“The Black Death’s utter destruction of 14th-century Europe, in one scary GIF” – Vox

“It spread across Europe in just six years — and wiped out 60 percent of the European population.”

Read the entire article here: The Black Death’s utter destruction of 14th-century Europe, in one scary GIF – Vox

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“Coming to Terms on Japan’s Wartime Sex Slaves” – The New York Times

“Prime Minister Abe now says he is genuinely sorry for Japan’s terrible abuse of South Korea’s “comfort women” before and during World War II.” This is a surprising, but great turn of events! Abe surely didn’t do it for the right reasons, but at least he did it!

Source: Coming to Terms on Japan’s Wartime Sex Slaves – The New York Times

Textbook Wars, cont.: “South Korea’s Textbook Whitewash” – The New York Times

Sadly, the South Korean government will now mandate the use of their specially created textbook. “Issued by the government, the new books will rewrite history to bolster the president’s conservative cause.”

Beyond the implications for the education of South Korea’s students, this move has geopolitical implications. As Se-Woong Koo points out: “In geopolitical terms, the Park administration is undermining efforts to confront Japan over its crimes in the wartime era, especially the issue of comfort women. If South Korea can promote its own incomplete history among children, why should Japan not be able to do the same and obscure its dark past?”

This is an unfortunate trend seen across the globe!

Source: South Korea’s Textbook Whitewash – The New York Times

“A New Look at Japan’s Wartime Atrocities and a U.S. Cover-Up” – The New York Times

“After the war, the United States covered up Japan’s biological warfare research on humans, allowing the perpetrators to escape punishment and to prosper.” Why? It “enabled the United States to gather information that was of great use for its own biological warfare program, early in the Cold War.” I don’t think that any potential benefit from these horrific experiments can justify covering up these crimes. And in the long run, it is against our own interests by undermining our moral standing in the world.  How we conduct ourselves around the world does have implications for our national security.

Read the entire article here: A New Look at Japan’s Wartime Atrocities and a U.S. Cover-Up – The New York Times

An exhibit at the Unit 731 museum depicts a frostbite experiment on prisoners.Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

“Japan May Cut Unesco Funds Following Nanjing Massacre Listing” – Japan Real Time – WSJ

“Japan said it may cut its financial contribution to an agency of the United Nations after the organization added documents on the Nanjing Massacre to its International Memory of the World Register last week.” The nationalist government in Japan proclaims that it wants to restore honor to the Japanese people, but its actions (denial of WWII war crimes, etc.) have served only to bring dishonor to the Japanese people. The honorable thing to do would be to own up to their past crimes and work to ensure that their nation never goes down that path again.

Source: Japan May Cut Unesco Funds Following Nanjing Massacre Listing – Japan Real Time – WSJ

Chinese honor guard members march at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Jiangsu in December 2014. Associated Press

“Japanese historian upends the familiar narrative of WW 2 by taking a bottom up approach, focusing on fascism from the grassroots” | History News Network

We’re used to viewing the rise of Japanese fascism/imperialism in the 1930s from the perspective of the leaders who took Japan down this path.  But this is a limited perspective. If we really want to understand why Japan turned towards fascism, we need to understand the role that ordinary Japanese played as well. This much needed perspective is found in Yoshimi Yoshiaki’s Grassroots Fascism, which has recently been translated into English.

grassroots fascism Japan

“Long Journey Home: A Moment of Japan-Korea Remembrance and Reconciliation” | The Asia-Pacific Journal

Finally some good news in Japanese-Korean relations!

“The most important participants in this journey are not the living, but the dead: the bones of 115 Koreans brought to Japan as labourers during the Asia-Pacific War will be carried along the route, with ceremonies of remembrance along the way, to their final resting place in Korea. The itinerary they will trace in September follows, in reverse, the route they travelled in trucks and boats and trains when they were taken to remote mines and construction sites in wartime Japan, unaware that they would never see their homes or families again. More than seventy years on, they are at last going home.”

Source: Long Journey Home: A Moment of Japan-Korea Remembrance and Reconciliation | The Asia-Pacific Journal

Update: Japanese Denial of WWII Crimes

Joyman Lee wrote an article at the HNN titled, “The Conservatives in Japan Who Are Refusing to Acknowledge the Crimes of World War II Think They’re Helping Their Country. They are Sabotaging It.” But rather than explaining why Japanese denialism is harming Japan, he explores the reasons why Japan has been able to engage in such denial. Nevertheless, it is an interesting perspective on Japan’s WWII denialism.
He writes, “The Cold War stands among the central reasons as to why Japan has not been compelled to address the war issue with more conviction. Whereas the political goal of European integration has helped to move forward Germany’s reconciliation with its European neighbors, no similar motive exists for Japan. The U.S.-Japan alliance and America’s reluctance to be directly involved in disputes over war memory further eliminates pressure “from above” for Japan to placate its Asian neighbors.” Read the entire article here:

History News Network | The Conservatives in Japan Who Are Refusing to Acknowledge the Crimes of World War II Think They’re Helping Their Country. They Are Sabotaging It.

japanese-troops WWII

The Cost of Revenge: “The Horrific Unintended Consequence of Doolittle’s Courageous Raid on Tokyo” | History News Network

Today is the anniversary of the famous Doolittle raid on Japan. But before we celebrate we should remember the cost paid by innocent Chinese civilians for this act of revenge. James M. Scott explains that, “that success came at a horrible—and until now—largely unknown price paid by the Chinese, who were victims of a retaliatory campaign by the Japanese Army that claimed an estimated 250,000 lives and saw families drowned in wells, entire towns burned, and communities devastated by bacteriological warfare.” This story should remind us that revenge has caused more human suffering than any other human motivation and that it has done so with little or no benefit other than the joy some get from it.

Scott also raises the subject of Japanese attempts to deny their own history: “Unlike Germany, whose leaders have for decades attempted to atone for the Holocaust, the Japanese have increasingly tried to disavow their nation’s legacy of cruelty, from the use Korean comfort women to the Rape of Nanking.” So, in conclusion he implores us: “As we celebrate the rightful heroism of Jimmy Doolittle and the 79 volunteer airmen who flew with him on one of the most celebrated raids of the war, it is important that we take time to honor the sacrifice paid by a quarter million Chinese. It is equally imperative that we as a nation refuse to allow Japanese leaders to disown their nation’s role in this and other wartime horrors.” Read the entire article here:

History News Network | The Horrific Unintended Consequence of Doolittle’s Courageous Raid on Tokyo.

doolittle_raid