The jap mentality

#1
As some folk know I have a bit of a thing with the Japanese of WW II.
A Massive Infantry Army, who did wonders against troops who where unprepared for war.
I understand that all recruits where first Infantry Trained and the the best where accepted for Infantry and remained passed on to other duties.
The armaments, Small arms, Artillery and Armour never where the best or I would argue even First Class.
They never seemed to learn.
Zhukov seriously Tanked them at Khalkhin Gol in Manchuria 1939, yet two years later when they kicked off on their attempt at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, there had been no serious attempt to create a modern armored force.
So much planning seems to have been based on Gambling that The Enemy would accept Japanese dominance and conquests.
How come a Nation could risk All on such a Premise ?
john
 
#3
jonwilly said:
They never seemed to learn.
Zhukov seriously Tanked them at Khalkhin Gol in Manchuria 1939, yet two years later when they kicked off on their attempt at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, there had been no serious attempt to create a modern armored force.
Yes it's interesting . Maybe they thought they'd be conquering just the jungle regions of South East Asia therefore tanks would have been impractical ?

Also seemed strange that while the allies were planning to invade Japan they left a 500,000 strong army in Manchuria that would have been better off defending the home islands . Mind you they'd lost their merchant fleet so getting the troops back to Japan would have been a problem . But as GoldBricker points out they seemed to replace common sense with senseless courage
 
#4
600,000 in the 16th Area Army (Ltgen. Isamu)
150,000 in the 57th Army ( Ltgen. Kanji)
85,000 in the 40th Army (Ltgen. Mitsuo)

Thats not counting IJN & SNLF Personnel available, nor Militia, Recalled cat II reservists, Military Schoolchildren, etc. IIRC I read where the Populace was to be given sharpened Bamboo Spears and be prepared to die for the living god, his Imperial Majesty.

Had a Neighbor who fought at Guadalcanalwith the Raiders and then 6th Marine Division. To the day he died he hated Japs who were his age. But pointed out he didnt hate those born after the war, or those who were children during the war as they shouldnt be responsible for the fathers actions.
 
#5
There are two excelant books that give an insight into the jap mind

Requim for the Battleship Yamato by Yoshida Mitsuru, a strange book where the author finds time to explain the beauty of war, while being bombed by the yanks,

And Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi, another strange book well worth reading
 
#7
tropper66 said:
There are two excelant books that give an insight into the jap mind

Requim for the Battleship Yamato by Yoshida Mitsuru, a strange book where the author finds time to explain the beauty of war, while being bombed by the yanks,

And Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi, another strange book well worth reading
I've seen the Clint Eastwood film (not read the book) - how does it compare? I can't imagine Clint Eastwood dumbing it down, but often good books on campaigns/battles don't quite translate across to the silver screen.
 
#8
dropshortjock said:
tropper66 said:
There are two excelant books that give an insight into the jap mind

Requim for the Battleship Yamato by Yoshida Mitsuru, a strange book where the author finds time to explain the beauty of war, while being bombed by the yanks,

And Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi, another strange book well worth reading
I've seen the Clint Eastwood film (not read the book) - how does it compare? I can't imagine Clint Eastwood dumbing it down, but often good books on campaigns/battles don't quite translate across to the silver screen.
Not seen the film so we are in the same boat, very moveing when she goes to Iwo with the familys of the fallen, makes you see the Jap as not such a bunch of barstewards as I first thought
 
#9
tropper66 said:
dropshortjock said:
tropper66 said:
There are two excelant books that give an insight into the jap mind

Requim for the Battleship Yamato by Yoshida Mitsuru, a strange book where the author finds time to explain the beauty of war, while being bombed by the yanks,

And Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi, another strange book well worth reading
I've seen the Clint Eastwood film (not read the book) - how does it compare? I can't imagine Clint Eastwood dumbing it down, but often good books on campaigns/battles don't quite translate across to the silver screen.
Not seen the film so we are in the same boat, very moveing when she goes to Iwo with the familys of the fallen, makes you see the Jap as not such a bunch of barstewards as I first thought
Letters from Iwo Jima - Excellent film. Much better than the gash 'Flags of our Fathers'

My ole Grandad hated the Japs with a passion (he picked up liberated Ozzy POW's from somewhere)

But the film did show a not oft seen Jap angle...
 
