Monday, November 03, 2008

Japanese General Writes Japan Not “Aggressor Nation” During World War II
» by GI Korea

This General is just repeating a belief that I have personally had Japanese people express to me:

JAPAN was not the aggressor in World War II, according to the country’s air force chief.

The essay was authored by General Toshio Tamogami, chief of staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force, and won the top award in an inaugural contest aimed at describing “true views of modern history”.

“Even now, there are many people who think that our country’s ‘aggression’ caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War,” said the English-language version of the essay.

“But we need to realise that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War.

“In Thailand, Burma, India, Singapore, and Indonesia, the Japan that fought the Greater East Asia War is held in high esteem.

“It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation.”

The Greater East Asia War was a term used by Japan to describe the conflict in the Asia-Pacific theatre, emphasising that it involv ed Asian nations seeking independence from the Western powers.

The essay, entitled “Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?”, was posted on the website of a Japanese hotel chain which organised the contest. []

Having been to and knowing people in some of the countries this General mentions, particularly Indonesia and Singapore, I don’t know anyone that looks favorably upon the Imperial Japanese of World War II. Does anyone else? For visitors to Japan the best place to see the Japanese perspective on World War II is by going to the highly controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

The World War II exhibit is quite provocative. According to the museum, World War II is known as the Asia Co-prosperity War where the Japanese single handedly liberated one Asian country after another from foreign colonial occupation and the Asian people were all happy to be liberated. No mention of the atrocities committed by the invading Japanese troops. Additionally the museum blames the US for the attack at Pearl Harbor. Since the US implemented a trade embargo on the Japanese, the militarists felt that an attack by the Americans against Japan would only naturally come next. The museum even alleges that the United States even had a plan to attack Japan in the works and would have been executed if Japan had not pre-empted the American attack by conducting the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The American President Franklin Roosevelt was committed to an attack on Japan as a way for the US to escape the Great Depression. One theme I have picked up on at the museum is that every attack the Japanese conducted was only executed because of foreign colonizers threatening Japan and its neighbors. Japan never wanted to colonize any country, they just wanted to liberate Asians from foreigners.

This is of course nonsense. I posted before on this, but the Japanese felt modernization of Japan and the colonization of nearby countries were the best way to expand Japanese power and to compete against western rivals. The Japanese had no altruistic reasons of freeing oppressed Asians from European colonizers; it was simply about building Japanese power and influence and the attack on Pearl Harbor was where they over reached in spreading their power and influence.

Wisely the Japanese Defense Ministry appears ready to sack the general for his ridiculous comments. With today’s economic issues what politicians wouldn’t want to start a spat with Japan in order to deflect attention away from problems at home? By sacking him I doubt this will grow into any larger diplomatic issue. Nevertheless this persistent historical revisionism of Japanese World War II history is something that should be condemned and Korea and China have every right to do so you just don’t need to bring out knife in the gut man, flag eater man, finger chopping ajumma, the Dokdo Riders, and my favorite of all bee man to do so.

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