Obscure World War II History: The Failed Japanese Coup of 1945


A last-ditch attempt to overthrow the Japanese government at the end of World War II was a bloody embarrassment

Open Road Media sponsored this post.

By August 1945 more than two million Japanese soldiers, sailors and aviators had died in eight years of war stretching from China and Southeast Asia to halfway across the Pacific.

More than a half-million civilians died in the U.S. bombings of Japanese cities. The World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy had been smashed, and the home islands were exposed to an imminent Allied invasion.

Even after all that death, loss and destruction, a group of high-ranking military officers planned to unleash fratricidal bloodshed to prevent an unconditional surrender.

This is the context of William Craig’s 1967 history The Fall of Japan, now available as an e-book through Open Road Media. Craig’s narrative weaves together the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. advisers in China fighting Japan while warily eyeing Maoist forces, and the infighting within Japan’s leadership during the empire’s final days.

The Fall of Japan’s strongest suit is the latter. One of the most interesting personalities is 57-year-old Gen. Korechika Anami, Tokyo’s war minister and a firm opponent of surrender. In August 1945, Anami had only held the post since April, long past time that Japan could have realistically staved off an Allied victory.

Given his position, however, Anami was well aware of the role Japan’s military establishment played in political decisions. Nine years earlier, he cautiously avoided picking sides during the February 26 Incident — an attempted military coup in 1936 when hardline officers targeted elected politicians for assassination.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring


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