Japanese Anger Over The Truth

Anger over remarks about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese defense minister to apologize today. Fumio Kyuma had told an audience the previous day that he held no grudge against the United States, as the bombings forced Japan to surrender before the Soviet Union had a chance to invade:

Japan’s defense minister apologized on Sunday for comments about the 1945 U.S. atomic bomb attacks on the country which outraged survivors and drew criticism from the ruling bloc ahead of a key election in late July.
Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said he had not meant to offend the victims when he said on Saturday the bombings “couldn’t be helped” because they had brought World War Two to an end and had prevented the Soviet Union from entering the war against Japan.
“If my remarks were seen as lacking regard for the feelings of atomic bomb victims, then I am sorry,” he told a news conference.
On Saturday, Kyuma had said in a speech: “My understanding is that it ended the war and that it couldn’t be helped … I don’t hold a grudge against the United States.”

The remarks infuriated victims of the bombings and others in Japan, who continue to see themselves as more sinned against in World War II than sinners themselves. Ten days ago, Japan’s government started a firestorm of protest by toning down significant aspects of their wartime atrocities in history textbooks. Okinawans reacted in fury to one change, which downplayed the Japanese Army’s role in forcing thousands of civilians on the island to commit “suicide” rather than to surrender to the American military.
That reaction paled in comparison to the worldwide condemnation of a group within Japan’s ruling party, who declared that the Rape of Nanking was a fabrication. In six weeks, the Japanese killed between 150,000-300,000 civilians in a city that presented no wartime threat to Japan. The disciplined Imperial Army turned into a pillage movement, raping women, killing civilians indiscriminately and purposely. They put the city to the torch — and it wasn’t an isolated incident. After getting a bloody nose from the Chinese in Shanghai, they pillaged all the way to Nanking.
The Japanese have refused to acknowledge these atrocities, and many more besides, which gives them the intellectual cover to consider themselves victims in the final two bombings of the war. In truth, the Japanese had conducted themselves as brutally and as cruelly as any army could possibly have. In Okinawa, they made it clear that they would murder their own people before admitting military defeat, and they had even less compunction about murdering civilians in other nations, as the Chinese and Filipinos can attest.
Faced off against that kind of enemy, the US had no choice but to use the most powerful weapon in its arsenal to avoid the inch-by-inch massacre of an invasion of the main island. The Japanese refused to surrender, still believing in their megalomaniacal mission to rule Asia to the very end. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were significant cities for Japan’s war effort, and the US warned Japan that we would target them with a terrible new weapon if they did not surrender. And as Kyuma notes, the Soviet Union had finally declared war on Japan, and they would have been more than interested in carving up the islands as they were with Germany and eastern Europe.
Kyuma has no reason to apologize. The Japanese should pull their heads out of the darkness and start acknowledging that their brutality and bloodthirstiness in a decade of war in Asia led to the inevitable in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

42 thoughts on “Japanese Anger Over The Truth”

  1. The ________ should pull their heads out of the darkness and start acknowledging that their _______ and ___________ in a decade of war/peacekeeping/police action/foreign policy blunders (circle appropriate one) in Asia/Europe/South America/the Middle East led to the inevitable in ___________.
    Sorry, remind me again what your problem with Ron Paul was.

  2. STSA…..
    Your idiotic attempts at comparison are pathetic!
    Capt. Ed retains a civil tongue in the face of atrocities of such proportions that the young of today cannot even begin to comprehend them.
    Your logic is about as disoriented as the lefty folks who find the current England car-attacks “nothing of consequence” since they failed to kill anyone.
    R-I-G-H-T!

  3. Speaking as someone who’s grandfather survived because of the bombs, I’m wholly in favour of them. The projected casualties of just the American invaders for the first 6 months of operations were greater than the casualties of the two bombings, and the Japanese casualties were projected to be far worse. The Japanese should count their blessings that such weapons were used to shorten the war and lessen the carnage.

