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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 book describes how Japan’s leadership essentially painted itself into a corner, forcing it collectively to call its own bluff on launching a war with the U. This book covers the events and decisions that led up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese point of view. While we all know how flawed such thinking turned out, Hotta’s analysis raises interesting questions.

And mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sep 03, Emmanuel Gustin rated it really liked it Shelves: Somehow the long-term and more severe pain cannot make me suffer the short-term embarrassment. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. The author used the concept of Honne to Tatemae to throw some light on these behaviours.

Jan 09, Jake rated it it was amazing. The surprise attack by Japanese naval forces on Pearl Harbor on Dec. Feb 22, George Miller rated it really liked it. Even Tojo Hideki saw a war with the United States would be painful — yet did little to stop it. The narrative also involves awkward digressions into the daily life of solider named Soldier U, and teases us with providing a wider cultural context of Japan yet pulls away prematurely.

Dec 28, Jean rated it really liked it Shelves: He worked for a non-aggression pact with the Soviets in to get himself in the news again, and then, after Germany invaded in June of that year, then wanted to invade them from the east. His role is a factor too — it’s worth the read to find out more.

It’s probably very difficult to try to re-create the thought-process of the major Japanese players leading up to Pearl Harbor and this is a valiant effort. 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 December does not provide a clear view of a decisive moment, because there was not such moment; instead there was an irresistible drift to disaster.


Thanks for telling us about the problem. It should be stressed that the book’s focus is more on the decision process, rather than the decision itself, which as a bad one was a given. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Get Unlimited Digital Access Your first month is less than a dollar. Following the Meiji Restoration ofJapan slowly remade itself by emulating the west. I cannot understand the logic behind its leaders’ reasons to go to war, despite all the odds against it.

Pacific Fleet berthed at Pearl Harbor. For Japanese policy makers what was the difference between theirs and the American approach to expansion. Hotta tells a heart wrenching story of a group of children–set out to the countryside to escape US bombings–who drew pictures of food, the A really good book on the origins of the Pacific War in WWII from the Japanese point of view.

The author also discusses the role of Japanese citizens outside of government service.

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

jalan This led to one of the many additional small tragedies of the war, because back in Washington, the Japanese ambassadors were ordered to deliver Japan’s declaration of war just before the attack. The reason that Japan went to war against the United States, says Hotta, is that the civilian anti-war faction, despite having the constitutional authority to do so, was too pusillanimous to resist the powerful war faction.

Both sides could have made concessions, and indeed, both sides were willing to. There was fierce infighting between and within the two fiefdoms.

Oh, and the emperor? Study of how Japan’s political leadership blundered into a war with the United States, even after it had been at war with China since The work of Richard Sorge, a German journalist based in Tokyo, who jspan also a Russian spy and was good friends with the German ambassador to Japan is jspan fascinating.

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

Nov 03, Diane Henry rated it liked it Shelves: However, there was a lot of new to me, anyway information. In January of Yamamoto was told to begin planning for the strike at Pearl Harbor; final approval would come—if it came—in late At a time when the long drawn out war in China was reaching a stalemate, why would Japan contemplate a war against the United States? Hotta explains that there were two faction within the Japanese government, a civilian faction that opposed war with the U.


Japan actually had fought against Germany in World War I, but hoped an alliance with the racist Nazis would tilt the balance of power with the United States and improve its negotiating position.

I am not sure it presents a lot that’s new I’ve learned much of what Hotta presents here from other books about World War IIbut with its focus on the prelude to the war and the personalities involved, it examines an interesting facet that most histories summarize much more briefly, since people are more interested in what happened once the fighting began.

These aspirations led to increasing militarization, converting Japan from a U. The later chapters provide a more linear account of infa,y failed efforts at diplomacy and the strange way in which the decision was made — or maybe more arrived at than made — to start a war that Japan was certain to lose.

Eri Hotta. Japan Countdown to Infamy. | The American Historical Review | Oxford Academic

This resentment, unwarranted though it seems, was a factor in the decisions that were to come. However, I think most of the blame could be pointed at the military, especially the Army, who pushed Japan towards war, even though the Navy was the one who did the most fighting Sifting through the book, I get the impression that the Empire of Japan was walking towards executing a war that was certainly doomed for it.

You’ll have to read it and make up your own mind. But he didn’t, and so came the famous order “Climb Mount Niitaka” – meaning, attack. Hotta’s strengths lie with understanding personalities and their interactions.

It’s tough to keep track of who is who and why they matter.

Politicians walking knowingly into a disaster just because no one japn the courage to publicly say what everyone knew. In addition, an introductory chapter covering the structure and culture of the imperial Japanese government would be useful. They say he manipulated things to force Japan to start a war with the U.