Military decision making of Imperial Japan (1868-1945).

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,975
Where Pica hudsonia thrives
#1
A Chinese books is named 《军国幕僚:有一类战犯叫参谋》(The title can be translated into The Aide under Militarism: A Type of War Criminals Named Staff Officer.
While it might not be a book by professional historian, it clearly illustrated how the development of the General Staff or how did various staffs were responsible for the demise of Imperial Japan.
The Army War College was the training ground for Japanese staff officers and military leaders.
These people were quite professionally trained as soldiers, but they were socially and politically ignorant; even so, they were above the government in authority.
The military could run the government literally.
It was argued that some people who couldn't understand Clausewitz's On War started the Army War College.
I'm trying to read On War to fill in this gap in knowledge.
Tactically brilliant, short-sighted, arrogant, strategically idiotic were a few adjectives for the General Staff.
OK, the Kuomintang general Li Zongren mentioned that if Japan fully mobilized and invaded China in full strength, it might have been able to overwhelmed China in a short time.
Instead, it poured in smaller forces initially; when it was not sufficient, it poured it more.
(OK, this gave the Chinese time to prepare and let the war dragged on.)
Let's face it: Japan didn't have the industrial strength of Nazi Germany, so blitzkrieg would be out of question; beside, except for the coastal plain, China is quite mountainous, and blitzbrieg didn't quite work on rugged terrain.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,975
Where Pica hudsonia thrives
#2
OK, I might want to change the topic, but I decide to use the same thread.
Imperial Japan demonstrated numerous weaknesses during the Pacific War:
1) "First rated rank and file soldiers; second rated officers; third rated generals and marshals"; due to the quality of the rank and file soldiers and relative weaknesses of the Republic of China, Imperial Japan was able to make tremendous early gains during the first phrase of the Pacific War; the weaknesses in the scope and strategic thinking of the leadership showed up WAY later in the war.
2) It had soldiers (loosely speaking, military officers) exclusively trained for the military from elementary school level (or primary school level); these people were soldiers almost exclusively and they lacked any social and political perspectives. The Russo-Japanese War and the First Sino-Japanese War were won because they were led by statesmen from the Meiji Restoration (they were true strategists and statesmen rather than pure military specialists.)
3) Imperial Japan showed contempts toward logistics and supplies (they essentially try to get by looting, but looting was impossible for some areas). Even Chinese classical military texts teach about the importance of logistics and supplies (while this is commonsense; the Japanese "commonsense" about looting came from their fragmented periods, in which soldiers got their livelihoods from looting.)
4) The leadership was mostly short-sighted and lacked strategic thinking. (Kanji Ishiwara was a major exception, but he lost his power in 1941).
The fact was that not all of the Japanese leadership was for invasion; leaders such as Inukai Tsuyoshi and Mitsumasa Yonai were both prime ministers who attempted to stop the war; Inukai Tsuyoshi was murdered, and Mitsumasa Yonai lost his power.
Militarism in Japan meant the military was "über alles"(OK, I don't really know German, but I borrow the term).
 
Jan 2015
5,075
Ontario, Canada
#3
There were very few marshals with the only ones in active service throughout the war being Hisaichi Terauchi in South East Asia and the Pacific (New Guinea and Solomon islands), Shunroku Hata and Yasuji Okamura in China. Iwane Matsui served very briefly in such a capacity at Nanjing and Shanghai.

The majority of the generals we have become familiar with were only corps commanders such as Shojiro Iida, Tomoyuki Yamashita, Masaharu Homma and Hitoshi Imamura (notice how they are all in SE Asia). Shojiro Iida was removed from Burma early on and sent to Japan only being promoted to army commander when the Soviets invaded Manchuria but no success unfortunately. His own replacement Masakazu Kawabe was switched with Heitaro Kimura in 1944 until the end of the war.
Yamashita was also removed from Malaysia but promoted as army commander in the Philippines when MacArthur invaded. Homma was removed from the Philippines and did not see service again. Imamura was the exception and after serving in Indonesia was promoted to army commander in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Suffice to say generals seem to have been shifted about, thrown away, reinstated at whim or replaced without batting an eye.
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,975
Where Pica hudsonia thrives
#4
Why ws Renya Mutaguchi appointed in the first place? He was delusional, incompetent.
 
