by Kilian Fitzgerald
The war crimes committed against Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Russians by Imperial Japan during the Pacific War have been well documented and acknowledged, unfortunately mostly outside of Japan. What is discussed less frequently is the McCarthy-like era Japan underwent in the 20th Century.
A key difference in Japan’s McCarthy-like era and the United States’ McCarthy era, that followed more than a decade later, is the manner and degree to which those accused were punished. McCarthyism in the United States entailed a series of hearings led by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy against American leftists and liberals accused of connections to communism and the Soviet Union. In the United States, while there were obvious elements of a kangaroo court, there was at least a thread of legal precedent. Imperial Japan however, was much more brutal in it’s crackdown of the left, arresting thousands of its citizens, particularly those from academia. Many citizens were injured or killed by Japanese police and the military during protests. In contrast, the U.S. Senate hearings chaired by Senator McCarthy mostly resulted in the blacklisting of actors and other principals in the motion picture industry. The more brutal approach to the suppression of communism and subsequently the Japanese left, was fostered by the relationship the Japanese military had with its government.
Having been formed during the tradition-ending Meiji period (1868-1922) that witnessed the end of the Samurai class and the Shogunate system in favor of a Western style system of government, the modernized Japanese military and the right wing nationalist Japanese government were largely in sync. Japan was forced out of isolation by the United States and the effects of the Great Depression. After witnessing China’s humiliation during the Opium Wars with Britain, it embarked on a program of expansion, both economically and territorially. This expansion resulted in a unification of Japan’s government and military. The unifying desire of growth led to Imperial Japan’s imperialistic domestic policies, cultivated by its invasion and occupation of countries such as China, Korea, the Philippines and more.
Conversely, Imperial Japan’s expansionist goals also impacted it’s domestic policy. The unification of Imperial Japan’s government and the military and it’s tight control over Japan’s civilian population was often enforced with violence. Most famously, the February 26th incident of 1936 involved a group of young army officers assassinating both military and government personnel who opposed their goals. Dissent and criticism was also discouraged, due to the stronghold the Japanese military had over the Japanese government. In the wake of the Nanjing Massacre where Japanese soldiers massacred and raped thousands of Chinese, the Imperial Japanese government sought to stifle and control coverage of the atrocity, following an international outrage. Due to the alliance of the Japanese right and military, the Japanese left was essentially powerless. Thus, Japanese journals and newspapers covering the Nanjing Massacre were censored. Journalists were also imprisoned without trial. Textbooks that described the Nanjing Massacre were prohibited in favor of the propaganda released by the government which usually ignored the horrors or claimed that outside influences (either the Chinese or Western countries) lied about or manipulated the facts around the event. Many journalists were arrested by the Kanagawa Special Higher Police, dubbed the “Thought Police” by those it attempted to silence, were accused of having Communist sympathies, much like the McCarthy hearings that would occur almost a decade later. Journalists accused of being communists often had their publications shut down. On January 29th, 1944, Chuo Koron (Central Review) magazine editor Hatanaka Shiego and many of his colleagues were arrested. During his interrogation, Shigeo was accused of having communist sympathies and for the crime of using Chuo Koron to spread and popularize a system of Japanese communism that would force Emperor Hirohito out of power. Given that Emperor Hirohito was considered the son of the Japanese Sun God, this wasn’t just treason in the eyes of Imperial Japan, this was blasmephy. Following Shiegio’s arrest, Chuo Koron was shut down by the Japanese government, but eventually restored after the war.
The silencing of journalists also extended to the ways Imperial Japan oppressed the broader Japanese left. Many Japanese liberals and leftists were opposed to or disagreed with the western inspired state of modernity that Japan had adopted during the Meiji Restoration and its military policies. Due to the political power divide, they were often harshly persecuted or censored for dissenting from the nationalist military state Japan had become. One such figure was Taoka Reiun, a Meiji-era literary critic and early feminist thinker who criticized the westernized form of modernity (bunmei) that Japan had adopted for not caring about people in favor of capitalism, and for creating a society of self-centered individuals. Why Imperial Japan felt it necessary to censor and oppress critics and journalists for its actions and policies is expressed in Reiun’s writing: “Critics must lead society, they must be a friend to society, they must become its guide; they must improve society; they must do their best to educate and enlighten it. If there are flaws in society, they must be pointed out, and critics must call for their rectification. If there are transgressions, they must warn of these. And it is up to them to address those issues in society that lie outside the direct purview of the law. They must be supporters of social morality. If society is imperfect then they, too are imperfect. But can we reallys say that todays critics and newspaper reporters are fulfilling ehri obligations to the best of their ability? Today the occupation of newspaper reporter has become something of a glory position, a prestigious occupation. But isn't this an insult to the dignity of the profession? Reports and critics must be independent and not submit to pressure from the authorities; they must not give in to the interests of the rich and power.”
The importance of Japan’s Fourth Estate and the necessity of dissent in society is powerfully stated here. Unfortunately for Reiun, the path Japan would go down, with its focus on modernity, did not favor criticism. Reiun’s criticisms of Japanese modernity and the state, as well as his support for a variation of socialism, resulted in many of Reiun’s writings being censored and his career suffered. Due to the oppression Reiun endured and the blacklisting and censorship of his writings, he died in poverty in November 1912.
