Japan: Rising Sun Notes

for The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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Page 14 of 20

Notes from The Rising Sun, The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945 by John Toland

Book Club Edition, Random House, New York, copyright 1970

A major American victory declared over the Japanese at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines turned out to be the repulsion of a single scouting motorboat. The New York Times reported a major battle in which 154 Japanese boats were sunk. Also the Haruna was reported sunk by a Flying Fortress, when no Japanese ship was near the Philippines at all. [307-308]

By the beginning of February the Japanese, led by General Homma, had basic control of the Philippines, with the main U.S. army, led by General MacArthur, holding out on the Bataan Peninsula and Corrigedor. Manuel Quezon, President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, (a puppet government under U.S. control), was upset at the lack of relief from the U.S. and FDR’s public statements that military supplies were being sent help the British Empire in the European theater.  MacArthur and FDR had, and would continue to, lie that a relief expedition would be launched shortly. Quezon suggested to MacArthur he would surrender to the Japanese. There was also a great deal of hostility between Americans and Filipino soldiers on Bataan because Americans were prioritized for food rations. At one point Quezon got his cabinet together and sent a message to FDR demanding “absolute independence to the Philippines.” At the same time MacArthur, himself suspicious that help was not on the way, gave FDR “his own grim assessment of the situation.” [330-332]

FDR rejected the idea of an independent, neutral Philippines. Roosevelt sent some stirring rhetoric back to Quezon, which satisfied him for the moment [333-334]

After capturing Singapore on February 15, 1942, “Prime Minister Tojo told the Diet that Burma and the Philippines would be granted independence but that it would be necessary to retain Hong Kong and Malaya as vital bases in the defense of Greater East Asia.” He said: “The objective of the Greater East Asia war … [is to] enable all the nations and peoples of Greater East Asia to enjoy life and to establish a new order of coexistence and co-prosperity on the basis of justice with Japan as the nucleus.” [346]

Regarding the Japanese attack on the colonies of the Netherlands (the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia), “The Dutch commander of the scattered and disorganized Allied forces knew that guerrilla warfare was impossible because the natives were too hostile to their Dutch masters.” They surrendered March 8, 1942. [354]

The “Bataan death march,” which was the moving of captured U.S. and Philippine soldiers to POW camps, is described in detail. The overall impression given is that while some individual Japanese officers and soldiers were cruel, the real problem was that MacArthur had allowed his men to starve to near death before surrendering. That combined with the difficulty of any logistical operation in hilly mountainous terrain. [366-376]

Japanese factions argued about supervision of the Philippines, with Homma for a benevolent regime and Terauchi advocating harshness, even to the extent of disobeying orders. For example, they feuded over whether to execute Chief Justice Jose Santos, who was shot even after Homma granted clemency. [386]

Homma was tried, convicted and executed for war crimes by MacArthur after the war ended. The real crime Homma committed was defeating MacArthur in battle. [400]

The Netherland East Indies (now Indonesia) had been ruled liberally by its conqueror, General Hitoshi Imamura. He released the independence leader Achmed Sukarno from the prison, but did not promise independence. He did set up a committee of 15 natives with 5 Japanese to listen to grievances. The Emperor was so impressed by Imamura that he asked him to retake Guadalcanal, a futile effort.[520-521]

continued page 15

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