The Pacific War


BLOCKADE, bombing, and psychological warfare — with these three weapons we press our attack against Japan. The next body blow, according to the Japanese, will be the invasion of the home islands, an event for which the Tokyo government is openly preparing its people. Whether or not that step will be necessary is one of the few things about which Japan today has any choice. The destruction of her cities and industries is the price of further delay in accepting unconditional surrender.

The blockade of Japan extends from the Strait of Tsushima to the South China Sea. It is carried out from newly won Pacific bases by sea and by air. Nearly two million tons of enemy shipping have gone down in the South Sea alone; the overall total is more than four million.

The blockade from the Pacific is complemented by that from the continent of Asia, where Chinese forces are cutting into the north-south rail communications which the Japanese spent so much time and blood in acquiring. In spite of loss of bases and difficulties of supply, the Fourteenth Air Force claims the destruction or damage of one and three-quarter million tons of Japanese shipping, over 800 locomotives, 1500 railroad cars, 8000 trucks, and 400 bridges. The Fourteenth Air Force has bombed every important river port in Japanese hands and has made the Yangtze unsafe for enemy shipping by day.

The narrow waters around Japan lend themselves admirably to effective use of aerial mines. Mines laid by planes accounted for over 60 per cent of German shipping sunk during the last six years. Mines laid by Superfortresses should be equally successful.

Japan can neither replace her naval losses nor regain the island bases which formed her Maginot Line across the Pacific. What ships she has left cannot even keep the Strait of Tsushima safe for Japanese shipping. The combined American and British fleets, unembarrassed by European obligations, can operate within Japanese home waters even though they are at the end of supply lines unprecedented in length.

The Navy has hinted very strongly that the many forms of Japanese suicide attacks are achieving results which cannot be lightly dismissed. Suicide planes occasionally get through the barrage put up by capital ships and they have more than a nuisance value against the smaller units of our fleet.

How long can Japan take it?

According to the Foreign Economic Administration, Japan has the productive capacity to wage a long war. Her industrial plant is distributed over Korea, Manchuria, and North China. These furnish over one third of Japan’s pig-iron capacity, 16 per cent of her steel-ingot capacity, 10 per cent of her rolling-mill capacity, and more than half of her coke-oven carbonizing capacity. The continent also supports a large chemical industry, aircraft and synthetic-oil plants, and numerous arsenals.

We have cut Japan off from rubber, tin, oil, and fibers formerly imported from the conquered territories. But so far we have liberated less than 7 per cent of enemy-controlled conquests. The FEA points out that a yearly output of 21,000,000 barrels of primary oil from synthetic plants may well take care of what is left of the Japanese merchant marine operating in much restricted waters.

Stockpiles and substitutes can take care, for many months, of the losses of tungsten, lead, zinc, and nickel from Burma, and of iron ore, chrome, and copper from the Philippines. Inability to bring home rice from Thailand and Indo-China will increase the food shortage in Japan but will not result in starvation.

To meet the devastation caused by air raids, which the Japanese long anticipated, much of Japanese industry has been dispersed. We probably started our heavy bombing before the dispersal program, which takes a long time to accomplish, was finished. But we do know that plants have been moved to secluded places in Japan and widely dispersed over the inner zone on the continent. Some plants have been put underground. Our blockade can be most effective against the home islands of Japan. It is much more difficult to cut off Manchuria, Korea, and North China.

Whittle her down

The strategic bombing of Japan is being applied ruthlessly as it was in Germany. The aim is to lower industrial output by the destruction of factories and communications and by tying up manpower in defense and repairs. Strategic bombing can paralyze Japan’s naval bases and major ports and whittle down the Japanese Air Force, as it did the Luftwaffe, by destruction of air bases and aircraft factories.

Considerable time must elapse before the results of strategic bombing are evident. It took nearly two years to bring Germany to her knees. We are much less favorably placed for the bombing of Japan and have an enormous area to cover. If we include the mainland, we can also expect to continue paying a high price for strategic bombing until we secure air superiority over the target.

The structure of Japanese militarism does not rest on foundations so secure as did that of Germany. The separation of Japan from the mainland makes the division of the inner zone, by control of the Strait of Tsushima, a feasible objective. The length of the coastline in relation to land area increases Japan’s difficulties of defense.

Nor does Japan have anything to compare with the elaborate German railway system, in spite of considerable building in Manchuria. The ratio of rail communications to area and population is about the same as that of other colonial countries. South of Peking the Japanese have never been in secure control of such railways as there are, and in Southeast Asia rail communications have long been under air attack.

The burning out of the small household factories is one of the quickest and cheapest methods of dislocating the Japanese war machine; its high cost in life for the Japanese may make it a potent argument for surrender. It is certainly testing the Japanese social and political system to its very foundations. If the Japanese can take these raids and still hold together, clearly we shall have to invade and occupy Japanese soil.

This strategic bombing could hardly have been foreseen by Japan, for it is being carried out by instruments which no country had at hand in 1941. The development of the B-29, now a highly efficient instrument, must certainly have come as a shock. Nor could the Japanese have thought that strategic bombing might be carried out by carrier forces, such as Task Force 58, which can put a thousand planes into the air.

