** war and social upheaval: World War II Pacific Theater -- The Marianasa Saipan Guam

World War II: Pacific Theater--The Marianas (June, 1944)

Figure 1.-- Japanese authorities on Saipan when the Americans invaded incouraged the civilians there to kill their children and commit suiside. All too many did just that. These interned Japanese children on Saipan were the first to realize that this was all a lie. They quickly made friends with GIs stationed there.

The invasion of Saipan was one of the key confrontations of the Pacific War. Just as Midway was designed to force the Pacofic fleet to battlr, The Marianas Campaign would force the Imperial Fleet to battle.The Japanese defenses were centered on Saipan abd Rota. Earlier Pacific Island invasions were stepping stones. The Marianas were different. With the new B-29 bomber, air bases in the Marianas would bring the Home Islands wihin range of strategic bombardment and destoy Japan's ability to make war. Conquest of the Marianas would breach the Japanese inner defensive line. It was clearly the tipping point of the War. The Americans knew it and so did the Japannse. And unlike the earlier American landings, this one would be opposed by the Imperial Fleet--the first major Japanese fleet action since the naval bloody actions in the Sollomoons. Previous landings had made it clear that the Japanese soldiers would not surrender no matter how great the forces availed against them. American planners concluded that if the Japanese would fight to the death on isolated Pacific islands, that they would resist to the end in the defense of the Home Islands. The casualties of an invasion of the Home Islands would be horrendous. It was thus important to bring the Japanese Home Islands within the range of American bombers so that the Japanese war making power could be smashed. There was a Japanese civilian population on Saipan. While the Americans expected the military to resist to the bitter end, they expected the civilians to surrender. Japanese authorities, however, urged the civilians to kill their children and commit suiside. Many did just that. After the Americans secured the island, the Japanese civilians were interned, but in realtively comfortable circumstances. Just as Midway was designed to force the Pacofic fleet to battlr, The Marianas Campaign would force the Imperial Fleet to battle.

Historical Background

The Marianas is an important archepeligo in rhe central Pacific. The Northern Marianas consists of 14 tropical islands stretching across 400 miles. They are adjacent to the Marianas trench which is the deepest point in the ocean. Saipan is the most populated island in the group. Rota is much less developed. The Northern Marianas were settled around 1500 BC by Chamorros who have cultural ties with the indigenous people on Guam. Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to discover the islands (1521). He named them the Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves) because of his experiences with the Chamoros. Spanish Jesuit Luis Diego Sanvitores renamed the islands Las Marianas in honor of the Spanish queen Maria Ana of Austria (1668). He and five other priests established a mission in the Marianas. The Spanish effort to Christanize and control the islands set off two decades of often brutal hostilities between the Spanish and the Chamorros who violently resisted them. The Spanish had to commit a substantial military force to gain control of the islands. Because of lingering resistance, the Spanish rounded up most of the the Chamoros on Saipan and trasported them to Guam. The Spanish had more trouble doing this on Rota where most of the Chamoros managed to hide in the island's caves and mountains. The Spanish permitted Caroline islabders to move to Marianas where they tended cattle for the Spanish. Pope Leo XIII confirmed Spanish sovereignty over the Marianas (1885). Spain began encouraging the Chamoros on Guam to move to the Northern Marianas. The Guam Chamoros were now throughly Hispanicized. The Spanish saw a larger Chanoro population on Saipan and other islands in the Northern Marianas as a way of strengthening Spanish control. The Carolinians had by that time settled much of the most productive coastal areas. The United States seized the Philippine Islands and Guam during the Spanish-American War (1898). The Spanisg decided that there was not benefit in having the Northern Marianasa. The decided to seel the islands to Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II at the time was building a new high seas navy and anxious to acquire colonies. The Northern Marianas and other Pacific Islands acquired by the Germans provided useful facilities for the new German Navy. The Germans also hoped to develop copra production.

World War I

Japan had a Naval Alliance with Britain. When World War I broke out in Europe, the Japanese entered the War on the Allied side. The British were at first surprised at the Japanese eagerness to enter the War. Japanese officials saw some advantages to be gained from the War, particularly the opportunity of seizing German colonies. This was helpful to the British because it allowed the Royal Navy to maintain only a small squadron in the Pacific to deal with the Germans. Japanese, British, and Dominion forces seized the German outposts. The World War I settlment assigned the northern colonies to Japan and the southern colonies to Australia. The Japanese thus acquired the Northern Marianas. The Ameicans continued to control Guam to the south.

