Home > politics > Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC)

Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC)

P1010462 (Large) Welcome to APHAFIC, the Association for Preserving Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China. This organization was started in San Diego by Nancy Lo, the current president, as a rebuttal to some of the historical inaccuracies coming out of Japan concerning the Japanese invasion of China in the early to mid 20th century. Nancy is wearing a floral dress in this photo. She was very good friends with Iris Chang (The Rape of Nanking) and felt this issue wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.

The mission of the Association is as follows:

The Association for Preserving the Historical Accuracy of Foreign Invasions in China (APHAFIC) strives to preserve the true history of the period of foreign invasions in China from 19th century to the end of the World War II. Our missions are:

  1. To promote, through educational programs and community actions, that war crimes shall not occur again and that world peace shall be maintained.
  2. To work toward the elimination of any act of inhumanity through promotion of the understanding of historical lessons.
  3. To commemorate the victims of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II in Asia.
  4. To raise the awareness of Chinese artwork looted during this period, which hopefully will lead to the return of displaced Chinese artwork to their rightful owners.

Last Saturday, there was a meeting and summer poolside party at her and her husband John’s house with guest speaker Richard Winter (pictured above with Nancy), who is one of only 67 living American veterans from Corregidor. As it turned out, another guest, Frank Mason, also fought in the same battle. Both survived the Bataan Death March (the Bataan Death March came before the surrender at Corregidor, my mistake) and were prisoners in Japan until the end of the war.

The party started out with a Chinese buffet and and exhibition from a Polynesian dancing troupe put together by the Taiwanese American Community Center. I took a few photos of their performance:

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After their performance,Professor Howard Cheng had some brain teasers for the audience, then Vice President Jack Meng had his chance to be a standup comedian and told a few jokes (he was actually really funny!) and another gentleman whose name I didn’t catch told a joke and sang a couple of songs. Then it was time for our guest speaker.

Richard Winter was with the American Army when the Japanese attacked the Philippines shortly after the raid on Pearl Harbor. General MacArthur fought a delaying battle until help could arrive, finally leading the troops on to the island of Corregidor in Manila harbor, with its guns trained on any ships entering or leaving. There came a point where the American high command, unable to send reinforcements, relieved MacArthur and left General Jonathan Wainwright in command to hold the island as long as possible.

The first beach invasion was met by the US 4th Marines, of which Frank Mason was a Corporal at the time. (He retired as a full Colonel) He said the Marines wiped out the initial Japanese landing which was followed by a second landing. The Marines were wiping that one out when the Japanese commander requested surrender terms. At that time, the Marines were told that Wainwright was surrendering to the Japanese high command so the tables were turned.

Richard Winter’s Army units were stationed on the other side of the island and had been beaten back by the Japanese in that area. Wainwright was afraid the Japanese would get behind the American forces which would have been slaughtered. The Marines had held up much better than the Army units but even Colonel Mason said that they would not have been able to hold out indefinitely.

After the surrender, Winter’s army unit was under Japanese army command while the Marines were held by a Japanese Naval submarine command who treated them extremely well that night. The next day, the submarine commander had to leave on a mission and the sailors wished the Marines well. But that was not to be their luck, as the Japanese army was brutal and killed with no provocation.

Both men were sent to Japan for the rest of the war. Richard Winter’s voice was very soft so I had a hard time to hear his entire story, but Colonel Mason’s voice needed no microphone. I was able to talk with him after the speech and he filled me in on a lot of the details.

He was taken to north of Osaka to work in the lead mines. He found the average Japanese workers to be fine; it was just the Army personnel that were brutal. The Americans would trade cigarettes for whiskey and better food, so they got along OK. Colonel Mason said one of his secrets to survival is that he volunteered for any extra work thrown their way. By doing so, he was given better food in order to survive. He also told me that near the end of the war, the Japanese army was training the POWs with broomsticks to resist the American invasion, saying that they would kill anyone who did not shoot Americans. The Marines couldn’t wait to get real guns and had it all figured out how they would kill Japanese, but it just showed me how desperate Japan was at that time to even consider giving arms to enemy POWs.

It turned out that Colonel Mason had other interesting stories to tell. He was on the USS Panay when it was in Shanghai and Nanjing. The USS Panay was sunk by the Japanese in December 1937 as Nanjing was about to fall. Colonel Mason was one of the survivors.

Another gentleman there asked if he had ever been able to forgive the Japanese for what they did. He said it took him a long time but he no longer harbors hatred towards them. However, he feels that until the Japanese government pays some sort of compensation to the “comfort women” and POW survivors, their behavior from that time will not be forgiven.

Both Colonel Mason and Frank Winter are 90 years old.

Though this wasn’t a big world event and won’t receive any press, I feel small gatherings like these help bring together Americans and Chinese as we remember a time where we were allies working together against a common foe. It also personalizes events most of us have only read about in books.

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  1. huaren
    August 31st, 2009 at 23:37 | #1

    Thx for this article, Steve.

    China estimated about 15-20 million Chinese people died during WWII. Over a 5 year span, that’s about 8000 deaths a day. The defeat of the WWII Japan was desperately needed by China. The U.S. victory ended untold suffering and people should not forget that.

