snopes.com Post new topic  Post a reply
search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hello snopes.com » Urban Legends » Military » Japanese Fear of US Guns

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Japanese Fear of US Guns
tgirsch
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 18 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Hi, everyone:

I wanted to check the authenticity of the following quote, often thrown around by gun-rights advocates:
"We did indeed know much about your preparedness. We knew that probably every second home in your country contained firearms. We knew that your country actually had state championships for private citizens shooting military rifles. We were not fools to set foot in such quicksand." -- A Japanese Admiral 15 years after VJ day on why Japan didn't invade the US mainland after Pearl Harbor.
The quote seems fishy to me, because it's only vaguely attributed, and it seems difficult to square with the courage with which the Japanese fought in the South Pacific. If they're not afraid of the US Marine Corps, I find it difficult to believe they were overly concerned with a few farmers armed with pistols and rifles. A quick google was of no help, turning up only web sites that cited the quote as if it were gospel, with the same vague attribution.

I should point out that I generally support gun ownership rights, but that doesn't excuse people using what appears to be a BS argument to justify their position.

Can anyone help?

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Casey, making hot chocolate
Let There Be PCs on Earth


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Casey, making hot chocolate   Author's Homepage   E-mail Casey, making hot chocolate   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Beats me as to the quote, but I'll ask my Propaganda prof about it next time I see him- he's a wealth of gun politics information. [Smile]

As to the meat of your post, there is one slight fallacy in what you said. In this:
quote:
and it seems difficult to square with the courage with which the Japanese fought in the South Pacific. If they're not afraid of the US Marine Corps, I find it difficult to believe they were overly concerned with a few farmers armed with pistols and rifles.
there's one fundamental error I can see. The Japanese soldier was probably courageous to a fault. However, his commanders were anything but stupid. I figure that the Japanese saw in a US invasion what the US saw in a Japanese invasion: fiercely defended land, house-by-house fighting, and a military bloodbath.

In the case of Japan, the casualties of a US invasion of the home islands was guessed at a million, against a home force armed with little than primitive weapons, and significantly smaller than the US. In the US, Japanese casualties would be far higher, due to higher population and readily accessible weapons.

Welcome to the board, by the way! [Big Grin]

--------------------
"To be or not to be! That is the question! Now, will you answer, dare, double dare, or take the Physical Challenge?" --Mark Summers as Hamlet
Countdown: 177 days and counting... or less. My blog. 14 keyboards owed.

Posts: 5584 | From: Ohio | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Elkhound         Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I know that to this day SOME Japanese have an exagerated fear of USA street violence. I used to teach ESL in a small, rural college in a VERY safe community; most of my students were Japanese, and they were TERRIFIED to set foot off campus. Many of them were sure they would be shot or beaten up or kidnapped or. . . I guess they got a distorted view of US life through TV, movies, etc.

--------------------
"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

Posts: 3307 | From: Charleston, WV | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
mnotr2
Jingle Bell Hock


Icon 01 posted      Profile for mnotr2   E-mail mnotr2   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Elkhound:
I know that to this day SOME Japanese have an exagerated fear of USA street violence. I used to teach ESL in a small, rural college in a VERY safe community; most of my students were Japanese, and they were TERRIFIED to set foot off campus. Many of them were sure they would be shot or beaten up or kidnapped or. . . I guess they got a distorted view of US life through TV, movies, etc.

People in alot of countries have an exagerated fear of U.S. street violence. That's what they hear/see in the news. Violence sells newspapers and ad space and that's what the media shows. American movies are fraught with street violence. That's what they see. The anti-gun lobby exaggerates street violence. That's what they see. I've traveled alot overseas and some of the questions I'm always asked are: "Do you carry a gun"? "Aren't you afraid of being shot on the street"?

Mnot - You must be rich, you're an American - r2

--------------------
Infinite goodness is creating a being you know, in advance, is going to complain.
Captain Billy Cutshaw

Posts: 582 | From: Germany | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
DemonWolf
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


Icon 01 posted      Profile for DemonWolf     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I can't remember the source, but I rember hearing that the only reason that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor was because they wanted to engage the British (invade Austrailia od India?) and wanted to eliminate the US Pacific fleet in order to ensure that the US wouldn't come running to aid the British. Instead, what ended up happening was that the carriers weren't even at Pearl at the time and it so enraged the nation that the US was able to repair/rebuild the fleet in record time.

--------------------
Friends are like skittles: they come in many colors, and some are fruity!

