Did the militarists in Japan look to the Nazis as a model during their takeover?

Did the militarists in Japan look to the Nazis as a model during their takeover?

During Japan's transition from democracy to ultranationalist dictatorship, did they hold up the Nazis as a model, or was that not something they mentioned/thought about?

EDIT: The question wanted for clarity. Let me try again.

The period from 1912 to 1926 is sometimes known as the Taisho democracy. At any rate it was more democratic than 1930s-1945 Japan. Whether you accept that the Taisho period was real democracy or not, its downfall merits an explanation.

Someone objected to my characterisation of wartime Japan as an ultranationalist dictatorship. I think the facts of a genocidal war against the rest of Asia really speak for themselves there, and I have nothing to add to them.

Lastly, Hitler was world famous after the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, and came to power in 1933. The decisive military takeover in Japan happened in 1936 (February 26 Incident). That leaves plenty of time for people to have noticed and reacted to developments in Germany.


No. The Japanese ideology was very far from that of Nazi Germany nearly in any respect.

  • They officially condemned racism.

  • They declared preference to Asia over Europe.

  • They did not express any notable anti-Semitism and anti-Slavism.

That said, a lot of countries were far from democracy those times, so Japan was not an exception.


The Japanese were well aware of fascist ideas in the 1930s. They probably were not highly influential during this time period though. The largest reason is that fascism uses a dictator, which would negate the role of the emperor. There were few political parties and organizations that used the label of "fascist" and communism was much more popular among the people as a solution to economic ills.

The changes from the more liberal Taisho democracy that brought them closer to true fascist countries were brought about for a few reasons:

  • A rejection of liberal democracy due to a reaction to communist revolutionaries
  • An attempt to provide a solution to a poor economy by rejecting liberalism and using central planning, which is not unique to only Nazism or fascism
  • An attempt to reclaim Japanese position internationally through promoting national solidarity, traditional culture, and wartime expansion.

Tôjô Hideki

Wartime leader of Japan’s government, General Tôjô Hideki (1884-1948), with his close-cropped hair, mustache, and round spectacles, became for Allied propagandists one of the most commonly caricatured members of Japan’s military dictatorship throughout the Pacific war. Shrewd at bureaucratic infighting and fiercely partisan in presenting the army’s perspective while army minister, he was surprisingly indecisive as national leader.

Known within the army as “Razor Tôjô” both for his bureaucratic efficiency and for his strict, uncompromising attention to detail, he climbed the command ladders, in close association with the army faction seeking to upgrade and improve Japan’s fighting capabilities despite tight budgets and 𠇌ivilian interference.” Tôjô built up a personal power base and used his position as head of the military police of Japan’s garrison force in Manchuria to rein in their influence before he became the Kwantung Army’s chief of staff in 1937. He played a key role in opening hostilities against China in July. Tôjô had his only combat experience later that year, leading two brigades on operations in Inner Mongolia.

Seeing the military occupation of Chinese territory as necessary to force the Nationalist Chinese government to collaborate with Japan, he continued to advocate expansion of the conflict in China when he returned to Tokyo in 1938 as army vice minister, rising to army minister in July 1940. He pushed for alliance with Germany (where he had served in 1920-1922) and Italy, and he supported the formation of a broad political front of national unity. In October 1941 he became prime minister.

Although Tôjô supported last-minute diplomatic efforts, he gave final approval to the attacks on the United States, Great Britain, and the Dutch East Indies in December 1941. Japan’s early victories greatly strengthened his personal prestige and his assertion that there were times when statesmen had to “have faith in Victory.”

When the war intensified, Japan’s losses mounted, and its fragile industrial foundations threatened to collapse. Tôjô characteristically sought to gather administrative levers into his own hands. Serving as both prime minister and army minister, at various times he also held the portfolios of home affairs (giving him control of the dreaded “thought police”), education, munitions, commerce and industry, and foreign affairs. In February 1944, he even assumed direct command of army operations as chief of the Army General Staff. Yet despite all his posts, Tôjô was never able to establish a dictatorship on a par with those wielded by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. He served constitutionally at the behest of the emperor, without support of a mass party, while crucial power centers, such as the industrial combines (known as zaibatsu), the navy, and the court, remained beyond his control. After the island of Saipan fell to American forces in July 1944, he was forced from power, despite arguments raised by some officials close to the throne that Tôjô should be left in office to the end to accept responsibility for the loss of the war so that a court official could “step in” to deliver peace.

After Japan’s surrender the next year, Tôjô attempted suicide when threatened with arrest by occupation authorities, but he was tried and hanged as a war criminal on December 23, 1948. At his trial, he asserted his personal responsibility for the war and attempted to deflect attention from the emperor. In 1978, despite the protest of many citizens opposed to honoring the man they felt had brought disaster on Japan, Tôjô’s name, along with those of thirteen other 𠇌lass A” war criminals, was commemorated at Yasukuni, the shrine in Tokyo dedicated to the memory of warriors fallen in service to the imperial family.

The Reader’s Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


Xi’s China is a Nazi Germany lookalike. It is also in a hurry

Xi Jinping at the party conference | Source: Xinhua

T his is an extract from a piece of mine that appeared in The Indian Express on 25 November 2011:

“When the Olympics were held in this country’s capital city, great care was taken to put on a show to impress foreign visitors. Dissidents were picked up and taken away from the city. Unwanted and protesting ethnic minorities were kept under surveillance. All citizens were instructed to keep smiling to convey the message that happiness prevailed in the host country. Magnificent stadiums were built. The might and power of the state apparatus was there for all to see and to get impressed with. The Olympics themselves were conducted with a precision and an attention to spectacle that was nothing if not awe-inspiring. Truly the hour of the collective man seemed to have arrived.

The above paragraph was certainly true of Beijing in 2008. Ironically and eerily so, it was true of Berlin in 1936”

The reason I am quoting myself is not to claim the gift of prophecy or extraordinary prescience going back nine years, but to establish the fact that the emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a Nazi Germany lookalike has been many years in the making. Hitler would not have happened had there not been a foundation of totalitarian longings and crass anti-Semitism already lodged in the German body politic. So too with China and Xi.

Historical parallels with Germany

StratNews Global recently ran a feature that compared Chinese President Xi Jinping with Adolf Hitler. The channel’s editor, Nitin Gokhale promptly got an ominous call from a Chinese embassy spokesperson who warned of “consequences” if the feature was not taken down. Gokhale is an intrepid defender of free speech and is committed to India’s robust traditions of fearless journalism. I am sure he can handle the “consequences”, such as they may turn out to be. Gokhale has hinted that the subsequent edition might include a section on concentration camps. Dachau was an early camp. It was not in Poland, but inside Germany and predated September 1939. Forcing Uighurs to eat pork, to read Mao and not their holy book, to discard the veil, to drop their language and speak in Mandarin, to not pray and to learn “peaceful and useful skills” would suggest that Uighurs can be changed. The next stage may be to conclude that Uighurs are incorrigibly unchangeable. In which case, there may be “consequences”— a word that seems to be favoured by Chinese officials. And the world cannot claim to be ignorant of the consequences of ignoring Dachau and the “solution” that was offered by the successors of Dachau.

A case can be made that the historical parallels are not just the ones concerning the resemblance of Xi’s China to Hitler’s Germany. The parallels are also about responses from the rest of the world, including of course the West, and the way these responses are being read by the mandarins in Beijing. No one broke off diplomatic relations with Germany when Dachau was set up. Did the hapless Uighurs actually expect any action from the world’s human rights lovers? Someone in Beijing has read up on the supine stance of flabby democracies as articulated by German ideologues of the 1930s.

China is in a hurry, so was Germany

The parallel of ‘being in a hurry’ is also worth thinking about. Hitler apparently felt that if he did not move fast, the allies would become too powerful. Perhaps Chinese strategists feel the need to move fast before their population goes into decline or before China misses the opportunity presented by the current Western disarray and confusion.

In 1937, Japan already controlled Manchuria, Korea, Shandong and most of Shanghai. There was no need to cross the Marco Polo Bridge and attack China. But the Japanese militarists were in a hurry. Now that the Chinese have swallowed Hong Kong and imprisoned the Uighurs, with minimal international repercussions, why not wait a year or two to put other apples into the basket? There just has to be a group of thinkers in Beijing who believe that precipitate hurry is justified and that alienating public opinion in the Anglo-Sphere (in Europe, not just the compromised governments, even the general public is eerily and ominously quiet) is a risk worth taking.

For America, Russia is still the significant adversary

Popular opinion in Britain, the US and Australia may be turning anti-Chinese. But the preferred approach in scholarly and influential American circles today, is to consider Russia as the more significant adversary, virtually giving China a get-out-of-jail-free card. This constitutes another historical parallel. The Tory elite in Britain viewed the Soviet Union as a greater evil than Nazi Germany. The West literally forced Stalin into Hitler’s arms, in a way that is amazingly similar to the manner in which Putin’s Russia has been left with no option but to cosy up with China. This visceral dislike of Russia, which ends up in a reckless indulgence of the more powerful and aggressive China, constitutes a repeat motif in Western elite circles.

After giving the Poles a solemn guarantee and encouraging their stubborn intransigence, what did Britain and France do when Germany invaded Poland? Not a single French or British paratrooper was dropped into Poland. The Royal Navy did not make the feeblest of attempts to get to Danzig. The brave Poles were abandoned to the nasty Germans. But when Russia invaded Finland, all of a sudden, British soldiers and the Royal Air Force (RAF) planes, which were apparently desperately needed elsewhere, were shipped off to help the brave Finns fight the nastier Russians. People of my generation who were Biggles fans may remember that the dashing RAF ace Biggles went to help the Finns.

Ironically, it is the American working class (what’s left of it) who Hillary Clinton had referred to as “deplorables” who seem to be anti-Chinese. Left to themselves, the bicoastal elites may be willing to do a deal. The ‘august’ journal Foreign Affairs continues to harp on the dangers from Russia and the so-called need to ‘engage’ with China. One wonders if the new-fangled word ‘engage’ rhymes mysteriously with the older word ‘appease’. The parallel where the British working class supported Winston Churchill while his own party elders were OK with making a deal with the Germans is quite striking.

Parallels are not without merit

Sections of the Indian elite may also be willing to make arguments that it is either not desirable or not practical to irritate China. It is worth remembering Rudyard Kipling’s admonition, that once a people starts paying Dane-geld (a tribute to invaders to persuade them not to invade and loot), then there is no end to the next round of bitter juices that will be proffered to and forced down the throats of the peace-loving losers.

History may not repeat itself, but parallels are not without merit. When the chips are down, despite all the gobbledygook talk of Western leaders, India is going to be quite alone. Good wishes, even guarantees, and symbolic imitation Biggles will be of no help. Think Poland. And yet, there is another parallel that the Chinese commissars may want to think about. Poland succumbed. The Soviet Union did not succumb, and when Heinz Guderian was close to Moscow, the Soviets counter-attacked. A lonely India may just end up having the backbone to do something similar. As Portia would say, “Tarry a minute, Marco Polo. For there may be consequences.” In a recent column, Anantha Nageswaran has actually called upon India to take the lead in firm assertion against the totalitarian behemoth of today. More power to columnists like him.

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26 COMMENTS

The parallels to Nazi Germany and Xi’s China are almost to the letter….the playbook is almost identical.

Before the Nazis invaded all of Europe they used their propaganda arm and 5th columnists in other countries to soften up the resistance in each so they would fall easier. Xi is doing the same. Xi is buying influence to politicians (see how some foreign politicians even wave a Chinese flag during their own election showing their allegiance or having ties to China financially) and creating loyalty with each, much like the Nazis had ‘Nazi like parties” or leaders who ran to the same ticket with Berlin. Also, much of Fentanyl coming to the US is from…China. The rot from within strategy.

The militarization of the South China Sea and the Danzig/Czechoslovakia/Austria activities are the same idea, how China is demanding the world not recognize Taiwan so it can be taken…much like Hong Kong was removed from the democratic arena. Taiwan will be invaded, there is no question, just when is the question. Xi is also disputing land with India, Russia, as well as absorbing the economic zones of the Philippines, Japan, and the other South Sea nations. China will create a “Fortress China South Sea” and try to keep everyone out. A defense zone.

The West in America has divided leadership, much like Britain had an appeasement for peace. Many are in line to continue the China economic trade deals for money rather than oppose China outright with an economic war. In the Nazi model, the West was afraid of war and would write off anything to Hitler to avoid it. The result was WW2 and some 60 million dead.

The Uyghurs are being used for organ harvesting, and held in concentration camps. They have dehumanized them, and treat them like animals. Much like the Nazis identified Jews and other inferior races as vermin. The camps also produced goods for the German people, like soap, made of the Jews. China holds millions in camps, the Nazis did the same. Xi also uses them for forced labor.

China uses the threat of withholding medical ingredients from the West and other essential supplies unless they comply with Beijing’s bottom line. The Nazis used the fear of war to dictate demands.

China has been rapidly developing technology as a ‘showcase’ for their global bid for dominance, as the Mars missions, Moon mission, the Chinese Space Station and Shuttle program, showing they can surpass and equal the West. Germany used the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to demonstrate the terrors of the new method of war to make the West cringe.

China has gone all out to dominate the US with firepower, planes, ships, missiles, ground forces in numbers, much like Nazi Germany rushed to produce advanced tanks, planes and guns to outpace the West and use the advantage on the battlefield to overrun poorly trained and equipped troops from the West, who never build for aggression. Xi is doing the same.

Xi has a Belt and Road Initiative internationally, where all commerce lines and money go right to Beijing. Nazi Europe was the ‘New Order” where the German State would have all commerce and goods going to Berlin, away from the occupied territories, in goods and slaves for the forced labor programs.

Xi’s China wants to be the world dominating power by 2040? Nazi Germany had Germania in their sights, which would have dominated the European Continent.

China by Xi suppresses it’s own people. Nazi Germany also did the same. By the end of WW2 they were even killing them. Ever hear of the Gestapo?

Xi has made an agreement with Iran for 600 billion in oil to China exclusive, possibly finding not only their atomic program but their proxy armies in the Middle East to create more disruption in the region. There is no difference with Nazi Germany and Russia signing their non aggression pact prior to 1941, not only to allow the Nazis to invade Poland but divide the West’s hope that Russia would come to their side in order to stop Hitler, causing worry in the West.

Let’s not even mention the Wuhan virus, and how China is using the pandemic as an opportunity to advance their agenda for world domination by destabilizing the world economies and weaken the West.

And the list goes on. There is likely going to be a coming conflict with China and the West, within a few years, as the blueprint is already in motion. I doubt people will learn from history and make the appropriate move to stop China before they are able to unleash a war on the world.

The CCP has 2 years before the midterm elections in the US. Now would be the time to ramp up the grabbing up of “disputed territories”. The passive approach has been working well for them, but I agree with the author. Now is the time to test the appetites of their adversaries. I will say this. It would be a mistake for them to challenge the Indian military. They should expand into Myanmar under the guise of a peacekeeping force. I also agree that the US should be extending an olive branch Russia provided they play nice with their neighbors.

Though the author only gives some intuitive evidence, the conclusion is quite reasonable. Nazism is a combination of Nationalism and Socialism. This is exactly the same as Xi’s policies. Xi is not a believer in communism, but he believes in Chinalism and the CCP holding the power.

Author seems to be ideological driven. This text is manipulating facts and it’s far faraway from moral poin of view. It is missguiding and fule of lies. Comparing China with Nazi Germany? It is exageration… Chinese should sue you for this piece.

I appreciate efforts taken by the author and the research done by him.

This is chilling, yet so important.

History judges best. History repeats itself, and what we learn is we do not learn. Sophists try arguments that Britain had also colonial policies as did France so they had no right to speak against Germany and Hitler…..look at where that false argument left the world. This kind of you are bad so cannot call another v bad has ruined clear sighted actions against totalitarian regimes in modern history.

Scholarly article and refreshing insights.

Chutzpah at its best. The modern day nazis trying to find a scapegoat and pass on their hatred onto others

Chilling similarities. No option for us, but to become more self reliant.

Wow,superb clairvoyance Jerry. Very timely warning & wake up call. Thanks

Wow, superb piece of clairvoyance . Hats off to you Jerry. Can’t be a better warning than this.

A great piece of writing….loved every bit of insight.

Actually it is Modi’s Hindutva India that is acting like Nazis. While China treats all religions equally bad, India targets its Muslims like Germany targeted Roma or Serbia targeted Muslims. It is ta king away the voting rights of millions of Musilms, denying them refugee status and causing a lockdown of its only Muslim majority state. Muslims have been blamed for coronavirus, lynched over beef transportation rumours, attacked for marrying Hindu women, had their mosques destroyed so that a Hindu temple can be built with Modi’s approval.
For India to talk about another country being Nazi Germany and protesting the infringement of rights of Muslims when it does so with ease and state sanction is ridiculous!

India does not run concentration camps for Muslims. India does not run forces labor camps and education camps. Muslims of India are free to practice their religion, say Azaan five times a day and read their Quran. Muslims are free to protest (sometimes not very peacefully, as we saw in Bangalore last week).

And there were no “mosques” destroyed. The only one you are referring to was brought down 18 years ago, and there has been a long legal process about it. The people that brought down the mosque were not punished, which must be corrected.

Don’t conflate isolated crimes (cow vigilantism) with running state-sponsored concentration camps. These are two totally different things.

Can you give me an example of discrimination against the muslims in India. Yes the incidents mentioned did happen…. J&K is in a lock down also because of terrorist activities,, why does the writer forget it. are terrorist activity to be condoned… What so special about a muslim majority state… are muslims to be considered special people of india… that they have to be treated differently from other citizens of this country…. Are you aware that one of the relative of Shri L K Advani, the patriarach of BJP is married to be a muslim…. are you aware that the closest family friend of Shri Rajnath Singh, the Hon Raksha mantri is Muslim….. Are you aware the ties between muslims and hindus are as good as they were in the past… hyes there are political differences… thats how it should be in a democracy…. but political differences do not mean enimity… You should realise that….

To believe in a devil is Hindu specialty!! Open your eyes & see history & politics of Islam in India & across the world!!

What about Kashmiri Pandits who are driven out of their homes and living as refugees in their own country? Majority Muslims are bigoted against Hindus. If not for back bending of politicians Hindus would have been in the slumber and never would have voted for BJP and imbeciles in Congress would have ruled the country with corruption going amok. What about Bangalore riots? Or Delhi riots? Are these not Muslims engineered riots? CAA does not affect any Indian citizens but you encouraged protests and sit ins just to create trouble for people and government. Tablighi Jamat is indeed reason for spreading of infections initially as they took to every major city in the country. So why deny that. I think China is right medicine for you.

China is a rogue state as far as freedom of speech and liberty goes. But under RSS we are sure to overtake them.

There is no “under RSS.” The RSS does not contest elections.

Lol!1 57 Islamic countries, models for humanity!!

Ha. Ha!! What bigots your community is as terror and lies are in every cell of your ideology & mind!! We know what you did in Delhi, Bangalore, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indian Kashmir!! You may hide truth with treachery, lies & money but the day of reckoning will come and you will pay for your crimes with interest!! That day your elite/clerics using poor Muslims as disposable, low cost pig bombs in India, Europe, America & every part of the globe will be exposed!!

Hundred of millions of Christians & Hindus have been killed by you & your mafia built on terror ideology.

