Read 1945 Online

Authors: Robert Conroy

Tags: #World War; 1939-1945 - United States, #Alternative histories (Fiction), #World War; 1939-1945, #General, #United States, #Historical, #War & Military, #World War; 1939-1945 - Japan, #Japan, #Fiction

1945 (7 page)

BOOK: 1945
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Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo had been imprisoned, although in the comfort of his own home. The fool had insisted on trying to negotiate a peace settlement with the Allies on terms that were unfavorable to the Empire. Later they would decide whether he had committed treason. Probably not, as he was not a soldier and had been following the wishes of his misguided emperor, Hirohito. Togo 's replacement, ex-prime minister Hideki Tojo, had been chosen by the military, and the news had sent shock waves through the Allies. Tojo had been one of the architects of the Pearl Harbor attack, but had borne the brunt of blame for the later failures of the military and been forced to resign.

Anami hoped that Tojo's appointment and apparent return to power would send a clear message that the Japanese Empire was deadly serious in its intent to continue the war. Tojo, however, was a figurehead appointment. The real power to lead and control Japan lay with the handful of men in the room.

Of the other important pacifists, only Marquis Kido, a friend and relative of the emperor's, remained at large. General Umezu, who had openly agreed with the decision to surrender, was also under house arrest. In Anami's opinion, Umezu was definitely a traitor and would be dealt with accordingly.

Anami began the meeting. "The emperor sends his greetings and wishes us well."

Admiral Toyoda's mouth flickered slightly in what might have been a smile. "Then he has not decided to choose an honorable death?" Toyoda was delighted that the war was continuing and, like the others in the room, knew that Hirohito was a prisoner. "And where is our beloved emperor?"

Anami nodded slightly at Toyoda. "Colonel Sakei said that Hirohito intends no such thing as an immediate honorable death. He believes that he can best serve the Empire by living."

The implications were clear. Hirohito would remain alive to forestall his replacement by someone more extreme. Should he die, then the crown would pass to his son, Akihito. But the crown prince was far too young to reign, and a regent would be appointed, presuming, of course, that the crown prince could be found. A second choice would doubtless be Hirohito's younger brother, Prince Takamatsu. Takamatsu stood solidly behind the militarists in their continuing fight.

"As to the emperor's physical presence," Anami continued, "Colonel Sakei has moved him to a place of greater safety. He is in a secure location near the city of Nagasaki. That was chosen because the Americans would not again bomb the ruined place. It also places him away from Tokyo and the possibility of a countercoup." Anami quickly looked upward and the others followed. They could hear the distant thudding of bombs. "It is ironic, but dead Nagasaki is now far safer than Tokyo."

The group nodded agreement. Anami was still taken aback by the way they looked to him for guidance and leadership.

Anami again directed his glance at Admiral Toyoda. "Are there any improvements regarding the navy?"

Toyoda flushed. There was no navy. With the exception of sixteen destroyers and a number of regular submarines, the conventional navy no longer existed. Fewer than 10 percent of navy ships were still afloat, and all other ships of consequence had been sunk or so severely damaged that they could not move.

"We have no carriers, no battleships, no cruisers, and almost no frontline planes. Unless they have been found and destroyed by the Americans, only about a hundred fighters remain, and they are dispersed all over Japan."

Once, the Japanese navy and the swift Zero fighter had ruled both the waves and the skies. Now it was all ashes, and the surviving planes were hidden rather than rising to fight. Even the guns from the remaining ships had been removed and placed in tunnels and bunkers where they would have a better opportunity to repel the Americans.

Just before Pearl Harbor, the late and revered Admiral Yamamoto had said that the Japanese navy would run amok for six months or a year, but that the weight of American arms would be too much. Events had occurred precisely as Yamamoto had forecast.

Anami wondered what role Yamamoto would have taken in these proceedings had he not been killed by American fighter planes.

"General Sugiyama?" Anami asked.

Field Marshal Hajime Sugiyama had been appointed to coordinate the land defenses of the home islands. Anami considered him pompous, but he was a loyal supporter of continuing the war.

