Last Updated on Oct.30




   IN TRYING to understand the actions of
the Japanese, the questions that call out
loudest for answers are the most obvious
ones. What broke down on the scene to allow
the behavior of Japanese soldiers to escape so
totally the restraints that govern most human
   Why did the Japanese officers per-
mit and even encourage such a breakdown?
What was the complicity of the Japanese gov-
emment? At the very least, what was its reac-
tion to the reports it was getting through its
own channels and to what it was hearing
from foreign sources on the scene?
   To answer these questions we must begin
with a little history.
   The twentieth-century Japanese identity
was forged in a thousand-year-old system in
which social hierarchy was established and
sustained through martial competition. For
as far back as anyone could remember, the is-
lands' powerful feudal lords employed pri-
vate armies to wage incessant battle with each  

other; by the medieval times these armies had evolved into the
distinctively Japanese samurai warrior class, whose code of
conduct was called bushido (the Way of the Warrior"). To die
in the service of one's lord was the greatest honor a samurai
warrior could achieve in his lifetime.
   Such codes of honor were certainly not invented by Japan-
ese culture. The Roman poet Horace first defined the debt
owed by the young men of each generation to their rulers---
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. But the samurai philosophy
went a giant step beyond defining military service as fitting
and proper. So harsh was its code that its most notable charac-
teristic was the moral imperative that adherents commit suicide
if ever they failed to meet honorably the obligations of military
service---often with the highly ceremonial and extremely
painful ritual of hara-kiri, in which the warrior met death by
unflinchingly disemboweling himself in front of witnesses.
   By the twelfth century the head of the reigning (and thereby
most powerful) family, now called the Shogun, offered the em-
peror, who was worshiped as the direct descendant of the Sun
Goddess, military protection of his samurai in exchange for di-
vine sanction of the entire ruling class. A deal was struck. In
time the code of the samurai, initially followed by only a small
percentage of the population, penetrated deep into the Japan-
ese culture and became the model of honorable behavior
among all young men.
   Time did not erode the strength of the bushido ethic, which
first emerged in the eighteenth century and was practiced to ex-
tremes in the modern age. During World War II the infamous
kamikaze suicide missions, in which Japanese pilots ceremoni-
ously trained to fly their planes directly into American aircraft,
dramatically impressed upon the West how ready the young
men of Japan were to sacrifice their lives for the emperor. But it
was more than a small elite group that held to the view of
death over surrender. It is striking to note that while the Allied
forces surrendered at the rate of 1 prisoner for every 3 dead at
Saipan and Iwo Jima, the Japanese surrendered at the rate of
only 1 per 120 dead.
   Another force that gave Japan its peculiar character was its

isolation, both physical and self-imposed. By the late fifteenth
and early sixteenth centuries Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa
family, who sealed off the island nation from foreign influ-
ence. This seclusion, intended to provide security from the
wider world, instead insulated Japanese society from the new
technology of the industrial revolution taking place in Europe
and left it less secure. For 250 years Japanese military technol-
ogy failed to advance beyond the bow and sword.
   By the nineteenth century events beyond Japan's control
would knock the country out of its cocoon, leaving it in a state
of insecurity and xenophobic desperation. In 1852, U.S. Presi-
dent Millard Fillmore, frustrated by Japan's refusal to open its
ports to commerce and taking the "white man's burden" atti-
tude toward other societies commonly espoused at the time to
rationalize European expansionism, decided to end Japan's
isolation by dispatching Commander Matthew Perry to the is-
land. Perry studied Japanese history carefully and decided to
shock the Japanese into submission with a massive display of
American military force. In July 1853, he sent two ships belch-
ing black smoke into Tokyo Bay---giving the people of Japan
their first glimpse of metal-clad, steam-powered ships. Sur-
rounding himself with some sixty to seventy aggressive-look-
ing men armed with swords and pistols, Perry strode through
the capital of the Shogun and demanded meetings with the
highest-ranking officials in Japan.
   To say that the Japanese were stunned by Perry's arrival
would be a gross understatement. "A parallel situation," the
historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote of the incident, "would
be an announcement by astronauts that weird-looking aircraft
from outer space were on their way to earth." The terrified
Tokugawa aristocracy prepared for battle, hid their valuables,
and held panicked meetings among themselves. But in the
end, they had no choice but to acknowledge the superiority of
American military technology and to accept the mission. With
this single visit, Perry not only forced the Tokugawa to sign
treaties with the United States but broke down the doors of
Japanese trade for other countries, such as Britain, Russia, Ger-
many, and France.