THE SILENCE OF NOT JUST MUSLIMS & ISLAMIC NATIONS BUT ALSO ISLAMIC TERRORISTS against Uighur Muslim genocide in Xinjiang, China is PROOF that you and your ideology are SOLD OUT & used as terror bombs on HIRE!!

Lol!! India or Pakistan, once a Paki, always a brainwashed LIAR Paki!!

So true that 57 Islamic nations all democratic with: Full human rights, no evil sharia, full women rights, minorities multiplying like in India, conversion to Christianity and Hinduism daily process, no killing of minorities, minorities doing riots and blood shed in the name of Christianity, mosques are being destroyed to build churches & temples, true history & ancestry if beings taught, no jihadi politics…


Contents

War crimes have been defined by the Tokyo Charter as "violations of the laws or customs of war," [20] which includes crimes against enemy combatants and enemy non-combatants. [21] War crimes also included deliberate attacks on citizens and property of neutral states as they fall under the category of non-combatants, as at the attack on Pearl Harbor. [22] Military personnel from the Empire of Japan have been accused or convicted of committing many such acts during the period of Japanese imperialism from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. They have been accused of conducting a series of human rights abuses against civilians and prisoners of war throughout East Asia and the western Pacific region. These events reached their height during the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937–45 and the Asian and Pacific campaigns of World War II (1941–45). In addition to Japanese civil and military personnel, Koreans and Taiwanese who were forced to serve in the military of the Empire of Japan were also found to have committed war crimes as part of the Japanese Imperial Army. [23] [24]

International and Japanese law Edit

Japan signed the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Prisoners of War and the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Sick and Wounded, [25] but the Japanese government declined to ratify the POW Convention. In 1942, the Japanese government stated that it would abide by the terms of the Convention mutatis mutandis ('changing what has to be changed'). [26] The crimes committed also fall under other aspects of international and Japanese law. For example, many of the crimes committed by Japanese personnel during World War II broke Japanese military law, and were subject to court martial, as required by that law. [27] The Empire also violated international agreements signed by Japan, including provisions of the Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907) such as protections for prisoners of war and a ban on the use of chemical weapons, the 1930 Forced Labour Convention which prohibited forced labor, the 1921 International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children which prohibited human trafficking, and other agreements. [28] [29] The Japanese government also signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1929), thereby rendering its actions in 1937–45 liable to charges of crimes against peace, [30] a charge that was introduced at the Tokyo Trials to prosecute "Class A" war criminals. "Class B" war criminals were those found guilty of war crimes per se, and "Class C" war criminals were those guilty of crimes against humanity. The Japanese government also accepted the terms set by the Potsdam Declaration (1945) after the end of the war, including the provision in Article 10 of punishment for "all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners".

Japanese law does not define those convicted in the post-1945 trials as criminals, despite the fact that Japan's governments have accepted the judgments made in the trials, and in the Treaty of San Francisco (1952). [ clarification needed ] This is because the treaty does not mention the legal validity of the tribunal. Had Japan certified the legal validity of the war crimes tribunals in the San Francisco Treaty, the war crimes would have become open to appeal and overturning in Japanese courts. This would have been unacceptable in international diplomatic circles. [ citation needed ] Former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has advocated the position that Japan accepted the Tokyo tribunal and its judgements as a condition for ending the war, but that its verdicts have no relation to domestic law. According to this view, those convicted of war crimes are not criminals under Japanese law. [31]

Historical and geographical extent Edit

Outside Japan, different societies use widely different timeframes in defining Japanese war crimes. [ citation needed ] For example, the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910 was enforced by the Japanese military, and the Society of Yi Dynasty Korea was switched to the political system of the Empire of Japan. Thus, North and South Korea refer to "Japanese war crimes" as events occurring during the period of Korea under Japanese rule. [ citation needed ]

By comparison, the Western Allies did not come into military conflict with Japan until 1941, and North Americans, Australians, South East Asians and Europeans may consider "Japanese war crimes" to be events that occurred in 1942–1945. [32]

Japanese war crimes were not always carried out by ethnic Japanese personnel. A small minority of people in every Asian and Pacific country invaded or occupied by Japan collaborated with the Japanese military, or even served in it, for a wide variety of reasons, such as economic hardship, coercion, or antipathy to other imperialist powers. [33]

Japan's sovereignty over Korea and Taiwan, in the first half of the 20th century, was recognized by international agreements—the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895 and the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty of 1910—and they were considered at the time to be integral parts of the Japanese colonial empire. Under the international law of today, there is a possibility the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was illegal, [34] as the native populations were not consulted during the signing, there was armed resistance to Japan's annexations, and war crimes may also have been committed during the civil wars. [ citation needed ]

Japanese militarism and imperialism Edit

Militarism, especially during Japan's imperialist expansion, had great bearing on the conduct of the Japanese armed forces before and during the Second World War. After the Meiji Restoration and the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Emperor became the focus of military loyalty. During the so-called "Age of Imperialism" in the late 19th century, Japan followed the lead of other world powers in developing a colonial empire, pursuing that objective aggressively.

Unlike many other major powers, Japan had not ratified the Geneva Convention of 1929—also known as the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva 27 July 1929—which was the version of the Geneva Convention that covered the treatment of prisoners of war during World War II. [35] Nevertheless, Japan ratified the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 which contained provisions regarding prisoners of war [36] and an Imperial Proclamation in 1894 stated that Japanese soldiers should make every effort to win the war without violating international laws. According to Japanese historian Yuki Tanaka, Japanese forces during the First Sino-Japanese War released 1,790 Chinese prisoners without harm, once they signed an agreement not to take up arms against Japan if they were released. [37] After the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, all 79,367 Russian prisoners held were released and were paid for labour performed, in accordance with the Hague Convention. [37] Similarly the behaviour of the Japanese military in World War I was at least as humane as that of other militaries in the war, [ citation needed ] with some German prisoners of the Japanese finding life in Japan so agreeable that they stayed and settled in Japan after the war. [38] [39]

As Japan continued its modernization in the early 20th century, her armed forces became convinced that success in battle would be assured if Japanese soldiers, sailors, and airmen had the "spirit" of Bushido. . The result was that the Bushido code of behavior "was inculcated into the Japanese soldier as part of his basic training." Each soldier was indoctrinated to accept that it was the greatest honor to die for the Emperor and it was cowardly to surrender to the enemy. . Bushido therefore explains why the Japanese soldiers who were stationed in the NEI so mistreated POWs in their custody. Those who had surrendered to the Japanese—regardless of how courageously or honorably they had fought—merited nothing but contempt they had forfeited all honor and literally deserved nothing. Consequently, when the Japanese murdered POWs by shooting, beheading, and drowning, these acts were excused since they involved the killing of men who had forfeited all rights to be treated with dignity or respect. While civilian internees were certainly in a different category from POWs, it is reasonable to think that there was a "spill-over" effect from the tenets of Bushido.

The events of the 1930s and 1940s Edit

By the late 1930s, the rise of militarism in Japan created at least superficial similarities between the wider Japanese military culture and that of Nazi Germany's elite military personnel, such as those in the Waffen-SS. Japan also had a military secret police force within the IJA, known as the Kenpeitai, which resembled the Nazi Gestapo in its role in annexed and occupied countries, but which had existed for nearly a decade before Hitler's own birth. [41] Perceived failure or insufficient devotion to the Emperor would attract punishment, frequently of the physical kind. [42] In the military, officers would assault and beat men under their command, who would pass the beating all the way down on to the lowest ranks. In POW camps, this meant that prisoners received the worst beatings of all, [43] partly in the belief that such punishments were merely the proper technique to deal with disobedience. [42]

The Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s is often compared to the military of Germany from 1933 to 1945 because of the sheer scale of destruction and suffering that both of them caused. Much of the controversy regarding Japan's role in World War II revolves around the death rates of prisoners of war and civilians under Japanese occupation. Historian Sterling Seagrave has written that:

Arriving at a probable number of Japan's war victims who died is difficult for several interesting reasons, which have to do with Western perceptions. Both Americans and Europeans fell into the unfortunate habit of seeing WW1 and WW2 as separate wars, failing to comprehend that they were interlaced in a multitude of ways (not merely that one was the consequence of the other, or of the rash behavior of the victors after WW1). Wholly aside from this basic misconception, most Americans think of WW2 in Asia as having begun with Pearl Harbor, the British with the fall of Singapore, and so forth. The Chinese would correct this by identifying the Marco Polo Bridge incident as the start, or the earlier Japanese seizure of Manchuria. It really began in 1895 with Japan's assassination of Korea's Queen Min, and invasion of Korea, resulting in its absorption into Japan, followed quickly by Japan's seizure of southern Manchuria, etc. – establishing that Japan was at war from 1895 to 1945. Prior to 1895, Japan had only briefly invaded Korea during the Shogunate, long before the Meiji Restoration, and the invasion failed. Therefore, Rummel’s estimate of 6-million to 10-million dead between 1937 (the Rape of Nanjing) and 1945, may be roughly corollary to the time-frame of the Nazi Holocaust, but it falls far short of the actual numbers killed by the Japanese war machine. If you add, say, 2-million Koreans, 2-million Manchurians, Chinese, Russians, many East European Jews (both Sephardic and Ashkenazi), and others killed by Japan between 1895 and 1937 (conservative figures), the total of Japanese victims is more like 10-million to 14-million. Of these, I would suggest that between 6-million and 8-million were ethnic Chinese, regardless of where they were resident. [5]

According to the findings of the Tokyo Tribunal, the death rate among prisoners of war from Asian countries held by Japan was 27.1%. [44] The death rate of Chinese prisoners of war were much higher because—under a directive ratified on 5 August 1937, by Emperor Hirohito—the constraints of international law on treatment of those prisoners was removed. [45] Only 56 Chinese prisoners of war were released after the surrender of Japan. [46] After 20 March 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy was under orders to execute all prisoners taken at sea. [ citation needed ]

Attacks on parachutists and downed airmen Edit

As the Battle of Shanghai and Nanjing signaled the beginning of World War II in Asia, fierce air battles raged across China between the airmen of the Chinese Air Force and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force, and the Japanese soon gained notoriety for strafing downed airmen trying to descend to safety in their parachutes the very first recorded act of Japanese fighter pilots strafing downed airmen of the war occurred on 19 September 1937, when Chinese Air Force pilot Lt. Liu Lanqing (劉蘭清) of the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 3rd Pursuit Group flying P-26 Model 281 fighters, were part of an intercept mission against a force of 30 Japanese bombers and fighters attacking Nanjing. [47] Lt. Liu bailed out in his parachute after his plane was shot-up and disabled, and while hanging in his parachute during descent, he was killed by the Japanese pilots taking turns strafing at him [48] [49] his flight leader Capt. John Huang Xinrui tried shooting off those Japanese pilots shooting at the helpless Lt. Liu, but was shot-up himself and had to bail, and waiting until the last possible moment to rip his parachute cord to avoid the cruel acts of the Japanese pilots. [50] [51] As a result, Chinese and Russian volunteer pilots were all warned about opening their parachutes too early if bailing out of stricken aircraft, but even after a safe parachute descent, the Japanese still went after them on 18 July 1938, Soviet volunteer pilot Valentin Dudonov was hit by an A5M fighter piloted by Nangō Mochifumi, after which Dudonov bailed out in his parachute and landed on a sand bank on Poyang Lake only to be continuous strafed by another A5M, but Dudonov having to run in wild zig-zags and jumping and hiding under water in the lake, survived as the Japanese A5M finally departed. [52] As the Americans joined the war a few years later in 1941, they too encountered many harrowing and tragic events of these war crimes clarified and prosecutable under the protocols of the Geneva Convention.

Attacks on neutral powers Edit

Article 1 of the 1907 Hague Convention III – The Opening of Hostilities prohibited the initiation of hostilities against neutral powers "without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war" and Article 2 further stated that "[t]he existence of a state of war must be notified to the neutral Powers without delay, and shall not take effect in regard to them until after the receipt of a notification, which may, however, be given by telegraph." Japanese diplomats intended to deliver the notice to the United States thirty minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on 7 December 1941, but it was delivered to the U.S. government an hour after the attack was over. Tokyo transmitted the 5,000-word notification (commonly called the "14-Part Message") in two blocks to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, but transcribing the message took too long for the Japanese ambassador to deliver it in time. [53] The 14-Part Message was actually about sending a message to U.S. officials that peace negotiations between Japan and the U.S. were likely to be terminated, not a declaration of war. In fact, Japanese officials were well aware that the 14-Part Message was not a proper declaration of war as required by the 1907 Hague Convention III – The Opening of Hostilities. They decided not to issue a proper declaration of war anyway as they feared that doing so would expose the possible leak of the secret operation to the Americans. [54] [55] Some historical negationists and conspiracy theorists charge that President Franklin D. Roosevelt willingly allowed the attack to happen to create a pretext for war, but no credible evidence exists to support that claim. [56] [57] [58] The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan declared war on the U.S. and the U.S. declared war on Japan in response the same day.

Simultaneously with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 (Honolulu time), Japan invaded the British colony of Malaya and bombed Singapore, and began land actions in Hong Kong, without a declaration of war or an ultimatum. Both the United States and the United Kingdom were neutral when Japan attacked their territories without explicit warning of a state of war. [59]

The U.S. officially classified all 3,649 military and civilian casualties and destruction of military property at Pearl Harbor as non-combatants as there was no state of war between the U.S. and Japan when the attack occurred. [60] [ failed verification ] [61] [ page range too broad ] [ self-published source ] Joseph B. Keenan, the chief prosecutor in the Tokyo Trials, says that the attack on Pearl Harbor not only happened without a declaration of war but was also a "treacherous and deceitful act". In fact, Japan and the U.S. were still negotiating for a possible peace agreement which kept U.S. officials very distracted when Japanese planes launched their attack on Pearl Harbor. Keenan explained the definition of a war of aggression and the criminality of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

The concept of aggressive war may not be expressed with the precision of a scientific formula, or described like the objective data of the physical sciences. Aggressive War is not entirely a physical fact to be observed and defined like the operation of the laws of matter. It is rather an activity involving injustice between nations, rising to the level of criminality because of its disastrous effects upon the common good of international society. The injustice of a war of aggression is criminal of its extreme grosses, considered both from the point of view of the will of the aggressor to inflict injury and from the evil effects which ensue . Unjust war are plainly crimes and not simply torts or breaches of contracts. The act comprises the willful, intentional, and unreasonable destruction of life, limb, and property, subject matter which has been regarded as criminal by the laws of all civilized peoples . The Pearl Harbor attack breached the Kellogg–Briand Pact and the Hague Convention III. In addition, it violated Article 23 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, of October 1907 . But the attack of Pearl Harbor did not alone result in murder and the slaughter of thousands of human beings. It did not eventuate only in the destruction of property. It was an outright act of undermining and destroying the hope of a world for peace. When a nation employs a deceit and treachery, using periods of negotiations and the negotiations themselves as a cloak to screen a perfidious attack, then there is a prime example of the crime of all crimes. [62] [63]

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, was fully aware that if Japan lost the war, he would be tried as a war criminal for that attack [ citation needed ] (although he was killed by the USAAF in Operation Vengeance in 1943). At the Tokyo Trials, Prime Minister Hideki Tojo Shigenori Tōgō, then Foreign Minister Shigetarō Shimada, the Minister of the Navy and Osami Nagano, Chief of Naval General Staff, were charged with crimes against peace (charges 1 to 36) and murder (charges 37 to 52) in connection with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Along with war crimes and crimes against humanity (charges 53 to 55), Tojo was among the seven Japanese leaders sentenced to death and executed by hanging in 1948, Shigenori Tōgō received a 20-year sentence, Shimada received a life sentence, and Nagano died of natural causes during the Trial in 1947. [55] [64]

Over the years, many Japanese nationalists argued that the attack on Pearl Harbor was justified as they acted in self-defense in response to the oil embargo imposed by the United States. Most historians and scholars agreed that the oil embargo cannot be used as justification for using military force against a foreign nation imposing the oil embargo because there is a clear distinction between a perception that something is essential to the welfare of the nation-state and a threat truly being sufficiently serious to warrant an act of force in response, which Japan had failed to consider. Japanese scholar and diplomat, Takeo Iguchi, states that it is "[h]ard to say from the perspective of international law that exercising the right of self-defense against economic pressures is considered valid." While Japan felt that its dreams of further expansion would be brought to a screeching halt by the American embargo, this "need" cannot be considered proportional with the destruction suffered by the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, intended by Japanese military planners to be as devastating as possible. [55]

Mass killings Edit

Japanese War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
Part of
The Pacific War
Second Sino-Japanese War
LocationIn and around East Asia and the Pacific
Date1937-1945
Deaths3,000,000 [4] to 14,000,000 [5] civilians and POWs

R. J. Rummel, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, estimates that between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese military murdered from nearly three to over ten million people, most likely six million Chinese, Koreans, Malaysians, Indonesians, Filipinos and Indochinese, among others, including European, American and Australian prisoners of war. According to Rummel, "This democide [i.e., death by government] was due to a morally bankrupt political and military strategy, military expediency and custom, and national culture." [4] According to Rummel, in China alone, from 1937 to 1945, approximately 3.9 million Chinese were killed, mostly civilians, as a direct result of the Japanese operations and a total of 10.2 million Chinese were killed in the course of the war. [66] The most infamous incident during this period was the Nanking Massacre of 1937–38, when, according to the findings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Japanese Army massacred as many as 260,000 civilians and prisoners of war, though some have placed the figure as high as 350,000. [67] The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders has the death figure of 300,000 inscribed on its entrance. [68]

During the Second Sino-Japanese War the Japanese followed what has been referred to as a "killing policy", including killings committed against minorities like Hui Muslims in China. According to Wan Lei, "In a Hui clustered village in Gaocheng county of Hebei, the Japanese captured twenty Hui men among whom they only set two younger men free through "redemption", and buried alive the other eighteen Hui men. In Mengcun village of Hebei, the Japanese killed more than 1,300 Hui people within three years of their occupation of that area." Mosques were also desecrated and destroyed by the Japanese, and Hui cemeteries were also destroyed. After the Rape of Nanking mosques in Nanjing were found to be filled with dead bodies. [69] Many Hui Muslims in the Second Sino-Japanese war fought against the Japanese military. [ citation needed ]

In addition, The Hui Muslim county of Dachang was subjected to massacres by the Japanese military. [70]

One of the most infamous incidents during this period was the Parit Sulong massacre in Malaya, when, according to the findings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Imperial Japanese Army massacred about five hundred prisoners of war, although there are even higher estimates. [ citation needed ] A similar crime was the Changjiao massacre in China. Back in Southeast Asia, the Laha massacre resulted in the deaths of 705 prisoners of war on Indonesia's Ambon Island, and in Singapore's Alexandra Hospital massacre, where thousands of wounded Allied soldiers, innocent citizens and medical staff were murdered by Japanese soldiers. [ citation needed ]

In Southeast Asia, the Manila massacre of February 1945 resulted in the death of 100,000 civilians in the Philippines. It is estimated that at least one out of every 20 Filipinos died at the hands of the Japanese during the occupation. [71] [72] In Singapore during February and March 1942, the Sook Ching massacre was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements among the Chinese population there. Lee Kuan Yew, the ex-Prime Minister of Singapore, said during an interview with National Geographic that there were between 50,000 and 90,000 casualties, [73] while according to Major General Kawamura Saburo, there were 5,000 casualties in total. [74]

