stroke from a second.

    If the tanto is the proper length and the cut in the right area you sever the abdominal arota (second largest blood vessel, next to the primary aorta just off the heart) and odds are you pass out within 20 seconds and full bleed out in a couple of minutes.

    Course you're also cutting through multiple organs and the abdominal wall, so those few seconds before you pass out would probably hurt something fierce.

    As someone who has had repeated kidney stones, I guarantee that the 20 seconds, while accurate on a clock, have absolutely no relation to the several hours you think you experience while in severe pain.

    Also, all those Hollywood movies with the hero toughing out torture? Totally wouldn't happen. By fifteen minutes into it, I was ready to admit to the time I stole a kiss from a girl in third grade and would admit to literally anything to have stopped the pain.

    Kennedy? Sure, I was born in 1977, but yeah, I did that. More morphine please!

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
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  • cckerberoscckerberos Registered User regular
    Trace wrote: »
    Isn't the beheading something like a mercy stroke regarding seppuku?

    Yeah. Japanese wiki says it took him 90 minutes to die, but the source isn't the greatest so I'm not sure if I believe that.

    In actual historical practice, seppuku was to a large extent just a show, BTW. Common practice in the Edo period (when most seppuku took place) was to behead the guy as soon as his blade started to cut into his flesh. And if they didn't trust a samurai to actually follow through, they'd give him a fan rather than a blade.

  • Knuckle DraggerKnuckle Dragger Explosive Ovine Disposal Registered User regular
    On the happier side of Japanese history, today would be the 105th birthday of Ando Momofuku. In the turbulent economy of Occupation Japan, Ando had gone bankrupt and spent a brief stint in jail. When he got out, he decided to tackle Japan's post-war food shortage. The United States was shipping large amounts of wheat to Japan, but for economic and logistical reasons was being baked into bread. The more perishable nature of fresh noodles meant that the more traditional noodle shops were too small to sustain the necessary production, or in some cases simply survive, in the unstable economy. Ando thought a solution might lay in the direction of preserved noodles, ones with a longer shelf life that could survive longer transportation and storage times. In 1958, he developed a method of flash frying cooked noodles to dry the out. To the relief of future college students everywhere, instant ramen had been born.

    In 1971, Ando made his second great invention. His noodles were very popular in America, but he had noticed that the uncultured barbarians would simply break the noodle packet in half, shove both bits into a cup and add boiling water. Ando began packaging his noodles in their own styrofoam cup, and the Cup O' Noodles soon became one of his company's most popular products.

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  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Speaking of Barbarian, unless your language can be traced back to the Hellenistic Golden Age, you are a barbarian.

    Barbarian as a word means "One who does not speak (Ancient) Greek".

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    Speaking of Barbarian, unless your language can be traced back to the Hellenistic Golden Age, you are a barbarian.

    Barbarian as a word means "One who does not speak (Ancient) Greek".

    Since "bar" was kind of their onomatopoeia for the sound of such foreign nonsense. Like how one might use "blah blah blah."

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    As a random book recommendation related to all this Japan talk, right now I'm reading Joseph Grew's Ten Years in Japan. It's available from amazon as an ebook for only 10 bucks, and while I'm only about 50 pages in so far it's really interesting.

    Grew, a career diplomat, was assigned as Japan's ambassador on May 15, 1932, the same day that Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi was assassinated, the second assassination attempt against a Prime Minister in little more than a year. Grew spent the next decade in Japan as the Japanese military solidified their complete control over Japanese society.

    On January 27th, 1941, Grew telegraphed the US that the Japanese were considering an attack on Pearl Harbor, but the intel was discounted by the US navy. After Pearl Harbor he was interned in Japan for 9 months until he was eventually traded back to America in a trade of diplomatic personnel. After returning to America Grew published Ten Years in Japan, a summation of 10 years of his diary entries, detailing his interactions and impressions of government figures, informants, civilian business leaders, and more. In an already racist age with xenophobia against the Japanese race at a fever pitch it was an especially impressive book, and was widely read throughout government.

    During the rest of the war Grew served as under-secretary of state where he was one of the foremost experts on Japan in the government, and among other things helped draft to an early version of the Potsdam Declaration. His version, which included explicit reassurances that the emperor would be retained as a constitutional monarch, was then rewritten by secretary of state James Byrnes, who among other changes that I'll talk about eventually removed the reassurances.

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    Putting off writing about a-bombs until tomorrow.

    Instead have an entire Yale history course, The Early Middle Ages 284-1000



    And course materials:

    http://openmedia.yale.edu/cgi-bin/open_yale/media_downloader.cgi?file=/courses/fall11/hist210/download/hist210.zip

    woah, I was literally just coming into this thread to post about two yale courses.

    This course is pretty close to one I had in college and also to one by The Teaching Company I have listened to. It is good material.


    One of them is this one and the other is:




    WARNING

    the first lecture will probably give you a very false impression of the course and of the speaker. Just go with it until lecture 2.

    V1m
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