Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A tale of 2 Japans

Many courageous Japanese World War II veterans, historians, teachers, and others of moral conscience are frustrated and penalized when they attempt to inform an apathetic Japanese public....

...Does the Japanese Government intend to deny the documented war crimes until the last victims and witnesses finally die off? Yes, because the Japanese view themselves as innocent victims of WWII. Culturally, Japan believes that its victimhood is more relevant than the unpublicized evils inflicted upon millions who suffered under its cruel military rule.

Japan's response to the outraged cries of survivors and astonished historians echoes the comic’s retort when caught in the act: "Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?" But no laughs are found in this insult to truth. Full article here.

From Ron Wulkan, the author of a new novel about Japan. What distinguishes this writer from most is that he was a military policeman during the Occupation and he worked with Japanese who had witnessed or participated in war crimes. Because he was interested in Japan, some fellow soldiers called him a "gook lover," which he took as the title of the book. His interest in Japan appears not to have become a mindless acceptance of everything Japanese like so often seems to happen. Instead his book is "a pro-Japanese, pro-Asian, but anti-Imperial Japan novel."

On the other hand, Ms. LaVel Daily, an ikebana expert, was recently awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan. In a newspaper interview with the Houston Chronical she was asked:

Q: We did fight a war with Japan. How does that square with the civility of the people you describe?

A: I must say, I was young enough that I didn't know very much personally about that war, but I was in Japan about three or four days after 9/11. When they learned I was from the United States, they expressed extreme grief. I was in Japan when the newspapers and television showed Japanese military boarding transport aircraft to go to Afghanistan (for a support role). I've always felt the Japanese were our friends and supported the United States, totally.

From this answer and others during the interview, one can guess that she is a very deep thinker. Forgot to answer the question though. Didn't personally know about the war, you see. Never read a history book either, I suppose. And certainly does not want to say anything that she thinks might offend certain folks (Abe, Aso, and assorted LDP et al nutjobs and emperor worshippers) in Japan. Something implying some kind of guilt on Japan would do that.

Which person do you think is more honest, accurate, knowledgeable, and thoughtful when it comes to Japan, the WW2 vet or the ikebana teacher? Which person do you think really has the best interests of Japan---and the rest of the world---at heart?

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