IMJW-052804

Posts: 7224 | From: Massachusetts | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Roy012
Xboxing Day


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Roy012     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
It is important to remember, though, that the Japanese attacked Corregidor and Wake Island within hours of Pearl Harbor, and both ended up being fairly sustained fights, so the Japanese probably were committed to some sort of prolonged conflict with the United States. I'm sure they were not expecting the outcome that they got, though.

--------------------
"Excuse me, homes, but could you tell me how to get back to the interstate?"

Posts: 1245 | From: North Carolina | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Maya and Simone
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 01 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
For a country that produced Battle Royale, i'm not too shocked at the comment.
IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
The Rubber Chicken
The First USA Noel


Icon 01 posted      Profile for The Rubber Chicken   Author's Homepage     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I have never heard the quote before. I suppose it could be real. However, Japan had very little intention of attempting to invade California. A lot of that idea came out due to some papers released by the U.S. for propaganda purposes during the war. The papers (I wish I could rememebr the damn name now) were purportedly written by a Japanese prince, and contained plans for invading the United States and eventually taking over the world. They were, of course, fake.

Japan's strategic goal in attacking Pearl Harbor was
a) to destroy the Pacific Fleat in order to
b) Break the U.S. will to fight immediately, and force the U.S. to sue for peace in order to
c) Assert dominance over the Asia-Pacific reason

Even the Japanese government knew it was not going to invade California.

--------------------
Visit my blog, Websurdity... the Weird, the Bizarre, the Silly, the Absurd.

Posts: 716 | From: Seoul, South Korea | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Delta-V
Xboxing Day


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Delta-V     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I don't think it took much propaganda to instill fear in the residents of coastal California. In early 1942, you had a Japanese submarine shelling an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, air-raid sirens and AAA fire (in error) over LA, and several attacks on US shipping just off the coast.

Rooster needs one more point between b) and c):
bc) get the US to lift it's Oil and Steel embargos in order to...

--------------------
"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

Posts: 1225 | From: Wichita, Kansas | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Grumpy
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 204 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
To sum up, it's unlikely that any Japanese military officer would claim that American firearms deterred an invasion of the mainland, because an invasion of the mainland was never an option.

I'd be fascinated to learn if it was, though.

--Grump "Nippon in the bud" y

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Felessan
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Felessan   E-mail Felessan   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Rooster4999:
I have never heard the quote before. I suppose it could be real. However, Japan had very little intention of attempting to invade California. A lot of that idea came out due to some papers released by the U.S. for propaganda purposes during the war. The papers (I wish I could rememebr the damn name now) were purportedly written by a Japanese prince, and contained plans for invading the United States and eventually taking over the world. They were, of course, fake.

Japan's strategic goal in attacking Pearl Harbor was
a) to destroy the Pacific Fleat in order to
b) Break the U.S. will to fight immediately, and force the U.S. to sue for peace in order to
c) Assert dominance over the Asia-Pacific reason

Even the Japanese government knew it was not going to invade California.

The papers you're referring to might have been the "Tenyaka Memorial" (referenced, and identified as spurious, in a book on the Pacific War, "War Without Mercy", IIRC).

I tried Googling for them but found only references to Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard apparently believed that it was the name of one of the groups trying to suppress Scientology).

--------------------
You fool! That's not a warrior, that's a banana!
- a surreal moment in a role-playing game

Posts: 2480 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


Icon 209 posted      Profile for snopes   Author's Homepage   E-mail snopes       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Japan's strategic goal in attacking Pearl Harbor was to destroy the Pacific Fleet in order to break the U.S. will to fight immediately, and force the U.S. to sue for peace in order to assert dominance over the Asia-Pacific reason
Not quite. The Japanese never really expected that the U.S. would immediately lose the will to fight or sue for peace. Their overall strategic plan was to knock out the U.S. Pacific fleet while simultaneously seizing Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, thereby giving them time to establish a defensive perimeter in the western Pacific that would deny the U.S. any viable bases for striking back (other than Hawaii) and prevent any U.S. fleet from reaching Western bases in Australia or New Zealand. The Japanese would then dig in, heavily fortify their perimeter, and wage a war of attrition until American support for the war flagged.

Unfortunately for them, they failed disastrously in their first attempt to close a vital hole in the perimeter (Midway), and it was all downhill from there.