Added to bombing from the air will be the steady pounding of Japan by V-bombs from Okinawa. The German ally will have made at least this contribution to the downfall of Japan.

Japan’s civilian defense

The Japanese have decentralized their administrative arrangements, their food supplies, and their military forces as much as possible to meet the bombing and the expected invasion. They have made efforts to organize the people into anti-air-raid units. More and more powers are being given to the police.

There seems to be no question that the Japanese people are grumbling and not coöperating with the government. There is more and more emphasis on control of thought. The Public Procurator of Tokyo has even set up an office to ascertain the state of public sentiment. In March most schools above the elementary grades were suspended and students freed to work in air defense or in the production of food and munitions.

The Civilian Volunteer Corps is the chief anti-airraid unit. This organization absorbed the Imperial Rule Assistance Association when it was dissolved in June. The corps is really an arm of the military; it can be used, when the time comes, for the defense of the homeland. In the meantime it enables military discipline to be applied to civilian production.

Paper bombs

Our own psychological warfare adds paper bombs to the incendiaries which are dropped by the B-29’s. Twenty minutes after the first American leaflets fell on Tokyo, the Japanese radio was on the air instructing the people not to pick them up and read them. Government leaders have given long harangues about the lack of patriotism among those who listened to the enemy radio beamed from Saipan.

Considering that there are over seven million radio sets in Japan and that the medium-wave beam from Saipan hits Japan with a very strong signal, we presumably have a sizable audience. Japanese attempts to jam the station, and threats against those who listen to it, bear witness to its effectiveness. Those who do not listen to the American radio, however, can be reached by our leaflets.

Leading newspapers on occasion describe American propaganda and attempt to answer it item by item. The Japanese are warned that Italy is a terrible example of the fate that awaits those who listen to enemy propaganda. Japan’s comments on the defeat of Germany are also illuminating. The people were told the story of Germany’s defeat and given a vivid picture of the humiliation that awaits the defeated.

The reasons for Germany’s collapse are described as mistakes which the Japanese have not committed. The German people were said to be lacking in fighting spirit partly because of enemy propaganda; the Germans did not divide the Allies with their own propaganda; Germany underestimated the Russians, whom she attacked before finishing off the British. The Germans are said to have failed to win the good will of occupied countries and to have surrendered in large numbers. All these things the Japanese presumably will avoid.

We can read into this analysis a Japanese concern for the vulnerability of their own people to American radio and leaflets. The Japanese militarists, who have associated themselves more and more with the Emperor, are now placing upon the Japanese people more and more of the responsibility for winning the war.

If Japan loses

The Japanese people are told that defeat means annihilation for every one of them. They are told that if they make the cost high enough by fighting desperately for every inch of soil, they can soften the determination of the Allies, among whom disunity is said to grow. They are told that the peoples of Asia are on their side and that Japan’s leaders will never surrender. There will be “new weapons” which will annihilate the enemy. Japan’s leaders repeat the Nazi techniques of strength through fear, of false hopes, and of hysterical appeals. They will have no more success than the Germans in avoiding unconditional surrender.

In dealing with Japan we can point to the German example. President Truman used this advantage in his V-E Day message when he explained the meaning of unconditional surrender to Japan. It does not mean the annihilation of the Japanese people, but rather the return of soldiers to their farms; it is synonymous with peace; in fact, it is the only way of securing peace.

This attempt to define unconditional surrender should be followed by others. We must persuade the Japanese that no efforts of theirs will avail against the forces which can now be brought to bear in the Pacific, and at the same time describe our intentions towards a defeated Japan, however harsh they may be.

China perks up

Eight years have passed since Japan began what was called the China Incident. During those eight years the Japanese Empire has risen and passed its peak of development. In spite of their terrible sufferings through the dark years following the fall of Hankow in 1938, the Chinese are still with us. For some months we have been pouring materials, technicians, experts, and every kind of service into China. We have flown the well-tried Chinese armies from Burma across the Hump back into China and helped to train new divisions.

Recent Chinese military successes reflect to some extent the results of much Chinese and American effort in the fields of production, transportation, administration, and finance. It will be a long time before Chinese armies can put on a real counter-offensive, for the supply situation is still desperate, but the optimism which will be reborn with these first signs of the turning of the tide will be felt throughout China.


The pressure from the French for an active share in the Pacific war is increasing. French radio facilities are already being prepared for short-wave broadcasting to Indo-China, the colony whose surrender to Japan in 1941 did so much to prepare the way for the blow to Thailand and Malaya.

There is Thailand itself. The people and the government of that country are said to be on our side. Unlike the British, we are not at war with Thailand. There will be need for Anglo-American understanding when it comes to liberation of Thailand.

There is a question of military government in Formosa, if it should be captured. How do we share the political burdens of occupation with our two main allies, the British and the Chinese?

Watch events in China as the full effect of our material and technical assistance becomes apparent. What influence will this increase in military strength have on Chinese unity?

The future internal political development of the Philippines may be troubled. There are differences over the definition of collaboration as between President Osmeña and important Filipinos who have American backing.

And the whole picture in the Far East would change overnight if the Russians came into the war.