Intelligence on the Economic Collapse of Japan in 1945 (1989)

This is a somewhat unusual book in that it deals with economic aspects of Japan rather than the military aspects.

The book talks about the B-29 incendiary attacks and how these destroyed many of the home workshops that were helping the war effort. Although it's not discussed in the book, this is one of the areas of moral question relating to the incendiary bombings and the atomic bombings of Japanese cities.

Lots of homes were involved in making small parts of military devices. Thus, they could be considered legitimate military targets, which would then give more support to the argument for bombing the civilian areas, since many of the civilians were actually doing work for the military in their own homes.

On the other hand, this also meant that many women and children, who were not involved in making military things, were also killed. Of course, there was no way the bombs themselves could determine who was a civilian who wasn't actively involved in the war effort and who was a civilian who was making parts for a gun or something else. Either way, soldiers were not the only people killed in vast numbers during the war.

The book notes that, in the spring and summer of 1945, the Japanese economy was basically falling apart. The air attacks were taking their toll, and Japanese shipping was being sunk. It was getting so that Japan couldn't bring in needed resources or ship out things needed elsewhere by their soldiers.

An odd thing, at least to me, that the book notes is that, in relation to the large numbers of people being evacuated from cities, the government didn't call it an evacuation. The Japanese government referred to it as “taking a battle station.” This is just one way that the government of Japan was trying to keep control of its populace by not letting them in on the truth of just how bad the war was going for Japan.

Some thirteen cities were to be evacuated, including Tokyo, Kobe, and Yokohama. Around 400,000 schoolchildren were sent with their teachers to rural districts. (This would have been the younger schoolchildren, though, as students in high school and I think even upper middle school were being pulled out of school and put to work doing things like making balloon bombs, creating firebreaks by tearing down homes, etc.)

The book details the cities and the areas of the country that the people from each city were scheduled to be sent to.

Evacuees were expected to do farm work, help make charcoal and help in pine-root oil extraction.

The book also has a fascinating statistic relating to the surrender rate of Japanese troops. Numerous books point out that the Japanese soldiers did not surrender; they fought to the death or killed themselves. This book provides a statistic, that, from October 1944 through April 1945, only 9 prisoners were taken for every Japanese soldiers killed in the south Pacific area. In the Burma area, only 16 were taken for every 1000 killed.The book says that the soldiers were beginning to realize that Japan was going to lose the war.

During the last six months of the war, the Japanese economy was falling apart faster than at any other time during the war. People were expected to work every single day. Males from 12 to 40 were called for “home defense” purposes and war production. Unmarried women were used in food and ammunitions productions, shipyards, offices and other areas.

As do other books, this one notes that getting enough food was becoming a major problem for the civilians. Fish, a major staple of the diet, was becoming scarce, and meat an dairy products almost totally disappeared from the stores.

Restaurants had closed by the hundreds. Newspapers were limited to, at most, four pages. People were being told the war could last another ten or twenty years, and that “100,000,000 Japanese must be killed before Japan can be defeated.”

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