Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Extreme Japan

Why is it that in recent years discussion of Japan's involvement in World War II elicits such extreme views?

On the one hand you get the Japan bashers. For example, a few years ago while in Tokyo I had to sit through lecture after lecture about how evil people of Japanese descent were. The American professor who ran a class I was taking would make sweeping generalities and group all Japanese soldiers together as killers and monsters. He talked and wrote extensively about modern Japan and how he felt Japanese still wanted to conquer Asia. This same man also liked to discuss the Japanese American internment and often defended the racist historians who have tried to justify it.

However, the other end of the spectrum is no better and no less racist. Today for example the Japan Times reported on Yuko Tojo, the granddaughter of wartime Prime Minister General Hideki Tojo. After comments by current Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma (apparently justifying the atomic bombing of Japan during the War), Yuko went off. She claimed that her grandfather's only mistake was losing the war. This nutty-ass lady stated that Japan did not fight a war of aggression and that the war was fought to liberate the "nonwhite" colonies in Asia from the "whites." Riiiiiiight... Tojo, who is running for a seat in the House of Councilors, further said that she wanted the Japanese people to regain the pride they had before the wartime defeat. Now, for the record, I'm all about Nihon pride, however, raping and pillaging the rest of Asia ain't really my cup of green tea.

Anyhow, I guess my point in all this is two-fold:
1. Both sides (American and Japanese) need to take some responsibility for the atrocities they committed during the War. There was clearly some bulls*%t going down on both sides of the Pacific.
2. Though a few Japanese, like Yuko Tojo, come across as fanatical right-wingers the vast majority of Japan that I have come to know is peaceful and not bent on conquering the world.



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