tv Fall of the Japanese Empire CSPAN August 31, 2015 11:15pm-12:31am EDT
occupational forces that he was looking a job in. but this american-born person was going with him. then they just ran into an american officer in the hallway. the officer says something like, how are you? what are you guys up to? something like that. just to greet two people that he initially thought japanese, because they both look like japanese. if you don't start to converse with them. just because of the cultural affinity, i guess, the japanese-american person responded in english. then that's how he was recruited. hey, you look like somebody who can, you know, work for us. unfortunately, this japanese guy who was looking for a job originally didn't get the position, but the american person did. in that way, i think it did work in some cases, as a benefit for japanese-american people. >> how long did it take for the japanese-americans to make their
way back to the united states? >> it varies quite a bit. those with needs started to come back to the u.s. in 1947. that's the year in which -- that's the year in which the first ship from japan back to america was operated. so beginning from that year to all the way to -- up to late 1950s. in some cases, early 1960s. there are people who just continue to come back. that's the era when not only u.s. born japanese-american, u.s. citizens, but also some family members of those american citizens, whose citizenship was japanese. but because of the family connections and actual family members they already had in the states, decided to migrate from japan to america. that's when the diversification of american survivors group
started. it obviously started to include not only u.s.-born survivors of the bomb, but also japan-born but now u.s. immigrant survivors of the bomb. later on, they came together. it took them a long time to sort of come to america. it varied. >> there was a propensity of japanese-americans who had been in the internment camps, not to talk about their experiences. not even with their families, their children, later on. what about the people who -- the japanese-americans who had been in hiroshima and nagasaki, when they came back to the united states, did they talk about what they experienced? >> i think the answer to that is largely no. because actually, one practical reason why they remained silent
about the experience is that if they come out as survivors, then their health insurance policy may be taken away from them. so radiation was considered to be one of the preexisting conditions in u.s. health insurance system. so they were very afraid that they might lose the benefit of the health insurance policies because of the survivor. and also, i think there was a stigmatization in general that they were considered to be not good investment from employers' perspective because they might miss a lot of work because they might have radiation illness or something in the future. or in the case of women, they may not be able to reproduce or if they could, their baby may be deformed because of the mass exposure to radiations. there are those medical reasons, as well as political reasons, why they remained silent about
their survivorhood. also, i think, actually, it's interesting that you raised the example of japanese-americans internment camps. and science associated with that. again, a big story of the bomb, but also micro level intimate stories of families. often times, japanese-american families included some members who were bombed, survived the bomb, but irradiated. and also, other family members who stayed in america during the wartime and were placed in japanese-american internment camps. when they came back together after the war, it was very difficult for them to talk about each other's experience. because they were exposed to the massive power of nation state and state violence, and yet in very different ways. so how do you actually start to have a conversation about those vastly different and yet traumatizing experiences when they are just trying to rebuild
a family. i think in some ways they mutually created a silence because in some ways, because of the intimacies as they wanted to regain within families. >> are there oral histories a way to break that silence now? >> i believe so. i hope that's part of what oral history may be able to do for the benefit of better understanding the past. but also i should note that actually although i am collecting a lot of oral histories right now, there were some earlier effort to conduct personal history project back in 1970s and '80s. and most of the people who wanted to conduct oral histories with u.s. survivors or asian-americans of the younger generation, mostly third
generation americans who just like they were not really aware of japanese-american internment camp, but came to realize, oh, this is definitely the part of our past, my parents' past, my grandparents' past, that's when asian-american civil rights movement started. and that's when they started to come together as a group of people on university campuses, especially on the west coast, but also in east coast up to a certain degree, and tried to sort of assert their asian-american identities. and a part of the emerging identity really pushed them to find out the legacy histories of their own ethnic and racial group. and part of that discovery was about their community members, older community members' experience of being bombed. so they started out by talking to survivors in their communities. and that's very precious historical record because i think that's the only set of oral history collections that we have as far as i'm aware of that
about u.s. survivors' life experiences. so there are few oral history interviews that we have about them, but, yeah, i think i'm not going say the oral history is the best way to think about the past. of course there are various ways in which we can think about the past. but oral history has a power of course bringing out individual voices. but also, it will be always based on interaction between interview and interviewees. and in case of the older oral histories, it's really about not only about survivors themselves, but also about people who had this intense interest in finding out their own community's history. so it goes both way. it's a mutual process that really is revealing in the way that is very unique to this
