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Influence of WW1 on Japan

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  • #16
    I would add to previous this:

    In 1914 Japan had quite a bit of Western / European technology in their possession but had only just begun to diffuse that technology on the civilian side of their society. That is, their military was still very, and in some cases totally, dependent on continued purchase of war materials from foreign nations. Two examples of this are ships and artillery. The overwhelming majority of both are still being gotten from Europe in 1914 along with ammunition. Japanese industry had only just begun to rise to a level where indigenous production could occur.
    This presents a problem for them in a major 1914 war: They have very limited means of keeping the equipment they have supplied and repaired in heavy use without access to foreign sources.

    The other issue would be the still dicotomous nature of Japanese society and the adaptation of Western technology and methods of warfare to the extent they have been. Regardless of the adaptation of tactics, methodology and, equipment the Japanese still have a very class stratified society that is socially a top-down structure. Obedience to superiors is virtually unquestioned. Independent thinking is considered poor form and a social disaster particularly when not done by the top layer of society. The samuari / bushido code is still visible in the military as a set of rules for behavior.
    This leads the Japanese to not be highly innovative in their technology or its employment. In the field the military and, particularly the army, follows a fairly rigid and predictable formulamatic war making process largely based on Prussian / German tactics of the late 19th Century.
    The fall back for failure is often a morale failure that leads to desperation and fatalism (eq., the frontal assault / banzai charge). There is also a strong Japanese / Asian flavor to strategy. The Japanese favored surprise attacks, use of multiple ruses and diversions along with an expectation that their moral and culturial superiority would make up for inferior numbers. This holds true even in 1914 and grew stronger as the influence of the Imperial Army and Navy grew in society.
    But, a wider war with greater experiance than the more one-sided outcomes versus the Russians in 1905 would have probably given them a more levened view particularly if there were some serious military setbacks that showed the flaws of their system.

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    • #17
      I been reading Rise of the warrior which discussing the Japanese military from 1860 to WW2. One thing I starting to come away with is I think the Japanese Army probally had a better understanding of how to fight WW1 than the Europeans. Just reading about the various battles of Russo Japanese wars you see the seed of WW1. The Japanese learned to counter trench warfare to a certain degree. Granted the initial commander at Port Arthur ranks up there with the commanders of the Western Front for thinking but his replacement developed a better game plan.


      I am gonna have to delve into Tsingto a bit more but it seems that Japan understood how effective the defenses were and adapted quicker than there Western Front oppistes.

      So I am not sure having any setbacks are needed TA just good fights probally would of been enough. But I am really starting to believe the cake walks in WW1 laid the ground work for the Army to become complacent.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by craven View Post

        So I am not sure having any setbacks are needed TA just good fights probally would of been enough. But I am really starting to believe the cake walks in WW1 laid the ground work for the Army to become complacent.
        That is the problem. Winning just reinforces the belief your current system is right. It takes some degree of disaster to upset the current belief system forcing it to be overturned.

        Perry did that when he forced Japan into opening up trade. The Japanese caught on to the technology quickly but social change was much slower. There also was a much slower pace in adopting the methods to produce and maintain the new technologies. This is why the IJN is heavily equipped with foreign built ships even in 1914; they lacked the necessary infrastructure to build their own and were only then getting the beginnings of it in Japan.

        Some serious setbacks are the surest way to get complacency overturned.

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