  4. I suppose the Japanese government will soon be declaring the Bataan Death March a fabrication, too.

  5. I suppose one of my main problems is that Paul and his band of supporters keep making asinine comparisons between the Imperial Japanese Army and the current US military, among others. Paul would have made a great America Firster in the 1930s.

  6. Perhaps I should try this again for the benefit of some members of the audience who missed what I was getting at the first time.
    My complaint is with the last sentence of this post. I certainly don’t support Ron Paul, but I was making the point that if you just change the locations, you end up with his argument.
    I’m not saying the bombing was wrong, I’m just saying that it is an intellectually weak argument to defend it like that.

  7. Capt’n: I lived in Japan for 2 years; they are a complete society in denial!
    According to history as they write it and teach it now in Japan; WWII STARTED on August 6th 1945 with the Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima!
    The Japanese Brutalization of China for over two decades, of Korea, of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Pacific Islands, NONE of that ever ocurred.
    The Bataan Death March, the beheading of prisoners, the savage treatment of POWs, the Rape of over 200,000 Filipino Women, the murder of countless millions, the Rapes of Manila and Nanking, Comfort Women, etc., NONE OF IT EVER OCURRED if you listen to hte Japanese version of events.
    Japanese history of WWII can be nicely summed up like this: “On August 6th 1945, the aggressive American invaders dropped an Atomic bomb on Hiroshima. 3 days later, they dropped another on Nagasaki, at which point, as the VICTIMS of an aggressive American Empire, we decided to surrender to save the remainder of our people from American aggression and murder. The End”
    In that regard, they’ve become just like the Left/Democrats in this country; no matter their own actions, they’re always the victims!

  8. “Kyuma has no reason to apologize. The Japanese should pull their heads out of the darkness and start acknowledging that their brutality and bloodthirstiness in a decade of war in Asia led to the inevitable in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
    AMEN – Cowerdly denial – palying Ostrich always gets my condemnation. Japanese people have had 65 f^&king years to get honest – and they continue to fail.
    They don’t teach about Pearl Harbor either – and remember that Enola Gay smithsonian histroical Policitcally correct historical re-write a few years ago.
    Political correctness here at home has bought into the bullshit the Jps hve been pedaling to some extent.
    Unlike the Japs, the GERMANS fully acknowledge their historical past and fully condemn it today. I congradulate the Germans – not the Japanese however.

  9. “In that regard, they’ve become just like the Left/Democrats in this country; no matter their own actions, they’re always the victims!”
    you too are in denail like the Japs. ALL of American now loves to play Victim now. Thats what political correctness is in a nutshell. We’ve become a Nation of spoiled and soft and fat folks. Playing victim has been fully embraced by the Right as much as the Left. – just in different ways.
    you are a victim of TAXES, death tax, tax relief, victim of the welfare dole bums………………….always someone to blame right?
    now it looks like you are a vitim of the demies!!
    poor Dale

  10. So then … wouldn’t Japan be a really good country to have on our side? If we could just somehow get them to be as mad at the Middle East as they were at China and the Philippines?
    And, in fact, don’t China and Japan still throw barbs at each other so that from an American point of view, Japan is now our attack dog in that part of the world. I’d MUCH rather have a nice attack dog than a poodle.

  11. For the record, it should be noted that Japan, like Germany, was as keenly interested in nuking us as we were them. The exigencies of a wartime economy, not scruples, are what caused them to refrain from doing so.

  12. Gaffo: your comments are like you, Ludicrous!
    When you grow up, and get a clue, I’ll let you come back and post again!
    Otherwise, Shoo; and go bury your head in the Leftist sandpit you apparently inhabit; you need that, because you’ve just soiled yourself in front of the whole board!

