Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Hawaiian Islands Under Imperial Japan - 1942 Japanese Military Invasion

Hawaii Under Imperial Japan – How This Could Have Actually Happened
By MCAS Ewa historian John Bond
1942 Ewa Field was a joint Navy and Marine Corps airfield which trained and 
contributed many of the pilots and planes that flew in the June 1942 Battle of 
Midway.  A significant number were shot down in what were basically suicide missions 
because of inadequate training and outclassed aircraft against a very experienced 
capable enemy. 
Americans however proved why there is the phase “Greatest Generation” as they 
went willingly to their deaths hoping it might make some difference. And it did. 
But the Battle of Midway might have been different or not happened at all. Seemingly 
small historic details can determine major different outcomes.

This is a close to actual invasion scenario drawing on details found in the intriguing book  
“Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” by John Stephan, PhD, UH Hawaii. This new report by 
Ewa Field historian John Bond provides additional Maui and Big Island invasion details with the alternative history of the USS Enterprise being destroyed in the Pearl Harbor entrance
channel on the morning of December 7, 1941.

This major naval victory also bottled up the US Fleet and became the reason why Kido Butai Admiral Nagumo remained off Oahu and ordered additional carrier air strikes on Pearl Harbor, destroying fuel oil tanks, additional ships and remaining harbor infrastructure. The USS Lexington was forced to sail for NAS San Diego. Admiral Yamamoto ordered a full invasion of the Hawaiian Islands by January 1942. 

Japan had Special Naval Landing Forces that took over Upolu Point airfield as Japanese infantry, mechanized and engineer units rolled ashore at Hapuna Beach on the northwest point of the Big Island of Hawaii, capturing Parker Ranch and major agricultural resources to support the invasion forces. Lahaina Roads anchorage off Maui was also captured for the use of the large Japanese invasion fleet. These key locations cut off and greatly weakened the US military on Oahu over 3000 miles from California and to save many lives was forced to surrender in early 1942.

 Admiral Halsey And The USS Enterprise Were America's Primary Pacific Carrier Defense
This account combines both actual history of early 1942 and information found in the intriguing book  
“Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” by John Stephan. The opportunity for Japan to conduct an invasion of 
Hawaii in 1942 hinges on what might have happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. While many 
may believe this was a major victory for Japan it really wasn’t. The architect of this attack, Admiral 
Isoroku Yamamoto, already knew the great value of aircraft carriers and badly wanted to get at least
one US Navy carrier sunk in the Pearl Harbor air attack. He especially wanted the USS Enterprise, the 
flagship of the most aggressive Navy Admiral -“Bull” Halsey. This came very close to happening on the 
morning of December 7 as the Enterprise was just hours away from entering the Pearl Harbor channel.

The disaster Would Have Been Greatly Compounded By The Loss Of USS Enterprise

Prior to the Pacific War both the US and Japanese popular literature featured many stories about a 
Japanese fleet confrontation with US Navy battleships, an invasion of Hawaii and how it would play out. 
These books were especially popular in Japan where many believed that Hawaii should belong to Japan. 
Hawaii had a very large Japanese-American population and it was not unusual for the local Japanese 
communities to raise money for the Imperial Japanese Army and for Japanese to receive draft notices 
to return to Japan for military service. “Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” by John Stephan (UH Press 1984) 
notes that the large Japanese population already in the Hawaiian Islands, 160,000 in 1941, or 40 percent 
of all territory inhabitants, made conquest and a smooth military occupation afterwards seem feasible 
to Imperial Japanese strategic planners. 

 With The USS Enterprise Sunk, Pearl Harbor Destroyed, Hawaii Was Open For Invasion
Many Hawaii invasion schemes and plans were detailed in these popular books, often written by retired 
Imperial Japanese Navy officers. It was generally believed in this popular published literature that 
invading Hawaii would have been easier than invading the Philippines. Japanese popular literature counted 
on anti-American sentiment among the large population of local Japanese, who were denied upper level 
jobs by the “Big Five” U.S. corporations which dominated the Hawaii territory's economy. Plans for the 
"liberated" islands included dissolution of the Big Five, land redistribution, and revival of the Hawaiian 
monarchy under the Imperial Japanese rule of the Emperor.

