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tv   Pearl Harbor The Road to War - the Japanese  CSPAN  December 31, 2021 4:06pm-5:22pm EST

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harbor plus repeated blows after that were his estimate of the one vulnerability japan could reasonably strike at and get the war over quickly before japan was overwhelmed, and my view is yom amotte did not embark on this with a high confidence that the war was going to be successful. he did it because it was in his view the only conceivable way he could see for japan possibly to succeed. that's why he embarked upon the attack. >> ladies and gentlemen, our panelists, rob citino, rich frank, and our chair, adam givens. >> next from the recent international conference on world war ii a discussion to the lead-up of the bombing on pearl harbor from the japanese perspective. >> we just heard from rob and rich on essentially the american perspective on pearl harbor. there's always that what-if,
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could we have done this, what if this happened? and certainly, those are great conversation pieces, but capture some of those because for those of you who peeked ahead, our last panel today is going to look at this counterfactual piece and ask the what-ifs. what if these other scenarios unfolded. we don't want to have the last panel not have a bunch of questions. so save those super hard counterfactual ones. and that will keep them happy. so now, in this session, we're going to shift our lens and we're going to look at this from a different perspective. the first perspective was the u.s. perspective. now we're going to shift over. dr. nurico kawamura and john
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partial will discuss japan's role in leading up to the attack. rich is doing double and probably triple and quadruple duty today. but rich will be chairing this panel. and as you know, rich is an internationally recognized expert on the pacific war. many of you know him and probably have heard his voice on radio or tv. and he's also a founding member of the museum's presidential councillor's advisory board. so we're grateful to rich for consenting to do this. rich, thanks for that and thanks for everything you do for the museum. i'll leave the stage and leave it to you. thank you very much. >> thank you, mike. okay . this morning, in the first panel, i was playing defense, for this session i am playing offense, i'll be back on special teams tomorrow. i was talking with one of the participants who had a very dry story to tell, thought of coming
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here quite a while, finally his wife said you should go, happy to go to new orleans so he came here in 2019 and after the first session called his wife and said to his wife, the immortal phrase, i have found my people. can and that's how we feel about our friends here at the museum. mike introduced professor cow kawamura. the biographies are in the program. let me get to the most important point. she's here today before you primarily because of her work hirahido and the pacific war, it is in my estimation, the most thought'andful and persuasive account of the path through the war in english. a number of other historians have provided portraits of the emperor of varying quality, but hers is really the best as it
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interweaved context, time, education, and personality. highly recommend it to you. let me take from her work two important points to sort of set up her presentation. emperor hirahito struggled with a complex and ambiguous role s&p assigned to him in 1889-1890. this placed him, as she puts it, the impossible position where siultaneously exercising the role of a constitutional monarch with nominal power, at the same time, reigned over a country with effectively a warrant for absolute power. he conceived this proper role was to accept consensus recommendations from his government and high command, the high command of the armed forces. he did pose pointed questions to his officials at times. he also had some influence in appointments, but he did not act as a final decision maker on domestic military or foreign policy throughout his reign.
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with one major exception prior to pearl harbor. and this single occasion was quite significant. this was where he exercised decisive personal leadership. this was an attempted coup d'etat by officers in 1936. the revolt struck directly into the emperor's close staff, killing one of his chief advisers, and near fatally wounding the grand chamberlain, suzuki kantaro, who would be japan's last prime minister before pearl harbor and would still have the bullets of that attack in his body at the time. he was the prime minister. these events led shockingly and directly into the emperor's view of the situation and reacted with tremendous anger. when the government military leadership failed to act quickly, to quell the revolt, hirohito poignantly put on his uniform for commander in chief
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of armed forces and issued a directive to the military aid to camp that it must be ended, as he put it, immediately, unquote, and that sort of sets up professor kawamura's comments, and with that, i'll turn it over to her. >> thank you, rich, i have a powerpoint presentation -- thank you. hope it will work. okay. well, thank you for inviting me to this great conference. i have never been to new orleans, this is my first visit and i'm so grateful for everybody who are willing to invite me here. today, i would like to focus on emperor hirohito's role and the previous speakers already covered excellent sort of ground for the road to pearl harbor, so i will try not to repeat the same information.
