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183 votes
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On 1941 Dec 7, could Japan have targeted the Panama Canal instead of Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack?

So I want to know, did the Japanese Navy have the ability to destroy it in a surprise attack, let's say on 1941 Dec 7? I'm asking if the Japanese Navy had the ability. I'm not asking if it was a ...
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87 votes

Why didn't Japan take Pearl Harbor when they had the chance?

There are two simple reasons they did not, besides "they couldn't" The "they couldn't" make the airborne assault with paratroopers is underscored by the fact that their longest ...
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84 votes
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Why does Japan use the same type of AC power outlet as the US?

Japanese AC power outlets were first standardised in 1926 with the publication of the "挿込型接続器標準仕様書" (lit., "Standard for a Insertable Connector"), which became JIS C 8303. At the time, Japan was ...
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81 votes
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Were kamikaze pilots an effective strategy for Japan?

No. The general argument goes something like this: Japan was running out of trained pilots Japan couldn't spare the fuel to properly train more pilots But they had plenty of planes. Thus untrained ...
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79 votes
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How could it be that 80% of townspeople were farmers during the Edo period in Japan?

The total land area of Japan is around 146,000 square miles. 20% of that works out around 29,000 square miles or 18.6 million acres. The population of Tokugawa japan was around 30 million people. ...
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73 votes

Did the leaflets from the US to Hiroshima/Nagasaki civilians on bombing cities reduce the civilian casualties of the two nuclear bombs in August 1945?

There is a 1946 book by John Hersey, Hiroshima, which is an excellent compilation of personal testimonies from Hiroshima residents following the atomic bombing. Although it doesn’t mention Allied ...
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67 votes
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Why was the Japanese Army's fatalities inflicted:suffered ratio so low in the Pacific theatre?

Training and morale of Japanese soldiers First of all, Japanese Forces were by no means inferior to their enemies in terms of fighting spirit or training. Beyond a doubt, No nation in WW2 had soldiers ...
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60 votes
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Given their reputation for fighting to the last man in the Pacific, why did 700,000 Japanese troops surrender in Manchuria?

Because the Japanese Government surrendered on 15 August. Naturally, the Japanese military was ordered to lay down their arms. For Manchuria this meant the much-reduced Kwantung Army, which ...
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59 votes
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Did a kamikaze ever impact the hull of a ship, as opposed to the deck?

Also, correct me if I'm wrong but the heavy AA guns appear like they can't point down over the deck. They can only point upwards or parallel to the surface, but not down at the surface. This ...
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55 votes

Why didn't Japan take Pearl Harbor when they had the chance?

The specific scenario of using paratroopers is a nonstarter. In addition to @KorvinStarmast's answer on why it's infeasible, Japan actually only had about 1,500 paratroopers. There simply wasn't ...
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52 votes
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Why did English adopt Kamikaze (神風) as a loanword instead of Tokko (特攻) during/after WWII?

It's possible we adopted the term Kamikaze because that's what we heard from the Japanese themselves. The term was apparently used by Tokyo Rose on her broadcasts to the American troops. The book ...
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49 votes
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Was it possible for a young Japanese woman to end up enslaved in Great Britain in the mid-1600s?

No. At least, not to any practical intent or purpose. Japanese in Britain Significant numbers of Japanese were actually sold into slavery overseas during the 16th century, mostly through Portuguese ...
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49 votes

Why was the US so pro-China and so anti-Japan before WW2?

Japan was a threat to the US's Pacific territories, and those of other European powers. China was not. Unlike China, and every other Asian nation at the time, Japan had defeated and humiliated a ...
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45 votes

Why didn't Japan take Pearl Harbor when they had the chance?

Japan successfully wiped out America's defenses at Pearl Harbor, The basic premise of your question is faulty: the American defenses weren't wiped out. Look at the list of what the Japanese hit (...
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40 votes
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Why do the Japanese sing Ode to Joy during the Japanese New Year?

This modern tradition has its roots in the First World War, when Japan entered on the side of the Allies following the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Japan's entry carried an initial, overt goal of ...
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40 votes
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Was Hiroshima targeted because its mountains would "rebound the explosion back into the city for more damage"?

The Wikipedia entry on the atomic bombings cites a few sources that confirm this was indeed a criterion, among others (emphasis mine): In April 1945, Marshall asked Groves to nominate specific ...
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39 votes
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Rape perpetrated by American soldiers during WWII?

Yes, there were extensive rapes by American soldiers during the Second World War. During the Second World War American GIs in Europe raped around 14,000 civilian women, in England, France and ...
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38 votes
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Was there a Japanese equivalent of the Gestapo during WW2

Yes, that would be the Kenpeitai. It was a military police corps, founded in 1881. The kenpeitai had jurisdiction everywhere within the Japanese empire and their conquered territories. Although it ...
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37 votes
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Where did Japan get their oil during WWII?

Japan had a small domestic oil production, a few million barrels, but not nearly enough to meet their peacetime needs let alone war. What they did have is enough oil refineries with a capacity of ...
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36 votes

Were there any Germans in Japan after the surrender of Germany in May, 1945 and if so, what happened to them?

The fate of the German ambassador to Japan, Heinrich Georg Stahmer indicates what probably happened to most of the Germans in Japan. On May 5, 1945, as the German surrender was approaching, ...
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36 votes
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When/how did Harry Truman give the order to bomb Hiroshima?

Truman retained mission authorization within the Oval Office, but all further details were delegated through the normal chain of command to Colonel Tibbets to plan the mission. Once the Japanese ...
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35 votes
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What made the Russian Navy suspect Japanese torpedo boats were in North Sea in 1904?

What intelligence did the Russians have that the Japanese had either torpedo boats or mines in the North Sea, and what was the source of that intelligence? I don't have the book referenced in the ...
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34 votes

Why were there so few American deaths in the Bataan Death March?

One element is there were more Filipino than American troops. On April 9, 1942, the 12,000 American and 58,000 Filipino soldiers surrendered. At the time of surrender, about a third were sick or ...
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33 votes
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Are there incidents of ronin travelling outside Japan as soldiers of fortune?

Yes, there were. Below are examples from Siam, the Philippines, China, Mexico and Indonesia. Ayutthaya (Siamese Kingdom) Probably the best known one was Yamada Nagamasa (born 1590, died 1630) in the ...
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32 votes

What were the EMP effects, if any, of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Little Boy detonated at ~580 metres above Hiroshima, and Fat Man at ~500 metres above Nagasaki. While all nuclear explosions generate electromagnetic pulses of some sort, at these low altitudes their ...
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32 votes

When/how did Harry Truman give the order to bomb Hiroshima?

I came across a document in the Truman library while researching another question here, which according to the one Library page, seems to be the closest thing to documenting the order by Truman ...
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32 votes
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What are the hay effigies in this Japanese movie?

It's a scarecrow, but, in Japan, the setting up of the scarecrow is a ritualized process: ... the Scarecrow Festival or Kakashi Matsuri takes place in autumn, from 8th-16th September [Dates were ...
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31 votes
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How did the Japanese treat captured "Flying Tigers" in World War II?

According to Daniel Ford's "Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942" (and this page) only four Flying Tigers were ever captured by the Japanese. One of those, Arnold ...
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31 votes
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Why did the Japanese withdraw from Siberia in 1922?

Yes, strong diplomatic and domestic opposition was the reason the intervention was abandoned. The Siberian Intervention was not a profitable venture; it is remote, with a hostile populace, neighbours ...
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