Japan Had Special Marine Naval Landing Forces, All Combat Ready For Hawaii Invasion

Under the aegis of the Rising Sun, the Imperial Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere would,
Japanese military and political strategists believed, unite the nations of the Pacific basin and rid them 
of Anglo-Saxon colonialism.  “Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” by John Stephan details the plans of Combined
Fleet commander Admiral Yamamoto's staff to conquer Hawaii and make it the keystone of the new Pacific 
order and Japan’s Pacific defense perimeter. Roughly equidistant between Japan and the United States, the 
Hawaiian archipelago was deemed essential for control of the Pacific. It was in this context that Yamamoto 
planned to seize the atoll at Midway as a base for further attacks on Hawaii and possible invasion in June 

This Is How Japan Would Have Invaded Hawaii With Bases On Maui and Hawaii Island

 “Hawaii Under The Rising Sun”
The book notes that it is unlikely that US defenses in Hawaii would have fought to the last person. The 
outcome of a Japanese invasion could have played out like Singapore in South East Asia or Corregidor in 
the Philippines where British and US forces had to surrender to overwhelming Japanese bombardments 
and invasion troops using fast light tanks. In Yamamoto’s thinking, Hawaii would have been a bargaining 
chip to force the US to submit to a Japanese dictated peace. Invading Hawaii from California three 
thousand miles away would have been very difficult logistically for the United States while Japan would 
have the captured 16 inch Army coastal guns, captured battleships at Pearl Harbor and the large deep 
moorage in Lahaina Roads, Maui with the addition of powerful IJN battleships with 18 inch guns. Hawaii 
might have become a Japanese protectorate.  Various alternate histories could have been possible and 
are explored here.

Japanese Imperial Naval Forces Were Experts In Advanced Pacific Ocean Warfare


One of the key points in changing the early history would have been if Yamamoto’s goal of sinking the 
USS Enterprise at Pearl Harbor, and ideally in the Pearl Harbor channel blocking all of the other ships 
from entering or leaving, might have happened. The USS Enterprise had been out delivering 12 Marine 
Corps VMF 211 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats and pilots from Ewa Field to Wake Island and was fully expected 
back by late Saturday if not by early Sunday morning December 7. Ironically, a large storm north of the 
Hawaiian Islands delayed the arrival of the Enterprise while also masking the six Japanese aircraft carriers 
maneuvering close to Oahu to launch waves of planes. At any point they could have crossed paths but what 
happened was Enterprise launched their usual radial screening pattern of SBD’s ahead of the carrier and 
those planes run directly into the Japanese combat air patrol of Zero fighters near Ewa Field. Several 
Enterprise SBD’s were shot down.
Had Enterprise arrived just hours earlier the waves of Japanese Kate bombers and Val dive bombers would 
have caught the Enterprise in the Pearl Harbor channel with no air defenses. Japanese planes would have 
swarmed on the Enterprise with nearly everything they had as they all knew a US aircraft carrier was on the 
top of the target list. Sinking the Enterprise in the channel would have blocked up the harbor as well as 
destroying some of the best planes and pilots the Navy had at the time, as well as very possibly killing 
Admiral “Bull” Halsey.

 Japan Had An Almost Invincible Army And Navy In 1941-42 And Could Have Taken Hawaii

Had this happened on December 7, 1941, it would have been extremely likely that cautious Admiral Nagumo 
would have then authorized the often discussed second strike on Pearl Harbor the following morning. The 
US defenses were extremely vulnerable at this point and even if losing two dozen more planes to anti-aircraft 
fire, horizontal and dive bombers could have gone back to destroy Pearl Harbor docks and oil storage tanks. 
All of this would have forced the USS Lexington, off delivering 18 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators of Marine Scout 
Bombing Squadron 231 planes to Midway Island to join the USS Saratoga back at NAS San Diego, California. 
Hawaii would have been extremely vulnerable and Admiral Yamamoto once learning that the Pearl Harbor 
attack was hugely successful and the US Navy bottled up, could have ordered an invasion force assembled for 
Hawaii as early as January 1942. He would have also ordered his naval bombers and powerful battleships with 
18 inch guns to begin pounding Oahu's 16 inch and smaller coastal defense batteries.

Following the very extensive expert research done in “Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” the most likely initial 
ground invasion force would have been sent to land troops on the northwest side of the Big Island of Hawaii 
at key beaches like Hapuna Beach, a broad sandy expanse without a reef. IJN Special operations Marines would 
have seized Upolu Point airfield as an airbase which along with IJN submarines would have provided total 
control over the vital Alenuihaha Channel between North Kohala and Maui Island. This was a vital air and sea
route for ships and planes that traveled from California, 3000 miles away, to the Hawaiian Islands. 