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but i have to confess i am, not really, i wasn't trained as a military historian. i was a diplomatic historian by training and international relations, but then i was drawn to the subject of world war i, world war ii, now working on the cold war and have to explain why, really, i was studying the diplomacy and the state crafts. but then the most difficult topic to study was the decision for war, that threshold to make a decision to go to war. why do people make that decision, and so that was the sort of reason and i started to study, and emperor hirohito really embodied that, the difficult spot he was placed on
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to make that decision. well, he didn't, but he allowed others to make decision and sanctioned it so i will put it that way. does this work? >> i think you have to get it up a little higher. it seems -- it's not working. our slide's not working here. there you go. >> thank you. well advertising my book here already, but emperor hirohito was one of the most controversial figures in the pacific war and there was this famous question that came from tokyo war crimes trial and the people asking why, you know, if the emperor possessed the power to stop the war on august 15th, through his so-called sacred imperial visage, why did he
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permit war to start in the first place? and many historians pursued that line of questioning to examine hirohito, so i started with that question, but as i started to research him, i had to reverse the question really based on, through the lens of emperor hirohito, i realized it's better to put the question this way that is my question, if the emperor could not prevent the military from going to war with the united states in december 1941, why was he able to end the war in august 1945? so basically, the book kind of follows that line of questioning. but today's question that i would like to pursue in this talk, very brief talk, is the role that emperor hirohito played in japan's decision to go
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to war with the united states. and the, this slide basically explains the power structure of japanese government and the military and the monarch constitution, things changed all 1860s, '90s, and all the way to 1941, and by 1941, the structure that the major constitution created no longer was working well, and the people in power were all dead, and the emperor was supposed to be a divine figure and so forth. he was sovereign, and the commander in chief, but the emperor personally was in favor
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of acting like the british monarch, reigning constitutional monarch who would allow the government and military to make recommendations for him to accept. and so, by 1941, emperor hirohito was acting more like ratifier of national policies from government and military. in the meantime, the military organization, the army and navy, there was this inherent shortcoming in the major constitutional structure which is that the navy and army did not work together well, and they were separated and doing their own thing separately, and they were almost like rivals. they competed for power and money. and so, in 1930s after japanese war started they created general
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headquarters so that the military will be united. but in reality, general headquarters was divided into army division and navy division, so they were not working together. and the only person, or institution that was linking the two was the imperial court. the emperor. and so emperor really had the difficulty trying to coordinate army and navy, and that became the whole problem throughout the first war with china, and then later, the pacific war mainly with united states and britain. well, i just don't have a lot of time, and no time already, so i don't know how many more minutes. so emperor hirohito was born into the throne, so the moment he was born as the oldest son he became the crown prince and conveniently, he was born in
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1901 so you can calculate how old when he became emperor. he was about 26 to 27 years old and then at the time of pearl harbor decision, he was, you know, not yet 40. about to become 40. and so he was surrounded by a lot of senior advisers. and, yeah, skipped one. so the key figures in the decision-making, i would say prime ministers then the keta koichi, those are the most important advisers to the emperor, they are the ones who would convey the decisions of the government. and then, the interesting thing,
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konoei, who stepped down in october '41 was a classmate of lord keeper kido, so they had close communication, but in the end, started developing disagreements but were more senior to the emperor so emperor listen to these people and then there was of course general tojo but i'll talk about tojo later. then, if you look at the military leadership, those are really senior, you know, generals and admirals, and at the time of pearl harbor, the chief of general staff was general sugiyama and army was admiral nagano. he was conveying all the decisions and recommendations made by his subordinate, younger officers, who were more hawkish,
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hard liners. and in the army, army was split. there were a lot of people who did not want to go to war with the united states and britain was they looked at the anglo american powers' navies as a model and teachers. but then there was this hard liners, and nagano came from that hard line group. there was a serious division between the two. and as i mentioned, admiral yomma moto was against the war with the united states because he knew japan was not going to be able to defeat the united states in the end, particularly in the case of prolonged war. in the meantime, in civilian section the foreign ministry was run by foreign minister togo,
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and he was going to be placed in a very difficult position. he will advise to the emperor. the emperor had a lot of agreement with togo, but togo had no real control over the relationship and negotiations between the united states and japan in the last several months on the road to pearl harbor. i don't think i have time to really go into those details but i think previously the speakers already covered it. i will add one more thing about japan/u.s. relationship. to put it simply, i think that japan and the united states went to war or japan declared war with the united states on at least two issues. one was china and the other was of course the oil embargo or
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freezing of japanese assets in the united states. and the china part was not emphasized so i would like to add, i think june, 1914, was indeed the turning point, because japan wanted to move to the french indochina so that japan, japanese military could stop at the british and american military support that was provided to china. japan's problem all along was it was not able to end the war with china that japan started in 1937. and it was prolonging and then the ally -- sorry, british and americans started to support them, and so japan wanted to stop that military supply route known as burma road, on the map, i think.
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yeah. and that was one of the main reasons japan wanted air bases in northern frenchindo china, besides natural resources. now, diplomatic negotiations -- okay. i am running out of time. so diplomatic relations between the united states and japan of course it was embargo and of course fatal problem was japan's decision to move to southern french indochina, and that triggered fdr's decision to freeze japanese assets in the united states, and that led to the virtual oil embargo. one of the myths is that oil embargo was not ordered by president roosevelt. rather the freezing of japanese
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assets led to a defacto embargo of petroleum products and oil from the united states, and that was all done by state department and the department of treasury and so forth. so by the time fdr realized that oil embargo was in place in reality, he could not reverse that decision. that was sort of unfortunate because as we all know oil embargo was the main reason for japan's countdown to pearl harbor really. and japan's timeline. i think there are several points of no return. september 6th imperial conference was one of them. where they decided to prepare for war in one and a half months.
