Japan's Population: Debunking the Perception of a Small Country

Ethan Johnson

Updated Friday, March 1, 2024 at 12:24 PM CDT

Japan's Population: Debunking the Perception of a Small Country

Japan's Population during World War II: Surpassing Expectations

Japan, often perceived as a small country, had a population of 72 million people at the start of World War II. Surprisingly, this figure exceeded England's population of 50 million and was only slightly smaller than the USA's population of 132 million. Contrary to popular belief, Japan's size, both in terms of population and land area, was not to be underestimated.

Conscription and Mobilization: Japan's Military Strength

Japan employed active conscription during the war, drafting a significant number of people into the military. In Imperial Japan, all able-bodied men aged 17 to 40 were liable to serve. This policy allowed Japan to raise a military force of around 6 million, a remarkable feat considering their population size.

Japan's Population in Comparison

Although often overlooked, Japan's population of 70 million during that time was larger than that of Germany, the UK, or France. In fact, it was more than half the population of the United States. This demonstrates that Japan's population was comparable to major European countries, challenging the perception of them as a small nation.

Stereotypes and Misconceptions

The stereotype of Japan as a small country was a creation of the West, used to dismiss them as a real threat. This perception was also employed after the war to absolve the Japanese populace of any blame for their involvement in WWII. However, Japan's mountainous terrain, similar to Scotland, contributes to the misperception of it being a small country.

Population and Military Strength

Japan's large population played a crucial role in their ability to send a significant number of troops despite their geographical size. While Japan mobilized a similar percentage of their male population as the US and the UK, it was far less than Germany or the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, their population size allowed them to field a considerable military force and contribute to their overall military strength.

The Impact of Conscription

Japan's conscription policy intensified as the war progressed and desperation grew. This ensured that a significant portion of their male population served in the military. The population of Japan, therefore, played an instrumental role in their military capabilities and their ability to mobilize troops effectively.

Japan's population size during World War II challenges the perception of it being a small country. With a population larger than major European nations and the ability to raise a considerable military force, Japan's population was a key factor in their involvement in the war. It is important to debunk the stereotypes and recognize the significant role that Japan's population played in shaping their military strength.

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