    I saw a documentary on CCTV about a year ago on the Flying Tigers. Like Mason and Winter, these are amazing people.

    I have a number of Japanese friends who live in Japan. WWII is a very sensitive topic and we stay away from it. During one of my business trips to Japan, I had dinner with a Japanese colleague. After some sake, we started talking about Japan’s role in WWII. While Japan was the aggressor, they were victims too for having lost the war. He lived through some of it through his grandfather’s stories. I told him my grandparent’s house was destroyed by Japanese bombers. Five minutes into it, he started crying and apologized profusely.

    Regardless of whether we agree with Japan’s rationale for invasion of Asia, I think it is lot more apparent in Japan in their sense on the damage and suffering they wrought to the rest of Asia in WWII.

  2. Steve
    August 31st, 2009 at 23:52 | #2

    @ Huaren: What surprised me after talking with Colonel Mason was how nice he was treated by ordinary Japanese people while in Japan. He was also treated very well by the Japanese Navy. I’m beginning to think that it was just the Army and military government that was out of control and murdered people indiscriminately.

    My best friend is from Japan and she also freely admits the Army treated the Chinese and POWs atrociously. She along with her husband also thinks the Emperor system is silly. But I’m not sure just how prevalent that kind of thinking is in Japan. I do see a huge difference between older and younger Japanese, with the younger Japanese being much more open minded and willing to talk about the past accurately.

  3. Chops
    September 1st, 2009 at 00:07 | #3

    Speaking of historical accuracy, is the official death toll for the Nanjing Massacre really that high?

    I mean it’s stated to be much higher than the estimated (and maybe conservative) death toll of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings combined, which would make the Japanese army a more efficient killing machine than the bombs themselves.

  4. huaren
    September 1st, 2009 at 00:31 | #4

    Hi Steve, #2,

    It is an encouraging sign for humanity that people can forgive. 🙂

  5. huaren
    September 1st, 2009 at 00:50 | #5

    Hi Chops, #3,

    Could you elaborate about Nanjing Massacre numbers being high?

  6. September 1st, 2009 at 04:08 | #6

    @Chops – I don’t know the exact numbers in your argument, but I don’t see how it is relevant. Does it make it any less criminal if the atomic bombs killed more than the Nanjing massacre? They are 2 completely different events.

    From my point of view, the only problem with the Nanjing massacre is that it has become such a strong symbol that people forget there was much more than that.There were many smaller massacres during Japanese occupation, especially in the years after 1937, when there was guerrila fighting with in extended areas, and Japanese made cruel examples of civilians in the villages to stop them from helping the partisans.

    Having said this, the KMT and the mintuan did similar cruelties to civilians in their anihilation campaigns against the early Soviets, and so did imperial armies before them. This doesn’t make Nanjing massacre any more justifiable of course, but I just think it is worth it to remember: that crimes against civilians were not a particular feature of the Japanese people but rather a common tactic of militarists/fascists of all races in those terrible times. And that most Japanese were not informed and their opinion was not asked about the operations in Nanjing, just as most Chinese had no say in the operations of the KMT troops.

    NOTE: when I say “similar cruelties” I am not speaking of numbers (I have no statistics). I am just speaking of deliberate killing/raping of civilians.

  7. Chops
    September 1st, 2009 at 06:08 | #7

    hi huaren & Uln,
    there’s no doubt a massacre took place or that many Nanjing citizens died,
    but if APHAFIC represents historical accuracy, then pursuit of the truth still counts, and as Uln said, even a smaller no. of victims is still a massacre.

    There are various estimates, but Iris Chang’s research claim a typical figure of 300,000 dead in Nanjing.
    Of course, Japanese sources would dispute that with a lower death toll.

    Comparatively, Hiroshima deaths from the bomb was about 140,000 and 74,000 for Nagasaki according to http://cyberschoolbus.un.org/dnp/sub2.asp?ipage=hiroshimanagasaki

    As I’m unsure how the soldiers could be deadlier than the bombs, with 300,000 appearing to be the upper bound and other lower estimates, i’m not sticking with any particular figure as yet.

  8. pug_ster
    September 1st, 2009 at 06:45 | #8

    You know, I’ll be the devil’s advocate and say that why there are not many Japanese Generals who are responsible for the war in the first place wasn’t prosecuted for war crimes like many of the Nazi counterparts. I mean Hitler’s counterpart in the east Emperor Hirohito must’ve have some responsibility for this whole atrocity in China yet he seems to got off Scott free. Maybe if Japan start acknowledging these war crimes would probably mean trouble for their Chrysanthemum Throne.

  9. Raj
    September 1st, 2009 at 06:58 | #9

    pug_ster

    I’ll be the devil’s advocate and say that why there are not many Japanese Generals who are responsible for the war in the first place wasn’t prosecuted for war crimes like many of the Nazi counterparts.

    You mean that most of the Japanese military leaders who were involved were tried? Maybe. It’s arguable that the courts in Europe and Asia sucked up more people than they should have.

