Can Japan just be blockaded into submission?

Apr 2018
507
India
#11
Ante 1941, as you put it, the US Pacific Fleet was gone for the time being, 3 days later, RN Far East Squadron Force Z is lost. ABDACOM would cease to exist a on 27th Feb, 1942. One month later the RN would again be beaten further to Africa. Then at Coral Sea USN would lose Lady Lex.

My question is, with what naval assets do you think a blockade could have been enforced?
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,326
San Antonio, Tx
#12
Why did the Japanese think they could win after just attacking Pearl Harbor? What evidence did the Japanese have that the Americans (+ Brits, Aussies, New Zealanders,Brits, etc) would fold like a cheap tent after the attack on Pearl Harbor?

Yamamoto, who had himself taken the measure of the US when he came to do graduate work at the university & Japanese consulate before the war, surely knew better than this. Granted, he was not in charge of the decision to go to war, but he had input and considering that the Japanese Navy was the lynchpin of the initial effort, could he have stopped/tempered/headed this off? Obviously not because he didn’t. Did he want to stop it? I don’t know.

How far beyond the actual attack were the Japanese planning to go? The US (and Dutch) decision to cut off Japan;’s oil supply was like a giant red flag which put a lot of urgency into Japan’s effort to secure its fuel supply. There was no reason to go into Siberia because whatever oil there was under the tundra (and there is/was probably a great deal) was undeveloped and therefore not readily available. But in the Dutch East Indies, there was plenty of it and the refineries were in place to produce it. So south the Japanese went.

When I was at university in Houston, I checked out an old volume of Time Magazines (1941) where I read about the Dutch preparations to repel a Japanese invasion. It was in retrospect a depressingly optimistic assessment of how the Dutch were planning on resisting a Japanese invasion. Apparently, “everyone” knew this was coming., but there was precious little any of the sympathetic combatants could do about it at the time other than sending some B-17s to the Indies and “the fleet that had to die” in the Sunda Strait.

I believe that in order for the Japanese to believe that they had a free reign in the Pacific/Southeast Asia, they would have to also believe that the successful attack on Pearl Harbor would more or less permanently cause the Americans to say, “OK, that’s enough. We’re going home to play with our own marbles”.

If so, this was a complete mis-reading of the US and what it was capable of and perhaps only a people (the Japanese) that believed it was vastly superior (at least in spirit) would have bought into this illusion. On the other hand, it might not be unreasonable to suppose that since the US was so busy supplying the Brits and the Russians with vast quantities of war supplies, the US just might be too distracted to deal with that. Not.

Yamamoto may have had a pretty good visceral understanding of what the US war-making potential was, but up until then the US had virtually no (or very small) land army capable of dealing with the Japanese or anyone else for that matter. That’s the army, however, and not the navy and the US had two of those, one in the Atlantic and the other in the Pacific with the Panama Canal connecting the two.

Of course, the Japanese did not know that the US carriers in the Pacific fleet were off doing other things and were not in harbor at the time of the surprise attack. The Japanese apparently needed French Frigate Shoals in order to make a reconnaissance of Pearl Harbor before the attack and American naval units were using those Shoals before the attack. It was to make a huge difference later on.

I have read that the Japanese bought into the theory (Mahan?) of the decisive battle as a necessary pre-condition to victory in the Pacific. If so, why did the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor “pull its punches” so much that they failed even to destroy the vast oil tank farm overlooking Pearl Harbor? Clearly, this attack - although shocking in the extreme - did not achieve the results the Japanese must have been hoping for.

If the Japanese were looking for victory, they had a strangely crippled view on how to achieve it.
 
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Oct 2015
762
Virginia
#13
The Japanese high command figured that with the Pacific Fleet destroyed they could quickly seize the resource areas of Malaya, Indonesia et al, take the Philippenes, Gilberts, Guam, Wake, Hong Kong, Burma et al. Then, with China cut off from allied aid, they would end the war there, and move into Papua New Guinea, the New Hebrides and Fijis to cut communications between the US and Australia and New Zealand.

With the vital resource areas in hand, China out of the war, the Antipodes unavailable for bases, and war raging in Europe; the Japanese figured they would have a year, and maybe more, to fortify their defensive perimeter and prepare for the inevitable American counterattack. The Japanese militarists clearly believed that by tenacious defense of their island fortresses they could inflict more casualties than the American democracy could endure, and that they could force a negotiated settlement that would allow them to retain at least part of their conquests, and retain economic and political primacy in the Far East.

There were proposals to extend the defensive perimeter to include Hawaii, part of Australia, and to invade India, but lack of shipping, troop availability and logistical reality nixed them.

