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Total War Preparedness

This Great piece of work was send in by Justinian, written by his wife. We're glad that they choose to share this with the 1JMA.

by, Nicholle J. Thery-Williams

Japan. Japan is an island nation. The islands that comprise Japan are
located off the eastern coast of the Eurasian landmass. This geographic
location has been Japan's sword of Damocles. Geographically speaking Japan
has been cursed by her own lack of natural resources. Geographically
speaking Japan has been blessed by being located in the middle of a resource
rich region.

Japan today is a parliamentary democracy. This has not always been the
case. For well over 2000 years Japan was an Empire. An Empire proud and
unbowed. Today Japan is a "no war" state. She has in her constitution
forsworn armed conflict as a right of sovereign nations. Sixty years ago
things were different, very different. Sixty years ago Japan was a "total
war" state. A state organized for total war in all of its sectors.

Japans pursuit of total war started at the conclusion of the First World
War. Japan was on the winning side in this first, titanic, globe spanning,
conflict. She gained very little materially for being a victor. It was
what she gained non-materially that would have the largest impact. Japan at
the beginning of the war was believed to have a large, modern and powerful
army. Japan was after all the victor of the Russo-Japanese War some ten
years earlier. By the end of the First World War Japan saw her military as
an antiquated plaything .

Possessing an army and navy whom were small and woefully under equipped for
the rigors of the type of modern warfare that had been demonstrated in the
European theatre.

It was not just the size, tactical ability and equipage that shocked the
Japanese, it was also the cost of losing. The Empire of Austria and Kingdom
of Hungary was gone. The Ottoman Empire disappeared. The once mighty
Russian Empire plunged into anarchy and civil war, and finally Imperial
Germany. Imperial Germany had long been a tutor to the Japanese, and now
the mighty Germans were stripped of all foreign and some native lands. She
was forced to pay crippling amounts in reparations. Her military was
limited and the nation plunged into factional warfare. The economy was
devastated and a moral rot was creeping into the citizenry. The leaders of
Japan recoiled at the prospect of ever having to face defeat in a modern war
against a modern opponent.

They attempted to insure that this never happened. This process became
Total War Preparedness. This called for a policy of a nation in arms and a
nation at war. No longer would just drafts for the front be needed. Drafts
for industry, research, and national organization would also be needed. The
Prime Minister, Terauchi, hinted at this in a speech given on the second of
July in 1918 when he said: "For the achievement of ultimate victory the
cooperation of the whole nation is necessary as is proved by the present
European War."

The road to Total War Preparedness would not be an easy road. Japan would
experience its own forms of the depression, go through a period of military
cuts, and eventually stumble from one conflict to another. This would
eventually result in total war. Japan at the end of total war would find
itself defeated and broken. Our journey then is to look at the formulation
and evolution of this Total War Preparedness.

The Total War Preparedness ideas were begun in 1916. These ideas held
little weight due to the lack of a sufficient industrial infrastructure in
Japan. The theory became more relevant at the end of the First World War
when Japan evaluated the costs of defeat. The Japanese did a
self-assessment during the later parts of the First World War. They came to
realize that to conduct total war they needed to be strong in five areas.
These five essential areas can be divided into two sections. The first
section is material. This section includes: secure and adequate supplies of
raw materials; an industrial capacity to convert those raw materials into
the tools of war; research and development capability to keep Japan on the
cutting edge of developments. The second section relates to manpower. This
section includes: a willing and motivated populace that is supportive of the
state and its goals; and finally a detailed and comprehensive mobilization
plan for industry an, economy and the military .

Materially speaking it was the raw materials that proved to be the greatest
stumbling block to the Japanese. They had little or few natural resources
of their own and had to therefore secure resources off shore.

Either trade or conquest could do this. This was recognized in Japans first
major long-range defense plan following the First World War. The plan was
based on a report titled The Exploitation of China's Resources which had
been drafted in 1917. The actual defense plan read, "China's abundant
natural resources are an indispensable element in both our economic
development and our defense ." The Japanese tended to try both methods of
resource collection. The problem was that conquest proved never as easy or
as risk adverse as they had hoped. Eventually this quest for raw materials
would drive Japan into an assault on the United States .

Industrial capacity for war material was also a problem that had to be
addressed by the Japanese in their quest for Total War Preparedness. Many
senior leaders in the Japanese armed forces, especially those in the Navy
knew that Japan needed a modern industrial base if it was to risk engagement
with the United States . This was somewhat parrelled by the Army's focus on
the resurgent Russians who now operated under the guise of the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics. The lesson was brought home to the Army in the
summer of 1939, when a mechanized force of Soviets routed two Japanese
Divisions at the battle of Nomonhan/Khalkhin Gol .

Industrial capacity was addressed in two methods. The first and most
obvious was the increase in factories and facilities for the production of
military hardware. The second method was to decentralize many industries.
Uniforms, munitions and small arms manufacture was decentralized down to the
family dwelling level .

This accelerated production. It did not accelerate quantity and quality as
a factory could but it did protect the production from massive allied
bombings. The decentralization prevented allied air strikes from targeting
select industrial parks.

Production is not enough if you are producing goods that were used in the
last war. The Japanese developed a decent research and development
capacity. This capacity borrowed what it could from foreign sources and
developed and improved based on its own capabilities. The infusion of Army
officers into the schools after the four division cut of 1924 helped the
increase in technical knowledge . In many fields Japanese development was
successful. Advances in weaponry tended to fall off when the war started.
This resulted from the need to replace losses that occurred at a higher rate
than projected. This caused many weapon systems to remain in production
past obscelecence, notably the A6M2 fighter.