The Japanese Daihatsu Landing Craft Had A Bow Ramp Which Inspired The US Higgins Boat Design
This invasion action would have next secured the large protected Lahaina Roads bay by Maui island for 
additional arriving IJN ships and transports. IJN Marine Invasion troops would have quickly moved ashore to 
secure all land approaches. It is important to know that at this point in time the Big Island and Maui were 
basically defenseless other than a few lightly armed territorial guardsmen. The Big Island would have provided 
a deep reserve of fresh water and major agricultural food resources to support the invasion and occupation 
force. Central Maui would have also been lush with natural and agricultural resources. Both islands had railways 
and the ports of Kahului, Maui and Hilo, Hawaii would have been quickly seized, totally controlling these two
key Hawaiian islands.

 The NW Side Of Hawaii Island Was An Ideal Invasion Base For Taking All Hawaiian Islands

According to “Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” there was an Imperial Japanese Army plan developed in 
spring of 1942 for a takeover of Hawaii, caused largely by the April, 1942 Doolittle B-25 bomber attack on 
Japan, which was a major shock to the Japanese military with the realization that Hawaii carrier based planes 
could attack the Japanese main islands. An invasion plan was drawn up called Dairikushi no. 1159 in May 23, 
1942 which was a pretty specific plan using three Army divisions. The 7th and 2nd divisions, augmented 
with the 53rd division with an independent engineer regiment and tank regiment.

Reportedly Yamamoto regretted not sending troop ships to follow up on the attack on Pearl Harbor. Oahu
defenses were devastated. Both air defenses and naval units were reeling backward, most aircraft destroyed 
and many ships sunk or badly damaged. Had the USS Enterprise been sunk at Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto would 
have undoubtedly quickly advanced a plan to invade the Hawaiian Islands before the US military industrial 
complex was able to ramp up large countering forces of ships and aircraft, which they did by late 1942-43. 
Even with ships and planes, people were needed to be trained and ships prepared for sailing. This all took 
lots of time. Japan's well equipped, well trained combat proficient military forces were already in high gear. 

If Japan had invaded the Hawaiian Islands in 1942 this would have required a US military 3000 mile counter 
invasion force from the US west coast of the United States. The US was by no means ready for Pacific 
operations like this in 1942. And in fact the FDR administration had already prioritized Nazi Germany for the 
first response to the Axis powers of Germany, Japan and Italy. This was what Yamamoto believed would
have happened and how Japan could have used Hawaii as a negotiation hostage for a new Pacific boundary 
between Japan and the United States. It could very well have worked as the Allies were in a very difficult
position at the time. Any future Pacific war would have taken place much later, assuming Nazi Germany would
be defeated, but if German forces had taken Stalingrad and Russia it would have been a different world history.
 Three Star General Jonathan Wainwright Is Interrogated By Japanese Army Officers

Yamamoto thought that quick military action followed by a peace negotiation would have prevented a war 
of attrition and that Hawaii could have been used as a bargaining chip once taken over. The islands might 
have become a Japanese protectorate or might have even gone back to US control in peace talks. Yamamoto 
knew that US industrial power would quickly ramp up and that he had approximately six months to achieve 
Japanese military and political objectives. Japan taking Hawaii early in 1942 could have stretched the US 
response time much longer and in to 1943 or later. The US atomic bomb was not ready until mid 1945.
There was also the “Yamaguchi Plan” that called for an invasion of Ceylon and the destruction of the British 
fleet in May of 1942. In June and July landings would take place at various locations including New Zealand 
and northern Australia. It was the May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea that forced Japan to abandon their plans 
to invade the northern Australia coast which was lightly defended and isolated from Australia's main 
population centers. Under the alternative scenario this invasion would have taken place but likely after the
invasion of the Hawaiian Islands.
Japanese Invasion Forces Struck All Over The Pacific Overwhelming Allied Defenders

Later subsequent Japanese strategic plans called for August and September invasions of the US Aleutian 
islands, followed by Midway. Hawaii was scheduled for December 1942 or January of 1943. The island of 
Hawaii would be taken first and used to construct airfields to attack the other islands much as the US 
planned to take over part of Kyushu and build airfields to attack other parts of Japan in Operation Olympic, 
the Allied invasion of Japan.  Carrier task forces and submarines would attack US shipping, take over the 
Panama Canal, seize California oilfields, and also attack South America. This could have been possible if the 
war was also going well for Nazi Germany, the Allied forces were in retreat and especially if Germany had 
taken Stalingrad and control of Russia. A 1944 invasion of Normandy would have been indefinitely 
postponed and the Allies possibly considering peace talks and ceasefire with the Axis powers.
The Fall Of US Military In Philippines Could Have Also Happened In Hawaii

