MILITARY HISTORY ONLINE

User:  
Password:  
 
 (1939-1945) WWII
Message
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2080
Joined: 2020
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/15/2020 11:30:30 PM
IIt would seem to me Australia was weak after MacArthur fled the Philippines to Australia in a PT boat. Why did the Japanese not invade ? They would have got MacArthur and took care of the last base in the South Pacific to launch attacks on Japanese Imperial forces?


vpatrick
----------------------------------
nuts
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3782
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/16/2020 12:41:23 AM
VP, I’ll leave the answer to Wazza, Riain and any other Aussies who might still check in from time to time.

I just feel the need to mention a place called New Zealand, which IIRC was the host country to more than a couple of USMC divisions, and was a major staging area for USMC island-hopping for the duration.

Oz was in danger because Japanese forces defeated British, Commonwealth, Colonial, Dutch and US troops wherever they attacked. There was some tension between Oz and the UK as the threat to Oz grew; eventually, they were (I believe) allowed to withdraw some troops from other theatres of war to defend their homeland.

MacArthur, IIRC, took control of the US-led but multinational assault through the Central Pacific. I don’t get exactly why “Dugout Doug” (I’m not a MacArthur fan) was given this command, except that perhaps Oz recognized that US supplies and equipment would become so important.

I think a look at a scaled map might offer some reason why Japan didn’t attack Oz. They certainly planned to, and in fact bombed northern cities and districts. But the supply train was massively long and only newly established, and a landing on the north coast of Oz – even is successful – simply brings you face to face with GABA.

And although, again, I’ll leave the discussion to Aussie members, I think the New Guinea battles say something about Japanese resources.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
----------------------------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5105
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/16/2020 4:49:29 AM
New Guinea was the key, surely ?

For the Japanese to attempt an onslaught on Australia, they needed to secure the “ jumping off point “.

They got into New Guinea, of course, but , as Brian points out, they were unable to exploit their foothold there.

Logistical flaws and starvation and disease defeated them there. More than that, the Australians had their Finest Hour in that horrible environment , fighting an epic campaign that deserves a lot more acknowledgement . American contribution was vital.

New Guinea : that’s the answer, Vince, in my opinion.

Regards, Phil

----------------------------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6517
Joined: 2006
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/16/2020 10:44:43 AM
Also like Russia Australia was a large territory, and the Imperial Japanese Military could only attack so many places at this time!? Also I always wonder why so many dislike MacArthur? He had both some good military strategy, and was mostly wise in his handling of post war Japan! In Korea his Inchon maneuver was brilliant, but his ambition of invading Red China was bad. All in all, he had both good and bad moments, he sure gets blasted today? My late father John, WWII Pacific Vet, never had bad things to say about him?

Comments, & Regards,
MD
----------------------------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11789
Joined: 2009
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/16/2020 3:17:41 PM
The Battle of the Coral Sea was an important four days for Australia. The Japanese were headed for Port Moresby on New Guinea but their plans were intercepted and a smaller US and Australian naval force defeated them. I don't believe that any ship to ship combat took place. It was carrier aircraft vs carrier aircraft.

Without air support from Japanese carriers, the invasion of the eastern portion of NG could not take place. The Japanese turned back and developed other plans to attempt to seize Port Moresby.

There is some debate that the Japanese did not intend to invade Australia but to cut the supply and communications routes between it and the US to force them to concede defeat or to neuter them.

But shortly after the war, the Battle of the Coral Sea was lauded as the battle that saved Australia. Our Australian friends will correct me but I believe that Coral Sea Week is still celebrated to commemorate the Battle of the Coral Sea.

I read an article published by the Australian Dept. of the Parliamentary Library and the authors claim that Japanese sources indicate that the Japanese did not need Australia for resources but strategically, Japan needed to ensure that the US and other Australian allies could not use the country as a base for a US counter offensive.

The Japanese navy was in favour of an invasion of the north coast of Australia and felt that it could be accomplished with few losses.

The Japanese army was opposed to the invasion.