  13. I found this post interesting because I was unaware that Japan has conveniently white-washed so much of its history.
    I’m not sure for the average Japanese citizen that it makes much difference now, reconciling himself to the truth about what his country did or didn’t do back when. Japan is a very different country now, productive, peaceful and a positive contributor to world affairs. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if its people hadn’t adopted this deluded way of viewing the country’s history. And really what is to be gained now by forcing an acknowledgment of what bad people they once were?

  14. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if its people hadn’t adopted this deluded way of viewing the country’s history. And really what is to be gained now by forcing an acknowledgment of what bad people they once were?
    It’d be nice if countries like Russia, Japan, Italy and Germany — who have a long rich history of massacree-ing lots and lots of people — would climb down off their high-horses and quit criticizing America for every little boo-boo.
    I wonder how many Abu Ghraib stories I’d find in Japanese media if I knew how to Google in Japanese.

  15. What really worries me is that when my and the generation beyond mine dies off, no one will be left to honor the truth of history. Between the tinfoil hatted leftist loons, Islamofascists and the deniers of their very own history, I cannot see much left for future historians to find the puzzle pieces. In other areas, it has been happening right under our noses. Why my recently graduated college grandchild called me a racist and insisted that the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” was…ready for it? “RECENT HISTORY and that the KKK was still very active and doing stuff like that in the south…” end of argument.

  16. Bennett: sad to say it’s true. The Japanese have been telling their kids for sixty years now that the Empire was acting out of self-defense in 1941. After all, America was trying to destroy Nippon by cutting off scrap metal exports, petroleum shipments from other countries, and freezing assets in the United States.
    Clearly Imperial Nippon had to act in order to protect the Emperor and His subjects.
    And, yes, they do teach that stuff.
    A point I haven’t seen raised yet: why aren’t there more annual memorials and organizations mourning the April 9-10 firebombing of Tokyo? Is there some mystical reason that death by nuclear blast is more horrible than being boiled to death in a swimming pool, or asphixiated in a basement because half the city is on fire?
    I don’t hear Hamburg holding annual events over the July 1943 firebombing of their city, either.

  17. Ed,
    The end of the Pacific war was a much closer run thing than you suspect.
    Japanese Imperial General Headquarters issued orders in July 1945, provided to us courtesy of code-breaking (MAGIC), murder all Allied prisoners of war, all interned Allied civilians, and all other Allied civilians Japanese forces could catch in occupied China, the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Malaya, etc., starting with the impending British invasion of Malaya in late September 1945.. The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS, and more lethal. They’d probably have killed at least an additional 50 million people, more than had died in all of World War Two to that point, before Allied armies could eliminate Japanese forces overseas.
    The horror would not have stopped there. An estimated ONE THIRD of the Japanese people (25-30 million) would have died of starvation, disease, poison gas and conventional weapons during a prolonged ground conquest of Japan.
    Our pre-invasion softening-up plan called for US heavy bombers to drop 56,583 tons of poison gas on Japanese cities in the 15 days before the invasion of Kyushu, then another 23,935 tons every 30 days thereafter. Tactical air support would drop more on troop concentrations.
    The targets of the strategic bombing campaign were Japanese civilians in cities. Chemical Corps casualty estimates for this attack plan were five million dead with another five million injured. This was our backup to nuking Japan into surrender. If the A-bombs didn’t work, we were going to gas the Japanese people from the air like bugs, and keep doing so until Japanese resistance ended or all the Japanese were dead.
    And this would have been necessary. The Japanese Army planned on locking up the Emperor, seizing power and fighting to the bitter end once the US invasion started. Thank God for the atom bomb – killing 150,000 – 200,000 Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved 75-80 million lives. One of whom would have been my father, an infantry lieutenant who survived Okinawa.

