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Sunday
Apr232006

Those wonderful people, the Japanese

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Japanese hospitality
Something you might like to read on Anzac Day, April 25, rather than watching your Japanese television or driving your Japanese car. Lest we Forget.

"Prisoners of the Japanese" by (Australian)Gavan Daws- A Comprehensive & Penetrating Look At Japanese Atrocities in WWII.
Reviewed by Barron Laycock

"While the number of books exploring the depths of Nazi depravity and mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war number in the hundreds, fewer books have given similar coverage to Japanese mistreatment of both combatant and noncombatant Allied war prisoners during World War Two. This book remedies that situation by carefully documenting and describing, quite often in the testimony of eyewitnesses and survivors, both the scope and breath of this absolutely unconscionable mistreatment, which included systematic denial of medical treatment, widespread starvation, overwork, torture, and subjection to medical experimentation. Yet fifty years later the government and people of Japan still refuse to acknowledge responsibility or offer compensation for a stream of atrocities committed against Allied prisoners. Indeed, they seem more concerned and centered on seeking formal apologies from the United States for having used the atomic bomb to end the war than with atoning with their own trail of misdeed and atrocities.

This book also raises profound and provocative questions about the way that Allied prisoners were viewed by their own supreme commanders, who by some estimates are complicit in the deaths (primarily through shelling and bombing) of as many of 25 percent of all such prisoner casualties. This is a well-written book, full not only of the horror stories of war as an Allied prisoner subjected to atrocious mistreatment, but of individual courage, selflessness, & compassion among prisoners & other non-combatants, as well. His narrative style is compelling, eloquent, and moving, with a well-honed eye for details, a good ear for idioms, and a sense for the truly ironic. One walks away from this book feeling that the prisoners also showed a rare kind of courage under fire.

I suggest those who believe we visited an injustice on the Japanese by employing the atom bomb to end the war read this book. Once one gains an informed perspective gained by understanding both the sustained campaign of barbaric treatment by the Japanese of combatants & non-combatants, and also understands how the historical and cultural roots of the Japanese toward combat in general and war in particular informed their attitudes and battle-planning toward continuing the war with the fervently expressed goal of making it as costly as possible for the Allied invaders, it is difficult to avoid the wisdom associated with dropping the bomb. I highly recommend this book."

To put it in perspective, 33% of Japanese P.O.W.s died in captivity as opposed to 4% in German P.O.W. camps. And you wonder why the Americans fire-bombed and nuked Japanese cities? They treated our men like animals. But it's written out of their history. Most Japanese people under 40 haven't a clue what went on. What war? What atrocities? Prease to exprain. Why you Austrayens no like us?

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Reader Comments (3)

Mal, I understand this issue is a sensitive one for you, with your father suffering at the hands of the Japanese in the camps, however I'd like to make a couple of points.
1. With respect to the history books, one of the spoils of war seems to be that the propaganda of the victor becomes the history of the vanquished. I don't dispute the brutality of the Japanese towards prisoners of war, however the welfare of opposing troops has never seemed to be a major consideration for the armies of Asia. Genghis Khan was less than hospitable to the peoples his band of bloodthirsty Mongols conquered, yet as the victor, his deeds were recorded by the scribes of the times as heroic. Over time he has been celebrated as one of the greatest military geniuses in history, rather than the savage war-mongerer he might have been known as had he had his slanty-eyed butt kicked.
2. Whilst I can vaguely accept the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima as possibly an honest attempt to bring about the end of the war, no one will ever convince me that the second bomb (an altogether different beast; a hydrogen bomb) was anything more than a scientific curiosity...
April 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfingers
I'm starting to sound like an R.S.L. bigot, I know. But the fact remains that the Japanese were incredibly cruel - not just to Europeans either. Have you read about the Rape of Nanking?

"The International Military Tribunal for the Far East stated that 20,000 (and perhaps up to 80,000) women were raped—their ages ranging from as young as seven to the elderly. Rapes were often performed in public during the day, sometimes in front of spouses or family members. A large number of them were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped. The women were then killed immediately after the rape, often by mutilation. According to some testimonies, other women were forced into military prostitution as comfort women. There are even stories of Japanese troops forcing families to commit acts of incest: sons were forced to rape their mothers, fathers were forced to rape daughters. One pregnant woman who was gang-raped by Japanese soldiers gave birth only a few hours later; miraculously, the baby was perfectly healthy (Robert B. Edgerton, Warriors of the Rising Sun). Monks who had declared a life of celibacy were forced to rape women for the amusement of the Japanese. Instances of Chinese men being forced to commit sex with corpses were not unheard of. Any resistance would be met with summary executions."

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjing_Massacre
April 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMal
And far be it for me to try and justify those acts in any way.
They're a funny people the Japanese; capable of the most revolting cruelty and the most surprising kindness.
The preoccupation with incest/forced sex is still plainly evident in the content of their manga (comic books). You'll see respectable-looking Japanese men reading their manga on the trains, the titles covered by plain brown paper wrapping. A casual glance over the shoulder reveals cartoon characters performing most of the taboo acts on young, terrified-looking girls.
Bizarre lot really...
April 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfingers

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