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Yamamoto quote - authentic?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by wacki, Jan 15, 2007.

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  1. wacki

    wacki Member

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    “You cannot invade America. There is a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

    Does anyone know if this quote is authentic? Or if there is any solid proof of this mentality with the Japanese? The best thing I can find is this:

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/ayoob0109.html

    The word of a NRA counselor. Is there an "untainted" scholar that might be a better source?



    Dear mods: This isn't politics it's history, so I'm putting it in general.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
  2. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Member

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    Thought the quote was more like this:
    "You can not invade mainland US, because there is a rifle behind every door"

    Not sure....

    This one is his...."I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." concerning the attack on Pearl Harbor

    So is this one..... "Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. We would have to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?"

    Found the reference to it and gun ownership at:http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/235281

    "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass."

    Great quote. This quote from Admiral Yamamoto certainly sounds compelling in support of the argument that Japan avoided invading the United States primarily due to the number of arms the regular citizenry possessed. I say ?gprimarily?h because this is the word used by a previous poster in an attempt to imply that the proliferation of privately-owned weapons due to the Right to Bear Arms was the main reason Japan did not attempt to overrun the US mainland during World War II. However, this quote falls far short of the mark for two reasons. For one, this is a historical inaccuracy, and you will be hard pressed to find a World War II historian who won?ft tell you the same thing.

    For another, the quote does not truly reflect the attitudes of the entire Japanese military, but rather the attitude of Admiral Yamamoto and a minority voice in the Japanese government and military. Yamamoto fought hard against the military command for months preceding the war to convince them that attacking the United States directly was folly, but in the end, he lost and did as he was ordered. The attack at Pearl was his way of finding an acceptable balance in a no-win situation.

    The reason (and I should say ?greasons?h because more often than not when discussing history, there is rarely ever just one) Japan refrained from invading the U.S. mainland was that it had no desire to conquer the United States, but rather to batter it?fs military to the negotiating table for a treaty for cessation of hostilities. Japan began a war with the US in order to force America to rescind the staunch oil and steel embargoes that were levied against Japan in response to Japanese aggression in Indochina. Japan needed those resources to create its empire. The Japanese feared the US because of its material and industrial superiority. The Japanese feared the US because of the military might that it would eventually and inevitably bring to bear against Japan, even after a ?gknockout?h strike at Pearl Harbor.

    Admiral Yamamoto himself predicted quite accurately that Japan could never hope to defeat the United States because of this material and military superiority, and stated at the onset of the war that (to use the very same website that you provided) "In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success." He further stated that defeating the United States would involve marching all the way to the capital at Washington, D.C., something that Japan did not have the material resources to accomplish. His apprehension was not for fear of privately held weapons on the US mainland.

    Interestingly, Admiral Yamamoto was one of the best suited military minds in Japan to recognize this, as he studied in America at Harvard to learn more about the enemy that Japan would someday face. But to attribute Japan?fs reluctance to invade the United States primarily to public gun ownership is ridiculously myopic.
     
  3. MikePGS

    MikePGS Member

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  4. wacki

    wacki Member

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    Wikipedia says this quote is fake:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto's_sleeping_giant_quote

    On the other hand wikipedia has been wrong before. Many a time.
     
  5. MikeH

    MikeH Member

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    Thought fellow history buffs may find this interesting:

    Photo #: NH 96118

    Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetary, Arlington, Virginia

    Japanese Vice Admiral Osami Nagano lays a wreath at the tomb, circa 1927.
    At the right end of the Japanese delegation is the Naval Attache to the United States, Captain Isoroku Yamamoto. The U.S. Navy officer standing hatless just behind them is Lieutenant Commander Paulus P. Powell, Aide to VAdm. Nagano during this visit.

    Collection of Rear Admiral Paulus P. Powell.

    U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

    [​IMG]

    Nagano, as the IJN Chief of the Naval General Staff, was the one who adopted Yamamoto's concept and ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor. Incidentally, Nagano went to Harvard, too.
     
  6. default

    default Member

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    Interesting old thread about this subject here.

    I personally don't believe the quote is authentic, but probably the idea had occurred to various Japanese military personnel in the '30s. However, whether there was a rifle behind every blade of grass, or no rifles at all, resource and manpower-poor Imperial Japan would still have had to cross thousands and thousands of miles of ocean, along ever-lengthening lines of communication, in vulnerable troopships, with an insecure rear, against furious and powerful opposition, in order to land troops on the territory of a vastly larger, richer, and more technologically and industrially-capable adversary. Yamamoto of all people must have known that his oil-starved Navy was and probably never would be in a position to escort an invasion force, even if the Army, already disturbingly overextended before Pearl Harbor, could spare any forces for such an attack.