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but the emperor actually expressed his opinion by reading, citing his grandfather's poem. he basically this poem conveys that, you know, he preferred peaceful, diplomatic negotiations over war preparation and going to war with the united states. but then this conference cut -- put us so the deadline, mid october. by then if diplomacy failed, japan was going to start preparation for war. and behind this, i think i will just -- i don't have time. i'm just going to conclude the emperor's role. okay. basically on the road to pearl harbor my main argument is
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emperor hirohito was basically against going to war with the united states and did his best by exerting his influence to delay the war decision for one and a half months from mid october deadline to another one and a half months to december 1st. after that, he could not do anymore. but then the funny thing is, because diplomacy did not produce desired outcome on the administration, he stepped down. the emperor had to find a replacement, and they chose general tojo. why did he choose the leading
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advocate of war to take the prime minister's job. that is a puzzling question but i don't have time to explain it do i? >> that's why we have the q & a. >> so i probably will save that to the question and answer, because i'm over. i have overspent my time, i'm sorry. >> very good. also present this morning of course, is john parshall who is no stranger to these. he's produced stunning maps for the museum, he's also a participant in the travel program, and has been a very wonderful friend of the museum through all of this. you can read his biography also in the program. let me get, again, right to the heart of things. the most important thing in his
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resume and that he is the co-author with andrew tully of the widely hailed work "shattered sword" the best account on the battle of midway by far. it is a rare work that blows away encrustations of myth and exposes the true story in this part of history. it is a wonderfully balanced and engaging read. john is, with respect to this writing, he enjoyed a particularly warm glow of adilation by both legions of historians and readers for setting up a key moment in the battle with the immortal phrase, quote, there will be a brief pause before the bombing commences, end quote. it doesn't get any better than that. john. >> i'm going to go full podium here if we could put up my first slide. i'll spend the next 17 minutes or so charging through a rapid history of the japanese side of
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the attack on pearl harbor so without further ado i want to talk about the strategic objectives of the attack. what were the japanese trying to accomplish? i'm going to take a look at some of the officers involved in the process. we'll look at how the attack unfolded versus the actual planning. i'll touch on the infamous fuel tank myth because i know we'll talk about it during the counterfactual session this afternoon and finally a quick assessment of the operation. the reason the japanese attacked pearl harbor was because the bulk of the war plans were actually oriented toward the south. for the very simple reason that all of the economic targets they needed to capture were located in this region. oil, tin, rubber, and so forth. the last thing they wanted while undertaking this campaign was to suffer american counter attack coming across the central
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pacific and hitting them in the flank and rear. the idea was to attack pearl harbor and take the american fleet out of the occasion. the implement they were going to use is first air fleet often known by its operational name, the mobile force, composed of all six of japan's large flight decks, more than 400 aircraft. this is the most powerful naval aviation force in the world at this point in time. in terms of officers of course everybody knows the name of yamamoto as sort of the architect of this attack but you have to understand yamamoto was also responsible for all of the naval actions going on throughout the campaign down in the south as well and so he passes planning of the actual details of this attack off to one of his senior planners a
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gentleman named kuroshima, a strange, monk like figure, who also rode herd over a group of junior planning officers each of whom was slated to do one thing. you know, you're in charge of fuel. you you're in charge of weapons, et cetera, et cetera. then kuroshima placed all of those into a unified campaign and wrote the operational order. of course he has to be interfacing with the officers within the operation as well who are going to be undertaking the attack the most important of those being admiral nagumo. he is the commander of the task force. but nagumo is not an air guy. he is a torpedo officer, surface warfare officer. so he in turn is leaning on certain members of his staff the most important being his chief of staff who is an aviation expert to handle the nuts and bolts of how to build this attack. also very important is commander
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genda seen as the house genius, a former fighter pilot, well known air advocate, and is the air officer and really in charge of building the air component of the attack. finally the commander who is the air officer and also in charge of the overall united attack force once those aircraft are up in the air. the operational objectives are relatively straight forward. they want to sink at least four american battle ships because battle ships at this time are the coin of the realm in terms of measuring naval power. if we inflict that level of destruction on the americans it will be a devastating blow and prevent the american fleet from sallying forth. they also want to sink any carriers in the area and the overall goal is to buy a six-month respite so the japanese can do what they need to do down in the southern resource area. there is sort of an unwritten
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fourth operational goal which is to destroy american morale at the outset of this conflict. as has been alluded to by some earlier speakers they are hoping by launching this devastating blow against americans they'll put us in the position where we'll hopefully come to the bargaining table very early on. if we look at kiroshima's targeting orders that are passed down to kido butai, at the top of the list is land-based air power. for the simple reason the japanese do not want the aircraft to be able to reach out and counterattack against their carrier force. and then after that, aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, other combatants, and towards the bottom of the list, you see things like port facilities and land installations. let's take a look at planning and execution of this attack. some of the main features you see coming out of the planning process are that the japanese