Japanese Inter-war Colonial Control

The Japanese saw the Northern Marianas as useful both militarily as well as an economic assett. The Marianas served as useful air and naval bases to build a shield around Japan. Economically the Japanese were particularly interested in sugar cane. They proceed in clearing groves of coconut palms planted by the Chomoros as well asand tropical forests. This included many ancient latte stones important to the Chamoros. Large numbers of Japanese civilians were brought in to develop the economy. This proved an economic success. The Marianas sugar cane operations were producing 60 percent of the revenues the Japanese were generated in Micronesia. The Japanese also changed the Northern Marianas demographically. When the Japanese acquired the islands, there were about 4,000 Chamorros. The Japanese population when the War began was 45,000, mostly immigrant workers. The Marianas thus became essentially Japanese islands. The Japanese recreated the islands amd thgus life there became similar to that on Japan itself. Schools were opened for the Japanese children.

Air Bases

Unlike the European Theater where the United States could use Britain for based to bomb Germany, there were no Allied bases within striking distance of Japan. American planners initially conceived of using bases in China to bomb Japan. American planners including President Roosevelt initially saw Chsng Kai-Check abd the Natioinalist Chinese as a major ally in the War. The problem was that the Natioinalist Army was not capable of fighting the Japanese, in part because of equiopment, but more importantly the corruption of the Nationalist leadership. The War in China was at an impase because the Jaoanese could not ger at the Natioinalist in the remote inland areas of China and the Nationalists had no intention of attacking the Jaoanese. The only effective divisions in the Nationalist Army were those in India that were trained and equipped by the Americans. There werw areas of China in Nationalist hands that could be used. Much of the supplies flown over the Hump were destined for the U.S. Army Air Forces in China. The Allied CBI offensive was primarily designed to reopen the Burma Road by the Ledo Road so that much larger quantiities of supplies could reach China. The Japanese Ichi-Go offensive was designed to prevent a bombing campaign from China (April 1944). It seized the areas where Americans had prepared bases and almost suceeded in brining down Nationalist resistance. The distances across the Pacific were enormous. The Americans had not initially planned the strategic bombing campaign from Pacific islands. The loss of Chinese bases as a result of Ichigo and the success of the Navy's Central Pacific radically changed the Army Air Force's plans. The Marianas were now vulnerable and they were not just one more Pacifuic island group. The Marianas had emense strategic value. The Marianas were Closer to Japan than the rest of Micronesia. The Marianas were thus critical chink in Japan's defensive perimeter. And for the Americans, supplying air bases in the Marianas would be a simple matter, a strait ocean hop from West Coast ports with none of the difficulties of getting supplies to China. And most importantly, the new B-29 Superfortress could reach the Japanese Home Islands from bases in the Mariannas.

The B-29

The American B-17 and B-24s whch could reach Germany from bases in Britain did not have ranges which could be used to reach Japan. An entirely new plane was needed. That plane was the Boeing B-29 Superortress. Boeing submitted the prototype for the B-29 in 1939, before the United States had even entered World War II. The B-29 was the most advanced aircraft propeller aircradt used in World War II. It had had many sophisticated features. The guns could be fired by remote control. The crew areas were pressurized and connected by a long tube passing over the bomb bays. The B-29 was rushed into production so fast that testing had not yet been completed. The Army Air Force established modification centers where last-minute changes could be made without slowing production lines. The most remarkble aspect of the B-29, however. was its range. It had a range of 2,850 miles and a cruising speed of 358 mph at 32,000 feet. The bomb load was 20,000 tons. Production lines for the new B-29 Superfortress began operating in early 1944. I'm not sure how the Japanese learned of the B-29. Details may have been published in newspapers. They seem to have learnened by early 1944. The response was to plan an offense in China and to prepare plans to commit the fleet in the defense of the Marianas. This would be the first appearance of the Imperial Fleet in force since the Solomons campaign. They were right to be concerned. About 90 percent of the bombs dropped on Japan would be delivered by B-29s.

