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JUST three months after Germany's surrender the world waits while J the Government of the last member of the infamous Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis brings itself to accept the Allies' terms. When VE day was celebrated last May no one, even in the flush of optimistic enthusiasm engendered by Germany's utter defeat, "would have dared predict the present astounding developments, and it is worth while considering the factors which have made further Japanese resistance futile. Japan has been out-fought and. out-manoeuvred just as it was anticipated she finally would be, but with a speed which is perhaps the most remarkable outcome of Allied operations in the Pacific. When the circumstances of the war against Japan are surveyed on a broad basis the conclusion is reached, as was pointed out in the Yale University Review not long ago, that the Japanese General Staff made three fatal miscalculations. First, they completely misjudged the course of the war in Europe. Second, they under-estimated the productive capacity and recuperative powers of the United Nations, and particularly the United States. And, finally, they miscalculated the ability of America to wage an offensive in the Pacific simultaneously with an offensive in Europe.

It is a far cry from the dark days of early 1942, but from the time she entered the war the United States refused to agree that victory must be won in Europe before anything much more than a holding or delaying war could be waged against Japan. While sending great armies and air forces to play their vital part in Africa, Italy, France and Germany, the American Government also deployed men, planes and ships into the Pacific, and in doing so attracted much ill-informed criticism. For a time her Pacific forces were smaller and less well armed than their commanders wished, but the fact remains that they were sufficiently strong to take the offensive, arid win priceless victories. At sea the rejuvenated American Pacific Fleet quickly showed skill and tactical daring which were not matched by the enemy, and resulted in the resounding defeat of the once proud Imperial navy.

To fight the war in Europe, and at the same time supply and reinforce the armies in the Solomons and New Guinea, the Central Pacific and the Philippines, at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the responsible officers of the combined Services in the United States faced problems staggering in their immensity. Yet, as American industrial life was geared to war production, it became increasingly obvious to the American Chiefs of Staff that, contrary to the beliefs of their critics, it was possible to conduct the war on two fronts. By the time victory had been won in Europe it was already certain that the Japanese would before long bow to a similar fate.

It is essential on such occasions that the public should not gain a premature impression that the need for maximum effort is over, and when making their statements that victory might not be won for up to eighteen months those "in the know" must have realised that (apart altogether from the possibilities of the atomic bomb) when Russia intervened the end would 'be a matter of weeks. At the bases won by General Mac Arthur's gallant men vast stores of materials were being assembled even before the end came in Europe. After that victory the flood became torrential. Men, planes, ships, floating docks, fleet supply trains and all sorts of war material have poured across the Pacific. Latterly the chief limiting factor has been provision of facilities to receive and handle supplies. While not in any way disparaging the splendid successes of the British forces in Burma, the Australians in New Guinea and the Chinese armies in Burma and in their homeland, the plain truth cannot be denied that the vast productive resources of American industry have been principally responsible for Japan's so speedy reduction to her present plight. To-day, in the incredibly short space of three months after the end of hostilities in Europe, the Japanese find themselves, to their surprise and ours, suing for peace. A well-worn tag might be brought up-to-date by adding that, from the Japanese point of view, America had too much and produced it too soon.

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Bibliographic details

WHY DID IT HAPPEN SO SOON?, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 190, 13 August 1945

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WHY DID IT HAPPEN SO SOON? Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 190, 13 August 1945

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