    I mean Hitler’s counterpart in the east Emperor Hirohito must’ve have some responsibility for this whole atrocity in China yet he seems to got off Scott free. Maybe if Japan start acknowledging these war crimes would probably mean trouble for their Chrysanthemum Throne.

    The former emperor is long dead, so I don’t see how it would affect his descendents. No one in their right minds would blame the children for the actions of the parents. Moreover even if there was a smoking gun no one will find it now. As things stand I don’t believe there’s conclusive evidence that Hirohito was anything like a Hitler. The guilt of the Army officers is much clearer, though.

  10. September 1st, 2009 at 07:15 | #10

    A number of VERY inaccurate statements. Mr Mason’s story, if as stated in your report, is very strange. Feel free to contact me.

  11. pug_ster
    September 1st, 2009 at 13:02 | #11

    @Raj #9

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirohito

    First of all, Hirohito lived pretty long and died in 1989. Second, there are questions not just about him, but there are many of the people in the royal family who served in the war that was not charged for war crimes. If he and his royal family was not involved in Japan’s military, what did they do from the Invasion of Manchuria to the end of WWII? Twiddling their thumbs? I never said that their heirs of the throne should be charged, but there will be questions that if these charges of war crimes are true, then the Chrysanthemum Throne is considered tainted.

  12. Raj
    September 1st, 2009 at 13:30 | #12

    pug_ster

    What’s the relevance of the Wikipedia link? I know who he was. Also, what is the signifiance of the fact he only died in 1989?

    What did the Imperial Family do during the war? What did it do before? There were long periods of time in Japanese history where it had no real involvement in the running of the country, much like those Chinese emperors who lived in isolation in the Forbidden City. Even if they were sent paperwork or briefed about what was happening, they were expected to give a rubber-stamp (and often weren’t told the truth). Maybe there was real involvement, agreement or even direction from the Imperial Family as to the war, but it’s quite conceivable all the important decisions were made by the politicians and generals.

    I understand that some people would see the Chrysanthemum Throne as tainted, but then I have a feeling they’d do so already. As I said, there’s no realistic chance of new, conclusive evidence being unearthed that would prove the former emperor’s involvement. People will have to form their views based on what is already in the public domain.

  13. pug_ster
    September 1st, 2009 at 14:45 | #13

    Raj,

    What did the Imperial Family do during the war? What did it do before? There were long periods of time in Japanese history where it had no real involvement in the running of the country, much like those Chinese emperors who lived in isolation in the Forbidden City. Even if they were sent paperwork or briefed about what was happening, they were expected to give a rubber-stamp (and often weren’t told the truth).

    First of all, comparing the Chinese Dynasty and the Japanese Monarchy is like comparing apples and oranges. Second, if you have any proof that the Japanese Monarchy rubber stamping policies, then please show some proof.

    Maybe there was real involvement, agreement or even direction from the Imperial Family as to the war, but it’s quite conceivable all the important decisions were made by the politicians and generals.

    Most of the Japanese generals and commanders who are charged for war crimes has no ties to the Royal family. However, there are many people who are from the Royal family who are involved in the WWII war effort.

    – Hirohito’s brother, Prince Chichibu, according to wikipedia. “Prince Chichibu Yasuhito was subsequently appointed battalion commander of Thirty-First Infantry Regiment in August 1937; promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1938; and finally to colonel in August 1939. During the war, he was involved in combat operations, and was sent to Manchukuo before the Nomonhan incident and to Nanjing after the Nanjing massacre.”

    – Hirohito’s cousin Prince Fushimi Hiroyasu was “Chief of Staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service used strategic bombing against Chinese cities including Shanghai and Chongqing. The bombing of Nanjing and Guangzhou, which began on September 22-23, 1937, resulted in widespread international condemnation of Japan and a resolution against Japan by the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League of Nations.”

    – Hirohito’s cousin Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda was “held executive responsibilities over Unit 731 in his role as chief financial officer of the Kwantung Army. Unit 731 conducted biological weapons research on human subjects with a variety of bacterial cultures and viruses during World War II. According to Daniel Barenblatt, Takeda received, with Prince Mikasa, a special screening by Shiro Ishii of a film showing imperial planes loading germ bombs for bubonic plague dissemination over the Chinese city of Ningbo in 1940.”

    – Hirohito’s Uncle Prince Kan’in Kotohito “During his mandate, the Imperial Japanese Army has been accused of committing many exactions against Chinese civilians including the Nanking massacre and the use of chemical and bacteriological weapons. Prince Kan’in transmitted to the Army the emperor’s directive (rinsanmei) authorizing the use of chemical weapons on July 28, 1937. He transmitted a second order on September 11 authorizing the deployment of special chemical warfare units to Shanghai.[2] On April 11, 1938, Directive Number 11 was issued in his name, authorizing further use of poison gas in Inner Mongolia.”

    – Hirohito’s Uncle Prince Asaka Yasuhiko “In November 1937, Prince Asaka became temporary deputy commander for Japanese forces outside Nanjing, then capital of China. As deputy for the ill General Matsui, he was nominally commander of the final assault on Nanjing between December 2 and 6, 1937. The Prince allegedly issued an order to “kill all captives,” thus providing official sanction for what became known as the “Nanjing Massacre” or the “Rape of Nanking” (December 10, 1937 – February 10, 1938).”

