The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News, The Echo and The Sun MONDAY, JULY 23, 1945. THE UNKNOWN FACTOR
'J'HE very persistence of the reports emanating from United States and British sources, that the Japanese have asked Marshal Stalin to put forward peace proposals on their behalf, tends to make cne suspect that they have some considerable element of truth. While avoiding as far as possible the clanger of wishful thinking, the conclusion must be reached that there really is something doing on the diplomatic front, and there is no dcubt that if a satisfactory surrender formula can be devised it will save tremendous bloodshed. It is well known that there are two main influential groups in Japan—the Army-Navy Service chiefs and the big six industrial families. Set above both is nominally the Emperor, but to what extent he can use his prestige to force the generals and admirals to see reason has yet to be revealed. It is certain, however, that no divergence of opinion among the Allies regarding the ultimate fate of the Emperor should be allowed to interfere with the possibility of ending the war at the earliest possible moment. The greatest service the Emperor can do us is to be the means of convincing his truculent advisers that it is better to accept unconditional surrender now rather than commit mass hara-kiri later.
Recent operations in the Pacific have a feeling of unreality about them. Naval task forces steam for days just off the coast of the home islands of Japan. They meet no opposition. At times, with really astounding audacity, the big ships come within sight of land the better to bombard selected targets. As Vice-Admiral Marc Mitscher (the brilliant former carrier task force commander who is now deputy-Chief of Naval Air Operations) pointed out, the enemy are evidently short of something they badly need. Perhaps it is petrol, as the admiral suggested, or domestic unpreparedness, as was suggested by Vice-Admiral Fitch. Whatever it is the Allies have cause to be thankful. Never in the wildest dreams of the most optimistic Allied tactician was the prospect of virtually unopposed air operations over Japan considered. The loss of "face" resulting from the bombing and shelling will prove of incalculable importance, and the American Navy has recognised this in its present combined offensive over the air and from the air. There is, after all, nothing so impressive as a warning administered and immediately backed up with practical action as an earnest of what is yet to come. Even the most fanatical Japanese cannot pass off as enemy lies the destruction of his home or factory. That is the sort of highlighting that gives meaning to any warning.
Well-informed Service opinion in the United States is not being lulled into a false sense of security by the present brilliant success of the combined task forces. When the Okinawa campaign had been completely analysed there was only one possible conclusion—that the invasion of the Japanese homeland would be infinitely more costly. Casualties in this war have been generally much lower than was anticipated, but they have been quite heavy enough. There is no equation between Japanese killed and our own losses that can be regarded as satisfactory. Even one dead Allied soldier, sailor or airman for every 100 Japs would not be good enough, and for that reason alone if unconditional surrender in terms of the Atlantic Charter can be arranged now so much the better. There is a school of public opinion that will not recognise uie possibility that the Japanese might lay down their arms on our terms prior to invasion. Time alone will decide, but one thing is certain—the low-caste Japanese himself is the unknown factor. His Service leaders will fight to the end' if allowed—his industrial employers will save portion of their commercial empires at his expense if they can arrange things that way.. What can the great mass of the people do? Perhaps their Emperor will prove the decir' ! '-!~ Factor after all.
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The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News, The Echo and The Sun MONDAY, JULY 23, 1945. THE UNKNOWN FACTOR,
Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 172, 23 July 1945