Japanese war crimes: I’m sorry?
China and South Korea are very angry with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe because he visited the Yosukuni Shrine in Tokyo honoring some 2.5 million Japanese – both military and civilian – who died in war.
Many are irate with Mr Abe because, amongst those honored in the
19th Century Yosukuni Shrine, are Japanese World War II heroes,
branded as “war criminals” by US occupation forces. The
list numbers fourteen “Class-A criminals” involved in
“planning the war”, including war-time leader General
Hideki Tojo executed by the US in 1948.
Sad but true: when a country wins a war, not only does it automatically acquire full territorial rights over the vanquished nation, but also full and arbitrary control over cities, land, population, resources, plants, patents, military gear, international rights, etc.
It also acquires the “right” to (re)write the history of the conflict that led them to war in the first place. It acquires the right to impose its own views and reasons as “the truth”, accusing the vanquished country of being “false, evil, wrong, criminal, ambitious,” etc.
It’s as old as mankind: “we’re the good guys; the others are the bad guys.” “Our boys are heroes; the others are devils that deserve to be killed, right down to the last 2-year old toddler.” As 70 years of post-World War Two propaganda has clearly shown, the 20th and 21st centuries are no different.
Japan sticks to its guns
Yes, and they should be admired for that. Compare this to ever self-effacing Germany asking for the world’s forgiveness again and again and again, even though she knows quite well that no matter how many apologies are made, those who run today’s world call the shots in the media, publishing houses and education, will never ever forgive Germany.
Rather than commit historical hara-kiri as the Germans do, Japan prefers to keep a stiff upper lip, stand tall and continue to bear the consequences of military defeat, without descending into moral defeat.
Sure, the Allied Victor’s International Military Tribunal for the East – a Nuremberg-like court aka the “Tokyo Trials” – branded many of Japan’s top military and political leaders “Class A” criminals. However, as far back as in October 2006, Mr Abe’s ideas were voiced in The Japan Times: “[The] 14 Class-A war criminals honored at Yasukuni Shrine are not war criminals under Japanese law, but the country had to accept the outcome of the Tokyo Tribunal to become an independent nation. Abe told the Lower House that because the relatives of the convicted men receive war pensions and one of them - wartime Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu - received a first class award from the post-war government, "they are not war criminals under domestic laws." The International Military Tribunal, which the Allies conducted between May 1946 and November 1948, put 28 political and military leaders on trial as Class-A war criminals, 14 of whom are now enshrined in Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine. Abe said they stood trial for crimes against peace and humanity, which were concepts, created by the allies after the war and not enshrined in law.”
Bravo, Japan! If we sincerely wish to punish the war crimes
committed by all countries – winners and losers - then we would
need a heck of a large International Military and Political
Tribunal, free of double-standards and censorship.
Double standards (again!)
Talk about “war crimes” what are we to make, for example, of Britain’s World War II Royal Air Force Commander Arthur Harris (aka, “Bomber Harris” and “Butcher Harris”) who invented and imposed “area bombing” over precision bombing, euphemistically calling it “strategic bombing”; which was just another way of saying, if “it moves on enemy territory just bomb it out of existence!”
Bomber Harris was very successful in unleashing fire storms over Hamburg, Germany in July 1943 (“Operation Gomorrah”) that were later repeated over all major German cites. In Harris’s own words, “the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive...should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilized life throughout Germany. ... the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”
Wow! Was Bomber Harris ever tried and executed for his crimes?
Not quite. Instead, in 1992 Britain’s Queen Mother personally unveiled a statue honoring him outside St. Clement Danes’ Church in London, whilst many protesters jeered shouting: "Harris was a war criminal!”
The historical truth is that hundreds of thousands of German men, women and children – civilian and military – died or were maimed for life thanks to Bomber Harris’s creative thinking.
And what about “democratic” politicians like US Franklin Roosevelt, Britain’s Winston Churchill and their military leaders who joined forces to destroy the German open city of Dresden in February 1945, when Germany’s defeat was only weeks away and that city had become a meeting point for hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees fleeing the fast-advancing Red Army?
On 13th February 1945, the UK sent a first wave of 244 RAF four-engine Lancaster heavy bombers, followed by a second wave of 529 bombers. The next day, the US dispatched over 300 B17 bombers over Dresden. An estimated 300,000 people – mostly civilians including tens of thousands of children – burned to death.
I know, I know… The US and UK had no choice but to murder millions in Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Hannover, Frankfurt, Cologne, Ulm, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was the only way to end that ghastly war. They did it all in the name of “peace”, right? So, Germans and Japanese: don’t complain and say “Thank you” to the allies.