    The humiliation of this proud people left a residue of fierce
resentment. Secretly some members of the Japanese power
elite advocated immediate war with the Western powers, but
others counseled prudence, arguing that war would weaken
only Japan, not the foreigners. Those taking the latter position
urged that the leadership placate the intruders, learn from
them, and quietly plan their retaliation:
       As we are not the equals of foreigners in the mechanical arts, let us
      have intercourse with foreign countries, learn their drill and tactics,
      and when we have made the [Japanese] nations as united as one
      family, we shall be able to go abroad and give lands in foreign coun-
     tries to those who have distinguished themselves in battle; the sol-
     diers will vie with one another in displaying their intrepidity, and it
    will not be too late then to declare war
Although that view did not prevail, the words would prove
prophetic, for they described not only the strategy the Japanese
would follow but the long-term horizons of those who think
of life in terms of the state and not of individuals.

With no clear course open to them, the Tokugawa decided to
watch and wait---a decision that signed the death warrant of
their reign. The Shogun's policy of appeasement, so different
from what it required of its loyal adherents, disgusted many
and supplied ammunition for its hawkish opponents, who saw
the prudent response of the Shogun as nothing more than
kowtowing servility before foreign barbarians. Convinced that
the Shogun had lost his mandate to rule, rebel clans forged al-
liances to overthrow the regime and restore the emperor to
    In 1868 the rebels achieved victory in the name of the Meiji
emperor and ignited a revolution to transform a patchwork of
warring fiefdoms into a modern, powerful Japan. They ele-
vated the sun cult of Shinto to a state religion and used the em-
peror as a national symbol to sweep away tribalism and unite
the islands. Determined to achieve eventual victory over the
west, the new imperial government adopted the samurai ethic

of bushido as the moral code for all citizens. The foreign threat
acted as a further catharsis for the islands. In an era later
known as the Meiji Restoration, Japan resounded with nation-
alistic slogans, such as "Revere the Emperor! Expel the barbar-
ians! " and "Rich country, strong army! "
    With astonishing rapidity, the Japanese hurled themselves into
the modern age---scientifically, economically, and mili-
tarily. The government sent the best students abroad to
study science and technology at western universities, seized
control of its own industry to create factories for military
production, and replaced the locally controlled feudal
armies with a national conscript army. It also meticulously
analyzed the defense cultures of the United States and Eu-
rope, favoring above all the German military system. But the
knowledge of Western technology and defense strategies
brought back by its foreign-educated students shattered the
country's old confidence in Japanese military superiority, leav-
ing it deeply uneasy about the inevitability of victory in its fu-
ture showdown with the West.
By the late nineteenth century Japan was ready to flex its mus-
cles, testing its new strength on Asian neighbors. In 1876 the
Meiji government dispatched to Korea a naval force of two
gunboats and three transports and forced the Korean govern-
ment to sign a treaty of commerce---a move hauntingly remi-
niscent of what Perry had forced on Japan.
   Then it clashed with China over Korea. An 1885 treaty had
established Korea as a coprotectorate of both China and
Japan, but hostilities broke out within a decade when the
Chinese tried to quell a Korean rebellion backed by Japanese
ultranationalists. In September 1894, only six weeks after war
was declared, the Japanese not only captured Pyongyang but
crushed the Chinese northern fleet at sea. The Qing govern-
ment was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Shimono-
seki, under which the Chinese were made to pay the Japanese
200 million taels in war indemnities and to cede to Japan
Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Liaodong region of Manchuria,

