The Sinking of Japan

An island nation with few resources, Japan was in a precarious enough position when it declared war on the United States in December 1941. That its powerful navy failed to learn the lessons of previous conflicts made matters even worse, as Malcolm Murfett explains.

A Japanese merchant ship is torpedoed and sunk by a US submarine, November 18th, 1943.

In the period between its initial swashbuckling attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 to its final abject surrender in mid-August 1945, Japan lost an astonishing total of 8.4 million tons of merchant shipping: 2,259 vessels weighing over 500 tons were sunk in the Pacific War, with the loss of 116,000 merchant seamen. In addition, an unknown number of smaller boats, such as fishing trawlers, ketches, lighters, yachts and dinghies, along with their cargoes and crew perished in Japanese waters during these years. 

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email digital@historytoday.com.

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week
X