  18. I first learned almost 2 decades ago, that in Japan, in the DAYS following those bombings, while we still occupied Japan in the IMMEDIATE Post WW2 aftermath – THAT JUST AS WE DO WITH THE MUSLIM MADRASSAS – we KNOWINGLY AND SILENTLY ALLOWED Japan to put bald-faced LIES in their textbooks, so they could “save face” with their own children, such as that THOSE BOMBINGS STARTED WW2 and PEARL HARBOR ENDED IT.
    Some of those folks didn’t learn the truth until they came for the Pearl Harbor 50th anniversary event – and were stunned!
    Socialistic Americans and their enablers in our government will have much to answer for to their Maker.
    Nobody can really heal until they face the TRUTH and deal with it, AND JUSTICE is done.
    I saw an amazing such confrontation in May of this year, on a Christian TV station, when the community that once deliberately defamed a Christian Preacher – and admittedly out of jealousy over the love and influence he had with masses of peoples – they came together in the last 2 years and seriously investigated the truth of what had happened to him and the slanderous accusations that had been made, set-ups and framings ( including a conspired set-up and framing and false arrest for alcoholism, and drunk driving) that had taken place and destroyed his life, ministry and family – although they noticed that the flow of God was still in his life when he did minister to the few who would still come to see him.
    They came together recently with one of his daughters and confessed ALL the details of their investigation, and such members of that effort as still lived, and also members of that community who had assumed positions of authority af terwards, all came together and apologized to her for their participation from the community, from spiritual leaders, civic leaders, political, and church, and social leaderships – all gathered and apologized to her and to the community, and to the audience, and to God Himself, confessed and repented, and asked for forgiveness, and gave gifts to help them demonstrate their repentence.
    I’ve never seen anything in my life more awesome and powerful, as the daughter then gave them forgiveness on her own behalf and in behalf of her father and her family, and blessed them, and broke the curses involved.
    It was one of the most phenomenal events I have ever witnessed.
    I know they are all experiencing tremendous healing in their communities, families, social fabric, spirtually and in their bodies, and in their civic government, as well.

  19. Kyuma apologizes
    He already went ahead and apologized for it. Such are Japanese politics – if somebody protests what you did/say, best way out is to just bow your head and pretend you didn’t mean what you said

  20. In regards to why the Japanese need to admit to their atrocities; it is said that one needs to learn from their mistakes. That can’t happen if you don’t admit that you’ve made a mistake.
    In regards to STSA’s comparison to Ron Paul’s argument; STSA, that’s a real lame comparison and has no basis in reality. The two circumstances are completely different.
    Jim C

  21. Of course the situations are different. I’m just annoyed with the rhetoric employed by the Cap’n at the very end of this post. He usually does much, much better.

  22. Victims?
    The Japanese see themselves as VICTIMS?
    oh dear. Now I’ve heard it all.

  23. I believe it was two years ago that the Japanese embassy in China was attacked over the whitewashing in Japanese textbooks of Japanese atrocities during WW2 in China. Around the same time in China a monument was erected to the American military for our part in what is known in China as the “war to defeat Japan”.
    A few years ago when I read Iris Chang’s book “The Rape of Nanking” I found myself thinking about the whining of today’s Muslims over the “brutal occupation” by Americans or Israelis or whoever. I would love to see Muslims transported back in time to Nanking and left to the tender mercies of Imperial Japan. Then Muslims would find out what a brutal occupation really means.

  24. I think they know Lilly – ask any Kurd who lived in Iraq in the 1980’s – or Kuwaiti in 1990.
    none-theless your assurtion does not absolve Israeli descrinimation of her Arab citizens and humiliation of her occupied Arabs in Palistine.
    two wrongs make not a right.

  25. During the Japanese “occupation”, the Japanese hunted Chinese men like animals for sport when they weren’t using them for bayonet practice. An estimated 300,000 Chinese were killed during the “occupation” by the invading Japanese army, a total that exceeded the combined death toll at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don’t think that compares with whatever “discrimination” or “humiliation” Palestinian Arabs may claim to have suffered at the hands of Israel.