and four more treaty ports. This was later called the first Sino-
Japanese war.
    For Japan the triumph would have been complete had it not
been later marred by the intrusion of Western powers. After the
war the Japanese won the greatest prize of the war---the
Liaodong Peninsula---but were forced to surrender the last by
the tripartite intervention of Russia, France, and Germany. This
further illustration of the power of faraway European govern-
ments to dictate Japanese conduct only stiffened Japan's re-
solve to gain military supremacy over its Western tormentors.
By 1904 the nation had doubled the size of its army and
gained self-sufficiency in the production of armaments.
    That strategy soon paid off. Japan was able to boast of de-
feating not only China in battle but Russia as well. In the
Russo-Japanese War of 1905, the Japanese recapture of Port
Arthur in the Liaodong Peninsula and naval victory at
Tsushima gained half of the Sakhalin Islands and commercial
supremacy in Manchuria. This was heady stuff for a proud
country that had been chafing for fifty years under the humili-
ation dealt it by the Western nations. Giddy with triumph, a
Japanese professor summed up the sentiments of his country
when he declared that Japan was "destined to expand and gov-
ern other nations."
    Largely because of these successes, the early part of the
twentieth century was a euphoric time for Japan. Moderniza-
tion had earned for the country not only military prestige but
unprecedented economic prosperity. The First World War cre-
ated a huge demand for Japanese steel and iron production as
well as for Japanese textiles and foreign trade. Stock prices sky-
rocketed, and moguls sprang up from obscurity, dazzling the
country with their extravagance. Even Japanese women---tradi-
tionally cloistered away in this male-dominated society---were
seen gambling away fortunes at casinos and racetracks.
    Perhaps if the prosperity had lasted, a solid middle class
might have emerged in Japan to provide the people with the
strength to check imperial military influence. But it did not. In-
stead, Japan would soon be faced with the single most disas-
trous economic crisis in its modern history---a crisis that

would wipe out its previous gains, push it to the brink of star-
vation, and propel it down the path of war.
    The 1920s drew down the curtain on Japan's golden era of
prosperity. When the end of World War I halted the previously
insatiable demand for military products, Japanese munitions
factories were shut down and thousands of laborers were
thrown out of work. The 1929 stock market crash in the
United States, and the depression that followed it, also reduced
American purchases of luxuries, crippling the Japanese silk ex-
port trade.
   As important, many international businessmen and con-
sumers went out of their way to shun Japanese products in the
postwar decade, even though Japan had been on the Allied
side in the First World War. Although both the European na-
tions and the Japanese expanded their overseas empires with
the spoils of the First World War, Japanese expansion was not
looked on in the same way. Repulsed by aggressive Japanese ac-
tions toward China through the first decades of the new cen-
tury, and even more so by Japan's attempts at Western-style
colonialism in the former German colonies it now controlled
as a consequence of the war settlements, Western financiers be-
gan to invest more heavily in the Chinese. In turn, China, en-
raged by the Versailles decision to grant Japan the German
rights and concessions in the Shantung Peninsula, organized
widespread boycotts of Japanese goods. These development
shurt the Japanese economy still further and gave rise to the
popular belief that Japan had once again become the victim of
an international conspiracy.
    The downturn in the economy devastated the average Japan-
ese community. Businesses shut down, and unemployment
soared. Destitute farmers and fishermen sold their daughters
into prostitution. Soaring inflation, labor strikes, and a
tremendous earthquake in September 1923 only exacerbated
the dismal conditions.
    An increasingly popular argument during the depression
was that Japan needed to conquer new territory to ward off

mass starvation. The population had swollen from some 30
million at the time of the Meiji Restoration to almost 65 mil-
lion in 1930, making it increasingly difficult for Japan to feed
its people. With great effort, Japanese farmers had pushed up
the yield per acre until it would increase no more, and by the
1920s agricultural production had leveled off. The continually
expanding population forced Japan to rely heavily on im-
ported foodstuffs every year, and between the 1910s and the
end of the 1920s rice imports tripled. They had once been paid
for by Japan's textile exports, but the latter were now subject to
reduced foreign demand, intense competition, and often dis-
criminatory tariffs.
    By the 1920s young radicals in the Japanese army were argu-
ing that military expansion was crucial to the country's sur-
vival. In his book Addresses to Young Men, Lieutenant Colonel
Hashimoto Kingoro wrote:
                There are only three ways left to Japan co escape from the pres-
                 sures of surplus population... emigration, advance into world
                 markets, and expansion of territory. The first door, emigration,
                 has been barred to us by the anti-Japanese immigration poli-
                 cies of other countries. The second door... is being pushed
                 shut by tariff barriers and the abrogation of commercial
                 treaties. What should Japan do when two of the three doors'
                 have been closed against her?