There was a general consensus by American planners that Japan would not have landed troops on Oahu 
because of the well placed Army coast artillery which included 16 inch guns protecting the south Oahu 
shore and Pearl Harbor. These were specifically shown to Japanese Naval officers during 1930’s Oahu tours. 
The attack on Pearl Harbor clearly shows that Admiral Yamamoto was very aware of Oahu's Army coast artillery
and why his attack plan was simply to fly over them. The Army anti-aircraft defenses proved surprisingly 
weak and ineffective on December 7 due to everyone taking the day off on Sunday. It took many hours to
locate and retrieve locked up ammunition stores. Navy AA guns had available ammunition but fuses had not 
been set causing shells to whiz by Japanese planes without exploding. Most 50 Caliber machine guns were fired
wildly by inexperienced crewmen who did not have the skills to shoot down the fast swooping, acrobatic
combat experienced Japanese pilots.
As outlined in “Hawaii Under The Rising Sun,” Japanese invasion planners saw that the most likely invasion 
scenario was not hitting Oahu beaches directly but instead invading the nearby very lightly defended neighbor 
islands like Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, which a Japanese landing force could have easily taken in early 
1942. This was eventually the same strategy that the US used to close in on the Japanese main islands in 

From these outer island locations a Japanese military force could be provisioned without long logistical 
supply chains and could be better defended, as well as attacking any Oahu resupply attempts from the US 
mainland by sea or air. Maui offered a large bay at Lahaina Roads where the large Japanese invasion fleet 
could safely anchor, similar to how the US Navy later used Ulithi atoll in the Caroline Islands as a protected 
naval anchorage. To sustain a large Imperial Army invasion force the Big Island of Hawaii offered a northwest 
deep water shoreline without coral reefs where submarines, seaplanes and landing craft could maneuver
in easily to the Hapuna beachhead. The Big Island had large sugar cane plantations, cattle and sheep ranches,
vegetable and dairy farms with abundant fishery resources that could well sustain a large occupation army. 
Oahu would have been cut off from US mainland resupply by Japanese control of the important air and sea 
lanes between Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.  

 Actually Shown Is US Navy Use Of Lahaina Roads As A Pearl Harbor Alternative
Lahaina Roads was an ideal sheltered anchorage for a large naval fleet. Through the 1930's and early 1940's, 
Lahaina Roads was an alternative anchorage to Pearl Harbor for the US Navy. While planning for the attack 
on the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Japanese planners hoped that some significant ships might be at anchored there. 
They did extensive bay mapping using submarines and reconnaissance sea planes. The possibility that 
elements of the Pacific Fleet would be at Lahaina Roads anchorage was taken seriously in the plans of the 
Kido Butai, the Japanese naval strike force used for the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Scout planes were 
dispatched from the fleet, and I class submarines were sent to Lahaina Roads to reconnoiter the anchorage 
just minutes prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Japanese air reconnaissance photos discovered after the war 
show Ewa Field, the primary in bound Japanese Pearl Harbor attack route, was part of this early morning 
scout plane flyover to collect all of the latest target information.

At 0740 HST (Hawaiian standard time) Dec. 7, 1941 just prior to the attack on Ewa Field where the main 
Japanese air units were flying inbound over the US Navy’s Lualualei Ammunition storage depot, a scout plane 
from the IJN cruiser Tone radioed that Lahaina anchorage was empty, confirming a report from submarine 
I-72 which checked the anchorage on Dec. 6. Had any major U.S. ships been at Lahaina anchorage, plans called 
for an air or submarine attack using torpedoes to sink them.
In 1940 the US Navy and US army had War Plan Rainbow and conducted Fleet Problem XXI which partly 
focused on the operations of a concentrated Japanese fleet seeking to disrupt the preparations of a 
dispersed US Navy fleet during the opening days of a Pacific War. Another part involved a weaker US fleet 
trying to counter a stronger Japanese fleet attempting to capture a main advanced base. Other exercises 
included attacking Pearl Harbor with air groups coming from enemy aircraft carriers off Oahu.

