In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army

By Edward J. Drea | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOUR
AN ALLIED INTERPRETATION OF THE PACIFIC WAR

Americans think in terms of the war in the Pacific, Australians mull over the war in the Southwest Pacific, the British tend to reflect on the war in Southwest Asia--Malaya, Burma, and India--the Chinese, and some Japanese, the cataclysmic campaigning on the China fronts that extended thousands of miles, and the Soviets on Manchuria, northeast China. In other words, one must visualize Allied military operations against a common opponent that stretched from the borders of Burma and India south to Australia, north to the Aleutian Islands, and east to Hawaii. Simultaneously one must understand naval warfare (because the Pacific phase was a naval war), airpower (because the quest for air bases from which to bombard Japan into submission was a driving element in strategy and one that made China seem so attractive), amphibious operations (in the Central and Southwest Pacific to secure bases), and army-level and army group operations on the Asian mainland in Burma and China. In the latter two cases, the United States had little military involvement.

I arbitrarily use 7 December 1941 as the beginning of the World War in Asia. This is capricious, because Japan and China had been engaged in a full-scale war since July 1937. For Japan the China War was the wrong war, at the wrong place, against the wrong opponent, at the wrong time. IJA strategic thinking was predicated on a war against the Soviet Union fought on the plains of Manchuria, which bordered on north China. In

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