Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: July 2013

Episode 16 – And Then the War Came

We’ve arrived, finally, at the Pacific War — this week, we’ll be charting the course Japan took to war, briefly summarizing the course of said war, and then discussing how the war ended. This topic can be rather dark — after all, we’re talking about a war that killed millions — but it’s an important one for understanding the course Japan is on today, and the background in this episode will be important in future shows on the fall of the Japanese Empire.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: It’s Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Frank, Richard. Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire.

Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. Racing the Enemy. 

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Pyle, Kenneth. The Making of Modern Japan. (Historians are not the most original lot).

The complete text of the Potsdam Declaration is available here.

The complete list of messages related to surrender (from the original Japanese note indicating willingness to surrender to President Truman’s announcement of said surrender) is available here.

Media (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

A captured Japanese soldier surrounded by Soviet Troops in the wake of the Battle of Nomonhan (Khalkhin Gol) in 1939. The defeat of the Japanese Army by the Soviets helped drive the momentum towards an attack on the western Allies rather than the Soviets.

A captured Japanese soldier surrounded by Soviet Troops in the wake of the Battle of Nomonhan (Khalkhin Gol) in 1939. The defeat of the Japanese Army by the Soviets helped drive the momentum towards an attack on the western Allies rather than the Soviets.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Hull's final memorandum to Japan in November, 1941 was worded in an ambiguous way which convinced Japanese planners that the US was intent on forcing more concessions than Japan was prepared to give. This was the final impetus towards war.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Hull’s final memorandum to Japan in November, 1941 was worded in an ambiguous way which convinced Japanese planners that the US was intent on forcing more concessions than Japan was prepared to give. This was the final impetus towards war.

Togo Shigenori (born Park Moo-duk), the Korean-Japanese Foreign Minister who had been one of the last objectors to war with the US. Eventually he would return to the post of Foreign Minister in 1945, and become a member of the pro-peace faction of the Big Six.

Togo Shigenori (born Park Moo-duk), the Korean-Japanese Foreign Minister who had been one of the last objectors to war with the US. Eventually he would return to the post of Foreign Minister in 1945, and become a member of the pro-peace faction of the Big Six.

View from an under-carriage camera mounted on a Japanese attack plane of the raid on Pearl Harbor.

View from an under-carriage camera mounted on a Japanese attack plane of the raid on Pearl Harbor.

The USS Arizona on fire in Pearl Harbor.

The USS Arizona on fire in Pearl Harbor.

British General Sir Arthur Percival, surrounded by Japanese troops and under a flag of truce, going to negotiate the surrender of Singapore to Japan. The Battle of Singapore was the largest defeat of British land forces in history.

British General Sir Arthur Percival, surrounded by Japanese troops and under a flag of truce, going to negotiate the surrender of Singapore to Japan. The Battle of Singapore was the largest defeat of British land forces in history.

Japanese casualties (in the foreground) and American troops (in the background) during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. Guadalcanal would mark the first time the Japanese were forced to fall back in the face of the Allied advance. It would not be the last.

Japanese casualties (in the foreground) and American troops (in the background) during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. Guadalcanal would mark the first time the Japanese were forced to fall back in the face of the Allied advance. It would not be the last.

The American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise fighting off Japanese planes in 1942. The Enterprise was one of the carriers which had been a target of the Pearl Harbor attack, but had been out on a training mission with two other carriers at the time of the attack.

The American aircraft carrier USS Enterprise fighting off Japanese planes in 1942. The Enterprise was one of the carriers which had been a target of the Pearl Harbor attack, but had been out on a training mission with two other carriers at the time of the attack.

American troops advancing behind a Sherman battle tank during the Battle of Saipan in Summer, 1944. The loss of Saipan made it clear that Japan had lost the war, but fighting would continue for over one year afterwards.

American troops advancing behind a Sherman battle tank during the Battle of Saipan in Summer, 1944. The loss of Saipan made it clear that Japan had lost the war, but fighting would continue for over one year afterwards.

Downtown Tokyo the day after the firebombing (the river is the Sumida-gawa in downtown Tokyo).