Japanese Defenses

The Japanese defenses of the Marianas centered on Saipan and Rota. Japan entered the War with an offensive mind set. They had not envisioned an American invasion of Saipan nor were they as important at the time because of the limited range of bombers. Thus major preparations for an American invasion did not begin until 1943, especually after the American smashed through the outer island barriers--the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. But by this time the American submarine campampaign was beginning to take an increasing toll on the Marus, the indispenible vessel needed for a military buildup of any importance. This made it very difficult not only to bring in men and heavy weapons, but to supply the forces already there. Even so, the Japanese managed to build up sizeable garisons, especially on Saipan. These were large islands and not small coral atols like Tarawa. They thus had the greates potential to build air bases which could be used to bomb Japan. The Japanese defense force on Sapan totaled about 31,600 men. Tinian was a small, obscure island in the Marianas chain, but big enough for an air base. Rota was a larger island, but heavily fortified by the Japanese. Guam had been acquired bu the Americans from Spain as a result of the Spanish-American War. It had been seized by Japan immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack. Guam had a sizeable garrison, but smaller than that on Saipan. The Japanese expected an American attack in the Central Pacific, but many though the Carolines were a more likely target. The Japanese after the Marshalls and Gilbert campaigns were now fully aware that island garisons no matter how well fortified could not resist American assaults unless the Imperial Navy intervened. Saipan was much larger than the islands the Americans seized in the Marshals and Gilberts. Both Saipan and Guam could be garisoned with sizeable air forces. Thus the Japanese conceived the idea that coordinated air attacks from land based and carriers could deal a stinging defeat on the American Navy and invasion force. This was in part why Vice- Admiral Nagumo who comanded the Pearl Harbor assault force was assigned to Saipan. Nagumo had commanded Japanese carriers in the Guadalcanal campaign. The results were indecisive and in the process the trained air crews had been seriously depleted. Nagumo arrived on Saipan (March 4, 1944) as commander in chief of what proved to be the short-lived IJN 14th Air Fleet, and simultaneously commander in chief of the equally short-lived Central Pacific Area Fleet. Nagumo had also commanded the Japanese carrier force at Midway. There American aircraft operated from Miday had played an important role in the Japanese defeat. Now in an irony of history, Nagumo was able to coorinate land and sea forces to degfeat an attacking Amrrican naval force. The American forces he faced, however, were radically different in size and striking power than anything he had ever faced.

Japanese Strategic Concept

The Japanese held a series of policy conferences in Tokyo (September 1943). At the time their concern was with holding the line in the Solomons and New Guinea. The United States Navy had not yet begun the Central Pacific drive. Despite the subsequent Allied advances in the South and Central Pacific, the Japanese focus seems to have continued on China. It is unclear whether this was just the centrality of the attraction of China or their appreciation of the air base construction in China. Whatever the reason, the primary Japanese operations in 1944 were offensives in central China (Ichi-Go Offensive) and an invasion of India from Burma (U-Go Offensive) to cut off American supply flights over the Hump. The Chinese offensive was successful while the Indian invasion failed. This of course affected the resources available to build up garrisons in the Central Pacific. There could be no doubt about where the U.S. Navy's Central Pacific drive was headed--The Marianas. And the Mariana offered a far greater danger than air bases in China. The Marianas solved the Chinese logistical nightmare. The route was not only shorter, but supplies could be shipped by cargo vessels rather than the much more difficult effort of flying over the towering Himalayas in small transports. It is unclear why the Japanese made Chinese air bases rather than the Marianas their priority. Perhaps it was just because the Chinese bases were under constriction at a time they still held the Marianas. Perhaps the Army generals saw the Mariana as more the Navy's problem. But the Japanese leader Hideki Tojo after the Truk disaster sacked Nagumo as Navy Chief of Staff and Tojo and Tojo expanded his control by making himself Army Chief of Staff (February 1944). Part of the justification for these action was to better coordinate Army and Navy operations. A CIH contributor believes that it was the obsession with China that dominate Japanese decision making. He writes, "It was a long fascination with China since the early 1930s that the Japanese -especially the Army could not escape from. The Navy had some interests but only for coastal areas for ship harbours like Hong Kong. And it cost them the war. I wrote a double paper in university on this subject. Got an A in both. It was mostly about how China and Pearl Harbor were connected and then on how China and the defeat of Japan were connected. The key part is always China." [Silverman] In the end, the Japanese choice was to focus on China. It was why they attacked Pearl Harbor andin the end why they committed their last forces capaable of offensive action to China. What ever the reason, it was a huge mistake

Truk (February 17)

A major step to prepare for the Marianas assault was the estructin the Japanese air and naval base at Truk. Yje Japanese describe it asa the Gibraltar of the Pacioc. The naval base was ringed by protective air bases. This could have supported the Japanese forces in the marians. Adm. Mitchnr's carrier task force launched first major assault on Truk (February 17). Not yet appreciated by the mericans, the imperial Navy had already abandoned Truk as a forward base, moving back to the Palau Islands. The Amerian carrier attack reduced Truk to a shables. This attackk and follow-up strikes as well as the success of the Marshalls camnpaign menat that the Japanese Marianasgarrisons were on theor own. The destructin was o extensive that Admioral Nimitz concluded that the Carolines coujld be by-passed. And the large Japanese garrison woyld olay no future role in the War. Like th large Rabal garrison they were isolated and faced with the conduming problem of finding food. [Weinberg, p.649.]

