Aftermath of the Pacific War | Nihon Kaigun

Aftermath

The Pacific War saw the total triumph of Allied arms over the Empire of Japan. The Japanese military had lost in practically every facet of the conflict: economics, strategy, logistics, tactics, technology, anti-submarine warfare, cryptography; the list goes on and on. And in retrospect, given the economic disparities between the two primary opponents, there is little doubt that this would have been the final outcome no matter what Japan did. What is interesting, though, is the manner, and the pacing, by which Nihon Kaigun was defeated.

To coin an analogy from football, the Japanese Navy had a brilliant start, employing powerful naval aviation forces to dominate the battlefield and rout their foes. For six months, Kido Butai was an unstoppable juggernaut, triumphing with almost ridiculous ease wherever it went. Japanese surface forces, too, were tenacious, aggressive, and highly skilled. In the first quarter, then, the Japanese were able to achieve goals far beyond the wildest expectations of their opponents (and probably themselves). They also played a worthy second quarter; consolidating their gains and establishing a vast defensive perimeter around their newly-won Empire. But as the second quarter drew to a close they overstretched themselves and began to lose momentum rather badly against a huge, tenacious (and enraged) opponent. Halftime represented the middle of 1943, as both sides retrained and rebuilt their carrier air groups from the damages inflicted in the Solomons. When halftime was over, the Americans re-took the field and beat Nihon Kaigun in every possible dimension of the conflict. By the time late-1944 rolled around, the Japanese were losing so quickly, and on so many levels, that one has to question the basic sanity of the military leadership that let the conflict continue.

Which illustrates one of the basic truths of warfare: good doctrine and tactics can rarely compensate for flawed strategy in the long run. Had this been a six month long conflict, Japan might well have been able to mask its strategic inadequacies behind the shield of sheer tactical brilliance. But given the endurance and resources of its primary opponent, and indeed of the entire Allied alliance bloc, Japan's war could hardly help being a protracted one. In this case then, the long-run was clearly going to really matter. The inability of Japan's military leadership to grasp this basic fact is an oversight so fundamental that it leaves one breathless. In the end, despite its skill and dedication, Nihon Kaigun was asked to pay the price of its masters' folly in full measure, by suffering not merely a defeat, but total annihilation.

Links From Related Partner Sites
WW2DB article on Japan's Surrender


United States Navy Third Fleet outside Tokyo Bay, Japan, Aug 1945 soon after the Japanese surrender. Visible are at least five fleet carriers, three light carriers, three battleships, and numerous escorts.Soldiers at the Rainbow Corner Red Cross Club in Paris, France displayed their copies of Paris Post special edition announcing Japanese surrender, 10 Aug 1945Admiral William Halsey aboard his flagship USS Missouri upon hearing the news that Japan offered to surrender, 11 Aug 1945.Emperor Showa (Hirohito) recording the surrender speech, Tokyo, Japan, 14 Aug 1945Harry Truman announcing Japan
United States Navy Third Fleet outside Tokyo Bay, Japan, Aug 1945 soon after the Japanese surrender. Visible are at least five fleet carriers, three light carriers, three battleships, and numerous escorts.Soldiers at the Rainbow Corner Red Cross Club in Paris, France displayed their copies of Paris Post special edition announcing Japanese surrender, 10 Aug 1945Admiral William Halsey aboard his flagship USS Missouri upon hearing the news that Japan offered to surrender, 11 Aug 1945.Emperor Showa (Hirohito) recording the surrender speech, Tokyo, Japan, 14 Aug 1945Harry Truman announcing Japan's surrender at the White House, Washington, DC, United States, 14 Aug 1945
Japanese top level meeting before Emperor Showa, 14 Aug 1945; the Japanese surrender was decided as an outcome of this meetingThe famous kiss at Times Square, New York City, 14 Aug 1945US Navy African-American enlisted sailors aboard USS Ticonderoga celebrating upon hearing the news of Japanese surrender, 14 Aug 1945After the announcement of the Japanese surrender, crewmen broke into a spontaneous celebration on the flight deck of the training aircraft carrier USS Sable on Lake Michigan, United States, Aug 15 1945.American servicemen and women gathered in front of
Japanese top level meeting before Emperor Showa, 14 Aug 1945; the Japanese surrender was decided as an outcome of this meetingThe famous kiss at Times Square, New York City, 14 Aug 1945US Navy African-American enlisted sailors aboard USS Ticonderoga celebrating upon hearing the news of Japanese surrender, 14 Aug 1945After the announcement of the Japanese surrender, crewmen broke into a spontaneous celebration on the flight deck of the training aircraft carrier USS Sable on Lake Michigan, United States, Aug 15 1945.American servicemen and women gathered in front of 'Rainbow Corner' Red Cross club in Paris, France to celebrate the unconditional surrender of the Japanese, 15 Aug 1945

See all 325 photos of Japan's Surrender on WW2DB


Return to Pacific War Maps Page






Related Partner Sites: Combined Fleet Message Board | J-Air Forum | WW2 Database | IJN Doctrine | 3-D IJN Warships