    Other Japanese writers pointed to the spacious territories of
other countries, complaining about the injustice of it all, espe-
cially since these other countries were not making the most of
their land by achieving the high per-acre yields that Japanese
farmers had obtained. They looked enviously upon not only
China's vast land resources but those of Western countries.
Why, the military propagandist Sadao Araki asked, should
Japan remain content with 142,270 square miles, much of it
barren, to feed 60 million mouths, while countries like Aus-
tralia and Canada had more than 3 million square miles to
feed 6.5 million people each? These discrepancies were unfair.
To the ultranationalists, the United States enjoyed some of the
greatest advantages of all: Sadao Araki pointed out that the

United States possessed not only 3 million square miles of
home territory but 700,000 square miles of colonies.
    If expansion westward to the Pacific Ocean was the manifest
destiny of the nineteenth-century United States, then China
was twentieth-century Japan's manifest destiny. It was almost
inevitable that this homogenous people of high personal es-
teem would see the socially fragmented and loosely governed
expanse of China as having been put there for their use and ex-
ploitation. Nor were Japan's covetous intentions limited only
to Asia. In 1925, just a short three years after Japan entered
into a capital ship limitation treaty with the United States,
Great Britain, France, and Italy that afforded it a distinctive role
as the world's third largest naval power, Okawa Shumei, a
member of the army general staff, wrote a book that insisted
not only on Japan's destiny to "free" Asia but also on the in-
evitability of world war between Japan and the United States.
In the concluding chapter of his book, he was more prophetic
than he realized when he predicted a divine---almost apoca-
lyptic---struggle between the two powers: "Before a new world
appears, there must be a deadly fight between the powers of the West
and the East. this theory is realized in the American challenge to
Japan. The strongest country in Asia is Japan and the strongest coun-
try that represents Europe is America.... These two countries are
destined to fight. Only God knows when it will be. "
  By the 1930s the Japanese government found itself mired in in-
trigue as those who favored using Japan's newly acquired tech-
nological skills to build a better society competed for influence
with those who wanted to use the nation's military superiority
over its neighbors to embark on a program of foreign con-
quest. Expansionist ideologies gained fervent support from
right-wing ultranationalists, who called for a military dictator-
ship that would limit personal wealth, nationalize property,
and dominate Asia. These ideas fueled the ambitions of junior
military officers, whose rural backgrounds and youth made
them naturally distrustful of Tokyo politicians as well as impa-
tient for immediate access to power. Though the officers feuded

among themselves, they shared a similar mission: to overhaul
society and eliminate all bureaucratic, economic, and political
obstacles to what they believed to be Japan's divine mission to
avenge itself against the Europeans and dominate Asia.
    Step by step, the interventionists forced a series of compro-
mises from the moderate elements in government. But disap-
pointed by the pace of change, they began to conspire among
themselves to topple the government. In 1931 a coup was
planned but abandoned. In 1932 a group of naval officers
launched a terrorist attack in Tokyo that killed Prime Minister
Inukai Tsuyoshi but failed to secure martial law.
   On February 26, 1936, a clique of young officers launched a
bold coup d'etat that took the lives of several statesmen.
Though the coup paralyzed downtown Tokyo for more than
three days, it ultimately failed and the ringleaders were jailed
or executed. Power shifted from the extremists to a more cau-
tious faction within the government, though it is important to
point out that even this faction shared many of the young offi-
cers' fanatical views when it came to Japan's right to a domi-
nant role in Asia.