Quote:
The General Staff opposes navy insistence to invade Australia because it over extends the Pacific perimeter

source: Major-General Tanaka Shin'ichi, Operations Section Chief of Army.

So if the assertion in the article is correct, the army felt that it was already spread too thin.

Here is the article. The section on Japanese deliberations with respect to Australia is interesting.

[Read More]

Cheers,

George

Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 637
Joined: 2005
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/16/2020 5:51:02 PM
George has pretty much covered it in his last post. Army and Navy fighting didn't help the Japanese but there were some plans drawn up, invasion money printed and they had made limited landings across the north of Australia and the islands off the Gulf of Carpentaria to scope possible landing sites and airfields etc.

Logistics and terrain would have ultimately defeated any invasion of our continent.

A scorched earth policy was in place with all livestock being moved to the southern states and infrastructure noted for demolition. Militia/commando units would have operated behind enemy lines and bled the Japanese army dry.

I think it was more feasible for the Japanese to cut off Australia from the rest of the world and try to contain us. Being a strategic center for operations in the Pacific, larder and logistics supplier for the push by the US island hoping campaign, meant we were always going to have US support in our defence.
Brian W
Atlanta GA USA
Posts: 1070
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/17/2020 12:34:51 AM
Interestingly I've been watching the course "World War II: The Pacific Theater" on Great Courses by PhD Symonds from the U.S. Naval War College
[Read More]

They had no interest in Australia. In their last outreach, they wanted to solidify their ring in the Pacific to encompass Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea and they didn't quite get there. They had poked the angry rhino (the US) and was trying to hedgehog and try to outlast the onslaught that was going to come. They had a very succinct strategy, which was to gain as much natural resources as possible and to hunker down and outlast. But, they had no idea of the determination of the US.
----------------------------------
"Take it easy. But take it" - Tom Morello's mom.
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1152
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/17/2020 1:40:04 PM
VPat,

They didn't have the troops or the shipping to support the attempt. Plus it wasn't part of the plan. Japan went to war to gain resources, oil, rubber, food..., under the assumption that the Europeans were too busy with Hitler in Europe to do much about them and the US wouldn't be willing to spend the treasure and blood needed to retake what they had taken. The plan was to set up island rings of defense and that the US would find attacking the outer ring so costly they would give up leaving japan to keep most or all she had conquered in the initial attacks.

Vin MacArthur went by PT Boat from Luzon to Mindinao(sp?) and then by B-17 to Australia and there was a hell of a lot of stuff in-between.
----------------------------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2080
Joined: 2020
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/17/2020 3:45:49 PM
Thanks for all your answers good stuff. I guess I was thinking of Australia like how the Nazi's were thinking of Great Britain after the fall off France. You get rid of that island threat in your rear and you can concentrate on the bear, many different factors separate this thinking of mine. I was just thinking the Japanese seemed unstoppable in the south Pacific at the time of MacArthur's defeat and Australia seemed near defenseless if I remember correctly. It would seem after the great responses that it just was not in the overall Japanese strategy and may have not made much of a difference in the war if Australia was occupied much bigger area to control as well tying up vast resources the Japanese didnt have.

vpatrick
----------------------------------
nuts
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1152
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/17/2020 4:30:14 PM
VPat,

Singapore, Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines were doomed to fall the day Japan decided to attack. There just weren't enough trained and equipped troops or modern aircraft available to defend. But the defeat of Japan is also decided the day they decide to attack because they can't compete industrially. I also have to add their doctrine in many cases sucked. US submarines sunk I believe about 60% of the Japanese merchant fleet and about a million Japanese starved to death for lack of food delivery. Yet the Japanese submarines found sinking a merchant ship unworthy of their efforts.
----------------------------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2080
Joined: 2020
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/17/2020 10:10:10 PM
Mine is a Simplistic reply but are not the Japanese hard to figure out on so many levels especially on Western terms? For instance why did they not make friends with conquered countries formally held by European countries? Some of those countries were waiting for an Asian occupier and when the Japanese did occupy they were worse than their colonial oppressor's from Europe? Why? They could have been the heros that relinquished them from western tyranny yet they slaughtered and were worse? Why? dunno


