A Tsunami Devastated Japan’s Souped-Up F-16s
In the 1980s, Japan phased in its first domestic jet fighter to enter operational service — the Mitsubishi F-1. Tokyo wanted to follow up with a more capable fourth-generation F-2 “support fighter.” It was an ambitious effort. And one that a tsunami nearly destroyed. The Reagan-era Pentagon was worried... Read more
‘Akira’ Is Afraid of Nukes
Looking up from a highway toward Tokyo on a clear, sunny day, a half globe of light appears. It grows larger and larger until it consumes the city. A blast like a nuclear explosion. Thirty-one years later, the city has rebuilt itself. Neo Tokyo is a bustling metropolis. The... Read more
Eating Too Much Rice Almost Sank the Japanese Navy
This story originally appeared on May 31, 2014. In August 1882 in Incheon Bay near Seoul, four Japanese warships were locked in a tense stand-off with two Chinese warships that had brought troops to quell a revolt on the Korean peninsula. On paper, the Japanese flotilla outnumbered the Chinese,... Read more
The Japanese Carrier ‘Taiho’ Blew Up Due to a Terrible Mistake
Six torpedoes from the U.S. Navy submarine USS Albacore headed toward the Japanese aircraft Taiho as she launched her planes on the morning of June 19, 1944 during the fighting on the Philippine Sea — the largest carrier battle in history and the last major Japanese carrier operation. “White... Read more
Russia Invaded Japanese Islands With U.S. Ships — After Japan Surrendered
Seventy years after World War II ended, Japan and Russia are still trying to sign a peace treaty. The persistent bone of contention? The Kuril Islands, seized by Soviet troops in a bloody amphibious landing after Japan announced it was ready to surrender. But how and why did the Soviets seize the Kurils... Read more
Japan Dreamed of Supercarrier-Size Battleships
In January 1936 Japan announced its intention to withdraw from the London Naval Treaty, accusing both the United States and the United Kingdom of negotiating in bad faith. The Japanese sought formal equality in naval construction limits, something that the Western powers would not give. In the wake of... Read more
The 1937 Battle of Shanghai Was Asia’s Stalingrad
Open Road Media sponsored this post on March 23, 2016. Today Shanghai is a hub of international trade and culture and one of the world’s great cities. But in 1937, it was a battlefield. Imperial Japanese troops fought the Chinese Nationalist army in the seaside metropolis in one of... Read more
The Canine Heroes of the Imperial Japanese Army
This story originally appeared on Feb. 6, 2014. In the corner of the Enmei Buddhist Temple grounds in the coastal city of Zushi in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, stands a stone cenotaph that reads “Monument to the Protection of Animals.” The inscription dates back to 1958, but before that time... Read more
Kongo Versus the Earthquake
This story originally appeared on Feb. 27, 2014. This month marks the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Much of the country, myself included, felt the shaking that day—but it was the subsequent tsunami that did the most damage. On March 11, 2011, the sea swept across... Read more
Japanese Stealth Fighters Could Get Land-Attack Cruise Missiles
Japan’s strict commitment to self-defense meant that for decades its military lacked certain weapons and equipment such as precision-guided munitions, land-attack missiles and true “power projection” aircraft such as refueling tankers and long-distance transport planes. In the first several decades after World War II, this made sense—Japan’s pacifistic military... Read more

Robert Beckhusen

Managing Editor

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