There were other massacres of civilians, e.g. the Kalagong massacre. In wartime Southeast Asia, the Overseas Chinese and European diaspora were special targets of Japanese abuse in the former case, motivated by Sinophobia vis-à-vis the historic expanse and influence of Chinese culture that did not exist with the Southeast Asian indigenes, and the latter, motivated by a racist Pan-Asianism and a desire to show former colonial subjects the impotence of their Western masters. [75] The Japanese executed all the Malay Sultans on Kalimantan and wiped out the Malay elite in the Pontianak incidents. In the Jesselton Revolt, the Japanese slaughtered thousands of native civilians during the Japanese occupation of British Borneo and nearly wiped out the entire Suluk Muslim population of the coastal islands. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, when a Moro Muslim juramentado swordsman launched a suicide attack against the Japanese, the Japanese would massacre the man's entire family or village. [ citation needed ]

Historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta reports that a "Three Alls Policy" (Sankō Sakusen) was implemented in China from 1942 to 1945 and was in itself responsible for the deaths of "more than 2.7 million" Chinese civilians. [ citation needed ] This scorched earth strategy, sanctioned by Hirohito himself, [ citation needed ] directed Japanese forces to "Kill All, Burn All, and Loot All", which caused many massacres such as the Panjiayu massacre, where 1,230 Chinese people were killed, Additionally, captured Allied servicemen and civilians were massacred in various incidents, including:

Human experimentation and biological warfare Edit

Special Japanese military units conducted experiments on civilians and POWs in China. One of the most infamous was Unit 731 under Shirō Ishii. Unit 731 was established by order of Hirohito himself. Victims were subjected to experiments including but not limited to vivisection, amputations without anesthesia, testing of biological weapons, horse blood transfusions, and injection of animal blood into their corpses. [78] Anesthesia was not used because it was believed that anesthetics would adversely affect the results of the experiments. [79]

To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid. The arm was later amputated the doctor would repeat the process on the victim's upper arm to the shoulder. After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained. The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments. [80]

According to one estimate, the experiments carried out by Unit 731 alone caused 3,000 deaths. [81] Furthermore, according to the 2002 International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare, the number of people killed by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and human experiments is around 580,000. [82] Top officers of Unit 731 were not prosecuted for war crimes after the war, in exchange for turning over the results of their research to the Allies. They were also reportedly given responsible positions in Japan's pharmaceutical industry, medical schools and health ministry. [83] [84]

One case of human experimentation occurred in Japan itself. At least nine of 11 members of Lt. Marvin Watkins' 29th Bomb Group crew (of the 6th Bomb Squadron) survived the crash of their U.S. Army Air Forces B-29 bomber on Kyūshū, on 5 May 1945. [85] The bomber's commander was separated from his crew and sent to Tokyo for interrogation, while the other survivors were taken to the anatomy department of Kyushu University, at Fukuoka, where they were subjected to vivisection or killed. [86] [87]

In China, the Japanese waged ruthless biological warfare against Chinese civilians and soldiers. Japanese aviators sprayed fleas carrying plague germs over metropolitan areas, creating bubonic plague epidemics. [88] [89] Japanese soldiers used flasks of diseases-causing microbes, which included cholera, dysentery, typhoid, anthrax and paratyphoid, to contaminate rivers, wells, reservoirs and houses mixed food with deadly bacteria to infect hungry Chinese civilians and even passed out chocolate filled with anthrax bacteria to the local children. [90]

During the final months of World War II, Japan had planned to use plague as a biological weapon against U.S. civilians in San Diego, California, during Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night, hoping that the plague would spread terror to the American population, and thereby dissuade America from attacking Japan. The plan was set to launch at night on 22 September 1945, but Japan surrendered five weeks earlier. [91] [92] [93] [94]

On 11 March 1948, 30 people, including several doctors and one female nurse, were brought to trial by the Allied war crimes tribunal. Charges of cannibalism were dropped, but 23 people were found guilty of vivisection or wrongful removal of body parts. Five were sentenced to death, four to life imprisonment, and the rest to shorter terms. In 1950, the military governor of Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, commuted all of the death sentences and significantly reduced most of the prison terms. All of those convicted in relation to the university vivisection were free after 1958. [95]

In 2006, former IJN medical officer Akira Makino stated that he was ordered—as part of his training—to carry out vivisection on about 30 civilian prisoners in the Philippines between December 1944 and February 1945. [96] The surgery included amputations. [97] Most of Makino's victims were Moro Muslims. [98] [99] [100] [101] [102] Ken Yuasa, a former military doctor in China, has also admitted to similar incidents in which he was compelled to participate. [103]

The Imperial House of Japan was responsible for the human experimentation programs, as members of the imperial family, including, but not limited to, Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko, Prince Chichibu, Prince Mikasa and Prince Takeda Tsuneyoshi, participated in the programs in various ways, which included authorizing, funding, supplying, and inspecting biomedical facilities. [104] [105]

Use of chemical weapons Edit

According to historians Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Kentaro Awaya, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, gas weapons, such as tear gas, were used only sporadically in 1937, but in early 1938 the Imperial Japanese Army began full-scale use of phosgene, chlorine, Lewisite and nausea gas (red), and from mid-1939, mustard gas (yellow) was used against both Kuomintang and Communist Chinese troops. [106] [107]

According to Yoshimi and Seiya Matsuno, Emperor Hirohito signed orders specifying the use of chemical weapons in China. [108] For example, during the Battle of Wuhan from August to October 1938, the Emperor authorized the use of toxic gas on 375 separate occasions, despite the 1899 Hague Declaration IV, 2 – Declaration on the Use of Projectiles the Object of Which is the Diffusion of Asphyxiating or Deleterious Gases [109] and Article 23 (a) of the 1907 Hague Convention IV – The Laws and Customs of War on Land. [28] [110] A resolution adopted by the League of Nations on 14 May condemned the use of poison gas by Japan.

Another example is the Battle of Yichang in October 1941, during which the 19th Artillery Regiment helped the 13th Brigade of the IJA 11th Army by launching 1,000 yellow gas shells and 1,500 red gas shells at the Chinese forces. The area was crowded with Chinese civilians unable to evacuate. Some 3,000 Chinese soldiers were in the area and 1,600 were affected. The Japanese report stated that "the effect of gas seems considerable". [111]

In 2004, Yoshimi and Yuki Tanaka discovered in the Australian National Archives documents showing that cyanide gas was tested on Australian and Dutch prisoners in November 1944 on Kai Islands (Indonesia). [112]

Torture of prisoners of war Edit

Japanese imperial forces employed widespread use of torture on prisoners, usually in an effort to gather military intelligence quickly. [113] Tortured prisoners were often later executed. A former Japanese Army officer who served in China, Uno Shintaro, stated:

The major means of getting intelligence was to extract information by interrogating prisoners. Torture was an unavoidable necessity. Murdering and burying them follows naturally. You do it so you won't be found out. I believed and acted this way because I was convinced of what I was doing. We carried out our duty as instructed by our masters. We did it for the sake of our country. From our filial obligation to our ancestors. On the battlefield, we never really considered the Chinese humans. When you're winning, the losers look really miserable. We concluded that the Yamato (Japanese) race was superior. [114]

The effectiveness of torture might also have been counterproductive to Japan's war effort. After the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the Japanese military tortured a captured American P-51 fighter pilot named Marcus McDilda to discover how many atomic bombs the Allies had and what the future targets were. McDilda, who knew nothing about the atomic bomb nor the Manhattan Project, "confessed" under torture that the U.S. had 100 atomic bombs and that Tokyo and Kyoto were next targets:

As you know, when atoms are split, there are a lot of pluses and minuses released. Well, we've taken these and put them in a huge container and separated them from each other with a lead shield. When the box is dropped out of a plane, we melt the lead shield and the pluses and minuses come together. When that happens, it causes a tremendous bolt of lightning and all the atmosphere over a city is pushed back! Then when the atmosphere rolls back, it brings about a tremendous thunderclap, which knocks down everything beneath it.

McDilda's false confession may have swayed the Japanese leaders' decision to surrender. [115]

According to many historians, one of the favorite techniques of Japanese torturers was "simulated drowning", in which water was poured over the immobilized victim's head, until they suffocated and lost consciousness. They were then resuscitated brutally (usually with the torturer jumping on their abdomen to expel the water) and then subjected to a new session of torture. The entire process could be repeated for about twenty minutes. [a]

Execution and killing of captured Allied airmen Edit

Many Allied airmen captured by the Japanese on land or at sea were executed in accordance with official Japanese policy. During the Battle of Midway in June 1942, three American airmen who were shot down and landed at sea were spotted and captured by Japanese warships. After brief interrogations, two airmen were killed, their bodies then tied to five-gallon kerosene cans filled with water and dumped overboard from destroyer Makigumo the third was killed and his body dumped overboard from Arashi. [ citation needed ]

On 13 August 1942, Japan passed the Enemy Airmen's Act, which stated that Allied pilots who bombed non-military targets in the Pacific Theater and were captured on land or at sea by Japanese forces were subject to trial and punishment despite the absence of any international law containing provisions regarding aerial warfare. [119] This legislation was passed in response to the Doolittle Raid, which occurred on 18 April 1942, in which American B-25 bombers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle bombed Tokyo and other Japanese cities. According to the Hague Convention of 1907 (the only convention which Japan had ratified regarding the treatment of prisoners of war), any military personnel captured on land or at sea by enemy troops were to be treated as prisoners of war and not punished for simply being lawful combatants. Eight Doolittle Raiders captured upon landing in China (four months before the passage of the Act) were the first Allied aircrew to be brought before a kangaroo court in Shanghai under the act, charged with alleged (but unproven) strafing of Japanese civilians during the Doolittle Raid. The eight aircrew were forbidden to give any defense and, despite the lack of legitimate evidences, were found guilty of participating in aerial military operations against Japan. Five of the eight sentences were commuted to life imprisonment the other three airmen were taken to a cemetery outside Shanghai, where they were executed by firing squad on 14 October 1942. [120] [121]

The Enemy Airmen's Act contributed to the deaths of hundreds of Allied airmen throughout the Pacific War. An estimated 132 Allied airmen shot down during the bombing campaign against Japan in 1944–1945 were summarily executed after short kangaroo trials or drumhead courts-martial. Imperial Japanese military personnel deliberately killed 33 American airmen at Fukuoka, including fifteen who were beheaded shortly after the Japanese Government's intention to surrender was announced on 15 August 1945. [122] [ full citation needed ] Mobs of civilians also killed several Allied airmen before the Japanese military arrived to take the airmen into custody. [123] Another 94 airmen died from other causes while in Japanese custody, including 52 who were killed when they were deliberately abandoned in a prison during the bombing of Tokyo on 24–25 May 1945. [124] [125]

Cannibalism Edit

Many written reports and testimonies which were collected by the Australian War Crimes Section of the Tokyo tribunal, and investigated by prosecutor William Webb (the tribunal's future Judge-in-Chief), indicate that Japanese personnel committed acts of cannibalism against Allied prisoners of war in many parts of Asia and the Pacific. In many cases these acts of cannibalism were inspired by ever-increasing Allied attacks on Japanese supply lines, and the death and illness of Japanese personnel which resulted from hunger. According to historian Yuki Tanaka: "cannibalism was often a systematic activity which was conducted by whole squads which were under the command of officers." [126] This frequently involved murder for the purpose of securing bodies. For example, an Indian POW, Havildar Changdi Ram, testified that: "[on November 12, 1944] the Kempeitai beheaded [an Allied] pilot. I saw this from behind a tree and watched some of the Japanese cut flesh from his arms, legs, hips, buttocks and carry it off to their quarters . They cut it [into] small pieces and fried it." [127] [128]

In some cases, flesh was cut from living people: another Indian POW, Lance Naik Hatam Ali (later a citizen of Pakistan), testified in New Guinea and stated:

. the Japanese started selecting prisoners and every day one prisoner was taken out and killed and eaten by the soldiers. I personally saw this happen and about 100 prisoners were eaten at this place by the Japanese. The remainder of us were taken to another spot 50 miles [80 km] away where 10 prisoners died of sickness. At this place, the Japanese again started selecting prisoners to eat. Those selected were taken to a hut where their flesh was cut from their bodies while they were alive and they were thrown into a ditch where they later died. [129]

According to another account by Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army who was rescued by the Australian army at the Sepik Bay in 1945:

At the village of Suaid, a Japanese medical officer periodically visited the Indian compound and selected each time the healthiest men. These men were taken away ostensibly for carrying out duties, but they never reappeared. [130]

Perhaps the most senior officer convicted of cannibalism was Lt Gen. Yoshio Tachibana (立花芳夫,Tachibana Yoshio), who with 11 other Japanese personnel was tried in August 1946 in relation to the execution of U.S. Navy airmen, and the cannibalism of at least one of them, during August 1944, on Chichi Jima, in the Bonin Islands. The airmen were beheaded on Tachibana's orders. Because military and international law did not specifically deal with cannibalism, they were tried for murder and "prevention of honorable burial". Tachibana was sentenced to death, and hanged. [131]

Avoidable hunger Edit

Deaths caused by the diversion of resources to Japanese troops in occupied countries are also considered war crimes by many people. [ who? ] Millions of civilians in South Asia – especially in Vietnam and Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), who were major producers of rice – died during an avoidable hunger in 1944–45. [132]

Forced labor Edit

The Japanese military's use of forced labor, by Asian civilians and POWs also caused many deaths. According to a joint study by historians including Zhifen Ju, Mitsuyoshi Himeta, Toru Kubo and Mark Peattie, more than 10 million Chinese civilians were mobilised by the Kōa-in (Japanese Asia Development Board) for forced labour. [133] More than 100,000 civilians and POWs died in the construction of the Burma-Siam Railway. [134]

The U.S. Library of Congress estimates that in Java the Japanese military forced between four and ten million romusha (Japanese: "manual laborers") to work. [135] About 270 thousand of these Javanese laborers were sent to other Japanese-held areas in Southeast Asia, but only 52 thousand were repatriated to Java, meaning that there was a death rate of eighty percent.

According to historian Akira Fujiwara, Emperor Hirohito personally ratified the decision to remove the constraints of international law (The Hague Conventions) on the treatment of Chinese prisoners of war in the directive of 5 August 1937. This notification also advised staff officers to stop using the term "prisoners of war". [136] The Geneva Convention exempted POWs of sergeant rank or higher from manual labour, and stipulated that prisoners performing work should be provided with extra rations and other essentials. Japan was not a signatory to the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Prisoners of War at the time, and Japanese forces did not follow the convention, although they ratified the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Sick And Wounded. [25]

Rape Edit

The expressions ianpu (" comfort women") or jongun-ianpu ( " women of military comfort" ) are euphemisms for women used in military brothels in occupied countries, many of whom were forcefully recruited or recruited through fraud, and who are considered victims of sexual assault and/or sexual slavery. [137] [138]

In 1992, historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi published material based on his research in archives at Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies. Yoshimi claimed that there was a direct link between imperial institutions such as the Kōain and "comfort stations". When Yoshimi's findings were published in the Japanese news media on 12 January 1993, they caused a sensation and forced the government, represented by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Koichi, to acknowledge some of the facts that same day. On 17 January, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa presented formal apologies for the suffering of the victims, during a trip in South Korea. On 6 July and 4 August, the Japanese government issued two statements by which it recognised that "Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military of the day", "The Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women" and that the women were "recruited in many cases against their own will through coaxing and coercion". [139]

The controversy was re-ignited on 1 March 2007, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe mentioned suggestions that a U.S. House of Representatives committee would call on the Japanese Government to "apologize for and acknowledge" the role of the Japanese Imperial military in wartime sex slavery. Abe denied that it applied to comfort stations. "There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it." [140] Abe's comments provoked negative reactions overseas. For example, a New York Times editorial on 6 March said: [141]

These were not commercial brothels. Force, explicit and implicit, was used in recruiting these women. What went on in them was serial rape, not prostitution. The Japanese Army's involvement is documented in the government's own defense files. A senior Tokyo official more or less apologized for this horrific crime in 1993 . Yesterday, he grudgingly acknowledged the 1993 quasi apology, but only as part of a pre-emptive declaration that his government would reject the call, now pending in the United States Congress, for an official apology. America isn't the only country interested in seeing Japan belatedly accept full responsibility. Korea, China, and the Philippines are also infuriated by years of Japanese equivocations over the issue.

The same day, veteran soldier Yasuji Kaneko admitted to The Washington Post that the women "cried out, but it didn't matter to us whether the women lived or died. We were the emperor's soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance." [142]

The Bahay na Pula in the Philippines, was an example of a military-operated garrison where local women were raped. [143]

On 17 April 2007, Yoshimi and another historian, Hirofumi Hayashi, announced the discovery, in the archives of the Tokyo Trials, of seven official documents suggesting that Imperial military forces, such as the Tokkeitai (naval secret police), directly coerced women to work in frontline brothels in China, Indochina and Indonesia. These documents were initially made public at the war crimes trial. In one of these, a lieutenant is quoted as confessing having organized a brothel and having used it himself. Another source refers to Tokkeitai members having arrested women on the streets, and after enforced medical examinations, putting them in brothels. [144]

On 12 May 2007, journalist Taichiro Kaijimura announced the discovery of 30 Netherland government documents submitted to the Tokyo tribunal as evidence of a forced massed prostitution incident in 1944 in Magelang. [145]

In other cases, some victims from East Timor testified they were dragged from their homes and forced into prostitution at military brothels even when they were not old enough to have started menstruating and were repeatedly raped by Japanese soldiers "Night after Night". [146]

A Dutch-Indonesian comfort woman, Jan Ruff O'Herne (now resident in Australia), who gave evidence to the U.S. committee, said the Japanese Government had failed to take responsibility for its crimes, that it did not want to pay compensation to victims and that it wanted to rewrite history. Ruff O'Herne said that she had been raped "day and night" for three months by Japanese soldiers when she was 21. [147]

Only one Japanese woman published her testimony. In 1971 a former comfort woman, forced to work for Japanese soldiers in Taiwan, published her memoirs under the pseudonym of Suzuko Shirota. [148]

There are different theories on the breakdown of the comfort women's place of origin. While some Japanese sources claim that the majority of the women were from Japan, others, including Yoshimi, argue as many as 200,000 women, [149] [150] mostly from Korea, and some other countries such as China, Philippines, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, Netherlands, [151] and Australia [152] were forced to engage in sexual activity. [153] [154] [155] [156] In June 2014, more official documents from the government of Japan's archives were made public, documenting sexual violence committed by Imperial Japanese soldiers in French Indochina and Indonesia. [157]

On 26 June 2007, the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution asking that Japan "should acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its military's coercion of women into sexual slavery during the war". [158] On 30 July 2007, the House of Representatives passed the resolution. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said this decision was "regrettable". [158]

Looting Edit

Several scholars have claimed that the Japanese government along with Japanese military personnel engaged in widespread looting during the period of 1895 to 1945. [159] [160] The stolen property included private land, as well as many different kinds of valuable goods looted from banks, Depositories, vaults, temples, churches, mosques, art galleries, commercial offices, libraries (including Buddhist monasteries), museums and other commercial premises as well as private homes. [161]

In China, an eyewitness, journalist F. Tillman of The New York Times, sent an article to his newspaper where he described the Imperial Japanese Army's entry into Nanjing in December 1937: "the plunder carried out by the Japanese reached almost the entire city. Almost all buildings were entered by Japanese soldiers, often in the sight of their officers, and the men took whatever they wanted. Japanese soldiers often forced Chinese to carry the loot." [162]

