Saturday, July 23, 2005

Twisted History in Japan

I hate polls. I really hate polls. I especially hate this poll.

Poll: Americans Say World War III Likely

Americans are far more likely than the Japanese to expect another world war in their lifetime, according to AP-Kyodo polling 60 years after World War II ended.

I can live with that. I suppose if I had lived under someone else’s defensive umbrella for sixty years, I might feel the same way.

Some of the widest differences came on expectations of a new world war.

Six in 10 Americans said they think such a war is likely, while only one-third of the Japanese said so, according to polling done in both countries for The Associated Press and Kyodo, the Japanese news service.

Considering the most likely arena for a third world war is Asia, it does not help that the population of our closest ally in the region is not grounded in reality. I am beginning to think that the closer one lives to a potential flashpoint, the more delusional they become. Just look at the South Koreans. They have the absolute most to lose in a war on that peninsula, yet they live under the delusion that Kim Jong Il is just misunderstood.

"The Japanese people take peace for granted," said Hiroya Sato, 20, of Tokyo. "The Japanese people are not interested in things like war."

I guess naivety is to be expected from the young, but surely a proper historical education would lend itself to silence, or perhaps contrition. Here comes the part that really gets to me.

Two-thirds of Americans say the use of atomic bombs was unavoidable. Only 20 percent of Japanese felt that way and three-fourths said it was not necessary. Just one-half of Americans approve of the use of the atomic bombs on Japan.

The battle for Okinawa suggests that Japan would have fought to the last man, woman and child had there been an amphibious invasion of the mainland. Had such an invasion occurred, I wonder if the Japanese would today be pondering the necessity of it, or maybe wondering how much better things might have turned out had the U.S. only nuked them.

In addition, it seems that 16% of Americans polled believe that 'the use of atomic bombs was unavoidable', yet do not 'approve of the use of the atomic bombs on Japan.' If anyone can reconcile that for me, I'll feel much better. I hate to think that 16% of Americans are that stupid.

But military instructor Hugh "D.J." Carlen, who lives near Fort Knox, Ky., said: "I don't think we really needed to do it. We darn near had the country starved to death. We could have effected a blockade."

The military should really screen their instructors better. Approximately 105,000 deaths occurred as a result of Fat Man and Little Boy. That includes those that died of radiation sickness in later years. A blockade of a starving Japan surely would have killed millions. In addition, the ensuing bombing campaign and invasion may have killed millions more.

"I often hear the bombings were not necessary," said Toyokazu Katsumi, a 27-year-old engineer from Yokohama. "They just wanted to experiment with them."

This guy should work for Howard Dean.

For 63-year-old Masashi Muroi of Tokyo, the attacks with atomic bombs "were mass, indiscriminate killings and perhaps violated international law."

Selective memory is most likely a reaction to some sort of guilt. I doubt international law covered nukes at the time, but surely the rape of Nanking, the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, the forced prostitution of Korean, Philippine and Chinese women and the destruction of Indochina were violations.

I have a high opinion of Japan and her people. But this one issue sends me through the roof. I once toured around Nagasaki. The entire place is an exercise in self pity and false history. There is a place where monuments of condolence from world leaders for the victims of the bomb are placed. It is full of heart felt sorrow from such governments as the former USSR, Libya and Cuba. As Tom Daschle would say, ‘I am saddened’ that the younger generation of Japanese are so ignorant of their own past, and that of the United States.