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No, it’s not sailing. Yes, it’s important.

The spring of 1945 found the Japanese Empire in a desperate situation. The successful U.S. invasions of Iwo Jima in February and Okinawa in April had brought the Pacific War to the Japanese Home Islands’ doorsteps. Devastating air raids (alone the first firebombing raid on Tokyo during the night of 9/10 March 1945 claimed an estimated 100,000 lives) had razed the interconnected industrial/residential districts of most urban areas.

The U.S. Navy’s highly effective submarine blockade, as well as the joint Navy–Army Air Forces aerial mining campaign, had brought about rapidly increasing shortages of food, fuel, and strategic materials that left both the Japanese military and civilian populace in dire straits. The Imperial Navy no longer had enough fuel reserves to go to sea and many ships had been relegated to the role of portside antiaircraft platforms. Strict conservation of available aviation fuel grounded most of Japan’s still considerable numbers of combat aircraft. Moreover, the Soviet Union had refused to renew its neutrality pact with Japan.

Although the Japanese did their utmost to forestall immediate conflict with USSR, the country’s possessions on the Asian mainland (Manchuria and Korea) and the maritime territories to the north of the Home Islands were now vulnerable to a daunting potential foe. Read on.