Posts Tagged ‘japan’

Is the World On the Brink of Major War?

20 Aug

What on earth is the world coming to?  We now live in a time of war, and rumors of war, and the rumors just keep coming!  A recent article in the magazine Foreign Policy actually postulates what may occur if China and Japan were to fight a naval war over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.  Back when we lived through the Cold War, in a bipolar world, (that means that there were two main superpowers in the world), and most conflicts in the world revolved around the Soviet-American rivalry, the basic calculus was simple:  The two superpowers would keep their allies and satellites in check, and, barring some extraordinarily crazy sparking event, the chances of an actual war between the superpowers would likely not happen due to the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction.  That also meant that if America’s ally Israel got the upper hand over Soviet-allied Egypt and Syria in the latest Middle Eastern War, the Americans would rein in the Israelis before they could march on Cairo or Damascus and trigger possible Soviet intervention.  Similarly, it was fairly certain that the Soviets would convince Syria to not use its stockpile of chemical weapons on Israel for similar fear of an American intervention.  In many ways, the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union kept a lid on many possible conflicts that could have sparked a bigger war.

Well, the Soviet Union is gone now, and we are faced with a multi-polar world.  Make no mistake, the U.S. is still the only legitimate superpower around.  The U.S. can project power literally anywhere in the world with a high degree of certainty of tactical victory.  For example, on a month’s notice in 2001, American and allied forces launched an invasion/liberation of Afghanistan (literally on the other side of the planet from the U.S.), following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  But other, regional powers are flexing their muscles and making threatening noises, and this will continue to be a reality as those regional powers (such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Russia, India, and others), come into conflict with their neighbors.  Notice that several of the nations named above are neighbors with each other, or at least inhabit the same neighborhood.

In August of 2012, a look at the current wars, border conflicts, and potential international problems that are currently being discussed, and reported on in the news:

Israel is openly debating whether or not to attack Iran.  The Iranians, for their part, continue to develop their controversial nuclear program, while simultaneously we hear their leaders call for the destruction of Israel.

–The United States continues to place increased military forces in the regions surrounding Iran, just in case there is an Israeli-Iranian War.  If such a war breaks out, the U.S. will almost certainly be drawn in.

–The ongoing Syrian Civil War is getting bloodier, and the Assad regime may be getting more desperate.  Speculation has arisen over the possibility of Assad using his stockpile of chemical weapons on either the rebels or on the nations that support them, namely Turkey and Jordan.  Of course, Assad could also just use them on Israel, hoping to gain traction with his own people or with other Arab nations.  All of the above-named anti-Assad nations are friends of the U.S., which has made no bones about intervening if Assad were to use his weapons of mass destruction.

Israel is openly preparing for a possible intervention of their own in Syria if they believe that Assad is going to transfer his chemical weapons to his Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

Egypt is engaged in a low-level but growing battle to re-assert authority in the Sinai, where Islamic militants are launching more frequent and more deadly attacks on Egyptian, Israeli, and American forces. (The Americans are in the Sinai as part of the Multinational Force & Observers, which has helped keep the peace between Egypt and Israel since the Camp David Accords).

-China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian nations are engaged in name-calling and posturing over the contested Spratly Islands.  China has increasingly asserted authority on the islands, even to the point of setting up a small city on one of them.  The military forces of several nations are in the area.  The main reason for this conflict is the belief that the area is rich in oil and natural gas. The United States is a close ally of the Philippines, and is increasingly establishing strong military and diplomatic ties with Vietnam, and any military conflict over these islands would almost certainly the U.S. against the Chinese.

–Similarly, China and Japan are currently engaged in serious name-calling and worse over their contested islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands, and the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands.  Some respected publications like Foreign Policy are posting articles speculating on the outcome of a possible Sino-Japanese Naval war in 2012.  Of course, the United States is a close ally of Japan, and any military conflict would almost certainly bring the U.S. on the Japanese side.

–American military forces are still heavily engaged against Taliban forces in Afghanistan, while other U.S. assets continue to deploy against al-Qaida and other Islamist forces throughout the world.

–In Yemen, American trainers continue to aid the Yemeni government while occasional U.S. drone attacks take out al-Qaida operatives.  Several terrorist attacks against American targets have originated out of Yemen in recent years.

