The War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

By Harry A. Gailey | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Japanese Military Preparations

IN 1941, JAPAN'S armed forces had already been at war with China for four years, and although not completely mobilized, the nation was fully prepared for a continuation of the Sino-Japanese conflict. The disturbances of the pre-China war period had consolidated political power in the hands of ultranationalist military leaders occupying high government positions or operating behind the scenes to influence government policy.

Japan, to a foreign observer, represented a series of dichotomies. In the late nineteenth century, Emperor Mutsuhito and his advisers launched the Meiji Revolution, which utilized European political systems as models in creating a government of shared powers. There was a two-house parliament and a professional civil service. The ministry, like the German model, was not responsible to the legislature, but the presumption was that the prime minister and his associates, before carrying out a particular policy, would seek the legislature's support. Japan, however, was far from being a nation in which the government depended on popular support. The traditional nobility and the great industrial magnates dominated Japanese political life. Most Japanese unhesitatingly followed the decisions of those leaders partially because of police actions, but mostly because the structure of Japanese society had changed very little

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