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Topic: Yamamoto, The man really responsible< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Ken Hackler Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2002,6:43  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Since December 1941 the game of choice is to blame someone for Pearl Harbor. Many blame Kimmel and Short, others blame FDR, and yet others point to senior War and Navy Department officers.

In the end, the public flailing over who is to blame only serves to forward the personal or political aggendas of those making the noise. There was one man responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor and his name was Isoroku Yamamoto. He even forced it upon the Japanese government by threatening to resign if they did not approve his plan.

Yamamoto has been called a genius by many, yet I take exception to that. What did he really accomplish by attacking Pearl Harbor, and was it necessary?

Initially what Yamamoto accomplished was the destruction of a handful of old and slow battleships that were no threat to Japan or her navy. In using aircraft carriers as he did, Yamamoto displayed an appreciation for the new weapon, yet that understanding seemed to end shortly after Pearl Harbor when he went back to his battleship thinking. He was, after all, simply a product of his time. He and just about every other admiral before the war (American and Japanese)  belonged to the "Gun Club," and all of them as a group were dinosaurs when the war came along. Yamamoto's experience with carrier aviation in the 1930's should have taught him far more than it did apparently, as his handling of the entire Pearl Harbor issue proves.

More importantly, however, Yamamoto displayed an almost criminal lack of understanding of American public and political sentiment in several ways. What Yamamoto accomplished was the unification of American resolve in a way that no American politician could have done. This has often been written, and still feeds the fires of nuts who spout conspiracy nonsense. To them it is proof that someone did something on purpose to bring this country into the war.

In truth it is proof that someone did something on purpose - and his name was Isoroku Yamamoto. What he did was grossly misunderstand American sentiment before the war. Few in this country supported England or American entry into the war, and it was pretty evident to anyone with three working brain cells that America would not enter the war over French Indochina, Singapore or Malaysia.

But Yamamoto and every senior Japanese official failed to recognize this fact. They were so set in their own minds that they failed to see the obvious. Attack America and she will fight back, despite their childish belief that Americans would somehow be willing to negotiate a truce rather than fight. The Japanese, and Yamamoto in particular, failed to understand that America would never fight for the colonial possesions of other countries. Yet Yamamoto had it firmly entrenched in his mind that American naval power must be neutralized, along with removing American miltary personnel and bases on the flanks of Japanese expansion into Southeast Asia.

Had Yamamoto thought logically, he would have seen that:

(1) America would not have entered the war over the colonial possessions of another country in Southeast Asia,

(2) America would eventually enter the war in Europe, but not for at least 6 - 12 months,

(3) Japan could have consolidated her conquests much more swiftly and efficiently without having to deal with the Americans,

and

(4) the U.S. Pacific Fleet posed no credible threat to Japan since its battle component was built around 8 antique battleships that could not move fast enough to accompany the rest of the fleet.

In reality, the Pacific Fleet was hampered more by a serious lack of support ships (i.e., the "fleet train") than by its battleships. They had fewer than 8 oilers in the Pacific, and at times only a few were available for operations due to other committments or maintenance. Kimmel was tied to island bases for fuel, and would not have sallied forth to attack the Japanese even in the event that America did enter the war. It would simply take too long to move the assets (i.e., train vessels) from the Atlantic.

In the end, Yamamoto's gross misunderstanding of the West as a whole, and America specifically, is what led him down the wrong path. He is responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor, and it does him no credit as a naval officer, even though his staff (not him personally) came up with a logical and detailed tactical plan for the attack that displayed their intelligence.

The attack on Pearl Harbor serves to display Yamamoto's ignorance and narrow-minded views. In a nutshell, Yamamoto was not the brilliant thinker of his day, he was simply a product of his time who was in a position to help lead his country to ruin.

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Larry Jewell Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 05 2002,7:47 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Couple of thoughts on this.  

First, I feel that, after careful study, the attack would not have gone forward without a most important flaw in our procedures.  As I've stated elsewhere, there would have been no attack if Kimmel had not allowed Yamamoto to guarantee a "big bag" for his attack.  Only that certainty that the attack would be worthwhile allowed the Japanese to think it worth the risk.  From that perspective any "blame" would have to rest on the person who was responsble for making sure there was "no guarantees in life," Adm. Kimmel.  Pearl Harbor was being run on an almost 9-5 basis by Nov. of 1941.  This is madness, plain and simple.

Second, on the estimation that the US would not go war "over the colonial possessions of another country in Southeast Asia,"  I think that the PI, and Guam, at a minimum, would have been needed by Japan to protect their interior lines of supply, so they would have been taken even if the Pearl Harbor attack was not carried out.  US citizens would have died, US territory occupied with violence, and US soveriegnty (sp?) would have been challenged.  Given the over 50% of the US who already felt (in Nov. of '41) that we would very soon be at war with Japan I don't think we would have stayed out and simply let the Japanese, or anybody else, beat us up.

Okay, that's my "agenda", but please note my own axe was put away a long time ago, thought it just might come back out on Feb. 12th.  ;)   I prefer a scalpel now.