  26. Every year is August we get a dose of forced guilt for dropping nuclear weapons on Japan. We have to listen to the same arguments of a demonstration over the ocean etc. etc. The simple fact is, at the time, those two weapons were all we had and wasting one wasn’t an option.
    Also can you imagine the political firestorm if we hadn’t used the bombs when information came out. A million moms who had lost their sons because of presidential timidity surely wouldn’t look kindly at Truman. If he weren’t impeached, he surely wouldn’t have been survived an election.
    It is a sad fact Japan has never faced up to their atrocities. Whether it is the brutality to prisoners, the treatment of the Chinese, even the comfort girls, they just can’t face reality. I read one article where they referred to their involvement in WWII as “those difficult years of the late thirties and early forties”. Now there is a creative use of language.

  27. Nahncee
    The problem with that, is that we’d rather the Pacific Rim didn’t explode into violence at all. Our “attack dog” can’t build up faster than all the nations of the former Greater East Asia CoProsperity Sphere–who’d be happy to paint their buildup, threatening to us, as countering the Japanese menace.

  28. Sorry chaps, but I`m a lefty, hope you won`t hold it against me. I happened on this site while looking at reactions to Mr Kyuma`s speech of last week. I read Mr Holsinger`s comments above with a lot of interest. Those sure are a lot of factual claims, Mr Holsinger. I`m not saying I don`t believe you – I also think the Japanese civilian death toll from a mainland invasion would have been far higher. But could you tell me the studies you got this information from? I`d be very interested to read them.
    Shaun O`Dwyer
    shaunodwyer@yahoo.com.au

  29. Kyuma’s “apology” isn’t — any more than the Pope’s “apology” was. Here we have a man saying he’s sorry his words were misinterpreted.
    I personally don’t believe the bombings were justified on the basis of military need — we had destroyed 95% of Japan’s merchant marine and were on the way to 100% as we continued to decimate Japan’s coastal and inter-island shipping. There was no need for an invasion — the Japanese were bottled up and did not have the natural resources to continue waging war for more than a short period after their country was isolated. They had lost the Indonesian oil fields, the coal fields
    Kyuma does make the same point Stephen Ambrose does in his book “Americans at War” — that use of the Bomb may have been politically motivated to induce the Japanese to surrender before the Soviets were in a position to invade from the north and partition the main islands. That’s a really sad reason for this use of nuclear armaments. It’s a justification, I’ll admit, but a poor one.
    Of course, we were already mentally prepared for these bombs — Roosevelt himself had authorized the use of force against civilian targets, and the resulting Tokyo firebombings in Feb. 1945 killed more people than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
    Roosevelt’s arguments for targeting civilians (that person-power is just as necessary a part of a country’s war industry as factories) mirrors the thought processes of modern-day Islamic jihadists, whose war now allows targeting of civilians everywhere Islam is at war with the infidel.
    I’m a very patriotic American and a firm believer in our way of life, so I’m always amused at how the Democrats can hold up a racist like FDR as their prime ideal. I’m also amused at how many Republicans buy into the burnished picture of Roosevelt at War and think every decision he made was correct even in the context of his time.