    It soon became apparent to some Japanese ultranationalists
that if they wanted to control China they would have to move
fast. For there were signs that China, forced to submit to Japan-
ese demands in 1895, was trying to strengthen itself as a na-
tion---signs that gave the Japanese expansionists a sense of
urgency in their mission.
    China had indeed used the past two decades to transform it-
self from a disintegrating empire into a struggling national re-
public. In 1911 rebel armies defeated the Qing imperial forces
and ended more than two centuries of Manchu rule. During
the 1920s the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek successfully
fought the warlords of northern China to unify the country.
They also announced as a goal the elimination of unfair treaty
agreements foisted upon the Qing dynasty by foreign powers.
As Chiang's movement gained momentum, it threatened
Japanese interests in Manchuria and Mongolia. Something had

to be done, and quickly, before China grew too powerful to be
    With the approval of the Japanese government, the military
began to intervene more aggressively in Chinese affairs. In
1928 they engineered the assassination of Chang Tsolin, the
warlord ruler of Manchuria, when he failed to give them his
full cooperation. The murder only served to infuriate the Chi-
nese people, who organized more boycotts against Japanese
    By the 1930s Japan had launched an undeclared war with
China. On September 18, 1931, the Japanese army blew up the
tracks of a Japanese-owned railway in southern Manchuria,
hoping to incite an incident. When the blasts failed to derail
an express train, the Japanese killed the Chinese guards instead
and fabricated a story for the world press about Chinese sabo-
teurs. This incident gave the Japanese an excuse to seize
Manchuria, which was renamed Manchukuo and where the
Japanese installed Pu Yi, the last emperor of China and heir of
the Manchu dynasty, as puppet ruler. The seizure of Manchuria,
however, generated anti-Japanese sentiment in China, which
was whipped up by Nationalist activists. Feelings ran high on
both sides and erupted in bloodshed in 1932 when a Shanghai
mob attacked five Japanese Buddhist priests, leaving one of
them dead. Japan immediately retaliated by bombing the city,
killing tens of thousands of civilians. When the slaughter at
Shanghai aroused worldwide criticism, Japan responded by
isolating itself from the international community and with-
drawing, in 1933, from the League of Nations.

To prepare for the inevitable war with China, Japan had spent
decades training its men for combat. The molding of young
men to serve in the Japanese military began early in life, and in
the 1930s the martial influence seeped into every aspect of
Japanese boyhood. Toy shops became virtual shrines to war,
selling arsenals of toy soldiers, tanks, helmets, uniforms, rifles,
antiaircraft guns, bugles, and howitzers. Memoirs from that
time describe preadolescent boys waging mock battles in the

streets, using bamboo poles as imaginary rifles. Some even tied
logs of wood on their backs and fantasized about dying as "hu-
man bomb" heroes in suicide missions.
   Japanese schools operated like miniature military units. In-
deed, some of the teachers were military officers, who lectured
students on their duty to help Japan fulfill its divine destiny of
conquering Asia and being able to stand up to the world's na-
tions as a people second to none. They taught young boys how
to handle wooden models of guns and older boys how to han-
dle real ones. Textbooks became vehicles for military propa-
ganda; one geography book even used the shape of Japan as
justification for expansion: "We appear to be standing in the
vanguard of Asia, advancing bravely into the Pacific. At the
same time we appear ready to defend the Asian continent from
outside attack." Teachers also instilled in boys hatred and con-
tempt for the Chinese people, preparing them psychologically
for a future invasion of the Chinese mainland. One historian
tells the story of a squeamish Japanese schoolboy in the 1930s
who burst into tears when told to dissect a flog. His teacher
slammed his knuckles against the boy's head and yelled, "Why
are you crying about one lousy frog? When you grow up you'll
have to kill one hundred, two hundred chinks! "
     (And yet with all this psychological programming the story
is much more complicated. "There was a deep ambivalence in
Japanese society about China," Oxford historian Rana Mitter
observes. "It was not all racist contempt, as it was for the Kore-
ans: on the one hand, they recognized China as a source of
culture that they had drawn on heavily; on the other, they were
exasperated by the mess that China was in by the early twenti-
eth century. Ishiwara Kanji, architect of the Manchurian Inci-
dent of 1931, was a big fan of the 1911 Revolution. Many
Chinese, including Sun Yatsen and Yuan Shikai, drew on
Japanese help and training in the years before and after the
1911 Revolution. The Japanese also sponsored Boxer Indem-
nity Scholarships and Dojinkai hospitals for the Chinese, and
scholars like Tokio Hashimoto genuinely appreciated Chinese
culture. Japan's Foreign Office and army experts on China were
often very well trained and knowledgeable about the country."