Interestingly on December 7, 1941 Lahaina was wide open had Yamamoto planned to use an invasion force- 
as he later planned and attempted at Midway atoll in June 1942. Midway had almost no natural resources 
while Maui and the Big Island were very lightly defended and packed with lush available resources of all kinds 
ready for the taking and use by a Japanese occupation force.
 The Big Island Offered Huge Resources For Supporting A Japanese Invasion Force

Very close to Maui's Lahaina anchorage, across the Alenuihaha Channel, was the nearly completely 
undefended Opolu airfield on the northern tip of the Big Island. Upolu field had been constructed in the 
1920’s and the US Army maintained a small barracks and radio station by the field. The relatively lightly 
used Upolu Point Airport by 1940 consisted of a large runway 3,500 feet long. A Japanese Marine special 
operations force, like today’s Navy Seals, could have easily taken this relatively remote but strategically 
and tactically important airfield. Opolu airfield would have provided additional operational air cover for 
troop landings at Hapuna beach, just a few miles from the small central island community of Waimea, 
headquarters for the vast Parker Ranch spread over many square miles of uninhabited hilly range lands. 
The terrain was ideal for the light Japanese tanks used in Pacific island battles.
Prior to the war the 1940 Waimea (Kamuela) population was a mere 1,352. Very few people were armed 
with anything other than a few pistols and pig hunting rifles. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Territorial
Guard of Hawaii, which was also lightly armed, had been on maneuvers on Maui.  The only thing stopping a 
Japanese invasion force was a local paniolo (cowboy) named Hisa Kimura and his 32 caliber pistol. He and a 
few other cowboys from Kamuela town guarded the wide open white sand North Kohala beaches from an 
invasion that many expected to follow the Japanese attack while Oahu was in a disorganized near panic. 

 Waimea Cowboys Were Ready To Defend Against Japanese Invasion Of Hawaii Island

Indeed, Admiral Yamamoto's plan of battle called for an invasion of the Big Island shortly after he had 
destroyed the remnants of the U.S. Navy at Midway in June 1942. But he missed his major opportunity
by not doing so right after Pearl Harbor with an invasion in very early 1942 when the outer islands were 
completely wide open for the taking. Fortunately for Hawaiian cowboy Hisa Kimura, the miracle of Midway 
shut the door to Japanese conquest of the Hawaiian Islands and no cowboys were lost defending North 
Kohala and Hapauna Beach. However in somewhat great irony, the town of Waimea became a major US 
Marine Corps training base for Pacific island invasions and Hapuna Beach was a key objective in regular 
Marine Corp beach landing exercises.
The 2nd And 5th Marine Divisions Trained For Saipan And Iwo Jima At Waimea Big Island

“Hawaii Under The Rising Sun” also documents that from 1937 to 1939, local Japanese contributed more 
to the Imperial Japanese National Defense Fund than did native Japanese. Movies glorifying the Japanese 
Imperial Army conquests of China were regularly shown in local Oahu Japanese movie theaters and books 
by retired Japanese Navy officers offering Japanese victory scenarios and themes of Japanese conquest of 
Hawaii over the United States were broadly popular in local Japanese book stores. 
In the 1930’s when Japanese Imperial Navy warships regularly docked in Honolulu harbor the US Army 
even hosted tours for IJN Naval officers to see the latest in Army coast artillery defenses and fire control 
techniques. In fact, the Imperial Japanese Navy was far more active in local Hawaiian waters prior to the 
war than most people know about today. The US fleet at Pearl Harbor, monitored by Japanese spies like 
clockwork, knew that almost everyone took Sunday’s off and the navy would light up all of the ships like 
Christmas trees so that every ship could be seen from 10 miles away. This made Japanese spying and 
reconnaissance around Pearl Harbor pretty easy. They also swam in the harbor mapping out everything 
in great detail, which proven invaluable in improving shallow Pearl harbor torpedo modifications.

Japan Built Huge Powerful Battleships For "Decisive" Engagements That Never Happened
By 1940 the US Navy and Army had run numerous training exercises, including at least one having four 
enemy aircraft carriers attacking Oahu from a position 200 miles northwest of Oahu on a Sunday (which 
is exactly what Japan did.) These scenarios were also published in local popular Oahu magazines like 
“Paradise in the Pacific” in 1940. However the official US government and military position was always 
that “Japan would never do this,” and “Hawaii had invincible Navy and Army coastal defenses.” Oahu 
was often touted as the Gibraltar of the Pacific, meaning like a nearly invincible fortress. This is why the 
Japanese Navy developed battleships with 18 inch guns to out range US 16 inch naval guns. They also 
hoped to lure the US Navy into a big final battleship shootout which never happened. Japanese battleships 
were sunk by US carrier based aircraft. Yamamoto likely knew this would happen but lost his charm with 
the Japanese military after the June 1942 Battle of Midway debacle.

