The article is about the fighting between the Japanese and the U.S. forces in the occupied provinces during the World War II. The article looks at Japanese resilience despite the imminent defeat and the costly nature of the war on the Japanese people and economy. The Japanese regime kept faith that they could hold on for a longer period hence the leadership was not prepared to negotiate peace. Conversely, the U.S. continuous assault on the Japanese cities was aimed at compelling Japanese regime to an unconditional surrender. According to the article, the U.S. was interested in overthrowing the existing fascist regime and overseeing the installation of non-fascist political regimes. All the advisers of Hirohito, then Emperor of Japan, except Konoe advised the Emperor not to surrender.
Though the Hirohito eventually agreed with Konoe that something had to be done towards brokering peace he felt that it would be premature to act immediately believing that there was no immediate threat from the Soviet Union. Hirohito believed that the Soviet Union would require the assistance of Japan in the Union’s impending confrontation with the Anglo-Americans. He also believed that the Soviet Union could not abrogate the neutrality treaty that Japan had previously signed with Soviet Union. He hoped for a major military achievement before considering rooting for peace.
The article shows that Hirohito was apprehensive about whether Japan would be able to hold on long enough to win the war (Bix 490). He pegged his hope upon the extraordinary efforts and the sacrifice of the Japanese people. The regime enjoyed the support of most of the Japanese in cities and in the countryside believing their leaders’ promise of an ‘imminent’ victory.
The behavior of the regime and various leaders such as Shidehara had no consideration of the civilians who had become the most affected. This is evidenced by Shidehara’s letter to Odaira Komatsuchi where he categorically expressed that the focus was gaining a “more advantageous international situation for Japan” (492) regardless of the number of civilians that were going to die. It was not until the battle of Okinawa where japan lost after extensive destruction of its cities by the U.S. air strikes that Hirohito began to consider ways to end the war. The main concern of the article is the consequences of delayed surrender by the Japanese regime despite the inevitability of its defeat by the Anglo-American forces. The consequences were the deaths of many civilians and destruction of towns and cities caused by the American air raids. Had Hirohito and his regime surrendered earlier the destruction could have been avoided.
Bix, Herbert P. Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan. New York: Harper Collins
Publishers, 2001, p. 486-530.