A Japanese historian examines why Japan went to war. Alfred A. Knopf, , pages When Japan attacked the United States in Japan Countdown to Infamy. By Eri Hotta. pp. Alfred A. Knopf, $ Why did Japan start a war its top leaders knew it had. In Japan Countdown to Infamy, Japanese author Eri Hotta attempted to discuss this question via use of newly revealed information from.

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The embargos bit deeply into fuel supplies, both military and civilian, and in mid Japan invaded French Indochina—Cambodia Laos, and the south of Vietnam—in order to obtain supplies no longer available in international markets.

He was a Christian in the U. Return to Book Page.

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

However, they did realize that if the U. I started reading this book in February and had to leave it behind during a trip to Asia. The inclusion iinfamy the timeline of major events in the book was of great value and the Prologue makes a compelling introduction to the whole book. It should be stressed that the book’s focus is more on the decision process, rather jzpan the decision itself, which as a bad one was a given.

So why did the Japanese government in decide to attack the United States?

But for the Japanese leaders, there was no contradictions, they have to keep up the appearance while trying to avert war – Honne to Tatemae. It reminded me of this fall’s g Stunning. The nation had been wracked by civil conflict. It is of course very difficult to document and prove the state of mind of people long dead, who lived in a very different culture; and writing such an account is This exploration of Japan irrational decision to go to war in 19411 does not provide a clear view of a decisive moment, because there was not such moment; instead there was an irresistible drift to disaster.

By the s J The last half of 19th century was a period when European nationalism flourished and began to spread its influence eastward. It is of course very difficult to document and prove the state of mind of people long cokntdown, who lived in a very different culture; and writing such an account is risky.

Four and one-half 4. Had they done so, they could have at least delayed any decision to go to war until it became clear that Hitler was not going to win in Europe. Japan continued its program of making Asia safe for Asians and projecting themselves as a power on par with the west.


Hotta makes it very clear how the war started and even why it took the Japanese so long to give up at the end. And yet they began sidling and stumbling towards the point of no return, all the different parties eying one another and hoping someone else would step contdown and say “Wait a minute, we shouldn’t do this!

E ri H otta. We see a ruling cadre rich in regional ambition and hubris: Many prominent Japanese leaders voiced caution or even opposed war, but not forcefully or often enough.

He was probably unaware of Japanese atrocities, but he was certainly aware of, and approved, Japanese aggression.

Book review: ‘Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy,’ by Eri Hotta

However, once a consensus was reached, no matter how convoluted the decision making process and delusionary some of the ideas of policy makers were it was almost impossible to alter or change the course toward war. What this book does is to show that such a momentous decision was not arrived in a clinical and logical fashion, rather readers of this book would not help noticing how illo Those who are interested in understanding of the events that led to Japan’s fateful decision to attack Pearl Harbor will find this book an important one to read.

Having talked themselves into believing that they were victims of circumstances rather than aggressors, they discarded less heroic but more rational options and hesitantly yet defiantly propelled the country on a war course.

When Japan launched hostilities against the United States inargues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose. This said that neither signatory would engage in military conflict with the other, and that each would remain neutral should the other signatory engage in military conflict with a third party.

It is one that is packed with information carefully written in an engaging way to provide great insights into how the Japanese eventually went into war with the US. Eri Hotta’s Japan attempts to find answers as to why a nation’s political and military leadership decided to embark on a mission which was virtually impossible to attain victory in service to an Axis alliance whose benefit to Japan was based on speculation and wishful thinking.

Hotta does not shy away from according blame to certain figures, and at times resorts to near ad hominem attacks.

Book review: ‘Japan Countdown to Infamy,’ by Eri Hotta | Books | Dallas News

In the midst of panicked last-minute efforts by some diplomats to avoid war, Hirohito met with his brother, a Navy Admiral. Hotta is not forgiving toward her country for its actions before or after the bombing. This book is not an easy read, as some of the Japanese players have similar lats names i. His role is a factor too — it’s worth the read to find out more.


Almost none thought the war could be won. Jun 06, Jake M. The caricatures that populate more superficial histories are replaced with credible portraits of dutiful but deeply flawed people.

Sifting through the book, I get the impression that the Empire of Japan was walking towards executing a war that was indamy doomed for it.

Many in the Japanese government and the populace thought themselves victims of the Western powers, the U. Trivia About Japan Both the United States and the Japanese were enthusiastic practitioners who produced racist caricatures and misinformation as part of their war efforts. Food items became scarce. Yamamoto did not want a war with the U. Resources were running out.

And while the author uncovers some diarists and memoir writers who were happy when war broke out, she couuntdown none of the top leadership were even confident of victory — even the most optimistic considered it a gamble. This book explained why my father was a torpedoman I should have read this kind of book years ago, because I never have understood why the Japanese did what they did.

Before going any further, I must add that the book would have been much stronger and an easier read if its structure were more linear. You could almost say that Japan went to war because they wanted to sit at the big kids table and the other big kids wouldn’t let them. We in the USA don’t hear too much about how bad it was for Japanese civilians.

Also, they failed to see that East Asian nations would not welcome Japanese ccountdown. Our war in Iraq is one example. Even prototypical hawks like Admiral Nagano Osami privately expressed deep reservations about taking on the West. Sign In or Create an Account. As Japan entered the modern world, its leaders devoted enormous resources to looking like and acting like couhtdown nations. One was group think: It is an interesting fact that the decision to expand the territory in Manchukuo and ultimately into China proper was one made by the generals in Manchukuo.