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11-08-2015, 19:05

The Defeat and Surrender ofJapan

Japan remained. The Americans, who regarded the Far Eastern war as their special preserve, dealt capably with it. Before the fighting in Europe had ended, they had begun to shift troops to the Far East. But they had taken the offensive earlier and had enjoyed a few successes. In China they had met with serious reverses. Roosevelt foresaw that after the wrar China would play an important part in wTorld affairs. He regarded China as a fourth power. In order to feed the Chinese army by opening the Burma Road, he had accepted a plan for Burma which the British had put up as part of the defence of India. After some fierce fighting Burma was effectively conquered. On 2 May Rangoon fell. All the American advisers, weapons and dollars, however, could not sort out Chiang Kai-Shek's muddled administration in China. The Chinese army remained a hotch-potch oi isolated gangs, although in territories under its control it helped the air offensive which the huge B29 bombers unleashed on Japan. No unified command wras set up to handle Pacific operations. Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur presided over separate campaigns. American organization and method were everywhere admirable. Not only did they quickly make good the losses at Pearl Harbour, they went on to launch twenty large air craft carriers, which manoeuvred in close cooperation with the battleships. Their bombers, the B2g's were perfectly adapted for long range bombing; they could haul nine tons of bombs a distance of 3500 miles. Men, arms, equipment and food sailed at regular intervals 6,000 miles from the Pacific coast of the United States. American strategists perfected a new landing technique in which special troups, the marines, formed bridge-heads under cover of aerial bombardment and fire from ships off shore. The Japanese could not match American air and sea power. The Japanese fighter planes were slower, their radar and radio installations were less precise. They made up for some of their disadvantage with fierce fighting. They fortified the least atolls and defended them down to the last man. They flew the Kamikaze suicide planes and crashed them into the bridges of enemy ships. The outcome of the Pacific war hinged on gigantic air and sea battles, which the Japanese frequentlylost. The major battles were fought in the Mariana Islands in June 1944, and at Leyte Gulf in October, in both of which the Japanese lost aircraft carriers and battleships. As the Americans increased their control of the sea, they had more freedom of manoeuvre. They disregarded some Japanese strongpoints, which could not be reached bv supplies and became prisons for their inhabitants. They landed on others and used them as bases for further advances. Thus the Solomons, New Guinea, the Marianas, the Palaus were successively captured or neutralized, and Mac- Arthur, true to his promise, returned to the Philippines in January 1945. While the Philippine archipelago was being captured, the Americans made two more leaps forward to Iwojima and then to Okinawa, where they were within range of Hondo, the capital island of the Japanese archipelago. Bv spring 1945, the Japanese were isolated from their empire. Essential supplies were running short. Japan was shattered bybomb attacks whose devastating effects were increased by gigantic fires. She was on her last legs. By the end of the European war most of her merchant fleet and navy had been lost. Without iron ore, ships and plane manufacture was jeopardized, while the remaining planes and ships had run short of fuel. Nevertheless the Japanese fought so fiercely that the Americans hesitated to land on Hondo. At Okinawa the Japanese lost 1 10,000 men: only 7,500 were taken prisoners. The Americans reckoned a million men would perish in a landing on Hondo. After this they would still have to defeat the units scattered across the remains o( the Japanese Empire. At the Yalta conference Roosevelt had obtained a promise of cooperation from the Red Army in Manchuria, which opened fighting on the eastern front on 9 August with considerable success. But Truman had decided to explode the first atomic bomb at Hiroshima three days earlier. On 9 August another, the last, wTas dropped on Nagasaki with the same horrific results. The Emperor Hirohito broke his silence to order the last indomitable soldiers to stop fighting. Many of them committed harakiri. The Japanese surrender was signed on 2 September in Tokyo Bay aboard the Missouri, an American battleship which had survived Pearl Harbour. The war was over. The Allies had been completely victorious.