Island Hopping

Quarter 4, Rotation 1 -C/D


”We know we are going to die, so we have no fear of anybody and everyone is high-spirited.”

This quote shows how the Japanese soldiers valued their life during the time of war. The phrase within the quote says “We know we are going to die,” meaning that eventually they will die and it’s just a matter of time before they do. Because of this, the Japanese soldiers didn’t fear death, making them a soldier willing to do anything, even die for their country, before surrendering. As a result of this mindset by the Japanese people, the theory of dying before being captive or surrendering became a policy within Japanese servicemen, which would later be adopted by the Japanese civilians as well (American Experience). This is similar to how Japanese samurai dealt with defeat in ancient Japanese times. In ancient Japan, the ritual of Seppuku was performed when a samurai felt like they have failed their country due to the nobility requirements through bushido. Seppuku is when they felt like they have brought shame to their name and rather than face the consequences they were expected to perform the ritual of Seppuku.Seppuku was a very serious ritual that took a large amount of time of preparation and planning to execute. The samurai bathed, ate his last meal and dressed himself nicely and officially. He then sat upon his death cloth and wrote a death poem prior to taking his short sword or dagger and then stabbing himself in the abdomen. They felt like by committing Seppuku that they would bring honor to their name and then possibly be reborn and seek vengeance since they failed their mission in this life (Hoffmann). This is the same idea being performed by the Japanese servicemen over a large span of time.

Example of death poem

Takemata Hideshige

(After being defeated by Shibata Katsuie)

Shall Ashura

subdue a man like me?

I shall be born again

and then I'll cut the head

off Katsuie...



“They flew in low, about 50 feet over the water. I remember we had 30 or 40 or 50 ships sitting in the harbor there”

The americans viewed their life as more valuable than the Japanese did. This would be a result of the views of the American soldiers and the influential ideas that are present on the Japanese culture with Seppuku. The americans also had a superior defense than the Japanese intended. This can be justified with the journal entry from a marine on November 12, 1942. This journal entry shows how well prepared the Americans were and much more strategized as a defensive unit that was ready for the Japanese air forces. These style attacks from the Japanese are constant throughout the conquest so the Americans were better prepared for these types of attacks (Iwo Jim Diary, January 27, 1945). This is different between the two forces because the Americans were smarter with the way they attacked with more strategy based. The Americans also fought with heart rather than just accepting death in the end. This was an advantage towards the Americans because they actually valued their lives so they were going to fight harder to survive and go back home to their families.
Both the Japanese and Americans were fighting in foreign land. Both sides had environmental factors they weren’t used to. The environment was primarily very thick jungle, which neither side had that much experience in. Along with the jungle, exposure to new threats such as diseases were introduced. Each army took casualties and discomfort because of the disease Dysentery (Guadalcanal Journal). This affected both armies production and efficiency due to the lack of sleep and the poor health of the troops.


"American Experience: TV's Most-watched History Series." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 01 May


"Death Poems." Death Poems. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2015.

"Guadalcanal Journal: A Personal History of the Battle For Guadalcanal."Guadalcanal

Journal. N.p., 22 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 May 2015.

Hoffmann Japanese Death Poems pg. 54

Iwo Jima Diary (n.d.): n. pag. Web.