#10
jonwilly said:
They never seemed to learn.

Strategically that's true enough (bearing in mind, nevertheless, that senior Japanese commanders warned the emperor that if they couldn't beat America at Pearl Harbour, the war was as good as lost)

On the tactical front, before the japs became a threat, Britain had observers/liaison officers posted to their Army on operations, who reported back to Whitehall, most impressed at how effectively Japan had incorporated Blitzkrieg/Auftragstaktik into their Army.

Now, that's something the Brits have not mastered to this day.
====

I read a lot of James Clavell books years ago - they are an interesting insight to the Japanese mind: not least since despite being wounded, captured, imprisoned in Changi and brutalised by by them for the duration of WW2, he developed a deep admiration for Japanese culture.
 
#11
Track_Link said:
I've seen the Clint Eastwood film (not read the book) - how does it compare? I can't imagine Clint Eastwood dumbing it down, but often good books on campaigns/battles don't quite translate across to the silver screen.
I was interested in whether the film truly reflected the letters in the book, or if it was a conscious attempt to show that the Japanese were 'just like us, really', when in fact they weren't.
 
#12
Goldbricker said:
Had a Neighbor who fought at Guadalcanalwith the Raiders and then 6th Marine Division. To the day he died he hated Japs who were his age. But pointed out he didnt hate those born after the war, or those who were children during the war as they shouldnt be responsible for the fathers actions.
I've met Brits from Slim's 14th Army (and my wife has nursed elderly Far East Prisoners of War (FEPOWs) at woolwich, who felt similarly. They wouldn't buy anything Japanese - couldn't understand why any Brit would buy a Toyota.
 
#13
One of worlds biggest problems, are people holding grudges from so long ago.

Blacks and slavery as just one example. ok if you were treated like an annimal and almost died as a nippon pow fair enough, but to blame the modern day japanese is just pointless.

Ok the soldiers of Nippon were bad but they were also treated bad and beaten by thier own officers.
Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it the Filipino and Thai guards who were the worst?

The the singapore surrender by Percival is something that p**ses me off no end.

The Japs would have fought to the last man.

Were would we be without their electronics.
 
#14
Most of the Japs I have spoken to think the fire bombing of Tokyo was a war crime, but then only the loosers are war criminals
 
#15
'Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it the Filipino and Thai guards who were the worst?' - no, it was the Koreans.

I have a family friend who was a FEPOW in Changi - he still maintains that no matter how badly they treated the POWs, they treated their own people even worse. Even, in his late '80s, you can't get much out of him as to what he went through.
 
#16
mnairb said:
I have a family friend who was a FEPOW in Changi - he still maintains that no matter how badly they treated the POWs, they treated their own people even worse. Even, in his late '80s, you can't get much out of him as to what he went through.
This should help to lift the veil a little: The Naked Island, by an Aussie who spent the war in Changi Illustrated with drawings made in Changi prison camp by Ronald Searle (also did the St Trinian's books). For making those drawings, if caught, he would likely have been executed.
 
#17
I live and look after my uncle who was a British officer in the Indian Army and whose best mate died in his arms on VE day. Wounded at Sittang Creek he hates the Japanese with a passion and (as an aside and quite understandably) gets VERY upset when the media talk about the end of the war being on VE day.

His view is that the Japs were a muderous monster of a race and, to this day, we still have to steer him in a diffferent direction if we are near any tourists of oriental extraction for fear he will let rip at them (think officer version of father Jack).