Besides material and industrial type activities a nation going to war needs
a motivated and committed population from which to extract its soldiers and
its war economy. This the Japanese had. Japanese population actually
increased almost two fold from 1900 to 1945 . This population was molded
into a fighting force by a vast conscription and school-training program .
This program put officers into the schools and mandated military training
down to the eight-year-old level. This coincided with the revision of
textbooks that highlighted the Shinto State.

The Japanese also created many fraternal groups for patriotic state service
such as: The Patriotic Women's League, Greater Japan Women's Defense League,
Imperial Reservist's Association, Imperial Agricultural Society, The Greater
Japan Alliance of Youth Organizations and many others . The indoctrination
paid off in terms of the ability to mobilize the home front and to inspire
the fighting front. No where else in the world were you able to willingly
pluck bright college students from school for suicide missions. It is also
interesting to note that examples of sacrifice by regular soldiers was
phenomenal. A good example is Tarawa. Tarawa had a garrison of some 5,000
Imperial troops. At the end of the fighting allied forces only found eight
soldiers still alive .

Having a growing, indoctrinated population that is increasingly better
educated and in better health does a nation no good unless it can be
mobilized. The Japanese conducted extensive planning and practice sessions
for the event of war. They even sought to gear their economy and citizenry
up to wartime status before they actually commenced the main engagements.
This preparation included hoarding of resources, scrap drives and rationing
before the conflict was joined. Perhaps Gen. H. Tojo said it best in August
1940 when he intoned; " A day of idleness at this time is as criminal as a
hundred years of idleness in peace-time. This concerns not just the Army
but also the entire civilian population. Let the newspapers publish this at
once." .

Japan had been very active in its practice mobilizations in the inter-war
period (World War One to World War Two).

As early as 1933 Japan had been conducting mock air raid drills. These
drills utilized blank ammunition in the ADA and color-coded inert air
delivered ordinance. The local civil defense authorities were to respond in
kind based on the type of ordnance. These preparations include mass
casualty evacuation, fire fighting, searchlights and a final after action
review that was sent to government .

In 1929 The Japanese began a series of war preparedness exercises that would
continue on an annual basis until hostilities opened in full in 1941. These
exercises were based on the premise that a neighboring country had turned
hostile. These exercises were totally encompassing. It included orders to
factories to switch to war manufacture, reservist mobilization, radio
propaganda and so forth. The foe was played to be the Soviet Union .

The Soviet Union concerned Japan because it bordered on the Japanese
province of Manchuko and that the Soviet Union was seen as an exporter of
Communist insurgency and revolution. Japan was especially alarmed at the
first Five-Year Plan promulgated by the Fifteenth Communist Party Congress.
The plan called for the rapid development of those sectors, which would
contribute primarily to defense and economic security in the event of a war.
This coincided with an independence minded leadership in China that resisted
Japanese pressures.

The quest for Total War Preparedness, ridiculed in 1916 was now seen as a
necessity by the beginning of the 1930's. This also coincided with a turn
in domestic Japanese politics. The military cabal had been on the outside
operating on reduced budgets and lowered prestige since the end, in 1922, of
the Japanese and Allied expedition to Siberia during the Russian Civil War.
The Japanese Army had experienced in 1924 the first ever, real cut in its
standing force size and a huge decrease in the overall defense budget.
These cuts had been caused by a governing structure that was pursing a more
internationalist agenda. The military was also displeased at the
limitations that were negotiated by the Washington Naval conference on
Capital ships and the subsequent further negotiation regarding cruisers and
other fighting ships. This governing policy was fairly popular until the
beginning of the 1930's when right wing groups and organizations began to
come to the fore.

Many of these groups were considered to be too radical in their plans by the
military but were given token and backroom support if they could assist the
Military in its goal for Total War Preparedness. This is evidenced by the
military's strong reaction against the coup in 1936. Young idealist
officers who wanted to restore the Emperor to direct power and eliminate the
soft government launched this coup. The military authorities used the put
down of the coup as proof that they should be given a stronger hand in the
running of the nation. This would eventually increase military budgets and
cumulate in the Prime Ministership of GEN H. Tojo in 1941.

The end result of all this planning and maneuvering was war. This war
became the total war that the Japanese had envisioned back in 1916. This
total war lived up to its billing, and the result was the nightmare that the
Japanese had labored so long to prevent. The Japanese ended the war
broken, defeated and occupied. The Japanese military played to its own
strengths and misjudged those of its enemies.

This had been the case in 1939 at the battle of Nomonhan. A Japanese force
designed to fight and defeat a Soviet force had been routed. The Japanese
had expected to win a quick short battle of close in fighting (sokusen
sokketsu) . Instead they were forced into a battle of material attrition
that they could not win. The lessons that the General Staff chose to see
from this battles aftermath was the success of their spiritual
indoctrination and not the failure of their organization, equipment, and
doctrine. The Soviets had fought in a manner that the Japanese had not
expected; the Allies would do the same.

In the end willpower and superior spirit could not hold sway against
firepower and mechanized warfare. The Japanese, like the Germans, had been
lulled into complacency by their early and easy victories. They had
delivered a mighty blow but lacked the follow up needed to finish the job.
Perhaps the Japanese hopes and realities can be best stated in the words of
GEN Renya Mutaguchi's order of the day to his 15th Army during the closing
of the battle for Kohima/Imphal.

"The struggle has developed into a fight between the material strength of
the enemy and our spiritual strength. Continue in the task till all your
ammunition is expended. If your hands are broken fight with your feet. If
your hands and feet are broken use your teeth. If there is no breath left in
your body, fight with your spirit. Lack of weapons is no excuse for

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