vpatrick
----------------------------------
nuts
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 981
Joined: 2005
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/17/2020 11:55:27 PM
Much like the Russian steppe sucking Nazi troops further from their man core of logistics, the Pacific Ocean posed a massive challenge for Japan. Occupying Australia as planned and previously mentioned was purely the northern area only but, where were the ports for shipping repair, overhaul, etc? Airfields were much easier to establish but the air distances while similar to Rabaul-Guadalcanal would max craft and crews to the limits, as they did in “The Slot”. The impact on shipping as well in the open seas south of the Solomons would tax maintenance as well as that fossil source so critical to Japan, fuel.

IMO, to isolate Australia would have required the occupation of and basing of troops, aircrews and ships along the Solomons-Vanuata-Fiji-Tonga line of axis of approximately 1,850 air miles of distance. As mentioned, IJ Army Generals were radically opposed to sending troops in this direction even though troops were available in China, to convince the Generals to go this direction would be a formidable obstacle regardless of what pre-war planning they may have committed to; the animosity between the Generals and Admirals was near warlike amongst themselves.

Naval constraints would limit the Imperial Navy to what I consider beyond the Navy’s capabilities and over all purpose, strategic-defensive arrangements vs. the ‘decisive battle theory’. Admiral Fletcher during his “cruise” in this region was continuously challenged with supply shortages and the need to rightfully maintain high fuel levels in his ships, for the IJN this would tax their resources to an extraordinary level to a point I believe they could not long maintain; yet, I guess that was their intention, attrition US forces before attrition struck IJ forces.

To invade Australia without establishing the island flank protection would have been of little value for ceasing/reducing US-AUS-NZ lines of communication, supply, etc. Japanese strategy in WWII was extremely poor in my mind. Admiral. Fletcher stopped that one moment Japan had of getting to northern Australia during the Coral Sea battle; add in the pummeling IJ forces took at Milne bay, after that their best attempt was to cross the Owen Stanley’s! And while they came close, depleted, exhausted troops far from fast, reliable supplies were no good to anyone.

Just my thoughts.
----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1152
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/18/2020 8:21:58 PM
VPat,

They didn't want partners to share with they wanted subjects to exploit and take what they needed from.
----------------------------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1152
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/18/2020 8:47:21 PM
Dan,

How long does Japan keep contested air and shipping operation in the "Slot" going, 9 to 11 months tops? Seriously the landings at Guadalcanal are Aug 42 and by March 43 Japanese air power is done. The called it the "Time of Aces," Joe Foss shot down 26 in about 6 weeks of actual missions. Then throw in the number of fast destroyer transports lost and badly damaged in the "Slot" plus all the other combat and merchant shipping. They called Guadalcanal "Starvation Island" but it just started a trend which saw at least 1 mil Japanese starve to death during the war.

----------------------------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 981
Joined: 2005
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/22/2020 2:02:31 PM
Hi John:

I agree with your comments 100%. The attrition rate of men and equipment in this region without substantial forward base building for supplies, ship repair/overhauls, air bases that could be maintained, the movement of men and materials just makes it impossible, long-term for the Japanese to do anything more than achieve a temporary gain; we all know Japan was far removed from matching US/Allied logistical support.

I can play with the scenario with a bit of a twist, in a reverse manner. What if Japan had those long-term capabilities while the US was on the "shoestring" capabilities of Japan? While the US might have punched through, long-term, their logistical ability would burnout.

While we are able to 'see' this clearly 70 some years later, I suspect in that time in those moments Japan saw these opportunities and believed the exploitation was just to tempting to not take. I go back to my belief, in judgement, that Japan's military leadership strategically was incapable of seeing the big picture of war with the US, much like how Nazi Germany believed they could conquer Russia by just going in and kicking ass; the vastness of the Pacific Ocean was too much for Japan to manage.