  30. My my Ed. This post is very unlike your normal, thorough, and thoughtful work. But we all have our blindspots. I see “Japan” works you up to no end. In many ways, WW2 continues. Sad that it so, for you criticism would be worth more, and would be more helpful to your readers if you tried thinking and digging more instead of turning up the outrage notch. As a fan, it disappoints. Most of the comments are what one would expect following the drumbeat you provide. High on high-handedness and outrage, short on facts and perspective. Let’s begin with Nanking. Japan fought a brutal war. But you need to ask yourself, as you would if it were Jenin or Haditha why it was that suddenly in the mid-nineties the Chinese government officially raised the numbers massacred at Nanking twenty-fold? And why it was that Iris Chang, who was a perfect ideological candidate for the job, was invited to visit the country and was led around by the nose gathering the “facts”? You could ask Ms. Chang I guess, but sadly she killed herself. Someday when the Communist archives are opened we’ll have a few answers. Was there a horrible massacre at Nanking? Yes. Was it a holocaust on the scale of a German concentration camp like Treblinka or Auschwitz or a lesser known camp? No. Not even close. Best guess. Combatants and civilians: 10,000. But that someone like Ed can parrot such propaganda without the slightest inclination of the possibility of the Communist regime post-Tenanman having been up to something, points to the blinders he has on this particular subject. I tip my hats to the commies and the Left in America and Europe. Japan has always been a sore spot post WW2 to them. It stood next to America during the Cold War and its fight with the Soviets (Nakasone doing every bit as much as Thatcher to ramp up the pressure on the Soviets in the crucial 1980’s) and it hasn’t bent to China. “The Rape of Nanking” bit has been their best piece of work. That it is an easily held opinion, even by someone like Ed, that Japan is inherently a more brutal society than say Belgium (remember the Congo folks) or most any other society points less to the truth and more to certain forces having done a good job in shaping the truth. An election is coming up in Japan. Just as it always happens the NYT and all the other foreign papers line up their outrage pieces in the hopes of finally helping a Left coalition crumble the pro-American (read: pro-Republican) Liberal Democratic Party. It does have an effect. Rep. Honda did his bit. Nice way to treat one of the staunchest allies America has had post WW2 and post 9/11 (not to mention all the time except for the FDR years ). As far as textbooks go, having read them all myself, in the original language, it would be a mistake to equate them with a “whitewash” or to believe they are all the same. But if Reuters and a few thousand protesting Chinese being directed by the Chinese politboro tell me otherwise, then what do I know, I guess I’m wrong. It would be a greater mistake to believe that Japan is a monolithic country whose citizens are given one point of view to hold–go to any bookstore and check out the section on WW2. You’ll find works that argue the present Defense Minister’s point of view and you’ll find works that argue the opposite and many works somewhere in between. You’ll also find many copies of Iris Chang’s book. As for the Defense Minister’s apology, it was the polite thing to do. And this is very much beyond the realm of his opponents successfully playing the victim card and other such things (though his opponents–the far-left pacifist crowd is very guilty of playing such roles). Lots of people died. Peoples parents and grandparents. It was a tragedy. People against the war died. People for it died. Prisoners of war. Children. The Defense Minister merely was acknowledging he could’ve done a better job of presenting his opinion (which he still holds and many Japanese I know share) in the light of this incontrovertible fact. As for Iwo Jima. Japan (which is really Nihon in Japanese so I guess they changed that name too) changed the name of Iwo Jima to Iwo To. They changed the name from Sulphur Island to, the drumroll please, Sulphur Island. Jima and To both are different pronunciations for the same Kanji that means “island.” Smart Marines already know this, which is why they traditionally just call it Iwo Island. Or Iwo. A lot more to say. But it’s late and what I’ve already said hasn’t been said very well. Anyway, Ed. Keep up the good work.

