The Devil Made Them Do It
A top general in the Japan Self-Defense Force is reportedly facing discharge for remarks he made on, of all places, the web site of a Japanese hotel and apartment developer, blaming Japan’s invasions of China, Korea, and other neighboring Asian countries on the United States:
TOKYO (Reuters) — Japan was ensnared into World War Two by the United States, the chief of staff of the Japanese air force has written in an essay, denying the country was ever the aggressor in China.
General Toshio Tamogami’s essay posted on the website of a Japanese hotel and apartment developer could stir controversy with Asian neighbors such as China and South Korea, where memories of Tokyo’s wartime acts and colonization run deep.
Spokesmen for Japan’s foreign and defense ministries declined comment on the air force general’s comments.
Disputes over wartime history often fray ties with Beijing and Seoul, although relations with China especially have warmed in the past two years as both sides seek to put priority on deepening trade and investment.
“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. But we need to realize that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War,” Tamogami wrote in the essay.
“It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation.”
Don’t bother going to the URL for the essay in the article—it’s a bum one. I located the web site but my Japanese isn’t good enough for me to locate the essay itself if it’s still posted.
I wouldn’t doubt that there’s a kernel of truth in the general’s comments but the notion that Japan didn’t invade its neighbors or that the invasions were in some way necessary for Japan’s self-defense are far-fetched to say the least. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the general’s comments don’t represent a view that’s common in Japan.
The Japanese have understandably downplayed their actions during World War II for more than 60 years. After all, it’s a shameful episode for them. That’s something I think it’s important for us to remember: while World War II may be an object of pride for the Yanks and Brits, for practically everybody else it’s an unbearably painful memory and frequently a shameful one.