 1930's Japanese Navy Ships Regularly Visited Oahu And Sometimes Given Tours Of Coastal Defenses
Bishop Museum archive photos show Japanese Navy officers and crew being feted at luaus at Ewa sugar 
Plantation, one of the largest in the Hawaiian Islands located in West Oahu. Ewa Plantation was directly 
next to Ewa Field which was attacked on December 7, 1941 and was the primary inbound and exit route for 
the Japanese IJN aircraft that bombed Pearl Harbor. The Japanese used the clearly visible Barbers Point 
light house, the Oahu railway line that led to Pearl Harbor, and the two huge tall sugar mill tower stacks at
Ewa Plantation and Waipahu plantation as their primary visual landmarks. These were especially important 
visual reference regrouping points for the IJN naval air force Kate and Val bombers which had to relocate 
their Zero fighter escorts to be guided back to their aircraft carriers. Many regrouping planes took the time
to unload large amounts of 7.7mm machine fire on Ewa Mooring Mast Field and the adjacent Ewa Plantation

Ahead Of These B5N Torpedo Bombers, A6M Zero Fighters Were Lining Up To Attack And Strafe Ewa Field
A big political problem with Japan’s military hierarchy was deciding what to do with Hawaii if they had it, 
which stemmed from the rivalry between the Army and the Navy branches in Japan. The two competed 
with each other and didn't get along well, another contributing factor to Japan's ultimate defeat in the 
Pacific war. The Imperial Army felt the war would be won in China and Asia and that Hawaii was not really
that important. The Imperial Navy saw things in terms of the strategic importance of controlling the Pacific
islands and having forward bases to keep enemy forces far away from the Japanese homeland. 

Last Photo Of Yamamoto Before His Staff Mitsubishi G4M Was Shot Down April 1943
Yamamoto was correct in understanding that the major goal of US military forces after at least six months 
of getting itself organized and ready to really fight was to get to island bases close enough to bomb Japan 
into surrender- and this was Saipan, 1500 miles from Japan. Yamamoto had the influence to get his way up 
until the defeat at Midway, which changed everything. Using radio traffic interception and code breaking
Yamamoto was assassinated in April 18, 1943 by Army Air Force P-38’s in Operation Vengeance which 
located and shot down the Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber carrying him and his personal staff.

Historic Context – Important Historic Facts To Know: Japan’s Rise To World Power
The king of Hawaii - King David Kalakaua, visited Japan in 1881 and offered to help forge a bond between 
Hawaii and Japan. While in Japan, the King and his companions were treated lavishly by Emperor Meiji 
(Mutsuhito) and the Japanese government as state guests. Kalakaua's visit also included the king's proposal 
for a Union and Federation of Asiatic Nations and Sovereigns, which would include Japan and Hawaii, among 
numerous other Asian and Pacific polities, in an alliance against the encroachment or pressures of the Western 
powers. Kalakaua also tried to arrange a marriage between Hawaiian Princess Kaʻiulani and Japan's Prince 
Higashifushimi Yorihito in hopes of creating a close family alliance between Japan and the Kingdom of Hawaii.

King David Kalakaua Visits Japan Emperor And Proposes Federation Of Asian Nations 
While the Meiji Emperor is said to have appreciated these two suggestions, he rejected both as having too 
much potential to cause diplomatic difficulties with other powers. In January 1893 the monarchy of Hawaii 
was overthrown by a political coup arranged by American corporations and businessmen. 
However, had this meeting come after the Russo-Japanese War there might have been an entirely different 
outcome as Japan had emerged as a Pacific, if not world power after this war with Russia. The Russo-Japanese 
War was fought during 1904–1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial 
ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. Seeing Russia as a rival, Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance in 
Manchuria in exchange for recognition of Korea as being within the Japanese sphere of influence. 