"The army is ready," Sugiyama said proudly. "We are two million strong and undefeated, although I have to admit that many of our troops are inexperienced, and not up to our previous standards. Additional formations are crossing over from Manchukuo and Chosen and will assist in the defense of the home islands. Further, we are beginning to enroll millions of Japanese civilians into either militia units or civilian shock troops."

With the exception of the battle for the Philippines, only fairly small units of the Imperial Japanese Army had encountered the Americans. In China, the Japanese army had been victorious and all-conquering up until the Russians had advanced into Manchukuo and threatened the Kwantung army's rear. Now that army was withdrawing its best troops back to the home islands while leaving second-rate soldiers to fight off the Soviets in the lands known by the Americans as Manchuria and Korea.

"General, when will the Russians be halted?" Anami queried.

Sugiyama's confidence was unshaken as he stated unpleasant truths. "The remainder of our armies in China and Manchukuo will be split by the Russian advance. Those in China have been directed to build strong fortifications and defend themselves bravely until relieved, while those in Chosen are withdrawing south and will form defensive lines where the peninsula narrows. By that time, the Russians should be out of fuel and, with their supply lines extended, will be vulnerable to our counterattacks."

Anami prodded, "The Soviets have crossed and landed on what they refer to as Sakhalin Island. Have we overlooked their amphibious potential?"

"No," the field marshal answered tersely. "What was overlooked was the defense of those islands. Our predecessors thought that the treaty with the Soviet Union would render moot any need to protect those lands from those we thought were our allies. Thus, the Russian landings were virtually unopposed. I guarantee you that will not be the case if they wish to proceed farther or attempt to land on Honshu."

Sugiyama's report did not mention the hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers either still fighting battles in the islands of the Pacific, or who were withering and starving after being bypassed by the American navy, which could sail anyplace it wished. He was told almost four hundred thousand of Japan's best soldiers were isolated from the home islands by distance and the American navy. They might as well be dead.

"Army fighter planes?" Anami asked. "What numbers are there?"

Sugiyama shrugged. "A few hundred, and they too are dispersed and well hidden until the time is right. But that is not important. We will win this war with courage and adherence to the code of Bushido, not with machines. Victory will go to the brave, and there is no one more courageous than the Japanese soldier!"

Anami said nothing, but again wondered just what good courage was against an enemy who was tens of thousands of feet in the sky and capable of dropping bombs of all kinds on the heads of those brave Japanese soldiers. What good was bravery if the brave warrior could not even reach the craven enemy?

Thousands of American planes flew daily over Japanese lands, and the Japanese military was helpless to stop them. Those few fighters that did fly up to attack them were inevitably shot down. As a result, the draconian order had gone forth that the cities would not be defended from the American bombers. The few remaining planes, along with the precious few warships, would be husbanded until the time of the American invasion. As this occurred, the Japanese military and civilian population would dig into the hillsides and await their opportunity for revenge.

Anami clenched his fists. "Victory is a qualified statement. What we want is to end this round of fighting on terms that will not destroy or humiliate Japan or cause us to violate our oath to the code of Bushido, and which will enable us to prepare for the next round. The question then is, how do we accomplish this most reasonable goal? We understand quite well that the Americans have a different definition of the worth of a soldier's life. In Japan, a soldier's goal is to die for his emperor, while the American wishes nothing more than to survive and go home. Thus, while our soldiers fight to the death, the cowardly Americans surrender at the earliest opportunity."

Sugiyama sniffed. "They are women."

"Be that as it may, the fact of their unmanly behavior has given us a weapon. General Sugiyama, you spoke of arming millions of civilians, but with what? We have very few guns to give them."

"Spears and knives," Sugiyama said proudly. "They will rush the Americans. Then they will stab them and disembowel them."

Anami appreciated the thought, but questioned its effectiveness. However, while uncountable tens of thousands would be killed and stacked in bloody piles before the American guns, many Americans would indeed die as well.

"Good," Anami said, "but the key to our success is the kamikaze." They recalled the sacred story of the kamikaze, the divine wind, that had sprung up those hundreds of years ago to destroy the ships of the Mongol horde and kept Japan safe from invasion.

