Crisis of the Conflict: Japanese spirit against US industry. The first months of the war seemed to be lucky for Japan. Destruction of the British battleships “Prince of Wales” and “Repulse” followed the success in Pearl Harbor. Japanese task forces operated in the Indian ocean and Southern Pacific. However, the doubtful victory in the Corral sea and disaster at Midway made the war lengthy, and thus the factors of suddenness and Japanese high morale were brought to nothing by US industrial power.
The Japanese strategy now was to keep the occupied territories and protect the domestic isles. It was inevitable that Japan would be unable to compete with the United States in war production, but the Japanese government failed to guide the war economy properly for nearly a year after the Pacific War began. It did not go beyond the state of semimobilization ordered in the 1930s until October 1942. Only then did the government seem to realize that a long war and all-out conversion of the economy were inevitable.
Priorities were switched from production of equipment for the ground forces to planes, ships, and other equipment for an air-sea war. The Total Mobilization Bureau replaced the Cabinet Planning Board. The Japanese began a labor draft (for men only) and began to scrape up workers wherever they could find them, bringing massive numbers of Chinese and Korean slave laborers into Japan and sending convicts, prisoners of war, and students into factories and mines . Production of modern models of aircraft to replace the “Zero” was never truly adjusted till the end of the war.
Even though the Japanese constructors performed the outstanding “Shiden-Mod” and “Raiden” fighters, and experimented with a jet engine, only an insignificant amount of those planes was produced. In contrast to Japanese approach, the maximum increase of military production became a top priority for US. By 1943 American war production was truly phenomenal. In that year, the United States built 85,898 planes; production in 1944 rose further to 96,000 planes and, Japanese production peaked at 28,000 planes, mostly fighters, while a large proportion of American planes were four-engine heavy bombers.
In 1941, American fighters had been mediocre at best, but by 1943, several fine designs were in mass production, notably the Navy’s RU Corsair and F6F Hellcat. In contrast to the mediocre fighters of 1941, those planes obviously surpassed the “Zero”. Also, Americans appeared to be professional in building new airfields, which allowed them to use new planes in lots . The unique strength of the American air forces, however, lay in heavy bombers and transports. The B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, and the B-29 Superfortress were unmatched in ruggedness and ability to penetrate enemy defenses.
A less wellknown feat was the mass deployment of some excellent transport planes – the C-47 and C-54, and the development of a worldwide, network of air transport routes. The feats in aircraft production were only exceeded, perhaps, by those in ship building, which became a mass-production industry. By the end of the war the U. S. Navy had grown to a force of 50,759 ships (most, to be sure, fairly small landing craft) and 3,383,196 men. The Navy received more than 100 new aircraft carriers, including 26 fast carriers, as well as 8 battleships. (The Japanese built, or converted, just 15 fast and 5 escort carriers.).
The U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey later estimated that just one-third of American military power was deployed to the Pacific; this proved enough to swamp the Japanese . In addition to mass production of modern arms, US was able to use technical achievements in much more effective way than Japan. Since the first day of the war, the Pacific Fleet actively used the radar stations, which played an invaluable role in the battle for Midway. Also, thanks to the work of naval intelligence, which was able to crack the Japanese naval code, Americans were aware of the prospective enemy activity.
An example of a well-planed operation, which became possible due to information, gathered by the naval intelligence was the liquidation of admiral Yamamoto – the most prominent Japanese commander, whose plane was shot down over Solomon Isles on April 18, 1943 . Japan appeared to be unable to resist US industry and technical achievements. By 1945 it has lost all of it‘s gains in the Pacific, it‘s economy suffered from the lack of resources, the cities were ruined by air raids of American heavy bombers. Yet Japan was decisive to fight to the last stand.
War‘s ending: Hiroshima and Manchuria Even after the loss of it‘s fleet in the battles for the Philippines and for Okinawa, Japan still disposed an army of about 3,5 million men, with about 1 million on Japan‘s home territory. The Japanese also had 5,350 kamikaze planes and as many for conventional use, although with little fuel for them to fly. Many leaders of the Japanese Army wanted an invasion, believing that it would be their only chance to defeat the Americans or inflict heavy losses on them and enable Japan to get better peace terms.
The Japanese had correctly estimated where the Americans would land, and their troops on Kyushu were stronger than the Americans realized. A fullblown land battle for the whole of Japan might easily cost 500,000 casualties . However, United States managed to avoid a final battle. This became possible thanks to using of a principally new weapon – a nuclear bomb, and Soviet invasion in Manchuria. On the 15 of August 1945 Japan capitulated. The two events which led to the surrender have both been criticized.
Using of nuclear weapon against densety populated cities was proclaimed brutal, and Soviet participation in the war seemed to result in extending of Soviet influence in China and East Asia. The first acquisition, however, is denied by the facts. Nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the final argument, forcing even the most irreconcilable Japanese officers to recognize the defeat, thus terminating the necessity for invasion and saving millions of lives firstly of the japans themselves.
Moreover, in the vast areas of Southeast Asia by-passed by the American advance and still held by the Japanese, the lives of hundreds of thousands, and probably millions, of people depended on a quick end to the war. Also, the nuclear bomb at the moment was more likely considered to be a new sort of powerful explosive, than a global threat, and the consequences appeared to be the same as from usual bombing, which already took place. As for the invasion of the Russian armies to Manchuria, it was hardly necessary for the US to prevent it. Firstly, the attack was conditioned by the earlier agreements in Yalta.
Stalin‘s main objective at this war was not to defeat Japan, but to return the territories, lost by the Russian Empire in the war with Japan 40 years before. Secondly, the Soviets defeated a powerful Kwantung Army, numbering about 1,3 million men. Most of the US generals, including MacArthur (who later denied it), endorsed the operation . Thirdly, the ideas of communism would anyway spread in China and Korea, because powerful communist movements already existed there, and direct connection between Soviet invasion and spread of communism can hardly be traced.
Thus, the second acquisition appears to be the same vague as the first one. Making a conclusion it is necessary to say that America was forced to enter the war being a far away state in the Western part of the Globe, busy mostly with it‘s home affairs. Years of isolationism did not allow America to maintain it‘s world status, obtained after World War I. However, US productive power, combined with perfect organization and belief in necessity and justice of the struggle made America a true winner of the war.
1. Masatake Okumiya, Jiro Horikoshi, Martin Caindin: “Zero! : The Air War in the Pacific During World War II from the Japanese Viewpoint” Washington: Zenger Pub. Co. , 1979 2. Alan J. Levine “The Pacific War: Japan Versus the Allies” Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT, 1995 3. Harry A. Gailey “The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay”, Presidio Press, Novato, CA. 1995 4. Walter Lord “Day of Infamy”, New York, Holt 1957