In Korea, it is estimated that about 100,000 priceless artifacts and cultural goods were looted by Japanese colonial authorities and private collectors during the nearly fifty years of military occupation. The Administration claims that there are 41,109 cultural objects which are located in Japan but remain unreported by the Japanese authorities. Unlike the works of art looted by Nazis in Europe, the return of property to its rightful owners or even the discussion of financial reparations in the post-war period, met with strong resistance from the American government, particularly General Douglas MacArthur. [163]

According to several historians, MacArthur's disagreement was not based on issues of rights, ethics or morals, but on political convenience. He spoke on the topic in a radio message to the U.S. Army in May 1948, the transcript of which was found by the magazine Time in the U.S. National Archives. In it MacArthur states: "I am completely at odds with the minority view of replacing lost or destroyed cultural property as a result of military action and occupation". With the advent of Cold War, the general feared "embittering the Japanese people towards us and making Japan vulnerable to ideological pressures and a fertile ground for subversive action". [163]

Kyoichi Arimitsu, one of the last living survivors of the Japanese archeological missions which operated on the Korean peninsula, which started early in the twentieth century, agrees that the plunder in the 1930s was out of control, but that researchers and academics, such as him, had nothing to do with it. However, he recognizes that the excavated pieces which were deemed to be most historically significant were sent to the Japanese governor-general, who then decided what would be sent to Emperor Hirohito. [164]

In 1965, Japan and South Korea negotiated a treaty to reestablish diplomatic relations and the issue of returning the cultural artifacts was raised. However, the then South Korean dictator, Park Chung-hee, preferred to receive cash compensation that would allow him to build highways and steelworks works of art and cultural goods were not a priority. As a result, at the time the Koreans had to settle for the return of only 1,326 items, including 852 rare books and 438 ceramic pieces. The Japanese claim that this put an end to any Korean claim regarding reparation for cultural goods (or of any other nature). [165] [166] American journalist Brad Glosserman has stated that an increasing number of South Koreans are raising the issue of the repatriation of stolen cultural artifacts from Japan due to rising affluence among the general populace as well as increased national confidence. [166]

Perfidy Edit

Throughout the Pacific War, Japanese soldiers often feigned injury or surrender to lure the approaching American forces before attacking them. One of the most famous examples of this was the "Goettge Patrol" during the early days of the Guadalcanal Campaign in August 1942. After the patrol saw a white flag displayed on the west bank of Matanikau River, Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Frank Goettge assembled 25 men, primarily consisting of intelligence personnel, to search the area. Unknown to the patrol, the white flag was actually a Japanese flag with the Hinomaru disc insignia obscured. A Japanese prisoner earlier deliberately tricked the Marines into an ambush by telling them that there were a number of Japanese soldiers west of the Matanikau River who wanted to surrender. [167] The Goettge Patrol landed by boat west of the Lunga Point perimeter, between Point Cruz and the Matanikau River, on a reconnaissance mission to contact a group of Japanese troops that American forces believed might be willing to surrender. Soon after the patrol landed, a group of Japanese naval troops ambushed and almost completely wiped out the patrol. Goettge was among the dead. Only three Americans made it back to American lines in the Lunga Point perimeter alive. News of the killing and treachery by the Japanese outraged the American Marines:

This was the first mass killing of the Marines on Guadalcanal. We were shocked. Shocked . because headquarters had believed anything a Jap had to say . The loss of this patrol and the particularly cruel way in which they had met death, hardened our hearts toward the Japanese. The idea of taking prisoners was swept from our minds. It was too dangerous. [168]

Second Lieutenant D. A. Clark of the 7th Marines told a similar story while patrolling Guadalcanal:

I was on my first patrol here, and we were moving up a dry stream bed. We saw 3 Japs come down the river bed out of the jungle. The one in front was carrying a white flag. We thought they were surrendering. When they got up to us they dropped the white flag and then all 3 threw hand grenades. We killed 2 of these Japs, but 1 got away. Apparently they do not mind a sacrifice to get information. [167]

Samuel Eliot Morison, in his book, The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War, wrote:

There were innumerable incidents such as a wounded Japanese soldier at Guadalcanal seizing a scalpel and burying it in the back of a surgeon who was about to save his life by an operation and a survivor of the Battle of Vella Lavella, rescued by PT-163, pulling a gun and killing a bluejacket in the act of giving a Japanese sailor a cup of coffee. [169]

(A PT is a patrol torpedo boat and a bluejacket is an enlisted sailor.)

These incidents, along with many other perfidious actions of the Japanese throughout the Pacific War, led to an American tendency to shoot the dead or wounded Japanese soldiers and those who were attempting to surrender and not take them as prisoners of war easily. Two Marines of Iwo Jima told cautionary tales. One confided:

They always told you take prisoners but we had some bad experiences on Saipan taking prisoners, you take them and then as soon as they get behind the lines they drop grenades and you lose a few more people. You get a little bit leery of taking prisoners when they are fighting to the death and so are you." The other reported, "Very few of them came out on their own when they did, why, usually one in the front he'd come out with his hands up and one behind him, he'd come out with a grenade." [170] [171] [172]

Attacks on hospital ships Edit

Hospital ships are painted white with large red crosses to show they are not combat ships, but ships with wounded and medical staff. Japan had signed the Hague Convention X of 1907 that stated attacking a hospital ship is a war crime. [173] [174]

  • On 23 April 1945 the USS Comfort (AH-6) was struck by a Japanese suicide plane. [175] The plane crashed through three decks exploding in surgery which was filled with medical personnel and patients. [176] Casualties were 28 killed (including six nurses), and 48 wounded, with considerable damage to the ship. [175][177][178]
  • The USS Hope (AH-7) was attacked and damaged during the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the Battle of Okinawa. [179][180][181]
  • The USS Relief was attacked and damaged at Guam on 2 April 1945. [182]
  • On 19 February 1942, the HMHS Manunda was dive bombed during the Japanese air raids on Darwin, 12 crew and hospital staff were killed and 19 others were seriously wounded. [183]
  • On 14 May 1943, the Australian AHS Centaur was sunk by Japanese submarine I-177 off Stradbroke Island, Queensland with 268 lives lost. [184]
  • The Royal Netherlands Navy hospital ship SS Op ten Noort was bombed on 21 February 1942, in the Java Sea one surgeon and three nurses were killed, eleven were badly wounded. After repairs, on 28 February 1942, she was commandeered by the Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze near Bawean Island, stopping her rescue work. Japanese forced her to transport their POWs. On 20 December 1942, she became the Tenno Maru an official Japanese Hospital Ship. The Dutch ship crew then became POWs. With the war coming to an end, the ship was first changed and later sunk to cover the crime. [185][186]

Soon after the war, the Allied powers indicted 25 persons as Class-A war criminals, and 5,700 persons were indicted as Class-B or Class-C war criminals by Allied criminal trials. Of these, 984 were initially condemned to death, 920 were actually executed, 475 received life sentences, 2,944 received some prison terms, 1,018 were acquitted, and 279 were not sentenced or not brought to trial. These numbers included 178 ethnic Taiwanese and 148 ethnic Koreans. [187] The Class-A charges were all tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, also known as "the Tokyo Trials". Other courts were formed in many different places in Asia and the Pacific.

Tokyo Trials Edit

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East was formed to try accused people in Japan itself.

High-ranking officers who were tried included Kōichi Kido and Sadao Araki. Three former (unelected) prime ministers: Kōki Hirota, Hideki Tojo and Kuniaki Koiso were convicted of Class-A war crimes. Many military leaders were also convicted. Two people convicted as Class-A war criminals later served as ministers in post-war Japanese governments.

    served as foreign minister both during the war and in the post-war Hatoyama government. was finance minister during the war and later served as justice minister in the government of Hayato Ikeda. These two had no direct connection to alleged war crimes committed by Japanese forces, and foreign governments never raised the issue when they were appointed.

Hirohito and all members of the imperial family implicated in the war such as Prince Chichibu, Prince Asaka, Prince Takeda and Prince Higashikuni were exonerated from criminal prosecutions by MacArthur, with the help of Bonner Fellers who allowed the major criminal suspects to coordinate their stories so that the Emperor would be spared from indictment. [188] Some historians criticize this decision. According to John Dower, "with the full support of MacArthur's headquarters, the prosecution functioned, in effect, as a defense team for the emperor" [189] and even Japanese activists who endorse the ideals of the Nuremberg and Tokyo charters, and who have labored to document and publicize the atrocities of the Showa regime "cannot defend the American decision to exonerate the emperor of war responsibility and then, in the chill of the Cold War, release and soon afterwards openly embrace accused right-winged war criminals like the later prime minister Nobusuke Kishi." [190] For Herbert Bix, "MacArthur's truly extraordinary measures to save Hirohito from trial as a war criminal had a lasting and profoundly distorting impact on Japanese understanding of the lost war." [191] MacArthur's reasoning was that if the emperor were executed or sentenced to life imprisonment, there would be a violent backlash and revolution from the Japanese from all social classes, which would interfere with his primary goal to change Japan from a militarist, semi-feudal society to a pro-Western modern democracy. In a cable sent to General Dwight Eisenhower in February 1946, MacArthur said executing or imprisoning the emperor would require the use of one million occupation soldiers to keep the peace. [192]

Other trials Edit

Between 1946 and 1951, the United States, the United Kingdom, China, the Soviet Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the Philippines all held military tribunals to try Japanese indicted for Class B and Class C war crimes. Some 5,600 Japanese personnel were prosecuted in more than 2,200 trials outside Japan. Class B defendants were accused of having committed such crimes themselves class C defendants, mostly senior officers, were accused of planning, ordering or failing to prevent them. [ citation needed ]

The judges presiding came from the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, France, the Soviet Union, New Zealand, India and the Philippines. Additionally, the Chinese Communists also held a number of trials for Japanese personnel. More than 4,400 Japanese personnel were convicted and about 1,000 were sentenced to death. [ citation needed ]

The largest single trial was that of 93 Japanese personnel charged with the summary execution of more than 300 Allied POWs, in the Laha massacre (1942). The most prominent ethnic Korean convicted was Lieutenant General Hong Sa Ik, who orchestrated the organisation of prisoner of war camps in Southeast Asia. In 2006, the South Korean government "pardoned" 83 of the 148 convicted Korean war criminals. [24] One hundred-sixty Taiwanese who had served in the forces of the Empire of Japan were convicted of war crimes and 11 were executed. [23]

The parole-for-war-criminals movement Edit

In 1950, after most Allied war crimes trials had ended, thousands of convicted war criminals sat in prisons across Asia and across Europe, detained in the countries where they were convicted. Some executions were still outstanding as many Allied courts agreed to reexamine their verdicts, reducing sentences in some cases and instituting a system of parole, but without relinquishing control over the fate of the imprisoned (even after Japan and Germany had regained their status as sovereign countries). [ citation needed ]

An intense and broadly supported campaign for amnesty for all imprisoned war criminals ensued (more aggressively in Germany than in Japan at first), as attention turned away from the top wartime leaders and towards the majority of "ordinary" war criminals (Class B/C in Japan), and the issue of criminal responsibility was reframed as a humanitarian problem.

On 7 March 1950, MacArthur issued a directive that reduced the sentences by one-third for good behavior and authorized the parole of those who had received life sentences after fifteen years. Several of those who were imprisoned were released earlier on parole due to ill-health. [ citation needed ]

The Japanese popular reaction to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal found expression in demands for the mitigation of the sentences of war criminals and agitation for parole. Shortly after the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect in April 1952, a movement demanding the release of B- and C-class war criminals began, emphasizing the "unfairness of the war crimes tribunals" and the "misery and hardship of the families of war criminals". The movement quickly garnered the support of more than ten million Japanese. In the face of this surge of public opinion, the government commented that "public sentiment in our country is that the war criminals are not criminals. Rather, they gather great sympathy as victims of the war, and the number of people concerned about the war crimes tribunal system itself is steadily increasing." [ citation needed ]

The parole-for-war-criminals movement was driven by two groups: those from outside who had "a sense of pity" for the prisoners and the war criminals themselves who called for their own release as part of an anti-war peace movement. The movement that arose out of "a sense of pity" demanded "just set them free (tonikaku shakuho o) regardless of how it is done".

On 4 September 1952, President Truman issued Executive Order 10393, establishing a Clemency and Parole Board for War Criminals to advise the President with respect to recommendations by the Government of Japan for clemency, reduction of sentence, or parole, with respect to sentences imposed on Japanese war criminals by military tribunals. [193]

On 26 May 1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles rejected a proposed amnesty for the imprisoned war criminals but instead agreed to "change the ground rules" by reducing the period required for eligibility for parole from 15 years to 10. [194]

By the end of 1958, all Japanese war criminals, including A-, B- and C-class were released from prison and politically rehabilitated. Hashimoto Kingorō, Hata Shunroku, Minami Jirō, and Oka Takazumi were all released on parole in 1954. Araki Sadao, Hiranuma Kiichirō, Hoshino Naoki, Kaya Okinori, Kido Kōichi, Ōshima Hiroshi, Shimada Shigetarō, and Suzuki Teiichi were released on parole in 1955. Satō Kenryō, whom many, including Judge B.V.A. Röling regarded as one of the convicted war criminals least deserving of imprisonment, was not granted parole until March 1956, the last of the Class A Japanese war criminals to be released. On 7 April 1957, the Japanese government announced that, with the concurrence of a majority of the powers represented on the tribunal, the last ten major Japanese war criminals who had previously been paroled were granted clemency and were to be regarded henceforth as unconditionally free from the terms of their parole. [ citation needed ]

Official apologies Edit

The Japanese government considers that the legal and moral positions in regard to war crimes are separate. Therefore, while maintaining that Japan violated no international law or treaties, Japanese governments have officially recognised the suffering which the Japanese military caused, and numerous apologies have been issued by the Japanese government. For example, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, in August 1995, stated that Japan "through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations", and he expressed his "feelings of deep remorse" and stated his "heartfelt apology". Also, on 29 September 1972, Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka stated: "[t]he Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself." [195]

The official apologies are widely viewed as inadequate or only a symbolic exchange by many of the survivors of such crimes or the families of dead victims. In October 2006, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed an apology for the damage caused by its colonial rule and aggression, more than 80 Japanese lawmakers from his ruling party LDP paid visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Many people aggrieved by Japanese war crimes also maintain that no apology has been issued for particular acts or that the Japanese government has merely expressed "regret" or "remorse". [196] On 2 March 2007, the issue was raised again by Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe, in which he denied that the military had forced women into sexual slavery during World War II. He stated, "The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion." Before he spoke, a group of Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers also sought to revise the Kono Statement. [12] [17] This provoked negative reaction from Asian and Western countries.

On 31 October 2008, the chief of staff of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force Toshio Tamogami was dismissed with a 60 million yen allowance [197] due to an essay he published, arguing that Japan was not an aggressor during World War II, that the war brought prosperity to China, Taiwan and Korea, that the Imperial Japanese Army's conduct was not violent and that the Greater East Asia War is viewed in a positive way by many Asian countries and criticizing the war crimes trials which followed the war. [198] On 11 November, Tamogami added before the Diet that the personal apology made in 1995 by former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama was "a tool to suppress free speech". [197]

Some in Japan have asserted that what is being demanded is that the Japanese Prime Minister or the Emperor perform dogeza, in which an individual kneels and bows his head to the ground—a high form of apology in East Asian societies that Japan appears unwilling to do. [199] Some point to an act by West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who knelt at a monument to the Jewish victims of the Warsaw Ghetto, in 1970, as an example of a powerful and effective act of apology and reconciliation similar to dogeza. [200]

On 13 September 2010, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met in Tokyo with six former American POWs of the Japanese and apologized for their treatment during World War II. Okada said: "You have all been through hardships during World War II, being taken prisoner by the Japanese military, and suffered extremely inhumane treatment. On behalf of the Japanese government and as the foreign minister, I would like to offer you my heartfelt apology." [201]

On 29 November 2011, Japanese Foreign Minister Kōichirō Genba apologized to former Australian POWs on behalf of the Japanese government for pain and suffering inflicted on them during the war. [202]

Compensation Edit

The Japanese government, while admitting no legal responsibility for the so-called "comfort women", set up the Asian Women's Fund in 1995, which gives money to people who claim to have been forced into prostitution during the war. Though the organisation was established by the government, legally, it has been created such that it is an independent charity. The activities of the fund have been controversial in Japan, as well as with international organisations supporting the women concerned. [ citation needed ] Some argue that such a fund is part of an ongoing refusal by the Japanese government to face up to its responsibilities, while others say that the Japanese government has long since finalised its responsibility to individual victims and is merely correcting the failures of the victims' own governments. California Congressman Mike Honda, speaking before U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of the women, said that "without a sincere and unequivocal apology from the government of Japan, the majority of surviving Comfort Women refused to accept these funds. In fact, as you will hear today, many Comfort Women returned the Prime Minister's letter of apology accompanying the monetary compensation, saying they felt the apology was artificial and disingenuous." [203]

Intermediate compensation Edit

The term "intermediate compensation" (or intermediary compensation) was applied to the removal and reallocation of Japanese industrial (particularly military-industrial) assets to Allied countries. It was conducted under the supervision of Allied occupation forces. This reallocation was referred to as "intermediate" because it did not amount to a final settlement by means of bilateral treaties, which settled all existing issues of compensation. By 1950, the assets reallocated amounted to 43,918 items of machinery, valued at ¥165,158,839 (in 1950 prices). The proportions in which the assets were distributed were: China, 54.1% the Netherlands, 11.5% the Philippines 19%, and the United Kingdom, 15.4%. [ citation needed ]

Compensation under the San Francisco Treaty Edit

Compensation from Japanese overseas assets Edit
Japanese overseas assets in 1945
Country/region Value (1945, ¥15=US$1) 2021 US dollars [204]
North East China 146,532,000,000 $140 billion
Korea 70,256,000,000 $67.3 billion
North China 55,437,000,000 $53.1 billion
Taiwan 42,542,000,000 $40.8 billion
Central South China 36,718,000,000 $35.2 billion
Others 28,014,000,000 $26.8 billion
Total ¥379,499,000,000 $364 billion

Japanese overseas assets refers to all assets which were owned by the Japanese government, firms, organizations and private citizens, in colonized or occupied countries. In accordance with Clause 14 of the San Francisco Treaty, Allied forces confiscated all Japanese overseas assets, except those in China, which were dealt with under Clause 21.

Compensation to Allied POWs Edit

Clause 16 of the San Francisco Treaty stated that Japan would transfer its assets and those of its citizens in countries which were at war with any of the Allied Powers or which were neutral, or equivalents, to the Red Cross, which would sell them and distribute the funds to former prisoners of war and their families. Accordingly, the Japanese government and private citizens paid out £4,500,000 to the Red Cross. [ citation needed ]

According to historian Linda Goetz Holmes, many funds used by the government of Japan were not Japanese funds but relief funds contributed by the governments of the US, the UK and the Netherlands and sequestred in the Yokohama Specie Bank during the final year of the war. [205]

Allied territories occupied by Japan Edit
Japanese compensation to countries occupied during 1941–45
Country Amount in Yen Amount in US$ 2021 US dollars [204] Date of treaty
Burma 72,000,000,000 200,000,000 $1.93 billion 5 November 1955
Philippines 198,000,000,000 550,000,000 $5.24 billion 9 May 1956
Indonesia 80,388,000,000 223,080,000 $2 billion 20 January 1958
South Vietnam 14,400,000,000 38,000,000 $337 million 13 May 1959
Total ¥364,348,800,000 US$1,012,080,000

Clause 14 of the treaty stated that Japan would enter into negotiations with Allied powers whose territories were occupied by Japan and suffered damage by Japanese forces, with a view to Japan compensating those countries for the damage.

