Author Topic: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?  (Read 7335 times)

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Offline besilarius

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Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« on: March 11, 2012, 02:40:05 PM »
http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm

Here is a study by the author's of Shattered Sword. 
They look at the industrial output fo American and Japan.  Just a straight comparison of the two nations' industrial base, and their production, leads the author's to the conclusion that Japan never had a chance in a long war.
The only way for a victory, was to break America's will, early in the struggle.  This complete misreading of the situation, and of their enemy, doomed them from the moment they initiated the combat.
What do you think?  Are they misinterpreting their facts?  Are they ignoring important factors?
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Offline LongBlade

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 02:47:03 PM »
I think they're spot on.

Yamamoto knew he had six months to run free in the Pacific once he attacked. After that he knew they were doomed.

I suppose if we had lost all of our carriers at Pearl it would have been a greater struggle - especially if the fuel depots at Pearl had been hit as was planned in the third wave. But even then the industrial might of America was going to overcome the Japanese, though it might have taken longer.

The only other major item that might have changed the strategic situation was the dropping of the bomb. If we had undertaken Operation Olympic and suffered half a million more casualties, even our resolution during World War II may have started to flag. America was thrilled to have finished fighting in Europe. We probably would have seen things through another two years in Japan, but on one would have been too happy about it.

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 11:25:19 PM »
The ultimate outcome was predictable.  The time frame was not.  Why a small country like Japan with limited resources would take on a country the size of the United States, still eludes me.

WWII was the last war in my opinion where our government had the will to win.

Offline Keunert

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 03:42:50 AM »
why do you always think that the invasion of the japanese main island would be such a bloody mess?
with an even larger superiority in air and artillery assets than in europe Japan might have lost a lot of its fighting capability.
the german did not surrender on any mentionable scale but outnumbered as they were the fighting power was reduced a lot.
wouldn't the same happen in japan? wouldn't they be cut off from oil, steel and whatever?
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Offline Martok

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2012, 05:27:48 AM »
The ultimate outcome was predictable.  The time frame was not. 

Agreed.  It's possible Japan may have been able to run rampant around the Pacific for a year or two longer than they did (had certain events happened a bit differently), but they were never going to win in the long term. 



Why a small country like Japan with limited resources would take on a country the size of the United States, still eludes me.

At the risk of oversimplifying the issues, I'd say it was a combination of greed/ambition, hubris, and wishful thinking. 


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Offline LongBlade

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 06:53:06 AM »
why do you always think that the invasion of the japanese main island would be such a bloody mess?
with an even larger superiority in air and artillery assets than in europe Japan might have lost a lot of its fighting capability.
the german did not surrender on any mentionable scale but outnumbered as they were the fighting power was reduced a lot.
wouldn't the same happen in japan? wouldn't they be cut off from oil, steel and whatever?

One need only look to the islands - especially Saipan - where the Japanese fought to get a preview of what was in store.

The Japanese during WWII were fanatical to the last man. Germans, when outnumbered and defeated sometimes (maybe often) surrendered. The Japanese never did. Or never did to an extent that mattered.

I remember a news piece from when I was a kid. Nixon was still President IIRC. It was the 1970s and on one of the Pacific Islands (I want to say Philippines) this old guy wandered out of the jungle and finally decided it might be time to accept that the war was over. He'd been hiding for 40 years.

In the Japanese home islands they were teaching women and children to fight with sharpened sticks.

Fighting the Japanese would have been a nightmare. The projected casualties were 500,000 US. I suspect that number is underestimated.

At the WWII museum in New Orleans there is a picture on display showing the amount of destruction on Japan's major cities. These vary, but it is fair to say that roughly 45% of every major city had been bombed to rubble. And the Japanese were just getting started to fight.

"Nightmare" is not a strong enough word to describe the scenario of invading the Japanese home islands.

Offline mirth

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 12:15:28 PM »
Why a small country like Japan with limited resources would take on a country the size of the United States, still eludes me.

They had done it before, against Russia, and won.
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Offline W8taminute

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 01:02:00 PM »
WWII was the last war in my opinion where our government had the will to win.