    – Hirohito’s Uncle Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko, “While he was commander of the Army Air service, he ordered massive bombing of Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Chongqing. In 1937, the bombings of Nanjing and Guangzhou led to a resolution of protest by the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League of Nations. According to a memo discovered by historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Higashikuni also authorized the use of poison gas against Chinese on 16 August 1938.”

    And none of them are charged with war crimes.

  14. September 1st, 2009 at 18:02 | #14

    I remember a former POW who worked on the Burma Railway visiting my school when I was 16 or so. Chap started out talking about how the power of prayer had got him through it all, but how he also still hated the Japanese with a passion, and regarded the A-Bombs as having saved his life, as he believed that the Japanese were preparing to massacre the POWs.

  15. Raj
    September 1st, 2009 at 19:23 | #15

    pug

    First of all, comparing the Chinese Dynasty and the Japanese Monarchy is like comparing apples and oranges.

    In regards to the point I made, it’s not comparing apples and oranges. And there is no such thing as “the Chinese Dynasty”.

    And none of them are charged with war crimes.

    What does that have to do with allegations that the emperor was a key figure in the way the war unfolded?

    By the way, Wikipedia is an unreliable website so please don’t regurgitate it verbatim even if I might not dispute the point you wish to make. Just make it and trust me to do my own research.

  16. pug_ster
    September 1st, 2009 at 19:44 | #16

    @Raj,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynasties_in_Chinese_history

    You mean that the Dynasties in Chinese history are not the Chinese Dynasty? Now you are trying to correcting me instead of talking about the topic at hand.

    What does that have to do with allegations that the emperor was a key figure in the way the war unfolded?

    By the way, Wikipedia is an unreliable website so please don’t regurgitate it verbatim even if I might not dispute the point you wish to make. Just make it and trust me to do my own research.

    Answering a question with another question. That’s a good way to debate. Whatever, that’s no point in debating with you. There’s nothing to debate about because you are very good at dodging questions.

  17. Raj
    September 1st, 2009 at 21:01 | #17

    Now you are trying to correcting me instead of talking about the topic at hand.

    There is no such thing as “the Chinese dynasty”, and that’s an important point because there were a heck of a lot of them and it helps you remember that the emperors all ruled China differently. Now if you wanted to make a point that the Chinese and Japanese emperors ruled differently at certain points in time, I might be able to follow you, but implying that across the thousands of years of history there were never similiarities in terms of how restricted they were in ruling their countries is just barmy.

    Answering a question with another question. That’s a good way to debate.

    You didn’t ask any questions! You just dumped some text from Wikipedia down and then made a point that had nothing to do with the issue we’d previously been talking about, which is Hirohito’s alleged involvement in the war.

    Whatever, that’s no point in debating with you. There’s nothing to debate about because you are very good at dodging questions.

    Don’t sulk because you can’t even remember what you were talking about five minutes ago.

  18. Steve
    September 1st, 2009 at 21:11 | #18

    This article by Karel van Wolferen talks about how the Japanese government structure was set up by Yamagata Aritomo back during the Meiji Restoration and continues to this day. It might help answer some of the questions concerning the Royal Family’s role in the government during the war.

  19. Raj
    September 1st, 2009 at 21:23 | #19

    By the way, Steve, it seems unfortunate that this organisation chose a name that made them sound like an arm of the Chinese Propaganda Ministry. Did it start off with only Chinese members or something? Honestly if I’d been a founding member I’d have pushed them to go with something else.

    I’m beginning to think that it was just the Army and military government that was out of control and murdered people indiscriminately.

    Out of curiosity what did you think before?

  20. Steve
    September 1st, 2009 at 21:36 | #20

    @ Raj #19: The organization was started by Chinese Americans (mostly those whose parents came with the KMT to Taiwan after the war) and today I’d say 90% of the membership is of Chinese ancestry. There is still a lot of anger among the community here about the way the Japanese government has treated the historical record concerning the war. People get very emotional just discussing it. I can’t say I have a problem with the name; it seems pretty accurate for describing the mission of the organization.

    I used to think that the POWs in Japan were mistreated and hated by the general public considering all the propaganda they had been exposed to from the government. I’ve always considered the Japanese Navy to be very professional so I wasn’t as surprised that they were treated well, but a little surprised that the Japanese naval personnel understood how they would be treated by the Army and were sympathetic towards the Americans.

    I haven’t spent as much time in Japan as I have in Taiwan or China, but my perception is that the younger generation there is very different from the older generation. My generation of Japanese are somewhere in the middle. I’ve enjoyed working with the younger generation when given the opportunity and didn’t find them that difficult to relate to, though harder than relating to Chinese because of the more indirect culture in Japan. I have to make more adjustments to my way of dealing with people in Japan based on our cultures.

    Because my best friend was from Hiroshima, I learned a lot through knowing her in college and over the years so I had an advantage compared to most newcomers. One of my uncles is Japanese American, born in an internment camp during the war but he’s 100% American with really no Japanese cultural traits.

