28B. Japanese Stunned by Barbarians

I wish to continue to answer Susan Rutherford’s first question. Here it is again:

“The Menkyo system seems to me a very important, core part of the martial arts system. Without a way to continue our training out of the physical world, there would be only fighting for the Olympics or for exercise. Why do you feel that so few instructors have continued to use this system out of the thousands who could(?)”

In the last essay I gave the history of the devastation of Okinawa in the Second World War. I hope you got the essence of what I was trying to say. The Okinawan island was destroyed. More than 25% of the Okinawan people had been killed. The remainder were injured, starving, unsheltered, destitute and ravaged by war, pestilence and fear. The island itself was a scorched battlefield without productive rice fields, no resources and no ability to import food or materials. In addition, 90% of its buildings had been blown apart and more than 25% of its civilian population killed.

This was not the case in Japan. Although Doolittle had successfully bombed Tokyo on April 19, 1942, his raids were merely to show the Japanese that they were vulnerable. The damage they did was insignificant in view of what was to happen on Okinawa three years later.

Starting in January 1945 Major General LeMay took over an assignment to bomb Japan. He targeted major industrial centers until March when he began night time incendiary bombing. Within a month more than three million Tokyo inhabitants were homeless and the city had been significantly burned.

LeMay wanted to increase bombing of the major cities in Japan. In order to do so he needed more air bases located closer to Japanese soil. He encouraged the battle for Iwojima (650 miles from Japan) and the Battle for Okinawa (350 miles from Japan). Iwojima fell in March allowing an increase in bombing raids. Okinawa fell in July. LeMay was set to bomb anywhere he desired.

Immediately after Okinawa fell airfields were being readied for American bombers. Admiral Nimitz’s navy had suffered the loss of 300 ships to more than 1900 kamikaze attacks during the Battle for Okinawa. He and his navy prepared to destroy the sources of those attacks almost immediately.

On July 10 Tokyo was attacked by LeMay’s bombers. On July 11 Tokyo was again bombed. (I believe it was in one of these two days that Sensei Kim lost his first wife although he didn’t find out about her death for several months.) On July 14 the navy blasted the northern-most island of the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido. The navy sunk one destroyer, two escorts, eight auxiliaries, twenty merchants and a host of tankers. This one day cut the coal carrying capacity of the Japanese shipping industry by 50%. The next day the navy was able to maneuver more freely. It bombarded the iron factories, Japan’s only supply of pig iron and steel. This one day put a cap on the Japanese production of ships, armaments, tanks and transports. As Admiral Nimitz said, “we can starve them to death now.”

By July 14 Japan was crippled. The time for American land invasion of the Japanese mainland had come. It was set for October 1945. Estimates of Japanese forces included three-million troops around Tokyo and several million more scattered around other important cities. The battle in Japan would be far more bloody than the battle in Okinawa where only 100,000 troops were present.

And then there was the civilian population and its military background. No nation had ever successfully invaded Japan. Between 1271 and 1294 the Chinese under Kubalai Khan planned three and attempted two invasions of Japan but had been blown out to sea and destroyed by a “divine wind” (hence kamikaze; kami = divine or God; kaze = wind). The Japanese believed that their island was invincible. Out of devotion to their emperor, whose linage was longer than any emperor in the history of the world, the Japanese would defend their island to the last man, woman and child old enough to wield a weapon. The Americans were told this by nisei (second generation immigrants to the US or other countries). The Allies believed their sources and prepared for the worst.

Losses in the invasion of Japan itself, considering the losses on Okinawa and the available resources of the time, were projected to include not less than the death of three-million Japanese soldiers, five to ten million civilians and not less than one million Allied troops. The outlook for ending the Second World War was terrifying. The Americans had already lost two million in this war; The British four million; The Australians 500,000. Now, with the end of war in Europe and only one belligerent nation alive to fight, nearly double the amount of losses were predicted. No general or admiral was excited about the prospects of the coming engagements.

July 16, 1945 was like any other day in the war. Skirmishes occurred. Aircraft raids on fuel depots occurred. Men were uptight watching for more kamikaze attacks. But one thing was different that day. In a deserted part of a barren stretch of land in New Mexico a group of scientists and an elite group of military observers witnessed the birth of a new age in warfare. The first atomic bomb was detonated in spite of the protests of the scientists who designed it.

But, Admiral Nimitz didn’t know. Neither did General MacArthur. Neither did General LeMay. Only President Truman and a few military personnel in America knew.