- snopes

Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
The Rubber Chicken
The First USA Noel


Icon 01 posted      Profile for The Rubber Chicken   Author's Homepage     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Not quite. The Japanese never really expected that the U.S. would immediately lose the will to fight or sue for peace. Their overall strategic plan was to knock out the U.S. Pacific fleet while simultaneously seizing Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, thereby giving them time to establish a defensive perimeter in the western Pacific that would deny the U.S. any viable bases for striking back (other than Hawaii) and prevent any U.S. fleet from reaching Western bases in Australia or New Zealand. The Japanese would then dig in, heavily fortify their perimeter, and wage a war of attrition until American support for the war flagged.
Of course, Japan prepared for a long war. However, they did hold out hope that a decisive victory at Pearl Harbor would lead to a quick resolution. Yamamoto, in particular, was pessimistic about Japan's ability to fight a protracted war with the U.S. and hoped for a quick peace. Yes, Pearl Harbor was not meant to be the end-all be-all of the war.

However, the Emperor, his cabinet, and the Imperial General Staff, certainly believed it was possible that the U.S. would give up quickly. That doesn't mean they believed it would definitely happen. However, there was a huge split between Japan's civilian Foreign Ministry and the militant wing of the Japanese government and its thinking on the U.S. will to fight. The Foreign Ministry, many (like Yamamoto) educated in the U.S., warned the Japanese military that the U.S. would fight a long war and fight hard. The military was more apt to think that the U.S. would capitulate fairly quickly. I don't think it's fair to say the Japanese never really believed the U.S. would give up quickly. Some did, some didn't.

--------------------
Visit my blog, Websurdity... the Weird, the Bizarre, the Silly, the Absurd.

Posts: 716 | From: Seoul, South Korea | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Roy012
Xboxing Day


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Roy012     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
I think what snopes is trying to say is that generally the actual actions of the commanders illustrates what they believe. Perhaps some Japanese believed that the US would give up right after Pearl Harbor, but if that belief amounted to strategy, they would not have attacked the US in the Phillipines or the the North Pacific. Snopes account is much more in tune with what the Japanese actually did than yours, although I'm sure that some military commanders held the belief or hope that Pearl Harbor would be all that it would take.

--------------------
"Excuse me, homes, but could you tell me how to get back to the interstate?"

Posts: 1245 | From: North Carolina | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
The Rubber Chicken
The First USA Noel


Icon 01 posted      Profile for The Rubber Chicken   Author's Homepage     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
I think what snopes is trying to say is that generally the actual actions of the commanders illustrates what they believe. Perhaps some Japanese believed that the US would give up right after Pearl Harbor, but if that belief amounted to strategy, they would not have attacked the US in the Phillipines or the the North Pacific. Snopes account is much more in tune with what the Japanese actually did than yours, although I'm sure that some military commanders held the belief or hope that Pearl Harbor would be all that it would take.

When I talked about Pearl Harbor in my first message, it was the 10-second, ultra-dumbed-down version of events. Mostly because I was lazy and didn't feel like getting into the complicated issues there. However, as I pointed out in my second message, yes, Pearl Harbor was not supposed to be the end-all be-all of the war for Japan.

However, that being said, Japan's seizure of the Philippines, Guam, Wake, etc. was not because they intended to fight a long, war of attrition with the United States. Their goal before they attacked and after it was to keep the U.S. from interfering with their real goal: securing the resource-rich Dutch and British colonies to continue the war in China -- the very thing that got them into the mess in the first place. A Japanese general likened the situation to an octopus eating its own tentacle: Japan needed resources to continue to expand, but needed to expand to get more resources.

To understand this point, you have to look at Japan's actions before they attacked Pearl Harbor. Japan had been in deep negotiations with the U.S. In September of 1941, the Imperial Council layed out several demands of the U.S. Almost all of them had to do with the U.S. not interfering with Japan's policies in Asia, including its place in French Indochina, and with Japan's actions in China. Japan also demanded that the U.S. restart trade with Japan of oil and other vital resources.

Japan's main goal was always to secure the resources it needed in China. It saw the U.S. as the only obstacle left in the area that could potentially threaten its ability to do so. Wake, Guam and the Philippines were all potential staging grounds for the U.S. to attack Japan and her interests.

However, and this is key -- Japan was never intending to fight a long war with the United State. It certainly did not want to fight a war of attrition, which would sap even more valuable resources from its war in China. Certainly, Japanese generals planned for such a war by fortifying positions in the territories it captured from the U.S. However, this was also done to deter the U.S. from fighting. Japanese leaders assumed (incorrectly) that the U.S. would rather negotiate then fight. And this wasn't as unfounded an idea as it seems now -- Japan carefully studied American attitudes, which were strongly isolationist. An August 1941 Gallup poll, for example, found less than a third of Americans willing to fight a war to defend the Phillipines or other areas of the Far East. Japan didn't pull the idea that the U.S. would negotiate out of nowwhere. It seemed logical at the time.

