'...EVERY CITIZEN A SOLDIER'
| The problem was how to get a man close enough
to accurately deliver his ordinance. The greater the distance the
more skill was required. And Japan had lost most of it's skillful
air crews at the same time it had lost the war. The battle of
Mid-way, in spring of 1942 had broken the back of the Japanese
offensive. For a time Guadalcanal had been a stalemate , but it,
too, had been lost. The Americans had started up the "slot",
one island at a time, until they realized the tremendous amount of
effort they were wasting. Then they started hopping over
heavelly fortified islands, leaving the Imperial soldiers to rot,
cut off from the war.
Japan found itself spread thin. With loses and the soldiers needed in China-Burma-India committed, there weren't new troops to go around. The Emperor's Generals knew they needed one final battle of such magnitude that even the Americans couldn't stand up to such loses. That battle was to be the defense of the home islands. But the bottom of the barrel had been reached. By the summer of 1944 the Imperial General staff had declared every citizen of the Emperor a solder in his defense. Japan would die to the last person to defend the way of life (meaning the Emperor) of Japan.
If that looks as strange to you, reading it, as it looks to me writing it, then you begin to understand the complexity of the situation. German Generals often surrendered after losing battles. Japanese Generals usually committed suicide. Death before Surrender and dishonor are something that had been drummed into the heads of the military, and the citizens from the turn of the century. On Saipan the loss of life was over 50,000 men. over 3,000 Americans killed. Civilians - many women with children in their arms - jumped to their death, rather the surrender to the Americans.
Saipan was considered the most terrible battle in the Pacific at the time it was fought. Yet it was just the beginning. As the war got closer to the home islands the Japanese became both more proficient and tenacious. On Okinawa there were over 107,000 Japanese dead and 27,769 were entombed in caves. Only 10,755 prisoners were taken. Americans lost over 7,000 in the island fighting and another 4907 sailors killed at sea. We had thirty four ships sunk and 763 carrier aircraft lost. Most all were lost to the Kamikaze.
Because the Japanese had found their answer. Have your pilot crash his plane into the side of a ship and the problem of teaching him how to drop a bomb is solved. The savings in training time, material, and aircraft can be used to train yet more pilots. And with a better chance of sinking a ship then with the old methods.
Was there not a chance that, as in days of old when the Divine Wind had blown away the Chinese fleet and saved Japan, a new Divine wind might blow against the Americans? And if so could it not be that the Emperor could be saved and the War trials would not take place? Was there not a chance?
Along the costs The American Fleets were shelling and attacking the airfields. Carrier planes flew low over rice paddies, searching out the hiding place of the Kamikaze aircraft. The Americans didn't know that as fast as they knocked out an airfield the Japanese repaired it. Nor that the Japanese production of aircraft in the last few months of the war was again at over 2,000 aircraft a month. But they did know about Saipan and Okinawa. And the didn't want to take any chances. In Washington a new president was faced with the grim facts. The war should be over. The American People wanted it over. They would accept no delays; not even weeks or days. On the one hand, a long drawn out war, maybe for months or years. On the other a Bloody invasion of the home islands. The medical teams drawing up the plans for "Coronet" were making top estimates of 1 Million American casualties.
And the American People wouldn't accept that either.
A plan to end the war...