ASIA212Varley

Of these the most radical and in retrospect probably

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Unformatted text preview: ilbert, Marshall, Caroline, and Mariana chains. These invasions were carried out by American forces employing firepower capable of annihilating the Japanese de- The Fruits of Modernity 302 fensive positions. In many cases the Japanese chose, in fact, to fight to the last man rather than surrender, thus inviting the Americans to engage in annihilation. With the capture of Saipan in the Marianas in June 1944, the United States obtained a base within striking distance of Japan. For the next—and last—year of the war, American bombers mercilessly pounded Japan’s cities, large and small. The ghastly results of this bombing are vividly suggested in this description of the final months of the war: [The United States] adopted area fire-bombing by night, at relatively low altitude for greater concentration . . . from March 9 [1945], when over three hundred B-29s struck [Tokyo]. Sixteen square miles were burned out in one of the very worst bombardments in history; at least eighty thousand (probably far more; nobody knows) were killed and a million made homeless. Worse was to follow as up to eight hundred bombers pounded all the main Japanese industrial and urban centers.41 To the Americans, led by President Roosevelt, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, in which more than two thousand Americans died, was an unspeakably dastardly act that inspired a thirst for revenge (“Remember Pearl Harbor!”) that may account for much of the brutality with which the United States subsequently conducted the Pacific War. To the Japanese, on the other hand, there was nothing “infamous” or dastardly about Pearl Harbor. On the contrary, they regarded it as a brilliant victory. The Japanese public was ecstatic, and, as Donald Keene has discussed, many prominent writers promptly and publicly expressed their great satisfaction —in some cases their delirium of happiness—that the anticipated war had finally begun and that Japan had delivered a devastating blow at the enemy, identified primarily as the United States and England (the British colony of Hong Kong and Pearl Harbor were attacked simultaneously on December 7 or, by Japanese time, December 8). One writer, for example, chortled, “I never thought that in this lifetime I should ever know such a happy, thrilling, auspicious experience”; and another exclaimed, “The war has at last begun, with a great victor y. A people which believed that...
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