particular kind of, yeah, historical record. >> naoko wake, thank you very much. >> thank you very much. pleasure to talk to you. you're watching american history tv which airs each weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter at c-span history. for information on our schedule and to keep up on the latest history news. and there's more on american history tv's facebook page, including video of recent programs and your comments. that is at facebook.com/cspanhistory. now author richard frank talks about the japan's
surrender at the end of world war ii. >> it's an honor to be here on behalf of harry truman. i've worn a suit and a coat and a tie tonight because harry would have expected no less from someone speaking on his behalf. i've been working on this area now for about 25 years or more. one of the things i've learned over the years is that i need to start a little earlier than 1945. in fact, what i need to do is, really, talk about the whole context of the asian pacific war and the second world war. imagine for a moment that we were to talk about the european phase of world war ii. by only having an an aul remembrance of the bombing of two german cities. and over the years since we conducted those remembrances, we gradually -- every or aspect about the war in europe. i think most of us would agree
that it would be wrong given our humanity of the germans that were in the cities, at the same time, it would be equally wrong to totally close our eye toes what was happening in the european war. and because the generations that fought the war, the generation that remembers the war are passing rapidly from the scene, we now sit in a situation in which most americans have a very dim, if any, understanding of what the asian-pacific war was like. a couple of years ago, i was at a conference where they were showing approved high school level textbooks in the u.s. i noticed it didn't list china as one of the allies participating in the asian pacific war. a couple of years ago, i began working on an effort to try to come up with some reasonable estimate as the number of deaths in the asian pacific war. recognizing that because of the lack of no solid data, it's impossible to certify any specific amount.
after collaboration with colleagues and always attempting to go to the lowest rather than the highest number, i came one figure of about 25 million deaths during the asian pacific war. of that 25 million, about 6 million were combatants. about 3 million were chinese, about 2 million were japanese to balance other nations including the u.s. that means that of the deaths during the asian pacific war, 19 million were noncombatants. of that total, roughly about a million were japanese. the sources are pretty close together with respect to japanese boss losses, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, which is to say that for every japanese noncombatant who died in the asian pacific war, of those 17 or 18 million, about 12 million were chinese.
now, i've been working on a current project from the asian pacific war, a trilogy on that and coming up with a catalog of what those numbers actually mean. just touch on two things. because of the conduct of the imperial army in places like shanghai, it produced this tidal wave of refugees in china. numbering at least 45 million. one component of that flight was that quite frequently, chinese families set out in flight. those families included parents and children, sometimes four, five, six or more. and at the end of the long road, which went far longer and far harder than most experienced, the parents would arrive in refugee centers with one or two children at an abandon the others along the way. that sort of story about what happened in china during the
asian pacific war is really one small detail of the whole catalog of horrors. the other thing that we don't typically appreciate about the asia pacific war is that we think of a bombing of civilians as having been something that was basically a pro he toe type by nazi germany in spain, specifically because of the war, pablo picasso, the first effort to terrorize civilians in shanghai in 1932. sort of a typical picture of the type of bombing that japan did routinely in germany. now, i want to emphasize again that i'm not attempt to go suggest that we should deny the common humanity of japanese and japanese civilians. quite the contrary. what i attempted to do in my work is to recognize the humanity of all the positions,
all the places. i think it's important when we talk about events in 1945 to really understand the total context of what is happening in this horrendous war which for china has been going on for eight years. from a chinese standpoint, america enters the war at halftime. and that's what we're going to talk further about. now, the other part of the context is we have now enormous controversy which has been spinning now for better than 30 years in this country over the asia pacific war and specifically its end. let me review briefly how we sort of got here or at least the context with which most people are familiar with this controversy. in 1945, for almost 20 years thereafter, most people would be stunned to learn that today there really is no great controversy in the u.s. over the war and specifically the atomic bomb. there was what is sometimes labeled as the traditionalist view. the use of the bombs were
justify the end of the war and at least an abrupt utilitarian sense it was justified because the bombs saved a lot more lives than it cost. in the 1960s, in conjunction with other issues in the u.s., there was what called -- night. personally i have great trouble with that because i think any historian has new evidence, new interpretation. i think a negative term is wrong. i like to call this the critical canyon. basically, it has three main elements also. as you can see here, they believe that japan's situation was helpless, the japanese were trying to surrender and that american leaders -- the japanese were on the cusp of surrender while american leaders -- the devastation. the reason for that is given various, but the most provocative of that, of course, is it was intended to be the first shot of the cold war to intimidate the soviets.