Downtown Tokyo the day after the firebombing (the river is the Sumida-gawa in downtown Tokyo).

Civilian casualties in downtown Tokyo.

Civilian casualties in downtown Tokyo.

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, approx. 7 km away from the center of the blast.

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, approx. 7 km away from the center of the blast.

An Occupation video from 1946 showing the burn damage to a Japanese woman from Hiroshima. This video is graphic and disturbing, but worth watching if you think you can handle it. Also available from the same period is a video of life in the ruins of Hiroshima in March 1946.

There are several other images of survivors and the devastation of the bomb available on the Wikipedia page for the atomic bombings.

The July 25th order from Thomas Handy to Carl Spaatz, authorizing the use of atomic weapons. If you're having a hard time with the image, the text is available here.

The July 25th order from Thomas Handy to Carl Spaatz, authorizing the use of atomic weapons. If you’re having a hard time with the image, the text is available here.

Soviet Marines occupying Port Arthur in southern Manchuria. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria crushed the remaining Japanese defenders of the territory.

Soviet Marines occupying Port Arthur in southern Manchuria. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria crushed the remaining Japanese defenders of the territory.

Shigemitsu Mamoru, as representative of the Japanese Empire, signing the surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.

Shigemitsu Mamoru, as representative of the Japanese Empire, signing the surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.

American General Douglass MacArthur (who would command the American Occupation of Japan) giving a speech during the surrender ceremony. You may notice that the flag in the background has the incorrect number of stars for 1945 -- that's because it's the one that flew on Commodore Perry's flagship in 1854.

American General Douglass MacArthur (who would command the American Occupation of Japan) giving a speech during the surrender ceremony. You may notice that the flag in the background has the incorrect number of stars for 1945 — that’s because it’s the one that flew on Commodore Perry’s flagship in 1854.

Episode 15 – The Homefront

This week, we’ll be discussing domestic developments in Japan, and the path by which a reasonably (if not totally) liberal democracy in the 1910s and 1920s morphed into a military dictatorship in the 1930s. We’ll talk about the various means by which the military grew its influence, and how it was able to use violence to cow the civilian government.Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: It’s Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Humphreys, Leonard. The Way of the Heavenly Sword: The Imperial Japanese Army in the 1920s.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Young, Louise. Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism.

Media (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation unless otherwise noted)

Participants in the Hibiya Riots, which took place after the end of the Russo-Japanese War.

Participants in the Hibiya Riots, which took place after the end of the Russo-Japanese War.

Kanno Sugako prior to her eventual arrest and execution on suspicion of aiding anarchists who had attempted to assassinate the Meiji Emperor.

Kanno Sugako prior to her eventual arrest and execution on suspicion of aiding anarchists who had attempted to assassinate the Meiji Emperor.

Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi on the floor of the Japanese Diet (Parliament).

Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi on the floor of the Japanese Diet (Parliament).

The Osaka Mainichi Shinbun's front-page coverage of Inukai Tsuyoshi's death (popularly referred to as the "May 15 Incident").

The Osaka Mainichi Shinbun’s front-page coverage of Inukai Tsuyoshi’s death (popularly referred to as the “May 15 Incident”).

Kodoha rebels occupying the Sanno Hotel in Tokyo during the February 26 coup attempt.

Kodoha rebels occupying the Sanno Hotel in Tokyo during the February 26 coup attempt.

Flag used by Kodoha troops during their coup of February 26, 1936.  The text around the hinomaru says "Revere the Emperor, Kill the Traitors."

Flag used by Kodoha troops during their coup of February 26, 1936. The text around the hinomaru says “Revere the Emperor, Kill the Traitors.”

Marines from the Imperial Japanese Navy were brought in to help crush the February 26 coup, since (being members of the Navy) they could be counted on to have no loyalty to the Kodoha.

Marines from the Imperial Japanese Navy were brought in to help crush the February 26 coup, since (being members of the Navy) they could be counted on to have no loyalty to the Kodoha.