Accordingly, the Philippines and South Vietnam received compensation in 1956 and 1959 respectively. Burma and Indonesia were not original signatories, but they later signed bilateral treaties in accordance with clause 14 of the San Francisco Treaty. [ citation needed ]

The last payment was made to the Philippines on 22 July 1976. [ citation needed ]

Debate in Japan Edit

From a fringe topic to an open debate Edit

Until the 1970s, Japanese war crimes were considered a fringe topic in the media. In the Japanese media, the opinions of the political centre and left tend to dominate the editorials of newspapers, while the right tend to dominate magazines. Debates regarding war crimes were confined largely to the editorials of tabloid magazines where calls for the overthrow of "Imperialist America" and revived veneration of the Emperor coexisted with pornography. In 1972, to commemorate the normalisation of relationship with China, Asahi Shimbun, a major liberal newspaper, ran a series on Japanese war crimes in China including the Nanjing massacre. This opened the floodgates to debates which have continued ever since. The 1990s are generally considered to be the period in which such issues become truly mainstream, and incidents such as the Nanking Massacre, Yasukuni Shrine, comfort women, the accuracy of school history textbooks, and the validity of the Tokyo Trials were debated, even on television.

As the consensus of Japanese jurists is that Japanese forces did not technically commit violations of international law, many right wing elements in Japan have taken this to mean that war crimes trials were examples of victor's justice. They see those convicted of war crimes as "Martyrs of Shōwa" ( 昭和殉難者 , Shōwa Junnansha) , Shōwa being the name given to the rule of Hirohito. This interpretation is vigorously contested by Japanese peace groups and the political left. In the past, these groups have tended to argue that the trials hold some validity, either under the Geneva Convention (even though Japan hadn't signed it), or under an undefined concept of international law or consensus. Alternatively, they have argued that, although the trials may not have been technically valid, they were still just, somewhat in line with popular opinion in the West and in the rest of Asia.

By the early 21st century, the revived interest in Japan's imperial past had brought new interpretations from a group which has been labelled both "new right" and "new left". This group points out that many acts committed by Japanese forces, including the Nanjing Incident, were violations of the Japanese military code. It is suggested that had war crimes tribunals been conducted by the post-war Japanese government, in strict accordance with Japanese military law, many of those who were accused would still have been convicted and executed. Therefore, the moral and legal failures in question were the fault of the Japanese military and the government, for not executing their constitutionally defined duty.

The new right/new left also takes the view that the Allies committed no war crimes against Japan, because Japan was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention, and as a victors, the Allies had every right to demand some form of retribution, to which Japan consented in various treaties.

Under the same logic, the new right/new left considers the killing of Chinese who were suspected of guerrilla activity to be perfectly legal and valid, including some of those killed at Nanjing, for example. They also take the view that many Chinese civilian casualties resulted from the scorched earth tactics of the Chinese nationalists. Though such tactics are arguably legal, the new right/new left takes the position that some of the civilian deaths caused by these scorched earth tactics are wrongly attributed to the Japanese military.

Similarly, they take the position that those who have attempted to sue the Japanese government for compensation have no legal or moral case.

The new right and new left also take a less sympathetic view of Korean claims of victimhood, because prior to annexation by Japan, Korea was a tributary of the Qing dynasty and, according to them, the Japanese colonisation, though undoubtedly harsh, was "better" than the previous rule in terms of human rights and economic development.

They also argue that, the Kantōgun (also known as the Kwantung Army) was at least partly culpable. Although the Kantōgun was nominally subordinate to the Japanese high command at the time, its leadership demonstrated significant self-determination, as shown by its involvement in the plot to assassinate Zhang Zuolin in 1928, and the Manchurian Incident of 1931, which led to the foundation of Manchukuo in 1932. Moreover, at that time, it was the official policy of the Japanese high command to confine the conflict to Manchuria. But in defiance of the high command, the Kantōgun invaded China proper, under the pretext of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The Japanese government not only failed to court martial the officers responsible for these incidents, but it also accepted the war against China, and many of those who were involved were even promoted. (Some of the officers involved in the Nanking Massacre were also promoted.)

Whether or not Hirohito himself bears any responsibility for such failures is a sticking point between the new right and new left. Officially, the imperial constitution, adopted under Emperor Meiji, gave full powers to the Emperor. Article 4 prescribed that "The Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them, according to the provisions of the present Constitution" and article 11 prescribed that "The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army and the Navy".

For historian Akira Fujiwara, the thesis that the emperor as an organ of responsibility could not reverse cabinet decisions is a myth (shinwa) fabricated after the war. [206] Others argue that Hirohito deliberately styled his rule in the manner of the British constitutional monarchy, and he always accepted the decisions and consensus reached by the high command. According to this position, the moral and political failure rests primarily with the Japanese High Command and the Cabinet, most of whom were later convicted at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal as class-A war criminals, absolving all members of the imperial family such as Prince Chichibu, Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, Prince Higashikuni, Prince Hiroyasu Fushimi and Prince Takeda.

Nippon Kaigi, the main negationist lobby Edit

The denial of Japanese war crimes is one of the key missions of the openly negationist lobby Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), a nationalistic nonparty organisation that was established in 1997 and also advocates patriotic education, the revision of the constitution, and official visits to Yasukuni Shrine. [207] [208] [209] [210] Nippon Kaigi's members and affiliates include lawmakers, ministers, a few prime ministers, and the chief priests of prominent Shinto shrines. The chairman, Toru Miyoshi, is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Japan. [ citation needed ] Former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, is a member of the Nippon Kaigi. [211]

Later investigations Edit

As with investigations of Nazi war criminals, official investigations and inquiries are still ongoing. [ as of? ] During the 1990s, the South Korean government started investigating some people who had allegedly become wealthy while collaborating with the Japanese military. [212] [213] In South Korea, it is also alleged that during the political climate of the Cold War, many such people or their associates or relatives were able to acquire influence with the wealth they had acquired collaborating with the Japanese and assisted in the covering-up, or non-investigation, of war crimes in order not to incriminate themselves. With the wealth they had amassed during the years of collaboration, they were able to further benefit their families by obtaining higher education for their relatives. [213]

Further evidence has been discovered as a result of these investigations. It has been claimed that the Japanese government intentionally destroyed the reports on Korean comfort women. [214] [215] Some have cited Japanese inventory logs and employee sheets on the battlefield as evidence for this claim. For example, one of the names on the list was of a comfort woman who stated she was forced to be a prostitute by the Japanese. She was classified as a nurse along with at least a dozen other verified comfort women who were not nurses or secretaries. Currently, the South Korean government is looking into the hundreds of other names on these lists. [216]

In 2011, it was alleged in an article published in the Japan Times newspaper by Jason Coskrey that the British government covered up a Japanese massacre of British and Dutch POWs to avoid straining the recently re-opened relationship with Japan, along with their belief that Japan needed to be a post-war bulwark against the spread of communism. [217] Meanwhile, scholars and public intellectuals continue to criticize Japan for what they view as a refusal to acknowledge and apologize fully for Japanese war crimes. Amitai Etzioni of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, who was a child in Germany when the Nazis rose to power, has stated in response to Prime Minister Abe's visits to Yasukuni Shrine, "Unlike Japan, [Germany] faced their past, came to terms with it and learned from it. Japan should do the same." [218]

Tamaki Matsuoka's 2009 documentary Torn Memories of Nanjing includes interviews with Japanese veterans who admit to raping and killing Chinese civilians. [219]

Concerns of the Japanese Imperial Family Edit

Potentially in contrast to Prime Minister Abe's example of his Yasukuni Shrine visits, by February 2015, some concern within the Imperial House of Japan — which normally does not issue such statements – over the issue was voiced by then-Crown Prince Naruhito, [220] who succeeded his father on 1 May 2019. Naruhito stated on his 55th birthday (23 February 2015) that it was "important to look back on the past humbly and correctly", in reference to Japan's role in World War II-era war crimes, and that he was concerned about the ongoing need to "correctly pass down tragic experiences and the history behind Japan to the generations who have no direct knowledge of the war, at the time memories of the war are about to fade". [221] Two visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in the second half of 2016 by Japan's former foreign minister, Masahiro Imamura, were again followed by controversy that still showed potential for concern over how Japan's World War II history may be remembered by its citizens [222] [223] as it entered the Reiwa era.


Did the militarists in Japan look to the Nazis as a model during their takeover? - History

After more than half a century, images of the Great Depression remain firmly etched in the American psyche: breadlines, soup kitchens, tin-can shanties and tar-paper shacks known as "Hoovervilles," penniless men and women selling apples on street corners, and gray battalions of Arkies and Okies packed into Model A Fords heading to California.

The collapse was staggering in its dimensions. Unemployment jumped from less than 3 million in 1929 to 4 million in 1930, to 8 million in 1931, and to 12 1/2 million in 1932. In that year, a quarter of the nation's families did not have a single employed wage earner. Even those fortunate enough to have jobs suffered drastic pay cuts and reductions in working hours. Only one company in ten failed to cut pay, and in 1932, three-quarters of all workers were on part-time schedules, averaging just 60 percent of the normal work week.

The economic collapse was terrifying in its scope and impact. By 1933, average family income had tumbled 40 percent, from $2,300 in 1929 to just $1,500 four years later. In the Pennsylvania coal fields, three or four families crowded together in one-room shacks and lived on wild weeds. In Arkansas, families were found inhabiting caves. In Oakland, California, whole families lived in sewer pipes.

Vagrancy shot up as many families were evicted from their homes for nonpayment of rent. The Southern Pacific Railroad boasted that it threw 683,000 vagrants off its trains in 1931. Free public flophouses and missions in Los Angeles provided beds for 200,000 of the uprooted.

To save money, families neglected medical and dental care. Many families sought to cope by planting gardens, canning food, buying used bread, and using cardboard and cotton for shoe soles. Despite a steep decline in food prices, many families did without milk or meat. In New York City, milk consumption declined by a million gallons a day.

President Herbert Hoover declared, "Nobody is actually starving. The hoboes are better fed than they have ever been." But in New York City in 1931, there were 20 known cases of starvation in 1934, there were 110 deaths caused by hunger. There were so many accounts of people starving in New York that the West African nation of Cameroon sent $3.77 in relief.

The Depression had a powerful impact on families. It forced couples to delay marriage and drove the birthrate below the replacement level for the first time in American history. The divorce rate fell, for the simple fact that many couples could not afford to maintain separate households or to pay legal fees. Still, rates of desertion soared. By 1940, there were 1.5 million married women living apart from their husbands. More than 200,000 vagrant children wandered the country as a result of the break-up of their families.

The Depression inflicted a heavy psychological toll on jobless men. With no wages to punctuate their ability, many men lost power as primary decision makers. Large numbers of men lost self-respect, became immobilized and stopped looking for work, while others turned to alcohol or became self-destructive or abusive to their families.

In contrast to men, many women saw their status rise during the Depression. To supplement the family income, married women entered the work force in large numbers. Although most women worked in menial occupations, the fact that they were employed and bringing home paychecks elevated their position within the family and gave them a say in family decisions.

Despite the hardships it inflicted, the Great Depression drew some families closer together. As one observer noted: "Many a family has lost its automobile and found its soul." Families had to devise strategies for getting through hard times because their survival depended on it. They pooled their incomes, moved in with relatives in order to cut expenses, bought day-old bread, and did without. Many families drew comfort from their religion, sustained by the hope things would turn out well in the end others placed their faith in themselves, in their own dogged determination to survive that so impressed observers like Woody Guthrie. Many Americans, however, no longer believed that the problems could be solved by people acting alone or through voluntary associations. Increasingly, they looked to the federal government for help.


How the Hitler Youth Turned a Generation of Kids Into Nazis

The Boy Scouts’ motto was � Prepared.” But nothing could prepare Max Ebel, a German teenager, for what happened after Hitler banned the Boy Scouts. As other boys cheered, the 17-year-old was surrounded by a gang of Nazi Youth—one of whom had a knife. Ebel’s refusal to leave scouting behind had just turned into a fight for his life.

It was 1937, and the Boy Scouts were one of many youth organizations on the Nazis’ verboten list. Now, every non-Jewish boy in Germany was required to be part of the Hitler Youth, the Nazis’ youth arm, instead. Ebel, a pacifist who distrusted the Nazis, refused𠅊nd paid the price.

The Boy Scout was harassed and thenਊttacked by a group of Nazi Youth. In an attempt to force him to join, one of the members stabbed him in the hand. Ebel fought back, grabbed the knife, and cut the other boy’s face. Later, realizing his life was in danger, he escaped Germany and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

Ebel was just one of millions of young Germans whose lives were changed by the Hitler Youth𠅊 group designed to indoctrinate kids into Hitler’s ideology, then send them off to war.

A group of boys leaving camp for a hike at a Hitler Youth summer camp in Berlin, 1933. (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

By the time Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, hundreds of thousands of kids were members of youth organizations like the Boy Scouts, which was invented in England in 1909 and quickly spread to Germany. But there was also another powerful youth movement afoot—one invented by the Nazis. Since 1922, the National Socialists had had a youth arm designed to train and recruit members for its paramilitary. As the Nazis became more powerful, their youth arm grew.

In January 1933, there were 50,000 members of the Hitler Youth. By the end of the year, there were more than 2 million. And as the 1930s progressed, the Nazis waged war on the groups so popular among German youth. First they banned children’s groups associated with political movements like Communism. And in 1936, they banned all youth groups—including the Boy Scouts𠅊nd forced members to become part of the Hitler Youth instead. Jewish children were banned from participation.

Banning scouting sent a message—obey, or be punished. It had a practical effect, too: Since other scouting organizations were banned, the only way for kids to get scouting experience was to join the Hitler Youth. As Germany hurtled toward war, children who refused to join were alienated, then punished. By 1939, over 90 percent of German children were part of the Hitler Youth organization.

From the sixth year of age, German boys have to join the Nazi organization of youth. Equipped with uniforms and flags, they undergo strenuous physical training that leaves them well prepared for the two years they will later serve in the Wehrmacht. (Credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

For the Nazis, the group had other benefits. Not only did it allow the Third Reich to indoctrinate children at their most impressionable, but it let the Nazis remove them from the influence of their parents, some of whom opposed the regime. The Nazi Party knew that families—private, cohesive groups not usually under political sway—were an obstacle to their goals. The Hitler Youth was a way to get Hitler’s ideology into the family unit, and some members of the Hitler Youth even denounced their parents when they behaved in ways not approved of by the Reich.

Though the Boy Scouts were banned, the Nazis co-opted many of its activities and traditions. Hitler Youth took part in typical scouting type activities like camping trips, singing, crafts and hiking. They went to summer camps, wore uniforms, recited pledges and told stories over campfires.

But over time, the activities changed. Though girls’ groups focused on things like rhythmic gymnastics and winter coat drives, the boys’ groups became more like a mini military than a Boy Scout den. They imposed military-like order on members and trained young men in everything from weapons to survival. And all groups included hefty doses of propaganda that encouraged an almost religious devotion to the Führer.

Alfons Heck’s experience was typical. As he told the Boston Globe in the 1980s, he couldn’t wait to become a full-fledged Hitler Youth member and relished marching, singing and attending rallies. “I belonged to Adolf Hitler, body and soul,” he recalled. It took him years to step away from that indoctrination after the end of World War II.

Adolf Hitler with Nazi party Hitler Youth at a 1935 gathering. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Some boys refused to join the Hitler Youth and took their youth groups underground. One such group, the Edelweiss Pirates, even attacked Hitler Youth members and worked to sabotage their activities.ꂫout 5,000 Edelweiss Pirates are thought to have defied the Nazis, scribbled anti-war graffiti on walls, and participated in various types of violent and nonviolent resistance. In 1944, six were hanged in Cologne without a trial due to their suspected involvement in the black market. Scouts in occupied countries resisted, too: In France, for example, Boy Scouts rescued 40 Jewish children from deportation, and inਊuschwitz, a group of Polish boy scouts resisted and even escaped the Nazis.

As the war ground on, it became clear that the Hitler Youth’s real goal was to create more soldiers for the Reich. Children who had been saturated in Nazi ideology for years made obedient, fanatical soldiers. Eventually, those soldiers became younger and younger. Starting in 1943, all boys 17 and older were forced to serve in the military.

In 1945, the desperate Nazi leadership began pulling younger boys out of school and sending them to the front. These inexperienced children were essentially conscripted for suicide missions𠅊nd if they balked, they were਎xecuted. Those who survived faced harsh treatment at the hands of the Allies who captured them.

After the war, the Hitler Youth was disbanded. Today, the group is considered one of the most chilling facets of the Nazi regime—proof that a totalitarian state can use children to feed its armies and further its hateful ideologies.


Youth in Opposition

The Nazi state tried to create a homogenous youth culture through its Hitler Youth organizations. However, some youth refused to participate. Sometimes this was a political or religious statement. At other times their refusal was based on adolescent rebellion or individualism.

Especially common in big cities, illegal youth groups rejected Hitler Youth culture. These youth groups tended to dislike conformity and militarization. They typically wore different styles of clothing and engaged in less structured social activities. Many illegal youth groups were for both girls and boys. Some even encouraged more fluid gender roles than the rigid Hitler Youth structure allowed.

These informal, alternative youth groups each took on their own characteristics. The Leipzig Meuten were a Communist-inspired anti-Nazi group. The rough and tumble Edelweiss Pirates sometimes physically fought with Hitler Youth members. The Swing Kids — an alternative youth group most prominent in Hamburg — danced swing and listened to jazz. They wore their hair long and dressed in an American or British style.

These rebellious youth ran the real risk of being arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in concentration camps.


Japan, the United States, and the Road to World War II in the Pacific 日本、合衆国、および第二次世界大戦太平洋戦局への道

Why did Japan begin World War II by invading China in 1937 and then widen it by attacking the British and Americans in 1941? Were these attacks the outgrowth of a Japanese state with a uniquely intense nationalism, or of a particularly coercive social order, or of economic and social inequalities, or had Japan by the late 1930s entered a stage of late capitalist development that naturally segued into fascism? Was there a direct causal connection between the West’s forced intrusion into Japan in the 1850s and subsequent Western pressure on Japan and its neighbors and the launching of Japan’s World War II in Asia in 1937? Various wartime and postwar Western and Japanese writers have advanced all of these views in discussing Japan’s involvement in World War II.

One cannot analyze Japan’s entry into World War II without discussing the broader question of why any country goes to war. Do leaders think through their reasons for beginning wars? What are their goals in doing so, their prospects of achieving those goals, the anticipated costs--in lives, in money, in destruction, in the war’s impact on their society’s values, even its very survival? Do decision makers have a reasonably clear view of how to end the war and how the postwar peace will be better than the prewar peace?