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are going to use two attack waves. almost all of the aircraft from those six carriers will be launched against oahu. they'll come in two waves so as to inflict as much damage as possible against the americans. they'll use specialized weapons against specialized targets. there will be simultaneous attacks against not only the naval but the major air fields on oahu as well to suppress american air power. that's something to keep in mind because we as americans tend to overfocus on what's going on in the harbor because that's where the majority of the destruction actually occurred. but during this naval attack going on keep in mind there is a constant drum beat of attacks against the air fields. if you look at the number of aircraft involved in the various missions this is something that rich pointed out to me a few weeks ago, you can see they actually use more aircraft for attacks against air fields and
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air destruction than the anchor itself. the target area is pearl harbor and the most important target within pearl harbor is battle ship row. one of the problems we have here that's already been discussed is that the water is very shallow and you can't use torpedoes on it so what the japanese do is modify their type 91 torpedos with wooden fins. they dive less deeply and they'll be able to use those against the outboard battle ships. the inboard battle ships we can't get at with torpedos so we'll use level bombers flying parallel up battle ship row that are going to be dropping these type 99 heavy armor piercing bonds, modified 16-inch naval shells with sufficient kinetic energy of drop about 10,000 feet to get through the deck armor of those battleships. if we look at the execution of the attack, as planned, the torpedo planes were supposed to approach basically from all
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points of the compass and go after the aircraft carriers which were hoped to be on the west side of the island and then attack battleship row on the east side of the island but what ends up happening in heat of battle is the torpedo pilots decide they want as much water as they can get to line up their attack runs. what you see particularly in the case of the torpedo planes that go after battleship row is they get channelized into the southeast lock and parade down that lock and take very bad casualties toward the end of that run because a lot of these planes are shot down because the surprise has worn off by that point in the attack. nevertheless if we take a look at the efficacy of the torpedo attack itself what you see is they devastate the inner two most battleships with five and seven hits apiece. they also leave the california in a sinking condition with two torpedo hits as well. so the torpedos take three
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american battleships right off the roster and also damage the nevada. next and almost simultaneously the level bombing is occurring and the japanese don't have as good luck with this attack. they manage to put ten bombs on or relatively close to targets some of which perform moderate damage but they suffer a lot of dud fuses from those type-99 bombs and don't get the results out of them they really hoped for, of course for one notable exception, the arizona, whose forward magazines are destroyed and killed about three-quarters of the crew instantly. if you look at the first wave damage as rich alluded to, the first ten minutes of the attack inflicted 90% of the damage and they leave four american battleships sunk or sinking and three more damaged. the second wave then comes in.
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this is composed almost entirely of dive bombers with some fighters for air suppression. we've already seen this picture earlier today. this is the sight that greets the japanese as they come into the harbor area. extensive antiaircraft fire, large fires and smoke billowing over the harbor, and also the cloud cover has socked in the harbor as well. this is a lousy set of conditions to try to do a dive bombing attack and the results show. if we take a look at the hits inflicted by the dive bombers in the second attack you see a smattering around here mostly down in the repair basin and famously of course the battleship nevada which is trying to exit the channel is swarmed and takes a number of hits and ends up getting beached by hospital point as a result. the problem for the japanese though is despite having run
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nevada aground, they had more applicable targets they sort of did not go after. a dive bomber bomb is not a very useful weapon against the heavy deck armor on a battleship, a series of cruisers would have been much better. there were a group of four large juicy cruisers sitting in the southeast lock, new orleans, san francisco, st. louis, and honolulu, all of whom will have active careers in 1942. it would have been much better to take those four out of action rather than disabling the third oldest battleship in the u.s. inventory. in terms of the fuel tank myth, which has been an endless source of speculation through the years and that is the notion if the japanese had simply come back with another attack from their carriers later in the afternoon and attacked both the repair facilities and the fuel tanks
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around pearl harbor that would have dealt a devastating blow to the american war effort and might have sent the pacific fleet back to california. the way this came down to us frankly is through a movie i'm sure a lot of us have seen here, "tora, tora, tora." this is the actual segment of the movie that gives us this myth. our man lanz back onboard. he gets out of his aircraft, goes up to the crew chief. what is going on? why isn't the next attack wave ready to take off? he is told we've received no orders to that effect. he looks up at the bridge to his buddy who looks down and decides to go have a conversation with nagumo and says, you know, we can't turn back now. we have to go back and hit the americans again, destroy their carriers and dock facilities and is then reprimanded very sharply. you're wrong. we have accomplished our
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mission. furthermore, the safety of this carrier force is paramount. this war is just beginning. i'm going to preserve that force and take it back to japan. at which point the flags go up that the force is turning for home and fuchita is a very unhappy character on the flight deck. none of this happened. [ laughter ] none of this happened. okay? if you want the grisly details, hit me up at the bar tonight. i'll be happy to bend your ear. this is a myth. the person who gave us this myth is none other than fuchita himself who in a series of interviews in 1963 said this is what went down. he then bakes it into the movie, and the rest, as they say, is history. the most simple disputation of
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the myth is to look at the targeting orders. what fuchida would have you believe is we've only sort of nibbled our way into item number three on our targeting list but i'm telling you i have this mental epiphany that all we need to do is jump to the bottom of the targeting list and it will turn the war around. to have done that would represent nothing less than the repudiation of 15 years' worth of training and indoctrination as a naval officer. it is nonsense and never happened. if we take a look at an overall assessment of the attack i think you can say three things. first, it was revolutionary. there was no other navy on earth at this time that could have pulled off an attack this of scale and sophistication.
