Battle of Midway I

Lead: In the early summer of 1942 United States forces in the Pacific could have been defeated at the distant tip of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When the last Japanese dive bombers departed through the smoke that billowed from the ruined U.S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they left a job undone. While the line of battleships was hard hit and some of vessels such as the USS Arizona were lost for good, battleships were headed for a diminished role in strategic military planning. Hickam and Wheeler Air Fields were filled with many burning wrecks, but the aircraft could be easily replaced. Japanese had missed the greatest prize. Three aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific fleet were absent on that fateful Sunday morning and to the Japanese command these ships remained a deadly threat.

Japanese Royal Family

Lead: The position of the royal family of Japan has swirled in and between myth and reality until the modern era. Today the Emperor and his kin are respected, even loved, but fulfil a role that is strictly symbolic.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: While Buddhism is Japan’s dominant religion, Shinto is the country’s indigenous faith where originate the ancient creation myths that established the foundation of royal governance. In this mythological tradition, Japanese emperors were thought to possess magical powers and direct divine communication. This cultic role made it unseemly for the emperor to be engaged in day-to-day public administration which was handled by advisors and ministers. From the establishment of the a new capital in Kyoto in the late eighth century, a city following a Chinese design, real power was wielded behind the throne in alternating succession by two powerful clans, Fujiwara and Taira.

Japan Opens to the West III

Lead: In the summer of 1853, a reluctant Japan opened its doors to trade with the rest of the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Matthew Calbraith Perry was 59 years of age in the year he led the expedition to Japan. He suffered from arthritis and spent much of the voyage in his cabin. He was the brother of Oliver Hazard Perry whose defeat of the British fleet secured Lake Erie for the United States in the War of 1812. Matthew's career included transportation of freed slaves to Africa after the founding of Liberia and combat command during the Mexican War. He had a regal bearing and was a very serious person. This formality stood him well in dealing with the traditionalist Japanese who were reluctant to give up their policy of non-involvement with the outside world.

Japan Opens to the West II

Lead: For centuries Japan had kept itself isolated from the rest of the world. That changed on a summer day in 1853.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For nearly half a century American clipper ships had dominated the oceans of the world. These fast, sleek, and graceful vessels had helped U.S. shippers maintain their lead in transport, but a clipper ship was merely the perfection of a very ancient technology and the Industrial Revolution had created a new source of power and made possible a more efficient way of shipping goods. By the 1840s British-built coal fired steamships were taking the lead from the American clipper ships on the Atlantic ferry.

Japan Opens to the West I

Lead: On July 14, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry landed at Kirihama new Edo Wan, now known as Tokyo Bay. The Tokugawa Shogunate had taken the fateful step of opening Japan to the West.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In its long history one of the major themes of Japanese life has been the interaction between native and foreign influence. In Japan's early history, the dominance of Chinese language, culture, religion and government was undeniable, but as the centuries passed Japan adapted, modified or discarded many aspects of Chinese civilization. However, it retained a lingering suspicion of foreigners. By 1200 Japan's emperor was a highly revered, near-religious figure, with little practical power. That was held by shogun, the emperor's supreme military commander. He received his title from the emperor, but in reality, for the most part, the shogun controlled the monarch. One of the primary goals of the shogunate was to suppress regional warfare and achieve political stability. Foreign influence was seen by many Japanese as a threat to the stability of the nation.

World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea II

Lead: In the May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, Allied naval forces halted the Japanese southern advance on New Guinea and Australia, but not without severe losses, including that of the Lady Lex.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the great disappointments to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor was that the surprise attack failed to catch the aircraft carriers, Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga, which were at sea. This failure would return to bite them badly in the Coral Sea six months later, yet in the heady days following the initial success in late 1941 Tokyo decided to expand its ambitions by moving south toward Australia. The most immediate target was Port Moseby in southeastern Papua New Guinea.

World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea I

Lead: In what may have been the first truly `modern naval engagement, Japanese and American carrier aircraft fought over the Coral Sea in May, 1942. No surface ship in either navy sighted the enemy.Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese forces sought to take advantage of Allied confusion and their own stunning success in the early days of the war in the Pacific. They upgraded their Strategic Plan to include strikes toward the central Pacific island of Midway and south toward New Guinea and Australia. Midway in June 1942 would prove to be perhaps the decisive defeat for the Japanese Navy in World War II, but the Coral Sea engagement a month earlier, even though it has been considered a draw, stopped the southern advance of the Japanese juggernaut and laid the foundation for the subsequent U.S. victory at Guadalcanal the following winter.


Lead: Out of ancient Japanese history emerged a caste of iconic warriors that often had military and political power. They were the samurai.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The bushi or samurai were members of a powerful class of military combatants who played an increasingly influential role in Japanese political life from approximately CE 800 to fairly late in the modern era. They adhered to the strict ethical code of bushido, the way of the warrior, which stressed Confucian morality, devotion to one’s master, self-discipline and respectful conduct. In defeat, rather than accepting capture, some bushi chose what they considered to be an honorable death by se’ppuku, ritual suicide.