  31. My my Ed. This post is very unlike your normal, thorough, and thoughtful work. But we all have our blindspots. I see “Japan” works you up to no end. In many ways, WW2 continues. Sad that it so, for you criticism would be worth more, and would be more helpful to your readers if you tried thinking and digging more instead of turning up the outrage notch. As a fan, it disappoints. Most of the comments are what one would expect following the drumbeat you provide. High on high-handedness and outrage, short on facts and perspective. Let’s begin with Nanking. Japan fought a brutal war. But you need to ask yourself, as you would if it were Jenin or Haditha why it was that suddenly in the mid-nineties the Chinese government officially raised the numbers massacred at Nanking twenty-fold? And why it was that Iris Chang, who was a perfect ideological candidate for the job, was invited to visit the country and was led around by the nose gathering the “facts”? You could ask Ms. Chang I guess, but sadly she killed herself. Someday when the Communist archives are opened we’ll have a few answers. Was there a horrible massacre at Nanking? Yes. Was it a holocaust on the scale of a German concentration camp like Treblinka or Auschwitz or a lesser known camp? No. Not even close. Best guess. Combatants and civilians: 10,000. But that someone like Ed can parrot such propaganda without the slightest inclination of the possibility of the Communist regime post-Tenanman having been up to something, points to the blinders he has on this particular subject. I tip my hats to the commies and the Left in America and Europe. Japan has always been a sore spot post WW2 to them. It stood next to America during the Cold War and its fight with the Soviets (Nakasone doing every bit as much as Thatcher to ramp up the pressure on the Soviets in the crucial 1980’s) and it hasn’t bent to China. “The Rape of Nanking” bit has been their best piece of work. That it is an easily held opinion, even by someone like Ed, that Japan is inherently a more brutal society than say Belgium (remember the Congo folks) or most any other society points less to the truth and more to certain forces having done a good job in shaping the truth. An election is coming up in Japan. Just as it always happens the NYT and all the other foreign papers line up their outrage pieces in the hopes of finally helping a Left coalition crumble the pro-American (read: pro-Republican) Liberal Democratic Party. It does have an effect. Rep. Honda did his bit. Nice way to treat one of the staunchest allies America has had post WW2 and post 9/11 (not to mention all the time except for the FDR years ). As far as textbooks go, having read them all myself, in the original language, it would be a mistake to equate them with a “whitewash” or to believe they are all the same. But if Reuters and a few thousand protesting Chinese being directed by the Chinese politboro tell me otherwise, then what do I know, I guess I’m wrong. It would be a greater mistake to believe that Japan is a monolithic country whose citizens are given one point of view to hold–go to any bookstore and check out the section on WW2. You’ll find works that argue the present Defense Minister’s point of view and you’ll find works that argue the opposite and many works somewhere in between. You’ll also find many copies of Iris Chang’s book. As for the Defense Minister’s apology, it was the polite thing to do. And this is very much beyond the realm of his opponents successfully playing the victim card and other such things (though his opponents–the far-left pacifist crowd is very guilty of playing such roles). Lots of people died. Peoples parents and grandparents. It was a tragedy. People against the war died. People for it died. Prisoners of war. Children. The Defense Minister merely was acknowledging he could’ve done a better job of presenting his opinion (which he still holds and many Japanese I know share) in the light of this incontrovertible fact. As for Iwo Jima. Japan (which is really Nihon in Japanese so I guess they changed that name too) changed the name of Iwo Jima to Iwo To. They changed the name from Sulphur Island to, the drumroll please, Sulphur Island. Jima and To both are different pronunciations for the same Kanji that means “island.” Smart Marines already know this, which is why they traditionally just call it Iwo Island. Or Iwo. A lot more to say. But it’s late and what I’ve already said hasn’t been said very well. Anyway, Ed. Keep up the good work.

  32. “The Imperial Japanese Army was every bit as evil as the Nazi SS”
    This is an important point – regular Army troops (Wehrmacht) fought the war rather conventionally (for that time, anyway and arguably more humanely than the Red Army did). A great first-hand account of how Wehrmacht units fought in WWII can be found in the non-fiction, “Soldat”.
    But the heavily indoctrinated SS remained in the rear and handled executions, etc.
    The regular Japanese Army, in contrast, steeped in the Shinto beliefs, needed no indoctrination to regard non-Japanese as sub-human and to treat them with every bit the disdain SS troops showed non-Aryans.
    The “Rape of Nanking” documents how in three days, the Imperial Japanese Army brutally murdered 300,000 Chinese civilians.
    Even the SS probably could not have accomplished 300,000 executions in a weekend, given (a) their fanatical devotion to documenting each and every execution (b) the small number of SS troops in contrast to the Japanese regulars.
    It’s beyond imagination how different the Japanese are today. It’s also beyond imagination how people think that Iraqis cannot make a similar transition to democratic ideals.

