Obama’s Hiroshima Visit – Victims of their Emperor and Army
Barack Obama became the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima in May 2016, site of the world’s first atomic bombing.
“Obama avoided any direct expression of remorse or apology for the bombings, a decision that some critics had worried would allow Japan to stick to the narrative that paints it as a victim.”
The Japanese like to portray themselves as victims whenever the subject of Horishima and Nagasaki crops up. The atomic bombings of these two cities caused the deaths of about 200,000 Japanese, estimated. But the fact is that these deaths could have been avoided if Japan had surrendered when they were given the chance to, before the first bombing took place. Even after the first bombing, they refused to surrender and this resulted in the second bombing a few days later. Indeed, the Japanese military rulers had planned to fight to the end, to the extent of preparing Japanese women and children to fight with spears and other home-made weapons.
With this scenario, American military planners, in view of the very high casualty rates of the battles on the small Pacific islands (Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Saipan, etc..), estimated that an invasion of Japan and the subsequent fight-to-the-death attitude of the Japanese soldiers would cost up to a million American casualties which was a very frightening prospect. The bombs were finally used to save American lives after Japan adamantly refused to surrender even though the war for Japan was already lost. So, the Japanese had only their rulers to blame for the bombings and the subsequent Japanese casualties. Bear in mind too that the war was started by the Japanese government; an aggression that spanned decades and started before World War Two, starting with the invasion and brutal occupation of Taiwan (1895 – 1945), and later Korea (1910 – 1945), and then Manchuria (1931).
Japan’s aggression towards China (Sino-Japan War, 1931 to 1945) caused immense destruction to land, cities and property and caused an estimated 10 to 20 million Chinese deaths. Many Chinese cities were indiscriminately bombed, resulting in very high casualties. Villages were razed, women raped en masse (like in Nanking) and prisoners massacred – those allowed to live were used for bayonet and beheading practices or used as slaves who were worked to death, often due to starvation and diseases. It’s not just in China. Cities in Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Burma were indiscriminately bombed with very high civilian deaths.
Manila was destroyed with up to 100,000 civilians massacred by the Japanese soldiers and many women raped. It is not just Nanking – everywhere the Japanese armies conquered or fight, they raped and kill at will and with delight. Many were gang raped, many raped and then bayoneted to death. That’s how inhumane and sadistic the Japanese soldiers were.
The Japanese military rulers and generals have no regard for compassion and basic humanity, no matter how young or how old their victims, in their quest to dominate East Asia. Their cruelty knew no bounds. They justify their actions and brutality in the name of fighting for the glory of Japan and the Emperor. And yet the Emperor was never brought to trial or made to abdicate. During the high glory of Japanese military triumphs, the Japanese civilians were proud of their country’s conquests. When the Japanese broadcast a military success or conquest, the Japanese public would cheer and praise the victories of their brutal army and proud of their conquests which killed and maimed millions.
After the war, they were very reluctant to apologise and compensate for the decades of immense sufferings they brought to the Asian people, starting with Taiwan. They even whitewashed and downplayed the dark period of Japanese war history in their history books to the extent that later generations of Japanese fail to fully realise the full extent of their countrymen’s horrible misdeeds. Even after the war, many (especially the lower ranks) escaped justice; and many rightists still feel no remorse and even cherished the glory of the war that caused immense sufferings and millions of deaths in Asia. Yet, they readily portray themselves as war victims due to the atomic bombings.
That’s the hypocrisy of the Japanese after the war. This could show the Japanese as highly nationalistic and self-centred people. Immediately after the Japanese surrendered, they suddenly become very meek and complaint – very different from their very arrogant and cruel selves only days before. Before that, conquered subjects who fail to bow to the Japanese soldier or bow correctly, gets beaten. Asian people, especially Chinese, lived in great fear of the Japanese armies.
Remember the tens of thousands of comfort women the Japanese forced to sexually service their millions-strong army in the occupied countries. Many of these were very young virgins who were raped and forced to have sex with many Japanese soldiers every day for years. Can you imagine such trauma, physical and mental? Imagine if you are the parent of one such victim.
Remember the tens of thousands tortured to death by the sadistic Kempetai, known for their water treatment and other extremely cruel torture methods used to punish prisoners (including women and the old) and to extract information. Some were even burned to death with the perpetrators feeling no remorse, often with satisfaction.
Remember the death marches, like the Bataan death march, where many were deliberately marched to death due to starvation and thirst so that the Japanese do not have to feed them. Those who survived were gradually worked to death, with hardly any food, water or medicine even when these were easily available. There were many death marches.
Remember the Hell Ships where thousands of Allied prisoners of war lost their lives on Japanese ships due to extreme thirst and starvation. You see, the Japanese have no regard for other races except their own when they were the rulers of East Asia. There were just too many cruel memories to remember and so hard to forgive. Compare the casualties of the atomic bombings to the tens of millions who lost lives, families, property, land and freedom due to Japan’s decades of aggression in East Asia.
It’s really hard to feel sorry for the victims of the atomic bombings, especially when you had suffered greatly under Japanese aggression. In a way, they were not truly innocent victims – they had in a way reaped from the benefits of Japan’s military glory for decades while tens of millions suffered – remember that food and raw materials were looted from conquered Asian countries back to Japan to benefit and feed the Japanese while millions in their occupied countries starved for years.
In the context of justice, the atomic bombings were actually the right punishment for the cruel deeds of the Japanese armies when they were the victors and others the hopeless and helpless victims. Remember, Japan started it all – all for its own benefit (for resources) – in the occupied countries, they cared only for themselves and little for others. Remember the lost years, wide spread suffering and the loss of tens of millions who died due to decades of Japanese atrocities and aggression. No one else should apologise for the atomic bombings but the Japanese government and the Emperor.
Japan’s slow and reluctant apology, it’s white-washing of its aggressive war in Asia, it’s reluctance to compensate to war victims (including comfort women), the continued visits by Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine that housed the remains of Japanese top war criminals and architects of war, the continued denials of massacres by Japanese rightist groups and politicians, continues to anger the victim nations and makes the hypocrisy of the Japanese unforgiving even though 7 decades have passed. The atomic victims were a end result of Japan’s atrocious, military conquests with the Emperor as the symbolic leader.