Leaders & Controversies

Transcript: Source3

Part of a study of Japanese strategy from Major General Penney, Director of Intelligence, HQ of the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, 18 May 1945
(Catalogue ref: WO 203/1274)

Source 3a

Annex “A” to I.D. 62.

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2. Bombing of Japan

  1. There is considerable evidence that the results of the bombing of Japan are exceeding the worst fears of the Japanese. A belated attempt is being made, with little success, to disperse industry, to move it underground and to transfer some industries to MANCHURIA. With the establishment of further air bases on OKINAWA and IWOJIMA, the size and frequency of raids will increase and communications with the mainland will become still further restricted. This, in conjunction with the shortage of raw materials resulting from the severance of communications with the outer zone, will still further lower Japan’s capacity to continue the war on a full scale.
  2. Probably equally important will be the effect on Japanese home morale and on the attitude of the Japanese leaders towards continuing the war. As far as morale is concerned, it will bring home to the Japanese in time the inevitability of defeat, although the general public will in any case continue to do as they are told. The Japanese leaders, on the other hand, will realise more clearly each day that the choice open to them lies between an early surrender in the hope of retaining a nucleus from which to re-create in time Japan’s capacity once more to become an aggressor nation, or to fight on at the risk of complete economic collapse as in Germany today, in the hope that Allied war-weariness or clash of interests will save Japan from complete defeat and permanent demilitarisation. ……

Source 3b

4. Change of Cabinet

The present Cabinet is not a strong one and is noticeably lacking in figures with a strong popular appeal. It came into power as a result of the series of disasters culminating in the landing on OKINAWA, and is considered of insufficient calibre either to increase Japan’s war effort or to induce the nation, as yet, to accept the peace terms which the Allies would be likely to impose.

On the other hand, the Japanese leaders have consistently expressed their intention to carry on the war to the end, and there is no evidence that they have done anything to prepare the nation for eventual capitulation. Military preparations to repel a landing on the mainland have, moreover, considerably increased recently.

A further change in Cabinet will be necessary before the Japanese will accept the peace terms which the Allies are likely to impose. ……


17. Japan has neither the Navy, Air Force, protective capacity nor transport facilities to undertake anything other than a general defensive strategy, although she is and will remain capable of conducting limited local offensives, particularly in China and MANCHURIA. The broad courses of action open to her are:

  1. To surrender unconditionally
  2. To concentrate in areas still of strategic importance in relation to the defence of Japan and N. China and to withdraw from other areas.
  3. To leave her forces mainly dispersed in all theatres, but to concentrate on areas selected for their potential value in delaying the advance of the Allies.

Source 3c

18. Unconditional Surrender

Before Japan can decide on this course:

  1. The people and armed forces must realise that their defeat is inevitable.
  2. The Government in power must be strong enough to overcome the extremist factions.

Neither of these conditions are yet fulfilled. On the other hand, the gradual destruction of their cities, the obvious impotence of their navy and air force, and the example of Germany must be making it increasingly clear to the Japanese that the Allies have the power, even without Russia, to destroy their homeland and even to occupy it. If and when it becomes clear that Russia also is going to enter the war, it is possible that the Japanese may prefer unconditional surrender, with the hope of eventually being able to re-build their nation, to virtual destruction. A stronger Government than the present one will, however, be necessary. Owing to the peculiar Japanese national characteristics, it is probable that the surrender, though in fact unconditional, would not be so described to the Japanese people. Once the decision has been made and issued with the authority of the Emperor it is considered that it would be obeyed. There is a possibility that local commanders might refuse to obey, but it is not considered that such action would be widespread. ……