If the entire populace is passive and doesn't arm themselves and the soldiers have an MO of surrendering, how difficult would invading Japan still be?

Jan 2017
84
North Carolina
Its a universal cliche that so many Americans feared invading Japan and most academics and military analysts agree dropping nukes was the best thing because not only did Japanese soldier have an MO of refusing to surrender and fighting to the death but also because they were arming the entire civilian populace with weapons including giving housewives of military men guns and arming civilian family's children with spears and knives. Basically estimates are always expecting millions to be killed because not only will the well-disciplined Japanese army fight to the last man but even innocent children will do stuff like throw grenades out of nowhere at American convoys and sisters of soldiers will do knife stabbing ambushes. Basically many people were expecting invading Japan to be similar to the war we've been having in Iraq (full of stuff like suicide bombings and civilians pulling pistols and shooting American soldiers from behind, etc for the last decade except 10X worse.

However recently I read that although we tend to think of Japan as a small country who defeated much larger nations because of their culture immense self discipline, in reality Japan is not only roughly the size of Germany but also her population was a bit higher-so high that one of the main reasons they wanted to invade China was to provide livable lands to its citizens and for farming purposes.

Because of how complex stuff gets such as the evolution of the ancient Ashigaru system from Tokugawa system that was still practised by descendents of Samurai and naval infantry that still remained despite the destruction of the Japanese navy, (and I forgot, the 1 million troops in China) I will just leave it to the assumption we are merely fighting the remnants of the Japanese army that Operation Downfall often assumes and in the manner many wargamers and netizens discuss about the sorry state of Japan in 1945.

How would thinks end up? Documentaries, internet discussions, general history books, and pop media would have you believe the real fear of downfall was the entire populace of Japan getting spears, knives, and other last ditch weapon and doing Al Qaeda style terrorist attacks. As if the main Japanese army was so broken this point that it wouldn't matter.

So as I said only military men involved and no Japanese civilian attempts to do Al Qaeda style attacks and last minute volunteer similar to the Last Stand of the Confederacy in WW2 by untrained young men. And Japanese soldiers get sane and surrender in hopeless situations like Germans did (such as 3 soldiers in a house waving white flags when they see a squad of Americans approaching). And because I mentioned Japan is much larger and has a higher population than many people tend to assume (70 million, 10 million more than Germany's at the time, with Japan being almost as large as Germany's total land mass), I will allow properly trained draftees that was going through bootcamp a month before the scheduled invasion to be used and other properly military use of Japan's 10 million (such as training more local militia **properly** before being sent as conventional infantry reinforcements during the first month of the IJA remains holding off the initial waves of American assault). Not the spear armed children and other idiotic Al Qaeda style nonsense guerrilla warfare defense often assumed in Operation Downfall scenarios.

How heavy would casualty counts be? Would it be must lower than many wargamers and amateur historians assume because civilians won't be doing Al Qaeda style suicide attacks and because Japanese soldiers surrender in much larger numbers and earlier)? Or would Japan's similarity to Germany's geography(esp total area) and population numbers make a much much much bigger difference than the common assumption of civilian casualties bringing millions of deaths and prolonging the war that many internet discussions often conclude?
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,238
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Probably the American commanders had influenced by the really irrelevant effect of the firebombing of Tokyo. We should keep in mind that the firebombing of Tokyo killed more persons than any single nuclear attack. Japan didn't surrender.

Why? Because the Emperor and the Japanese establishment had the possibility to survive to a firebombing. Americans needed to show something which left no hope to survive to the Emperor and his establishment: a nuclear bomb.
 
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Apr 2012
261
Iowa, USA
Its a universal cliche that so many Americans feared invading Japan and most academics and military analysts agree dropping nukes was the best thing because not only did Japanese soldier have an MO of refusing to surrender and fighting to the death but also because they were arming the entire civilian populace with weapons including giving housewives of military men guns and arming civilian family's children with spears and knives. Basically estimates are always expecting millions to be killed because not only will the well-disciplined Japanese army fight to the last man but even innocent children will do stuff like throw grenades out of nowhere at American convoys and sisters of soldiers will do knife stabbing ambushes. Basically many people were expecting invading Japan to be similar to the war we've been having in Iraq (full of stuff like suicide bombings and civilians pulling pistols and shooting American soldiers from behind, etc for the last decade except 10X worse.

