December 7, 1941 — December 7, 2019
Seventy-eight years ago today, the Empire of Japan launched a sneak attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That attack was intended to destroy the military capability of the United States in the Pacific theater, and set the stage for a final Japanese assault on the American mainland.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was – as it was intended to be – an existential threat to the survival of the United States as a sovereign nation.
Forty-four months later, almost to the day, the United States dropped the first atom bomb ever used in warfare, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That attack was intended to destroy Japan’s will to fight, and force Japan’s surrender, ending World War II in the Pacific theater.
The atom bomb was – as it was intended to be – an existential threat to the survival of Japan as a military empire.
It took a second demonstration of overwhelming force by the United States three days later, with the atom-bombing of the city of Nagasaki, to force the Japanese surrender.
But, from that low-point in the long history of the Japanese nation, the miraculous rebirth of Japan began.
Today, seventy-eight years after Pearl Harbor, the United States is Japan’s greatest ally.
Today, plans are underway to convert Mageshima Island, a small, unoccupied Japanese island in the East China Sea, into an unsinkable U.S. “aircraft carrier”, where Japanese pilots, flying American-made F-35B stealth fighters, will learn to take off and land on actual American aircraft carriers.
In a stunning understatement, Corey Wallace, an Asia security analyst at Freie University in Berlin, says:
“Having Japanese F-35s on American naval vessels would be quite a signal.”
Quite a signal, indeed. Seventy-eight years after Japan and the U.S. faced each other in a war of annihilation, today we stand shoulder-to-shoulder as allies, sharing military hardware and military expertise, on Japanese soil, sworn to protect each other as we face west, toward formidable, potential foes who represent existential threats to both our countries.