I have been working on the script for my talk entitled How the Japanese Lost WWII in the First Six Months. I would have liked to add 'and it then took another three and a half years, millions of dead and two atom bombs to make them own up!' but that would make my already elongated title totally unwieldy and increase the chance of my audience falling asleep before I actually begin the talk, itself! Anyway, be happy, dear reader, that you will not have to sit through it as I drone on and on like an endless flight of 'Kates' (aka: Nakajima B5Ns). Anyway, it suddenly struck me that today, the 7th December, is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbour.
I have remarked before that the Japanese Imperial Government of the day, overseen by their 'God-Emperor', was a perfect example of group insanity - no doubt the psychobabblers have a long fancy name for the condition, after all, their Godhead is Sigmund Freud who lived in the Austrian empire in the early 20th century and saw at fairly close hand another example of the syndrome in Wilhelmine Germany. Putting it crudely but simply, the Japanese government and most of its ruling elite should have been 'sectioned' under the Mental Health Act for their own good! In early 1941, the Emperor actually asked both his army and his navy staff to give him their best forecast as to how a war with the USA would turn out. He did not tell either of them that the other was working on the same problem so he received two completely seperate analyses. They both agreed - perhaps the only thing they ever did agree on! - that unless Japan could score a massive and strategic victory within the first 12 to 18 months, Japan would lose. But still, puffed up with arrogance and hatred, they struck.
The absolute lynch-pin for the initial surprise attack on Pearl Harbour was to knock out the two American carriers which were based in Hawaii along with the rest of the US Pacific Fleet. There had been fierce debate inside Japanese naval circles as to whether or not the aircraft carrier had replaced the big battleship as the queen on the naval chessboard. Opinion remained divided but the Japanese at least recognised the potentiality of this new form of naval warfare and were determined to knock it off the board from the very beginning. The two carriers were based at Pearl Harbour, they should have been there - but in the event - they were not. The mysterious 'God of Bad Weather' outdid the 'God of Japan' and the the two carriers, delayed by storms, did not arrive back in time for that dire weekend.
Six months later at Midway, three American carriers ripped the heart out of the Japanese navy by sinking four of their giant fleet carriers which took down with them hundreds of planes and, even more important, thousands of highly-trained and battle-experienced crews. At least it settled once and for all the argument between the battleship exponents and the carrier enthusiasts. It was all over, er, bar the next three and half years, the several million dead and the two atom bombs. A monument, of sorts, to the insanity of blind ambition and arrogance.
The rest, as they say, is history!