November 2, 2002
THE SUN NEVER SETS:At a Military Museum, the Losers Write History (HOWARD W. FRENCH, October 30, 2002, NY Times)
Judging by the texts on the walls at this new museum of military history, Japan sacrificed its blood and treasure throughout the 20th century not to conquer other Asian countries but to fight for their independence.
In much the same vein, the museum presents Emperor Hirohito as a selfless statesman who ended World War II out of concern for the loss of innocent lives, not caring "what became of me." Nowhere is there any hint of the volumes of recent scholarship that show how the emperor urged his armies to keep fighting long after defeat was inevitable in what many historians say was an effort to negotiate his own security atop the throne.
The museum is a provocative addition to Yasukuni Shrine here, which commemorates the country's 2.5 million modern war dead, including 14 internationally designated war criminals from the last world war. The museum offers the Shinto shrine's unapologetic attitude about Japan's militaristic past to crowds of visitors year-round. [...]
Here, the infamous "Rape of Nanjing" - in which international historians say Japan massacred 100,000 to 300,000 Chinese in December 1937 - becomes the "Nanjing Incident." Japanese troops were reported at the time to have held killing contests and to have raped women by the thousands. Yet the first mention of civilian deaths in the war does not come until the American firebombings of Japanese cities, in 1944.
"Chinese troops were soundly defeated, suffering heavy casualties," the text says of Nanjing. "Inside the city, residents were once again able to live their lives in peace."
A Chinese university student who visited the museum gasped audibly, shaking her head in barely contained anger at the Nanjing text. "This is why our two countries can never be true friends," she said. "How can we trust a country that continues to lie so boldly about its past?"
This, mind you, is a peaceful democratic ally who we pummeled and then rebuilt. Yet people blithely tell us that if we remove our troops from the Middle East and soften our support of Israel the Arab world will come around to our way of thinking. If people are going to hate us let's defang them first. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 2, 2002 1:52 PM