Amen to that brother.  Let me add one more thing to that however.  WWII was the last war in my opinion where our government and our people had the will to win.  WW2 was the last war where we were not afraid to win no matter the cost, to us or to the enemy.  There was no concern about collateral damage.  Today, we spend more time, it seems to me anyway, worrying about not offending our enemies with respect to race, religion, or creed, when we should be going through them like crap through a goose. 
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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 01:54:35 PM »
I have read estimates that an invasion of Japan in fall of 1945 would have cost 1 million plus casualties. I've also read that Allied GIs by far preferred fighting the Germans (and definitely the Italians) to the Japanese, who were not even seen as human. I know that's how my Grandfather felt, even though most of his friends were killed fighting the Germans.
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Offline LongBlade

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 02:10:42 PM »
I have read estimates that an invasion of Japan in fall of 1945 would have cost 1 million plus casualties. I've also read that Allied GIs by far preferred fighting the Germans (and definitely the Italians) to the Japanese, who were not even seen as human. I know that's how my Grandfather felt, even though most of his friends were killed fighting the Germans.

That's pretty much as I understand it, Gus.

One need spend a little time reading up on the PTO to understand how tenacious the Japanese were. The million figure casualty is probably closer to the truth, but the half-mil is the number put forth at the WWII museum and is, at the very least, a conservative number.

Offline Keunert

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2012, 02:50:10 PM »
ww2 was compared to all the following wars also one with more than enough reasons to fight. there was no general, no defence minister needed to explain in long sentences what this fight was about. the us was attacked on it's own ground by a easily identifiable ennemy. there was no preemptive bla bla, no sending troops to places you have never heard before to fight for a regime that was more than questionable and what not.

not saying that other wars were not justified. Korea and Vietnam? those were gambles between the two superpowers in proxy states. not quite the same as attacking the us fleet and sinking half of it. Iraq? Afghanistan? i guess a lot uf the us citizens gave a shit about those countries. i guess every war post ww2 was harder to sell then ww2 after Pearl Harbour.
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Offline besilarius

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2012, 05:00:50 PM »
One point that was seemingly swept under the rug, was that there really was no military obligation to invade the Japanese home islands.
At least one study ended up suggesting that a total blockade would force the government to surrender or face mass starvation.
The idea of not invading seems to have been something that the army fought tooth and nail.  Having assembled such a force, the idea of not using it seems to have not been acceptible.
MacArthur in particular seems to have been intotal denial about the scale of casualties.  He did not project a walk over, but estimated that american losses would be very few.  (Have to look this up.)
I think that Harry Truman realised he had to end the war soon.  The american people were weary and wanted it over.  A blockade would take months to have the desired effect, while seemingly nothing was being done.
Also, having spent a fortune on the Manhattan Project, he felt it should be tried.
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along”.  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

Tallulah Bankhead: "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

"When all other trusts fail, turn to Flashman." — Abraham Lincoln.

"I have enjoyed very warm relations with my two husbands."
"With your eyes closed?"
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Epee1

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2012, 09:08:34 PM »
Weren't the Russians close to getting involved also?

Offline LongBlade

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2012, 07:08:52 AM »
Weren't the Russians close to getting involved also?

Not sure. IIRC they were more than happy to let the US do the heavy lifting - especially after the beating they took on the Eastern Front.

Remember, they only got involved in the very last few days of the war and only then to snatch a few of Japan's northern Kuril Islands.

Offline LongBlade

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Re: Could Japan have won in the Pacific?
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2012, 07:09:53 AM »
One point that was seemingly swept under the rug, was that there really was no military obligation to invade the Japanese home islands.
At least one study ended up suggesting that a total blockade would force the government to surrender or face mass starvation.
The idea of not invading seems to have been something that the army fought tooth and nail.  Having assembled such a force, the idea of not using it seems to have not been acceptible.
MacArthur in particular seems to have been intotal denial about the scale of casualties.  He did not project a walk over, but estimated that american losses would be very few.  (Have to look this up.)
I think that Harry Truman realised he had to end the war soon.  The american people were weary and wanted it over.  A blockade would take months to have the desired effect, while seemingly nothing was being done.
Also, having spent a fortune on the Manhattan Project, he felt it should be tried.

Interesting point. Something in the very back of my mind says you may be right, but maybe it was a remark in high school because I can't remember reading or watching a show about this.