United States Strategic Bombing Survey: Japan's Struggle to End the War: 1 July, 1946

Again, I will just point out some highlights of the report.

”Japan's acceptance of defeat without invasion while still possessed of two and a half million combat-equipped troops and nine thousand Kamikaze airplanes in the home islands, reveal how persuasively the consequences of our operations were translated into political results.”

”(1) it is clear that the Japanese leaders entered the war deeply convinced that they were fighting for their very national existence and life, whereas the United States they believed was merely pressing for economic advantages and a set of principles, but not for vital security; (2) Japan had no specific plan other than negotiation for ending the war she began.” ...(3)The Casablanca statement and the Cairo declaration setting forth Allied terms for unconditional surrender were still considered by Japan's leaders to be just declarations, not actual final terms to be imposed. (4)The desire to save face, to preserve the Tenno system,a nd fear of the military and the polie at this period helped the factions favoring continued resistance. (5)The information policy of minimizing U.S. Successes and capabilities, while distorting their own losses and exaggerating their ability to conduct effective operations had left the people ignorant of the fact of Japan's actual military situation at this time.”

During the fateful meeting with the Emperor on whether or not to accept the surrender terms:

”The Emperor then stated his own (again paraphrasd by Sakomizu), 'I agree with the first opinion as expressed by the foreign minister. I think I should t ell the reasons why I have decided so. Thinking about the world situation and the internal Japanese situation, to continue the war means nothing but the destruction of the whole nation. My ancestors and I have always wished to put forward the nation's welfare and international worled peace as our prime concern. To continue the war now meanst hat cruelty and bloodshed will still continue in the world and that the Japanese nation will suffer severe damage. So, to stop the war on this occasion is the only way to save the nation from the destruction and to restore peace in the world. Looking back at what our military headquarters has done, it is apparent that their performance has fallen far short of the plans expressed. I don't think this discrepancy can be corrected in the future. But when I think about my obedient soldiers abroad and of those who died or were wounded in battle, about those who have lost their property or lives by bombing in the homeland, when I think of all those sacrifices, I cannot help but feel sad. I decided that this war should be stopped, however, in spite of this sentiment and for more important considerations.'”

”Rigid police controls allowed the ideas and spirit of the leaders to form separately from those of the people..At the war's opening and throughout its early stages, the spirit of both leaders and people was chauvinistic, aggressive, expansionist.”

”It was not necessary for us to burn every city, to destroy every factor, to shoot down every airplane or sink every ship, and starve the people. It was enough to demonstrate that we were capable of doing all this-that we had the power and the intention of continuing to the end.”

”Heavy bomber and carrier raids against cities, military and industrial installations, further depleted her remaining resources, productivity and transport, lowered morale, and brought the true war situation home to the Japanese people. Thus the Japanese leaders lost both power and hope of resistance as our air weapons exploited air control over the home islands.”

”Blockade of Japan's sea communications exploited the basic vulnerability of an island enemy which, with inherently second-power resources, was struggling to enlarge its capabilities by milking the raw materials of a rich conquered area.”

”Eighty-eight percent of Japan's total merchant shipping available during the war was sunk. U.S. Submarines sank 55 per cent of the total lost. Our Navy and Army air forces made imporant contributions by sinking 40 percent of Japan's total shipping lost, by interdiction of sea routes, and by an aerial mining progam carried out by B-29s in the last months of the war which sealed off the vital Inland Sea and disrupted every major home island port. The blockade prevented exploitation of conquered resources, kept Japan's economy off balance, created shortages of materials which in turn limited war production, and deprived her of oil in amounts sufficient to immobilize fleet and air units and to impair training.”

”The special feeling of vulnerability to blockade, to which a dependent island people are ever subject, increased and dramatized, especially to the leaders, the hopelessness of their position and favored the growing conviction that the defeat was inevitable.”

”...while Japan's loss of effective naval and land-based air forces was overwhelming, her military attrition was not complete, since our operations used up by no means all of her ground and Kamikaze forces. Japan's principal land armies were in fact never defeated, a consideration which also supported the military's continued last-ditch resistance to the surrender decision.”

”By mid-1944 shortages of food and civilian supplies were reflected in reduced living standards.”

In relation to the possibility of a US invasion of Japan itself: “Anticipated landings were even viewed by the military with hope that they would afford a means of inflicting casualties sufficiently high to improve their chances of a negotiated peace.”

”The Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuarde Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the lord privy seal, the prime minister, the foreign minister and the navy minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be needed even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms. The war minister and the two chiefs of staff opposed unconditional surrender. The impact of the Hiroshima attack was to bring further urgency and lubrication to the machinery of achieving piece, primarily by contributing to a situation which permitted the prime minister to bring the Emperor overtly and dierctly into a position where his decision for immediate acceptance of the Potsdam declaration could be used to override the remaining objectors. Thus, although the atomic bombs changed no votes of the Supreme War Direction Council concerning the Potsdam terms, they did foreshorten the war and expedite the peace.”

The report also included a translation of “the Japanese estimate prepared for the pre-surrender deliberations of the cabinet.”

This included the following, among other things:

”A. General: The ominous turn of the war, coupled with the increasing tempo of air raids is bringing about great disruption of land and sea communications and essential war production. The food situation has worsened. It has become increasingly difficult to meet th requirements of total war. Moreover, it has become necessary to pay careful attention to the trends in public sentiment.”

”B. National Trends in General: Morale is high, but there is dissatisfaction with the present regime. Criticisms of the government and the military are increasing. The people are losing confidence in their leaders, and the gloomy omen of deterioration of public morale is present. The spirit of public sacrifice is lagging and among leading intellectuals there are some who advocate peace negotiations as a way out.”

”C. Manpower: As compared with material resources, the is a relative surplus of manpower, but there is no efficient exploitation of it.”

”D. Transportation and Shipping: ... Transportation is faced with insurmountable difficulties because of fuel shortages, mounting fury of enemy attacks on our lines of communication, and insufficient manpower in cargo handling.”

”2. Transportation and railways: Transport capacity of the railways will drop to half that of the previous year due to the intensified enemy air attack and our inability to maintain construction and repairs on an efficietn level. It is feared that railway transportation will become confined to local areas, especially after the middle of this year. (1945)”

”3. Communications: Maintenance of communication will be exceedingly difficult after the middle of this year, because of enemy air raid damage and shortages of materials and personnel.”

”Material Resources: 1. Steel: Shipping of iron ore has become difficult. The total production is about one-fourth that of the same period of the previous year. Construction of steel ships cannot be expected after mid-year.”

”2. Coal: ... there is a strong possibility that a considerable portion of the various industrial areas will have to suspend operation for lack of coal.”

”4. Liquid fuel: ... we are faced with an extreme shortage of aviation fuel.”

”5. Modern weapons with aircraft as nucleus: It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain production of aircraft due to the ever increasing tempo of air radis, the destruction of transportation systems and production facilities, and the lack of raw materials and fuels.”

”F. National Living Conditions: 1. Foodstuffs: The food situation has grown worse and a crisis will be reached at the end of the year. The people will have to get along on an absolute minimum of rice and salt required for subsistence.”

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