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think about what they did. they came 3500 miles across the ocean with six carriers. they shut down a major naval bastion and not only crushed the air power on the island but also attacked the harbor itself in the course of two hours' worth of attacks. so no one could have done this. except the japanese at this point. on the other hand as i pointed out there were real flaws in terms of tactical execution of this attack particularly in the second wave. if you want more information on that there is a good article in this month's naval history magazine written by alan zin that talks about the failure of the second wave attack as far as the japanese were concerned. so the japanese left money on the table they could have used to better effect in the campaign that is going to unfold in the next year. in terms of their operational objectives, tactically that plays into operations. you can say did they sink four american battle ships? yes they did. objective achieved. did they sink american carriers? no, sadly, they didn't.
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did they buy a six-month respite for operations? i'll give them this one. the battle of coral sea happens exactly five months to the day after pearl harbor so five months, six months, i'll give them that one. it is the unwritten fourth objective though to destroy american morale at the outset of this war that is a disastrous failure, that, in fact, the way that this attack was commenced and carried out against the americans as we all know enraged american public opinion and in effect took any possibility of a negotiated settlement to this war right off the table at the outset. so from a grand strategic effect the attack was an absolute disaster for the japanese. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> let me add one detail i've
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always savored and that is fuchida in his creative post war life, very creative, eventually in the 1960s he applies for and receives an american green card for permanent residence in the u.s. i have been on a search for sometime in our archives to find the application form for the green card because i wanted to see what he wrote in the block prior occupation. so, now for the round table, let me go first to noriko. emperor hirohito acted twice to interfere decisively in the war -- i'm sorry. let me spool that back. interviewed only twice decisively to intervene in foreign policy between 1926 and 1945. he didn't act as we've talked about in 1941.
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he did act in august 1945. do you see any common threads linking his actions in '41 and '45? >> because he believed that his role was to take the recommendation and sanction it in december, yes, in fall of 1941 the decision for war came as a unanimous recommendation both government and military. now, in 1945, that unanimous decision was not there. the leadership was divided into really half. big six was divided to three in favor of accepting the declaration and surrender and the other three fight to the bitter end.
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so that division in the government and military leadership sort of allowed him, or he felt he had to, in fact, he was asked to express his opinion, and so that is what he did. that was unprecedented. in the entire history of his reign up to 1945, he was never asked to speak his own mind in the imperial conference, and that is what happened in summer of 1945. so that was intervention because he was asked. >> we talked about this before, but another element overarching over this was his sense of stewardship of the imperial snulgz and maintenance, and i think you have mentioned, you talk about this in the book, that was really a crit ical factor both in '41 and '45. he was concerned about maintenance at the imperial institution.
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would that be also part of it? >> yes. he was always worried about him as a sovereign to preserve the state of japan and so that was his primary responsibility. >> i guess the other question, and this is a question that, or an issue that most americans who only have a light understanding of this would find hard to believe, but was the emperor -- have a good reason to be concerned that even if he gives an order to the military he might not in fact be obeyed? >> yes. in my book i try to demonstrate he did express his opinion and was reprimanded for that. first it was his decision to suggest that the prime minister step down after the incident of assassination of the war lord in manchuria in 1928.
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he was very young and inexperienced. and then second time was the -- i'm sorry, not the second time. there are many times, manchurian incident, he was not in favor of using, spreading the military occupation of manchuria. but it was more obvious at the time of the marco polo bridge incident i was able to demonstrate his opinion was that he was against expansion of military operation in the beijing area, and he actually said to move my forces, but the army completely ignored it, and so his opinion didn't count. then at the time of pearl
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harbor, the officers knew he was not in favor of war. he wanted negotiations to continue. that is why i skipped the slide but the general in the war ministry, that is sort of the home ground of hard liners and they were determined to persuade the emperor to accept the army's recommendation and when he read that peace poem they realized, no, the emperor is not in favor of war so now we have to keep working hard. >> right. >> and to persuade him. so it was always the case that the army had the chance to basically override the emperor's personal opinion and he never trusted the army ever since 1937
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and even used the word, are you lying to me? the interesting thing about royalty to the emperor that the army claimed to embrace on one hand and also army's defiance against that sort of personal sorts coming from the throne. it is interesting. >> it is. john. >> time for my grilling. >> i'm trying to figure out whether we'll move straight to crucifixion. no. to what degree, one point that is interesting to what degree do you think yamamoto's personal vision of the attack differed from what it became after the planning process went forward? >> it is interesting. i too started taking my deep dive before the conference to go back through some things and came into some additional, primary sources that actually our mutual friend mike winger who is working on a series of
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books on pearl harbor shared with me. the whole planning process is really opaque. you don't really have a good understanding for how much input yamamoto even had into the planning process. really the more i read the interviews with kurashima, the more it seems to be his baby. the one point i'd make that i think is fairly clear is you can see yamamoto is primarily focused on strategic and morale issues. that is why i'm going after battleships. yet at the operator level, genda and others were like well yeah we're pushing carriers up the priority list thank you very much because we know if we get into a war we have to destroy those vessels. the targeting list i showed you is only one of two lists i've seen. the other one actually reverses the position of carriers and battleships on there.
