** World War II Pacific strategic bombing campaign Jpamn's wood and paper cities

World War II: Pacific Bombing Campaign--Japan's Wood and Paper Cities

Figure 1.--This family portrait is especially interesting bcause it was taken outside their home. They are a military family. The farher is a career military man, obviusly in the army. We thinkj he mazy be a seargent, although we are not sure. Ot looks like the boys are ikn the Army, but wse think they are wearing school uniforms. The mother znd older daughters wear traditiional kimomos. TYhey may have not attended secondafry school like their brothers. The younger girl wears a classic summer school uniform. The little boys may hve just started school. We are not sure how to date the portrait. On the back is written 18 10 21. This suggests 1921, but we are not sure bout that. We think the late-1920s or early-30s is more likely. The family is pictured outside their hiughly flamable wood and paper home. We syspect that studios hied people to go out and take these portrairs in the community. At the time the Japanbese military was on a path toward war and developing a modern air firce that would begin bombing China (1931). The militry appears comvinced that Japan itself would bever be bombed. They were right bout China, but eventually the militarisdts decided on war with America. This was a very dangerou undertken given that a country with wood and papoer cities was the most vulnberable to aerial bombardment.

After World War I, Europeans aecame obsessed with the idea that if there ever was another war, that cities would be bombed not only with explosives, but poison gas. The Germans had began bombing London and other British cities during World War I. The Germans used not only their Zephlins, but also developed the long-range Gotha bomber. The mantra that developed after the War was that 'the bomber will always get through'. The Germns convinced themselves that after Hitler sezed power that Germany could not be bombed. The Japanese were even more sure of that and began bombing Chinese cities (1931). They were right that China did not have the ability to bomb them, but curiously they ignored the Soviet Union which had air bases within short range of major cities. Even after bombing Chinese cities for a decade, the Japnese saw boming their cities as a war crime and executed some American airmen (1942). It of course be the United States that Japan would choose to go to war with. The United States had strategic bombers, but none that could read Japnese cities. The Japanese did not believe that America could develoo longer range bombers or take bases close enough to reach Japanese cities. This of course was a flawed assessment baed on the assumption that it would be a short war that Japan would quickly win. No thought seems to have been given to the the fact that Japan's cities were more vulnerable to aerial bombardment than those of any other country. The vast majority of Japasnese poeople lived in homes contructed of highly flamable wood and paper -- essentially vast areas of kindling that would ignite in fierce fire storms when set off by incendiary bombs. As far as we know, the Japanese militarists who drove Japan to war never consider Japan's vulnerability. The result of course after a decade of Japan bombiung undefended Chinese cities was Japan launching the Pacific War against the United States. This after 3 bloody years of islanding fighting led to the long range American B-29 Sperfortress that made possible the fire bombing of Japanese cities. The fire bombing of Tokyo killed more peoople than either the Hiroshima or Ngasaki atomic bomb. Japanese cities were left mounds of glowing cinders. Even so the Japanese militarists refused to surrender. And prepared a massive plan to resist a planned American invasion.


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Created: 3:50 PM 11/12/2021
Last updated: 7:22 PM 11/14/2021