Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eri Hotta Interview! (5/23/14)

Frank & John welcome author and historian, Eri Hotta, to the program to discuss her latest ground breaking book, Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy.

Eri was born and raised in Tokyo. Educated in Japan, the United States, and the UK. She received a BA in history at Princeton and did her Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations at Oxford, where she also taught from 2001-2005. She was a professor in Jerusalem as well. Her previous work includes, Pan-Asianism and Japan's War, 1931–1945.

Why would Japan, a country that was out-resourced 74 fold by the United States, carry on such an illogical war? Was the Japanese high command guilty of wishful thinking or just "great gamblers" that didn't properly ponder an exit strategy? Eri explains the petty rivalries and conflicts in the Japanese leadership that fueled it's desire to re-invent itself and how these flaws ultimately lead to their defeat.

Did victory over the Russian Empire in 1905 give Japan a false confidence to think they could now aggressively compete on the world stage? The anger that Japan felt because they were not treated as a "great power" by the West at the 1919 Versailles Conference....The United States actually pondered the handing over of the Philippines! Plus, Woodrow Wilson's refusal to include Japan's desired "racial & religious equality clause."

Was Japan a victim of Western bullies or the initiators of the war? Was the attack on Pearl Harbor a mere "holding action" by the Japanese? Was Emperor Hirohito actually a weak and cowardly man, afraid of a coup by the militarists?

The books, Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, by David Bergamini, and The Tiger of Malaya, by Aubrey-Saint-Kenworthy, are discussed.

The Japanese thought Bolshevism was a very dangerous philosophy and was the reason for their border battles in the North. The role played by infamous Russian spy, Richard Sorge.

Why did the United States, once a victim of colonialism, now have an interest in saving British and French colonial Interests in South East Asia? FDR's attempt to make Indochina the "Switzerland" of the region and why Japan rejected his plan. Plus, did FDR's actions push Japan to War? Did he know about the attack on Pearl Harbor ahead of time?

Also, the strains between China and Japan, then and now...

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