 Japan Winning Against Russia And Armored Battleships Changed All Strategic Concepts
After negotiations broke down in 1904, the Japanese Navy opened hostilities by attacking the Russian Eastern 
Fleet at Port Arthur, China in a surprise attack. The complete victory of the Japanese military surprised world 
observers. The consequences transformed the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of 
Japan's recent entry onto the world stage. Interestingly Isoroku Yamamoto as a young Imperial Japanese Navy 
officer was wounded in action at the decisive Battle of Tsushima, losing two fingers. This became a personal
badge of honor for him during early meetings with Japanese military commanders when the war was going 
The Russo-Japanese War was the first major military victory in the modern era of an Asian power over a 
European one. Armored dreadnaught battleships played an important role which had a major influence on 
Japanese naval concepts and battle strategies. The age of the powerful artillery platform battleship also set 
the stage for major coastal defense paranoia in the United States with expansion and modernizing of 
coast fortifications. Under US Secretary of War William Endicott, the Endicott board recommended new coastal 
defenses at 22 U.S. seaports including Pearl Harbor. 

Oahu eventually became known as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific” defended by large accurate 16 inch naval guns, 
including Fort Barrette near Ewa Field. Also closeby was Fort Weaver with 16 inch guns near the entrance to 
Pearl Harbor. Japan in the meantime began development of battleships with longer range 18 inch naval guns. 
Always planning for the anticipated final big battleship conflict that the Imperial Japanese Navy expected to 
dominate, their huge powerful ships never engaged US battleships and were instead sunk by US carrier
aircraft. The US Navy wound up using their 16 inch gun battleships as mobile artillery platforms to shell
Japanese held islands prior to US Marine landings.

