Pearl Harbor Reconsidered: Introduction
Before the attack there was a plan for the war...kind of...
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Pearl Harbor Reconsidered
On 25 September 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) began their preliminary research for a proposed attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. Readers should take careful note that this was only 74 days—two months and change—before the attack took place. While the Japanese high command authorized the general offensive against the West on 2 July, the Pearl Harbor operation was a question mark. While Genda Minoru's tactical air attack plan dated from February 1941, Onishi Takijiro had been studying the feasibility since November 1940. Tradition to the contrary, this planning was done with no specific information about the November 1940 Fleet Air Arm attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto, which didn't reach Japan until early 1942.
The issue was that the IJN was entirely unprepared for such an attack.
Since the 1920s, they had built the entire navy around a mid-ocean ambush of the US Pacific Fleet as it made its way across the ocean to either the Home Islands or to the Philippines. Though discredited for years, the plan and doctrine had its adherents throughout the halls of Japanese power. Yamamoto Isoroku, the head of the Combined Fleet, had the Pearl Harbor strike in his head and sold it to his fellow admirals, but many of them had little faith in the power of aircraft to sink maneuvering warships at sea: before December 1941, it had never been done. There was no master switch to throw that could shift a generation's worth of planning, doctrine, training and ship design from a mid-ocean ambush to throwing a force of projection across a third of the Earth's surface.
The entire fleet had to be retrained, reallocated, and reorganized for what it was to do in December 1941.
And that took a great deal of time. More, the resources for such a long-distance air strike had to be gathered, and the rest of the fleet had to be re-purposed to support the Imperial Japanese Army's (IIA) attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines.
They drew the plans up in September 1941 with hope as a planning tool.
The course of the conflict was quite clear to the planners:
The Japanese attack would cripple the United States Pacific Fleet, leaving it unable to respond to Japanese moves in the Mariana Islands and elsewhere;
The IJA would secure the Philippines and Malaya within 30 days of invasion;
The Soviet Union would collapse under German pressure by June 1942;
Great Britain, facing Germany alone in Europe, would sue for peace with both Germany and Japan;
The United States, facing Japan alone in the Pacific and East Asia, would also sue for peace with Japan.
This was the plan; there could be no deviation as long as everyone perfectly executed the plan. There was no need for other contingencies because, as the planners well knew, if the Soviets, British and Americans did not stop fighting, neither Japan nor Germany nor any other Axis partner could survive a war of attrition with the United States, the British Empire/Commonwealth and the Soviet Union. As others have learned at their peril, hope is a lousy contingency plan. Yet, the samurai militants who led Japan in 1941 refused to believe that superior firepower and the sheer numbers of opponents could defeat their fighting spirit, their ancient bushido.
Thus, they made no Plan B…
Our book is based on this kind of thinking. Why The Samurai Lost is a failure analysis; a study of a great people overwhelmed by the events and times that they lived in.
When Perry came to Japan, few Japanese had ever seen a zero (0), let alone used one in any calculations. In less than a century, Japan was a world-striding power, where the principal building material in their largest cities was wood, and only 10% of its people had ever left the country. Why The Samurai Lost Japan isn’t just about Japan’s war against the West; it’s a study in why that war started in the first place, and why it went so badly. Available in paperback and ebook, or autographed from me.
Pearl Harbor Reconsidered I
Pearl Harbor Reconsidered II
Pearl Harbor Reconsidered III
Pearl Harbor reconsidered IV
On 26 November: