View Full Version : Was the Japanese internment justified?

Jody Holeton
24th November 2002, 12:01
Dear all,

I just read a bit of Charlie's Captain America thread and I am interested in the internment info.

During WWII was the internment of America's (South Americas, Canada's etc.) justified?

Did a significant number of Japanese Americans renounce their citizenship?
Was it blatant rascism?
Did the American military have any real evidence of Japanese surgency in the US?
Was it necessary?

24th November 2002, 14:01
No, it wasn't justified. During the war, ten people were convicted of spying for Japan.

All of them were Caucasian.

It was easy to single out the Japanese-Americans because they looked different. From what I've read, the internment camps had fairly adequate facilities, but that doesn't excuse it. The government could have put them in the Hilton, but even that isn't compensation for taking their freedom.

The 1944 Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States upheld the military relocation efforts. The United States government has never apologized for the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WWII.

Joseph Svinth
24th November 2002, 21:27
Nisei were dual citizens because Japanese law said that anyone whose father was a Japanese citizen was a Japanese citizen, regardless of where he was born. The US did not recognize this law. However, the US also did not allow Issei to become citizens. Thus, all Nisei were, perforce, dual citizens in the eyes of Japan.

For further reading, try


See also the discussion at http://www.njahs.org/communitybb/messages/268.html

Finally, for a discussion of naturalization for Issei, see http://www.balchinstitute.org/museum/japanese/seabrook.html .

BTW, for those of you married to Japanese? Notice that this was illegal in California prior to 1948.

25th November 2002, 02:56
Jody -

While serving in the Army I have seen and heard of all sorts of things done in the interest of "national security." Through my tours and travels I have become both more patriotic and more critical of my Government and its paranoia and xenophobia.

We fight for the welfare of starving and homeless people in other countries, while our starving and homeless rely on privately funded shelters to feed them and house them.

We fight for the equal treatment of citizens in other countries, but we continue to exist in a system rife with "-isms."

Somehow it just doesn't appear to be a consistent theme.


While I agree that the internment of Americans (whether recognized as such legally or not) of Japanese ancestry was perhaps cruel and extreme, given the incredible openness of Japanese society during the years leading up to and following WWII, I think that such internment was the only humanitarian solution to what was perceived as a potential threat.

Sometimes governments have to do things that are distasteful and that history later shows to be unwarranted in order to preserve that government's existence as well as that of the people it governs. The best we can hope for is that not too many lives are lost in the process.

Was it a bad thing? Sure. Were any Japanese or people of Japanese descent convicted for espionage? According to Ieyasu, no (I really don't know). Was that because they were locked up in camps? Perhaps we will never know. But at least we weren't executing people left and right for being from ethnic groups we were "concerned" with.

They say that hindsight is 20/20. We can look back and examine history and see where our shortcomings were. Now, if we could turn this same examining eye toward the other distasteful things we have done, perhaps we could avoid having to do such things in the interest of "national security" ever again... Then again, maybe not.

Just my BS opinion.


25th November 2002, 06:03
The United States government has never apologized for the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WWII.

(At the time), President Ronald Reagan himself apologized for the Japanese interment, and the House of Representatives and the Senate both passed legislation which officially apologized as well:


25th November 2002, 06:16
Didn't internees receive financial compensation as well?

25th November 2002, 16:43
Was it necessary? Absolutely NOT.

Were any Japanese Americans harmed? Yes. I have a friend whose wife's extended Japanese American family was traumatized and torn apart from the internment.

Cady Goldfield
25th November 2002, 16:57
My understanding is that many interned Japanese Americans had their property and belongings confiscated by greedy neighbors and business interests in their communities. I don't know how true it is, but if it is, IMO it's not unlike Germans, Poles and others taking the belongings of Jews and others who were sent to the concentration camps during the War.

Does anyone have more information?

25th November 2002, 19:42
My friend's family whom I referred to above had all of their property (real estate and personal property) "confiscated." Most of the family were farmers, with farms. No consideration was ever paid to them during or after the war.

In my opinion, the internment of the Japanese-Americans was one of the most shameful actions by the U.S. government.

25th November 2002, 19:44
My understanding is that many interned Japanese Americans had their property and belongings confiscated by greedy neighbors and business interests in their communities.

That's not surprising, a link I showed in the first thread dealing with this issue talked about Japanese-Americans coming under violent assault by their own neighbors who were Oriental. If I had to guess, I would say that it's probably the same phenom where Korean store-clerks are attacked in impoverished neighborhoods. This typically happens whenever a minority within a minority starts achieving success, the people get jealous and xenophobic, and start to believe that this races income is the result of some kind of wrong-doing rather than hardwork.

Technically though, shouldn't we say, "Was the internment of the Japanese, Germans, and Italian-Americans justified"? It was not just the Japanese in internment camps, and the other racial groups went through the same sweeping generalization, imprisonment, and other punishments as did the Japanese-Americans.

Earl Hartman
25th November 2002, 20:57
Glad to see somebody else mentioned the internment of Italian-and German- Americans during WWII also. I am not familiar with the details, but I believe that German-Americans were interned during WWI as well.

This is not to justify the internment by any means; however, it was obviously not only due to "yellow peril" racism. If that were true, the the Italians and the Germans would not have been interned.

That being said, it is also clear that plain old-fashioned greed was another factor. The Japanese in California had taken land the whites didn't want and turned it into productive agricultural land. So, this was a good opportunity to cloak out-and-out theft under the flag of patriotism.

I have an old Japanese American neighbor who was interned (I don't know if he is an Issei or a Kibei). He doesn't seem that bitter, but perhaps he's being polite. The thing is, he was a "Long Live the Emperor" guy all down the line. Kind of funny.

The one thing I have never understood about the internment is why the Japanese in Hawaii were not interned if Japanese living in the US were such a threat. If the supposed threat from subversive activity was that great, they should have been considered more of a threat that the Japanese in California. Yet, nothing happened to them, IIRC. Another factor which leads me to believe the whole thing was nothing more or less than a land-grab dressed up in the flag.

25th November 2002, 23:04
I stand corrected, sir.

An interesting note about the prejudice against Germans: what had once been called wieners were called red hots or hot dogs after the U.S. entered WWII.

25th November 2002, 23:31
Not justified at all, and a disgrace to our nation.

26th November 2002, 00:13
So what about the people of Arab extraction who've been interned without trial since 9/11?

26th November 2002, 01:37
Originally posted by Kimpatsu
So what about the people of Arab extraction who've been interned without trial since 9/11?

Well, I can only think of Paul Johnson's words that the study of history is the most sombering of all tasks, because we see too often how many of our stupid past mistakes repeat themselves over and over again.

26th November 2002, 01:43
The one thing I have never understood about the internment is why the Japanese in Hawaii were not interned if Japanese living in the US were such a threat.

Don't know, I've never studied the interment much, but the Americans intercepted a message from Japan to Japanese living in Hawaii to revolt against America and take over Hawaii. Apparently, they never even made the attempt to do it. If it is true that Japanese/Hawaiians weren't interned, I would guess it would be that they all showed loyalty to the U.S. Or else, it was just a land-grab at a convienant time.

Adam Smith can rest peacefully in his grave, saying "I told you so, you people really ought to read more of my books." For fans of the Greeks, it would sound more like this:

"For of the gods we believe, and of the men we know, that by a necessity of their nature wherever they have power they always rule. And so in our case since we neither enacted this law nor when it was enacted were the first to use it, but found it in existence and expect to leave it in existence for all time, so we make use of it, well aware that both you and others, if clothed with the same power as we are, would do the same thing."

Speech of the Athenians to the Melians, Thucdides' "History of the Peloponnesian War", III 105.2

26th November 2002, 02:55
Just a trivia note when discussing internees...

Not only were the Jews persecuted by the Nazis, but Czechs, Poles and other Slavic peoples were tossed on the trucks along with any "Gypsies" they could find... We were all equally worthless to them.

I'm just glad that my Russian and Czech ancestors managed to stay under the radar...


Joseph Svinth
26th November 2002, 03:41
There were two reasons that the Nikkei in Hawaii were not relocated.

1. The USA didn't have enough available merchant shipping in early 1942 to move so many people.

2. There wasn't enough labor in Hawaii without the Japanese, and so the haole owners said that their workers couldn't go.

Dan Inouye's memoirs talk about this.

As for the internment, remember that there are several things going on simultaneously, and they are not really related.

1. Internment. This was what happened to the members of the Bund, the Italians, and several thousand Issei. They went to Department of Justice camps, and most were released by mid-1946. (Yes, 1946.) They got Red Cross visits, and were treated as internees. Most of these arrests were made by the FBI before January 1942.

2. Incarceration. This was what happened to Korematsu, Yasui, etc. They thought that as American citizens, they should have the right to keep and bear arms, have habeas corpus, etc. They were wrong. When the Army comes for your guns, hand 'em up, the precedent has already been set. The No-No Boys were also incarcerated. Some No-No Boys were willing to go if the Army let Mom out of the slam; others were draft dodgers; and at least one went to McNeil Island because he threatened to expose the scam by which the USDA prime being shipped to Minidoka was being sold on the black market. (The sheriff, the judge, and a few other government officials were getting cut in, so off to jail we go.)So, when looking at No-No Boys, it helps to look at the folks as individuals rather than a group.

Now, the previous two categories are entirely legal. However, the third category, forcible relocation of citizens, is of debatable legality (at least, if you think the Constitution is anything more than a scrap of paper scribbled on by a bunch of slave-owning white men and their financiers). Either way, though, the main reason that the US Government paid redress was to avoid having the Supreme Court rule that violations of civil rights were illegal. (Ninth District had already ruled that, and the last court of appeal for Justice was the Supreme Court.) Thus, by paying a couple billion dollars to Japanese Americans, the Executive branch retained its rights to incarcerate by executive fiat. Dubya is presently showing us the value of that particular decision.

As for redress, Japanese Americans who were in the camps and alive when redress was signed got $20,000 each. Thus, if a family didn't get money, then either the children were born after 1944 or the parents were dead. Alternatively, they didn't sign up for it, but I haven't met anybody who didn't take the twenty grand. The ones who are still fighting for redress from the US government are the Nikkei from 13 Latin American countries that we snagged in 1942. See, for instance, http://www.kuidaosumi.com/JKwriting/jlaredress.html .

26th November 2002, 16:48
On Decemeber 7th, 1941 my Aunt and her family lived in San Diego, California which at the time had one big industry and that was the U.S. Navy. The attack on Perl Harbor really shook the entire West coast up and my Aunt pronptly armed herself with the most dangerous weapon she could find -- a pitch fork. Many of her neighbors either ere in the Navy, had been in the Navy, or depended on the navy for their living. Finding out that a good chunk of the folk that you worked with or for were suddenly 'out of business' was a severe emotional shock. My Aunt's brother in law was in Perl (playing cards during 90% of the attack but that is another story;) ) and he was notable to contact the mainland for several months to say he was okay and not in his bunk on the Arizona.

My aunt said everyone in her community expected the Imperial Navy to show up off San Diego for two weeks after December 7th. Why, because a lot of the population KNEW what had been in Hawaii and that was the Pacific Fleet, now at the bottom of the harbor. Two weeks later they knew that the sailing time from Hawaii to San Diego had more than expired for the Imperial Navy to show up. The US Navy had no battleships and that WAS the main focus of the Navy at that time. No Navy meant no defense. No defense made the people feel very vulnerable. And the telegrams started to arrive with the 'your son/brother/husband' is 'killed/missing' which really brought San Diego to its knees. Add in rumors about how the attack was aided by Japanese living in Hawaii or Japanese born in America but still loyal to the Emperor and you have a populace that would not be 'politically correct' or seeking diversity as we call it now.

My Aunt thought the internment was horrible. Not as horrible as the surprize attack but she still felt outraged about it. It is a sad part of American history but American seem to have an odd capacity to dig into the sad parts of our history and not explore the good parts with as much relish.

Joseph Svinth
27th November 2002, 02:22
Something else to keep in mind is that the West Coast commander was an elderly 3-star bureaucrat who was absolutely petrified that he might be sacked, as had happened to Kimmel and Short in Hawaii. Consequently, he panicked. However, in Hawaii, Chester Nimitz wasn't nearly as worried, and neither were the haole landowners.

Bottom line? Never underestimate a bureaucrat whose primary concern is protecting his retirement.

29th November 2002, 08:11
i read a book my 9th grade year about a woman who was sent with her family to a japanese internment camp. she described the deplorable conditions of living in the camp, as well as the isolation she felt in being apart from her family.

personally i dont think the japanese internment was necessary. was the holocaust necessary? a government can always justify its treatment of citizens, but if this treatment does more harm than good, then it is not necessary, no matter what the reasons are (political, economic) for doing it in the first place.

Jody Holeton
1st December 2002, 11:40
Dear all,

The san-kyu and woman problems have been keeping me busy...

Great thread! Thanks everyone for the input.

Dear Marie,

Apples and oranges. Extermination and holding people in camps for a couple of years are 2 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT things.

What happened to foreigners in Japan at that time?
Vivisection experiments? Worked to death? Tortured? Mass graves in Tokyo?

I started this thread because I am seeing some correlations in history going on...

A religious/militaristic/suicidal power surprise attacks America. America has a SIGNIFICANT population of said population.

What is America to do? Has done?
Is it right?
What will keep America safe?
Will these laws be turned on American citizens?

2nd December 2002, 22:50
Earl Hartman wrote:

"The one thing I have never understood about the internment is why the Japanese in Hawaii were not interned if Japanese living in the US were such a threat."

Joseph Svinth wrote on the legal history of the internment and subsequent litigation. I'm only speaking from the top of my head, most of my references being at home...

But as I recall...Oddly enough, what saved the JAs in Hawaii was that the whole of the Hawaiian Islands after Dec. 7 was put under martial law by Gen. Delos Emmons. Emmons and George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the US Army, both felt relocation was unnecessary. Not so Henry Stimson (Secretary of War) and his assistant, John McCloy, who ordered relocation to commence on the West Coast and kept pressuring Emmons to do the same in Hawaii.

Emmons, for reasons previously cited, stalled on relocation throughout the beginning of the war until it became a moot point. Only about 1,600 JAs and Japanese nationals were interned in the Mainland from Hawaii, as a salve to McCloy and Stimson.

McCloy was also instrumental in allowing the 442nd RCT to be formed. But he is quoted as saying, "...if it is a question of the safety of the country [and the Constitution]...why the Constitution is just a scrap of paper to me."

Roger Daniels, in "Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress," notes that therefore, the decision to relocate on the West Coast was basically a political-racist one--that abrogated the rights of mainly American citizens (we're NOT talking furriners here), while the decision in Hawaii was a logical military one.

West Coast JAs were given a few days to pack their two bags and be interned. Some managed to have their farms and homes taken care of by church groups or compassionate neighbors. Most had to sell most of their property and belongings for a few cents on the dollar, including well-developed crop land. Prior punative payments and the $20,000 redress, when brought down to 1941 terms, do not in any way compensate for the economic and emotional losses suffered by the internees.

The cultural climates were different, too. California had years of prejudice, fanned by Yellow Peril diatribes by the Hearst papers, and the Asian population were a minority, resented by many for their successes in the farming and fishing industries.

JAs in Hawaii were the largest ethnic group at the time, and had integrated themselves and were an important part of the blue collar labor force.

Comparing American concentration camps to those in Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan is not reasonable, if you think about. Are we to compare ourselves to those ideologies and therefore conclude that American democracy is on the same level? If so, then what makes us different from them? If we ARE a nation based on democratic principles for all citizens, we have to hold ourselves up to a higher standard. We cannot say that, "Oh, well, the Nazis killed people in their racist death camps, so we're at least better than them..." or "Well, the Japanese Army mistreated American POWs and didn't compensate them (there's a history there too that involves the US government, BTW), so why should we have redress for the Japanese (Americans)?" That's two former totalitarian, militaristic states we're talking about, and the comparison begs logic.

(As an aside to what happened to foreigners in Japan: I was talking to the son of a local photographer. He said the family was caught in Japan at the outbreak of war with the US and all foreigners were relocated from the cities to the countryside, to work on farms. He said that the national government was pretty mean to them, but once they got out to the countryside, national control was rather lackadaisical, so the family spent four years in a pretty idyllic surrounding, not even doing much farmwork either. As long as they stayed in the farmlands and didn't cause trouble, nobody seemed to care much one way or another, and he made the best friends and had the best time going to Japanese public school and living in farming country. They national government ignored them and the local farmers became the family's best friends. It was tough, he said, but the farmers grew their own food so even in the worst of times, they were never without food as the locals made sure they were well stocked...again, not because of government rules, but because out there in the boonies, your neighbors became your friends. I'm sure that wasn't what the Japanese government intended, what with their exhortations to fight for the Emperor against the capitalist Westerners, etc., but like a lot of things Japanese, government edicts and reality don't always go hand in hand. Same sort of thing happened, I hear, with the SCAP laws banning martial arts during the Occupation, from what I hear from my Japanese sensei. Outside of the city, the locals pretty much ignored it and kept practicing it until the GIs in their jeeps showed up--and many GIs themselves winked at such indiscretions because they loved sports--and they'd hide the kendo bogu, then when they drove away, they'd go back to kendo practice.)

We should compare ourselves, instead, to the ideals of our own country, not that of a fascist or totalitarian state, or to, as Lincoln said, appeal to the angels of our better halves, and hold ourselves in judgement to our own better selves, not in comparison to others. That is the only way we can hope to have some kind of national moral rectitude.

The person, BTW, who designed the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor (which I can see right outside my office door), was Alfred Preis, an Austrian architect. When I talked to his grandson, he said the family ended up in America to escape prosecution by the Nazis.

But Preiss was interned by the US government during the war because, as he said, he spoke funny with a "German" accent. That was about the only reason he could figure out why he was interned, along with the Japanese Americans. The memorial was commissioned by a Hawaii state government, (I believe) in the 1960s, which by then had become dominated by legislators of JA ancestry. The state couldn't drum up enough money for Preis' design so it got Elvis Presley to stage a benefit concert. Thanks to Elvis and a JA state legislature, we have the Arizona Memorial.

You KNEW Elvis was involved somewhere in this, huh?

Wayne Muromoto

3rd December 2002, 11:03
We should compare ourselves, instead, to the ideals of our own country, not that of a fascist or totalitarian state, or to, as Lincoln said, appeal to the angels of our better halves, and hold ourselves in judgement to our own better selves, not in comparison to others. That is the only way we can hope to have some kind of national moral rectitude.

I am posting this because I was attempting to find a decent quote from the past to explain it, but it is your post which has given the simple, but pretty much ignored, reason why it (Internment) was as bad then as it is remembered now. It was just plain wrong. I could go into family of mine who suffered the consequences of the "Shoa (a national holiday, btw, called Yom d'shoa) of the Nazi kind," but I know what the argument would be in comparing the two. What the Japanes government did leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor is also a Shoa but many don't even know. The reason is, that most pled guilty, probably, rather then excusing them from it, as did the Germans. The Japanese, in fact, had a longer history of it than did the Third Reich, a much longer one.

IMO, the question shouldn't be a question, it was obvious from the start, but as it is still mentioned on the back page, ocassionally, it does represent US, and it is and should be a national shame. Comparison be damned, it was simply not right and no logical reason could conceive of it. There is explanation which makes sense, if one chooses to look at that, but it seems it is beginning again in the USA, but with a different people.

Learn from the past, but not in how to commit these acts again, but in how not to. Geez, if no one sees that now, god help us (or whomever).


3rd December 2002, 12:27
"Valor of Ignorance" by Homer Lea written in the opening years of the 20th century portrayed the rise of Japanese Imperialism. It also depicted some of the military approaches to invading and conquering the Phillipines, and the west coast of the United States. At the time of the Japanese attack, most Americans were highly racial in their attitudes, so much so that most viewed Japanese as "bandy legged monkey faced little yellow men that were so near sighted they could not be expert aviators." So it was not surprising that peoples of Hawaii and California expected to be invaded at any time. And the concepts of a "5th" column similar to the one that helped Franco capture Madrid during the Spanish Civil War was a real fear in the minds of both the average American, and our Congressional leaders of that era. Now add to this mix our infamous J Edgar Hoover, stalwart leader of the FBI, and protector of Roosevelt with regard to his personal dalliances that were kept from the press. But, then that's another story, or should I say another volume of stories?

So while the question of was internment necessary is a valid one, any answer given must also take into account the pre-concieved attitudes held by most Americans at that time. After all how much did any one really know about Japanese culture and attitudes before the war began, or even after for that matter. And a good example of this is the snow job pulled off in keeping the Emperor from being tried as a war criminal.


Joseph Svinth
4th December 2002, 07:12
The funny part here? J Edgar Hoover opposed relocation. He took it as meaning that the Army didn't trust him when he said that he'd had anybody who represented a threat interned.

FDR, on the other hand, had been planning relocation all along: plans for construction of the camps started in 1939.

4th December 2002, 23:00
Adding to what Joseph Svinth said,

The US Army had done and looked at several scenarios way before Pearl Harbor about Japan as an enemy country. I think, if I recall correctly, that Admiral Yamamoto used a well-published fictional account (in English) about the bombing of Pearl Harbor to get his own plans started up.

Gen. George Patton drafted a study on the feasibility of interning the Hawaii Japanese. He also concluded, if I recall correctly, that he felt the sons of immigrant Japanese, being of "farmer stock" would be useless as US soldiers, whereas the Japanese Imperial Army would be formidable because they came from samurai stock.

The fear of fifth columnist traitors in the local Asian population made the US military bunch up their airplanes in the middle of the tarmacs at air fields in Hawaii, so as to protect them from infiltrating spies bent on blowing them up. When the Japanese bombers spotted the planes in groups in the middle of the fields...Oh man, sitting ducks.


4th December 2002, 23:21
If memory serves me correctly [but if I'm wrong then so be it], the US military as a whole developed a series of scenarios regarding war with Japan. This was one reason for the Washington Naval conference, and subsequent treaty. However, during this same time frame the United States developed a Plan Orange wherein if the Phillipines were attacked by Japan then the US Fleet would "sally forth" and defeat the Japanese Navy in an all Capital Ship engagement something along the lines of Jutland. Some time back one of the documentary channels did a show on an American who wrote a book entitled "The Pacific War" that was printed in 1931, and while many credit this man with foretelling of the Pacific War, it's quite possible that he may have also used Homer Lea's book as a springboard. But, returning to this issue of Internment one must look at the overall attitudes that existed at that time. Remember too that that less than 75 years earlier Japanese society had been locked in a 250 year time warp, and many in the West were very ignorant of this culture, and its people, and many in the West did not think Japan was anyone's equal.



Joseph Svinth
5th December 2002, 03:15
Both Americans and Japanese had been wargaming aerial attacks on Pearl from the late 1920s, but battleship admirals didn't really believe. (Take a look at the sortie of Prince of Wales from Singapore.) Thus, the actual inspiration was the battle of Taranto, where the British trashed the Italian Navy in 1940.

The Japanese weren't much more imaginative, though, as they didn't bother using submarines for unrestricted warfare at all, despite what the Americans were teaching them. Neither did they set up serious anti-submarine operations or convoys until 1944. Yikes. (Japanese ASW is currently the best in the world. Like everyone else, they're preparing for the last war.)

The American submariners, though, learned every lesson that the Germans had to offer, and showed that the principle was sound.


For an idea of the attitudes of the era, read Pierre Boulle's "Planet of the Apes." Boulle was in Indochina during the Japanese occupation, and the French equivalent of the n-word is "monkey." (Educated monkeys are known as evolues, or evolved ones, but they're still monkeys.) Rod Serling missed all this in rewriting the script for Hollywood, but "Bridge Over the River Kwai" and "Planet of the Apes" are both fictional discussions of colonial attitudes of the 1940s.

Meanwhile, Americans have always been prone to panic over what the newspapers tell them. I mean, a single bombing of New York sends us into a panicked tizzy, so think what would happen if Joe Stalin had really landed troops in Alaska like he was planning prior to learning about the atomic bomb.

5th December 2002, 05:49

Interesting note about Boulle's basis for the Planet of the Apes story. I never knew that! Great cocktail party trivia info! Reminds me of a 1940s movie I saw starring Humphrey Bogart in which the Japanese enemy spies were depicted, stereotypically, as fiendish slant-eyed subhumans. With propaganda like that, a lot of Americans thought the Japanese Army would be easy pickings because the soldiers obviously all had bad eyesight, low intelligence and subhuman, apelike bodies.

I read somewhere that the first American pilots in their P40s and older fighter planes were shocked at how the Zeros, which in 1941 was the best ship-based fighter planes in the world, ran rings around them and shot a lot of American planes out of the sky due to superior diving, turning and speed capabilities and a cadre of well-trained pilots. By mid-war, however, the level of skilled Japanese pilots had fallen drastically due to attrition and a smaller pool of talent, and the American training system was ratcheting up full throttle to produce more and more pilots. I think it was in a book by John Keegan, when he was describing the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway.

Propaganda runs two ways, of course. Lots of Japanese thought the Americans were soft, couldn't handle a long term war and the US would sue for peace as long as the Japanese stuck it out. That, too, proved false.

As a former journalist, I will heartily concede that the newspaper industry really loves to operate in an alarmist mode. That's how you sell papers and get people to watch your news programs. And I think it's only getting worse, what with the success of the Rupert Murdock-style sensationalistic journalism. Man bites dog. Crocodile boy found in Florida. Michael Jackson's escapades are more important than an AIDS outbreak in the Horn of Africa...rant, rant, rant.

Wayne Muromoto

5th December 2002, 11:53
Mr. Muromoto & Mr Svinth

Thanks for your input regarding the book, and comments. Yes, the Zero was one of the best early war fighters, however, the P-40 Warhawk had one advantage over the Japanese Zero. It could not outclimb or turn tighter, but could dive faster and had better armor plating. The Zero couldn't take the stress of a fast dive nor come out of it without tearing it's wings off. I had a former AVG person as an Aircraft school instructor, and suspect he had a hand in developing the Mustang with the Merlin engine, and he told us quite a few tales about the Zero and other stories. One including about how during a flight over the hump in Burma when a C-47 filled with Chinese troops was not making sufficient altitude to clear a mountain ridge. He watched as a Chinese officer brought conscripts to the back of the plane, ordered them to strip off their gear and then threw the MAN out of the plane. He had plenty of men, but the equipment was more valuble than "old 100 faces."

Yes, the sinking of the Repulse and Prince of Wales in Dec 41 surprised a lot of military personnel. In fact, many people fail to recognize that a 90 MPH Biplane was the nemesis of the Bismark. Her anti-aircraft fire control system was not programmed to address such a slow moving aircraft.

Years earlier I became closely acquainted with a German air ace of WWII. Mr Karlfreid Nordmann, 38 kills on the Russian Front, and Commandant Berlin Airdefense in 1943, after the war he first became President of VW in the States and later was President of Mercedes-Benz North America. His perspective on the war was an interesting one to say the least. I also worked with another German that taught maintenance and servicing of the ME 109 to the Spanish Airforce, and had 4 relations directly involved in aviation, both during and after the war. Two flew with the RAF, 1 in the Battle of Britain, and a second at El Alamein, and later with the South African Airforce, another was a P-51 pilot, but never saw combat and the last one spent 30 years in the Air Force, along with others that served from Pearl Harbor to Bastogne. So for my part history is not dry facts, but something I can directly relate to.

Forgive my ramblings



5th December 2002, 18:55
Mr. Fitzgerald,

Surely we have all wandered from the original theme of this thread, but thank you for some interesting tidbits of information. I'm not going to presume I am anything of an authority on military aviation history so your stories gleaned from different veterans were really great. Having a chance to sit down and talk with such old timers were, I think, one of the wonderful experiences I had when I was a journalist and a wandering student and brings to life textbook history. My one encounter with a British veteran of the Burma war and subsequent talks with local WWII veterans spurred me to read up on all the history behind WWII and how it impacted Hawaii. One can only hope that teachers can somehow inspire students in a similar way in our schools...


5th December 2002, 19:11
Mr Muramoto:

An old navy chum of mine recieved an invitation in the 80's to rejoin the Navy and recommission the Battleship Missouri when they took her out of moth balls. And if I'm not mistaken you live in Hawaii. The Missouri has a website as well.


