Japan's Struggle to End the War

Japan's Struggle to End the War

Japan's Struggle to End the War

Japan's Struggle to End the War

Excerpt

While the impact of Allied air operations in the entire Pacific war bore directly upon the enemy's military and economic capabilities for resisting, only by translating these military and economic effects into political events could our announced war aim of unconditional surrender be realized. Japan's acceptance of defeat without invasion while still possessed of 2 ½ million combat-equipped troops and 9,000 Kamikaze airplanes in the home islands, reveal how persuasively the consequences of our operations were translated into political results. The nature of Japanese politics and its vulnerability and responses to air assault constituted therefore a major and significant line of inquiry for the Survey.

The "political target" comprised a ganglion of Army, Navy, Government, and Imperial household factions which together decided major questions of national policy. Fortunately, most of the pertinent questions relating to how Japan was brought to acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration find their answers in the simple chronology of events which can now be narrated in some detail for the period from the collapse of Tojo in July 1944, to the imperial rescript of 15 August 1945. The evidence is chiefly in the testimony obtained by Survey interrogation of the Army, Navy, Government, and Imperial household leaders who participated or were influential in the struggle within Japan over whether to continue the war or to accept surrender. The inquiry might have benefited from testimony of certain key figures who were not available to the Survey. Tojo, Koiso, Togo, and a few others impounded for trial as war criminals could not be interrogated. A few, notably General Anami, the War Minister in the Suzuki cabinet, had committed suicide. Since the Emperor's participation in the crucial events of the period preceding surrender had been revealed and corroborated by other participants, an interview with Hirohito would not have been productive. It is felt that the general picture of the course of events would not have been changed materially had these persons been available for interrogation.

I. Some Properties of the Political Target

To assess the events of surrender requires a capsule reminder of the interrelated pressures, the interlocking mechanism of Japanese politics. The starting point is that Japan was governed largely by a consensus among the oligarchy of ruling factions at the top. No major decisions of national policy could be reached until such a consensus had been obtained. This process inevitably took time and involved complicated pressures and struggles of will among those of differing opinions.

A flow-chart of the chief pressures would show the Lord Privy Seal (Marquis Koichi Kido throughout the war period) as the Emperor's political agent, an observer and estimator of the current Government's problems and its capabilities for coping with them. To one side, clear of responsibility or authority, but in this instance with pipe lines into the Government which informed them of the true state of affairs, were the senior statesmen or Jushin. These ex-premiers could not enforce their views, but did apply persuasive and informed pressure on the Privy Seal and other Government leaders. The Jushin also had interlocking membership with the Privy Council which approved important decisions in foreign policy, and individual Jushin were frequently close to the Emperor. Then there was the Cabinet, which once formed could perpetuate itself so long as it was strong and successful. An important test of its strength and success was its ability to absorb or modify the views and policies of the Army and Navy, who named their own Cabinet ministers, whose ministers and chiefs of staff had direct access to the Emperor, and who were influenced until the end by the fanaticism of the majority of Army officers and younger Navy officers. One important wartime innova-

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