    As I mentioned in the above thread, Operation Overlord was regarded by the Allies as a chancy proposition, and that was mounted across only the English Channel, in conditions of air superiority and naval supremacy, and against a weakened enemy that had deployed well over half of its forces hundreds and hundreds of miles away and in the opposite direction.
     
  7. GEM

    GEM Member

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    I read a scholarly book on Japanese war plans towards the USA. It was based on a doctoral dissertation. There were zero plans on invading the USA. Japan wanted to discourage us from interferring with their Asian plans. They were quite aware of the real logistic problems of invading the USA.

    There was no mention of the quote. I think it is bogus.
     
  8. mike101

    mike101 Member

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    If Yamamoto didn't say it, he should have. It always impresses the antis when you drop it on their heads in a debate. ;)
     
  9. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    That is the very defination of an "apocryphal story."
     
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Using that "quote" in a debate with an anti will get you a sneer, a horselaugh, and the information that Yamamoto never said it and that it was invented by some NRA gun nut, which it probably was.

    Yamamoto did, on at least one occasion, write something to the effect that if Japan began a war with the US, they could win it only by invading the US and dictating peace from the White House. He was being sarcastic, something that was lost on both Americans and Japanese. He knew well that Japan could do no such thing, and no Japanese war planner ever seriously considered invading the US mainland, or even Hawaii. The later landings in the Aleutians were more of a diversion from the Midway attack than any serious attempt to conquer North America.

    The Pearl Harbor attack was not, and was never intended to be, a prelude to an invasion. Its sole purpose was to disable the US Pacific fleet while Japan took the oil- and rubber-rich areas of Southeast Asia and consolidated its position there. One historian compares the attack to taking out a big linebacker so your runner can ram the ball straight down the middle.

    Jim
     
  11. DogBonz

    DogBonz Member

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    It would not surprise me one bit.

    If you take a look at the length that Japan and its citizenry were prepared to go to defend their home land, why would he suspect that we would not do the same? The Japanese were prepared to take on Marines with swords, farm implements, and sharpened bamboo poles if they landed on their shores. This was one of the reasons that we decided to drop “The Bomb”.

    Citizens of a country who are being invaded usually are superior in number to the invaders, and will fight more and more ferociously the worse that things look. Then add into that the number of fire arms in the hands of the people, and the fact that at that time, the majority of the population knew how to use one, that would be a formidable force even for a professional army. Then throw into the mix the shear size of the US and the North American Continent, there was no way that his small army could be successful on any scale. Heap onto that the impossible logistics of re-supplying an army stretched across North America, all the while your army and supply chain are being hit by sniper fire and hit and run attacks by well armed (possibly better armed) groups that have home field advantage, and all this mounts up to an unattractive proposition.
     
  12. mr fixit

    mr fixit Member

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    I had heard the quote before, but I believe it was made after the war. Not sure if it was by Yamamato or some one else. I heard it was given as an answer to the question of something like "Did the Japanese plan on invading the US?"

    The answer was (to paraphrase): "No, we had no plans to invade the US. We knew that if we had, we would have found a rifle behind every blade of grass."

    I'll search and see what I find.
     
  13. Limeyfellow

    Limeyfellow Member

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    Lots of quotes like this are associated with Yamamoto and they come from movies like Tora Tora Tora (I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled it with a terrible resolve made up by Elmo Williams), rather than any real account or speech. These have come quite common.

    In 1942 he did however give the speech "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack."

    Its also fairly well documented in 1940 of saying to various cabinet ministers "I can run wild for six months. After that, I have no expectation of success."
     
  14. mike101

    mike101 Member

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    Jim K

    I've never gotten a sneer or a horse laugh. Maybe your anitis are smarter than my antis. Mine don't know who Yamamoto is, or anything else about history. They are hardly in a position to argue. :D
     
  15. MikePGS

    MikePGS Member

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    If it was after the war, it definitely wasn't said by Yamamoto. He was killed when the US acted on cracked Purple (the japanese code system) intel to take him out of the picture. In spite of the fact that it was at the end of the plane that shot him's range. :) This is a bit OT but theres a very excellent and even progun book that prominently features Yamamoto called "Cryptonomicon". Its a book that basically starts at the beginning of WW2 and flashes back and forth between a young cryptoanalyst and his grandson. I can't recommend it highly enough.

