*** World War II air war Japanese calculations

World War II: Pacific Strategic Bombing Campaign--Japanese Calculation

Janese strategic bombing calculatiion
Figure 1.--The Japanese began bombing Chinese cities when they invaded Chinese Manchuria (1931). Their calculation was that they could bomb China and other ciuntries, but becaue of the Imperial Navy and geography, no one would be able to bomb their own wood and paper cities. We now know that this was a mind-boggling miscalculation. Today with the threat of totalitarian powers removed, we note recriminations about the American Strategic Bombing Campaign and heated discussion of the American strategic bombing campaign with many Japanese and left-wing Americans condeming the United States on moral grounds. Left unsaid is the fact that Japan began bombing defenseless Chinese cities years before the outbreak of World War II. This eded only when American entered the war and American air power became a factor in the War. I think we can all agree that civilians should not be targeted in warfare. But the debate is much more complicated. Does morality demand that if a country bombs the cities of you and your allies that you should not reciprocate? Or if a country is committing some of the greatest attrocities in human history, including murdering millions of civilians, that you should refrain from attacks on that country's war making capacity because some of their civilians will be killed?

The Japanese militarists who planned the War did not conceive of a long war. These were the same men who did not think their invasion of Manchuria (1931) and China proper would set off long wars. They were right about Manchuria, but not about China. And once bogged down in China, incredibly their aggresive mindset led to the idea that the way of completing the conquest of China was to attack the United States. They thought they could seize an empire in Southeast Asia and with the resources there could complete the conquest of China. They never conceived of conquering America, but they believed that moraly decadent Americans would never have the forditude to contest the Japanese Empire once established. They believed that the Americans would instead seek peace as the Russians had done in Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Part of this construct was the belief that the Germans would quickly defeat the Soviet Union and thus America would have to focus its strength on the European War. This looked probable when the Japanese made the decesion to attack America. By the time of the actual assault, however, the situation had changed. Red Army resistance had stiffened and the Whermacht was deep in Russia in the middle of a severe winter at the outer limit of the supply chain. Even so, the Japanese did not adjust their war calculations. Another aspect of the Japanese calculation was that their air power gave them the ability to hammer Chinese cities, but that the Imperial Navy and geography made it impossible to bomb their wood and paper cities. Just like the Germans, the Japanese militaits believed that they could bomb Chinese and other cities with abandon, but their cities could not be bombed. Even later when they studied war with America, they believed that American bombers could not reach the Home Islands. Here they made the critical error of assuming that the aircraft with America had in 1941, would be the aircraft with which the war would be fought. This proved to be largely true of the Japanese, but far from the case with the United sttes. Today the Japanese are critical of the devestaging American strategic bombing campaign. Rarely do they mention that it was Japan who began bombing cities (1931) and continued to do so until America entered the War and began building up the Chinese air defense capability.


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Created: 3:34 PM 2/8/2016
Last updated: 3:34 PM 2/8/2016