“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

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“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

“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

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

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

“Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan Signed by Hundreds Including John Dower and Herbert Bix” | History News Network

I’m happy to see this open letter from historians in support of the historians in Japan who are committed to confronting the past honestly. Because, as they conclude: “The process of acknowledging past wrongs strengthens a democratic society and fosters cooperation among nations. Since the equal rights and dignity of women lie at the core of the “comfort women” issue, its resolution would be a historic step toward the equality of women and men in Japan, East Asia and the world. In our classrooms, students from Japan, Korea, China and elsewhere discuss these difficult issues with mutual respect and probity. Their generation will live with the record of the past that we bequeath them. To help them build a world free of sexual violence and human trafficking, and to promote peace and friendship in Asia, we must leave as full and unbiased an accounting of past wrongs as possible.”

Please read the entire letter here:

History News Network | Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan Signed by Hundreds Including John Dower and Herbert Bix.

Robert G. Fresson, The New York Times

Robert G. Fresson, The New York Times

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