  21. Raj
    September 1st, 2009 at 21:57 | #21

    I can’t say I have a problem with the name; it seems pretty accurate for describing the mission of the organization.

    In saying that there is one interpretation of history and that’s it? Not suggesting that one could argue the Japanese invasion of China was intended to bring progress and happiness. But I very much take exception to an organisation with a title that suggests there is such a thing as absolute truth when it comes to the past.

    I used to think that the POWs in Japan were mistreated and hated by the general public considering all the propaganda they had been exposed to from the government.

    But we pumped lots of propaganda on our public too – even in cartoons. You wouldn’t have thought we treated POWs that badly, would you? Or maybe Americans did, I don’t know.

    my perception is that the younger generation there is very different from the older generation

    I’ve found that the older generation is more in the anti-war camp, whereas younger Japanese are more open to the idea of Japanese troops fighting overseas again even if they’re not cheering for it. This will probably becoming increasingly so as memories of the war fade.

  22. Steve
    September 1st, 2009 at 22:11 | #22

    Raj, I guess I have a different perception of the name than you do as it doesn’t seem to be touting one interpretation of history to me. Historical accuracy is always something to strive for. Many of their speakers were at Nanjing or in China at the time of the war. I remember Nancy showing me a book written by a Dutch lady who was an adolescent in Nanjing during the massacre (I believe she passed away recently) who wrote of her experiences there. I’m a big believer in taking advantage of personal stories from those times before all these people pass away. There just aren’t that many WWII survivors left these days.

    Propaganda? Are you trying to tell me that all Japanese men aren’t short with round glasses and buck teeth??? 😛

    Seriously, I’ve heard some pretty bad stories of POW treatment by the Japanese. Greg “Pappy” Boyington’s book goes into detail about his POW days and of course there’s the Bridge on the River Kwai, etc. I think the level of propaganda in Japan during the war dwarfed anything from the allied side. Japanese soldiers from that time have said they were taught that Chinese people (along with African Americans) were a lower species, more like an animal than a human, so to kill them was no worse than killing any other animal. Many of these same soldiers have been very active in their older days promoting peace between China and Japan and have volunteering their time and service to helping make up for some of the things they did as young men.

    My perception of younger Japanese is actually the opposite of yours. Because they have traveled extensively and are connected more closely with other cultures, they don’t see themselves as being so “unique” a culture or so different from the rest of the world. They are less “indirect” than the older generation and less formal. It seemed to me that they wanted Japan to be like every other nation; for Japan to be ‘normal’. I’ve found that it’s quite easy for me to relate to them.

  23. Chops
    September 2nd, 2009 at 03:42 | #23

    The A-Bomb doesn’t discriminate between friend and foe. POWs were also killed in Hiroshima.

    http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=63750

  24. Raj
    September 2nd, 2009 at 06:48 | #24

    Steve

    Historical accuracy is always something to strive for.

    Maybe, but it’s highly arrogant to believe in absolutes. And you have to start from the assumption your views might be wrong/flawed.

    Seriously, I’ve heard some pretty bad stories of POW treatment by the Japanese.

    Who are “the Japanese”? We were talking about the general public. If you’re talking about abuse from prison guards, etc then I know all about that.

    My perception of younger Japanese is actually the opposite of yours. Because they have traveled extensively and are connected more closely with other cultures, they don’t see themselves as being so “unique” a culture or so different from the rest of the world. They are less “indirect” than the older generation and less formal. It seemed to me that they wanted Japan to be like every other nation; for Japan to be ‘normal’.

    Err, you’ve just proved my point. It’s “normal” for a country to be willing to deploy its forces overseas when the time requires it.

  25. September 2nd, 2009 at 10:20 | #25

    It would be interesting if the Association looks at the historical accuracy of accounts of what the Chinese did during the Japanese invasion of China. In Europe, some (but not all) countries occupied by the Nazis and the Soviets have undergone deep and painful self examination about their citizen’s role as collaborators and accomplices in genocide. In China, this has not happened because many of the guilty later became part of the CPC ‘united front’.
    There is little said about the Japanese occupation years in Beijing and Shanghai. Many Chinese individuals and organisations were Hirohito’s willing helpers. Many of the KMT generals and warlords actively worked and/or traded with the Japanese. The Taiwanese (Formosans) were conscripted into the Japanese army and along with the Koreans perpetrated some of the worst acts of barbarity against other Asian people and Allied POWs.

  26. Steve
    September 2nd, 2009 at 18:40 | #26

    @ Raj #24: Raj, I agree with you to beware of absolutes, but I still don’t see anything in the name of this organization that talks about absolutes. And I also do not believe in the present day “balanced” media stories. What I mean by that was better stated by Chuck Klosterman in his book “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” in the chapter titled “What I Know I Read in the Papers”. Klosterman had years in the newspaper business and talks about how stories are actually written (compared to how people perceive them to be written). At one point, he says that if a reporter actually sees a person shoot someone in the head, he still has to report on the “alleged” murder and give both sides of the story, including the murderer saying he never shot anyone. I think this is absolutely ridiculous. You’re supposed to state what actually happened after researching it, not come up with some “made up” story to sound like you’re balanced.

