August this year, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War 2.
What the most truly unbelievable to me is the fact Japan as a whole has never, ever officially discussed for 70 long years: Why Japan went to the war.
Not to speak of ordinary people, but even scholars, historians and journalists seem to have been suffering from aphasia or thinking process malfunction in their brain when they speak of a simple question;
“Why Japan went to war against the USA and the Great Britain even though everyone knew Japan could never win” – the answer is always: “Japan went to war because those jingoistic militarists were stupid and went berserk”.
It is well after I became an adult where I noticed there are, indeed, some Japanese people view this matter in different angle and say:
“The war Japan fought was not an aggressive war.”
I also noticed that, without exception, the former – people who say Japan waged aggressive war – treat the latter with contempt and call them “right-wing revisionist”.
It is quite clear that they use the word “revisionist” in the same way as “fascist” or “Neo-Nazi”, gathering from the emotion those “anti-right wingers” show when they utter it.
They never seem to hide their contempt at those people, always using disdainful tone of voice as if those “right-wing” people were intelligently inferior to them, and never want to listen to those who try to refute.
Their way of thinking; “Japan was evil and the sole aggressor in the Pacific War” is called by people who think otherwise: “Tokyo Trial view of history”.
Majority of Japanese people, ordinary people and scholars alike, believe in the view as the “well established fact”, because they have been taught in that way in school and have learned from media.
A typical follower of the Tokyo Trial view of history in academic/politic world is Kitaoka Shin-ichi, the director of the International University and the deputy-chairperson of the advisory panel appointed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to help him draft the 70th anniversary statement which is going to be issued in August amidst growing anticipation of China, South Korea and the USA.
Kitaoka publicly spoke of the upcoming 70th anniversary statement at a symposium in Tokyo, as his personal opinion, that he wanted Mr. Abe to say that “Japan DID wage aggressive war” in the statement because:
“It is an established fact that Japan as a whole waged AGGRESSIVE war and invaded China and killed lots of lots of Chinese people which we Japanese should eternally be sorry.”
Indeed, since the end of the war 70 years ago, history textbooks have implied – not to be said aloud – “Then, the justice of the USA beat Japan and gave us Democracy, thank goodness!”
History textbooks in Japan is notoriously boring with just long chronological list of events and very little explanation “Why it happened” and “How it relates to other events”, but they certainly have succeeded to give naïve primary school children including me some impression like:
“Because of the triumph of the USA – not the whole Allied countries – the world have regained Peace again … forever”
That is why I was so shocked when I learned from TV about the truce that ended Vietnam War in 1973.
The USA was fighting a war? But, fighting a war is only for a BAD country like Japan…
I was a naïve, although book-loving, 5th grader then, but what about intellectuals and politicians? They have completely abdicated all responsibility to have exhaustive discussions and to provide insight on the matter:
What did the World War 2 mean to Japan?
Was Japan really a fascist state?
Did Japan really invade China/Asia and massacre people there?
Did Japan really want to conquer the world?
Were the Allied Powers really the errorless agents of the justice?
And, why on Earth, does the monument at the Hiroshima Atom Bomb Memorial say [to the victims of the atomic bomb]:
“Rest in Peace, We Promise We Will Never Repeat This Error.”?
Does that mean Hiroshima [and Nagasaki later] was atom-bombed because Japan made a mistake “waging the evil war against America and Britain”?
Judge Radhabinod Pal of India, who was one of 11 judges at the Tokyo Trial and made his own dissentient judgment insisting all Defendants were innocent, criticised this wording saying:
“It was not the Japanese who dropped the atom-bomb – it is the American and their hands are not yet cleaned.”
The author of the epitaph, Saika Tadayoshi, who became a professor of Hiroshima University in 1949, when the monument was erected, also a victim of the atom-bomb, counter-argued the criticism and explained who “we” are in the epitaph: “That ‘we’ are us, the citizens of the world.”
“The Tokyo trial view of history” is also called “self-tormenting view of history”. You can see why.
Anti-Atomic/Hydrogen bomb movement was organised after the US Hydrogen bomb test on Bikini Atoll involving suspected contamination of a Japanese fishing boat, Lucky Dragon #5, on 1 March 1954, but what they have been against was the Nuclear War, and apology for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki have never been demanded to the USA.
They rather condemn Japan being the aggressor in WWⅡ and the government promoting atomic power plants.
