The Corner

Total War?

Ramesh’s last post touches on an interesting point also raised by several

emailers: Was the US-Japan conflict of 1941-45 really “total war”? I had

written glibly as though it was — so we always think of it. Yet in fact

the integrity of the United States (Hawaii at that time not a state) was

never seriously threatened — that is now clear.

How clear was it to the Americans of that time? The removing of Japanese

and Americans of Japanese descent from possible invasion zones on the W

coast suggests that the government, at any rate, took Japan to be an

existential threat to the U.S. Philip K. Dick wrote a novel, The Man in

the High Castle, about a postwar America divided up between the Japanese

and the Germans (the division was at the Mississippi). I suppose a lot of

people thought that some such thing might have happened. It looks pretty

implausible now, though.

Was US-Japan 1941-45 a total war, in the sense that Japan-China was, or

Germany-Russia?

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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