Interestingly, the destruction of Dresden began 24 hours after Roosevelt and Churchill ended their meeting with Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, in Yalta, where the coming post-war New World Order was beginning to be mapped out. Might the destruction of Dresden have been on the agenda?
OK. But that was back during World War Two.
Then what about the 1.5 million dead in Iraq since March 2003, after that martyred country was invaded, raped and destroyed by modern history’s worst liars: Baby Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Condoleeza Rice and their nice friends at the Project for a New American Century think-tank and AIPAC lobby, all based on the most blatant and obscene political lie ever told: “weapons of mass destruction” that were never there.
And what about, the complacent blood-thirsty “NATO Allies” with the UK’s poodle prime minister – “Tony BLIAR” as many call him in his own country – tagging along?
And what about the daily murder, humiliation, maiming and house demolitions by the “good” Israelis against the “bad” Palestinians? What, no “International Tribunals”?
The West’s logic is really very simple. So simple, that even George W. Bush and Barack Obama can act out their roles as required by the global power masters.
A guide to war for the modern political Tarzan
For the benefit of millions of Western readers, I’d like to briefly flesh out in “basic Tarzan” how this “logic” works in practice; just to make sure they don’t miss the point: when it comes to “good guys” and “bad guys”, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
This does not mean that Japan should not be more political and understand the bigger picture of its own interest in closing ranks with China and the region as was mentioned in a recent RT article.
Let’s face it, this is a sensitive issue. The Koreans said PM Abe’s visit to the shrine was a "deplorable" act; Beijing labeled the visit "absolutely unacceptable" and summoned Japan's ambassador. These two countries see the Yasukuni Shrine as a symbol of Japanese militarism during and before World War Two, and it was they who suffered the full impact of the Japanese onslaught.
Shinzo Abe said, "It is not my intention at all to hurt the feelings of the Chinese and Korean people," claiming his visit was an anti-war gesture. He convinced nobody.
He did, however, make it clear that his visit was in a private capacity, not representing the government. He believes the trials that convicted Japan's wartime leaders were "victors' justice". His own grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, served in the war cabinet and was arrested by the Americans on suspicion of being a Class-A war criminal, although he was later released without charge. Mr Abe is known to be a nationalist and a historical revisionist.
Which ‘history’: Yours or mine?
Revisionism: perhaps here lies the key to a better understanding amongst nations, if we can begin doing away with victors’ “official history” that hides, waters-down, justifies, explains and forgives its own horrendous crimes, whilst at the same time it underlines, over-emphasizes and demonizes the actions of its vanquished enemies. And it often adds two, or maybe even three zeroes here and there as part of its historical genocide cosmetic kit.
There’s certainly irrationality to it all when you consider that this state of affairs assumes as given, that every time there’s war, the good guys (us) always win, whilst the bad guys (them) always lose (otherwise “they” would be in charge, right?): whether it’s World War I, World War 2, Vietnam, Korea, the Middle East, Africa, Central Europe, Latin America…
A concept almost impossible to sustain and swallow, especially since it’s obvious that all wars are won by the more powerful party in the conflict, which are those nations having the greatest fire-power to kill, maim, destroy, blow-up, murder, terrorize, bomb, shoot, torture, and have the will to do it without wavering.
If wars are won by the stronger, more violent side, where does that leave the victors morally? Do they win every war because they “love peace”? I don’t think so.
In addition, demonizing the enemy also serves to sooth one’s own conscious, dark fears and guilt. In order for the citizens of the US, UK or France to sleep tight at night, better for them not to grasp the horror their governments and military have unleashed upon millions of Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Palestinians, Koreans, Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Africans, Afghanis, Serbians, Pakistanis over the decades.
It’s so much easier to just say, “Oh, they’re all a bunch of Hitlers. The whole defeated lot got what they deserved: Saddam, Gadhafi, the Taliban, Chavez, Milosevic, Ho Chi Minh, Nasser, Peron etc…”
Now do you see why in some countries – Belgium, France, Austria, Germany, Canada – it’s even illegal to dare to utter revisionist views of certain historical events? They call such revisionism “hate literature”.
In my own native land of Argentina, back in 1982 a very good documentary was produced on the life and times of Evita Perón and her violently-ousted husband, President Juan Domingo Perón. He was the only true statesman that ever came to power in modern Argentina.
The lyrics of that film’s theme song repeated the following phrase (sorry, it rhymes in Spanish though not in English): “If history is written by those who win wars, that means that there’s another history – TRUE HISTORY – Let those who wish to hear, listen-up…”
Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina. www.asalbuchi.com.ar
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.