“The secret of redemption lies in remembrance.” (former German president)
Without Remembrance There Can Be No Redemption
75th Anniversary of Japanese Surrender
By: George Noga – August 30, 2020
Wednesday marks 75 years since Japan’s WWII surrender. It is fair to ask if Japan has behaved in a manner during the past three-quarters of a century to deserve redemption for its atrocities. This is a post I wish didn’t have to be written and I take no satisfaction in publishing it, but it must be written and presented to a candid world.
Most everyone agrees Germany and Italy, our other WWII enemies, merit redemption. They have atoned for their war crimes in many ways. They have accepted responsibility for their heinous acts. They do not deny their forebears’ crimes and teach WWII history honestly to their children. Today’s German and Italian youth regard the Nazis and Fascists as dishonored, demented comical caricatures.
Japan’s World War II Atrocities
Most Americans are aware that Japan tortured our POWs, used slave labor and forced young Korean girls, euphemistically called comfort women, into sexual slavery. They may have heard about The Rape of Nanking, but don’t know what took place there. Yet these aforementioned atrocities are just a few episodes in a long, shameful train of racism, genocide, massacres, holocausts and ethnic cleansings by the Empire of Japan.
Nanking was particularly gruesome. Over a period of six weeks, the Japanese butchered 200,000 unarmed POWs, another 50,000 male civilians and raped 80,000 young girls and women, often mutilating them in the process. They forced parents to kill their children (and vice versa) and committed other acts too sordid for me to recount herein. They had no remorse because they regarded Chinese as subhuman.
Japanese atrocities are too numerous to catalogue; they include the Bataan Death March, massacres in Shanghai and Hong Kong and the Yellow River flood, where they destroyed dikes and murdered one million civilians. Just during Japan’s occupation of the Philippines, there were 72 documented massacres leaving over 120,000 dead; the list includes Laha Airfield, Bangka Island, Parit, Sulong, Tol Plantation, Balikapan, Chekiang, Sandakan Death March, Truk, Pingfan and over forty more massacres.
Japan’s Response to the Atrocities
Japan did not apologise for the Rape of Nanking until 2013, or 76 years after the fact. Not until 2015 and only after decades of lawsuits did Japan apologize for its slave labor. It took Japan 73 years to publicly admit its sexual slavery of young Korean girls. To make all of these apologises, Japan had to be bludgeoned, kicking and screaming; they made them only under extreme duress and they were pro forma and insincere.
In willful and flagrant disregard of the unambiguous historical record, the Japanese people remain in denial. They refuse to teach in their schools about the Rape of Nanking and exclude it from their history books. On the rare occasions it is brought up, they say it involved only a few rogue soldiers. They persist in ignoring, downplaying, and obfuscating their record of atrocities. They remain a racist nation today; any Japanese who is even just one-sixteenth Korean is treated like scum. Unlike German and Italian youth, they still revere, and even worship, their WWII ancestors instead of regarding them as the demented, perverted, genocidal butchers they really were.
If the secret of redemption truly lies in remembrance, Japan has failed miserably. To anyone who now wants to give Japan redemption, my response is straightforward. Remember Pearl Harbor! Remember the Bataan Death March! Remember the Rape of Nanking! Remember the POW camps! Remember the 100 or more other Japanese atrocities about which that nation has a 75 year case of national amnesia!
The Japanese people do not deserve redemption until their collective memory improves and until they learn and acknowledge the truth about their ancestors.