Category Archives: History of the Far East

Further thoughts on the Khmer Rouge

Pol Pot in majestic mode / pinterest.com

Pol Pot in majestic mode / pinterest.com

In 1970, serious trouble boiled up again when the Prince Sihanouk was knocked off the throne by a Cambodian communist guerilla force called Khmer Rouge. This brutal, well-organised group was inevitably opposed to an American invasion of Eastern Cambodia, and rapidly gained control of the entire country by 1975. The ‘government’ was led by a man called Pol Pot, noticeably insane, who announced the dramatic transformation of his country into what he called ‘Democratic Kampuchea’. His aim was to move the masses out of urban areas into the countryside, where they could be usefully employed in tilling the soil, if they could find some, and could irrigate it if there was nearby water. To control the new agricultural population Pol Pot invented thousands of new ‘agricultural cooperatives’ managed by his specially trained uncivil servants, while at the same time just as many ‘bougeois elements’ (previous owners of land) were eliminated. Continue reading

The importance of being Okinawa

Yamato goes to war! / tamiya.com

Yamato goes to war! / tamiya.com

In April, 1945, the 2nd World War was very far from over. A huge invasion of the French mainland was planned for June. Japan, however, was seen by the Americans as being equally important as Europe. Tokio must be vanquished too if the Allies were to succeed in the destruction of Axis Powers.

Okinawa is a Japanese island some sixty miles long and very narrow – at certain strategic points only two or three miles wide. But it could prove to be the springboard for a massive invasion of the enemy mainland. It is the largest island of the Ryukyu archipelago, and it was that there that the worst, hardest and bloodiest battles of the Pacific War took place between the beginning of April and 22 June, 1945. The Japanese had carefully built and preserved defence lines already built and manned, and had sworn to their Emperor that their resistance would be fanatical. The latest artillery was concealed behind camouflage, and munitions were ample. Continue reading

War in the air Part III: the Pacific

/ pacificwar.org.au

/ pacificwar.org.au

The carrier-based Japanese air force began the war in the air over the Pacific Ocean by attacking without prior warning the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. The damage to American capital ships and the loss of life were enormous, but as pointed out in another post on this site, no US aircraft carriers were present on 7 December, 1941.

   The Japanese, as industrious as ever, had made great strides in the design and construction of these floating airfields, and at Pearl Harbor they made full use of them. Four hundred bombers and fighters were launched from the six carriers used in the assault. Surprise too was an essential element, as Japan had not declared war on the United States, though everyone from the President in Washington to the Texan cowpokes knew the two countries were on a war footing, and that Japan had joined the Axis. Continue reading

The Enigma of Hirohito

/ pacificwar.org.au

/ pacificwar.org.au

This controversial Emperor of Japan was born in the same year (1901) Queen Victoria died, and the two monarchs shared much the same mystique. The Emperor was the son of Crown Prince Yoshihito (1874-1926), who had been the first Taisho emperor (from 1912 to 1926).

Hirohito was the first member of the Imperial family to be permitted to travel abroad, visiting the United States and Europe. On his return his father had become insane and Hirohito became Regent later Emperor. He was an ascetic, austere, strict, chronic hard-worker and frugal, not all willing to spend either his own money or anyone else’s, except for reasons of war. Continue reading

The Pentagon Papers

More than forty documents detailing United States involvement in the East, with the emphasis on Indochina, starting during the Second World War and finishing around May, 1968. Students who would like to know how and why the US was (and is) so concerned about countries a long way away should study them; if they can. Continue reading

The Khmer Rouge (and Pol Pot)

A great deal more is known about the Khmer Rouge than about Cambodia’s Pol Pot. To most history-subjected magazines Pol Pot was just another of those dictators who bumped off a few million of his own countrymen, and would probably have liked the opportunity to do the same to many more millions who were not his countrymen. But first we look at the unattractively-named Khmer Rouge: Continue reading

Appeasement

A bit of a dirty word since 1938 but it shouldn’t be. There is enough appeasement going on now over the disgusting situation in Syria to fill the Golden Bowl with appeasers eager to keep Assad Junior happy. It is all rather puzzling. With one Bush, America went with its cautious allies to war against Iraq because Saddam invaded Kuwait. Firepower won, of course, but Saddam’s government remained! Then Bush Jr. went to war with Iraq with equally cautious allies, beat him up, and permitted the locals to lynch Saddam in a particularly horrible way. Now in Syria the Assad boy kills hundreds of fellow citizens every day, even using poison gas to do it, and the world’s committees sit expensively around asking themselves what to do. Continue reading

Coup de Shanghai

/ historyplanet.wordpress.com

/ historyplanet.wordpress.com

In 1927, Jiang Jieshi a.k.a. Chiang Kai-shek (q.v.) tried very hard to eliminate the Chinese Communist Party, which we will call the CCP. This is hard to understand because in his expedition to unite China, he was an ally of the CCP in the United Front. The majority of his conservative supporters were frightened of communist influences in the Nationalist Party, and wanted to get rid of it. Continue reading

Who was Richard Sorge?

/ russianspectrum.com

/ russianspectrum.com

He was a German-born spy who served in the trenches during the Great War. Like many others who survived this hell on earth, he admired Communist efforts in Russia to change the world’s ideologies, and joined the Communist Party, for which he worked as an agent for the Comintern in Shanghai. His cover job was as editor at a German news agency. Continue reading

The ‘Meiji’ Restoration & the Satsuna Rebellion

The young Emperor Mitsuhito / nndb.com

The young Emperor Mitsuhito / nndb.com

Meiji means enlightened rule, and this was shown throughout the reign of the Japanese Emperor Mitsuhito, ruling from 1868 to 1912. After the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a powerful group of Samurai decided (in January 1868) that the shogunate (‘federal’ rule by warlords) must be abolished as old-fashioned and unprogressive, and that power must be returned to the Emperor. Continue reading