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so there seems to be some sort of a tug of war going on between yamamoto actually and some of the first air fleet fly boys who are trying to figure out whose priorities come out on top. >> the second part, this usually gets overlooked because there are so many other major issues that seem to go on. one thing that is striking when you do the deep dive is the weather they were steaming into when they launched the first strike was abysmal. >> atrocious. it is not remarked upon. the ships were rolling at the time of take-off in some cases up to 18 degrees on either beam, particularly the two smaller carriers of carrier division two. these are not ideal conditions to be taking off a heavily loaded bomber, you know, with a torpedo or what have you. and fuchida made the statement if this had been going on during peace time they never would have
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launched combat operations. at the time of when they got the pilots up to the flight deck you couldn't tell black from white. so dark and overcast and pitching. so yeah, miserable conditions. highly dangerous. >> jeremy, let's turn it over to our wonderful audience. >> it helps when you turn the microphone on. >> amazing, isn't it? >> the first question is to your right, towards the back, please. >> i hope my question is worth turning it back on. timing of all the big issues is obviously critical and in a subtle way i am curious, given the fact that the military was at its least ready defense wise
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on a sunday morning when soldiers whawho had been in honolulu at night where many of them did not even come back, my good friend, her father survived because he with his friends were intoxicated in honolulu, never made it back to the arizona, and on a sunday morning when the bands were getting ready for church, did the timing of this is absolutely precisely the weakest point of our readiness. and the intelligence that possibly came out of the spies that were in the japanese embassy in honolulu for some time, did they fully understand -- was their planning so specific to those weaknesses? >> yeah, yes, it was. they did have a spy in honolulu and i am spacing his name now because i am that poor a scholar.
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>> ned wilmont? >> no. the japanese spy in honolulu at the tea house. good, i got you, too. that guy. >> it starts kawa, and i have forgotten the rest. >> yoshikawa. absolutely the japanese did have a very good sense for what i want to say. the weekly cycle of operations going on with the pacific fleet at this point. they know that sunday is a day of rest and most of the ships are probably going to be back in harbor and may not be fully manned as a result. absolutely they wanted to time the attack on a sunday for those reasons. one thing to add, a plug again for mike winger. i have seen some of the scholarship he started to drag out in terms of the contingency plans that the japanese had. what if that fleet had been here
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and there? what if it were just off the harbor mouth? we can talk about in the counter factual session what might have happened but the japanese did have a very detailed set of plans in hand for what they would do if they had to go after the fleet in a devin location and if it didn't conform to those operational patterns they had seen. >> one thing that came out in the post war evidence was he was specifically asked about the most opportune day or time to attack and he said sunday. this gets back to one of the missed opportunities, which was there was as part of a larger effort an opportunity to close down the japanese consulates, not the embassy in washington but the consulates in various locations including honolulu. yoshikawa's information was so critical to understanding the movements and location of the fleet that had we closed the
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consulate down he would have had to trundle off and quite possibly that might have caused cancellation of the plan. >> toward the front all the way to your right please. >> given the disaster at midway and the surge in u.s. war readiness and production by the end of 1942, would it have ever been possible for the japanese either strategically and/or politically to retreat to a position to better defend their territory in the far west pacific? >> that is a really good question. >> yes. next question? [ laughter ] >> i'm working on this never ending tome on 1942 that may come out before i die. you have to go into japanese
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strategy making in sort of the march time frame of 1942. one problem they had was an inability to know when to say when. that given the fact that you have the football if you will, they always wanted to keep that momentum. i've got the advantage now. i want to press home my attacks. and that ends up forcing them into this sort of never ending series of territorial actions that didn't do them any good in terms of keeping ahold of the stuff they actually needed to. for instance, you take the linchpin of our defense in the solomons area. if we have this now we need out posts to defend it from attack. if you take those oh, my god they need outposts too. pretty soon you're grabbing stuff that really has no strategic value to you whatsoever.
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i don't, with respect to rob citino and the whole topic of inevitability, i don't see any real way the japanese can win this war after pearl harbor went down the way it went down. again, if you've taken the negotiated settlement route off the table at the beginning of the conflict, as long as the americans maintain the political will to stay within this war, the disparity of productive forces is so incredibly lopsided i can't see any way they can win. >> do you think the emperor was interested in settling it up in '42? >> yes, he actually asked the military leaders how they are going to finish the war. how, the exit strategy. before he sanctioned the decision to go to war with the u.s. he asked the military leaders how are you going to end this? and they didn't have an answer.
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that is how desperate they were. they didn't fight this war to win. they wanted to have a position of strength, secure the first six months to a year or so then negotiate peace. that was the only option they had. the emperor asked for an exit strategy and the administration came up with some sort of plan to end the war but it was never executed. and i asked the military historians in japan working in the defense institute and they said oh, that was victory disease. that is what they said. they just don't know the answer. >> that is actually a thread. i was just reading william morley's series of books, you know, the path to war.