Jan 2015
5,075
Ontario, Canada
#5
Honestly I have no idea why Renya Mutaguchi and Masakazu Kawabe were sent to Burma to replace Shojiro Iida. Lieutenant General Shojiro Iida was rather skillful, especially in maneuvre, I think. However his subordinate Renya Mutaguchi, in command of 18th Division, was assigned as his replacement in 15th Army. Moreover the forces in Burma were reorganized into the Burma Area Army and general Masakazu Kawabe appointed as the commander of forces there (as one of the Armies under the South Expeditionary Army Group). Why Shojiro Iida did not gain command of the Burma Area Army and get promoted to general is beyond me. Or even why he didn't retain command of 15th Army under Masakazu Kawabe's Burma Area Army.
Shojiro Iida was reassigned to Japan in the General Defense Command in 1943 and was then given command over the Central District Army for Japan defense. Finally in 1945 he was returned to a field command in Manchuria with the 30th Army (under 3rd Area Army in Western Manchuria, all the units there under the Kwantung Army) which saw the Soviet onslaught there at the end of the war.

One should note that in Japanese terms "15th Army" or "18th Army" and so on actually means the equivalent of a Corps. Each "Army" would have consisted of about two Corps (the same that a regular army Corps would have been composed of elsewhere). In that case Shojiro Iida and Renya Mutaguchi would actually be Corps commanders. The "Burma Area Army" would have been an Army where as the "Southern Expeditionary Army Group" or the "China Expeditionary Army" would better be described as an Army Group.
 
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Jan 2015
5,075
Ontario, Canada
#6
Above I said a Japanese "Army" would be compose of two Corps but my mistake. A Japanese "Army" would be composed of two Divisions. The term Corps was not used by the IJA for some reason but realistically their so called "Armies" were nothing more than effectively a Corps. So for example when Tomoyuki Yamashita took Malaysia and Singapore he was a Lieutenant General in command of an "Army" but by western standards was no different than a Corps.
 
Mar 2016
72
The motherland
#7
OK, the Kuomintang general Li Zongren mentioned that if Japan fully mobilized and invaded China in full strength, it might have been able to overwhelmed China in a short time.
The invasion of China kicked off with the Manchurian Incident in Manchuria in 1931, which was a fascist plot to initiate a war with China. The Japanese government was against the very idea of invading China and it tried to contain the spread of the initial skirmish with the Chinese military using various means and the Army was not fully mobilised as a result. Kanji Ishiwara was the Chief of Operations of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff at the time and his ultimate goal was to liberate Asian countries from European colonial rule and create the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. The Manchurian Incident was a staged event by Kanji Ishiwara to be used as a pretext for the Japanese invasion of China and conquering China was the first step to achieve his grandiose goal. Ishiwara and other like-minded military leaders presumed that China could be taken over in a few weeks, underestimating the vastness of the country. Hitler repeated Ishiwara's mistake with Operation Barbarossa in 1941.



The Wars for Asia, 1911–1949 shows that the Western treatment of World War II, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Chinese Civil War as separate events misrepresents their overlapping connections and causes. The long Chinese Civil War precipitated a long regional war between China and Japan that went global in 1941 when the Chinese found themselves fighting a civil war within a regional war within an overarching global war. The global war that consumed Western attentions resulted from Japan's peripheral strategy to cut foreign aid to China by attacking Pearl Harbor and Western interests throughout the Pacific on December 7–8, 1941. S. C. M. Paine emphasizes the fears and ambitions of Japan, China, and Russia, and the pivotal decisions that set them on a collision course in the 1920s and 1930s. The resulting wars – the Chinese Civil War (1911–1949), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1931–1945), and World War II (1939–1945) – together yielded a viscerally anti-Japanese and unified Communist China, the still-angry rising power of the early twenty-first century. While these events are history in the West, they live on in Japan and especially China.
http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/military-history/wars-asia-19111949
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,975
Where Pica hudsonia thrives
#8
Honestly I have no idea why Renya Mutaguchi and Masakazu Kawabe were sent to Burma to replace Shojiro Iida. Lieutenant General Shojiro Iida was rather skillful, especially in maneuvre, I think. However his subordinate Renya Mutaguchi, in command of 18th Division, was assigned as his replacement in 15th Army. Moreover the forces in Burma were reorganized into the Burma Area Army and general Masakazu Kawabe appointed as the commander of forces there (as one of the Armies under the South Expeditionary Army Group). Why Shojiro Iida did not gain command of the Burma Area Army and get promoted to general is beyond me. Or even why he didn't retain command of 15th Army under Masakazu Kawabe's Burma Area Army.
Shojiro Iida was reassigned to Japan in the General Defense Command in 1943 and was then given command over the Central District Army for Japan defense. Finally in 1945 he was returned to a field command in Manchuria with the 30th Army (under 3rd Area Army in Western Manchuria, all the units there under the Kwantung Army) which saw the Soviet onslaught there at the end of the war.