Air Strikes (June 13-15)

The American campaign to take the Marianasa began with air strikes to destroy the substantial Japanese air forces, mostly on Saipan and Guam. The vulnerable invasion fleet could not approach the islands until the air forces there had been destroyed. Task Force 58 launched 225 planes against the Southern Marianas (primarily Guam) and destroyed between 150 to 215 Japanese planes (June 11). The air strikes were conducted over 4 days focusing on both Saipan and Guam. The focus was on Japanese aircraft, but airbases and shore instaltiins were also struck. The assault destroyed an possibility of a coordinated Japanese land-carrier attack on the American carriers. Nagumo on Saipan was unable to inform Admiral Ozawa Jisaburō commanding the Japanese Combined Fleet with its powerful carrier force that he could not expect support from the island air forces.

The Island Invasions (June 15-August ??, 1944)

The Marianas archipelago extends 500 miles from north to south. American planners focused on the larger islands which were heavily fortified by the Japanese. First targeted was Saipan, the largest island of the northern Msrianas with the largest Japanese garrison. It was 15 miles long and 7 wide thus parmitting combined arms maneuvers. Inland hill masses overlooked sandy beaches and provuided cover for an extended defense. The taking of the Marianas required separate invasions for each of the islands to be seized. Saipan, Tinian and Rota are the principal islands of the Northen Marianas.The large Japanese garrisoms on Saipan and Guam meant that major invasions had to be mounted. Tinian was less of a problem. The naval planners decuided to simply cutt off Rota rather than invade it. The Marianas were different than the other islands of the Central Pacific campaign in that there were a substantial civilian population. And on Saipan this included Japanese civilians. When the Japanese first arrived, there were only about 4,000 Chamorros in the Northern Marianas, but a larger poplation on Guam. The Japanese brought in Japanese and immigrant workers who numbered about 45,000 at the time of the War. They dwarfed the indigenous population and overwhelmed the native culture. The Marianas proved to be one of the bloodiest battlegrounds of the Pacific War. There location closer to the Home Islands than the rest of Micronesia, the Japanese tenaciously defended them as essential to maintaining a defensive perimeter. The United States mounted a massive invasion of first Saipan and then Guam. The outgunned Japanese garisons fought to the death.

Figure 2.--The two Chimoro boys on Guam have turned some war surplus material into useful boats just their size. I am not sure what they are using, but think they are aircraft extenal ful tanks which were jetioned after the guel was used.

Battle of the Philippine Sea (June 19, 1944)

The first major carrier engagement after Midway was the battle of the Philippine Sea. TThe Navy's Task Force 58 made up of the new Essex carriers met a Japanese carrier force trying to prevent the American invasion of the Marianas. The Japanese dispatched a sizeable force of 5 carriers and 550 aircraft. The effectivness of Japanese naval aviation had deteriorated significantly. The Japnese still had no radar. Large numbers of trained aircrews had been lost at Coral Sea, Midway, and other engagements. The Japanese did not as America did, reasign outstanding flyers to naval training schools. The Japanese had a extremely effective pilot training program, butit took more than a year to train a pilot. The Japanese never developed a program to effectively train large numbers of pilots in a few months. The Japanese carriers thus had large numbers of poorly trained pilots. In addition the Japanese crrier still had the same planes with which they had attacked Pearl Harbor. American shipyards had turned out large numbers of carriers in 1942 and 43. There were 15 American carriers with 950 planes of greatly improved types than the planes that America had begun the war with. The engagement between these two forces proved to be the conclusive carrier battle of the Pacific war. The battle was fought June 19, 1944. It was a dissaster for the Imperial Navy. The Japanese Zero was so outclassed in the aerial combat that the battle became known as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. The Japanese lost 240 planes and two carriers Taiho and Shokaku. American losses were minimal, 29 planes damage to the battleship South Dakota. Begining with this battle, the inability of the Japanese to train naval aviators as rapidly as needed, improved Ameican aircraft, and the wave of Essex-classs carriers flowing from American shipyards overwealmed the Imperal Navy which had once so dominated the Pacific. Two Japanese carriers were sunk and large numbers of Japanese planes. The losses at Midway and in the Philippines Sea so depleted trained naval aviators that Japanese carriers were never again a major factor in World War II.