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and he was talking about the immediate aftermath and we had a question about that this morning. and the japanese were struggling with the issue of is now the time to normalize or adjust our relations with the soviet union in the wake of this defeat? and the answer from the military then was we have to win a victory first. we can't negotiate from a place of weakness. we have to win first and then we'll negotiate. you see this thread in '42 and certainly in 1945. yes we know we've lost the war but we'll beat them on the beaches in japan and then bring them to the negotiating table. this thread recurs through the whole war and is never successful for them. >> let me just add one coda to that, getting back to this theme i talk about in the second volume. you'll have to buy it, of course, to read all of it. [ laughter ]
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once again when you remove the perspective of looking back over the rubble of tokyo and berlin in 1945 and you look at events as they were seen by americans up to mid 1942 and you look at the record of the antifascist forces up to that point it is an incredibly grim story. i mean, the touting of the japanese and germans that they are unbeatable does not seem to be like a wild claim up through that period. in fact, up through mid 1942 it goes on. a historian wrote in a book about how the allies won made the observation that any reasonable person in the first half of 1942, knowing only what they knew then, would not have been able to predict the outcome of the war. it went literally into mid '42 so the japanese were not entirely diluted through mid '42 that maybe this is all going to eventually work out. i'm sure it impeded any thoughts about trying to get out of the war as fast as possible.
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>> well, if rich gets to plug his next book i'll plug our next conference. richard ovary has agreed to be the opener for next year's conference and we'll have more information about 2022 in between the sessions. next question to your left, panelists? >> given the fact that the japanese did end up surprising us at pearl harbor, if they had accomplished what they wanted to which was to have a declaration of war before the attack happened, if they had had their declaration of war, it was on the table, and then the attack happened and devastating, assuming it was still devastating, would that have changed that morale thing that you are talking about with -- because one of the reasons the americans were so fired up was because it was a surprise attack. >> yes. i think the answer to that is unknowable but my broad sense is i don't think it would have changed it that dramatically. i still think we would have just
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been absolutely outraged. that is my two cents. rich? >> i agree with that. it is unknowable. even if they managed to do it like they did, delivered that note at 7:30 in the morning, hawaii time, people would still have viewed it as, you know, this was -- they were finagling. it wasn't a true declaration of war before they commenced the attack. >> the bottom line is you've killed 3,000 of our service personnel. gloves are off. >> next question is to your right. about half way back. with connie. >> really softball question. >> how come the japanese didn't know the three carriers were not in port?
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and i ask that softball question because obviously that guy in the embassy was giving good operational informing about the rhythm cycle of ships in and out of pearl harbor and the japanese did traffic analysis. they listened to bursts of radio communication in concentrations, did the same kind of traffic analysis we did. if something is out there because there are communications going on they might not know exactly what it was, but they did traffic analysis. how come they didn't know the carriers were at sea? >> that is a really good question, too. bear in mind there is always a delay in when you actually receive that signal analysis and when you can decode it, analyze it, do what you're going to do with it. there is a dissemination problem of the information as well. the other thing is their picture wasn't ever perfect as to where the vessels were. the final thing i'd say is they were aware the carriers were not
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there in the harbor because when they sent their two float planes over early in the morning before the raid they were made aware of the fact those carriers were not present, which is a tremendous disappointment to them but at this point you're committed and they couldn't very well back down. >> the other thing i add is they made all this planning. the fleet actually sorteed on the 25th of november. we had three carriers in the pacific fleet at that time four over in the atlantic. the saratoga was undergoing normal maintenance on the west coast. the only two in pearl harbor were the lexington and the enterprise. they were sent on missions to send aircraft to midway, lexington was taking aircraft to wake island. and they sailed in that interval after the tracking force had already sailed and just before the attack. once the task force sailed, i don't think there was any going
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back at that point. >> to your left toward the front. >> on the planning side, japanese sent five midget submarines to pearl harbor, and i'm wondering what they thought they could get accomplished because they only had two torpedos in each of them, and secondly, it would have been -- it jeopardized the mission because they obviously were seen there, and if we had followed through, we would have been on a better fitting. what was their objective there? >> yamamoto objected to the use of the midget submarines up until about the middle of october. at that point the basic notion was if we are going to do this attack we need to bring every possible weapon to bear. we have an opportunity to use these midget submarines and may be able to sneak into the harbor and do something.
