By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- It was the summer of 1965 and I was sitting in a USO center in Nice, France. General Charles De Gaulle had not yet thrown the US military troops out of France, the troops that had retaken and freed his nations just 20 years earlier.
There were a couple of US Navy ships on station in Nice. My father the Navy Master Chief was driving our five member family around Europe that summer in a very small Volkswagen station wagon.
A short respite at an American USO outpost on foreign soil was very much welcomed by my family. They were showing the WWII Cary Grant movie Father Goose that night at the USO.
“Frank, it was a Nakajima 97” I can still remember those words Grant spoke in the movie. Grant was a very unhappy and reluctant coast watcher working for the Royal Australian Navy. He was placed on a deserted island and required to report on Japanese naval and air activities in his little sector of the Pacific war. He was an alcoholic and the Australian sailors had hidden his alcohol on the island. Every time he gave a confirmed report of Japanese activity he was told how to find a bottle of alcohol as a reward.
The movie is not the issue of this column, the Nakajima 97 Japanese fighter aircraft is.
Maybe you have never heard of Nakajima but perhaps you have heard of Mitsubishi and Kawasaki. All three of these companies made versions of the Nakajima 97, quality weapons made by quality Japanese manufacturing firms. Toyota made trucks for the Japanese Army to help with the invasion and follow on occupation of parts of China. They were about to go belly-up after WWII, but a streak of luck called the Korean War was to change Toyota’s future. The US Military placed a very large order for Toyota trucks to be used in Korea and the rest as they say is history.
Out of full disclosure I own Japanese vehicles to include a 1980 Toyota Land Cruiser that uses the same engine design that Toyota used in their WWII truck line.
I love Toyota quality vehicles but I have a fear of Toyota quality weapons. I am a big believe in the Consumers Reports Magazine. They rate the quality of manufactured products to include vehicles. Toyota cars and trucks are always getting very high quality ratings in the magazine.
Toyota quality is a term I use when trying to compare the quality of one product to another, Toyota quality being my industry standard. The Japanese do not have a military like most nations of the world. By the restrictions of their US imposed, post WWII new constitution and specifically Article 9, Japan can only have a defense force, a defense force that cannot go offensive, outside their own national borders. So by US standards Japan has a very small military capability but by Japanese quality standards they have a very well equipped “sort-of” combat force.
Now the current Japanese government has re-interpreted Article 9 and has plans to greatly expand their offensive military capability. Of course the Japanese manufacturers want to get in on this lucrative game. Selling military equipment and weapons is global big money.
It is to be noted that in the deserts of North Africa where Sunni and Shia Muslims are killing each other, they do it from the backs of Japanese vehicles in the style of WWII German General, Ervin Rommel’s “desert-rats” warfare. Operations, that are currently labeled “Toyota Wars” because of the vehicles used. I once read where Osama bin Laden’s favorite vehicles were American made large SUVs because of the air conditioning capabilities and Toyota Land Cruisers because of their reliability in the outback of his world.
Again I am a loyal owner of Toyota and other Japanese vehicles because of the quality. If Consumer Report Magazine (CRM) started doing quality evaluations of the manufacturing of military weapons and field equipment and then giving them the CRM famous solid “red-dots” that mean best quality or solid “black-dots” meaning poorest quality, there is no doubt that Japanese made military industrial hardware would get fire-wall “red dots” for excellent products.
I am sorry but there is just something in the back of my mind that says wait a minute. The world (meaning the US) has kept Japan on a short military leash since that day in 1945 on board the USS Missouri when we put a final stop to Japanese aggression.
You have to understand that if Japan goes into the proactive, force projecting stance of a military vs. a defense force, they will do it with excellent quality. Japanese firewall “red-dot” excellent military quality, does the world really need this?
Major Van Harl USAF Ret. / [email protected]
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]