They were told that it was the ultimate disgrace during the war, but after the war, were they, in fact, treated with contempt?
Most, retreated to civilian life. Japan’s reconstruction began very shortly after the surrender and I doubt if anyone had time to worry about them. What I’m sure of is that the Keiritsu directors, those who basically instigated the Japanese aggression, were alive and well, and raking it in. I read about several subsequent Keiritsu directors who were veterans of WW2.
Also, the first hints of WW2 revisionism came out late, sometime in the 80s when Japan, Inc. was in full throttle. Therefore, one would assume people kept their mouths shut before that.
Their God/Emperor ordered them to lay down their arms. Therefore, no disgrace for the soldier unless they didn’t obey their orders.
Well, it wasn’t the army that had surrendered, or was perceived to be defeated; it was the Emperor. And, while this was a great national shock, it wasn’t a shock for which the army was blamed.
I’m pretty sure chacoguy is asking about soldiers who surrendered before the war was over, not those who surrendered at the end when Hirohito ordered them to.
That makes it easier. Separate accounts of Japanese soldiers who were POW, or stragglers who either refused to surrender or didn’t want to return for whatever shame they felt, all received warm welcomes.
Hiroo Onoda received a hero’s welcome.
For those who don’t know, Hiroo Onoda was the last Japanese soldier to surrender. In nineteen freakin’ seventy-four! After nearly 30 years in the Philippine jungle.
He wasn’t the only one. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoichi_Yokoi
I visited Yokoi’s cave when I was on Guam.
Onoda was different in that he was an officer whose mission was to fight on even after the Allies have overrun the Philippines. The others simply went to ground, some even knew that the war had ended. Onoda waged a guerrilla war up to the 70s, still convinced the war was on.
Very few Japanese soldiers surrendered prior to the end of the war, only about 35,000. were treated normally by the public. The military was disbanded, so that wasn’t a concern.
Japan had been beat thoroughly in the war, and most civilians just wanted to get it over with.
After the surrender, Japan was immediately occupied, but still many faced potential starvation. The Japanese army was demobilized, but more than 500,000 soldiers were taken POW by the USSR and used as slave labor for several years.
With the occupation, huge economic changes, etc., etc., the return of POWs was the last of the concern by the general public.
Japanese emperors were considered “divine” but not in the same sense as say the Inca emperors who must be obeyed.
Hitohito lived under constant fear of a coup, and survived the failed Kyugo Incident in which some lower level staff officers (majors and colonels) attempted to prevent the surrender. General Amami, the War Minister and the most powerful person in Japan, next to the emperor himself, knew about the coup but didn’t act to prevent it.
One item I read said the atomic bomb changed everything. (Duh!) It was one thing to lose a war, it was another to say simply realize they could not compete against a force of nature that could destroy entire cities in a single blast, something they could not possibly match. Therefore, there was no disgrace because there was no hope of winning - they fought the noble fight and lost. (Sort of like the Poles or the Belgians trying to stop the blitzkrieg).
I’m suspecting the same attitude carried over to the soldiers in the field. After all, once Japan surrendered, so did all the garrisons still overseas. Likely it was the attitude “How could we possibly expect to win?”, reinforced over the next few years as the American occupation endlessly poured in men and material beyond what Japan could hope to produce at the time.
I’m not aware of any serious historian who supports this view.
The Japanese military was well aware that they lacked the resources which America had. It had abandoned its own nuclear program and was not in any way surprised by the strength of the bomb.
The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) was prepared to continue fighting even after the double punch of the two atomic bombs and the Soviet declaration of war against Japan.
There was a Supreme War Counsel with the Big Six members: General Anami, the War Minister (and second to the emperor in power, but in many ways held more actual power); the Prime Minister, (Admiral Suzuki, who was less important than the War Minister), the Navy Minister, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Navy and the Foreign Minister (the sole civilian in the room).
They were split three-three on the question of surrender from before the atomic bombs and the Soviet declaration of war and they remained split after.
The question concerning surrendering or not was not simply a matter of “saving face” or “honor.” They were fighting for what they thought was the Japanese way of life and (rightfully) believed that losing would be the end of the Japan that they knew. It’s well known that the Japanese accepted the surrender terms after they negotiated for a continued role of the emperor.
The great trade-off was that the emperor forced the acceptance of the terms after his skin was saved, but he threw the military under the bus. They had wanted the preservation of not only the emperor, but also the “kokutai” a difficult to translate word which sort of means “the way of life” which to the military meant a government built around the military.
While the allies were willing to accept a continued, but lessened role for the emperor, despite his almost certain culpability in war crimes in order to avoid the bloodbath which an invasion of the Japanese homeland would have entailed, they would never have accepted the continued existence of the imperial military.
One of the great mysteries of the events surrounding the surrender was General Anami’s actions. Because of the Meiji constitution, the War Minister (really the Army Minister) and the Navy Ministers were not subordinate to the Prime Ministers and had to be active duty officers. If any of the ministers resigned, either of the branches of services could bring down the cabinet by refusing to appoint another minister.
Either General Anami or the Navy Minister could have brought down the government, at which point they could have declared martial law and held the emperor for his own good. Why Anami didn’t do it is unknown, as he killed himself immediately after the surrender.
I think the article meant after the war. During the war, they thought they had a serious chance of winning, until near the end. Then they thought they were making it far too expensive for the Americans to invade. It’s only when the Americans could swat their cities like flies from above, with impunity, that there was no glory in fighting on - for some, not for every military man.
Again, no. This view is not supported by any of the facts. I have no doubt that there exists an article which claims that it’s true, but that doesn’t make it true.
In the US-centric view of the war, it was the two atomic bombs which ended it. Period, end of story.
In fact, and this is something which is known because of interviews with top Japanese leaders and surviving documents, the actual situation was much more nuanced.
There was a peace faction within the government which recognized that the war was lost. There were the ultra extremist hawks who wanted to fight to the last man, woman, child, grandmother and kitty cat. Then there were the militants who believed that if they punished the US hard enough, they could surrender with better terms. Most of the military was in this camp. They knew they were beat, but like a losing gambler doubling down on their losses, kept talking themselves into believing that doing better in the next battle would help them get better terms.
The combination of the two atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war changed all of that and the emperor forced the military to accept a surrender.
A certain number of top generals killed themselves. A number of others were tried as war criminals. And most of the rank and file were just happy to get home and try to rebuild their lives and country.
They knew they were beat and beat badly. They put it behind themselves and no one talked about it.
Meanwhile, many people in the US wanted the story to be about the starring role of the atomic bombs. The strategic air command wanted to keep it’s slice of the diminishing defense budget. The US was entering into a cold war, and no one wanted anything good said about the USSR.
The debriefing of the enemy was done by the US occupation forces, and there certainly was a degree of them telling us what we wanted to hear.
Certainly having the atomic bombs be the sole factor would also seem to make sense by simply looking at the dates. It was not until scholars started to take a more serious look that we could really understand what was going on.
There is still an active debate among scholars with some claiming that the Soviet entry into the war by itself would have ended the war. As we can’t reset the clock and try again, we don’t know, but I agree with those who say that it was the combination.
If some history revisionist wants to invest some story about
Didn’t finish the last sentence.
There are always people who impose their beliefs on history. Without seeing the article in question, it’s impossible to know for sure, but it sounds like a revisionist.