    Also in a similair vain supposedly the reason russian never considered invading the US was due to the high propensity of citizens to own guns. Of course, that didn't stop them in Red Dawn:)
     
  16. mike101

    mike101 Member

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    Red Dawn

    And what was the first thing the Ruskies did. They went straight to the town hall, and looked up all those gun registrations. Then they began rounding up all the gun owners.

    However, the story was set in Colorado, wasn't it? They don't have gun registration there, do they?

    Oops. I seem to have wandered OT. :D
     
  17. jondar

    jondar Member

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    I've never been able to document any quote like that supposedly said by Admiral Yamamoto. Probably the reason they never seriously considered invading the US was that they would have had to cross two huge mountain ranges and miles and miles of desert, creating the longest supply lines in the history of warfare.
     
  18. CypherNinja

    CypherNinja Member

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    +Infinity on the Cryptonomicon recommendation.

    Neal Stephenson is my absolute favorite author. Anyone that likes a good historical fiction should also seriously look into reading The Baroque Cycle (trilogy) by him, as well.
     
  19. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    It would take considerable legwork to track down the quote's true origins. But Yamamoto did spend considerable time in the US, and like Japanese then and now he would probably have been very surprised at the liberal policies towards gun ownership among civilians. Particularly since when he was visiting back east those states and DC had much less strict gun control than they do now. You could go shoot birds on the Potomac or Hudson right in the midst of what today is complete urban sprawl. So it's possible he said something like that, but we just don't know if he really did or not. The way to tell would be to find the original use of the quote in print.

    Aside from that, we'll never know what effect civilian arms would have had. Inspite of the continuing ignorance on this point, the Empire of Japan did indeed invade the US. But while the Japanese Army had plans on continuing up the chain and taking Kodiak and key SE ports to use as bomber bases, they never had the resources to follow through. If Midway had gone the other way, those plans would have looked a lot more realistic. As it is they just secured a toe-hold and Japanese troops never came into conflict with significant number of armed American civilians on US soil.

    The closest example of what might have happened comes from the Philippines, where armed civilians and US soldiers we'd consider operators today waged a long term resistance against the Japanese. But it's an imperfect example with many differences.
     
  20. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    About 1960 when the US and Japan had conducted naval
    maneuvers together, some US and Japanese officers had
    an informal discussion about why the Japanese did not
    invade the west coast after Pearl Harbor. Navy man
    Robert Menard claimed that one of the Japanese officers
    offered as an explaination that you could not invade America
    because you would face a rifle behind every blade of grass.

    So we can safely say that Yamamoto, although in his
    heart of hearts did not want a war with America, could
    not have said that at least fifteen years after his death.

    I do believe the Japanese experience with the Filipino
    and American resistence against Japanese occupation of
    the Phillipine Islands, with limited civilian arms, would,
    by 1960, make the prospect of invading America with
    millions of civilian arms seem like a nightmare scenario.
    This seems likely a 1960 restrospect view of at least
    one of the officers that Menard talked to.

    All that I have read on the Pacific war was that the
    Japanese intended to neutralize our navy at the outset,
    consolidate their hold on Asia, then hold a superior
    position that the US could not challenge. Part of that
    strategy was the Yamato, Musahi and Shinano as a
    BATDIV of three 72,000 ton battleships. American
    battleships were all 35,000 ton 1922 treaty-compliant.
    Their plan was to take the Greater Asia Coprosperity
    Sphere and fortify it against any challenge. I dont think
    that invading America was seriously part of their original
    war plan, and I believe the Filipino resistence would have
    proven the folly of trying to invade America.

    The apocryphal Yamamoto quote is one of those things
    that is too good to be true.
     
  21. GEM

    GEM Member

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    However, some naive gun rights supporters spout Yamamoto and the phoney Hitler quote. Then there are the guys who spout the fake story of the general who told the reporter than she had the equipment to be a prostitute.

    Just makes us look silly to the public who aren't up on the issue. When you are trying to convince folks that you want to own instruments of lethal force - it doesn't pay to look like an idiot.
     
  22. superhornet

    superhornet Member

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    I know for a fact that his actual answer to the question was, "We cannot invade America, everyone owns a Glock".
     
  23. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    Yamamoto was not one to keep a diary or written journal. Any quotes attributed to him are most likely either paraphrased or fictional. Even the famous phrase about awakening a sleeping giant has never been positively tied to him and is most likely a work of fiction.
     
  24. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    The "blade of grass" quote is probably an apocryphal paraphrase of this:


    And besides, even w/ a camo stock, a blade of grass is a poor way to conceal a rifle.

    Sidebar: I've often considered adopting a blade of grass as our international recognition symbol. :)
     
  25. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    That's a good find. Though I wonder if it, in turn, is made up. We aren't given any names.
     
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