Japanese Attrocities: Civilians

Japanese World War II attrocities are generally see as heinous acts targeting the people imvading an occuied. Less well covered are the attrocities targetting the Japanese people. This began as far as civilans are concerned in the Marianas, mst promonently on Saipan whivh had the largest population f Japanese settlers. Japan acquired the Marianas durin World War II and had two decades to settle a sizeable number of civilians on the islands, displacing many Chamoros on Saipan. The Japanese were well prepared for the American invasion. The American Central Pacific campaign had made considerable progress. After the Gilberts, Marshalls, and actions in the Carolines, it was obvious that the Marianas were next. The Japanese knew about the B-29 and that the Home Islands could be attacked from bases in the Marianas. Thus the Japanese authorities in the Marianas had pleny of time to bried civilians that the Americans were coming and what they could expect. We know what they were told, although it is not entirely clear who ordered it. We do not know if authorities in Tokyo ordered how civilians should be briefed. As far as we know at this time, local authorities just followed the Japanese propaganda line that the Americans were beasts and would torture and kill civians and rape the women. We are not entirely sure how this message was conveyd. We are not sure it was Tokyo based propaganda. Cetainly Tokyo demonized the Americans at every turn, but it ws slow to admit that the Americans were having success in the war, esecially occupying areas with Japanese populations. The Japanese propaganda message at the tome ws that Japan was winning the War, so message about American behavior in occupied areas would seem to have been off message, but perhaps readers who know more about Japanese propaganda can tell us more. The message seems to hve been delivered locally, in many cases informally. We are not sure that higher ranking officers really believed this. There was no actual information to sunstantuate it. But this is what civilians were told and most seemed to have believed what they were told. Once the Americn invaded, the civilians hid in the many caves, odrering sheltr from the air raids and fighting. This was done in desperation. The Japanese pre-positiond food and water for soldiers, but not for civilians. And cuvilins do not seem to have done this on their own. Unlike Okinawa where the Americans also encountted Japanese civilians. Japanese soldiers on the Marianasa do not seem to have forced civilans to commit suicide or even just killed them. After establishing their beachead, American marines and soldiers advanced inland through valleys of sugar cane fields, swamps, and finally reaching jungle-covered mountains. his was the most difficult terrain feature on Saipan for the Americans. Hundres of natural caves honeycombing the island. These caves could conceal Japanese snipers, artillery, or terrified civilians seeking to survive the fierce fighting. It was the first time Americans encountered any substantial numbers of Japanese civilians in the Pacific War. In addition to misinforming their civilians, the Japanese soldiers actually used their own civilians as bait for ambushes or as human shields. his of course suggests that at least the officers knew that what they were tellng the civilians were lies. What ever the case, it was effective. Civilins continued to hise in caves evcen when starving. And finally as the Americans soldiers drove th Japanese to the northern corner of the island, womn started commiting suisud, jumping fom high cliffs into the sea, many with their babies in their arms. They ignored pleas by Japanese speakking Americns to surrender. The smesenario unfolded on Guam and Tinian, albeit with smallr numbers of Jpanese civilins.