This knowledge and tempering, however, would rarely pass
down to the ordinary soldier.)
     The historical roots of militarism in Japanese schools
stretched back to the Meiji Restoration. In the late nineteenth
century the Japanese minister of education declared that
schools were run not for the benefit of the students but for the
good of the country. Elementary school teachers were trained
like military recruits, with student-teachers housed in barracks
and subjected to harsh discipline and indoctrination. In 1890
the Imperial Rescript on Education emerged; it laid down a
code of ethics to govern not only students and teachers but
every Japanese citizen. The Rescript was the civilian equivalent
of Japanese military codes, which valued above all obedience
to authority and unconditional loyalty to the emperor. In every
Japanese school a copy of the Rescript was enshrined with a
portrait of the emperor and taken out each morning to be read.
It was reputed that more than one teacher who accidentally
stumbled over the words committed suicide to atone for the
insult to the sacred document.
    By the 1930s the Japanese educational system had become
regimented and robotic. A visitor to one of its elementary
schools expressed pleasant surprise at seeing thousands of chil-
dren waving flags and marching in unison in perfect lines; quite
clearly the visitor had seen the discipline and order but not the
abuse required to establish and maintain it. It was common-
place for teachers to behave like sadistic drill sergeants, slapping
children across the cheeks, hitting them with their fists, or blud-
geoning them with bamboo or wooden swords. Students were
forced to hold heavy objects, sit on their knees, stand barefoot
in the snow, or run around the playground until they collapsed
from exhaustion. There were certainly few visits to the schools
by indignant or even concerned parents.
    The pressure to conform to authority intensified if the
schoolboy decided to become a soldier. Vicious hazing and a
relentless pecking order usually squelched any residual spirit
of individualism in him. Obedience was touted as a supreme
virtue, and a sense of individual self-worth was replaced by a
sense of value as a small cog in the larger scheme of things. To


establish this sublimation of individuality to the common
good, superior officers or older soldiers slapped recruits for al-
most no reason at all or beat them severely with heavy wooden
rods. According to the author Iritany Toshio, officers often jus-
tified unauthorized punishment by saying, "I do not beat you
because I hate you. I beat you because I care for you. Do you
think I perform these acts with hands swollen and bloody in a
state of madness?"- Some youths died under such brutal phys-
cal conditions; others committed suicide;the majority became
tempered vessels into which the military could pour a new set
of life goals.
    Training was no less grueling a process for aspiring officers.
In the 1920s all cadets had to pass through the Military Acad-
emy at Ichigaya. With its overcrowded barracks, unheated
study rooms, and inadequate food, the place bore a greater re-
semblance to a prison than a school. The intensity of the train-
ing in Japan surpassed that of most Western military
academies: in England an officer was commissioned after some
1,372 hours of classwork and 245 hours of private study, but
in Japan the standards were 3,382 hours of classwork and
2,765 hours of private study. The cadets endured a punishing
daily regimen of physical exercise and classes in history, geog-
raphy, foreign languages, mathematics, science, logic, drawing,
and penmanship. Everything in the curriculum was bent to-
ward the goal of perfection and triumph. Above all the Japan-
ese cadets were to adopt "a will which knows no defeat." So
terrified were the cadets of any hint of failure that examination
results were kept secret, to minimize the risk of suicide.
    The academy was like an island to itself, sealed off from the
rest of the world. The Japanese cadet enjoyed neither privacy
nor any opportunity to exercise individual leadership skills.
His reading material was carefully censored, and leisure time
was nonexistent. History and science were distorted to project
an image of the Japanese as a superrace. "During.these impres-
sionable years they have been walled off from all outside plea-
sures, interests or influences, " one Western writer observed of
the Japanese officers. "The atmosphere of the narrow groove
along which they have moved has been saturated with a special

national and a special military propaganda. Already from a
race psychologically far removed from us, they have been re-
moved still further. "