However recently I read that although we tend to think of Japan as a small country who defeated much larger nations because of their culture immense self discipline, in reality Japan is not only roughly the size of Germany but also her population was a bit higher-so high that one of the main reasons they wanted to invade China was to provide livable lands to its citizens and for farming purposes.

Because of how complex stuff gets such as the evolution of the ancient Ashigaru system from Tokugawa system that was still practised by descendents of Samurai and naval infantry that still remained despite the destruction of the Japanese navy, (and I forgot, the 1 million troops in China) I will just leave it to the assumption we are merely fighting the remnants of the Japanese army that Operation Downfall often assumes and in the manner many wargamers and netizens discuss about the sorry state of Japan in 1945.

How would thinks end up? Documentaries, internet discussions, general history books, and pop media would have you believe the real fear of downfall was the entire populace of Japan getting spears, knives, and other last ditch weapon and doing Al Qaeda style terrorist attacks. As if the main Japanese army was so broken this point that it wouldn't matter.

So as I said only military men involved and no Japanese civilian attempts to do Al Qaeda style attacks and last minute volunteer similar to the Last Stand of the Confederacy in WW2 by untrained young men. And Japanese soldiers get sane and surrender in hopeless situations like Germans did (such as 3 soldiers in a house waving white flags when they see a squad of Americans approaching). And because I mentioned Japan is much larger and has a higher population than many people tend to assume (70 million, 10 million more than Germany's at the time, with Japan being almost as large as Germany's total land mass), I will allow properly trained draftees that was going through bootcamp a month before the scheduled invasion to be used and other properly military use of Japan's 10 million (such as training more local militia **properly** before being sent as conventional infantry reinforcements during the first month of the IJA remains holding off the initial waves of American assault). Not the spear armed children and other idiotic Al Qaeda style nonsense guerrilla warfare defense often assumed in Operation Downfall scenarios.

How heavy would casualty counts be? Would it be must lower than many wargamers and amateur historians assume because civilians won't be doing Al Qaeda style suicide attacks and because Japanese soldiers surrender in much larger numbers and earlier)? Or would Japan's similarity to Germany's geography(esp total area) and population numbers make a much much much bigger difference than the common assumption of civilian casualties bringing millions of deaths and prolonging the war that many internet discussions often conclude?
As a friend of mine use to say: "Ifa , woulda, and coulda and any and all things is possible."
 
Jun 2017
2,976
Connecticut
Its a universal cliche that so many Americans feared invading Japan and most academics and military analysts agree dropping nukes was the best thing because not only did Japanese soldier have an MO of refusing to surrender and fighting to the death but also because they were arming the entire civilian populace with weapons including giving housewives of military men guns and arming civilian family's children with spears and knives. Basically estimates are always expecting millions to be killed because not only will the well-disciplined Japanese army fight to the last man but even innocent children will do stuff like throw grenades out of nowhere at American convoys and sisters of soldiers will do knife stabbing ambushes. Basically many people were expecting invading Japan to be similar to the war we've been having in Iraq (full of stuff like suicide bombings and civilians pulling pistols and shooting American soldiers from behind, etc for the last decade except 10X worse.

However recently I read that although we tend to think of Japan as a small country who defeated much larger nations because of their culture immense self discipline, in reality Japan is not only roughly the size of Germany but also her population was a bit higher-so high that one of the main reasons they wanted to invade China was to provide livable lands to its citizens and for farming purposes.

Because of how complex stuff gets such as the evolution of the ancient Ashigaru system from Tokugawa system that was still practised by descendents of Samurai and naval infantry that still remained despite the destruction of the Japanese navy, (and I forgot, the 1 million troops in China) I will just leave it to the assumption we are merely fighting the remnants of the Japanese army that Operation Downfall often assumes and in the manner many wargamers and netizens discuss about the sorry state of Japan in 1945.

How would thinks end up? Documentaries, internet discussions, general history books, and pop media would have you believe the real fear of downfall was the entire populace of Japan getting spears, knives, and other last ditch weapon and doing Al Qaeda style terrorist attacks. As if the main Japanese army was so broken this point that it wouldn't matter.

