imperial japan history

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January 18th 1915: Japan issues ‘21 Demands’

On this day in 1915, Japan issued its ‘Twenty-One Demands’ to the Republic of China. This came during a period of Japanese expansion in East Asia, as the country aimed to increase its power in the region. Japan’s imperial desires followed the nation’s forcible opening to international trade by American Commodore Perry in the mid-nineteeth-century, ending hundreds years of the sakoku policy of isolation. The demands were drafted under Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu and were presented to China’s General Yuan Shikai as an ultimatum, threatening China with war if they failed to comply. They included expanding Japan’s influence in southern Manchuria, the right of extraterritoriality, disallowing China from giving any land to countries other than Japan, and, lastly, the introduction of Japanese advisers to the Chinese government to essentially manage the whole economy. China objected to the last section and the Japanese revised the demands, presenting them again to China, who accepted the ultimatum in May 1915. Japan’s actions distanced the nation from its allies in Britain and the United States, who opposed this imperialist diplomacy. The Demands contributed to a growing anger towards Japan among Chinese people, giving rise to an incipient nationalism. At the Washington Conference in 1921-1922, Japan agreed to withdraw troops from China and restore the nation’s sovereignty, thus essentially nullifying the Twenty-One Demands.

Kamikaze pilots of the special attack unit of the 71st Squadron.

“Just to confirm, when we die, we will all meet at the second cherry tree behind Yasukuni’s main gate. If you get there first, wait for us - we will enter the shrine as we left flight school - together.” This was quoted from Lieutenant Nakanishi (back to camera) to his unit members, however he was ironically the only survivor of his unit.

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“During the Battle of Midway, Yamaguchi sparred with his superior officer, Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, when a reconnaissance plane discovered an American aircraft carrier (USS Yorktown) near Midway. At the time, the Japanese carriers′ planes were armed with bombs. Nagumo wished to switch the armament to torpedoes. Yamaguchi demanded that no time be wasted and that the planes be launched to attack the American carrier with bombs. Nagumo rejected this; shortly afterward, American carrier aircraft destroyed all the Japanese carriers except Yamaguchi′s flagship Hiryū. Yamaguchi quickly ordered two successive attacks on Yorktown which crippled it. Shortly afterward, another carrier air strike against Hiryū resulted in hits by aircraft from USS Enterprise.”

Tamon Yamaguchi was born in the Shimane prefecture in Japan in 1892, and graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy in 1912. In 1918, as a navigation officer, he was exposed to naval aviation while escorting German submarines en route to be delivered as repatriation payments. Between 1921 and 1923 he studied American History at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, though did not pursue a formal degree; instead, he returned to Japan and completed his studies at the Naval Staff College in 1924. However, he was described as enthusiastic about the American university. After participating in the London Naval Conference in 1929, the diplomatic Captain Yamaguchi was Japan’s last naval attaché to Washington D.C., which lasted from 1934 to 1937. He returned to Japan for sea-bound service once again, filling the role of Chief of Staff to the Japanese 5th Fleet from 1938 to 1940. In 1940, he was promoted rear admiral and assigned the 2nd Carrier Division which consisted of the Hiryu and the Soryu. By this time, he was often understood as the successor to Isoroku Yamamoto for the position of the commander of the Combined Fleet.

Commonly credited as being perhaps Japan’s most gifted carrier admiral, Yamaguchi was astute, aggressive, and ambitious. Unfortunately for Japan’s war effort, he was also heavily steeped in the Bushido Code, which meant that he was pretty much obligated to do away with himself after having lost his carrier Hiryu during the closing stages of the Battle of Midway. “He was, in short, the epitome of the traditional samurai - hot tempered, aggressive to a fault; a man who valued honor as the ultimate virtue”, as described in the book Shattered Sword; or as Japanese navy officer Masatake Chihaya said, the “Oriental Hero Type”. When he determined that Hiryu was unsaveable, he gathered the 800 men who were still aboard the ship, including the wounded, on the flight deck near the bridge, and led them in yelling banzai three times toward Tokyo, followed by the playing of the national anthem. After the ceremony, the order to abandon ship was issued. It was recorded that Yamaguchi and Tomeo Kaku (Hiryu’s captain) had this exchange as they shared naval biscuits and water while the ship being abandoned, the exchange signifying how much the two officers had in common.
“Let us enjoy the beauty of the moon”, Yamaguchi said to Kaku.
“How bright it shines,” Kaku responds.
“It must be in its 21st day.”