    In the summer of 1937 Japan finally succeeded in provoking a
full-scale war with China. In July a Japanese regiment, gar-
risoned by treaty in the Chinese city of Tientsin, had been con-
ducting night maneuvers near the ancient Marco Polo Bridge.
During a break several shots were fired at the Japanese in the
darkness, and a Japanese soldier failed to appear during roll
call. Using this incident as an excuse to exercise its power in
the region, Japanese troops advanced upon the Chinese fort of
Wanping near the bridge and demanded that its gates be
opened so that they could search for the soldier. When the
Chinese commander refused, the Japanese shelled the fort.
    By the end of July, Japan had tightened its grasp on the en-
tire Tientsin-Peking region and by August the Japanese had in-
vaded Shanghai:The second Sino-Japanese War was no longer
    But conquering China proved to be a more difficult task
than the Japanese anticipated. In Shanghai alone Chinese
forces outnumbered the Japanese marines ten to one, and Chi-
ang Kai-shek, leader of the Nationalist government, had re-
served his best troops for the battle. That August, while
attempting to land thirty-five thousand fresh troops on the
docks of Shanghai, the Japanese encountered their first set-
back. A hidden Chinese artillery emplacement opened fire and
killed several hundred men, including a cousin of the Empress
Nagako. For months the Chinese defended the metropolis
with extraordinary valor. To the chagrin of the Japanese, the
battle of Shanghai proceeded slowly, street by street, barricade
by barricade.
     In the 1930s, Japanese military leaders had boasted---and
seriously believed---that Japan could conquer all of mainland
China within three months. But when a battle in a single Chi-
nese city alone dragged from summer to fall, and then from fall
to winter, it shattered Japanese fantasies of an easy victory. Here,

this primitive people, illiterate in military science and poorly
trained, had managed to fight the superior Japanese to a stand-
still. When Shanghai finally fell in November, the mood of the
imperial troops had turned ugly, and many, it was said, lusted
for revenge as they marched toward Nanking.