Hawaii Under The Rising Sun
Explores the possibility and practicality of Japanese plans for the invasion and conquest of the Hawaiian Islands
during World War II. It addresses the history of Japanese in Hawaii and the political leaning by generation. The 
growing rift during the early 1900s is also documented. This is a revealing and thoughtful read.
This book deals with what the Japanese general plans were for Hawaii, assuming that they would be able to 
take it over. For a long time there actually weren't any specific plans, and when plans were made up they were 
not always extremely specific. It was thought that the large population of persons of Japanese ancestry on the 
island might be a help to the Japanese, who hoped that those people would be giving their first loyalty to Japan
and not to the US.
Plans for an invasion of Hawaii technically began on December  9, 1941, just a couple days after Pearl Harbor. 
One of the problems they did realize was that Hawaii would have been quite far away and difficult to supply 
and defend. The plans were devised by Yamamoto, and his idea for Hawaii was more as a forward defense 
against aircraft carrier attacks against Japanese forces in the Pacific. He also hoped that, by holding Hawaii, it 
would encourage the US to agree to peace talks.
There was a lot of public speculation about Hawaii in Japanese hands, and many felt that Hawaii was properly 
part of Japan anyhow. Ideas involved how to restructure the agriculture on the islands (make the islands more 
self-sufficient), disband the major US corporations on the islands, redistribute the land, re-establish the 
Hawaiian monarchy, and redo the educational system. Hawaii had been an independent monarchy until US 
corporations managed to basically take over the island by force, an early example of the military/industrial 
About 40% of Hawaii were people of Japanese ancestry, and there was some question as to how they would 
react to an actual Japanese takeover of the islands. Would they remain loyal to Japan, or to the US? The book 
relates this to the Japanese-American internment camps and how people of Japanese ancestry were treated 
on the mainland (mainly the West Coast).
The book notes that some of the PJA (persons of Japanese ancestry) in Hawaii were very loyal to the US; others 
did not feel that sense of loyalty due to the levels of discrimination against them. There would also be 
differences between the issei, the first-generation PJAs, and the nisei, those actually born in Hawaii and not 
Japan. The book notes that some of the PJAs would have welcomed an actual Japanese takeover of the islands.
Interestingly enough, the entire issue could have been a moot point if a visit had resulted in a different ending. 
The king of Hawaii, King Kalakua, visited Japan in 1881 and offered to help forge a bond between Hawaii and 
Japan, and that Japan could organize a federation of Asian nations to which Hawaii would belong. The proposal 
was turned down, though. If it hadn't been, there is a chance Hawaii would have become aligned with Japan 
and not with the US.
There was a fairly good level of support among the PJAs for the Japanese invasion of China. The Japanese did
 tend, though, to overestimate the level of loyalty of the PJAs in Hawaii, making the assumption that most of 
them would support Japan.
Doho is a term applied to PJAs that lived elsewhere than in Japan, and they were considered to be Japanese. 
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, though, PJAs on Hawaii tended to downplay their "Japan-ness" as much as 
possible. Some were taken for internment, as on the West Coast, but a much smaller proportion than on the 
One of the things affecting PJAs in Hawaii was that integrating into the white community was seen as a ticket 
to a successful life; thus getting a good US-type education and getting into the US-dominated economy were 
considered to be very important, especially to the Nisei.
Although various invasion scenarios were drawn up, the ones from Japan did not really take the PJAs as a 
major part, whereas people in the US tended to fear any takeover would be largely due to an uprising on the 
part of the PJAs in Hawaii. In other words, whites feared the PJAs, while the Japanese tended not to place a 
great deal of importance on them in their plans.
Yamamoto said in the fall of 1940 that Japan could not win a protracted war against the US. He understood 
just how powerful the US economy and war machine could become, and that Japan simply could not match 
that. He said he would probably be able to run riot for about a year; after that, the power of American 
production would begin to tilt the balance.
During the summer of 1941 there were some talks of an invasion of Hawaii with landings on Oahu, Maui and 
the Big Island to take place right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto did not think that wise, though, 
because he felt Japan did not have the resources necessary to do that plus continue to do everything else it 
was doing at the time (fighting China, attacking other countries in the Far East, etc.)
The book talks about the Japanese spirit and how Japanese military people felt that such a thing would help 
to make up for the differences between the ability of Japan to produce war goods and the US ability to produce
Yamamoto thought that quick military action followed by negotiation would have prevented a war of attrition, 
and that Hawaii would have been used as a bargaining chip once taken over. The islands might have become a 
Japanese protectorate or might have even gone back to US control in peace talks.
All the planning that took place, though, was rendered moot when the Japanese were defeated at Midway in 
June of 1942. That began the gradual roll-back of Japanese forces in the Pacific and ended all hopes for any 
takeover of Hawaii or any actual attack on the US mainland in force. There were some instances of shelling 
by submarine, bombing of forests by sub-carried planes, and the balloon bombings, but none of these were 
of any major scale and they were never followed up with anything strong or coordinated.
The book uses the term "victory disease" as a way to describe Japanese attitudes towards Americans. American 
soldiers were thought to be soft. Battle results were usually exaggerated. In relation to Pearl Harbor, for 
example, the press reported that 88% of the army and navy personnel there had been killed. Radio Tokyo 
announced the sinking of aircraft carriers even when they actually weren't sunk or even attacked. The media 
reported panic in the US over the attack. The shelling of Santa Barbara by a submarine was reported to have 
inflicted heavy damage even though it didn't. Some talk was held about how to divide up the US mainland 
once it was conquered.
The Greater East-Asia Co-prosperity Sphere is also discussed in relation to Hawaii. There was also planning 
for post-war reparations by the US for what was being done to PJAs on the West Coast who did, indeed, suffer 
major economic losses by being relocated to the internment camps.
The book states that Japan, despite these various plans, did not have any systematic, solid planning for what 
to do after the war, assuming that they won the war. One assumption was that Hawaii would be placed under
 military rule. The monarchy would be re-established. Sugar and pineapple production would be reduced in an 
attempt to make Hawaii more food self-sufficient. The main five US corporations would be stripped of the 
land they controlled, and this land would be re-distributed.
The book talks about the pilot of one Zero during the attack on Pearl Harbor who crashed and landed on a 
small island northwest of Honolulu. The pilot was helped by a nisei male, but the pilot was killed six days later 
by a Hawaiian and the nisei committed suicide.
Late in 1944 a suicide strike against California was considered in which around 300 men would be landed by
 parachute near Santa Barbara. They were to attack the Douglas and Lockheed aircraft factories in Los Angeles 
and kill as many people as they could before being killed themselves.
The book notes that, in 1981, a poll was taken by a newspaper in Japan and 80% of Japanese men and 
women were unable to identify Pearl Harbor with December 7, 1941; they identified it mainly as a place
 for honeymoons. 
If the Imperial Navy had won the Battle of Midway, Hawaii would likely have been invaded. While the USA 
would certainly have been able to free the island, it would have been at a great cost - likely reducing Honolulu
 to rubble and turning the island paradise into another Iwo Jima or Okinawa as the Japanese fought to the 
last man. 

Hawaii Under the Rising Sun: 
Japan's Plans for Conquest After Pearl Harbor
Front Cover

University of Hawaii Press, 2001 - 228 pages
This lively, provocative study challenges the widely held belief that the Japanese did not intend to 
invade the Hawaiian Islands. Choice.
A disquieting book, which shatters several historical illusions that have almost come to be accepted 
as facts. It will remind historians how complex and ambiguous history really is. American Historical