The foundation of the decision to go down with the ship probably was established when his top pilot Joichi Tomonaga bravely headed off to attack the carrier Yorktown in a damaged torpedo plane that carried too little fuel for a return trip. “I will gladly follow you”, Yamaguchi said to Tomonaga before the pilot boarded the plane. He probably could have saved himself to fight another day, but that was not the Bushido way. His idealistic devotion to Bushido was likely one of the key reasons why Japan, after three fleet carrier on the verge of sinking (and eventually would sink), was unable to steer Hiryu from the same fate. Yamaguchi placed Hiryu in increasingly more dangerous positions by sailing toward the enemy, therefore eventually sacrificing assets for his personal honor instead of preserving the strength for his country in a later fight.


Sources: World War II Database and wikipedia

The Ki-200, Japan’s secret rocket propelled interceptor. Had it’s first test flight in August 1945, and full-scale production was just about to begin before Japan surrendered to Allied command in the pacific.  This is an amazing, high-tech aircraft that might have been able to change the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki if production had begun just a couple months earlier.  Many dozen partially assembled Ki-200 were found in hangers hidden in mountain caves, in the aftermath of the war. 

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The image is of the captured p-51 fighter “Evalina”. I believe it was captured over China by the IJA. 

“I had such confidence with this P-51 that I feared no Japanese fighters.” 

-Yasuhiko Kuroe

The Japanese’s impression of the Mustang was that it was an excellent all-round aircraft with no major fault and excellent equipment. The absence of oil leaks was surprising to most, as all Japanese engines leaked to some extent. Several pilots were invited to fly the fighter. Among them was Yohei Hinoki, one of the first to shoot down a Mustang in November 1943. (A few days later, he himself was shot down by a Mustang and lost a leg. Eventually returning to combat with an artificial leg, he ended the war with a dozen victories): 

anonymous asked:

what's also annoying about WW2 posts/in general is literally when I hear the Americans say they fixed everything ever and it's like, no. No, you joined later on and you don't get to take all the fucking credit. That, and when they were asked to help - if my memory is serving me right - the initial answer was p much nope but they were happy to supply shit while remaining "neutral". I don't know what warped version of WW2 Americans get taught but i wish they would just stop

I do very much appreciate that the US entering WW2 was absolutely essential to ending Japanese rule (by challenging Japan in the Pacific, severely damaging the Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway etc). I’m not sure the Allies would have won without US involvement. I think this is an issue of ethnocentrism in history- I mean generally every country does like to portray itself positively. But it’s exactly what we should be conscious of: how our own nations like to inflate and photoshop their own historical narratives. 

But indeed, it is insulting to disregard the massive heavy lifting other countries did against Germany and Japan, considering the enormous loss of human life that it cost us. The Soviets at the Eastern front played a key role in stopping the Nazis’ seemingly invincible tide. A lot of Asian underground resistance movements, much like the French Resistance  and Polish Underground, spilled plenty of their own blood to resist Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. 

Yes, as strange as it seems today, pre-WW2 America was quite isolationist regarding the “Old World”. America is the interventionist superpower it is today because WW2 drastically altered the power dynamics of the world by severely destroying Europe. The Truman Doctrine was an abandonment of US isolationism, as the US increasingly took on the role formerly filled by the British Empire. Eventually, it left the US and the USSR to start cutting up the world among themselves. You’re thinking of the “Lend-Lease” scheme, where the US supplied the Allies with weapons and other raw materials, so I wouldn’t say it was neutral, but certainly there was a reluctance to be involved. That’s why honestly, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour can be considered a tactical victory but strategic defeat. Not very wise to awake the sleeping giant- I think the US would have eventually become involved anyway, but Japan’s ill-thought out attack hastened it. Japan had intended to permanently entrench its dominance in the Pacific by destroying US naval power but the problem is they didn’t think to destroy the most important targets: the US aircraft carriers, fuel depots and repair stations, thinking this war would mostly be fought or won with battleships.

Sure, the US might have helped tip the balance, but that could not have happened without the other countries pulling their weight too. After all, in the 1940s, the US was not yet the military colossus it is today. 

Emperor Puyi, the last emperor of Wing dynasty and technically the last Emperor of China.

This picture is not realistic as Puyi would not wear this kind of headdress also from his look in this painting he is already the puppet Emperor of the Japanese, ‘ruling’ over Manchuko, so he would not be wearing this kind of gown.