He served as a Chief Radioman, and his brother was a 1st Class Corpsman.

Yes, we've wandered on this thread, but no harm resulted I'm sure.


L Fitzgerald

Joseph Svinth
6th December 2002, 02:38
Saburo Sakai, Japanese ace, on flying the Zero: http://www.microsoft.com/games/combatfs2/articles_sakai.asp

Meanwhile, to bring this sort of back toward the topic, ever read up on the Battle of Bismarck Sea? Today, the Australians seem to be somewhat embarrassed by the enthusiasm with which US and Australian forces machinegunned a couple thousand shipwrecked Japanese in the water, but American websites invariably hail it as a great victory.

As for the local history, my uncle was at Guadalcanal and Pelelieu, as a Navy corpsman assigned to the USMC. He still doesn't buy Japanese (and still doesn't call them Japanese). But even he disagrees with the relocation of US citizens in 1942.

6th December 2002, 12:03
Mr. Svinth:

The brutality inflicted on the enemy by both Axis and Allied combantants is certainly not a shining moment in the history of mankind. Yes, I'm aware of those incidents, along with the many other horrors. As for blame could it be that the actions of the Japanese beginning in China in 1932 laid the ground work for Allied responses after Dec 7? As for Europe's bloodbath at the hands of the Germans, and the Russian's that too fills volumes. It's interesting to note that Stalin quite possibly killed more of his own people during his reign than the total number of casualties of WWII. Would you say this is an accurate statement?



Joseph Svinth
7th December 2002, 01:51
I believe that Stalin and Mao are probably close in total body counts. (Roughly 30-60 million each.) Soviet combat casualties in the Great Patriotic War were probably above 7 million, so it's hard to say how many were killed by whom.

On a per capita basis, though, Pol Pot has both of them beat, as he was responsible for the deaths of a third of the total population of Cambodia, and in a much shorter time.


Some more tangents.

1. Is it Eurocentrism to continue saying that the Germans started WWII? After all, the Japanese invaded China in 1937, and that invasion was the proximate cause of the oil embargoes that started Japan on the road to Pearl Harbor. Why or why not?

2. Was WWII simply the second act of the 77-Year War of the 20th century? (First Act was 1914-1918, and Third Act was the Cold War.) Why or why not?

3. Was the 20th century the century of prisons and concentration camps? For example, from 1890-1990, you had Wounded Knee, the Second South African War, the Canadian detention of Ukrainians, the Gulag, the Nazi extermination camps, relocation, the Cultural Revolution, the prison-industrial complex, and so on. Why or why not?

7th December 2002, 08:01
Joe Svinth tangent-o-matic

Gurdjieff said we are food for the moon...

8th December 2002, 17:53
Certainly, Joe's topic subject or "Rant #2" certainly seems to all run together. The Japanese were busy in 1910, due to a strong case of clausterphobia, in expansion. Add the first war, the cold war was a lot of lollygagging based in myth, truth and just enough fear to keep at least one internment camp open until 1957 (or closed, I've never been sure how to word that stuff). The Japanese internment was certainly more than "a couple of years of inconvenience," and people were dying of starvation in Eastern Europe well before the gulag and death camps, which all precipitated the cold war, if it weren't for the hot one.

If the subject matter were not limited to the 20th century, there certainly seems to be a case of history repeating itself, considering all those being held at Guantanamo Bay without legal representation, with the same reasoning of the Ghettos, then death camps back then, being the single reason now that American Citizens have already being treated to a repeat of internment, and foreign "detainees (a right nice PC term)" being housed in little more than that of Internment, many for what seems to be little more than internment.

Has the Red Cross started to deliver "packages fill with humanity" yet? If not, then the administration's claims of being at war works about as well as gargling with ants to cure bad breath.

But lets not go there, that would be wrong.


Joseph Svinth
9th December 2002, 01:02
Gurdjieff deserves a separate thread, as he's a pioneer of what became the New Age and yoga movements in Europe and the Americas.

bob elder
11th December 2002, 20:28
In answer to Cady's post, that's how Willis Hawley got most of his sword collection. Bob Elder