One should note that in Japanese terms "15th Army" or "18th Army" and so on actually means the equivalent of a Corps. Each "Army" would have consisted of about two Corps (the same that a regular army Corps would have been composed of elsewhere). In that case Shojiro Iida and Renya Mutaguchi would actually be Corps commanders. The "Burma Area Army" would have been an Army where as the "Southern Expeditionary Army Group" or the "China Expeditionary Army" would better be described as an Army Group.
Renya Mutaguchi "contributed" much to the demise of the Japanese expedition.
He was a textbook general who followed Genghis Khan's strategies and tactics; in practice, the medieval period was very different from the 1940s.
The time of Genghis Khan did not have sophisticated artillery or air forces; the animals that Renya Mutaguchi and his forces herded not only slow military progresses; they provided living targets for the Allied air forces.
Soon, such "living supplies" were lost.
The tragic result? Of the 90000 strong forces, only 12000 survived, and half such losses were due to hunger, malnutrition and diseases.
 
Jul 2018
282
Hong Kong
#9
Honestly I have no idea why Renya Mutaguchi and Masakazu Kawabe were sent to Burma to replace Shojiro Iida. Lieutenant General Shojiro Iida was rather skillful, especially in maneuvre, I think. However his subordinate Renya Mutaguchi, in command of 18th Division, was assigned as his replacement in 15th Army. Moreover the forces in Burma were reorganized into the Burma Area Army and general Masakazu Kawabe appointed as the commander of forces there (as one of the Armies under the South Expeditionary Army Group). Why Shojiro Iida did not gain command of the Burma Area Army and get promoted to general is beyond me.
Maybe that had something to do with the rule of seniority. This always happened in the modern military history. Remember how Arthur Wellesley lost his superior command after the AD 1808 Battle of Vimeiro, though the case was quite different.

I am also bewildered that why it wasn't Ozawa Jisaburo who was exceptionally gifted in carrier warfare and highly-experienced in carrier troops' training and command but rather that Chuichi Nagumo who had little knowledge about navy aviation put into the place of the commander-in-chief of the 1st Air Fleet.

Because of Chuichi's stupid order of "swapping weapon between torpedos and bombs" that storing all of them on the deck of the aircraft carriers due to insufficient reconnaissance and Chuichi's indecision, the Japanese navy suffered the catastrophic losses in the Battle of Midway. Ozawa Jisaburo was an expert in naval aviation. He proved his mettle in the AD 1940 military exercise which played the decisive role in entrenching Yamamoto's belief that bombing the Pearl Harbor by moving aircraft carrier to the pre-arranged location and launching bombers would be surely practical.

I dare to say, if Ozawa Jisaburo rather than Chuichi Nagumo commanded the air fleet, the US Navy would be in great trouble in the AD 1942 Battle of Midway....there're no incredible FT fuse, no numerical advantage, no F6F "Hellcat", no large escort group protecting carriers just like in AD 1944 Naval Battle of the Mariana, and the Japanese Zero fighters were still superior than the US fighters in that time. It might be the US Navy rather than the Japanese Navy became the "turkey shooting" in Midway.

What the US Navy could rely on in mid-1942 was the revitalized morale and the incredibly efficient damage & control technique that could repair the US ships in unbelievable rapidity.

Vice-Admiral Ozawa, a man of courage and resourcefulness, an expert of naval aviation, certainly had a great chance to inflict the crushing defeat upon the US Navy in AD 1942. Too bad he wasn't given that chance to prove it.

The ever-losing and rarely-known but superbly brilliant naval commander — Ozawa Jisaburo (小沢治三郎) (watch how he showed off in the AD 1940 military exercise that greatly impressed Yamamoto Isoroku)
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,996
Dispargum
#10
All militaries attract ambitious men and then further encourage that ambition. Any soldier or sailor who is not ambitious never rises to the rank of general or admiral. Among the highest ranking officers, competition for promotions and key assignments is fierce. Seniority is a convenient way of explaining to disappointed candidates why they didn't get the job or the promotion. It does have a way of putting the wrong man into a position.
 

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