In the road to World War II, did Japanese military leaders ask themselves these questions before they invaded China in 1937 and before they attacked the British and Americans in 1941? And if Japan’s decision-makers did not ask these questions, or asked them but answered them incorrectly, why was this so? What was the impact of nationalism on their decision to go to war? To what extent did the political and military leaders who initiated Japan’s aggression in China and its attack on the United States and its allies let their assessments of their nation’s and soldiers’ superiority to potential enemies influence the decision-making process? To what extent did their interpretations, probably mistaken, of why Japan won earlier wars against China and Russia enter into the calculus?

Before describing Japan’s road to World War II, it might be best to lay out the five premises of this essay. First, before the Manchurian takeover in 1931-2, and perhaps even up until the mid-1930s, Japan’s foreign policy was not significantly different from that of the US or Britain or other powers. Japan was an imperialist state that operated within the constraints of what was acceptable imperialist behavior. Only after 1931, and especially after its aggression in China in 1937, did Japan leave that framework.

Elements of Japan’s Kwantung Army blow up a railroad in the Manchurian Incident of September 18, 1931, leading to the creation of Manchukuo

Second, Japan had legitimate grievances toward Britain and particularly America: these included Western refusal to accept Asians as equal to Europeans and North Americans, restraints on Japanese trade, unwillingness to allow the Japanese the same kind of freedom in Manchuria that Americans and British regularly took for themselves in Latin America and throughout the British empire, and the United States’ insulting polices toward Japanese immigration. Third, these grievances, aggravating as they were, did not make war with China, still less with the United States, a realistic choice for Japan. China had a population in 1937 seven times larger than Japan’s, and in 1937-41, the US GNP was five times greater, and its manufacturing output nine times greater, than Japan’s. The United States also had more highly developed levels of technology and greater access to raw materials. Japan undertook wars in China and against the United States that it could not win. Fourth, Japanese leaders like General Araki Sadao, who stated in an interview in 1934 that “three million Japanese armed with bamboo spears can defend Japan against any enemy,” let their chauvinistic views influence their decision-making. This was especially true in the case of the invasion of China—Japan’s leaders in the summer of 1937 were so sure of the overwhelming superiority of Imperial Army soldiers to Chinese ones that they thought the war would be ended by the new year. Fifth and most tragically for Japan, there was an alternative before 1936 that was not considered again until after Japan’s defeat in 1945: because Britain and America were more advanced economically and industrially, Japan benefited more from cooperation than confrontation with the two English-speaking powers. In fact, as one Japanese critic of militarism, Finance Minister Takahashi Korekiyo, pointed out shortly before his assassination by young officers in 1936, Japan’s army and navy themselves depended on American raw materials and technology—by going to war with the United States, the Japanese military not only would take on a far stronger country, but also would cut itself off from the economic benefits of resources Japan needed.

Japan entered the modern world when the Americans, and the then much more powerful British, forced open its gates in the 1850s. When the Western countries visited Japan in the mid-19 th century, they came not asking for trade, but demanding it. In the 100 years before Commodore Matthew Perry’s incursion in 1853, an earthshaking revolution had occurred in Britain, and then in continental Europe and North America—the industrial revolution. The West returned to Asia with new steamships, improved weapons, and a new attitude—an attitude that demanded Japan open itself to trade. The Western powers also worked together to impose the infamous “unequal treaties” on Japan: treaty ports (little Englands or Americas, serviced by Japanese servants of all sorts, many of whom were women who worked at night), extraterritoriality, tariff restrictions, and the most-favored nation clause. (Whatever Japan gave one power they had to give to all of the others.)

Japan’s responses presaged the cooperation-autarky dichotomy in later foreign policy debates, discussed below. One group of samurai advocated cooperation with the West—open the country to learn how to make Western weapons in order to defend Japan from the West. The other group advocated resisting the West no matter what the costs—forerunners of General Araki’s “bamboo spear” theory. In 1868, the former group came to power and Japan began to remake itself on the Western model—but keep in mind that the reform group’s goal in remaking Japan using Western models was to defend Japan from the West. Members of both groups were nationalists reacting to what they saw as excessive and unwanted Western interference in their country’s affairs.

The primary foreign policy goal of Japan’s leadership in the 1870-1900 period was to rid Japan of the unequal treaties both the government and public opinion objected to the treaties’ limitations on import duties and to the despised extraterritoriality. Thus, the newly nationalistic Meiji leadership undertook a host of reforms aimed at creating a Japanese state—to them Japan needed to be unified and strong in the face of the outside threat. The government pursued a “rich country, strong army” policy: a modern, Western-style army, a new taxation system, conscription, a centralized local government structure, universal education, national universities, a European-style legal system, a Prussian-style constitution, built model factories to import up-to-date Western industrial technology, and encouraged entrepreneurship among rural landlords and the urban merchant class. Two reforms in this process of state building stand out: the creation of an orthodox nationalist ideology centered on the emperor—reinvented tradition--and the creation of a Japanese language.

The ideology focused on the emperor as descended from the founding deities, as national father figure, and as the focus of the citizens’ loyalty. He became the symbol of Japanese nationalism.

The Meiji Emperor

The newly created elementary school system was used as the primary disseminator of this patriotism. But in 1873, Japan did not have a unified language to spread nationalism. People spoke local dialects that were often mutually unintelligible, and the literate few wrote in a variety of difficult writing systems that were totally unlike the spoken language. Debates over how to reform the language raged throughout the late nineteenth century. Finally around 1900, the Education Ministry decided on a new language: elite Tokyo Japanese became kokugo , that is, “national language,” not “Japanese,” and the writing system was based on this new language. These two reforms, the creation of a new nationalist ideology and of a new national language allowed the government to turn “peasants into Japanese,” to borrow Eugen Weber’s title of his book on the same process in France in exactly the same time period.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, these reforms were well underway. Japan had remade itself to the point that it was able to negotiate an end to the unequal treaties: Westerners in Japan came under Japanese law by the end of the century, and Japan finally regained tariff autonomy in 1913, over half a century after the limitations were imposed. But this did not end the Japanese quest for equality with the West. Even as Japan escaped its status as victim of imperialism, it joined in the European and American game—that is, Japan began to build its own empire, to be one of the perpetrators. The drive for empire can be better explained in nationalistic than economic terms: great nations have empires if we are to be a great nation, we need an empire. In 1879 Japan annexed Okinawa. In 1894-5, Japan won a war with China and gained another colony, Taiwan it also gained a huge indemnity from China and thus was able to take its monetary system onto the gold standard, a point of great national pride. Membership in these two clubs: the imperialist club and the gold standard club, reinforced Japan’s view of itself as a rising power.

In 1902, Japan also made an alliance with Great Britain, another sign of its success—another Asian first: an alliance with the world’s primary power of the time. In 1904-5, Japan fought a war with Russia, and won once again. This brought Korea into Japan’s empire, and Manchuria into its economic sphere of influence. These annexations of territory, when viewed from today’s perspective, look like blatant aggression however, they were well within the acceptable framework of Western imperialism. Britain, by signing its treaty with Japan in 1902, and then re-signing the pact after the war, endorsed the Japanese annexation of Korea. Theodore Roosevelt, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, mediated the treaty that ended the war the Treaty of Portsmouth signed in 1905 recognized Japan’s supremacy in Korea and thus the United States pre-approved Japan’s annexation of Korea (this was only seven years after the US had taken the Philippines from Spain and Hawaii from its ruling family, and three years after the United States military had brutally suppressed a Filipino independence movement.)

Theodore Roosevelt (center) with Russian and Japanese diplomats at Portsmouth

In 1905-6, the conflict between the cooperative and the autarkic schools appeared again. Japan’s military leaders, flushed with victory, pushed for larger military appropriations to build an even stronger army, nationalization of the railroad system for easier wartime mobilization, and greater funding for organizing the empire. Takahashi Korekiyo was one of the leaders of the opposition, that is, of the anti-militarist approach, because he believed that excessive military spending not only endangered Japan’s national defense, but also slowed its economic development. As early as 1884, the young Takahashi, in a memorandum to the finance ministry then in the process of inducing the Matsukata deflation, wrote that the duty of the Japanese government was to build a “rich country, prosperous people” rather than a “rich country, strong army.” In this memorandum he called for lower taxes even on luxury goods since high taxes cut consumption and thus demand, the provision of inexpensive capital to rural entrepreneurs such as raw silk producers, and the decentralization of economic decision-making because “not listening to markets leads directly to economic failure.”

In 1904, the government had sent Takahashi, who had begun his study of English at age ten in 1864, to London to sell Japanese war bonds, at which he was eminently successful. Foreigners provided 130 million pounds, 5 times Japan’s total 1903 governmental budget, by buying Japanese treasury bonds. (The list of purchasers is a who’s who of London, New York, and later Hamburg and Paris finance: Jacob Schiff, John Baring, Ernest Cassel, Otto Kahn, the Hamburg Warburgs, the London and Paris Rothschilds, Lord Spencer, and even Britain’s crown prince, later George V.) Takahashi learned three lessons in London and New York. Japan’s victory depended on British and American money and weapons (thus, his adherence to the cooperative approach). The costs of paying the interest and repaying the principal of these loans required fiscal prudence in Tokyo (thus, his opposition to new military spending and to the nationalization of Japan’s railroad system). Japan needed foreign capital for economic development (thus his support of E.H. Harriman’s plan to use American capital and equipment to develop Manchuria’s railroads). The two schools more or less fought to a draw between 1905 and 1914. On the one hand, Japan’s railroads were nationalized and the Harriman plan was rejected on the other hand, the government did not give in to the army’s strenuous demands to add two divisions for deployment on the mainland of Asia.

The conflict continued during World War I—this time over Japanese policy toward China. One group advocated a more autonomous Japanese policy from Great Britain and the United States on the Asian mainland. Japan should use loans to competing Chinese warlords and military intervention to gain what it saw as its deserved imperialist position in China. The Twenty-One Demands of 1915, the Japanese government’s attempt, in the absence of an Anglo-American presence during World War I, to become the primary imperialist power in China, and the Nishihara Loans of 1917-18, represented this view. Takahashi and others opposed this approach on three grounds: it alienated the Chinese government, with whom Japan should cooperate economically it aroused Chinese nationalism, which he feared would rebound against Japan in the future and it endangered Japan’s relations with Britain and America. In 1920, Takahashi, while serving as finance minister, not only criticized his government’s China policy, but even advocated the abolition of the army’s and navy’s general staffs because they undermined the democratizing government’s control over foreign policy. In 1923, he called for the appointment of civilian army and navy ministers. As the dean of historians of Taisho democracy, Shinobu Seizaburo wrote, “Takahashi was the leading representative of the bourgeois politicians who advocated civilian control of the military.” His China policy views won out temporarily, but efforts to control the military did not. Moreover, in the process he made powerful enemies his inflammatory memorandum was leaked to the army, which produced over 500 pages of critical responses.

Prime Minister Hara Kei was assassinated in 1921, and Takahashi replaced him as Prime Minister to oversee Japan’s enrollment in the Washington Treaty System, the symbol of international cooperation in the post-World War I decade. This system, which went into effect with the signing of the Washington Treaty in 1922, limited Japan’s navy (capital ships) to 3/5ths of the US and UK navies, required Japan to give up its leasehold of the naval base at Tsingtao in China that it had won from the Germans during World War I, limited American, British and Japanese bases in the Pacific, and required all signatories to “respect the territorial integrity of China,” a euphemistic expression which meant no further aggressive military intervention in China. Takahashi, with the support of most of his party and all of the opposition party, thus bought into a policy of cooperation with the United States and Great Britain over China. (Takahashi was not anti-imperialist, but realistically opposed Japanese empire building outside the Anglo-American framework.) Not all Japan’s leaders, and particularly not most of the army’s and navy’s leadership, agreed with this policy—that is, they still advocated a strong military and autonomy. But given the antiwar public mood of the 1920s, they acquiesced for the time.

Takahashi Korekiyo. Photo taken during the 1936 election campaign, approximately one week before his assassination

Under the façade of cooperation, several ominous portents appeared for Japanese who advocated internationalism. First was the spread of nationalism through the centralized school system. One can safely say that by the 1920s, Japan existed as a nation of Japanese. (Here again Takahashi bucked the tide. In his 1920 memorandum he also called for the abolition of the education ministry and of national universities, that is, he believed control over educational policy should be divested to regional government and in the case of universities, to private hands. He believed that local governments should run local schools and collect the land tax locally to pay for them). Second was the success of rising standards of living and literacy in creating a mass society. This, at one level, was a positive trend: Japan in the 1920s was more nearly democratic than at any time in its history before the allied occupation of Japan after World War II. But the creation of a mass society does not lead necessarily to peace—even democracies start wars. Third was Western, and particularly American immigration policy, toward Japan. The United States government practiced blatantly anti-Japanese immigration policies. Anti-Asian sentiment on the West Coast was particularly strong in the early twentieth century, and this had stimulated the Theodore Roosevelt administration to negotiate a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” with Japan in 1907-8 to limit Japanese emigration to the United States. It also played a role in the passage of the Immigration Exclusion Act during the Coolidge presidency in 1924, which barred all Japanese immigration into the United States—even from Canada. Added to this, Japanese immigrants to the US were prohibited from naturalizing as American citizens. And by this time, anti-Asian sentiments were not limited to the West Coast. Co-sponsor of the 1924 immigration act was Senator James Aiken Reed, a prominent Pittsburgh attorney. The powers, when they negotiated the Treaty of Versailles in 1918-9, which established the League of Nations, rejected a Japanese/Chinese proposal to add a racial equality clause to the treaty. Fourth, was Western foreign policy toward Japan. The United States, which had encouraged Japan’s activities up until and through the Russo-Japanese War, began to see Japan as a potential threat. The Philippines, part of America’s empire from 1898, was much closer to Japan than to the United States Hawaii, another American colony, was also vulnerable to a strong Japanese naval presence in the Pacific.

The fifth portent was the newly developed Anglo-American rapprochement during World War I. Britain and America, after a century of estrangement, realized in the course of defeating Germany that they had similar foreign policy interests. The two English-speaking powers engineered the Washington Treaty of 1922, and the London Treaty of 1930, the latter extending the naval armaments ratios for Japan, Britain and the US to other categories of ships, both to set up an overall security system in the Pacific AND to provide cover for Britain to terminate its alliance with Japan. Under the old treaty, Britain had agreed to maintain neutrality if Japan and the US went to war. The Anglo-Americans reasoned that Japan would not need the alliance if it were part of a regional security arrangement.

The cooperative policy worked in the 1920s, largely because key politicians like Takahashi, and Hamaguchi Osachi and Shidehara Kijuro, leaders of the Minseito, the other major political party of the 1920s, were committed to the Washington Treaty System. To finance ministers like Takahashi and the Minseito’s Inoue Junnosuke, this policy had the added benefit of allowing Japan to maintain fiscal discipline by avoiding a costly naval arms race since Japan’s economy in the 1920s was one-seventh of America’s, even a navy three-fifths the size of the US navy cost Japan four times more per capita.

1929 brought a bombshell to the region, and in fact to the world. In October the New York stock market crashed, and the Great Depression ensued. By 1931, reduced demand and thus reduced investment in new technology and facilities led to unemployment, underemployment and falling incomes everywhere. Worldwide, economies spiraled downward. Given the panoply of policy choices available in times of economic downturn, one is stunned to find that virtually every country in the world chose the wrong ones in the early 1930s. Rather than increasing spending, governments raised taxes and import tariffs, and balanced budgets, which drove their economies more deeply into deflation and depression.

Japan, with Takahashi as its finance minister, was a rare exception. In the face of the severe economic crisis of the first half of the 1930s, Takahashi undertook unprecedented exchange rate, monetary, and fiscal policies. He carried out a one-time devaluation of the yen to stimulate exports. He lowered interest rates and undertook deficit financing to stimulate domestic investment and demand. Japan came out of the depression by 1935, five years ahead of the United States. Several historians have written in recent years that the key political figure in Japan during the Inukai, Saito, and Okada cabinets, 1931-1936, was Takahashi Korekiyo, not the three prime ministers. Not only did he carry out these countercyclical policies, but he also put together a coalition of finance ministry bureaucrats, party politicians (mostly from the Minseito, that is, not from his own earlier party), small and large businessmen, moderate labor unions such as Nihon Rodo Sodomei, and even some army officers such as Nagata Tetsuzan, to create “the Takahashi Line,” a group committed to “the politics of productivity,” reliance on the United States and British Empire for capital, raw materials, technology, and markets, and crucially to resisting the rise of militarism and “unproductive” military spending.

Although the Takahashi line maintained an increasingly tenuous hold on power until February 26, 1936, the autarky group, or to use James Crowley’s term, the people who led “Japan’s quest for autonomy,” mostly army officers and so-called “new bureaucrats” and “new zaibatsu,” became increasingly powerful in the same half-decade. Military officers plotted and carried out an invasion of Manchuria in September 1931, and their actions met thunderous public applause at home. The mass society that had brought Japan democracy in the 1920s helped bring it something else in the 1930s. The various portents discussed above---latent nationalism, resentment over America’s treatment of Japanese immigrants, the increasingly unified British and American resistance to Japanese actions in China, and the suffering of many Japanese during the depression, came together to create a climate of support for the military—the men on horseback, those who had the easy answers—the men who advocated direct action, not weak-kneed (and rational) compromise. From 1931 until 1936, various segments of the military instigated overseas aggression, coup d’état attempts at home, and assassinations that changed the nature of Japan’s government and foreign policy. The military killed or silenced the people who advocated cooperation—the threat of assassination was a powerful weapon for keeping opponents in line.

Students of Japan have commented on how few voices spoke out against the rise of militarism, fascism if you want to use that word, in Japan in the 1930s. Many of Japan’s leaders (including important members of the mainstream and leftwing political parties) shared their right-wing countrymen’s resentments toward the US and the UK and segued from the cooperation to the autonomy camp. Even the socialists in the Diet (e.g., Asanuma Inejiro) came to support Japan’s road to war and war preparation. Many who did not move to autonomy/autarky were murdered: Prime Minister Hamaguchi in 1930, his Finance Minister, Inoue Junnosuke, Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi, and the head of the Mitsui Corporation, Baron Dan, in 1932 former Prime Minister Saito Makoto and Finance Minister Takahashi in 1936. It was with this in mind that the New York Times correspondent, Hugh Byas, entitled his book on Japan in the 1930s, Government by Assassination: right wing or military terrorists murdered three of five prime ministers, and a fourth escaped only when young officers shot his brother-in-law by mistake two of three finance ministers were killed, and the third died prematurely from ill health, thus avoiding the need for the military to assassinate him. Takahashi in 1931-1936 had fought the military constantly: at budget-making time and in between, because he thought that the military’s quest for political autonomy and economic autarky courted disaster. He correctly predicted it would lead to economic stagnation, inflation, and worst of all, war with the United States. The Tokyo and regional press frequently reported his anti-military rhetoric in this period (during one cabinet meeting, for example, he told the army minister not to speak like an idiot, and in another he asked the same general if there were really idiots in the army who thought Japan could defeat the United States in a war.) On another occasion, when told that a young army officer (who happened to be the son-in-law of the emperor’s chief military aide-de-camp) had publicly shouted, “Bury Takahashi,” he replied, “If all the lieutenants in the army shot me it would be overkill.” But such courageous stands against the rise of militarism were few--as one member of parliament, when asked on the floor of the Diet by Takahashi why he did not join the fight against militarism, put it, because “pistols are scary.” It was the paucity of people willing to stake their lives against the pistols that inspired the Marxist economist, Ouchi Hyoe, to write that Takahashi’s brutal murder in February 1936 destroyed any hope of stopping the military.

