One reason I’m drawn to study the work of Japanese revisionists is that they are actually afforded enough discursive space for there to be a somewhat rational debate on whether or not the different aspects of the history of WWII in Asia they address have been interpreted accurately.
This press conference held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan reveals the gulf that exists between Japan and the West when it comes to freedom of speech on the subject of WWII.
Many European historical revisionists have been imprisoned and fined since 1945 simply for attempting to have the kind of civilized discussion displayed in the above video.
I have recently been evaluating the conflicting viewpoints on the subject of World War II comfort women and intend to summarize them in future posts on this nascent blog. For now, I thought QJH readers might find this CNN interview with Komori Yoshihisa of Japan’s Sankei Shumbun thought-provoking. He provides some but not all of the main protestations Japanese comfort-women-skeptics make against those who opt to emphasize the relationship between prostitutes and the Japanese military during WWII in their discourse.
This video features John Koster, author of the book Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor. In the video he discusses the treasonous activities of Harry Dexter White who worked from 1934 in the U.S. Treasury with Henry Morgenthau of the infamous Morgenthau Plan. Koster opines:
White was able to start a war between the Japanese and the United States that neither country wanted, that the United States wasn’t ready for and that the Japanese knew that they couldn’t possibly win.
Like Canada, Australia, France and most other Western nations today, the Soviet Union persecuted, as State-policy, critics of Jews and Jewish culture. This, needless to say, favourably disposed many Jews to Communism, some of whom actively connived to subordinate the national interests of their host nations to those of the philo-Semitic Soviet regime.
Harry Dexter White was one such Jewish supporter of Communism who made decisions from his influential position which prioritized Jewish and Soviet interests over those of the majority of people in the U.S., who were at the time overwhelmingly isolationist. As I write in the introduction to my Japan Bites Back “such pro-Soviet Jews created circumstances wherein the prospect of a German-Japanese, East-West attack on the philo-Semitic Soviet regime was thwarted via the dragging of the U.S. into war with Japan.”
This is of course relevant today because many of the methods developed to demonize and isolate Japan and drag the U.S. into war, have been reutilized by largely Jewish neoconservatives to foment strife between the U.S. people and the people of those countries which refuse to submit to Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, most notably the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This NHK documentary provides the hidden history of the Tokyo Trials. It shows how the principled decision of Justice Radhabinod Pal to judge the vanquished Japanese leaders by the standards of pre-existing International Law—rather than by the standards of ex post facto law made in the aftermath of the War—caused many headaches for the Allied judges involved in the proceedings. palIn particular, the British Government is shown to have been strongly concerned that Pal’s delegitimization of the assumptions of the Tokyo Charter would undermine the verdicts rendered at Nuremberg in 1946.
The prosecution of the German leadership was also based upon the application of retroactive law. In other words, the leadership of the Axis forces were prosecuted for acts which were not crimes in International Law at the time of their commission. Pal was aware of the farcical nature of such juridical proceedings and expressed his legally-sound conclusions in a lengthy dissentient verdict. As the documentary mentions, this dissentient verdict was not read out in court and many judges worked behind the scenes to have Pal dismissed from the bench when it became clear that he was intending to base his verdict upon the established law. Still to this day most people are unaware that a judge found all those on trial in Tokyo in 1948 innocent.
By Joshua Blakeney
The above video presents the filmic rendition of Yukio Mishima’s play Patriotism (1961). An English-language copy of the radical nationalist play can be obtained here.
Patriotism depicts the final hours of the lives of Takeyama Shinji and his loving spouse, Reiko, whom, upon being entangled in the partisanship inherent to the abortive coup d’état of February 26, 1936, resolve to commit ritual suicide. Mishima deftly captures the tension and spasms of emotion that would afflict any couple seeking to fill their final hours prior to committing seppuku.
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was a Japanese author, playwright and political philosopher who staged a symbolic coup d’état in November 1970, with the ostensible goal of reinstating Japan’s traditional Emperor-centered political system. He committed ritual suicide after the uprising failed to gain traction.
The reader agonizes as he witnesses a passionate, recently-wedded couple having to make the ultimate sacrifice of subordinating the personal for love of Emperor and nation. “This is neither a comedy nor a tragedy” said Mishima of Patriotism, “[t]o choose the place where one dies is. . .the greatest joy in life. And such a night as the couple had was their happiest. Moreover, there was no shadow of a lost battle over them; the love of these two reaches to an extremity of purity, and the painful suicide of the soldier is equivalent to an honourable death on the battlefield.” The healthy copulations of the couple and their submission to ritual is almost deployed metaphorically by the revolutionary conservative as a perceived microcosm of organic nationhood, one feels.
The two factions of the Imperial Army which clashed in the Ni Ni Roku Incident were the restive Kōdōha, or Imperial Way Faction—who wanted to strike north against the Soviet Union—and the more established Tōseiha, or Control Faction, which wanted to strike south against Dutch and British possessions primarily. The coup was spawned by an attempt by the Tōseiha to have many of their Kōdōha rivals deployed to Manchuria to remove them from Tokyo, where all political decisions of any import were made. The Kōdōha, instigated the uprising to prevent that marginalization from coming to fruition and to ultimately institute certain reforms.
The leaders of the coup agitated for what was termed a “Showa Restoration” to reinstate a more organic and indigenized political process to the Nipponese archipelago. There was a perception that many of those who were in the immediate inner circle of power were foreign educated and were seeking to apply alien, extrinsic values to Japanese society. The insurgents wanted to establish a more physiocratic society wherein the peasantry would be unified with the Emperor in a soft form of Shinto authoritarianism. This initiative would be the optimal means of stabilizing Japan at a time when Internationalists were extensively meddling in Asia, they believed.
Lieutenant Takeyama, in the play, intuitively sides with the Kōdōha over their rivals, thinking them to be more authentically patriotic, but knows he is to be mobilized the next day to lock horns with its members, as the Emperor had arbitrated in favour of the entrenched Tōseiha faction which intended to promptly crush the rebellion. Not being able to bring himself to put down the proponents of the Showa Restoration, the young Lieutenant is forced to decide to end his and his wife’s lives.
One of Mishima’s radicalisms was his post-war support for the Young Officers who instigated the Ni Ni Roku attempted seizure of power. Mishima, like the insurrectionists, believed that Emperor Showa (Hirohito) had been under the influence of corrupt, foreign educated usurpers and that patriotic Japanese nationalists within the military had had a duty to sweep aside those who were misguiding the nation. Mishima would become controversial in Japan for his criticism of the Emperor’s suppression of the rebellion and his total submission to the American invaders.
The black and white film, which appeared in English under the title of The Rite of Love and Death, was produced by Mishima in the ancient Noh dramaturgical form. Like many radical rightists, Mishima was skilled at melding the classical with the modern to produce a revolutionary aesthetic which was still traditionally oriented.
This is an interesting compilation of quotes from prominent leaders and intellectuals reflecting upon the legacy of Imperial Japan in Asia. Ba Maw, the former Prime Minister of Burma, is quoted as saying “there is no country that contributed more to Asia than Japan did. And there is no country that is more misunderstood than Japan is.” How true that is.
I have attempted to help shed light upon the Japanese role in Asia in my new book Japan Bites Back. Hopefully this video stimulates interest in the untold historical verities of World War II.