Since the World War 2 ended, the Japanese people have been taught that if it was not for the US occupation army/GHQ, Japan never had been democratic country and never enjoy the freedom of speech, thought and religion.
But, in fact, what the GHQ actually did was the opposite:
They suppressed the free speech under the tightest, clandestine censorship.
That is the main reason why Japan as an independent country has never had our own view of history – neither our own Independence Day: We are still occupied, psychologically.
The Civil Censorship Detachment, which had been established in January 1945, began its operation in Japan on 3 September 1945, on the day following Japan’s surrender to the Allied Powers.
Eto Jun, the author of “The Censorship Operation in Occupied Japan” writes:
“The CCD enforced a very thorough and stringent censorship operation over all Japanese media of expression: newspapers, radio scripts, motion pictures, dramatic productions, phonographic records, books, magazines, and pamphlets. Not even slides and kamishibai, a paper picture-card show for children, could escape the scrutiny of the Occupation censors.”
(p.239, Chapter 10: The Censorship Operation in Occupied Japan in “Press Control Around the World by Jane Leftwich Curry and Joan Dassin)
Following is a list of categories as the guide-line for the censorship that issued as SCAPIN 33 on 19 September 1945.
(Author’s note: SCAPIN means SCAP’s Instruction)
- Criticism of SCAP:
This is any general criticism of SCAP and criticism of any SCAP agency not specifically listed below.
- Criticism of Military Tribunal:
This is any general criticism of the Military Tribunal or specific criticism of anyone or thing connected with this tribunal.
- Criticism of SCAP Writing the Constitution:
Any reference to the part played by SCAP in writing the new Japanese Constitution or any criticism of the part played by SCAP in the formation of the constitution.
- Reference to Censorship:
Indirect or direct references to censorship of press, movies, newspapers, or magazines fall into this category.
- Criticism of the United States:
Any criticism, direct or indirect, of the United States falls into this category.
- Criticism of Russia:
- Criticism of Great Britain:
- Criticism of Koreans:
- Criticism of China:
- Criticism of Other Allies:
- General Criticism of Allies:
Criticism of the Allies, not directed at any specific country, falls into this category.
- Criticism of Japanese Treatment in Manchuria:
Criticism referring specifically to treatment of Japanese in Manchuria falls into this category. These are not to be listed under criticism of Russia and China.
- Criticism of Allies’ Pre-War Policies:
Any criticism of any policies of the Allies, singly or together, which existed prior to the war falls into this category, it will not be listed under criticism of any specific country.
- Third World War Comments:
Deletions made on the subject of the Third World War will be included here, rather than under criticism of any particular country.
- Russia vs. Western Powers Comments:
Comments on the situation existing between the Western Powers and Russia fall into this category, and will not be listed under criticisms of Russia or any other Western Powers.
- Defense of War Propaganda:
Any propaganda which directly or indirectly defends Japan’s conduct of and in the war will fall into this category.
- Divine descent Nation Propaganda:
Propaganda which either directly or indirectly claims divine descent for either the Nation of Japan or the Emperor will fall into this category.
- Militaristic Propaganda:
This will embrace all propaganda strictly militaristic in nature, which is not included under Defense of War Propaganda.
- Nationalistic Propaganda:
This will embrace all propaganda strictly nationalistic in nature, but will not include militaristic, defense of war, or divine descent nation propaganda.
- Great East Asia Propaganda:
This will embrace only propaganda relating to Great East Asia, and will not include militaristic, nationalistic, defense of war, divine descent nation, or other propaganda.
- Other Propaganda:
This will include all other types of propaganda not specifically included above.
- Justification or Defense of War Criminals:
Any justification or defense of war criminals will fall under this category. It will not include criticism of the Military Tribunal, however.
This will include stories dealing strictly fraternization. These stories will not to be included under criticism of the United States.
- Black Market Activities:
Reference to black market activities will fall into this category.
- Criticism of Occupation Forces:
Criticism of the Occupation Forces will fall into this category, and will not therefore be included under criticism of any country.
- Overplaying Starvation:
Stories overplaying starvation in Japan will be under this category.
- Incitement to Violence and Unrest:
Stories of this nature will be included here.
- Untrue Statement:
Statements palpably untrue will fall into this category.
- Inappropriate Reference to SCAP (or local units)
- Premature Disclosure
With this thorough, rather repetitious set of lists, the GHQ censorship was operated as the backbone of the US occupation plan; WAR GUILT INFORMATION PROGRAM, and the objectives of the programme were:
“To show that there is adequate moral basis for punishing those found guilty of planning, preparing, initiating, waging or conspiring to wage a war of aggression [sic].