This did not mean that war was inevitable in February 1936—but it meant that the chances were much greater than they had been before that month’s coup d’état attempt, the last opponents of autarky having been removed by murder or the fear of murder. Takahashi’s successor as finance minister doubled the military budget in one year, Japan invaded China in 1937, and Japan started a war it could not win and could not end. The invasion of China was not planned aggression by the military high command—the war broke out over a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese troops in the suburbs of Beijing. (What Japanese troops were doing in the suburbs of Beijing is another story.) Japan’s military leaders, caught up in their own nationalistic rhetoric, decided to use the incident to punish the Chinese armies in north China—they believed that the Chinese soldiers could not possibly resist the Japanese, both for their modern weaponry and more importantly, their “Yamato damashii,”their Japanese spirit. But the Japanese generals were wrong—in spite of unspeakable atrocities (or maybe because of them), the Chinese soldiers fought well and over the next eight years, the Japanese military was unable to pacify China. One imagines Takahashi, as he looked down from the Buddhist Western Paradise, shuddering when he saw what his countrymen were doing.

The story of the transition from aggression in China in 1937 to the attack on Pearl Harbor is a complex one that includes an alliance with Germany and Italy—the alliance of the nations that believed they were excluded from full membership in the Western imperialist order--and the fall of France. But it is very important to keep in mind that the war in China was central to the Japanese decision to go to war with Britain and America. Since Japan’s generals could not accept the fact that the Japanese imperial army could not defeat Chiang Kai-shek’s and Mao Zedong’s soldiers in an army-versus-army conflict (although they should have understood the problems of pacifying a country with a continental scale), they had to find another explanation for Japan’s inability to achieve victory in China. The answer they came up with was Anglo-American support of China. The way to defeat China was to cut off its supply lines from the West—in other words, move into Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. There were other reasons that the Japanese army decided to move into French Indo-China, and then to attack the American, British and Dutch colonies—but one important reason was to outflank China, to cut off its connections with the allied powers.

The Japanese Empire, 1870-1942

One should keep in mind that it was in fact Japan, not China, that had benefited from these countries’ support. Japan’s primary source of raw materials like petroleum and scrap iron for its war in China, and of high-end technology like machine tools was the United States. In 1938 the United States (57.1 per cent), the United Kingdom and its empire (Malaya, Canada, India, Australia, 20.7 per cent), and the Dutch and Dutch East Indies (8.6 per cent) supplied 86.4 per cent of Japan’s imported war materials. The United States produced 60% of the world’s oil the Dutch East Indies less than 10% 55% of Japan’s oil came from the United States, 14% from the Soviet Union, and 10% from the Dutch Indies. I have a photograph of a dinner party held on December 7, 1939, at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, at which George T. Ladd, Chairman of United Engineering Foundry Company, entertained Colonel S. Atsumi of the Imperial Japanese Army and his entourage. UEF had built a factory to produce rolling mill machinery in Japan in 1938.

When Japan moved into the French colony in Indo-China in the summer of 1941, the United States responded by freezing Japanese assets in US banks, cutting Japan off from American scrap iron, petroleum, and technology—illustrating Takahashi’s warning about Japan’s dependence on the West. Denied access to US petroleum and iron, Japan had to look elsewhere: British Malaya for iron ore and the Dutch East Indies for oil. This led to the decision to attack Southeast Asia, and the United States bases in the Philippines and Hawaii to protect the Japanese navy’s flank. One mistaken step led inexorably to another, and the Japanese in 1941, while still bogged down in China, went to war with a country that had an industrial capacity nine times theirs—in fact, one American city, Pittsburgh, produced three times more steel than all of Japan did during World War II. Manchuria, envisaged as Japan’s industrial base for war, at the peak of its steel production in 1943, was out-produced by Pittsburgh, by forty times.

Which brings us back to the beginning. The Western imperialist impact on Japan set in motion a series of events: the rise of Japanese nationalism, of Japanese economic and military power, of Japan’s quest for empire, of Japanese emigration to America and elsewhere, and of the Western reaction to all of these things, that led almost a century later to Pearl Harbor. One cannot say that Pearl Harbor was the “inevitable delayed rejoinder” to Perry’s visit of 1853—far from it. In fact, as we have seen, Japan took two basic approaches Japan in its relations with the British and Americans. We have described them as the cooperative and the autarkic approaches. Unfortunately for Japan and the Asia-Pacific, those who advocated an autonomous, independent, militarized approach to dealing with the world won out after 1936, leading Japan into a cataclysmic and vastly destructive war that it was not economically, materially, or technologically equipped to fight. Only after Japan’s defeat in 1945, did its postwar leaders return to the cooperative policies of men like Takahashi.

Recommended citation: Richard J. Smethurst, "Japan, the United States, and the Road to World War II in the Pacific," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 37, No. 4, September 10, 2012.


Choose the correct option:

Question 1.
Where is the Wall Street Exchange?
(a) America
(b) Britain
(c) France
(d) Germany

Question 2.
Which country was defeated after the First World War?
(a) France
(b) Germany
(c) Russia
(d) Britain

Question 3.
The time span of the First World War was
(a) 1911-1914
(b) 1914-1918
(c) 1918-1921
(d) 1920-1925

Question 4.
The Nazi Party had become the largest party by the
(a) 1920
(b) 1925
(c) 1926
(d) 1932

Question 5.
Hitler became the Chancellor or Germany in the year
(a) 1931
(b) 1932
(c) 1933
(d) 1934

Question 6.
The country that dropped atom bomb on Hiroshima in Japan was
(a) France
(b) America
(c) Germany
(d) Britain

Question 7.
Who could enter Jungvolk?
(a) Ten-year-old boys
(b) Twelve-year-old boys
(c) Fourteen-year-old boys
(d) Eighteen-year-old boys

Question 8.
Who were the worst sufferers in Nazi Germany?
(a) Jews
(b) Poles
(c) Russians
(d) Gypsies

Question 9.
A bronze cross was given to the woman who produced
(a) two children
(b) four children
(c) six children
(d) eight children

Question 10.
The game Hitler glorified was
(a) wresting
(b) kabaddi
(c) hockey
(d) boxing

Question 11.
What was the response of the Germans to the new Weimar Republic?
(a) They held the new Weimar Republic responsible for Germany’s defeat and the disgrace at Versailles
(b) The republic carried the burden of war guilt and national humiliation
(c) It became the target of attacks in the conservative national circles
(d) All the above

Question 12.
Which of the following statements is false about soldiers in the World War I?
(a) The soldiers, in reality, led miserable lives in trenches, survived with feeding on the copra’s
(b) They faced poisonous gas and enemy shelling and loss of comrades
(c) All soldiers were ready to die for their country’s honour and personal glory
(d) Aggressive propaganda glorified war

Answer: (c) All soldiers were ready to die for their country’s honour and personal glory

Question 13.
The Treaty of Versailles (1920) signed at the end of World War I, was harsh and humiliating for Germany, because
(a) Germany lost its overseas colonies, and 13 per cent of its territories
(b) It lost 75% of its iron and 26% of its coal to France, Poland, Denmark and Lithuania, was forced to paycompensation of 6 billion pounds
(c) The western powers demilitarised Germany and they occupied resource-rich Rhineland in the 1920s
(d) All the above

Question 14.
What was Hitler’s historic blunder and why?
(a) Attack on Soviet Union in 1941 was a historic blunder by Hitler
(b) He exposed his western front to British aerial bombing
(c) The Soviet Red Army inflicted a crushing and humiliating defeat on Germany atStalingrad
(d) All the above

Question 15.
Why did Helmut’s father kill himself in the spring of 1945?
(a) He was depressed by Germany’s defeat in Second World War
(b) He feared that common people would mishandle him and his family
(c) He feared revenge by the Allied Powers
(d) He wanted to die because of the crimes he had committed during Nazi rule

Answer: (c) He feared revenge by the Allied Powers

Question 16.
Which of the following bodies was set up to try and prosecute the Nazi war criminals at the end of World War II?
(a) International Military Tribunal
(b) British Military Tribunal
(c) Allied Military Tribunal
(d) Allied Judicial Court

Answer: (a) International Military Tribunal

Question 17.
Why did the Nuremburg Tribunal sentence only 11 Nazis to death for such a massive genocide?
(a) Only these 11 Nazis were found guilty
(b) The Allies did not want to be harsh on the defeated Germany as they had been after WorldWar
(c) Germany promised never to repeat such an act
(d) Germany was ready to pay a huge compensation to the Allied countries for these killings

Answer: (b) The Allies did not want to be harsh on the defeated Germany as they had been after WorldWar

Question 18.
What was the most important result of the Spartacus League uprising in Germany in 1918-19?
(a) The Weimar Republic crushed the rebellion
(b) The Spartacists founded the Communist Party of Germany
(c) The Weimar government accepted the demands of the Spartacus League
(d) Both (a) and (b)

Question 19.
War in 1917 led to the strengthening of Allies and the defeat of Germany because of entry of
(a) China
(b) Japan
(c) the USA
(d) Spain

Question 20.
What was ‘Dawes Plan’?
(a) A plan which imposed more fines on Germany
(b) A plan which withdrew all punishment from Germany
(c) A plan which reworked the terms of reparation to ease financial burden on the Germans
(d) None

Answer: (c) A plan which reworked the terms of reparation to ease financial burden on the Germans

Question 21.
What gave Nazi state its reputation as the most dreaded criminal state?
(a) Extra-constitutional powers were given to the newly organised forces like Gestapo, the SS and SD
(b) People could be detained in Gestapo torture chambers and sent to concentration camps
(c) No legal procedures were there for the arrested people
(d) All the above

Question 22.
What was the slogan coined by Hitler when he followed his aggressive foreign policy?
(a) Messenger from God
(b) Conquer the world
(c) One people, one empire, and one leader
(d) we are Aryans, the real rulers

Answer: (c) One people, one empire, and one leader

Question 23.
When and among which countries was the Tripartite Pact signed?
(a) 1940, Germany, Italy and Japan
(b) 1939, Germany, Austria and USSR
(c) 1940, England, France and USA
(d) 1938, England, Germany and USSR

Answer: (a) 1940, Germany, Italy and Japan

Question 24.
Which incident persuaded the USA to join the war?
(a) Hitler’s attack on Eastern Europe
(b) Hitler’s policy of genocide of the Jews
(c) Helplessness of England and France
(d) Japan’s attack on the US base at Pearl Harbour

Answer: (d) Japan’s attack on the US base at Pearl Harbour

Question 25.
What was Hitler’s ideology of ‘lebensraum’ or living space?
(a) Multi-storeyed buildings should be built in Germany to increase the living space
(b) The world must be occupied enabling the material resources and power of the German nation.
(c) New territories had to be acquired for settlement
(d) Both (b) and (c)

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Sorge's Spy is Brought in From the Cold: A Soviet-Okinawan Connection ゾルゲのスパイ正体を現すーーソヴィエトと沖縄のつながり

The Sorge espionage case concerns one of the most spectacular instances of clandestine influence in the history of international relations. In the mid-1930s, the former Soviet Union enlisted the German national, Dr. Richard Sorge and four others in Tokyo, secretly to collect information on the likely policies of the Japanese government and to do what it could to alter them in favor of peace. This concerned above all whether Japan would join Nazi Germany in an attack on the U.S.S.R. Since Germany had already virtually defeated Russia in the summer of 1941, had Japan joined Germany it would have meant the probable victory of the Axis powers over Russia. As it was Russia and Japan maintained their neutrality vis-à-vis each other until the final months of World War II, one of the most amazing achievements of Soviet espionage and secret operations in history. Sorge did not survive the defeat of Nazi Germany, but the Soviet Union and its successors have celebrated his achievements ever since.

Sorge found the following four individuals to assist him in his mission: Ozaki Hotsumi, senior Japanese journalist on China and a clandestine conspirator hoping to prevent a Sino-Japanese war Max Clausen, who worked as a rich businessman in Tokyo in the export-import industry to cover his activities as the ring's chief radio operator for contacting Russia Branko Vukelic, a senior journalist for the French Havas News Agency and a major source of information for the ring on trends in international relations and Miyagi Yotoku, an artist from Okinawa who was living penuriously in Japan and assisting Sorge by translating Japanese documents into English. They were all crypto-Communists but each had personal motives for being involved in the work of the Communist International, motives that often clashed with the official policies of the Soviet Union. The diverse functions, abilities, and networks of the five principal members of the ring never melded easily, and the complexities of their personalities and interactions contributed greatly to the emergencies and misunderstandings that often influenced their work as spies. The Japanese government hanged Sorge and Ozaki during the war, Vukelic and Miyagi died in prison, and only Clausen survived the war.

Thus far in the history of the ring, we have comprehensive biographies and analytical studies of the lives of the two most prominent members -- Sorge and Ozaki. But we know rather less about Vukelic, Clausen, and Miyagi. Ideally we would like to know about their families, motives for supporting the internationalist leftist movement, and doubts (if any) about the overt leadership of the communists. We now have the excellent report of the Japan Times' journalist Edan Corkill on what friends and descendants of Miyagi have discovered about one of the most enigmatic figures in the Sorge ring. Corkill's most important informant on Miyagi was Tokuyama Toshiko, today aged 81 and living in Los Angeles, who knew her famous uncle, Yotoku, for only a short period before the war when they were living in Okinawa, Nonetheless, she has devoted much of her adult life to refuting the official Japanese line that Miyagi Yotoku was a "treasonous communist" in favor of the belief that he was an idealist, deeply disturbed by the racial discrimination he encountered in California and by the official Japanese mistreatment of Okinawans. Miyagi also disliked the Japanese contempt for the illustrious history of the Ryukyu kingdom (contemporary Okinawa) before it was forcibly annexed into the Japanese empire. These attitudes had as much to do with his growing communist radicalism as Bolshevik ideology.

Among the many contributions made by Tokuyama to our understanding of Miyagi's willing participation in the Sorge ring is the information that he was born and raised in Nago, Okinawa. This bit of data has come to have great ironic significance in contemporary times because Nago is the site of the American military base, Camp Schwab, and because the American military has chosen it as the future location of Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma (Okinawa) despite the enormous controversy this continued American presence has generated. Even though during the war and after Miyagi's arrest, the Japanese and Okinawans themselves shunned his relatives, today Nago takes credit for its early opposition to America militarism and the idealist model Miyagi exemplified. It is extremely doubtful that American soldiers based in Nago have any idea that Miyagi Yotoku ever lived there or that he devoted his life to fighting Japanese militarism, just as his Japanese and Okinawan descendants today have finally become mobilized to the threat to Japanese peace and prosperity posed by the American occupiers and their official Japanese allies.

Edan Corkill and his Okinawan informants have made several important contributions to our knowledge about not only Miyagi Yotoku but also the misuse of Okinawan territory by Japanese and American militarists. I strongly endorse his treatment of Miyagi as communicated to him by Tokuyama Toshiko. We must now hope that his work stimulates successors to come forward and reveal to us the details of the recruitment, activities, and destinies of Branko Vukelic and Max Clausen. We will then have a much fuller understanding of the role of the Sorge ring in the liberation of the Japanese people.

I am also amazed and gratified that 46 years after I first published my book about Ozaki (An Instance of Treason, Stanford University Press, 1964) and 20 years after Stanford issued a revised and updated edition, Iwanami is re-translating the book into Japanese. I hope this is a further sign that young Japanese are re-evaluating the role that the Sorge ring played during the war. CJ

Tokuyama Toshiko was 14 years old when she found out that her uncle had been a spy, and that he had just died in a prison in Tokyo. It was 1943 then, and she was too young to really know what the word "spy" meant, let alone allow it to alter her impression of the man she respected like a father.

Proud moments: Tokuyama Toshiko (above left, and below) at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo on Jan. 13, 2010, as she received the Order of the Patriotic War (Second Class) posthumously awarded to her uncle, Miyagi Yotoku, in 1964. She is pictured above with a Russian military attaché and Omine Rinichi, a journalist who helped her lobby Moscow to present the Soviet-era medal. (Yoshiaki Miura Photos)

Of course, for most people around her, and most of the Japanese population, in fact, the knowledge that between 1933 and 1941 Miyagi Yotoku had spied for the Soviet Union against Japan, and that he had been a member of one of the most successful spy rings in history, meant only one thing: that this Okinawa-native was a traitor to be despised.

But Tokuyama, who is now 81, could never bring herself to doubt her uncle. For the last two decades, in fact, she and a small group of supporters have worked, and to a large extent succeeded, in reversing history's appraisal of Miyagi.

Was he a dedicated communist willing to betray his own country for the good of the Soviet Union? Or was he a more complex character: an idealist with a strong social conscience, perhaps, or a pacifist hoping to avert war between the USSR and Japan? Gradually Tokuyama and others have challenged the once prevalent view of Miyagi as a "treasonous communist," and they have managed to present a more nuanced picture of the man. Their efforts were given an unexpected, if slightly awkward, boost this month.

Two weeks ago, Tokuyama traveled from her home in Los Angeles to the Russian Embassy in Tokyo. There, in a low-key ceremony, she was presented &mdash on her uncle's behalf &mdash with a Soviet-era medal, the grandly-named Order of the Patriotic War (Second Class). Russia's belated recognition of its former spy, prompted, some believe, by the intervention of either President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has precipitated another flurry of interest in the rapidly evolving legacy of a problematic man.

Tokuyama's affection for "Uncle Yotoku" has lasted a lifetime, but it grew out of just four months they spent in each other's company when Miyagi returned to his native town of Nago in Okinawa in 1937.

The catalyst for his visit was the 60th birthday of his father, Yosei (Toshiko's grandfather), and it represented one of the first times that the surprisingly itinerant extended Miyagi clan had all come together in one place.

Even the patriarch of the family, Yosei, had spent much of his life abroad, chasing work opportunities on farms in the Philippines, Hawaii and finally California. He had been a member of the first generation of Okinawans to venture to the United States, having arrived there in around 1906. Before heading abroad, he and his wife, Kamado, had two sons, one also named Yosei (Toshiko's father) and Yotoku. By 1919, both boys had joined their father in the United States &mdash Yosei found work on a farm and Yotoku studied painting.

In 1928, the younger Yosei returned to Okinawa and stayed there just long enough to find a wife and have one child &mdash the now elderly Toshiko. Soon after that he went back to the U.S. and then Mexico, leaving his daughter in the care of his parents. It was with them that she was living, aged 9, when her uncle visited from Tokyo in 1937.

Stamp of honor: Richard Sorge, the Soviets' Tokyo masterspy executed in Tokyo in 1944, was commemorated on this 1965 4-kopeck Russian stamp.

Tokuyama remembers him clearly. "He was so kind and gentle," she recalled, adding that while he was in Okinawa she often watched him as he did a little work as an artist.

"He made two paintings during those four months," Tokuyama recalled. "One was a portrait for a neighbor and the other was a funeral portrait," she said.

Miyagi had been working as an artist in Tokyo, too &mdash it had become an effective cover for the clandestine work that in 1933 brought him back from California to Japan: spying.

Miyagi can't have been too comfortable in Okinawa in 1937. He had left his colleagues &mdash in particular, Ozaki Hotsumi, a journalist with the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, and his boss, Richard Sorge, a Russian with a German passport who was working as a journalist &mdash at the very time that the political situation between Japan and China was reaching boiling point.