interestingly enough, these two rival views clashed most dramatically in the post war era in 1995 and the controversy at the smithsonian institution. ironically, as this was going on, it turned out in the background a lot of work was going on at exactly that moment, being published at exactly that moment where we fundamentally changed a lot of the ways we look at this. basically, japanese historians gained access to material the japanese government had not released. most importantly, the u.s. archives began with information and there were a great number of papers because they talked about radio intelligence, classified could not be released and did want appear in the public domain from the late 1970s up until the 1990s. finally, the soviet archives revealed some rather interesting information concerning the end of the war. so my kickoff point when i did
down fall was basically based on all ooh this work that was going on in counter point to the controversy and giving the whole controversy, at least in my view, a very different spin. because we know a lot more and we know the answers to some questions and we have found there are other questions that had not previously been considered. so let's talk about now what actually happened in 1945. president franklin roosevelt in january 1943 at the cass bland ka conference, potentially in world war ii which he describes as the un -- of the access powers. the phrase unconditional surrender as though it's merely a -- for propaganda purposes. if you go back to the archives, you will find from 1943, actually before then, there was a policy making process that was going on that was looking to how we were going to conduct an
occupation of germany and japan and to conduct major renovations of those societies to make sure that they never again threaten peace and they became democratic and peaceful. and the state department lawyers, in writing about this, emphasized the unconditional surrender gave the u.s. and its allies the right to do things in germany and japan that the international law and military occupation did not provide. in fact, the state department lawyer said there really was no clear limit to how far the u.s. goes under unconditional surrender. but it was instrumental in the whole policy process of how we were going to conduct occupation in germany or japan. so people who talk about how you can jetson unconditional surrender in 1945, either do not comprehend how vital it was to the ultimate outcome of the peace or if they do know, they don't choose to tell you that, which is another issue. so the first message i have to
you is it was not simply a slogan for victory. it really was the foundation of a program for peace. well, the president having articulated the goal, it fell to the joint chiefs of staff to come up with a military strategy to achieve that. that was their job. when they met and discussed this, interestingly enough, they achieved what in my view was no better than unstable compromise and the division was really more on what many of us would regard as a political as opposed to strictly a military issue. and the political issue was what would be the factor that would be most likely to undermine the role of the american people to see the war through to unconditional surrender. and when their services met --
so the services met to argue, the viewpoint was that time was the critical issue. and the army believed that the best and fastest way to, therefore, achieve unconditional surrender was by invading the japanese ar mad das. the united states navy had a dirvets view. the navy had been setting -- of japan for four decades. the navy had a proprietary sense that they knew what this war was all about and they knew how to end it. in the course of that, four decades of study, one of the most fundamental principals of naval analysis had come up with was it would be absolute foley to invade the japanese -- the defensive forces greater than any expeditionary force the u.s. could project across the pacific, that the terrain of japan, everything that was most soaked was steep and all of that was negated by the terrain.