To show that it is in behalf of all mankind that action is being taken against those suspected of war crimes.
To show that punishment of war criminals is necessary for the construction of a peaceful and prosperous Japan and for future world security.
To show that war criminals bear the major responsibility for the present plight of the Japanese people, but that the people themselves share a [sic] co-responsibility for tolerating or actively supporting the militarist regime.”
(Confidential GHQ/SCAP Memorandum to Section Chief, 21 December 1945;
P70, SEIRON, MAY 2015; “US Occupation Army’s Brain-Washing Operation for Japan: War Guilt Information Program Documants Finally Found” written by Sekino Michio)
Now it is clear: They cunningly put Japan in a traumatizing and continuing situation now perceived by everyone as true;
“Japan waged a AGGRESSIVE WAR AGAINST THE WORLD”
“It was responsibility of the whole Japan, ordinary Japanese people as well as the wartime leaders.”
“It is the justice of the people of the whole world that Japan is being punished.”
In order to accentuate this “Japan vs. the World” situation, Tokyo Trial suddenly added judges from India and the Philippines.
Tokyo Trial successfully showed the world that: Japan was tried and punished by its Asian neighbours – whom in fact Japan helped fight independence war against their colonists in “the Great Asia War” as Japan called it.
But Japan was hushed. Only stories that GHQ approved were published.
Along with 7,000 books that were completely suppressed during the occupation, every day over 5,000 articles/materials were checked by 370 CCD staffs and 5,700 Japanese out-sourcing staffs – to make it look like Japanese themselves are doing.
As the result, things that are inconvenient for the Allied countries/white colonialists were suppressed:
*Invasion and exploitation on non-white people of the whole world since 15th century
*Slave-trading including Japanese victims
*Japan proposing Racial Equality clause in the Covenant of the League of Nations in 1919 that was dismissed by America, Britain, Australia and Canada
*Japan’s involvement to independence wars of colonised countries in Asia; namely Burma, Manchuria, Republic of China, the Philippines and India …
Japanese Imperial Army assisted those countries with supplying arms, training the soldiers and fighting side by side, dying together as brothers-in-arms.
But after the war, instead of being recognized as the leading country of the Asia, Japan has continuously been labeled as “unremorseful ex-convicts”.
Even though MacArthur finally came to senses when he put himself in Japan’s situation with communist threat in Asia in Korean War, testifying that Japan’s “going to war was largely dictated by security.”, (Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations/United States Senate/Eighty-second Congress First session to conduct an inquiry into the military situation in the Far East and the facts surrounding the relief of general of the Army Douglas MacArthur from his assignments in that area/Part 1/May 3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11,12, and 14, 1951/Printed for the use of the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations/United States Government Printing Office/Washington: 1951) it was too late.
This Allied Powers’ post-WW2 propaganda machine had become a monster.
The censorship be its backbone, the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education made by GHQ be the brain and the communist-oriented social system after the Purge during the occupation be the blood, the monster has never stopped keeping Japan “a sycophant with money” for the Allied Powers now the Permanent Members of UN Security Council.
Essentially, the War Guilt Information Program has been “the Reform of ‘evil’ Japan and the Japanese through thoughts and languages and its objectives are to change Japan into just a ‘non-Japanese’ region, and to change Japanese people into somebody that are not Japanese anymore”, as Eto Jun pointed out.
(“Tozasareta Gengo Kuukan – Space of Language That Was Closed” by Eto Jun, author’s translation from Japanese to English)
When I heard George W. Bush saying on TV in 2003 that the US occupation of Iraq might have taken on “GHQ method”, I was horrified and felt sorry for the Iraqis: No people should be demonized and psychologically abused like Japanese have been done by GHQ.
Fortunately to the Iraqis, it did not happen as the world has changed dramatically from the post-WWⅡera into internet age where getting information became easier 1000 times and exercising such clandestine operation would be difficult.
Still, my heart sinks whenever I think of this situation Japan and the Japanese, people in the past, present and future, are in.
Will we ever have the Independence Day?
Or will we have a day in that we Japanese can discuss and study our own history without being insulted or humiliated by groundless allegations?
I hope, someday, Japanese people can raise our rising-sun flag with pride and admiration, being a member of the family – the world.