Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Capital Punishment

No sooner had the smoke cleared over Pearl Harbor than Americans war planners began to systematically investigate how best to burn Tokyo and its environs to the ground. While some intelligence agencies began to plot out specific sites of industry and defense around the enemy capital for surgical bombardment, others quickly turned their attention to urban Tokyo’s well-known vulnerability to fire. That much of eastern Tokyo had burned to the ground following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 was of great interest to military planners, who began to investigate how they might spark a great conflagration of their own (Fedman and Karacas, 2012).

Such an abiding interest in Tokyo’s flammability was far from confined to the war room. Americans of all stripes were soon imagining the capital aflame, especially following news of the Doolittle Raiders' sensational 1942 assault on Tokyo. Perhaps the most popular expression of this sentiment can be found in the chorus of Don Baker’s 1942 hit There’ll be a little Smokio in Tokio:

There'll be a little smokio in Tokio
Hooray, hooray, hooray
And you can bet it will not be from Tokio
Hooray, hooray, hooray
Them saki yaki boy
Will throw away his toys
And Uncle Sam will frown
When Yankee Doodle goes to town

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