    What happened in Nanjing is disputed by many Japanese reactionaries. There’s only one problem; we have film footage from those times, numerous eyewitness accounts and even accounts from some of the Japanese soldiers who were there. For me, that’s pretty “absolute”. How do you start by assuming that your views are “wrong/flawed” when all the evidence including endless eyewitness accounts from both sides shows that your views are not “wrong/flawed” at all?

    When I used to call on Motorola in Mesa, Arizona, the facility manager at that time (mid ’80s) had been in the Army during the war and had been a part of the liberation force in Shanghai. He personally saw the hospitals where the Japanese had done all sorts of medical experiments using Chinese as guinea pigs. He SAW it! To me, that’s an absolute. To you, it may not be.

    The prison stories were about the guards and commanders, but I also assumed (without any research on my part) that the Japanese public had heard enough propaganda to treat enemy prisoners poorly when there was interaction between the two. My assumption was incorrect based on what I heard from this particular prisoner.

    “Err, you’ve just proved my point. It’s “normal” for a country to be willing to deploy its forces overseas when the time requires it.”

    I agree. Part of the DPJ platform was to turn Japan into a “normal” country. What that will actually imply is up for speculation since no one has any idea how they’ll govern. If they intend to be less dependent on the USA for military protection, they’ll have to take on more of those responsibilities themselves. That would mean beefing up their military. On the other hand, they also desire an end to refueling support of US Naval ships engaged in the Afghanistan conflict. There are a lot of contradictions in their party platform since they are really an amalgamation of two different and distinct political divisions.

  27. Steve
    September 2nd, 2009 at 23:02 | #27

    Thanks to Roger Mansell for the correction to the story. The Bataan Death March took place before the surrender of Corregidor and I made an assumption there. It was solely my mistake. I’m also checking the name of the retired Colonel who was at the meeting. It seems I remembered it incorrectly so I’m getting confirmation.

  28. hzzz
    September 3rd, 2009 at 23:10 | #28

    “You know, I’ll be the devil’s advocate and say that why there are not many Japanese Generals who are responsible for the war in the first place wasn’t prosecuted for war crimes like many of the Nazi counterparts. I mean Hitler’s counterpart in the east Emperor Hirohito must’ve have some responsibility for this whole atrocity in China yet he seems to got off Scott free. Maybe if Japan start acknowledging these war crimes would probably mean trouble for their Chrysanthemum Throne”

    If you want to blame anyone for not persecuting the Japanese Emperor it would be general Douglas MacArthur, who oversaw the rebuilding of Japan after WWII. Although you can argue that MacArthur was the person who transformed modern Japan, he and his team not only protected the Japanese imperial family but also people involved with the biological testing facilities in Manchu China, which Steve mentioned in post #26. In exchange, the US military was able to gather all of the human medical testing intelligence which the Japanese gathered.

    In many ways I think MacArthur was very smart to have rewritten some of the history and protected the Japanese imperial family who at the very least was perfectly aware what Tojo was doing. The parts of history which were rewritten essentially framed Tojo as the key decision maker rather than the emperor, a popular belief among today’s politically/historically ignorant. Although today the Japanese imperial families are mere figureheads, that was not the case before WWII.

    MacArthur was smart because he understood one thing which many clearly don’t. It’s a lot easier to keep an existing figurehead puppet in power than to create a new one. By protecting the Japanese imperial family, MacArthur was able to use the emperor to control the Japanese people, which in turn reward the US with many military bases and permanent influence in the region. Had Japan gotten rid of its imperial family, the US would not have gotten any support from the local government shortly after the war.

  29. hzzz
    September 3rd, 2009 at 23:26 | #29

    I happen to be happily married to a Japanese rightwinger. She does not believe in Ninjing Massacre and thinks that Japan was helping the Philippines by invading it. Thankfully we both have agreed not to talk too much about politics.

    From the Youtube Japanese shows which I am forced to watch occasionally and talking to my wife, I can say that the Japanese right wingers there are doing a fantastic job in rewriting history about Japan and its past with the aid of people who are willing to believe. Its not only about China either. Many Japanese today actually believe that Japan was forced to bomb Pearl Harbor by the US because the US was stealing resources out of South East Asia. Japan did what it had to do to “liberate” rest of the Asian nations.

    My personal belief is that winners get to re-write history, and that people generally believe what they want to believe in rather than the truth (confirmation bias). As such, you get the same people who would argue how badly China treats its neighbors defending how Japan treated China during WWII. The very same people who say that China should forget what Japan did to China during WWII, are also the ones urging people to remember what China did to Tibetans shortly after WWII.

    If you are debating with the hope that evidence would change the other person’s mind, that is pure wishful thinking in most cases.

  30. Hongkonger
    September 4th, 2009 at 00:19 | #30

    hzzz’

    “If you are debating with the hope that evidence would change the other person’s mind, that is pure wishful thinking in most cases.”

    That is so goddamn true….yet, while I once subscribed to a blood-thirsty orthodox religion but thru reading different perspectives, I ‘ve become a happy agnostic. So, you never know, there is always a speck of chance, a glimmer of hope … 🙂

  31. Think Ming
    September 4th, 2009 at 10:11 | #31

    DELETED FOR AD HOMINUM ATTACK

  32. Steve
    September 4th, 2009 at 12:26 | #32

    C’mon, Think Ming, you can make a valid point without the personal attack. Please review the site rules… thanks!