— U.S. drone attacks against al-Qaida and other Islamist targets in Pakistan continue unabated.  One estimate places the number of dead from these attacks since 2004 at over 3,000.

–U.S.-funded allies, actively aided by American air and naval forces (and of course, more drone attacks), provide the military muscle in the Somali government’s war against the Islamist and al-Qaida allied Shabab rebels.  These allies include Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and Ethiopia.

–Following the successful campaign by NATO and other allied nations (Qatar among them), to aid rebels in overthrowing Muammar Gadhafi’s tyrannical regime, several thousand Taureg mercenaries previously employed by Gadhafi went home to northern Mali (with the nice weapons Gadhafi gave them), and commenced to defeat the Malian army and establish a de facto Taureg homeland in northern Mali.  These Taureg (that is the name of their ethnic group) have been infiltrated by the North African branch of al-Qaida and other Islamist groups.  Several other West African nations are contemplating sending a military force to Mali to defeat them.  The United States and other Western nations would likely end up supporting such an intervention with funds, material, and possibly troops.  Oh, and probably drones, as well.

There are a few more international issues that are on the back burner as well, but this list gives a pretty good idea of the precarious situation the world is in right now.  And that is not even mentioning the perpetual worries over Korea!  And, as the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States prepare for their presidential nominating conventions, not a single one of these issues is a major item of discussion for the two presidential candidates.  In fact, a quick look at major news stories in America during the middle of August show a fascination with GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s fitness regimen and his six-pack abs.  The major political story on August 20 involves a Republican Senate candidate’s idiotic remarks about rape and conception.  Hardly any mention was made in the news about the recent coalition deaths in Afghanistan, and certainly no debate over the ongoing war there. 

The world is a deadlier place in 2012 than it seemed in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War.  We are on the brink of not just one possible regional war, but several, all with calamitous effects on the world economy, and on world security.




When Was World War Two?

28 Jun

 Marco Polo Bridge

Japanese soldiers at Marco Polo Bridge.

When Was World War Two?

When was World War Two? This seems like an easy question, but it can be an elusive answer. There are several answers to that question, as many historians debate when World War Two began. The end of World War Two is fairly simple to answer, as the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay.So, when did World War Two begin? Depends on which part of the war you look at.

There are several competing dates for the starting point. If we look at World War Two as a truly global war (which of course it was), and not looking at it from the European or Western point of view, we can pin the answer down to only two dates:

September 18, 1931–The Mukden Incident (also known as the Manchurian Incident) was a pretext for the Japanese invasion and occupation of the region of China known as Manchuria.

July 7, 1937–the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This is when Japan (one of the Axis powers of World War Two) began its massive invasion of China

Many historians prefer the 1937 date over the 1931 incident as the Marco Polo Bridge incident led to a major war between China (which became one of the Allies of World War Two), and Japan and Germany had already, in November of 1936, signed an Anti-Comintern Pact that made them allies against the democracies and against the Soviet Union.

The start of the European part of World War Two is a bit clearer, as most historians put the start date with the German Invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.


Japan Earthquake History

13 Mar

History of Japan Earthquakes


 Japanese Flag


Japan is a densely-populated island nation in the northwest Pacific and is a part of the “Ring of Fire” chain of earthquake-prone Pacific Rim. As a result, the Japanese people have endured massive earthquakes throughout their history. Japan is so quake-prone, that minor earthquakes are an almost monthly aspect of life for the Japanese. However, several times in the past hundred years or so, Japan suffers through powerful earthquakes that cause massive amounts of destruction and result in thousands of deaths.

On March, 2011, a huge earthquake measuring around 8.9 to 9.0 on the Richter scale hit off the coast of the Japanese city of Sendai. In addition to destruction on the ground, the quake also triggered a powerful tsunami that hit Japan hard. As of March 13, 2011, full casualty figures are not complete, but the death toll is in the thousands, with millions of people without power, and at least two nuclear plants in the throes of possible meltdown.

Below is a list of the most destructive Japanese earthquakes since the late 1800s.