this was the perfect recipe for massive casualties. it was the critical issue that undermined support for the war. the navy's alternative was a campaign of block aid and bombardment. by bombardlity, they were thinking of ships bombarding from sea and aerial bombardments from the 1920s. by blockade, they meant something which has not been grappled with in most of literature. it was obvious instruments of war and weapons from coming into a nation, they could not block certain other items, most specifically food. food could not be blockaded. well, the british and the germans changed the rules in world war i and as american policy evolved with respect to the blockade, we were looking to
totally blockade japan, which effectively meant everything including food. so blockade meant we were prepared the to threaten -- of japanese, mostly civilians. that's what blockade was all about. is an alternative to the invasion. now, all of this argument which took place for more than a year finally reached a critical point in april/may '45 and the joint chiefs of staff finally officially adopt the policy, policy paper and new order and that policy paper calls for the execution of a two phase strategy. the first phase was continuation of blockade and bombardment until november. and in november 1945 the u.s. would em bank on a two-phase japan down fall. the first phase, called operation olympic was meant to attack the southern island of
kyushu to see if air naval base toes support the second face which is called operation cornette to target the tokyo/yokohama area. under the plan, there was a provision and then we'll see what happens, whether they secure the surrender of japan or not. so the order was issued. kingly, the commander in chief of the naval operations, a man if an famously tearse about everything sent a written memo in which he makes abundantly clear. he says i want to make clear to you that i am not agreeing that we're actually going to invade japan. i only agree that we have to issue an order now so all the preparations can be made to have the option of invasion available in november. but he says, we will come back and visit the issue of whether we will ip vad japan in august or september of this year.
so king makes it quite clear right from april 1945 that the navy does not -- with invading japan. in that paper in which the joint chiefs refer to their strategy, there are two other fundamental problems we see. the first of which is no japanese government in the entire history of japan has ever sur renders. by japanese count, that's 2,600 years. no historical president whatsoever sur renders. the second is, as far as they're aware, there's never been the surrender of a japanese unit in a skirmish battle or campaign during the asia pacific war. therefore, we can't be sure we can get a japanese government that will surrender. moreover, even if we can find a japanese government that will
surrender, we can't be sure the armed forces will comply with a surrender. i can't emphasize enough that it was talk. they're defining what is the ultimate american nightmare in 1945, which is not what we call, quote, the invasion of japan. it's the prospect of well organized capitulation. in april 1945 we're estimating japanese armed forces total about 4.5 to 5 million. this would be the prospect of defeating all of those armed forces in the japanese home islands, on the asian continent throughout the pacific. this is an incredibly horrendous prospect to face. but that is the real nightmare we're fait facing, not, quote, the invasion of japan. admiral king is the effective naval officer in washington. admiral emmet is the senior naval officer in the pacific. he's been embroiled in fighting
the campaign on the island since may. he now sends a private communication between he and admiral king a message in which he says basically i'm no longer support an invasion of japan under any circumstances because it's going to be at least like okinawa and this is totally unacceptable. so we have the navy, both the senior officer in washington and the senior officer in the pacific saying no, no, no, we're not going to invade. now, let's go to tokyo. january 1945. they face the new year not with resignation, but with resolution. a shot of what once was, the air power is much diminish.
above all, they are guided bay specific premise and that is that american being of a -- race and being pleasure loving are -- have little morale and that morale can be broken and they believe it can be broken by either defighting or inflicting enormous casualties on the initial invasion of japan. and they will, there ever, achieve guardianships to negotiate into the war far different from under the preserve the old order of japan. and they call this strategy operation decisive. and remember, it has both a military and a political component. to achieve what the japanese hope they can achieve in 1945. now, in terms of their strategic planning, they really do one of the best jobs they do in the entire war since the opening
phase. that's if they work out, this basically points. the first of which is conviction of the americans being impatient, don't have the patience to say on the campaign a blockade and bombardment and they will come in and blockade. this is an important point because the japanese recognize that they have no counter to blockade except -- their whole strategy is built on the notion that you must come and invade. that's the strategic option that's going to give the japanese a chance to get an end to the war to their satisfaction. well, they also operationally work out very quickly that while the american basically rely mostly on air and sea power, not on ground power in the pacific, and most of the air power is land based, therefore, any invasion of the japanese islands must be in locations that's within range of american land based aircraft, specifically
hover planes. and they get out their dividers and they run their dividers and they get kyushu and the main japanese islands, they recognize we're coming for air base, we're coming for kyushu. they realize southern kyushu is going to be a target. anyone who looks at the map of kyushu will realize if the americans are coming for land bases, there are only a few places they can possibly come. they correctly identify three of the four bases we're looking at and they're not that far off default. they can flesh out this strategy and as you can see, by august 1945 they have 6 million men under arms, over 6 million, and they pass the home islands with 2..35 million. and most importantly, because they're like a gambler placing
all their chips on one bet, they have the majority of their forces down to kyushu, down to the invasion, and they mass the source somewhere between 500,000, 900,000 men. and they've got 10,000 planes. half of them are come kozzys. they are very confident that this is going to get the result they want. the bloodying of the invasion, whether they defeat it or not, and negotiate it into the war. they do something else. in the spring of 1945, the japanese government conducts this massive -- of the military forces and on the civilian front. specifically, they announce and implement a policy that every single male age 16 to 50 and every single female is now a combatant, a member of a
national militia. in a seeshryes of the defense of kyushu, they have a chilling itemization of how they city by city and town by town, mobilize some of these units. they have converted a large swath of the population. this effect ily works out to about 20% of that population. there's about 17 million from the 1944 census. so my math will give me something like 20 million of these civilians are now become combatants. what this does for us, it almost perfectly obliterates combatants and non xwacombatants in japan. this involves mutual obligations.
