Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Japan and WW2 - unfinished history

Fascinating story, in case you missed it, about the Chief of Staff of the Japanese Air Force indulging in some objectionable historical revisionism.

In the words of the Washington Post:

The abiding reluctance of prominent nationalists in Japan to come to grips with the past resurfaced Friday, when a hotel company announced the winner of its $30,000 "true modern history" essay contest.

The winning essay was written by Gen. Toshio Tamogami, who until Friday night was chief of staff of the air force. He was fired a few hours after the essay appeared on the hotel company's Web site.

Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because of a "trap" set by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tamogami claimed in his essay, which also argued "that many Asian countries take a positive view" of Japan's role in the war.

He wrote, too, that the war was good for international race relations: "If Japan had not fought the Great East Asia War at that time, it might have taken another 100 or 200 years before we could have experienced the world of racial equality that we have today."

The essay concluded that "it is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation."

Worrying that such views still hold some sway in Japan. Infinitely scarier that they are held by a man who, until he expressed them, was head of its air force.

All a good excuse to re-read An Artist of the Floating World by the incomparable Kazuo Ishiguro (JMP's favourite living British writer).

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