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i think some of this you're seeing actually, you're seeing almost service pressure coming up in the various branches of the imperial navy. come on. we have this weapons system. let's use it. you are absolutely right too it was a tremendously risky asset to be using because it could give away the attack before the aerial attack came in. >> good. next? >> a panelist over to your right in the middle. >> in hindsight from the japanese perspective it seems incredibly short-sighted they thought they could win the war even through a negotiated settlement. was there anyone in the military government particularly before the embargo and the freezing of the assets but even after who thought it might be a better
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strategy to just purchase through negotiations the resources that they needed? >> want to address that? >> well, once the military took over the government, the only way they knew to settle the dispute is to use the military solution, so the military was really, you know, particularly the army war faction was already -- they made up their mind or they had no other way but to resort to military solution. that is to go to war with the united states. earlier they talked, you know, there was a discussion about maybe whatever attacks the british colonies or the dutch colonies, just to get oil, but
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that wasn't the military's thinking. in their mind, the british and dutch were linked to the united states and attacking the british or dutch territory meant war with the united states. so their thinking was very simplistic in that regard and particularly the prime minister who was now i can sort of say the emperor asked him to become the prime minister to try negotiations one more time, and it was proven wrong because tojo was loyal to the emperor so he said yes. so he tried one more negotiation proposal a and b. but he put a deadline, november 30 is the cutting point if the united states was not going to be persuaded to lift the oil embargo by november 30 then
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japan would go to war. that is the mentality the military was thinking about how to use diplomatic negotiation. plan a, plan b, if that didn't work, then we'll go to war. that's sort of the way they thought. so really there was nobody really could suggest or even recommend or persuade the military to go the diplomatic route, because to avoid war, that was not in the thinking of the military in japan, particularly in the golden age of militaryism, i would say, so it's institutional problem in japan at that time. the civilian diplomats were not in a position to prevail over the military. >> one final note. we take it -- americans take it so much for granted because this has been embedded in our history and constitution.
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that the military is subordinate. to the political leadership. it is always difficult to address an entirely different context that existed in japan in that period. i was talking with a japanese scholar at a conference a couple years ago and i said to him, it is really difficult to convey this sort of thing about how japanese decision making processes were so dysfunctional, alluding to the lack of supremacy of the civilian government. he looked at me and he said, you should try explaining it to a japanese population. >> panelists to your left. >> doctor, i was wondering in your research of hirohito did you come upon evidence that kind of talked about his -- how he personally felt about putting
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the death of so many of the japanese youth in their decision and i was wondering if there was anything that you might elaborate on. >> after i finished writing this book on the pacific war i am now writing hirohito and the cold war. the more i read whatever documents are available in which he expressed his thoughts, i think he was haunted by the whole war that he allowed to happen and the next half century, when he was, you know, still reigning as emperor, the symbol of the nation, as in symbol of the nation, he probably lived that whole world
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war ii experience and his role, i mean the war was in the name of the emperor hirohito and so in that regard, i think his remorse was really deep but the tragedies that he was never allowed to express his feeling or apology or remorse to the public, not only to the japanese people but all the victims of the, for asia and the united states and the allied powers as well. once he actually drafted his apology that he wanted to publicize, and it is there we saw it. but at that time it was after japan's occupation -- i mean american occupation of japan was over.
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at that time the prime minister did not want that to be publicized. and so he never really expressed his feelings of remorse to the public but i felt that he was deeply troubled and at one point before he died, he was in the public speech and standing there listening to other people talking about the war's legacy. he was in tears. that sort of thing was never broadcast in japan, but we don't know the real, true feeling of him, his, i'm sorry, in public record. that is the problem but we cannot find it out.
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his documents are still sealed and we can never read his diary or his own personal records. >> wow. that is such an important point because that is at the heart of a lot of the animosity that still exists elsewhere in asia, the lack of apology, by the japanese government over the war. to know the emperor himself was attempting to do that is a really wonderful point to bring out at this conference. >> we have time for one maybe two more questions. we'll go to your left toward the front here. >> you were kind of on the fence about the effect on the navy in the first six months of 1942, and i wanted to ask, given the shortage that the pacific fleet had of oilers and oiling capacity, even if the battle ships at pearl harbor hadn't been damaged wouldn't they have sat there the first six months of the war anyway? weren't we really limited to carrier raids anyway?
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>> yes, i think so. i think that is a very perceptive point. if you read john lundstrom's "black shoe carrier admiral" he makes it very clear how incredibly tethered our carrier forces were to the oilers lurking just behind them. if you lost a single oiler to a submarine attack that could in essence shut down the entire operation and the carrier would have to retreat. i think you're absolutely right. i don't know frankly that we had any ability even if those ships had been undamaged to do the kind of a counterattack across the breadth of the central pacific the japanese were so scared of. and even if we had, i don't know that the battle ship line would have been any use in that conflict. certainly not against a consolidated operation.
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in many ways we got lucky with pearl harbor in that the ships weren't lost in deep water. i'm sure we'll talk about that this afternoon as well. i think you're quite right that oilers were a sort of unseen gating factor at that time in the war. >> we have time for one quick last question to your right, panelists. >> prior to the outset of the war if emperor hirohito continued to say he did not want to go to war was there any evidence the japanese military would assassinate him and take over everything? >> perhaps assassination was not going to happen. even military could not dare assassinate the emperor. but there was a scenario among the war hawks that his younger
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brother served in the army and it was more favorable to the army's position. so there was a talk of asking emperor hirohito to step down and replace him with the younger brother. because of that their relationship is not that close. >> funny how that works. >> he was annoyed because his mother the empress actually, her favorite was the prince. that made it difficult for him, too. >> so we promised you gossip and we delivered. >> excellent. [ applause ] >> thank you to rich and our two panelists. >> the international


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