The best books I have read on the mentality of fighting the japs is "quartered safe out here" and "Defeat into Victory" (the latter giving a more distant; top down view of the conflict by one of our greatest ever Generals - Slim). The first book is excellent for anyone who wishes to get inside the mind of the average tom fighting in Burma.

Whilst my education of the Japanese may have been slightly biased by my chief tutor, I have also studied aspects of Bushido from books and documentaries and I believe that the Japanese mentality was such that the enemy were simply valueless in its most simple sense and unworthy of any compassion etc. However if defeated by their enemy they were subject to intense shame; not worthy of life and so, committed seppuku.

The Japanese' biggest flaw was the high ranking theory that vast waves of suicidal charges could overcome anything. Whilst terrifying and demoralising; Slims Army learned that the Japs could be beaten and defeated if the line was held and the fight was taken to the enemy using their own tactics (a form of rolling attack and road block - hammer and anvil if you will).
 
#18
They are to this day still an immensely insular and arrogant race - and I say this as someone who has yet to meet a Japanese i didn't like personally.

One minor insight I gained was when a collaborative agreement was signed between the university I used to work for and a partner institution in Japan. The celebration was cut short with no explanation when all the senior guests left with only a ridiculous amount of bowing instead of the usual downright ludicrous amount.

Later I found out from one of the Japanese staff that the root cause was our delegation not adopting their 'correct' places in a lift according to Japanese ettiquette. That a bunch of foreigners had not immersed themselves in the minutae of Japanese social ritual was taken as a deliberate slight instead of just the inevitable and accidental consequence of us not being Japanese.
 
#19
oldcolt said:
The best books I have read on the mentality of fighting the japs is "quartered safe out here" and "Defeat into Victory" (the latter giving a more distant; top down view of the conflict by one of our greatest ever Generals - Slim). The first book is excellent for anyone who wishes to get inside the mind of the average tom fighting in Burma.
Quartered Safe is due on BBC Radio (10 x 15 minute episodes) shortly - read by it's author George Macdonald Fraser: even if abridged, it'll be a brilliant listen. (Look in the "Artsy" forum for the "Heads Up" thread to find details - you will be able to listen online)

On Slim's book - agreed - although (4WIW) I've just recently read a short Biog of Orde Wingate (in a book called 'Military Mavericks') which suggests that when he finally penned it, 10 years after VJ day, Uncle Bill's recollection of at least one key Chindit-related incident was a bit shaky, which I will have to follow up on when I'm a bit less committed.
 
#20
smartascarrots said:
One minor insight I gained was when a collaborative agreement was signed between the university I used to work for and a partner institution in Japan. The celebration was cut short with no explanation when all the senior guests left with only a ridiculous amount of bowing instead of the usual downright ludicrous amount.

Later I found out from one of the Japanese staff that the root cause was our delegation not adopting their 'correct' places in a lift according to Japanese ettiquette. That a bunch of foreigners had not immersed themselves in the minutae of Japanese social ritual was taken as a deliberate slight instead of just the inevitable and accidental consequence of us not being Japanese.
I can be as critical of the Japanese as the next man but I have to say that my experience both in UK and Japan has been different from yours;

Generally, the Japanese do not expect Japanese etiquette from foreigners, (this is something I know, not someone telling me this trying to make me feel at ease) The exception is when a foreigner has reached a level of expertise, then there is less tolerance- for example a language beginner can make all sorts of errors without adverse comment but once they become fluent they would be expected to master the honourifics (a nightmare for foreigners!)

I'm not aware of any place etiquette in a lift apart from say, within a corporation (and excluding foreigners), the junior person is expected to work the buttons and hold the door for the senior. That doesn't mean that they check seniority like Chard and Bromhead but it means that the Chairman doesn't often get to press the buttons.
In fact in Tokyo offices, whatever salutations may take place outside the lifts, once the doors open it usually becomes a free-for-all!

Japanese tend to go easy on the ritualised bowing to foreigners especially after first contact as they realise that foreigners simply cannot grasp the nuances of angle, timing and duration that is second nature to them.
 

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