Monday, December 28, 2015

Meanwhile in the Pacific War

It looks like after years of pressure, Korea finally got Japan to pay up and, even more important, truly apologize for the Korean Comfort Women atrocities of WWII.  Japan has apologized over the years for the terrors it inflicted on the populations it liberated from the Western Powers.  But these apologizes have been seen at times to be vague and with little 'umph' to them.

But then, we're used to things like Western Christian society, where all we do is grovel and apologize, where in Germany to even think of saying anything good about the Nazi Regime is a criminal offence.   Not so in Japan, or in most of the world really.

In most history books here in the states, the Pacific War of WWII is barely a footnote, or a brief addition at the end of the real action in Europe.  The biggest topics are typically FDR's rounding up the Japanese citizens and, of course, the decision to drop the Atomic Bombs.  Little is known of Japans reign of terror, or the millions that died under its boots.

Thanks to the courage of the Korean Comfort Women who survived, however, historians have taken a second look at Japan in WWII over the years, including where things stood in August, 1945.  Even within Japan itself, the old notion that it was just some broken down, beaten country that only wanted to give peace a chance has melted away.  Not that any change would alter the morality of the Atomic Bombs mind you.

But if you are informed with the latest historical studies, you should dispense with the idea that August, 1945 was darn near a zenith of Messianic peace and joy and happiness when, BAM!, the racist US suddenly and inexplicably decided to nuke two peaceful cities in order to flex muscles before the upcoming Cold War.  That's right up there with Hitler's Pope levels of scholarship.

Lamentable though the decisions were, they were made at the tail end of a conflict that had averaged around a half million deaths a month.  That's right.  And Japan's horrific track record had contributed mightily to that body count.  And as for interment camps, sure it was the wrong thing to do based on America's lofty, and may I say superior, standards.  Just as it was wrong to also do it to Italian and German Americans (an oft forgotten part of it all).  But compare what happened to Japanese Americans to what happened to those non-Japanese caught in the snares at the outbreak of WWII.   And not just Americans, those of other nations as well.

For us, the Pacific War remains a minor part of WWII.  When we focus on it at all, as can be expected, we dwell only on the sins of America.  But shockingly, as we open up to more Asian countries and learn from them, we find out that for those places, the Pacific was where the action occurred.  Sure, they acknowledge the importance of the European theater.  But to them, the real action was in the Pacific.  And it didn't start in 1939 either.  For them, WWII took almost 15 years of suffering and terror until the shooting finally stopped in the shadow of two mushroom clouds.

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