----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
Killroy63
Pinson AL USA
Posts: 529
Joined: 2018
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
8/27/2020 11:32:39 PM
I think it much more likely that Japan could have isolated Australia, possibly by cutting the lifeline to the east by invading Fiji and Samoa, rather than invading Australian proper. The lifeline to the West, through the Indian Ocean and either 'round Africa or through the Suez, was already made tenuous by Nagumo's carrier raids (though obviously the Japanese could not have sustained that level of naval presence indefinitely).

Australia is a doggone big plot of land, even if it has very few major population centers. During this time frame (early to late 1942), Japan had many troops serving as either garrison or combat troops in a whole host of areas in southeast Asia and the southwest Pacific areas. Major combat operations against China were ongoing, tying down hundreds of thousands of troops. Garrisons were required on Formosa, in Korea, in the Philippines and on a host of islands across almost 2/3 of the Pacific. That being the case, I doubt they could have mustered enough troops for an invasion, much less an occupation, of Australia.

But the Japanese might very well have surrounded Australia at a distance and rendered it incapable of serving as a base of operations against them by the Allies. Assuming a catastrophic loss by the US fleet at Coral Sea (a very real possibility), resupply and support of Australia from America could have been reduced to a bare trickle. Australia could have supported itself with regard to food, but I'm not very familiar with its production capabilities in other areas. I know from viewing a YouTube video on the only native Australian tank (the Sentinel) that it's production was severely limited because Australia's motor vehicle production industry was very small (and the open supply lanes meant that other countries could more easily supply Australia with tanks than they could produce them in-country). I know that Australia did produce a few native military aircraft, but, again, airplane manufacture facilities were limited, so production would have been limited. I would think that, with the Japanese acknowledging that they could not invade and occupy Australia (though air raids against inland targets and potentially naval bombardment of coastal areas could be conducted), neither could Australia do much to push the Japanese back. Stalemate.
Sanddoc
Torrance CA USA
Posts: 5
Joined: 2021
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
2/8/2021 4:27:48 PM


there were many reasons why.
First they protected the flank by sailing into the Indian ocean and taking out the British Navy
Second the Forces needed to occupy the Malay
The Japanese took Rabaul in Jan 42 very small Australian garrison
They landed on PaPa New Guinea on the North coast.
The Navy was suppose to take Port Moresby on the Southern coast which faces Australia
Of course the Battle of the Coral Sea denied the Japanese the port.
The Japanese army on New Guinea started over the Owens Mnt range and actually got to
within about 5 miles of Port Moresby, but they were recalled, what was left of them to be sent
to GuadalCanal to help reinforce the Japanese on the island.
If you know anything about Australia size and disposition, there is nothing on the western ocean
Darwin was totally useless manly because of a 30 ft tied, plus there was not rail line to
any part of the country. So sending a fleet to Fremantle or any other port would have stretched
the Navies supply lines.
Losing Australia would not have "maybe" the US response to the Japanese Navy
sooner or later they would have reached a point that they could not defend.
For them it was GuadalCanal...
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 637
Joined: 2005
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
2/9/2021 1:17:22 AM
As far as I recall from school history studies the Japanese Navy pushed for an invasion of Australia via New Guinea, approx. in 1942.
The Army new logistically that this would be an impossible task and preferred to cut us of from the USA and Britain as they recognized the logistical support that we could (and eventually did) supply to the US Pacific war effort.

Australia in the 1940's was a vast barren island sparsely populated in the centre and West coast. A scorched earth policy was in place in case of invasion, livestock was evacuated south and an angry population would have been involved in a guerilla campaign, supplemented by Militia units and a steadily growing regular Army. Would make an interesting tabletop wargames scenario for sure!

The below link i found while writing this may be of interest:
https://www.pacificwar.org.au/battaust/JapdebAustinvade.html

Whilst Australian industry is considered a bit backward in the early 20th Century, keep in mind our manufacturing capacity increased during WWII.
We manufactured ships, fighter aircraft like the CAC Mustang, Mosquitoes, Beauforts and Beaufighters etc etc.
We had a robust small arms industry manufacturing arms and ammunition and yes we had a go at building a tank........ ok with a penis for a bow gun! But it was a remarkable single cast manufacture.

