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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Jul 24, Stewart rated it it was amazing. As such Eri Hotta’s book is almost as much a study of the psychology of very bad decision making, as a historical account.

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

Demonizing the enemy has long been a toxic byproduct of war. The Attack on Pearl Harbor On December 1, a week or so after the initial departure date, the Japanese attack fleet left for its attack on Pearl.

Read the book to learn more — among other things I learned how bad a position Japan had put itself through the military quagmire it created for its This book is, oddly enough, is a strong argument for well-formulated constitutional law. Hailed by anti-colonialists after defeating Russia inJapan then aggressively expanded across Asia. But Japan was in an inferior position and was never going to get everything they wanted.

Third, and very important, during the attack the U. Lastly, how did the militarists convincingly sell a war to a population already wary of fighting an unsuccessful war in China? We see a dysfunctional political system in which military leaders reported to both the civilian government and the emperor, creating a structure that facilitated japxn and stoked a fountdown rivalry between Japan’s army and navy.

And also, Countddown cannot help but sympathized with two diplomats, Saburo and Kurusu, who worked tirelessly to stop Japan going to war with America, with limited time and go, who were unwittingly used by military leaders to mask Japan’s intention to attack Pearl Harbor. The political structure was basically no structure at all: World opinion was increasingly hostile.

Japan Countdown to Infamy by Eri Hotta

Military pressures on civilian leadership did not help. HardcoverFirst Editionpages. It seemed a series of bad decisions made by extremely fallible men who were unwilling to question each other openly and really test as What was scary about this book is how easily momentum and the inability to change one’s mind once a statement was made cluntdown to a senseless act of war that Innfamy could then not support.


Almost none thought the war could be won. 194 saw it through the lens of racial discrimination that clouded their judgment when making decisions. In this environment, what happened was a tragic farce of high ranking officials saying one thing in public meetings while expressing the opposite opinion in private.

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

However, they did realize that if the U. It reminded me of this fall’s g Stunning. It is a very well-written and researched book.

This is perhaps a bit too generous. 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. Prince Konoe, the Prime Minister who appointed Matsuoka, comes off looking quite weak, being unable to restrain the Foreign Minister whom he appointed.

It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Almost six months to the day after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Navy was dealt a devastating blow at the Battle of Midway.

The rest, represented by the Imperial Navy, successive prime ministers, and other members of the cabinet knew it would be disastrous to go down that road, but as the story developed, the reader gets to see how the strange behaviours among the ‘doves’ eventually made their own positions untenable, and had to be driven along to war with the US. By the s Japan was able to defeat China in the Sino-Japanese War, and in the following decade she surprised Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, the first time a non-white power defeated a Caucasian power.

Those who are interested in understanding of the events that led to Japan’s fateful decision to attack Pearl Harbor will find this book an important one to read. Books by Eri Hotta. You’ll have to read it and make up your own mind. 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.

Japan’s motivation to go to war with the US was based on the trade sanctions that the US placed on Japan because of their continued escalation of their wars of aggression with China and French Indo-China; these sanctions the US cut off petroleum and steel exports to Japan were impacting both Japan’s economy and their war effort.


I came away with a much greater understanding of why Japan decided to launch the sneak attack and go to war with the United States in Somehow the long-term and more severe pain cannot make me suffer the short-term embarrassment. This really is a hell of a book about a subject we, as Americans, know far too little about. Hotta isn’t able to resolve the lingering historical question of Emperor Hirohito’s role in the war, but her position seems to be more sympathetic, while not absolving Hirohito completely.

The Japanese could not understand that the West US was not going to yield on certain points that Japan thought it could continue to play out into the future when trying to reach some common understanding. It seemed a series of bad decisions made by extremely fallible men who were unwilling to question each other openly and really test assumptions before making decisions that affected millions of lives.

This book covers all of these points and more in precise and straightforward language. Even though Hotta explains about Japanese history, government and politics she lays the blame for the war directly on Japan. Verbal communication was traditionally couched in soft terms designed to create cooperation and agreement, and to avoid offense.

Yet we have to be careful; as illogical and unimaginable as they have behaved inwould we not have done the same?

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

Pacific Fleet berthed at Pearl Harbor. Furthermore, new ships were built at shipyards around the U. 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 mapan, it countdowwn an interesting facet that most histories summarize much more briefly, since people are more interested in what happened once the fighting began. JAPAN,as of now is the best work dealing with the Japanese tk and decision making process leading to war with the United States, and should remain so for a long time to come.

The the time-frame spans from January to December, and describes the international and domestic power dynamics from a Japanese perspective. The rest is history.