Japanese Earthquakes since 1891

Sendai, Japan (March 11, 2011)–Magnitude 8.9/9.0 –Fatalities in the thousands, full casualty numbers are not yet available

Kobe, Japan (Jan. 16, 1995)- Magnitude 6.9 –Fatalities 5,502

Niigata, Japan (June 6, 1964)- Magnitude 7.5 –Fatalities 26

Fukui, Japan (June 28, 1948) – Magnitude 7.3 –Fatalities 3,769

Nankaido, Japan (Dec. 20, 1946)- Magnitude 8.1 –Fatalities 1,330

Mikawa, Japan (January 12, 1945)- Magnitude 7.1 –Fatalities 1,961

Tonankai, Japan (December 7, 1944) – Magnitude 8.1 –Fatalities 1,223

Tottori, Japan (Sept. 10, 1943)-Magnitude 7.4 –Fatalities 1,190

Sanriku, Japan (March 2, 1933)- Magnitude 8.4 –Fatalities 2,990

Tango, Japan (March 7, 1927)- Magnitude 7.6 –Fatalities 3,020

Kanto, Japan (Sept. 1, 1923) – Magnitude 7.9 –Fatalities 143,000

Sanriku, Japan (June 15, 1896)- Magnitude 8.5 –Fatalities 27,000

Mino-Owari, Japan (Oct. 27, 1891)-Magnitude 8.0 –Fatalities 7,273


August 20, 1939-Final Stage of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol (also known as the Battle of Nomonhan)

20 Aug

On this date in 1939, one of the last prequels to World War Two as a truly global war entered its last phase. 

Since May 1939, Soviet and Japanese forces had engaged in a major battle on the steppes of Mongolia.  The end of this battle began  on August 20, 1939, as Soviet forces under the command of General Georgy Zhukov began the offensive that would defeat the Japanese, and end the months-long Battle of Khalkhin Gol/Nomonhan that pitted huge numbers of Japanese forces against the combined forces of Communist allies, the Soviet Union, and Mongolia.
The Japanese planned a third major offensive against the Soviets to begin on August 24. Zhukov plan to attack the Japanese first gave him the advantage, and neutralized the Japanese plan. Zhukov massed a large armored force of three tank brigades (the 4th, 6th and 11th), and two mechanized brigades (7th and 8th, which were armoured car units with attached infantry support). All told, General Zhukov would use three rifle divisions, two tank divisions, two additional tank brigades (498 tanks and 250 fighterplanes with bomber support) in the coming battle. The Mongolians (on whose territory the fighting took place) added two cavalry divisions. Japan’s Kwantung Army, could only match this Communist army with two lightly armored divisions at the point of attack, centered around Lieutenant General Michitaro Komatsubara’s 23rd Division. Japanese military intelligence failed to understand the sizeof the Soviet buildup or the full scope of Zhukov attack plan.

Zhukov sent 50,000 Soviet and Mongolian troops of the 57th Special Corps to the east bank of the Khalkhyn Gol river, then sent his main force (three infantry divisions, massed artillery, a tank brigade, and the best planes of the Soviet Air Force) across the river on August 20, 1939, to attack the Japanese forces. After the Japanesearmy was pinned down by the attack of the Soviet main force, the armoured forces already on the east bank moved around the flanks of the Japanese position and attacked the Kwantung Army in the rear, cutting lines of communication. This resulted a classic double envelopment of the Japanese position by the Soviet and Mongolian forces. When the two wings of Zhukov’s attack linked up at Nomonhan village on August 25, the Japanese 23rd division was trapped. On August 26, a Japanese attack to relieve the 23rd division failed. On August 27, the last attempt to break out of the encirclement also failed. The Japanese, surrounded by the Soviets,  refused to surrender. The Soviets destroyed the remaining Japanese troops with artillery and air attacks. The battle ended on August 31, 1939 with the complete destruction of the Japanese forces. Remaining Japanese units retreated to east of Nomonhan, and re-entered Japanese-occupied Manchuria (which is part of China, with whom Japan was already at war).

See also:


World War Two Document Pages Now Online

11 Apr

Several new pages are now online in the History Guy’s World War Two Section with text and images related to several important documents involving the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy, and the origins of the Second World War.


The Anti-Comintern Pact (Signed November 25, 1936)

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (Signed August 24, 1939)

Text of Adolf Hitler’s Proclamation to the German Army announcing war with Poland (September 1, 1939)

The Tripartite Pact (Signed September 27, 1940)