“Social sciences and humanities faculties to close in Japan after ministerial decree” | Times Higher Education

“Seventeen universities are to close liberal arts and social science courses.” The nationalist Japanese government has achieved what many conservatives in the U.S. would like to achieve.

This does not bode well for the future!

Source: | Times Higher Education

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Abusing History: “Japan’s way of remembering World War II still infuriates its neighbours” The Conversation

In light of the earlier discussion on war crimes and apologies, here’s more on the consequences of Japan’s failure to apologize for (or recognize) its WWII war crimes: Japan’s way of remembering World War II still infuriates its neighbours.

“While Germany has managed to build holocaust education into its curriculum and is now at the centre of the European project, Abe and his predecessors have never acknowledged that relations with Korea and China would be greatly improved if there were a push for education and discussion about this terrible history. As things stand, no matter how the militaristic and nationalistic Abe handles the memory of the war in this anniversary year, Japan’s relations with its former adversaries are set to keep festering.”

epa04354254 Japanese people wearing imperial navy costumes raise a rising sun flag as they visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine to mourn for victims of World War Two in front of a torii gate at the shrine, Japan, 15 August 2014, marking the 69th anniversary of the end of World War Two. More than 2.5 million Japanese soldiers who died in the service are enshrined at Yasukuni, including convicted war criminals from World War II. EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

” Japanese people wearing imperial navy costumes raise a rising sun flag as they visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine to mourn for victims of World War Two in front of a torii gate at the shrine, Japan, 15 August 2014, marking the 69th anniversary of the end of World War Two. More than 2.5 million Japanese soldiers who died in the service are enshrined at Yasukuni, including convicted war criminals from World War II.” EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

Christian Appy: “Our ‘Merciful’ Ending to the ‘Good War'” |History News Network

Seventy years ago today, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Just three days earlier Hiroshima had suffered the same fate. The debate over the necessity of dropping these bombs on continues to be highly contentious and divisive. Despite the fact that there has been a growing body of evidence that challenges the standard narrative (see below) of these events, this comforting narrative shows no sign of abating in public memory. Since I’ve already addressed this topic in a previous post, I’d like to address a related, but very important issue brought up by Christian Appy.

He challenges to consider these questions:

“Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man,’ those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the ‘black rain’ that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?”

Appy concedes, and I agree, that any kind of apology is unlikely in the foreseeable future given current politics. But the issue is too important not to discuss.

Even if there was some agreement on the morality of the bombings, there is another hurdle to overcome before we can ever get to an apology. There is a widespread belief that apologies are for the weak. This is unfortunate. In reality, apologies show a strength of character that is hard to find among leaders today. An exception is Pope Francis, who has improved the standing of the Catholic Church by apologizing for the “past sins” of the church. (e.g. Bolivia)

In 1995, the Japanese Prime Minister apologized for their war crimes, as he should have. But the current Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has done much to undermine the good will that was achieved by these apologies, to the detriment of Japan’s relationships with South Korea and China.

Apologies go a long way towards healing relationships between victim(s) and the wrongdoer. It is not only the right thing to do; it goes a long way towards creating amicable relationships. Therefore, it would be in our interest to apologize. An apology would also go a long way in improving our image in the world.

Read Appy’s informative and thoughtful essay on this topic here: History News Network | Our ‘Merciful’ Ending to the ‘Good War’.

Standard narrative: The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war quickly and save American lives. Part of this narrative is the claim that the Japanese were warned and that the cities were military targets.

Nagasaki bomb

“Original sound of Japan emperor’s war-end speech released” – Yahoo News

This is interesting: Original sound of Japan emperor’s war-end speech released – Yahoo News.

FILE - In this 1937 file photo, Japan's Emperor Hirohito salutes from his mount, his favorite white horse, during a military review in Tokyo. The original recording of Japan's Emperor Hirohito's war-ending speech has come back to life in digital form. The original sound was released Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015 by the Imperial Household Agency in digital format, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the speech and the war's end. (AP Photo/File)

FILE – In this 1937 file photo, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito salutes from his mount, his favorite white horse, during a military review in Tokyo. The original recording of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito’s war-ending speech has come back to life in digital form. The original sound was released Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015 by the Imperial Household Agency in digital format, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the speech and the war’s end. (AP Photo/File)

“Five Myths About Emperor Hirohito” | History News Network

Emperor Hirohito, as the infamous leader of Japan during WWII, is a fascinating figure, and therefore one would assume that an article discussing five myths about him would be very interesting. At least that’s what I thought when I saw this post at the HNN. It turns out that the brief article is interesting, but not for its enlightening exposé of the former emperor. Instead, it turned out to be a puzzling commentary that didn’t live up to the hype. The last three “myths” seem irrelevant given the fact that very few people know about or believe in them. What’s the point of debunking myths that no one believes? There may be some Japanese that believe them, but I’m not aware that these are myths of any note in the English-speaking world.

The first two myths are interesting and relevant to the debate over the dropping of the atomic bomb, however, the author of this piece, Francis Pike, doesn’t really achieve his goal of debunking them. Instead his own essay actually confirms the first myth (Emperor Hirohito was a God), unless he’s actually claiming that people believe that he actually was a god. But that is clearly not what he means. He is referring to the fact that during the war many Japanese believed that he was a god. His own essay confirms that this “myth” is actually not a myth: “Japan’s new regime re-emphasized the role of the Emperor as a living God, making it the heart of an ideological indoctrination taught in the new state school education system,” and “the Meiji Constitution granted him absolute power – he was after all enshrined as a God.” So much for debunking the first myth!

His attempted take down of his second so-called myth (Hirohito was simply a constitutional monarch forced into war by his generals) is also unconvincing. He uses several incidences where Hirohito “demonstrated his absolute powers” (which in itself doesn’t actually address the myth), including, most famously, his intervention to end the war in August 1945 as evidence debunking this myth. But all Pike has demonstrated is that Hirohito occasionally stepped beyond the boundaries of his assigned role as a figurehead of the state.

Emperor Hirohito