then if they only target combatants. japan now has basically made it almost impossible to separate out combatants from noncombatants. swrg arrived at all of these measures and all of these strategies, what we have to have is an imperil conference. it's going to sanction all of these measures. and it's sort of a kabuki thing. everyone looks at these rehearsed statements and they endorse a policy which is basically kept to go which provides we're going to fight on to the end with notes on surrender. as they do this, they also have prepared staff papers and one of those staff papers has something
to say about the food supply and the down fall. it seemed to me abundantly clear that anyone reading this would realize what it's saying is even if ketsigo works and it goes on for months, even assuming we can negotiate in, during 1946, there's going to be horrendous foot food shortageses throughout japan that are going to put literally millions of japanese in peril. i could not find a source that clearly said, oh, yes, they understood what was in those papers. since that time, edward drey has done a wonderful book on japan's imperial army. i talked to ed and he said it was very clear that the senior soldiers in the imperial army clearly understood that kept to go basically meant not only all these casualties and battles,
but basically a large swath of the population is going to starve to death in 1946. so i find it very difficult to believe that the senior civilians did not understand this and in certain ways we know they understood the significance and the food situation. so that is the sort of enemy we were counting and dealing with in 1945 in imperial japan. now, mr. truman, interestingly, orders a specific white house meeting on the issue of the invasion and orders the meeting and specifically identifies casualties as his major concern. at that meeting, the transcript is available. plan was a two-phase invasion of japan. we can talk about the casualty issue and the q&a if you want to because i think it sort of moves out by what happened later. but in any event, what's interesting is mr. truman only
approves olympic, that first phase in november. he withholds his official sanction to olympic and as i was reading the transcript of that meeting, i noticed that harry truman, at the end, summarizes -- makes a summary statement and says, well, basically, so everyone around the table, all the advisers are all advising me that i should approve this invasion of japan. and i read what and i thought, this is no country bumpkin. he is making sure the record shows what is actually happening which is everyone sitting around that table at that meeting is advising the president that that is the best option to take. and mr. truman approves it, but as you can see, because he only approves olympic, he still has some serious doubts about the invasion of japan. now, between about 1978 and somewhere in the late 1990s and there's still a few things trickling out, we had a tref
revelation when they released the radio intelligence information. in fact, it's my belief that had mr. truman and his administration had this material to make available, we would never have gone the direction we've gone in this controversy because people would not have made arguments about certain key issues like japan was close to surrender in august 1945. but the important points here are that, first of all, there are two streams of messages being intercepted. one are diplomatic messages and the other are military messages. and these reached the top policymakers in two documents. one is called the magic diplomatic summary. the word magic has some interesting background. the army chief signal officer back in the pre-pearl harbor days had a group of code breakers. and he sort of always referred to them as his magicians. so their product was this, knowing this magic and that term stuck for the range remainder of
world war ii. so these tell you what senior levels the american government, what was going on in japan. and the other important point is that everyone getting this summary was giving the military -- that's a point that was argued over for quite some time. but i finally tease out that the delivery of this was identical. so what happens with respect to this summary? well, with respect to the diplomatic summary, what this shows in abundant clarity is that although there are a number of japanese diplomates and available attach yeahs other here, what i call peace entrepreneurs, we knew none of them had the official sanction of the japanese government. so there's a lot of literature about the vatican or whatever here. but the bottom line was, we knew right then that none of these had the sanction of the japanese
government. the only japanese -- which had sanction was highly secret. now, when you sit down and you read back to bake the cable between sato and nos moscow and the japanese foreign ministry in tokyo, as a lawyer, i would describe it as sako is conducting a cross examination on behalf of the truman administration on the japanese diploma diplomacy. second of all, he says what's the authority for this? the former foreign minister gets the idea that there is someone