The eighth largest city in Japan was Hiroshima. On the morning of August 6, 1945 there was an air raid. People scattered. A few minutes before 8:00 am the all-clear signal sounded. People resumed their normal activities. At 8:03 in the morning one man looked up. Here is what he saw and felt, for although he was in Hiroshima that day, he survived.

He noticed three airplanes coming in from the south-east. He did not fear them because the all-clear signal had sounded. They approached directly over Hiroshima and appeared to drop something in a parachute. He watched the parachute descend. Suddenly he saw “a white flash turned to pink and then a metallic blue as it rose and blossomed above my head. I was in awe of the silence of the scene. I could see nothing beyond the all-encompassing light of heaven. I did not hear it. No one heard it. There was no sound.

“Then in the silence I felt intense, flesh-searing heat. I sought shelter in the wake of a cement wall. I saw tiles melting above me in the heat, but still I heard nothing.

“Then the sound hit, if it was a sound. A blast struck (this is a blast wave). The walls around me fell over but luckily the one I was next to remained. I watched buildings collapse away from the center of town, bricks hurled into the streets. My ears rang for days afterwards.

“Soon there came a wind as no wind I have ever known. The few structures that survived the heat and blast, exploded in the wind (this wind was around 500 mph) hurling debris everywhere. And then there was silence again. For how long I do not know but in some short time the sky turned black and a rain began to fall, but this rain was a black rain. The water was black. It painted everything black. (This rain is caused by the rising vapor of the blast. When it reaches high enough in the atmosphere it condenses and falls back to earth along with the black debris it absorbs as it falls thru the layers of vaporized substance.)

“Of all that happened to me that day, that rain was the most terrifying. I had never seen black rain, before. My body was covered in black from the rain.

“A new wind sprang up. This wind was in the opposite direction than the first. It seemed to be rushing back to the center of town. It was not as strong as the previous wind but it lasted longer.” (This wind is a reverse wind caused by the cooling of the surface materials at ground zero. The cooling contracts the air and more air rushes in towards the center.)

Hiroshima had been destroyed. Colonel Tibbits in his specially designed B-29 dropped a plutonium atomic bomb named “Little Boy” only 300 yards from his target. As the plane climbed away it was overtaken by two blast waves. These blast waves were visible as they approached the B-29. The tail-gunner was able to tell the crew when they were about to hit because he could see them. As the Enola Gay, the name of the B-29, circled to observe the damage one of the crew muttered a significant quote, “Oh my God, what have we done?”

Five square miles were flat. Eighty-thousand people were vaporized.

At 8:16 the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation noticed that the telephone line to Hiroshima was dead. At 8:36 the Japanese Railroad reported that the telegraph to Hiroshima was malfunctioning. General Headquarters in Tokyo tried to contact Hiroshima by wireless without response. An observer was sent. At 1:00 pm he called in to GHQ Tokyo with the following message, “Hiroshima has been annihilated by a single bomb.” The officers at GHQ laughed at such a silly remark.

Three days later Nagasaki was bombed with a uranium bomb named “Fat Man”, almost. I say almost because the strike didn’t really hit Nagasaki, it missed, but with a bomb that big Nagasaki was still heavily damaged. The original plan was to bomb another primary target. The weather prevented the primary target. The crew shifted to the secondary target, the city of Nagasaki. The weather was very poor and the bombardier wasn’t able to see the city. He recognized terrain by radar-image and dropped the bomb with his best guess. The bomb missed the target by miles. Had the bomb not missed approximately 120,000 people would have died instead of the 40,000 who did.

The emperor Hirohito sued for peace. The members of his military staff were divided. Some chose to die and when the decision was made to surrender these people committed suicide. Others were amenable to whatever the Emperor desired. Japan had been a military state for 15 years. The Emperor was not the leader but he was right. Japan needed to surrender. It had no resources. Its industries were crippled. Shipping had ceased. Food could not be supplied. The navy had been crushed. The airplanes were gone. The army was scattered on unknown islands all across the Pacific. The choices were surrender or die.

Emperor Hirohito came on the radio the next day and in a high Japanese dialect announced to the people of Japan that they must “endure the unendurable.” He also said an interesting comment that totally confused the Allies, “I cannot bear to see my innocent people suffer any longer.”

The fighting was over.

The USS Missouri pulled into Tokyo harbor. General Douglas MacArthur signed the armistice for America, General Yoshijiru Umezu signed for Japan. The date was September 2, 1945.

Japan, like Okinawa, had surrendered. But Japan was not devastated.