THE JAPANESE ARMY REJECTS A LIMITED INVASION AND DEMANDS FULL CONTROL OF AUSTRALIA

 

The Japanese Army rejects the Navy plan for a limited invasion and presses for full control over Australia

Clinching proof that Dr Stanley is wrong and that debate concerning an invasion of Australia in 1942 reached the highest levels of the Japanese Army and Navy can be found in the following passage from Professor Frei:

"Two days after the fall of Singapore, Army General Chief of Staff Sugiyama Gen moderated the cantankerous dispute (between middle-level Army and Navy staff officers) on the highest level, as he set forth his views on Australia to Navy General Chief of Staff Nagano Osami. The situation for action in Java looked none too bright, said he. But there was hope, and following the defeat of Java the Japanese forces would be pressed to think about the next military operations. These would certainly include Australia, which stood next in the line of assault as it furnished the biggest United States and British bases from which to launch counter-attacks against Japan. Certainly it was important to have an Australia policy, but, at the same time, they also had to reflect on the immense problem of how to control Australia. What they needed was a comprehensive plan that took into consideration all of the country, 'because if we only take one part of Australia, it will surely develop into a war of attrition... there are in-depth plans* that consider the control of the entire continent, it is useless for us to plan for an invasion of only part of Australia. On the other hand, there is no objection to plans to isolate Australia by cutting her lines of communication with the United States.' To this end , plans for invading Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia had great value, and Sugiyama urged that the navy proceed together with the army in a joint study of this operation along already established plans. See Frei, at pages 166-167. The emphasis is mine.

* By "in-depth plans" General Sugiyama was referring to Operation FS.

Professor Frei points out that the Japanese Army was not blind to the danger from Australia as an ally of the United States, and was not averse to cutting Australia's lines of communication with the United States by capturing Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia. He goes on to say:

"The army was by no means blind to the Australian danger. Ever since the navy and the army had gotten together in late December 1941 to study the Fiji-Samoa-New Caledonia project --FS Operation*, for short -- the army had been willing to contemplate landings on those islands, assuming that their capture would prevent the United States from establishing Australia as their main beachhead in the Pacific for the counter-offensive....Already at a Liaison Conference of 10 January 1942, army approval of FS Operation had deflected the navy's scheme of capturing Australia, by focussing in a joint agreement on isolating rather than than invading Australia." See Frei, at page 167. The emphasis is mine.

* FS Operation (also known as Operation FS) is explained in greater detail in a later chapter.

In this last-mentioned passage, Professor Frei again shows that Dr Stanley is wrong when he claims that proposals to invade Australia did not proceed beyond discussions between "middle-ranking naval staff officers". See the chapter "Dr Peter Stanley showcases his ignorance of the Pacific War". As I have already explained in Japan's military high command, "Liaison Conferences" were part of the regular functioning of Japan's Imperial General Headquarters - the peak body of Japan's military high command. To draw from the passage quoted, "the navy's scheme of capturing Australia" could only be raised at Imperial General Headquarters by the Chief of Navy General Staff, Admiral Osami Nagano, or his deputy, and it would reflect Nagano's own view. Dr Stanley's "middle-ranking naval staff officers" did not participate in meetings of Imperial General Headquarters, including the Liaison Conferences, and their personal views on naval policy would never be raised at that very high level.

The conversation between General Sugiyama and Admiral Nagano on 17 February 1942 (see above) is of critical importance to understanding why the Japanese Army opposed the Navy's plan for a limited invasion of the northern Australian mainland. The Japanese Army did not want to reproduce in Australia the situation in China where Japan occupied mostly coastal areas of China and the army was bogged down in a seemingly endless war of attrition.

If Dr Stanley was capable of reading and understanding what Professor Frei was saying in his authoritative work "Japan's Southward Advance and Australia", I find it very difficult to understand how he could fail to appreciate that an invasion of Australia was being debated at the highest levels of Japan's military leadrership .

I will demonstrate in the next chapter, by further reference to Professor Henry Frei, that the Japanese Army did not want a limited invasion of the Australian mainland; it wanted Australia's complete surrender to Japan.

Japanese Navy General Staff and Navy Ministry agree to deferment of their limited invasion plan for Australia

It appears that the Navy General Staff accepted the logic of General Sugiyama's argument that Japan had to control all of Australia, and that the Japanese Navy's plan for partial invasion of northern areas of the Australian mainland was unsatisfactory because it could produce for Japan another lengthy and unwanted war of attrition of the sort that was taking place in China. At the meeting of Army and Navy Sections of Imperial General Headquarters on 4 March 1942, the Navy agreed to its plan for limited invasion of Australia being deferred. It did not "lapse" as Dr Stanley has incorrectly claimed. See below.