Of note for the Americans here, we manufactured US uniforms for the US Pacific theatre as well as for the European theatre. This also included boots and webbing.

But our biggest value was our coal, steel and food. That is what made us important as a logistics and staging point for the Pacific theatre.

Cheers

Khufu
N. Carolina NC USA
Posts: 6
Joined: 2021
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
3/20/2021 8:33:05 PM
I believe Phil is correct sir. I believe it was Operation Cartwheel (I think) that secured New Guinea denying the Japanese a staging area for the invasion of Australia.
Kevinmeath
Navan  Ireland
Posts: 4
Joined: 2020
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
4/6/2021 5:14:49 PM
The Japanese were over stretched as it was invading Australia would be madness, we look at the maps and 'it doesn't seem that big' remember the map projection (its very hard to show a 3D shape ,a Globe, on a 2D surface, a map) so they are distorted often resulting the paces in the Southern hemisphere looking smaller than those in the North.
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 981
Joined: 2005
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
4/6/2021 7:46:43 PM
Hmmm, the distances involved in this area of WWII could not be ignored regardless of how arrogant the Japanese were. From Davao, P.I. to Rabaul or Buna it is roughly 1,900 air miles distance. While Rabaul to Buna was a mere 400 air miles adding another 90 +/- to Port Moresby, the vastness of Australia was well known by all, more so in this discussion by the Japanese as their intention was to use the low, populated area of Northern Australia as a barrier of sorts based on the distances it would impose not on Japanese forces, but on the Australians and allies of.

The manpower was there to manage it although Japanese Army leaders were reluctant to head into that direction as China was their main focus. Until Midway, Japan also had the naval surface forces to deal with their expansion, at least for the short duration. Their sub force was very dangerous, had they figured it out that to go after the big ones rather than the supply ships only hurt them more than it did the allies, things could have been much different. Sinking British warships Repulse and Prince of Wales established the belief Japanese air power too could deal with the distances and again, initially they could.

IMO, Japan clearly understood the vastness Australia and the Pacific Ocean offered them, thus the designation of island chains mapped out as the defensive sphere they had in their plans.

----------------------------------
"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3782
Joined: 2004
Why did the Japanese not invade Australia?
4/6/2021 10:15:50 PM
Kevinmeath, we’ve not met before. Welcome to MHO

You note: Quote:
The Japanese were over stretched as it was invading Australia would be madness, we look at the maps and 'it doesn't seem that big' remember the map projection (its very hard to show a 3D shape ,a Globe, on a 2D surface, a map) so they are distorted often resulting the paces in the Southern hemisphere looking smaller than those in the North.

Yes, the Japanese were stretched. Think of the relatively low numbers of Japanese troops who remained to make the (victorious) assault on Singapore.

At the same time, please name one belligerent nation in the Theatre that wasn’t stretched at some point. Hong Kong: UK stretched to collapse. Singapore: UK stretched to collapse. Philippines: US stretched to collapse. Trincomalee: RN running while sufficiently intimidated by IJN forces to “withdraw” (so much kinder a word than “retreat”) to Aden. Not a collapse but a defeat and a definite strategic withdrawal.

I agree that most folks have no concept of the scope of Pacific size of combat relative to the European equivalent size. That very size dictated both Japanese strategy during their initial advances (which cannot be seen as anything but successful but incomplete) and Allied strategy to drive against the heart of Japan. Island-hopping and air dominance made Japanese defeat possible, if not inevitable. We don’t think about how the endgame in the Pacific would be different if either Iwo or Okinawa were not taken, just as (IMHO) the Japanese losses of Iwo and Okinawa became huge propaganda issues used to impact the Japanese civilians of the home islands.

I’ve not spent much time assessing the PTO, since my interest is focused on ETO. But for a host of reasons, it’s clear to me that certain PTO issues reflected the final executions of WWII strategic thinking during WWII.

Geez! And I started from a question of extension.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G

----------------------------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

© 2021 - MilitaryHistoryOnline.com LLC