So as I said only military men involved and no Japanese civilian attempts to do Al Qaeda style attacks and last minute volunteer similar to the Last Stand of the Confederacy in WW2 by untrained young men. And Japanese soldiers get sane and surrender in hopeless situations like Germans did (such as 3 soldiers in a house waving white flags when they see a squad of Americans approaching). And because I mentioned Japan is much larger and has a higher population than many people tend to assume (70 million, 10 million more than Germany's at the time, with Japan being almost as large as Germany's total land mass), I will allow properly trained draftees that was going through bootcamp a month before the scheduled invasion to be used and other properly military use of Japan's 10 million (such as training more local militia **properly** before being sent as conventional infantry reinforcements during the first month of the IJA remains holding off the initial waves of American assault). Not the spear armed children and other idiotic Al Qaeda style nonsense guerrilla warfare defense often assumed in Operation Downfall scenarios.

How heavy would casualty counts be? Would it be must lower than many wargamers and amateur historians assume because civilians won't be doing Al Qaeda style suicide attacks and because Japanese soldiers surrender in much larger numbers and earlier)? Or would Japan's similarity to Germany's geography(esp total area) and population numbers make a much much much bigger difference than the common assumption of civilian casualties bringing millions of deaths and prolonging the war that many internet discussions often conclude?
The Japanese had been fed horrible propaganda about us. True or not, they would behave accordingly(and in response we would probably end up validating at least some of that narrative). Remember this is right after Operation Barbarossa and the casualty numbers a determined defender with a large population could inflict had not been seen before and might not be seen again in human history. We talk about how brutal WWII in the Pacific is, but fiercely fought or not it was between relatively small groups of people, invading a great power(that hadn't been severely weakened by another country) is an undertaking the US military had never and has never underwent before and while I'm sure on paper we could win, politically it would be a disaster and it had never been so crystal clear as in 1945. We were a traditionally isolationist country who despite our government's militant switch has yet suffered the aggregate of our Civil War losses in all our subsequent wars, our population would not stomach even a million casualties to invade some far off place for revenge regardless of Pearl Harbor.
 
Mar 2019
1,983
Kansas
Probably the American commanders had influenced by the really irrelevant effect of the firebombing of Tokyo. We should keep in mind that the firebombing of Tokyo killed more persons than any single nuclear attack. Japan didn't surrender.

Why? Because the Emperor and the Japanese establishment had the possibility to survive to a firebombing. Americans needed to show something which left no hope to survive to the Emperor and his establishment: a nuclear bomb.
I think another thing spooking Allied commanders was the civilian reaction on Okinawa, where somewhere close to 150,000 civilians died, and only something like 10% of the Japanese soldiers surrendered
 
Jan 2017
84
North Carolina
We are gettting off topic.

Someone said Japan is the size of Germany and had almost more peole thanmost countries in Europe inclouding Germany. Which is why I call the notion spear armed civilians and other civilians doing guerilla warfare causing most American casualties BS.

Operation Downfall scenario assumes that the Japanese army is near to the point of uselessness and it will be civilians who cause the half million casualties.

I'm calling BS on this. Instead I believe the size of Japan and its terrain will cause the most American dead. Even if the Japanese didn't fight to the death a la ISIS terrorist style, we are invading a country the size of Germany and arguably much more difficult to march in. Germany's army was almost destroyed yet they were able to inflict 10,000 casualties on Americans in the last month before Hitler shot himself. Even after Hitler was killed, the German army did some last stand that inflicted thousands of American casualties on the Ameircan army. This doesn't even count the siege of Berlin which did almost half a million Soviets killed by an even more weakened part of the German army.

I believe at hundreds of thousands of Americans killed if Civilians didn't get involved the Japanese units were willing to surrender individually in impossible odds. Because Japan is a large country and look how much suffering the Germans caused in the last day despite the German army supposedly destroyed.
 
Apr 2012
261
Iowa, USA
Wrangler29: "So as I said only military men involved and no Japanese civilian attempts to do Al Qaeda style attacks and last minute volunteer similar to the Last Stand of the Confederacy in WW2 by untrained young men. And Japanese soldiers get sane and surrender in hopeless situations like Germans did (such as 3 soldiers in a house waving white flags when they see a squad of Americans approaching). " This is not historical. Come to any conclusion you want-it is meaningless. I think I'll assume all Japanese are pacifists so no Pacific war-no casualties! All problems solved!!
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,993
MD, USA
I'm calling BS on this.
Gosh, thanks for enlightening us! Even if this were the Speculative section, basically you want to change Japan into an entirely different culture and mindset, to the point where I'm wondering how they even got into the war. And then we're supposed to figure out how something which didn't happen would have been different? Sorry, this is even more baffling than your usual threads.

Matthew