You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific


A startling omission from the extensive literature on the Pacific events of World War II is an analysis of Allied psychological operations. In this work Allison B. Gilmore makes a strong case for the importance of psychological warfare (psywar) in this theater, countering the usual view of fanatical resistance by Japanese units. Gilmore marshals evidence that Japanese military indoctrination was not proof against demoralization and the survival instinct.

The Pacific War was particularly brutal, racist on both sides, and often fought without regard to so-called civilized norms of warfare. Yet Gilmore offers her study as "the story of how psywar personnel attempted to convince Japanese and Americans alike that their assumptions about the other were misleading and counterproductive". To do so, she focuses on combat propaganda -- activities conducted in support of military operations and intended to demoralize Japanese combatants -- and examines the objectives of the psywar campaign. She outlines the process by which propaganda was created, evaluates the policies that guided that creation, and offers criteria for judging the relative success of these efforts. The work also examines the Imperial Army's training, the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese morale, and the Allies' attempts to exploit the Japanese military structure and ethos.


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