OPERATION HAWAI'I: PRELUDE TO PEARL HARBOR

Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico
Chico, California 95929-0400
Telephone: 530-898-6220 [Office]; 530-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 530-898-6824
e-mail: curbanowicz@csuchico.edu and home page: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban

5 December 1991 [1]

[This page printed from: http://www.csuchico.edu/~curban/Forum/Dec1991.html]

© [All Rights Reserved.] This presentation was for the "Anthropology Forum" on 5 December 1991, California State University, Chico (accompanied by numerous slides and transparencies). This was placed on the WWW in April 2001.

 

INTRODUCTION
JAPANESE EXPANSION AND PLANNING
INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES
OPERATION HAWAI'I
CONCLUSIONS

INTRODUCTION

Although fifty years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the paper goes back to 1904-05 and the Japanese-Russian War, when Japanese battle techniques were being perfected and to 1921, the year the Japanese government was expending 48 percent of its national budget on military activities. The presentation also cover the years between 1931 (when hostilities commenced between China and Japan) and 1941.

When Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December 1941, destroying American planes and sinking or damaging 19 vessels (1,077 men killed on the USS Arizona), Americans were shocked. A total of 2,335 American servicemen and 68 civilians died and the United States entered World War II: "boys became men and men became heroes in an hour." As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States eventually awarded fourteen Medals of Honor as well as fifty-three Navy Crosses, four Silver Stars, and four Navy and Marine Corps medals to individuals who were in the Territory of Hawai'i that day (A.J. Barker, 1969, Pearl Harbor, page 125). World War II meant different things to different people:

"To over fifty million men, women, and children, it meant death. To hundreds of millions more in the occupied areas and theaters of combat, the war meant hell on earth: suffering and greed, often with little if any awareness of a cause or reason beyond the terrifying events of the moment. To nations everywhere, World War Two meant technological innovation, bureaucratic expansion, and an extraordinary mobilization of human resources and ideological fervor" (John W. Dower, 1986, War Without Mercy: Race & Power In The Pacific War, page 3)

JAPANESE EXPANSION AND PLANNING

Japan developed into a formidable world power by the end of the 19th Century and continued to consolidate its position as the 20th Century developed. Beasley wrote that "the most distinctive feature of Japanese imperialism is that it originated within the structure of informal empire which the West established in East Asia during the nineteenth century" (W.G. Beasley, 1987, Japanese Imperialism 1894-1945, page 14).

INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES

In 1931 Herbert O. Yardley, an ex-poker-playing cypher expert, published The American Black Chamber, dealing with American espionage activities during and after World War I. Because of this book, Yardley was credited by some for causing World War II! In 1990 William Honan, published Visions of Infamy, attributing the attack on Pearl Harbor to a journalist named Bywater. If anyone can be considered a "prophet" of a war in the Pacific it could be Homer Lea, 1909 author of The Valor of Ignorance, where he described a future war between the United States and Japan.

A 1991 publication entitled Betrayal At Pearl Harbor: How Churchill Lured Roosevelt Into WWII by James Rusbridger and Eric Nave state:

"On the evidence presented in the book, we show that Churchill was aware that a task force had sailed from northern Japan in late November 1941, and that one of its likely targets was Pearl Harbor. Churchill deliberately kept this vital information from Roosevelt, because he realized an attack of this nature, whether on the U.S. Pacific Fleet or the Philippines, was a means of fulfilling his publicly proclaimed desire to get America into the War at any costs" (James Rusbridger and Eric Nave, 1991, Betrayal At Pearl Harbor: How Churchill Lured Roosevelt Into WWII, page 177).

OPERATION HAWAI'I

With 20-20 hindsight the 1941-1945 war now seems inevitable and one has to wonder why some didn't see it as such. It is clear that some individuals in the United States were not doing something properly: they were not appreciating the results of good old-fashioned research, scholarship, and military intelligence! "Operation Hawai'i" (or Operation Z), the code name given by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto for the attack on the Hawai'ian islands, was a success in exactly these areas.

"The requirements of success for 'Operation Hawaii,' as it was called, were many: secrecy; first-rate intelligence; superb coordination; high technical skills; many technological innovations, including development of new aerial torpedoes and new techniques for refueling at sea; absolute devotion to the cause at hand; and the cooperation of the weather and the waves" (Daniel Yergin, 1991, The Prize: The Epic Quest For Oil, Money, and Power, page 316).

CONCLUSIONS

The war in the Pacific was amazing for its actual and planned brutality: Williams and Wallace have written about Japan's infamous Unit 731 and biological warfare plans of that Unit. There is evidence that Japanese militarists were working on the development of an atomic bomb to be used against American invasion forces (Robert K. Wilcox, 1985, Japan's Secret War). Numerous deaths, atomic warfare, as well as United States Executive Order 9066 (signed on February 12, 1942 and resulting in the internment of over 110,000 Japanese-American citizens in various camps) came about as a result of Pearl Harbor. World War II was brutal!

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