Priority would now be given by Japan's military leaders to the Japanese Army plan to compel Australia's surrender to Japan. This agreement was confirmed at a Liaison Conference at Imperial General Headquarters on 7 March 1942, and formally ratified at another Liaison Conference on 11 March.

The distinguished Japan scholar and historian, Professor John J.Stephan of the University of Hawaii has described the proceedings at these three conferences:

"On 4 March 1942 key officers from the army and navy general staffs and ministries came together for yet another attempt to compose their differences. This time they managed to reach a consensus - of sorts. Present were Rear Admiral Takazumi Oka and Lieutenant General Akira Muto, respective heads of the navy and army ministries military affairs sections, and Tanaka* and Fukudome** from the army and navy general staffs' operations sections.

* Major General Shin'ichi Tanaka
** Rear Admiral Shigeru Fukudome

"At this meeting, a wide range of topics came under discusssion, among the most sensitive being the direction and scope of future operations. On this matter, compromise was reached. The navy committed itself to eliminating British forces in the Indian Ocean and undertook not to launch any major campaign beyond the Pacific perimeter in the near future (that is towards Fiji, Samoa, or Hawaii). The army, in turn, acquiesced to tactical operations by the navy beyond the Pacific perimeter ("as opportunities arise') and committed itself to making feasibiliy studies of invasions of Hawaii, Australia, and Ceylon that might be put into practice at some time in the future (when was left vague). These compromises were recorded in a document entitled: 'Fundamental Outline of Recommendations for Future War Leadership'.

"The army-navy modus vivendi of 4 March formed the main item on the agenda of a liaison conference that convened on 7 March. After Army Vice Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Moritake Tanabe had read aloud the 'Fundamental Outline', Finance Minister Okinori Kaya asked what was meant by 'expanding the existing war achievements' (kitoku no senka o kakudai). Tanabe answered that the phrase referred to possible 'supplementary operations' such as invasions of Hawaii, Ceylon and Australia, which the army and navy were studying."

"On 11 March another liaison conference convened and formally ratified the 'Fundamental Outline'. The document was presented to the emperor on 13 March by Prime Minister Tojo, Army Chief of Staff Sugiyama, and Navy Chief of Staff Nagano."

See "Hawaii under the Rising Sun: Japan's Plans for Conquest after Pearl Harbor (1984) at pages 106-107. The emphasis is mine.

If it be needed, further evidence that planning to invade Australia in 1942 reached and was approved at the highest levels of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Navy Ministry can be found in the following Japanese authorities:

"The Navy High Command wanted to invade Australia, in order to eliminate it as potential springboard for a counter-offensive by the Allies, but the Army baulked at this because it would require an excessive commitment of manpower."
From "Japanese air operations over New Guinea during the Second World War" by Hiroyuki Shindo, Assistant Professor, Military History Department, National Institute for Defense Studies, Tokyo.

This article contradicts Dr Peter Stanley's controversial revisionism on this theme. It was published in "Journal of the Australian War Memorial", June 2001, Vol. 34. It appears that Dr Stanley did not take the trouble to read this article by a distinguished Japanese military historian that had been published by his own employer before he went public with his absurd claim that the proposal to invade Australia did not proceed beyond discussions of "middle-ranking naval staff officers".

"Underlying this basic (Navy General Staff) policy was support for the invasion of Australia, the main area from which the United States would launch counter-offensives against the Japanese."
From Senshi Sosho, the official Japanese war history published by the Japanese Defense Agency. This extract is drawn from the volume "Army operations in the South Pacific area: Papua campaigns 1942-43", and can be found in "Chapter 3: Planning and Cancellation of the United States - Australia blockade operation", under the heading: "Debate concerning attack on the Australian mainland"

In my opinion, these passages extracted from the works of distinguished historians, authoritative military sources, and Japan scholars should be sufficient to establish that no weight can be attached to Dr Stanley's claim that proposals to invade Australia were limited to "acrimonious discussions" between "middle-ranking naval staff officers" or that "by mid-March the proposal lapsed". A more detailed analysis and rebuttals of Dr Peter Stanley's revisionist claims can be found in the chapter "Challenging a denial of the Japanese threat to Australia in 1942 promoted by the Australian War Memorial.

 

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