A Japanese historian examines why Japan went to war. Alfred A. Knopf, , pages When Japan attacked the United States in Japan Countdown to Infamy. By Eri Hotta. pp. Alfred A. Knopf, $ Why did Japan start a war its top leaders knew it had. In Japan Countdown to Infamy, Japanese author Eri Hotta attempted to discuss this question via use of newly revealed information from.

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Before he became PM, Tojo was one of those who argued for the need to attack as Army Ifnamy in the second and third Konoe governments. I found it most interesting that the major This book covers the events and decisions that led up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese point of view. The positions of men like Konoe, Tojo, Nagano and the bakuryo officers, mid-level bureaucrats who prepared most of the positions taken are analyzed and one can witness how difficult it was to achieve any consensus on policy in this environment.

The embargos bit deeply into fuel supplies, both military and civilian, and in mid Japan invaded French Indochina—Cambodia Laos, and the south of Vietnam—in order infmy obtain fountdown no longer available in international markets. One of the best history books I have read this year.

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

Japanese projections of a war with the U. Despite the “Japan Banzai! In addition, there was the very common sunk cost argument for continuing war: If the book had been written by a non-Japanese author I suspect it ot have been treated and reviewed very differently — on both sides of the Pacific.

Japan continued countdowh program of making Asia safe for Asians and projecting themselves as a power on par with the west.

Outside the most die-hard believers in nationalist ideology, nobody believed Japan would emerge victorious over the combined efforts of the Allies, nor did they believe Germany could effectively aid Japan in this effort.

This was less successful than the previous takeovers—at the outset Japan thought it would conquer China in three months, but the japxn was still going on in The work of Richard Sorge, a German journalist based in Tokyo, who was also a Russian spy and was good friends with the German ambassador to Japan is also fascinating. He was probably unaware of Japanese atrocities, but he was certainly aware of, and approved, Japanese aggression.


Its about Japan’s decision to go to war with the U. Rice was already of such low quality that one diarist says it was like mouse droppings. Many officials after the war were complicit in hiding the extent of Hirohito’s knowledge and involvement in actual war planning, but it is hard to see Hirohito as ccountdown complete innocent here.

No trivia or quizzes yet. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Jun 06, Jake M.

As an example, the Mukden Incident was initiated by the military without civilian approval; the civilian government was presented with a fait accompli that stacked the deck toward countddown. Books by Eri Hotta.

Even their most seasoned diplomats except at the end were clueless about the true feelings of Roosevelt and counrdown other US leaders. The effect of this agreement to stand neutral countsown the event of another signatory going to war allowed Japan to step aside when Germany went to war in Europe. However, once a consensus was reached, no matter how convoluted the decision making process and delusionary some of the ideas of policy makers were it was almost impossible to alter or change the course toward war.

Yamamoto was a naval planning genius and an anomaly in Japan—he was a prankster often walking on his handsa dedicated gambler, greatly respected and widely liked.

Book Review: Japan Countdown to Infamy | HistoryNet

However, there was a lot of new to me, anyway information. In addition, the mini-biography of Soldier U, who in in his late thirties was recalled to military service and sent to China, and later to Indo China has a story that could be a separate book in of itself.

So the Japanese, after their surprise victories, would be able to say “Look, just let us keep what we have now and we can end this unpleasantness. The author used the concept of Honne to Tatemae to throw some light on these behaviours.

This is perhaps a bit too generous. We see a dysfunctional political system in which military leaders reported to both the civilian government and the emperor, creating a structure that facilitated intrigues and stoked a jingoistic rivalry between Japan’s army and navy. Yet we have to be careful; as illogical and unimaginable as they have behaved inwould we not have done the same?

Hotta provides a brief history of Japan so the reader can understand what is happening in the eight months leading up to Pearl Harbor. May 03, Brandon Abraham rated it really liked it.

Hotta makes two central points, 1. They saw it through the lens of racial discrimination that clouded their judgment when making decisions. It should also prompt some self-reflection. There are references to the Meiji Restoration that are significant to the behavior of some of the main players; further elaboration would have been helpful for those of us without much knowledge of the Meiji Restoration.


Despite these flaws, Japan is a strong narrative of a time, place infamg group of individuals that deserves more attention from Western readers. Japan could never have won the war. After reading this contrast in so many players it seems as if they were actors playing a role: Oh, and the emperor? Japan’s incapability to wage long term war against the US inspired Admiral Yamamoto’s tactically brilliant but somewhat poorly executed attack on Pear Harbor.

The rough thinking was that the defeat of both Britain and the USSR by Germany would force the Allies to the table in the Pacific, particularly since Japan’s Imperial Navy seemed to have strategic advantage over war-weary Britain and the seemingly war-averse United States.

Hotta tells a heart wrenching story of a group of children–set out to the countryside to escape US bombings–who drew pictures of food, the A really good book on the origins of the Pacific War in WWII from the Japanese point of view. Her analysis though is a bit tepid and the prose sometimes wanders into asides.

It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. The political structure japab basically no structure at all: First, while the attack certainly destroyed some countdow warships and damaged others, it did not destroy the ability to repair damaged ships: The two Prime Ministers featured prominently in this book, The Indecisive Nobleman Prince Konoe, who were swayed by the military to form alliance with Fascist Germany, and next, The Bland Bureaucrat General Tojo, with his conflicted loyalties, did not act decisively to put a stop to Japan’s doomed road to war.

Hailed by anti-colonialists after defeating Russia inJapan then aggressively expanded across Asia. Feb 23, Hadrian rated it really liked it Shelves: When Japan launched hostilities against the United Countdwn inargues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose.