To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman… George Santayana


Hitler did not come to power until 1933. The shooting war in Europe did not start until the end of 1939. The United States did not formally enter the war until the end of 1941. Japan had been fighting the Asian war since their invasion of Manchuria in 1931 – a full decade of war experience before we commenced direct military operations. A full decade to learn what did and did not work, a full decade of casualties and becoming hardened to them and a full decade to turn the nationalism that fueled the war into a blinding hatred of enemies that allowed any conduct towards them.

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Akagi (Japanese Aircraft Carrier, 1925-1942) At sea during the Summer of 1941, with three Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighters parked forward.

Not that this was the first time we had fought an enemy who had no regard for our conventions – the really rather supercilious notion that war can ever be made civilized – we had the example of our treatment at the hands of the muslim pirates in the Mediterranean for the first half century of our existence and we had the conduct of Grant and Sherman during the War of Northern Aggression and the Wars against the indians [if we wished to acknowledge them] and a dozen other examples to prove Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges. We were even confronted with the fact that we – the side of the righteous – had adapted Nazi wolf pack tactics against Japanese shipping but would not allow our use of such tactics to be used as a defense at the war crimes tribunals.

Aoba (Japanese Heavy Cruiser) Photographed soon after completion. The original photograph, a halftone, came from Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison's World War II history project working files.

Aoba (Japanese Heavy Cruiser) Photographed soon after completion. The original photograph, a halftone, came from Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison’s World War II history project working files.

No one wants war. Even less does anyone want the atrocities of war. At some point in time we need to conclude that a short war is better than a long one and that the whole enterprise of war is uncivilized but no more likely to be stopped than any other form of armed robbery. Just as we imprison those committing armed robbery we need to punish those instigating wars and demonstrate a sufficient negative cost benefit ratio to discourage further acts of aggression on their part. The idea that we can convince them to beat their swords into plow shares is not supported by the record but it does show that most who have done so have wound up plowing for those who did not.

I-58 (Japanese Submarine, 1944-1946), outboard of I-53 (Japanese Submarine, 1943-1946)At Kure, Japan, 16 October 1945. I-58 sank USS Indianapolis (CA-35) on 30 July 1945.

I-58 (Japanese Submarine, 1944-1946), outboard of I-53 (Japanese Submarine, 1943-1946)At Kure, Japan, 16 October 1945. I-58 sank USS Indianapolis (CA-35) on 30 July 1945.

The Japanese planned and executed a fifteen year war of expansion and aggression – actually they spent most of the first half of the 20th century in this mode – they committed unspeakable atrocities and richly deserved the defeat, and its consequences, that they suffered. What that defeat did not do is fundamentally change their way of thinking – no more than a century of defeats has changed the muslim mindset and they may well continue to ebb and flow across the West until we find leadership willing to define their atrocities and limit them to their own lands.

Blood and bushido: Japanese Atrocities at Sea 1941-1945 New York: Brick Tower Press, 1997, c 1991 Bernard Edwards World War II War crimes Hardcover. 1st. American ed. and printing. 246 p.: ill., 1 map, ports.; 22 cm.  Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Yamato (Japanese battleship, 1941-1945) In the late stages of construction alongside the large fitting out pontoon at the Kure Naval Base, Japan, 20 September 1941. The aircraft carrier Hosho is at the extreme right. The store ship Mamiya is in the center distance. Note Yamato's after 460mm main battery gun turret, and superfiring 155mm secondary battery gun turret.

Yamato (Japanese battleship, 1941-1945) In the late stages of construction alongside the large fitting out pontoon at the Kure Naval Base, Japan, 20 September 1941. The aircraft carrier Hosho is at the extreme right. The store ship Mamiya is in the center distance. Note Yamato’s after 460mm main battery gun turret, and superfiring 155mm secondary battery gun turret.

Imperial Japan‘s wartime atrocities left a bloody stain on the waters of the Pacific. This is a story that might have quietly slipped beneath the waves of history had Bernard Edwards not written this book. The book vividly recounts the barbaric actions of Japan’s navy in the wake of its attacks on Allied shipping, including the ramming of lifeboats, the machine-gunning of survivors and the bayoneting and beheading of captives.

As Edwards explains, the ancient Japanese warrior code of Bushido – under which capture is forbidden – was in stark and lethal contrast to the humane code of conduct usually honoured by seafarers. Anyone unfortunate enough to fall victim to the Imperial Navy paid a terrible price. Drawing on the dramatic accounts of Allied survivors, this book serves as a reminder of the Imperial Navy’s inhumane acts and a tribute to those who perished because of them.

Yukikaze (Japanese destroyer, 1940)Underway off Sasebo, Japan, in January 1940.

Yukikaze (Japanese destroyer, 1940)Underway off Sasebo, Japan, in January 1940.

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