In any event, there is my long, drawn out explanation of Japan's intentions in attacking Pearl Harbor. In combination with their other attacks on American forces, they hoped to fight a limited war with the goal of preventing the U.S. from interfering with their actions in Asia. And, they hoped that war would end in quick negotiations. They were certainly aware of Americas industrial and military potential, but played the odds that the U.S. would not want to use it.

--------------------
Visit my blog, Websurdity... the Weird, the Bizarre, the Silly, the Absurd.

Posts: 716 | From: Seoul, South Korea | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Southern Air Pirate
The Red and the Green Stamps


Icon 02 posted            Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
The Japanese did invade North America. They landed at the islands of Attu and Kiska during the Midway operation as an attempt to draw off the US fleet during the Midway operation and to prevent the US from using its Alaskan Bases for bombing the home islands. This was where one group in the military government believed that Dolittle's Raiders had come from was Alaska.

The statement on whether or not the Japanese were detered cause a large portion of the US population was armed is a mis-step in logic. First off the only times that the Japanese would be capable of attacking any US land besides the terrotories already seized (Philippines, Guam, Wake) where they had already faced elements of not only the US military but also home guard units (such as the Filipino Scouts) and easily rolled over these units. Second of all by 1942 just like the German Army in Europe 90% of the Japanese Army and Special Naval Landing Force were battle harden from spending the previous years in China or siezing the lands through out the Dutch East Indies, British Lands in South Pacific or American terrortories. So the army had a mystic built up about themselves that this would be a tough fight but a fight that they could easily defeat the US military at a fight on thier home turf since they have been easy to attack and fight in other places.

IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
snopes
Return! Return! Return!


Icon 303 posted      Profile for snopes   Author's Homepage   E-mail snopes       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
However, and this is key -- Japan was never intending to fight a long war with the United State. It certainly did not want to fight a war of attrition, which would sap even more valuable resources from its war in China.
What Japan wanted and what Japan planned for were two very different things. Sure, the Japanese hoped the U.S. would not fight at all (or would give up fairly quickly without achieving victory), but their strategy in the Pacific was based upon a recognition that the U.S. might not give up so easily. Accordingly, they devised and acted upon an overall strategic plan to establish a fortified defensive perimeter in the Pacific with the object of eventually wearing down the U.S., however long it took.

- snopes

Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
rodh
Deck the Malls


Icon 01 posted      Profile for rodh     Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Getting back to the quote in the original post, I'm calling BS on it.

My UL-meter went off due to the vagueness of the supporting info: "Japanese Admiral 15 years after VJ day". No name, no date, no way of getting the original source.

Now my UL-meter went off a second time due to the military aspects of the statement. In addition to what previous posters have stated regarding that invading the mainland was never a goal, here's some more reasons the Japanese could not have pulled it off even if they wanted to:

The US mainland is loooong way from Japan. A potential US invasion of mainland Japan would have been made easier by the numerous islands in the region. I believe at the time, they were referred to as "stepping stones". The inverse is not true. There are no islands nearby the coast of the US. The supply lines would be incredibly long. Even a successful invasion and occupation of Hawaii would not have helped much.

Compare the size of the United States and Japan. The US is immensely larger. How could they invade and occupy such a large area?

In order to invade, a force needs to get soldiers and heavy equipment onto the beaches of the target nation. The invasion of Normandy was the biggest such operation in history and was a feat never before seen. It was only a few miles across the channel; not a few thousand. Magnify the scope many times to invade the US.

It would have taken years to prepared such an invasion. The years would have also been used by the US to prepare their defenses and rebuild their military.

I could go on and on but the reason the Japanese did not invade the US was because it was impossible due to distance and size and not because of the high rate of gun ownership.

Posts: 403 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Felessan
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


Icon 01 posted      Profile for Felessan   E-mail Felessan   Send new private message       Edit/Delete post   Reply with quote 
Further to rodh's comments, I quote from the Australian Army official History of WW2 ("South West Pacific Area First Year - Kokoda to Wau") by Dudley McCarthy, p. 113n: "[The Japanese] never contemplated invasion of Australia... [W]hen asked if the Japanese ever planned such an invasion, General Tojo replied, 'We never had enough troops to do so. We had already far outstretched our lines of communication. We did not have the armed strength or the supply facilities to mount such a terrific extension of our already over-strained and too thinly spread forces. We expected to occupy all New Guinea, to maintain Rabaul as a holding base, and to raid northern Australia by air. But actual physical invasion - no, at no time.'"

If Australia was considered too difficult, then the USA was never in any danger of invasion.

--------------------
You fool! That's not a warrior, that's a banana!
- a surreal moment in a role-playing game

Posts: 2480 | From: Australia | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post new topic  Post a reply Close topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Urban Legends Reference Pages

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2