I don't think anybody, with the possible exception of some of the "brain trust" in Washington, really understood the incredible production potential of the US economy. And nobody could anticipate the equipment, techniques and tactics that would be developed by the US to prosecute the Pacific War. Even so, there were serious questions about "war weariness" in the US that influenced plans for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.

I think (for what its worth) that is anachronistic to expect that Nagumo could "follow-up" the initial attack on Hawaii by attacking facilities et al. The idea that aircraft carriers could operate for several days in range of enemy land-based aircraft, dominating the air space over an enemy base, wasn't understood, or even possible, until late 1943. Additionally, Nagumo didn't know where the American carriers were and feared being ambushed by them (as he was at Midway). I'm sure he figured he'd been lucky to make his attack and get away unscathed; and he had other important tasks to perform.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,323
Sydney
#14
The Imperial staff was willing to fight to the last peasant to save their honor
the only thing which convinced them to seek terms , then to accept pretty much anything
was the prospect of a Soviet Japanese people republic engaging in a thorough and complete purge of all the samurai families
 
Oct 2015
762
Virginia
#15
As to why the Japanese might think the US, British and Commonwealth might "fold their tents", we need to try to see things from the dark perspective of fall 1941 and not with knowledge of the ultimate result.

From at least 1935 on, fascist, authoritarian, militarist, axis forces had enjoyed an unbroken series of successes; and democracy [sic] an equally consistent series of disasters. Ethiopia, Spain, China, Munich, Poland, Scandinavia, France (whose army was thought the bulwark of Western security), Greece, Crete, Libya, Russia, all axis victories; the only flicker of light was the Battle of Britain. And in November 1941 the fall of Moscow seemed imminent. With Germany triumphant, Britain besieged, France, the Netherlands and even Russia prostrate, and the US isolationist and disarmed, it would take considerable foresight not to be confident.
 
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Jul 2016
8,941
USA
#16
As to why the Japanese might think the US, British and Commonwealth might "fold their tents", we need to try to see things from the dark perspective of fall 1941 and not with knowledge of the ultimate result.

From at least 1935 on, fascist, authoritarian, militarist, axis forces had enjoyed an unbroken series of successes; and democracy [sic] an equally consistent series of disasters. Ethiopia, Spain, China, Munich, Poland, Scandinavia, France (whose army was thought the bulwark of Western security), Greece, Crete, Libya, Russia, all axis victories; the only flicker of light was the Battle of Britain. And in November 1941 the fall of Moscow seemed imminent. With Germany triumphant, Britain besieged, France, the Netherlands and even Russia prostrate, and the US isolationist and disarmed, it would take considerable foresight not to be confident.
It goes beyond just assuming democracies are weak. The Japanese militarists were highly racist against non-Yamato Japanese, they looked down significantly on Americans, who they saw as racially inferior, weak, stupid, decadent, too spiritless to compete with the Japanese in warfare. Group Think, a major problem in all tyrannical govts and especially bad for Japan in WW2, meant even those who knew that it wasn't true (like Adm Yamamoto) were ignored.
 
Jul 2016
8,941
USA
#17
The Imperial staff was willing to fight to the last peasant to save their honor
the only thing which convinced them to seek terms , then to accept pretty much anything
was the prospect of a Soviet Japanese people republic engaging in a thorough and complete purge of all the samurai families
There were no samurai families in Japan in 1945.

The officer corps fought on until the Emperor, their living God, spoke on the radio and announced his intention to surrender unconditionally, after the debating following the second atomic bomb dropping and the unsuccessful coup attempt by company and field grade officers of the IJA General Staff. Following that, they either accepted their emperor or they killed themselves. Many killed themselves.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
32,972
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#18
I don't believe the Japanese originally intended to "win" - they knew they couldn't defeat the US, but they had counted on doing enough damage in a short space of time to force a peace negoriation that would allow them to hold on to their gains.

They badly miscalculated the US reaction to Pearl Harbor.

Regarding the Emperor, I'm not entirely convinced that the military held him in quite as high regard as is commonly depicted, I certainly doubt that any of them really believed he was a god. Just before the surrender was announced, a number of junior and mid ranking officers attempted a palace coup to depose the Emperor.

I reckon it was more out of a sense of personal obligation and honour, rather like how the Nazi generals felt bound by their oath to Hitler, and kept fighting for him even after it was apparent that the war was lost.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,326
San Antonio, Tx
#19
The Imperial staff was willing to fight to the last peasant to save their honor
the only thing which convinced them to seek terms , then to accept pretty much anything
was the prospect of a Soviet Japanese people republic engaging in a thorough and complete purge of all the samurai families
Really? How do you know any of this is true?