  33. pug_ster
    September 4th, 2009 at 13:03 | #33

    @hzzz 28

    I totally agree with you. It is not just that. Many Nazi war criminals ‘disappeared’ with the help of the US so that they can help the US with their ‘research’ in biological and chemical weapons. Just a few months ago there was some Nazi war criminal that was ‘hiding’ here in the US all the time. The US didn’t even bother to extradite him because he was too old.

    My guess is that China used to be US’ ally after WWII until they found out that they are bosom buddies with Japan.

    If you are debating with the hope that evidence would change the other person’s mind, that is pure wishful thinking in most cases.

    I don’t intend to change the other’s person’s mind. I say what I have to and just let go but can’t do much if the other person doesn’t have an open mind.

  34. miaka9383
    September 4th, 2009 at 13:13 | #34

    @Pug_ster
    “I don’t intend to change the other’s person’s mind. I say what I have to and just let go but can’t do much if the other person doesn’t have an open mind.”

    Are you saying that someone who is not in agreement with your opinion is closed minded?

  35. pug_ster
    September 4th, 2009 at 13:20 | #35

    @miaka9383

    Are you saying that someone who is not in agreement with your opinion is closed minded?

    Just look at the discussion on the top of this thread with me and Raj about the discussion on the involvement of the Japanese royal family war crimes and look at his response.

  36. miaka9383
    September 4th, 2009 at 13:54 | #36

    @Pug_ster and Raj
    *sigh* That is because you guys were picking apart each other’s arguments and selectively reading the context.

  37. pug_ster
    September 4th, 2009 at 13:57 | #37

    @Michael 25

    It would be interesting if the Association looks at the historical accuracy of accounts of what the Chinese did during the Japanese invasion of China. In Europe, some (but not all) countries occupied by the Nazis and the Soviets have undergone deep and painful self examination about their citizen’s role as collaborators and accomplices in genocide. In China, this has not happened because many of the guilty later became part of the CPC ‘united front’.
    There is little said about the Japanese occupation years in Beijing and Shanghai. Many Chinese individuals and organisations were Hirohito’s willing helpers. Many of the KMT generals and warlords actively worked and/or traded with the Japanese. The Taiwanese (Formosans) were conscripted into the Japanese army and along with the Koreans perpetrated some of the worst acts of barbarity against other Asian people and Allied POWs.

    One such individual would probably be Wang Jingwei. That’s true, in the fog of war, there are people who do things that would normally be unacceptable to ensure their or their family’s survival. Give you an example is that if the enemy threatens his wife and kids’ lives unless he cooperate with the enemy against his friends and neighbors. 9 times out of 10 he will cooperate with the enemy. People can be that primitive. I’m not saying that Wang Jingwei is this case, people do things for different reasons.

  38. Steve
    September 4th, 2009 at 16:45 | #38

    @ pug_ster #33: Unfortunately, the US and CCP led China were never allies after the war, though General Stilwell, who hated Jiang and nicknamed him “Peanuthead”, preferred to deal with the Communists whom he felt were at least fighting Japan and were relatively uncorrupt. He had seen that the KMT didn’t have the support of the people. The old “China hands” from the US State Department also recommended the US have diplomatic relations with China but they were ignored in favor of the anti-Communists in the US government.

    Would diplomatic relations between the two have made any difference, or would they have devolved into animosity? No one will ever know. With Mao’s subsequent policies, I have a feeling they would have deteriorated but that’s just a guess on my part.

  39. September 6th, 2009 at 12:48 | #39

    I wrote the following a while ago but it seems it is appropriate here.

    ——–

    I recommend every Chinese watch some movies about Nanjing. I hope some Japanese to watch them too, esp. the young generation – the old one will never change and they just bring their crime to the graves with them. The one I watched is about our respected Mr. Rabe, who had saved a lot of Chinese.

    It turned humans into animals (Japanese), and humans into Saints (Mr. Rabe). I am still angry with those interviews with Japanese soldiers. They’re war criminals. One talked about nothing fun to rape a 12 (or 13) year old girl. One 12 (or 13) year old girl wanted to be raped to save herself and her grand pa.

    The denial of Japan on this incident makes all human beings angry. Thanks to Iris Chang for writing the book on Nanjing and everyone making the documentary Nanjing (available from Netflix). How these soldiers feel if their 12 year old grand children were raped?

    The toughest victims were the children of those victims whose parents were killed, raped and tortured. Do you blame these folks for not buying Japanese products for life? Why these war criminals still are bragging instead of running for their lives like the German war criminals is beyond me. Are Chinese too forgiving? I would forget and let by-gone be by-gone but cannot if the criminals do not admit their crimes.

    The Japanese suffering from the 2 atomic bombs are TOTALLY JUSTIFIED. Most died in dignity. Without the two bombs, US would invade Japan and many innocent folks would die. Violence against violence is usually not my cup of tes, but it makes perfect sense here.

