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LAURENCE REES: Do you think the war was over by the battle of Midway?

SIR MAX HASTINGS: It was clear to an awful lot of people at the time, and it’s certainly clear to us now, that the war in the Far East was over after Midway. The Japanese themselves knew this and every Japanese scenario that they’d written, and that Yamamoto and others had put together before the Pearl Harbour attack was launched, agreed that the only hope was to achieve a quick sharp victory. That in a long war the Americans must prevail, and after Midway, once it had become plain that the Japanese were not going to be able to achieve this absolute dominance of the Pacific which they’d been looking for, it was just a matter of time. But of course the Japanese fought on because they continued to cling to a belief all the way through, right up till August 1945, that the war was going to end with them talking their way out of it. They always believed that if they could impose a high enough price on the Allies, and of course especially on the Americans with island battle after island battle, if they could prove to the Americans that the cost of landing in Japan was going to be so prohibitive that it wasn’t going to be worth the candle, and if they paid a high enough blood price themselves (they thought that they were a much tougher race, the warrior race, the Yamato Race) they believed that the Americans would not have the bottle to pay the sort of blood price that would be necessary to take them to absolute defeat. They therefore believed that they had a negotiating hand, which of course they never did. And the supreme irony is that they were right in that they convinced the Americans that it was not worth playing the blood price for an invasion of Japan. But of course the consequence was that the Americans didn’t invade Japan - they dropped the atomic bomb.