Building Air Bases

Strategic Bombing Campaign

The U.S. Navy Central Pacifiv campaign solved the baseing and supply problems for the U.S. Arny Air Forces. The seizure of the Marianas opened new possibilities for the strategic bombing campaign (June-July 1944). The islands (Guam, Saipan, Tinian) provided sites for airfields that were within range of the Home Islands. And not originally planned for strategic bombing campaign, the Marianas had significant advantages over China. It was a lot easier to seize an island, no matter how well garisoned than advance armies into central China and ebgage large Japanese forces. In addition, the Marianasa were a straight supply run from San Franciso and other West Coast ports, eliminating the logistical nightmare of getting the vast supplies needed to China. The Air Force rushed to complete the large airfields needed by the B-29s and to deploy the planes and crews to the islands. The first raid from the south was 88 B-29s that struck Tokyo (November 24, 1944). The dropped bombs from about 30,000 feet (10,000 m). The post-bombing assessment suggested that only about 10 percent of the bombs hit their targets. The 20th Air Force was reassigned to the XXI Bomber Command. Under the command of Curtis LeMay, they organized a much more effective bombing campaign. Flying from the Marianas (ptimarily Guam and Tinian) the B-29s were within range of the Home Islands and able to carry a full bomb loads. The campaign was given great priority. The Bomber Commands did not report to the theater commanders (MaxArthur and Nimityz), but rather directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At the peack of operation, they were placed under the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, commanded by General Carl Spaatz (March 1945). The Americans as in Europe tried daylight precision bombing using high explosive bombs. The results were ineffective. The hight winds over the Islands (the Jet Stream) disrupted the trajectory of bombs dropped from high alditude which meant that targets were not struck. The B-29 was built for higg altiutude operations and this was preferred because it was above the effective height of Japanese air defenses. General LeMay, commanding the XXI Bomber Command, decided to cg=hnge tactics. He switched to low altitude raids (about 2,100 meters) dropping incendiary bombs. The lower altitude improved accuracy and the indendiaries meant that specific targets did not have to be accurately hit, they would be destroyed in the huge conflgratiins of Japanese cities. The speed of te B-29s proved suffucent to protect the raiders. The raids focused on the major urban centers of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe. The early raids using this method were only moderately successful, but results stradily improved. There were also daylight raids on particularly important targets.

Atomic Bombs

American conventionl bombing had methodically destroyed one Japanese vity fter another. The country's wood and per cities were highly vulnerable. This did not giv the Japanese militarist pause when they launched the War and began bombing Chinese cities. The Japanese commanders believed the Home Islnds were well beyond the range of American aircraf. And the substantial, but largely hidden Japanese air force offered little resistnce. The nitedStates warned the Japaness Government that the country must surrender or face devesttion (July 1945). Even the destruction of their great cities, did not being militry chiefs to surender. American planes dropped leaflets on Hiroshima warning the inhabitnts to evacuate because a heavy airattack was imminent (August 4, 1945). The American B-29 Enola Gay from Tinian dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima (August 6). An estimated 80,000 people died almost instantly. The blast destroyed 60 percent of the city. The bomb was an uranium fission weapon with a yield equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT. The bomb was dropped from the American B-29, Enola Gay based at Tinian. Japan surrendered August 15, 1945 and the Formal instrument of surender was signed aboard the battleship Missouri. Japan was occupied by U. S. forces until September 8, 1951.

Continued Japanese Resistance

Rota had been bypassed. Its garrison was intact, but had no ability to strike American positions. It only surrendered after VJ Day. A few Japanese soldiers had held out on Saipan after the fighting had ceased. Army Captain Sakeo Oba finally suenderd his group of 46 men who had operated as guerrillas in the mountainous teraine on Saipan (December 1, 1945). These were not the last surenders. The last suurenders were 8 castaways on Anatahan. They were survivors from a convoy sunk June 12, 1944. They surendered June 30, 1951.


The Marines had proven in one bloody assault after another that Japanese soldiers could not hold its Pacific Island bastions no matter how well fortified. The Battle of the Phillipine Sea showed that the Imperial Navy was also encapable of stopuing the remorless surge of American power. The fall of the Marianas was thus a tipping point in the War. The logical response for Japan would have been to seak peace. But this would have required the Japanese miklitarists who made war to have admitted that they had blundered, dragging their country into an unwinable war. It would have also mean surrender, a concdpt salien to the Bushido spirit. So instead the Japanese began to work on new tactics and the major thread of the new tactics was suiside. Jaanese planners began to talk about "guerilla warfare" as well as "new ideas" and new weaopons". Emperor Hirohito' naval aide, Cpt. Eiichiro Jo began advocating "special" meaning suisidal attacks. Naval planners began working on the Kaiten or "Heaven Shaker"--a suiside torpedo. [Thomas, p. 138.] Army aviators were pressing for suiside attacks. Not all Japanese military palnners believed in these new tactics, but with the loss of the Marianas and then the American successes in the Philippines, the Japanese turned in desperatin to the Kamikaze.


Silvermam, Irving. Personal communication (July 8, 2019).

Thomas, Evan. Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941-1945 (Simon & Schuster: New York, 2006), 414p.

Weinberg, Gerhard L. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambrige Universit Press: New York, 2005), 1178p.


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Created: December 30, 2002
Last updated: 12:22 AM 7/8/2019