  33. Your point about the SS is right on NoDonkey. Your understanding of the Japanese military, not so good. Most of the regular Japanese army were as or more steeped in Buddhist traditions than Shinto, were called-up and often brutalized themselves in boot camp by hardcore rightists, they tried to stay alive in a war they knew they had no hope in winning, were under-fed, under-armed, and often left beyond the control of a strict line of command. Atrocities generally occured when a) SS like units were sent into the “regular” forces to shore things up (and they were often just as brutal towards the Japanese as towards the enemy) or b) when the lowest of the low (in terms of brutality and education) were given charge of prisoner of war camps outside of clear lines of command and control. Or c) when certain SS-like units were given control of territory or camps, such as what happened with the infamous medical unit that rivalled Mengele. Again, “The Rape of Nanking” should be viewed with fresh eyes, eyes that take seriously the “beyond imagination” statement that ends your comment. Precisely, it is “beyond imagination.” And the facts. By the way the Japanese had a very vibrant and succesful democratic period in Taisho. Ending with the assasination of Prime Minister Hamaguchi in 1931. Your understanding of Japan’s transition to democratic ideals is perhaps better understood as less a transformation and more of getting back to what was terribly and tragically interrupted from 1931 to1945. Thus Iraq is somewhat a harder case. Though your point is well taken, and correct in my opinion.

  34. Some suggested reading (esp. the articles from Proceedings):
    The Invasion of Japan, Alternative to the Bomb, John Ray Skates, Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1994
    The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Richard Rhodes, Touchstone/Simon and Schuster, NY, 1988
    The Most Deadly Plan, Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen, Proceeding of the US Naval Institute, January 1998 edition, page 79-81
    Invasion Most Costly, Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen, Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, August 1995 edition, pages 51-56.
    Eagle Against the Sun, Ronald H. Spector, Vintage Books, NY, 1985

  35. Kyuma should just quote the Emperor regarding the value of dropping the bomb:
    Hirohito (as quoted in Rhodes, see ref above)
    “Despite the best that has been done by everyone…the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interests. Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives…This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint declaration of the Powers…
    The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subject hereafter will certainly be great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all ye, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictate of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable…
    Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation.”

  36. Good advice Tom. But, and sadly in my view, Abe and the Defense Minister caved in and he has resigned his position. But it would be a mistake to believe this has much to do with questions of war guilt and responsibility. A mistake which Ed is likely to make when he hears the news, since his knowledge about and interest in East Asia doesn’t lead him to question and dig, and instead he rides along upon the weakest sources. Japan is a country, in many ways as an acknowledgement of war guilt, that has very strong forces allied against the use of nuclear arms and nuclearization. The Defense Minister’s judgment is paramount to acknowledging that a proper role for nuclear arms exists in combat and, ipso facto, that Japan must seriously consider the acquisition of nuclear arms. A position the present coalition partner to the LDP, Komeito, resists strongly as does many factions within the LDP. Not to mention the Left of Japanese politics. He resigned because Komeito threatened to leave the coalition before the upcoming election and in getting their head on a platter proved to their members that they have power within the coalition vis-a-vis the LDP and because Abe is running scared. This is going to come back and bite him. Sad thing. For Abe is a great friend of America and a strong advocate for freedom, rule of law, and democracy in the region and the world.
    Just another note on the 10,000 figure above. I’m only going by Chinese sources. The figure could well be up in the 30 to 40 thousand range, as the Chinese figures jumped in the sixties and seventies into that range (these numbers are quite possible and reasonable in my opinion and not a result of political initiative but rather because of better research methods). The problem is the jump from here to 200,000 to 300,000 that occurred in the late eighties and early nineties (especially post Tenanman), culminating in Chang’s dubious, yet spectacular successful, work. Heck even Ed, a usually thoughtful guy eats it whole. No questions, not one, asked.

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