So much was happening that was of vital importance to Moscow: Regular military flare-ups between the Japanese and Chinese the threat of Japanese incursions into Siberia and the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact concluded in November 1936 between Nazi Germany and Japan that united the Soviet Union's western and eastern neighbors against it.

Tokuyama remembers the day that Yotoku's sojourn in Okinawa was cut short. Sorge, she said, sent a letter demanding the prompt return of his protege to Tokyo. "After he read it, Yotoku got my cousin to burn the letter," Tokuyama said.

Miyagi was gone shortly afterward, leaving behind two promises he was destined to break. One was to return a bag he borrowed from a painter friend, Terada Takeo, who went on to become a leading artist after the war. The other was to return to Okinawa to paint portraits of his niece and his other relatives.

Miyagi's adoption of the communist cause occurred while he was living in the U.S. in the 1920s, but the seeds of his proletarian social conscience had been sown as he grew up in Okinawa.

In his testimony to the Japanese police after his eventual arrest, in 1941, Miyagi explained, "I gained my first political consciousness at the age of 14 or 15 as I listened to my grandfather."

What his grandfather told him was about the history of their island home, which had been part of the Ryukyu Kingdom before it came under the influence of southern Japanese domains during the Edo Period and was formally annexed by Japan in 1879.

"My grandfather taught me that one should not oppress the weak," Miyagi told his police interrogators. "This provoked in me an antagonism toward the arrogant officials and physicians who came to Okinawa from Kagoshima (the Kyushu city from where Okinawa was administered)."

Miyagi headed to California in 1919, after discontinuing his studies at Okinawa Prefectural Normal School due to a chest ailment. Like many Okinawans who crossed the Pacific at the time, he hoped to find equality, freedom and opportunity in the United States. He did, to an extent, but he also found that many Americans looked down on him and his fellow Asian migrants. Around 1925, in Los Angeles, he established the Shakai Mondai Kenkyukai (Association for Research into Social Problems), a platform to try to improve their situation.

The group eventually changed its name to Reimei Kai (Society of the Dawn), and around 1927 it came under the influence of the Communist Party of the United States.

Nevertheless, Miyagi's political activities appear to have been tempered by his interest in art. Skilled at drawing since childhood, he had studied at two art schools since arriving America: the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and the San Diego Public Art School. And it appears there were some in his adopted country who recognized his talent. In the January 1930 edition of the New York-based journal, "The Art Digest," he is singled out in a review of an exhibition of 24 young Los Angeles-based Japanese artists: "Y. Miyagi is young, only 27 years of age. He has worked (in the United States) for the last ten years. He provides, in my opinion, the 'clou' of the show. He cannot be classified in any school. His portrait of a lady is beautifully designed and placed in the frame with rare sensitiveness. The sympathetic, intelligent and beautiful head is finely modeled and interpreted."

A year before that article, in 1929, Miyagi had found a way to combine his two passions. He and some friends joined together to form the Puroretaria Geijutsu Kai (Proletarian Arts Association) &ndash and although it is difficult to ascertain exactly how this affected his artistic output, it seems likely he had resolved to put his artistic talent to use as a means for social activism.

Meanwhile, as the artist Miyagi was beginning to flirt with communism in California, the man who was to become his boss, Richard Sorge, was plying his trade of espionage in Shanghai. While working as a journalist there for the German newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung, he established contacts with members of the Chinese Communist Party and reported to Moscow on the rising tension between the Chinese and the growing number of Japanese soldiers then being stationed in the country.

Sorge was recalled to Moscow in 1932, and it wasn't long before his handlers in the Red Army's Fourth Department (its military-intelligence wing), set in motion a plan to have their Asia specialist sent to the country that had emerged as the most important in the region &mdash Japan.

But as Sorge didn't speak any Japanese, it was clear he would need a Japanese assistant who was also fluent in English &ndash if not Russian or German &ndash and committed to Soviet ideals. The search led to the U.S., then to California &mdash and finally to a promising painter-cum-activist named Yotoku Miyagi.

Tokuyama, Miyagi's niece, is well versed on how her uncle responded to the request from Moscow, channeled through the American Communist Party in autumn 1932, that he return to Japan as a spy.

"He refused," she said. "He had no experience in spying and he asked them to find someone more suitable."

When they pressed him, she continued, "he sought a commitment that it was only for a short time, and that as soon as a replacement was found he would be able to quit." Needless to say, a replacement was never found.

Miyagi left America in October 1933, found a place to stay in Tokyo and laid low. Then, following instructions he had been given in Los Angeles, he became an avid reader of a local English-language newspaper called The Japan Advertiser &mdash a publication that seven years later was acquired by The Japan Times.

Art and artifice: A painting of Inagamurasaki, a coastal promontory near Kamakura, south of Tokyo, by Miyagi Yotoku. His work as an artist was convenient cover for his key role in the Sorge spy ring, and also provided him with a wide range of useful contacts. (Nago Museum)

Some time between Dec. 6 and 9, 1933, Miyagi came across the classified advertisement he had been told in Los Angeles to look out for in the Wanted to Buy section: "Ukiyoe prints by old masters. Also English books on same subject. Urgently needed. Give details, titles, authors, prices to Artist, c/o The Japan Advertiser, Tokyo."

He answered the advertisement and so came to be in contact with an intermediary, Branko Vukelic, who arranged his first meeting with Sorge.

The venue for that fateful encounter was an art museum in Ueno &mdash probably the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Sorge's identification was a black necktie Miyagi's was a blue one. And, just to make sure there was no mistake, they had each been supplied with consecutively numbered $1 bills.

Despite having no training, Miyagi took to spying quickly. By the time of his trip to Okinawa in 1937, he had become an accomplished pro.

For one thing, he had established a surprisingly diverse network of informants: Yasuda Tokutaro, a Tokyo physician who quizzed his prominent patients for information Yamana Masazano, a former member of the Communist Party who Miyagi dispatched to various locations to make observations of military facilities Yabe Shu, a secretary to an Imperial Army general named Issei Ugaki and others.

Miyagi's success in cultivating informants stemmed in part from his commitment to the communist cause. If he was merely a left-leaning artist in the late 1920s, by 1936 he had developed into quite an ideologue, reportedly expressing his disapproval of one Manchuria-based collaborator by saying that "According to my standards, he was not a genuine communist because he was going to Manchuria to make money."

Despite his stringent standards, Miyagi's network ultimately became so diverse that he even received notice of orders placed for Japanese soldiers' uniforms &mdash useful in determining whether the troops were to be dispatched north, to cold climes, or south.

His other job was to translate Japanese reports and newspaper articles into English for his boss, Sorge.

However, the first task that awaited Miyagi when he returned to Tokyo in mid-1937 was to analyze the reasons for a recent flare-up between Chinese and Japanese forces in China &mdash the epochal, so-called Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

Miyagi's ultimate advice to Sorge was that the confrontation &mdash which came about after a Japanese soldier went missing during night-time maneuvers &mdash was largely engineered by the Imperial Japanese Army to direct attention away from domestic problems in Japan, and also to provide an excuse for further expansion of Japanese territory beyond that already grabbed in the northern region of Manchuria. Sorge duly relayed the information to the Soviet Union by radio.

Family secrets: Members of the Miyagi family gathered in Nago, Okinawa, in 1937, during the spy Miyagi Yotoku 's visit to his home town at the time of his father's 60th birthday. His niece, Tokuyama Toshiko, then aged 9, is in the center of the front row, between her grandfather, Yotoku's father, Yosei, and her grandmother, Kamado. Her uncle Yotoku, then already a key member of Sorge's spy ring for four years, is on the far right. The writing on the photo reads: "In commemoration of the 60th birthday of Miyagi Yosei." (Tokuyama Toshiko Phtoo)

To the extent that the incident mushroomed into eight years of war in China, Miyagi's analysis was spot on.

For Sorge and his handlers in Moscow, however, there was another particularly interesting dimension to Miyagi's report: that Japan's latest engagement with China made northward military incursions into Soviet territory unlikely, at least for the moment.

As it turned out, Japan refrained from engaging the Soviet Union militarily for about one year. Then, in May and June, 1939, near the town of Nomonhan on the Manchurian- Mongolian border, the Emperor's forces launched a small-scale attack.

Sorge and his spies were unable to forewarn Moscow of the move, but once hostilities began, they swung into action.

Their key objective was to determine whether or not the attack was the first part of a large-scale push, or merely a tentative prod.

Working with one of his newest recruits, an Imperial Army corporal named Koshiro Yoshinobu, Miyagi determined that Japan was not committing large numbers of troops to the campaign and, most importantly, that no reinforcements were being sent from Japan. Hence, the conclusion was reached that this was not the start of a concerted campaign, and Sorge was able to convey as much to his Soviet masters.

Moscow, however, was unwilling to take any chances, and directed more than enough resources to counter the Japanese. By September 1939, they had prevailed.

Both Miyagi and journalist Ozaki &mdash who by then, extraordinarily, had been working for two years as an adviser to Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro (who had recently resigned) &mdash next predicted that the unfortunate outcome of the so-called Nomonhan Incident would likely deter the Japanese from messing with the Soviets again. This and other analysis enabled Sorge to advise his handlers, in September 1941, that Japan would not invade the USSR.

Some historians have suggested that this was one of the most important pieces of intelligence gained in any theater of World War II, because it allowed the Soviets to divert troops from the eastern regions of the USSR to the west, where they could fend off, and ultimately repel, a German invasion that at one point took the Nazis to within sight of Moscow.

Sorge of course was not entirely reliant on Miyagi and his other Japanese collaborators.

Crime scene: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno prior to its rebuilding in the 1970s. Research by Yoneda Tomoko, an artist who has made a series of photographs about the Sorge spy ring, suggests that Miyagi first met Sorge here, in December, 1933, before going on to work for him until he was arrested in 1941. (Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum)

One of his greatest achievements &mdash as a supposedly German journalist in Tokyo &mdash was gaining intelligence on Operation Barbarossa, the blitzkrieg advance that launched the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Through his contacts in the German Embassy, he reportedly gave Moscow prior warning of that operation &mdash and even correctly predicted its starting date to within days.

However, that intelligence &mdash which should have accorded Sorge enormous kudos in Moscow &mdash had been, unknown to him then, largely ignored. The reason was that his initial handler, the one-time head of the Red Army's Fourth Department, Ian Berzin, had fallen foul of the Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin, and been executed in 1938 in one of Stalin's many murderous and paranoid purges. Suspicion then fell on all Berzin's agents, and soon Stalin reportedly decided that Sorge was a double agent. After that, it is unclear how much of the information he provided to Moscow was acted upon.

By 1941, however, Sorge and his associates had more to worry about than how they were perceived in Moscow.

In September that year the Tokubetsu Koto Keisatsu (Special Higher Police) arrested one of Miyagi's associates, who one of their informants had told them was a spy. In a successful bid to clear her own name, that associate denounced Miyagi, who then named Ozaki and Sorge. By the end of October, all the members of Sorge's spy ring had been rounded up, and they had all made confessions.

Miyagi, who had never fully recovered from the chest ailment he suffered in childhood, died in Sugamo Prison in Tokyo in the middle of his trial in 1943. He was 40 years old. Ozaki and Sorge were tried, convicted of spying and eventually hanged, in 1944.

The tug-of-war struggle over Miyagi's reputation began almost as soon as he had passed away.

News of his demise and of his involvement in a spy ring arrived in his hometown of Nago in late 1943, in the form of a short notice in the Asahi Shimbun.

The local reaction was swift and ruthless. Miyagi was denounced as a traitor. The town office erased his family-registry entry, meaning that he had officially never existed, and the townsfolk ostracized his mother &mdashTokuyama Toshiko 's grandmother, Kamado.

"I was still a student and I had friends at school, so it was OK for me," Tokuyama explained. "But my grandmother had a terrible time."

Miyagi's niece never wavered in her support for her uncle. "We didn't even know what a spy was when we first heard the story," Tokuyama said. "It didn't matter what people said. To me, he was always my uncle and I never doubted him."

Vindication: At the Russian Embassy in Tokyo on Jan. 13, 2010, Russia's Ambassador to Japan, Mikail Bely, presents Tokuyama Toshiko with the Order of the Great Patriotic War (Second Class) awarded posthumously to her uncle, Miyagi Yotoku, in 1964. (Yoshiaki Miura Photo)

Nevertheless, things didn't improve for the members of the Miyagi clan who remained in Okinawa. By 1958, Tokuyama had had enough. On May 1 that year she left the island to join her father, who was then in Mexico.

"Because of the way the people in Nago were treating my grandmother," she said, "I decided I would never return."

Oddly enough, just one year before Tokuyama abandoned Nago, a chain of events was set in motion that would ultimately lead to a sharp reversal in her uncle's reputation.

In 1957, the French film director Yves Ciampi married Japanese actress Keiko Kishi. Three years later he made a film about Sorge and his fellow spies, titled "Qui êtes-vous Monsieur Sorge?" ("Who are you Mr. Sorge?"). Released in Europe in 1960, the film also came to the attention of then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who saw it in Moscow in mid-1964.

Ironically, at this point in history, Sorge's tale was largely unknown in the Soviet Union &mdash the lingering result of him having been denounced by Stalin. (The story was better known in the U.S., as the Occupation forces in Japan looked into it after the war, and released a report in 1949.)

Khruschev's reaction to the film is recorded in the memoir of a former Red Army general named Vyacheslav Bunin, portions of which were translated into Japanese and published in 2003 by the private Japan-Russia Historical Research Center under the title "Isshun" ("Moment").

According to Bunin, Khruschev saw the film and asked, "Why didn't we know anything about his activities? He's our spy. Why didn't we make such a great movie about him?"

The Soviet Premier commissioned a report and in late 1964 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet decided that the long-forgotten Richard Sorge would be made a "Hero of the Soviet Union" &mdash the nation's highest honor. The families of both Sorge and another deceased Russian member of the group, Branko Vukelic &mdash who had arranged the first meeting between Sorge and Miyagi &mdash would also be awarded the equivalent of ¥1.5 million each.

It was also decided that Ozaki Hotsumi and Miyagi Yotoku would be honored with the Order of the Patriotic War &mdash an award for service in World War II. However, the next-of-kin of the Japanese spies were not informed of this.

Mastermind: Soviet spy Richard Sorge pictured in Japan in 1940, a year before his arrest. (German Federal Archive)

The Soviet awakening to Sorge's story prompted a new wave of interest in the spy ring in Japan. One of the journalists to start snooping around was Rinichi Omine, a freelancer who, like Miyagi, hailed from Okinawa.

In 1990, Omine played a role in organizing an exhibition of paintings by Miyagi Yotoku that was held in Nago and Naha, Okinawa. According to Omine, it was this event that started to sway local opinion about the son they had renounced.

"When I first went to research Miyagi in Okinawa, the whole atmosphere was bad," the 72-year-old journalist recalled. "He was seen as a traitor. Some people said they had nothing to talk about. Others threw buckets of water at me."

But then, articles and essays written to coincide with the exhibition started filling out the details of Miyagi's life, in particular, the fact that his adoption of communism had stemmed in part from a desire to resist discrimination against Japanese and other Asian migrants in the United States.

In 2003, further reconsideration of Miyagi's life was made in a symposium held in Nago to commemorate the centenary of Miyagi's birth. The event, which was organized by Omine and others, was sufficient to tempt his niece Tokuyama back to Okinawa for a brief visit.

In 2006, a monument to the painter-spy was erected in a small park near Nago Museum. Articles in local newspapers at the time hailed him as "an artist who longed for peace," explaining that his ultimate goal in spying against his country was to avoid war between it and the USSR.

"With the monument, I felt we had managed to restore Miyagi's reputation in Japan," Tokuyama said.

What played on Tokuyama and Omine's minds, however, was Miyagi's reputation in Russia, the country, or at least the present-day manifestation of the country for which he gave his life.

Particularly grating was the fact that the Soviet members of the spy ring had been turned into national heroes.

About two years ago, Omine and Tokuyama began sending letters to Russia to try to ascertain what had happened to the awards that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet had earmarked for Ozaki and Miyagi in 1964.

Drawing on Bunin's writings, they directed their inquiries to Vyacheslav Sivko, president of the Regional Public Fund for Support of Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia, in Moscow.

Sivko's reply, which Tokuyama received in January last year, wasn't encouraging.

"In response to your inquiry, a specialist in the Department of Awards at the President of the Russian Federation explained to us that in the case of your uncle, who was awarded posthumously, the corresponding Order/Certificate of the President of the USSR was issued, but the actual medals and documents for them have not been produced, because the relevant person was no longer alive."

Not easily discouraged, Omine decided that there was only one course of action remaining: writing directly to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

With the help of a recently acquired Russian friend, Vera Varshavsky, and Tokuyama's daughter, San Diego-based Noriko Chung, the letters were prepared and sent in mid-2009. They were deliberately blunt, pointing out in particular Tokuyama's disappointment at the perceived unequal treatment of the Russian and Japanese members of Sorge's team.

The response came in late December. Omine received a letter from the Russian Embassy in Tokyo saying that the original medal intended for Miyagi Yotoku &mdash an Order of the Patriotic War (Second Class) &mdash along with its accompanying certification, had been "discovered" in a government building in Moscow. Both the medal and certificate were awaiting collection at the Tokyo embassy.

Omine and Tokuyama wasted no time. Omine flew in from his home in Okinawa Tokuyama from hers in Los Angeles.

It was on the morning of their initial appointment at the Russian Embassy that they spoke to The Japan Times.

In his excitement, Omine had left both the Embassy's letter and the charger for his digital camera at home. Tokuyama, by contrast, was composed, but nevertheless thrilled at the thought of receiving the medal.

"When I get the medal I will take it down to Nago and donate it to the Nago Museum, where Yotoku's paintings are kept," she said. "They have all his things now."

The ceremony took place on the afternoon of January 13 &mdash exactly 67 years since Miyagi died and 46 years since the Soviets had originally decided to honor him. The medal itself was a red enamel star emblazoned with a hammer and sickle and an inscription in Russian that read "The Great Patriotic War." The Russian Ambassador commended Miyagi's contribution to the "defeat of fascism," as a stout-looking military attache looked on. After thanking the Russians, Tokuyama Toshiko turned to the 20-odd Japanese journalists who had witnessed the ceremony.

"My uncle, Yotoku," she stated, "just wanted to contribute to peace."

Those interested in reading more about the Sorge spy ring may care to consult: An Instance of Treason by Chalmers Johnson (Stanford University Press, 1964 2nd edition 1990), Stalin's Spy by Robert Whymant (I.B. Tauris Publishers, 1996) Target Tokyo by Gordon Prange and others (McGraw-Hill, 1984).

Edan Corkill is a staff writer in the arts, entertainment and features department of The Japan Times . This is a revised and expanded version of an article that appeared in The Japan Times on January 31, 2010. His articles at The Japan Times can be accessed here.

Chalmers Johnson is the author of An Instance of Treason and of three books on the crises of American imperialism and militarism. They are Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006). All are available in paperback from Metropolitan Books. He wrote this introduction for The Asia-Pacific Journal.

Recommended citation: Edan Corkill and Chalmers Johnson, "Sorge's Spy is Brought in From the Cold. A Soviet-Okinawan Connection," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 6-1-10, February 8, 2010.

See also Roger Pulvers interview with Director Shinoda Masahiro on his film "Spy Sorge".


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