 

Episode 14 – The Course of Empire

Resuming our regularly scheduled programming, we will be turning this week to Japanese foreign policy from 1895 to 1940. There’s a lot of interesting material on how Japan went so badly off the rails and what pushed it towards war with China and the US — I hope you all find it interesting!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Pyle, Kenneth. Japan Rising.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Barnhart, Michael A. Japan Prepares for Total War: The Search for Economic Security 1919-1940

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Note: I briefly considered including images of Japanese atrocities in China (there are a few such images, but not many since for obvious reasons the Japanese suppressed them where possible) but decided against it since I marked this podcast as clean when I put it up. If you’re of an age and mentality to be able to handle it (and many of the images can be very graphic), I would urge you to consider finding them, if for no other reason than as an inoculation against the ideas of those who claim such things never happened. The Wikipedia article on the Nanjing Massacre is a good place to start.

A side-by-side image of the soldiers of each country which intervened in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. From left to right: Britain, the US, Australia, British India, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Japan

A side-by-side image of the soldiers of each country which intervened in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. From left to right: Britain, the US, Australia, British India, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Japan

The siege of Port Arthur, one of the more decisive battles of the Russo-Japanese War. Japan eventually took the port city, but at tremendous cost in soldiers. This picture shows the results of a bombardment by Japanese ships blockading the port.

The siege of Port Arthur, one of the more decisive battles of the Russo-Japanese War. Japan eventually took the port city, but at tremendous cost in soldiers. This picture shows the results of a bombardment by Japanese ships blockading the port.

Negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. The left side is the Russian delegation, the right the Japanese.

Negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. The left side is the Russian delegation, the right the Japanese.

The funeral procession of Yuan Shikai, leader of China after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. His death resulted in chaos in China, a situation the Japanese exploited to their advantage.

The funeral procession of Yuan Shikai, leader of China after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. His death resulted in chaos in China, a situation the Japanese exploited to their advantage.

Zhang Zuolin, the Japanese client-warlord turned Nationalist-supporter. Zuolin was assassinated by a cabal of Japanese officers lead by Lt. Komoto Daisaku in 1928. They hoped to spark an intervention by Japan in Manchuria which would leave Japan in charge of the area.

Zhang Zuolin, the Japanese client-warlord turned Nationalist-supporter. Zuolin was assassinated by a cabal of Japanese officers lead by Lt. Komoto Daisaku in 1928. They hoped to spark an intervention by Japan in Manchuria which would leave Japan in charge of the area.

Zhang Xueliang, son and successor of Zhang Zuolin. His father's death at Japanese hands resulted in Xueliang despising the Japanese and moving into the orbit of Chiang Kai-shek as a result. Eventually, he was deposed by a Japanese invasion in 1931.

Zhang Xueliang, son and successor of Zhang Zuolin. His father’s death at Japanese hands resulted in Xueliang despising the Japanese and moving into the orbit of Chiang Kai-shek as a result. Eventually, he was deposed by a Japanese invasion in 1931.

Japanese "experts" assessing the "railway sabotage" ostensibly performed by Chinese dissidents and used as an excuse to invade Manchuria in 1931. In fact, the bombs had been planted by radical Japanese Army officers who seized the pretext for an invasion.

Japanese “experts” assessing the “railway sabotage” ostensibly performed by Chinese dissidents and used as an excuse to invade Manchuria in 1931. In fact, the bombs had been planted by radical Japanese Army officers who seized the pretext for an invasion.

Japanese troops entering Shenyang (a city in Manchuria) in 1931.

Japanese troops entering Shenyang (a city in Manchuria) in 1931.

Chinese Nationalist troops defending an intersection in downtown Shanghai from the Japanese in 1937, after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Chinese Nationalist troops defending an intersection in downtown Shanghai from the Japanese in 1937, after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Chinese troops engaging in urban combat during the battle of Taierzhuang in 1938. Taierzhuang was one of the ambushes which halted the Japanese advance and resulted in the ongoing slog from which, by 1940, there seemed to be no exit for Japan.

Chinese troops engaging in urban combat during the battle of Taierzhuang in 1938. Taierzhuang was one of the ambushes which halted the Japanese advance and resulted in the ongoing slog from which, by 1940, there seemed to be no exit for Japan.

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