Larry J

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"Sunday's horoscope is noteworthy because of its strange, sudden and wholly inexplicable occurrences, affecting all phases of life."  - "Your Horoscope," Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, Saturday, December 6, 1941
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Ken Hackler Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 07 2002,9:05 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Larry,

You are absolutely correct about the routine nature of fleet operations. One could almost set their watch by the underway schedules. In any military organization, routine is death. Kimmel was certainly wise enough and experienced enough to know that.

As for America going to war over the colonial possessions of other countries, Japan need not have taken Wake, Guam, or PI to protect her supply lines. Think of it this way, if Japan did NOT attack any American soil anywhere, no American military unit could do anything about Japan's supply lines.

It was not allowed by law.

Had Japan not committed the overt act of attacking, the United States could not have done anything, and the American public would not have tolerated a declaration of war against Japan in the absence of such an over act.

By the  way, why Feb 12?

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Larry Jewell Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 07 2002,5:42 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Japanese were convinced that it was necessary to eliminate the threat of the Philippines on their flank.  This is laid out clearly in the Monographs.  The Japanese knew that public opinion was growing steadily more in favor of war with Japan, 56% was the last figure I have handy.  Given this it was only a matter of time until FDR would have gotten a Declaration of War without a direct attack on US property if the Japanese militarists continued their distressing behaviour.  They could not allow the US to complete the defensive preparations underway in the PI as this would have made much too tough a nut to crack.  The military had to strike before the concrete set and the planes and troops were on hand.  That meant December.  

As for the 12th, email me and I'll update you.

Larry J

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"Sunday's horoscope is noteworthy because of its strange, sudden and wholly inexplicable occurrences, affecting all phases of life."  - "Your Horoscope," Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, Saturday, December 6, 1941
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Fortress Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2002,2:37 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's a little after the debate, but I do have a question.  I thought that Japan needed the PIs for their oil.  Was that not in the equation?

(By the way, I love it when ya'll debate questions like this.  I find the different points of view fascinating and very instructive.)

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Edward Chen Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2002,7:35 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Philippine Islands did not contain strategic natural resources that Japan wanted. Those resources (especially crude oil, rubber, and rare metals such as tin, manganese and copper) were in the Dutch East Indies (modern day Indonesia), Thailand and British-occupied Malaya. However any shipping to bring these resources to Japan (b/c all her industrial plants and factories for wartime production were almost all based in the home islands, with the exception of some factories in Japanese-occupied Manchuria ("Manchukuo") and Korea) had to pass within aerial striking distance of the PI's. It would have been difficult if not impossible for the Japanese to envision leaving such an important strategic location astride her lines of communications in "foreign" hands.

For the same reason, MacArthur's liberation of the Philippines in 1944, besides fulfilling his prestige and promise to the Philippine people, also struck a fatal blow by cutting off Japan from her strategic resources and making defeat all the more inevitable.

HTH and Best Regards,
Edward Chen
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2002,11:33 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the clarification, Edward!

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Cindy
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Chuck Berrey Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 06 2003,5:46 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hello to All!

I would also like to add other details regarding Yamamoto, in this thread...

When Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese Navy, (1884-1943) was a Captain, IJN, his duties included travels to the Japanese embassies in London and Washington DC. It is interesting to note that some of these activities were documented by the Immigration & Naturalization Service of the 1910s-1920s.

Refer to the website: http://www.ellisisland.org [American Family Immigration History Center- AFIHC]:

Search for the two names listed below. This was how the I&NS documented Captain Yamamoto:

NAME                         RESIDENCE      ARRIVED   AGE ON    
                                                                        ARRIVAL
1. Isoraku Yamamoto                         1923           39    

2. Isorbku Yamamoto    Tokio, Japan    1924           39  

Based upon my own private research, it is my theory that following his short-term of studies at Harvard in 1919, Captain Yamamoto next visited the U.S. in 1921, and again in 1923.

Continuing with this hypothesis, Captain Yamamoto went to London for a short period, and then returned to the United States aboard S.S. Aquitania, on 27 Jan 1924- entering the Port of New York; possibly for the final time in his life.

The I&NS documents indicated that Captain Yamamoto's final visit occurred with the Japanese Embassy in Wash DC- for a two month period. Another hypothesis of mine is that during that visit (Jan - Mar 1924), Captain Yamamoto met with a number of senior U.S. Army and Navy officers at the usual diplomatic parties given by several of those embassies (e.g., U.S., Germany, France, Japan, Italy).

I have found that such details of embassy parties can be obtained from the leading newspapers of the Wash DC area- social articles. Such articles are currently being reviewed for any historical data for further discussion(s).

It is easy to contemplate here that while attending these evening social events our own military officers learned more about the social, military, political and economic conditions occurring in Japan, especially following the earthquake of 1923. One must also wonder that then Captain Yamamoto was keenly interested in the progress being made by the U.S. Navy in the areas of captiol ships, aviation and submarines that have been made following the "World War" (1914-1918).


Fair Winds & Following Seas to All!

Chuck Berrey
San Diego CA

Edited by Chuck Berrey on --

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Steve "Chuck" Berrey, Ph.D.
LCDR Frank Wilbur "Spig" Wead, USN, submitted a point paper to CDR C. T. Durgin. Make all 18 x cruisers into jeep carriers- the forgotten phrase. ADMs King and Pratt, and President Roosevelt accepted. By winter 1944, it was proven that "Spig Wead" was absolutely right!
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