19. For as far back as anyone could remember: Tanaka Yuki, Hidden
     Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II (Boulder, Co.:
     Westview, 1996), pp. 206-8. (Although Tanaka is the author's
     surname, he uses an American-style of presenting his name as
     Yuki Tanaka for this English-language book.) According to
     Tanaka, the modem Japanese corrupted the ancient code of
     bushido for their own purposes. The original code dictated
     that warriors die for just causes, not trivial ones. But during
     World War II, officers were committing ritual suicide for the
     most absurd of reasons, such as for stumbling over their
     words when reciting the code. The concept of loyalty in
     bushido was also replaced by blind obedience, and courage by
     reckless violence.
20. It is striking to note: Meirion Harries and Susie Harries, Soldiers
    of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army (New
     York: Random House, 1991), p. vii.
21. "A parallel situation": Samuel Eliot Morison, "Old Bruin": Com-
    modore Matthew C. Perry 1794-1858 (Boston: Atlantic-Little,
    Brown, 1967), p. 319.
22. "As we are not the equals of foreigners,": Delmer M. Brown, Na-
     tionalism in Japan: An Introductory Historical Analysis (Berkeley
     and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1955), p. 75.
     (Italics mine.) (Brown's citation: Satow, trans., Japan 1853-1864,
     or Genii Yume Monogatari, p. 4).
24. "destined to expand and govern other nations":Taiyo, July 1905,
     quoted in ibid., p. 144.
24. Modernization had earned for the country: Ibid., p. 152.
26. The population had swollen: Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The
     World from the Twenties to the Nineties (New York: Harper-
     Collins, 1991), p. 189.              .
26. "There are only three ways left to Japan": W. T. deBary, ed.,
     Sources of the Japanese Tradition (New York, 1958), pp.
     796-97, quoted in ibid., p. 189.
27. Why, the military propagandist Sadao Araki: Quoted in ibid.,
27. Nor were Japan's covetous intentions: Ibid., p. 393. For more in-
    formation about the ambitions of some Japanese ultra-
    nationalists regarding the United States during that era, see
    Records of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, 1882- 1954,
    Office of Naval Intelligence, Intelligence Division---Naval At-
    tache Reports, 1886-1939, box 525, entry 98, record group
    38, National Archives. As early as December 1932, a U.S. naval
     intelligence report noted that best-sellers in Japan tended to
     be books on war---particularly on the possibility of American-
    Japanese war. This report and others analyzed the content of
    Japanese books, articles, pamphlets, and lectures that dwelled
    on the topic of a Japanese invasion of the United States. Some
    of these publications bore titles such as "The Alaska Air At-
    tack," "The Assault on Hawaii," and "The California Attack."
    Here are a few examples of Japanese propaganda from the
    early 1930s that made their way into American naval Intel-
    gene files (the following names come directly from an
    English language report and may be misspelled) :
       -A lecture by Captain K. Midzuno revealed that the
    Japanese military not only developed strategies for attacking
    Pearl Harbor from the air but also foresaw the possibility of
    American raids on Tokyo.
      -In Japan in Danger: A Great Naval War in te Pacific
    Ocean, Nakadzima Takesi described scenarios of a victorious
    war waged by the Japanese against the United States through
    naval battles and air bombardment.
      -In Increasing Japanese-American Danger, Vice Admiral
    Sesa Tanetsugu wrote that he was convinced of the inevitabil-
   ity of Japanese-American conflict.
      -Ikedzaki Talakta presented in the Predestined Japanese-Amer-
    ican War a compilation of articles on the subject of the inevitabil-
    lity of a Japanese-American war. A newspaper review lauded this
    book as "a work of passionate love for the native land" and as-
    sured readers that "if Japan draws its sword, the false, haughty
    America will be powerless" (February 3, 1933 report, p. 260).
27. "Before a new world appears": Delmer Brown, Nationalism in
    Japan, p. 187; see also Okawa Shumei, "Ajia, Yoroppa, Nihon
    (Asia, Europe, and Japan)," p. 82, translated in "Analyses,''
     IPS document no. 64, pp. 3-4 (italics added).
29. To prepare for the inevitable war with China: Tessa Morris-
     Suzuki, Showa: An Inside History of Hirohito's Japan (New York:
     Schocken, 1985), pp. 21-29.
30. "We appear to be standing in the vanguard of Asia": Quoted in
     Ian Buruma, The Wages of Guilt (New York: Farrar, Straus &
     Giroux, 1994), pp. 191-92.
30. "Why are you crying about one lousy frog?": Ibid,, p, 172,
30. "deep ambivalence in Japanese society": Letter from Rana Mitter
     to author, July 17, 1997.
31. It was reputed that more than one teacher: Harries and Harries,
    Soldiers of the Sun, p. 41.
31. A visitor to one of its elementary schools: Iritani Toshio, Group
     Psychology of the Japanese in Wartime (London and New York:
     Kegan Paul International, 1991), pp. 177, 191.
31. abuse: Ibid.
32. "I do not beat you because I hate you": Ibid., p. 189.
32. The intensity of the training in Japan: 106/5485, February 1928
      report, p. 136, Papers of the British War Office in the Public
     Record Office, Kew, London. An OSS report on Japanese army
     training summarizes the process of indoctrination: "The
     smallest infraction of error in regulations brings instant and
     severe punishment. Act tough-shout, don't talk--scowl,
     don't look pleasant--be tough--have no desires--forget your
    family at home--never show emotionalism--do everything
    the hard way--don't let yourself be comfortable--train and
    discipline your desires for comfort, food and water--suffer
     pain and hardship in silence--you are a son of Heaven"; re-
    port no. 8974-B, dissemination no. A-17403, distributed De-
    cember 28, 1943, Research and Analysis Branch Divisions,
    Intelligence Reports "Regular" Series, 1941-45, box 621, entry
    16, record group 226, National Archives.
32. "During these impressionable years": 106/5485, February 1928
     report, p. 84, Papers of the British War Office.
33. That August, while attempting to land thirty-five thousand fresh
    troops: David Bergamini, Japan's Imperial Conspiracy (New
    York: Morrow, 1971), p. 11.
33. In the 1930s Japanese military leaders: John Toland, The Ris-
    ing Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire (New
    York: Random House), p. 47. "Crush the Chinese in three
    months and they will sue for peace," Minister Sugiyama