Thursday, October 03, 2013

"Eyewitness: The Pacific War: Road to War"; obscure documentary from Netflix on how Japan prepared for WWII

There is an interesting video from 2005, “Eyewitness: The Pacific War: Road to War”, just 72 minutes, apparently written and directed by Kevin Phillips, that traces, mostly with older black-and-white footage, the entire history of Japan’s aggression from the 1920’s until it attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. I could not fund it on IMDB, but it sat in my Netflix queue as “short wait” for a long time.

I was not aware of the extent of Japanese plans, as apparently revealed in historical documents by Tanaka Giichi.  Japan had, by treaty, obtained the right to a smaller Navy than the US and Britain after WWI, but believed it needed to conquer other countries to feed its exploding population.  It made plans to move into Korea and Manchuria first, then all of China and IndoChina (Vietnam), east into Burma, south to Australia, and eventually conquer the United States. 

The film shows Japanese bombing of Shanghai, with civilians fleeing to a sheltered international zone.  When the Japanese moved into interior areas of China, the Chinese followed a scorched earth policy, burning all farms and cities and destroying the property of their own people. 
The film traces more briefly the fascist takeover of Italy and the rise of Nazism in Germany, and the formation of the pact with Germany.  Japan would then be angered by a US boycott, said to lead to the aggression of Pearl Harbor.

What seems interesting about a documentary like this is how most countries viewed society a century ago, with authoritarianism and demands of citizen obedience and loyalty presumed.

The film as a lot of interview material with Hideki Tojo, from the Japanese war cabinet, and an American who had worked in Japan at the time. The DVD comes from a company called Arts Magic and this appears to be part of a larger series.  

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