    The citizens in Nanjing were raped, tortured and murdered. Babies were tossed to the sky and died. 250K died (350K official) in Nanjing alone. The Japanese should remove the war criminals from the “Shrine of war heroes” where the prime ministers regularly pay respect – (to war criminals???).

    The Letters from Iwo Jima portrays the Japanese soldiers as kind human beings. Most are animals and you’re portraying the minority. Is this the biggest movie from Hollywood to describe the human natures of Japanese soldiers? If so, Hollywood and the west do not understand the east. They are just ignorant as usual.

    If there were a God, I do not think Japan is not as prosperous as today. Or, the God is not fair.

    I’m not a violent guy and this movie just drives me to my limit with unbearable sorrow. We should not spread hatred. However, as one American (forget his name) said: if we do not learn from history, we would likely repeat history.

  40. Raj
    September 6th, 2009 at 13:44 | #40

    TonyP4

    If there were a God, I do not think Japan is not as prosperous as today. Or, the God is not fair.

    God is forgiving. He also doesn’t punish children for the crimes of their parents – or the crimes of others’ parents. That is fair.

  41. September 6th, 2009 at 23:37 | #41

    One reason the evil emperor of Japan not prosecuted was he gave the US the secret on cosmetic that they learned from the poor Chinese citizens who were used as the lab rats. It seems to be war legend but quite possible.

  42. Steve
    September 7th, 2009 at 06:06 | #42

    @ TonyP4 #41: Hmm…. Tony, I think you’ll have to supply more evidence on this one to convince me. A good book about this period of history, in my opinion, is “American Caesar” by William Manchester. It might help you to better understand the choices MacArthur made when given the task of ruling and rebuilding Japan after the war.

  43. Hitokiri Dom
    September 7th, 2009 at 09:07 | #43

    @ Steve

    “I used to think that the POWs in Japan were mistreated and hated by the general public considering all the propaganda they had been exposed to from the government. I’ve always considered the Japanese Navy to be very professional so I wasn’t as surprised that they were treated well, but a little surprised that the Japanese naval personnel understood how they would be treated by the Army and were sympathetic towards the Americans.”

    I think your giving the Imperial Japanese Navy a little too much credit there. The Japanese Navy were the ones who ran the Hell Ships afterall. And I think this incident shows that the Navy could be just as brutal as the Army: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Tjisalak. Also I don’t think professionalism is an important factor in how the Japanese Navy treated that particular group of POWs since the Army was an older institution than the Navy and was also very professional. Nevertheless, even though the Army was professional, that did not stop them from committing atrocities. Additionally, the German army was very professional and that did not stop them from committing horrendous on the Eastern Front of WW2

    Also I remember reading several POW accounts which mention that they were beaten by the civilian workers in the factories and mines that they worked in. I apologize for not posting the source because I can’t remember from where exactly I read it from. So I wouldn’t make a statement like “Only the Army mistreated them” as there were other cases in which POWs were abused by Japanese civilians.

  44. Steve
    September 7th, 2009 at 16:06 | #44

    @ Hitokiri Dom: Your points are well taken. I wasn’t aware of the SS Tjisalak story before now and it certainly was brutal. However, based on what I’ve read from various sources over the years, I’d still submit that the Japanese Navy was more professional than the Army, especially at the highest levels. Yamamoto had spent time in the States, liked Americans and understood American industrial capabilities. I believe he promised the Japanese high command that he could deliver six months of victory but could not promise beyond that. Six months after Pearl Harbor was the Battle of Midway, which with the loss of four large carriers, signaled the beginning of the end for Japan’s naval dominance in the Pacific.

    I’ve read of Japanese Army atrocities throughout the Pacific. In fact, they seemed to commit atrocities in every campaign in which they were engaged. With the Navy it seems like atrocities were more of an aberration than the norm.

    But you bring up a very good point, that I gave both the Japanese Navy and Japanese civilians too much credit. Thanks for bringing these examples to our attention and welcome to the blog! I believe it is important for each generation to rediscover and understand what actually happened back then, and by pooling our thoughts and information we all benefit each other in doing so.

  45. September 7th, 2009 at 20:05 | #45

    Dear Japanese folks, pictures do not lie, but your government and your text books.

    http://tonyp4nanjing.shutterfly.com/

    These gruesome pictures will give the victims a voice and a proof for ever.

    —-
    Steve #42.
    I said most likely it is a war legend. However, logically it is quite possible.

    I do not know why Americans helped Japan to rebuild after those war crimes they had committed to other Asian countries. Their economy flourished without the burden of maintaining a decent army.

  46. hzzz
    September 13th, 2009 at 06:12 | #46

    For those who are unsure about the immunity deal between US and Japan after WWII

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/correspondent/1796044.stm

    “Cover up

    As the war came to an end, the Japanese surrendered and the US moved in to run the country’s affairs, the officers and scientists responsible were never brought to trial.

    The US military got wind of what the Japanese had been working on and immediately grasped two points: They would never be able to conduct that type of human experimentation at home. And that the research had to be kept from the Russians at all costs.

    So the US cut the Japanese officers a deal: Immunity from prosecution for war crimes in return for experimental data. “

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