The Japanese perspective on The Battle of Imphal interests me greatly. Few English language histories cover it in much detail. Arthur Swinson (Four Samurai) and Louis Allen stand out as having done so. Other histories are not incomplete but have simply dwelt on other aspects. I spent a productive two weeks touring Japan, visiting the sites of the memorials to the veterans of 33 Infantry Division, meeting academics and giving a lecture to Japanese analysts about the battle and the surrounding decisions.
The mainstream Japanese view is that attempt to invade India in March 1944 was foolish and reckless with Lt Gen Mutaguchi as the main culprit. Indeed, this thesis points out, he became so enthusiastic about the possibilities that he even dreamed of entering Delhi on a white horse. Whilst this view is fair, it might also be incomplete. In December 1943 there were few good options available to Japan in general and in northern Burma in particular.
There is also some work to be done on how the Japanese soldier was motivated. Some very excellent summaries of how the samurai code was co-opted in the 1920 and 30s, have been written. Arthur Swinson’s is very good. We have tended to see the Japanese soldier as something not ordinary and almost always as fanatical. This is a word I resist because even though true, it does not encourage further enquiry about why. This is very parallel to whether and how Islamic theology is being used or misused to motivate jihadis. I was once warned against doing academic work on jihad, on the grounds that even scholars of Islam cannot exactly agree on the topic and for an outsider to attempt to do so is hopeless. It is probably the same here, but for example there was widespread draft dodging in Japan. So who did not manage to dodge the draft and what does that tell us about the type of soldier who ended up in 33 Infantry Division attacking Shenam Ridge in 1944. Who had selected out and how?
There are so many other Japanese aspects to the story. The road to war for example and the causes and origins of WW2 which many Japanese were very against. Japan in the 30s nearly disintegrated into rival military factions and indeed it is remarkable given the bad blood between so many senior officers in the 30s that there was any functioning command element in 1944 at all.
All to say that I am looking to enhance our Japanese language research capability as we cover these questions.