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Press translations [Japan]. Political Series 0097, 1945-12-20.
Supreme Commander for The Allied Powers. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section.

translation-number: political-0432

call-number: DS801 .S85

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No. 432 Date: 20 Dec 45


ITEM 1 Prelude to Defeat - Tokyo Shimbun - 18 Dec 45. Translator: J. Weiller.
Full Translation:
Prelude to Defeat
by TAMAKA, Ryukichi
Ex-Chief of Military Administration Bureau
The writer of this memorandum was once the Chief of the Army Administration Bureau, outside the so-called military clique, and was known to be diametrically opposed to General MUTO, the Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau. Pessimistic about our natural resources and the future of the war, he became ill with worry. This became a topic of conversation among well-informed circles as TAMAKA's "Patriotic mania". He left his position a year after the outbreak of war as the result of a dispute with War Minister TOJO and Vice-Minister KIMURA. He has recently published a book called "In the Face of Defeat". In answer to our special request that he reveal some facts on the history of the defeat to the public, he has written this memorandum. The writer adds that his intention is not merely to expose, but also to warn the Nation against following these same erroneous steps in the future.
The Year Before the War
General TOJO was, from the beginning, a supporter of dual front tactics. The reason he had to leave his position as Vice-Minister of ar under General ITAGAKI in 1938, only four months after the appointment, was that he had made a belligerent speech at an ex-servicemen's meeting, held in September, in which he said that he was not afraid of dual front tactics for bringing about a settlement of the CHINA Incident. Since War Minister ITAGAKI agreed with General TADA, Vice-Chief of the Army General Staff, that the CHINA Incident must immediately be solved, he pressed TOJO to resign because of this imprudent speech. However, the latter did not accede to the demand, saying, "Since the Vice-Minister's function is that of a civil officer I will not resign, even at the risk of a disciplinary dismissal, unless Vice-Chief TADA is also made to resign". Genial General ITAGAKI at last dismissed both TOJO and TADA simultaneously. At that time many officers in the Array supported TOJO's demand for strong measures; ITAGAKI, consequently, became unpopular.
Lieutenant General ISHIWARA was instrumental in making TADA and ITAGAKI co-operate with each other in adopting conciliatory measures toward CHINA.

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POLITICAL SERIES: 97 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
As soon as he left the post TOJO ordered KATO, Hakujiro (then commander of the TOKYO Military Police), to restrain and examine Mr. ASAHARA, Kenzo, who was on intimate terms with ITAGAKI, TADA and ISHIWARA. He concocted a false story to the effect that these three were making common cause with a communist. He tried to [illegible]ostracize them from the Army. This plot, however, ended in failure, thanks to Colonel WATANABE's (then the commander of the Defeuse Corps) fair judgment. Following is the gist of the so-called ASAHARA Incident.
Perfection of Militaristic Politics
When he became War Minister in the KONOYE Cabinet in 1940, TOJO at once dismissed ISHIWARA, put TADA on the reserve list and transferred ITAGAKI to CHOSEN in order to keep him entirely out of current affairs. Furthermore, he (TOJO) tried to dismiss him more than once, but due to my opposition (I was then the Chief of the Army Administration Bureau), he wasn't able to do so. Expelling all the advocates of peace with CHINA, TOJO steadily set about preparing for war against ENGLAND, AMERICA and SOVIET RUSSIA. With the appearance of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association in the fall of 1940, the Army's influence in politics and economics began to roach its height. It finally became dominant when the TOJO Cabinet was formed the following year (1941).
While TOJO was still War minister, GERMANY declared war on the U.S.S.R., in June 1941. He at once ordered the occupation of Southern INDO-CHINA. Mr. OHASHI, Chuichi, then Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, fearing that ENGLAND and AMERICA would surely resort to economic retaliation of JAPAN sent her troops into that region, tried to persuade the Army to desist from the attempt, saying that without the determination to fight with these two countries we should not commit this outrage. But the Army was adament, asserting that neither ENGLAND nor AMERICA would dare retaliate.
The result, however, has endorsed Mr. OHASHI's prediction. Surprised at the economic retaliation and the gravity of the resultant situation, Premier KONOYE at once dismissed Foreign Minister MATSUOKA, put Admiral TOYODA in his place and opened conciliatory negotiations with AMERICA. The Army's attitude toward this was extremely cold.
In September, 1941, Prince KONOYE planned an interview with President ROOSEVELT in HAWAII for the purpose of coming to terms with AMERICA, but having failed to secure the Army's support the plan was allowed to drift into obscurity. This was confirmed by the decision reached in the council in the Emperor's presence on 2 (or 6) September to the effect that "unless the negotiations) be settled by the middle of October the Army would start preparing for war". As TOJO had already made up his mind to fight he did not look favorably on the proposed ROOSEVELT-KONOYE interview.
In the middle of October TOJO succeeded in overthrouing the KONOYE Cabinet. Behind the formation of the TOJO Cabinet were intripus by military politicians. The Chief of Military Affairs, MUTO, was very close to TOJO and persuaded General HAYASHI and ABE to approve his becoming Premier, while major General KATO, Chief of General Affairs of the Gendarmery Headquarters, told marquis KIDO, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, that unless General TOJO came into political power,
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POLITICAL SERIES: 97 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
the Army would because unmanageable. The TOJO Cabinet owed its formation to the recommendation of ABE, HAYASHI, and KIDO. The JUSHIN earnestly requested TOJO to go to any extremes to suppress the radical elements in the Army for the sake of an amicable settlement with AMERICA. They were innocent and ignorant enough not to realize that the foremost advocate of a strong-handed policy was TOJO himself, that it was be who controlled both the military Affairs Bureau and the Army General Staff.
How foolish to hope for conciliation with AMERICA after appointing such a champion of jingoism.
Army's Plans of Operations All Failures
Well then, on what basis did General Headquarters plan operations against ENGLAND and AMERICA? I do not know much of the details preceding the war, having learnt the decision at noon on 7 December, but, judging from the talks of the Chief of Military Affairs, MUTO, and other high officers of General Headquarters, the belief was that "By the end of 1942 GERMANY would thoroughly crush the SOVIET UNION and, as a result, ENGLAND would surrender. Then naturally, AMERICA would lose its belligerence and JAPAN would lead the war to a successful conclusion by the end of 1942." Premier TOJO's so-called belief in certain victory did not mean JAPAN's victory by her own hand but a victory almost entirely dependent upon a GERMAN victory.
According to the various data I collected after the outbreak of war, our war stocks wore sufficient for only one year, while we depended on the southan regions for foodstuffs. Shipping problems were not taken into consignation. The maximum production of iron and steel was 4,300,000 tons per year, but in order to satisfy the Navy's demands the Board of Planning changed 500,000 tons to 4,800,000 tons on paper. We looked to the PHILIPPINES for copper, to the DUTCH EAST INDIES for oil. We came to the hasty conclusion that our monopoly of rubber, zinc and quinine would seal the fate of ENGLAND and AMERICA.
One Defeat After Another Since MIDWAY
The naval battle at MIDWAY made our invincible navy vulnerable. The defeat at GUADALCANAL made our invincible army trouble to the ground. All the operations since these two reverses, except those on the Asiatic Continent, were a weries of failures steadily forcing us to the acceptance of the [illegible]SDAM Declaration and unconditional surrender.
In spite of the JUSHIN's intention to carry out negotiations with AMERICA, TOJO intended to crush AMERICA and ENGLAND by fair means or foul. In accordance with the plan of the Military Affairs Bureau the despatch of Ambassador KURUSU was a means of camouflaging our preparation for war. It was pre-arranged that the ultimatum handed to the UNITED STATES state Department on 8 December would be simulteneous with the attack on PEARL HARBOR.
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POLITICAL SERIES: 97 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
Another indication that General TOJO was an advocate of a strong policy toward ENGLAND and AMERICA, for the sake of settling the CHINA Incidnet, is the following: In October 1940 RIBBENTROP, the German Foreign Minister, as a result of overtures to CHIANG KAI SHEK through Mr. CHIN KAI, the Chinese Minister to GERMANY, proposed Peace negotiations on the condition that JAPAN withdraw her troops from CHINA. Notwithstanding Foreign Minister MATSUOKA's approval, TOJO, though he first agreed to the plan, afterward rejected the proposal on the ground that "we would have no word of apology to the holy spirits of YASUKUNI" (TN: The YASUKUNI Shrine where the war dead are deified). It was indeed JAPAN's misfortunes to have a mystic like TOJO at the head of the Government.
One Year After the Outbreak of War
On 9 December I stated to Vice-minister KIMURA, "This war began by an apparently unified nation, but, actually, according to reports I have collected from the Military Police and the Home Department, all the intelligentsia are opposed to it, while the masses blindly submit to the authoritic. I am afraid serious internal problems will arise in the near future.
To this KIMURA replied, "I do not think so, for there have been many who have committed HARAKIRI in front of the Imperial Palace because they are against war with ENGLAND and AMERICA. This is sure proof".
In view of the fact that even the Chief of the Bureau of Military Administration did not know of impending war with AMERICA until the day previous, to the general public the news must have been like a bolt from the blue. They were too dazed to say anything against it, except that some of them danced for joy at the exaggerated news of the success at PEARL HARBOR. In the Army itself there were many who opposed the war, like Generals HATA, UMEZU, and FUJIE. They all, directly or indirectly, expressed such opinions to me. However, as I was outside the political and economic circles I had no means of voicing my opinion. Those who expressed the strongest opposition were General TATSUMI, a military attach's to the Embassy in LONDON, and General YAMAOKA, a military attach's to the Embassy in MOSCOW. Their strenuous objections were of no avail.
5,000 Yen for the Recommendation Election
In April the notorious recommendation elections took place. As far as I know, 5,000 yen per candidate was spent out of the Extraordinary Military Expense Fund for election campaigns, to the indignation of thoughtful soldiers. Lieutenant Colonel FUJII, for example, whose duty was the maintenance of order in case of emergency, was purple with rage when he heard of the plan. The result of this election made the Diet as gentle as a lamb before the clattering of sabers. There could be neither popular will nor public opinion. The only thing that was expected of the people was unconditional submission to Government orders. The slightest opposition was mercilessly dealt with by the Special Police.
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POLITICAL SERIES: 97 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
In May, Mr. KYOSEI's son-in-law, Mr. CHOMEI of the CHUNG-KING Government, came to JAPAN and hinted that CHINA would accept a peace offer if FRENCH INDO-CHINA be ceded to her in exchange for MANCHURIA. Mr. CHOMEI is my intimate friend, but as I did not concern myself directly with diplomacy, I introduced him to Generals DOIHARA and HONJO, who tried to induce General TOJO and General SUGIYAMA, the Chief of the General Staff, to accept the offer. They flatly refused because "crushing the CHUNG-KING Government was a national policy". Peace between JAPAN and CHINA would have meant the end of the Greater East Asia War, but those leaders who were intoxicated with their initial successes lacked the ability to see this.
Wounded Confined in Hospitals
About this time our Navy suffered a crushing defeat at MIDWAY, causing consternation in General Headquarters. The wounded sent back from the front were all confined in the Naval Hospital at YOKOSUKA and contact with the outside was entirely cut off. Only three men in the Army know the result of the battle - the Minister, Vice-Minister and Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau. Learning of the disaster earlier than others, I made a suggestion to TOJO to the effect that "the Government ought to make known the real situation to the people without reserve. The Japanese are people who will fight to the bitter end whether the situation be good or bad. To tell the truth is the best way to encourage them. However, he was stubborn and rejected my advice, saying "The masses are fools. If we tell them the truth they will be disheartened."
General Headquarters, believing the MIDWAY defeat was due to espionage activities, started a Nation wide spy hunt but they could round up no spies. They did not know that the real spy was AMERICA's radar.
The Air Defense equipment of the country was primitive. The Military Administration Bureau, knowing this, frequently asked for improvements but was turned down every time, by Premier TOJO, on the ground that" all the materials required for defense should be sent to the front". General Headquarters greatly feared air raids but they said "So long as stratospperic planes are not developed, a large scale air raid on the homeland is impossible." I, representing the Military Administratic Bureau, demanded perfection of air defense equipment but was always laughed at as an incurable persimist and coward.
Despite TOJO's bragging about victory, I had come to the conclusion that unless we did not terminate the war at the first opportunity JAPAN would be ruined.
The Downfall of the TOJO Cabinet
My firm belief was that so long as the military politicians were interfering with politics and finance, the war would drive this country into ruin, and, as a result, I came to the conclusion that the TOJO Cabinet must be overthrown. However, as I had been a constant opponent of Military participation in politics, I hesitated now to enter into political activities. The question of establishing the Department of Great East Asia Affairs was a good opportunity to put my plans into
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POLITICAL SERIES: 97 (Continued)
ITEM 1 (Continued)
execution. I now could effect the downfall of the Cabinet, probably with the help of Mr. TOGO, the Foreign Minister, who is a very intimate friend of mine. I encouraged Mr. TOGO, and at the same time I promised him my resignation on the ground that, should the undertaking fail, my constant opposition to military interference in politics and finance would be frustrated and of no avail.
Mr. TOGO had to leave his post without attaining his objective, having been prevailed upon to do so by Admiral SHIMADA, the Navy Minister, and I resigned from my position the next day, 22 September.
The unruliness of some of the military forces at the front was really beyond discription, especially among the officers. On tenering my resignation I said to War Minister TOJO, "Four Excellency is an optimist regarding this war, while I am a pessimist, as that if I remain any longer under your command I may impede the conduct of the war. At any rate, I am leaving because of my health. The last thing I would like to point out to your Excellency is the degeneration of army discipline not only among Generals but among all grades of commanding officers. If they carry on in this way the future is really disheartening."
My resignation was sudden and came as a surprise to my subordinates. Some of them begged me to forgive them for the insufficient help they rendered, but I said, "I am solely to blame for what has happened; it is not your fault. I am beaten. If the Army's intervention in political and financial questions is left unchecked, JAPAN'S ruin is inevitable. Please do your best to save the country".
I left the War Department on 22 September and so ended my 30 years as a soldier, I have become a mere "has-been".
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HomePress translations [Japan]. Political Series 0097, 1945-12-20.
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