The Defeat of Japan

The Defeat of Japan

The Defeat of Japan

The Defeat of Japan


Following the Pearl Harbor attack Imperial Japanese contingents overran large areas of Southeast Asia and the Pacific until checked by U.S. forces at Midway and Guadalcanal. This book demonstrates how America and the British Commonwealth were able to evolve and apply a victorious strategy in very difficult military circumstances. The Pacific struggle is put in its full international context. Events in China, Anglo-American diplomatic efforts to bring Russia into the war against Japan, and the development and decision to use the atomic bomb are all described. The Japanese response to strategic reverses during 1944-45 is related, as is the way that Emperor Hirohito personally intervened with his militarist government in August 1945 to end the Pacific War. The result of all these converging events was the "Journey to the Missouri" made by the Japanese government and High Command on 2 September 1945 when the instrument of surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay. An epilogue describes how this uniquely bitter struggle,had a successful sequel in the occupation of Japan.


During the reign of the Emperor Meiji, who died in 1912 after reigning for fortyfive years, Japan was changed from an unknown and isolated Asian country into an important player on the international stage.

Under the Meiji rulers, who had replaced the shoguns of the feudal system after the brief civil war of 1867-68, the country had embarked on a far-reaching policy of modernization. There were significant advances in education in all its forms and in building up the infrastructure of a modern state. The United States, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, and other Western countries all contributed to this process. A modern navy and a conscript army were created. There was a dramatic increase in trade and industry as the zaibatsu or "financial cliques" came into being. Then, as now, the labor force was disciplined and hard-working.

In line with the Emperor's promise in 1881, a constitution was promulgated in 1889. A Diet (or parliament) was established, with two houses. The Upper House was composed of nobility and some Imperial appointees, while the lower house--the House of Representatives--was elected on a restricted franchise. The Emperor could prorogue the Upper House or dissolve the House of Representatives. If the Diet was not in session the Emperor could issue decrees until the Diet could meet for discussion.

The historic position of the Emperor as the head of Japan's unique "national polity" (kokutai) was recognized in the first clause of the Meiji constitution, which stated that the Emperor was "sacred and inviolable" and that Japan "shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal. . . ."

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