"The purpose of the kamikaze," he continued, "is not to die uselessly for Japan, but to kill for her, and we must not forget that. If death comes as that which is inevitable and right, then such a death is an honor to one's self and family. But it is far, far better to kill first than to just die, and that is what we must ensure. General, how many kamikaze planes and pilots are ready for the final battle?"

Sugiyama's chest swelled. "At least five thousand, and there are an additional ten thousand planes of all kinds that can be converted into flying bombs. Getting pilots is no problem, and we are hoarding fuel enough for them to make their one-way flights to glory. They will kill for Japan."

"Good. Now, what about the navy, Admiral Toyoda?"

The admiral responded proudly. "While we lack larger craft, we have over three hundred midget submarines, along with many manned torpedoes and many hundreds of smaller craft that are intended to attack and ram American ships. Again, the fuel, while scarce, will be sufficient for a onetime thrust. The navy too will kill and die for Japan."

Anami permitted himself a smile. "Then all we have to do is make this rain of nuclear death stop. I must confess that, when the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, I thought that the Americans would have no others. Sadly, I was wrong and I apologize for my ignorance. Yet, we are not without recourse."

He paused and saw that he had their attention. "To my surprise and dismay, the Hiroshima bomb was followed by the Nagasaki attack only three days later. This was obviously intended to make us think they had many bombs in their arsenals." Anami paused again and smiled grimly. "Yet, it took almost two weeks for a third to be dropped on Kokura. That tells me that their number of bombs and their ability to produce them is extremely limited. They likely had two to begin with and used them at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thinking we would surrender as a result. When we did not, they had to manufacture a third. I am certain they are right now building a fourth and fifth of the infernal devices. But, I am just as certain that we have a couple of weeks before any will be ready for use."

Anami looked about, waiting to see if they agreed with his logic. When no comments were forthcoming, he continued, "During these few weeks given us, we will prey upon the American weakness regarding the deaths of their soldiers to force them to stop using atomic bombs on us."

"How?" interrupted Toyoda.

Anami ignored the breach of protocol. "We hold many thousands of American and British prisoners of war, along with numerous Australians and Dutch. I propose that those prisoners now held in the home islands be brought to our cities and held as hostages against nuclear attack. I further propose that Allied prisoners in Manchukuo and elsewhere, particularly those senior officers like Wainwright and Devereaux, be transported to the home islands to swell the numbers who will die if we are attacked. I also propose that we immediately inform the Americans and British of our intentions."

There was a stunned silence, then the men in the underground bunker rose and applauded General Anami.

 

Chapter 8

 

Sgt. Joe Nomura knew he was in trouble when he saw the two men walking briskly down the row of beds in the hospital ward. He was the only person in the ward in Saipan, so he couldn't hope that they would pass him by.

Joe lay back on his bed in his underwear and relaxed as they stopped in front of him. "Gentlemen, what can I do for you?"

The two men appeared to be in their thirties. They were dressed as naval officers, commanders, and carried briefcases. While one was dark-haired and the other light, the two looked disarmingly like tall and well-muscled twins. The lighter-haired one spoke. "Sergeant Nomura, I am Commander Johnson and this is Commander Peters. We would like to speak with you for a few moments."

Nomura sat up. It was awkward because his left arm had been amputated at the elbow. "Has my discharge come through?"

Peters and Johnson looked at each other; slight confusion registered on their faces. "No," said Johnson, "we don't know anything about that."

Nomura waved his half an arm. "Do you mean that the army intends to keep me on as a one-armed soldier? That's ridiculous. There's nothing more I can do. I've given enough, don't you think?"

"I understand," said Peters.

"Do you?" Nomura sneered.

Johnson opened his briefcase and pulled out a sheet of paper. "Let's see. Sergeant Jochi Nomura, aged twenty-eight. You were born on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, in some town I can't pronounce. At age eight, your parents, who were employed by a shipping company, took you to Japan, where you lived until you were seventeen. At that point, you returned with them and lived in Honolulu, where you remained until the start of the war."

BOOK: 1945
7.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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