While any fear of war is already outdated, and was so on April 12th, too, by the fact that North Korean soldiers are demobilized in large numbers to work on the fields, Ignatius‘ last conclusion is worth discussing. He wrote:
Is it really possible that Kim and the North Korean military could lead their country toward what would amount to national suicide? Analysts often reject this as an irrational and improbable outcome. But consider this: There was a northeast Asian nation led by a ruler with quasi-divine status, who in league with his military led his country into a reckless and self-destructive war against the United States. That nation was imperial Japan.
So how much can we compare today’s North Korea with Imperial Japan in 1941? Can we really compare the situation in both countries?
Military: Japan was in fact superior
Let’s take the military side first. Japan had the largest carrier fleet in the world and was the only nation to that date to use her carriers concentrated, in the Kido Butai. The land of the rising sun didn’t just have more carriers than the USN, it also had superior planes and better pilots.
The A6M Zero was unmatched at that date, the B6N is considered to be the superior torpedo plane of her time. The D3A dive bomber was highly effective, too. But Japan was not only superior on the material side, but also in flight personnel The aircrews manning the Navy’s carriers had enormous flying hours in their books, many had even gained combat experience over China. The USN’s pilots in comparison were good, but not on an equal level. Their planes were fine, but no match in the first months. Their carriers were a fair match, maybe even better, but still fewer with a worse doctrine and no experience in combined operations.
Japan also had a fleet of 10 fast battleships, with a maximum speed of at least 25 knots. The world’s most powerful battleship of all times, the Yamato, was already performing sea trials when the war started and would be fully commissioned within a few months. Her sister ship the Musashi, wasn’t far away either.
Add to that a huge army with extensive combat experience from four years of fighting against China right before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and you see a capable fighting force that could indeed match the USN at that point.
North Korea is no comparison
So while Japan’s armed forces were superior at several key points when the war broke out, how is the balance of power on the Korean peninsula? North Korea is inferior in almost every aspect.
While the size of it’s armed forces is impressive, it still isn’t even larger than that of the US. It’s air force is sizable, though almost every single plane is a flying coffin. It’s navy is no match for the South’s armed forces and any armoured thrust could be smashed within hours by superior southern planes and tanks. To make it short without going into detail about every single piece of military equipment – the North’s armed forces are vastly inferior.
They may be able to defend the north from fortified and prepared positions for some months. They may be able to destroy Seoul within a week or two (even a D-30 still fires exploding shells) – but that’s it!
Instead of 1941’s Japan, they are nowhere near superior in ANY field, except maybe in their knowledge of running Gulags…
Kom Jong-Un is no Tenno
It may just be a side note, but Hirohito, Japan’s emperor during the 2nd World War, was a mere figurehead. He exercised no real power and was expected to behave himself like a pure puppet of the government. Kim Jong-Un on the other hand seems to have solidified his power, proven by the ousting of many former military in political leaders and even demotions and executions of marshals and generals in the first months of his reign.