at a high level that has authorized this. then he columbus back and says, if this is a serious effort to end the ward, japan must come back and -- the members never comes down with an agreement on terms to end the war. they can't even come down with an agreement on what to offer the soviets back as a mediator. sako comes back too this issue repeatedly. terms, terms, terms, materials. if this is a serious effort, we have to have some formulation of terms. but finally, in total exasperation, we can't get an answer, they send two cables in the 17th and 18th of july, 1945, which in substance say, look, i think the best we can possibly hope for now is unconditional surrender modified to the extent that the imperial institution
will be preserved. here, they basically put together a panel where the key arguments of this whole controversy. in a message that is sent back, he basically says not merely no, but hell no, it's not acceptable. he says unconditional rur sender is unacceptable in any kishgss and he doesn't offer the slight he promo, oh, by the way, a modification the way the imperial institution might be helpful, that might achieve a surrender to jap fles government. absolutely not. so there you have it. it's in plaque and white in the magic diplomatic summary. anyone reading that, the editors make sure this is clear what this is all about, but understand that merely offering this -- is not -- the surrender
of japan. there have been a lot of books written about this and have talked about the importance of this institution. i cannot comprehend how you can miss this. i don't think you have to necessarily agree with it, but you can't ignore it. and i don't think the american leaders have any doubt about what this told them. now, we have the military summary. and basically what this shows is this horrendous picture of the japanese mobilizing on all fronts and particularly packing kyushu with all these troops. by the end of july 1945, general douglas mccarth your, intelligence officer, writes a summary that says, at this rate, we'll be going in with a ratio of one to one and this is not the recipe for victory.
well, how bad is it? well, the image on the left is what we thought we were going to encounter when we went to kyushu, when we ordered the operation. the image on the right is actually what we were going to run into on kyushu. you'll notice there is a dinners, a big difference, a horrendous difference. and at this point, there begins a back and forth at the highest levels of the american command about the issue of is olympic still viable? and there is the moment when admiral king strikes. back in april, he said we're going to revisit this issue in august or september. he's not thinking about atomic bombs. he's thinking about when the stars align for the navy to come down and argue about what is going to go on. general marshall, who has left the intelligence center
dispatch, general marshall says basically in view of the intelligence, do you think olympic is viable? and general mcarthy thursday replies, i don't think it's intelligence. this operation has to be done. it's good to go. let's go do it. admiral king puts those two messages together in package, sends them to the senior naval officer in the pacific and invites the admiral to comment on what he thinks. of course, i think of admiral king at this point is like a good lawyer who said you don't ask a question if you don't already know the answer. this is where we leave it hanging. the indication that japan may, in fact, end the war and limit in my view, he further decides this is not the time to start one of the great books of the entire war at the joint chiefs and the command level in invading japan. so he just sits on it for a few
days hoping he'll be relieved, sparking what's going to be one of the biggest controversies of the war. and there is literature out there that makes an argument like this. well, the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. they don't surrender on that day, on the 7th, on the 8th. on the 9th, the society union intervenes and by the end of that day, the japanese come to some formula for ending war. therefore, atomic bombs had no influence on the japanese decision to end the war. and if that's all they tell you, it seems like a really solid argument. well, let me tell you what they don't tell you. what they don't tell you, first of all, is taking you through the basic historical context. and that's that their argument really goes like this. a government of japan, which is not surrendered in 2,600 years
is presented with news of an event unprecedented in the entire sweep of human history and in 72 hours they do not decide to surrender unconditionally. do you think that sounds wiseble when you put it that way? and what really happened in tokyo is this. the japanese military leaders upon receiving those on the 7th when they get solid information, something horrendous is happening in hiroshima. mr. truman announced waits an imperial bomb.