The 20th Century saw numerous atrocities committed by Imperial Japan in foreign countries. Internally, the state of Japan silenced journalists, censored publications and terrorized its citizens, all under its attempts to eliminate dissent and purge itself of undesirable elements, such as communism. While the censorship and oppression Imperial Japan committed against journalists and the Japanese left pales in comparison to its actions and cover-ups in countries such as China, Korea and the Philippines, it should nonetheless be publicized and confronted. The continuation of censorship and efforts to erase history in Japan, seen most recently in its attempt to force San Francisco to remove a “Comfort Women” statue in Chinatown, deserves exposure.
1.Loftus, Ronald P. The Turn Against the Modern: The Critical Essays of Taoka Reiun (1870-1912). Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Asian Studies, 2017.
2.Cook, Haruko Taya, and Theodore F. Cook. "Thought Criminal." In Japan At War: An Oral History. New York, NY: New Press, 1992.
Q&A with Sung Sohn
Interview Questions with Partnering Organization
Q: When did you get involved in your organization and what is your title?
A: Along with the other two co-founders, Russ Lowe and Nancy Lee, I co-founded ESJF June of 2017. I’m the Executive Director.
Q: What is the mission of your organization?
A: Our mission is to provide education on past injustices relegated to the sidelines of history.
Q: What attracted you to the cause?
A: As a former teacher, I understand the challenges of teaching sidelined history without having necessary resources. The members at ESJF know that the two most effective ways to motivate and support teachers in this undertaking are to provide them with resources and to hold workshops. Since last year, our project has been on addressing the unresolved history and issues of “comfort women.” This spring, we published “Teachers’ Resource Guide: “Comfort Women” History and Issues and distributed it to teachers in SFUSD. This summer, we published “Comfort Women” History and Issues for Students.
This cause also holds a personal connection for me because I’m keenly aware that my own grandmother could have become a victim of military sexual slavery since she was born in 1922, only two years before Hak-Soon Kim, the first surviving victim to testify in public, was born.
Q:What attracted you to collaborate with Pacific Atrocities Education in particular?A: The atrocities committed in the Pacific are among the sidelined history that ESJF tries to address.
Q: What are your activities and what do they involve?
A: Our first activity was to raise 5,000 USD to make up for the lost funding at Chiba Korean School in Japan. The Chiba Mayor took away their funding because two students expressed opposition through their artwork to the Japanese government’s act of silencing and ignoring the victims and survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery. The original art pieces were displayed at a 2016 exhibition in Japan.
Q: What motivates you to stay involved?
A: I’m motivated by the thought of motivating others in turn, students and teachers both, to create a more just and peaceful society.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important work that Pacific Atrocities Education and your organization do?
A: Providing meaningful and engaging opportunities for students and teachers of all races to be more aware of sidelined history and the voices of the marginalized.
Q: Of what contribution or achievement are you most proud?
A: I’m proud of being able to raise $5,000 to make up for the lost funding and to support the courage of the two students who spoke up for justice for “comfort women” in 2016. I’m also greatly proud of our two publications because they are the products of collaborative work by many Bay Area citizens fighting for justice, including Eric Mar, teachers, parents, and Redefine Community.
Q: What do you hope PAE and your organization will achieve in the near future? In the long term?
A: ESJF would appreciate having access to some of the research PAE has done and will be conducting so that we can build upon the PAE’s work. One of our ideas is to add engaging lesson plans.
Q: Do you have an anecdote about this cause/organization that really moved you?
A: I had a special opportunity to visit Chiba Korean Elementary and Middle School in Japan in August of 2017. Having met the children and teachers at the school, who are struggling to preserve the Korean language, culture, history, and identity against unimaginable odds, was incredibly moving and empowering. Also, in spite of the harsh pressure from the government, they have so much compassion for victims of natural and man-made disasters, as well as optimism for the future. I have much to learn from them.
In addition, having met and getting to know the two friends and mentors who co-founded ESJF with me has been a blessing.
Q: What other organizations or causes do you support?
A: We support all educational organizations that fight for justice for marginalized populations and history.
Q: Do you have a message to share?
A: What we are doing may be a raindrop in a big bucket. But I know as long as each drop keeps on falling, we’ll fill the bucket.
For more information, visit: e4sjf.org
October 10th is the marker of modern China. It is also known as double ten or double tenth day. It all started with the Wuchang Uprising of October 10th of 1911. It was the beginning of the Xinhai Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution of 1911, which led to the end of the imperial dynasty of China.
Wuchang Uprising was organized by Tongmenghui. Tongmenghui (TMS) 同盟會 translates to Chinese United League, which was an underground resistance movement founded on August 20th, 1905 by Sun Yat-sen, Song Jiaoren, and others in Tokyo, Japan. Sun Yat-sen would later be known as the founder of Modern China while his co-founder, Song Jiaoren became the founder of Kuomintang (KMT), and was assassinated by 1913 after China’s first democratic election.
TMS was founded to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and to have the Chinese rule China again. Qing Dynasty was of the Manchu tribe and Tingmengshui believed that Qing Dynasty was taking democracy away from the Chinese as well as its ineffective leadership. Qing Dynasty had been on a losing streak due to its inability to keep up with western technology. It all started with the First Opium War in 1842 when the Qing imperial court struggled to contain foreign intrusion. Then, it failed to westernize and was again defeated during the Second Opium war of 1860. During the first Sino-Japanese War, China was decisively defeated by Japan and it led to the lack of confidence of the Chinese people in the Qing’s leadership. TMS’s slogan during the time was to expel the Manchus, to revive Chinese society, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people. This motivated a lot of people to join. Some will eventually become leaders of China during World War 2 such as Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-Shek, and Wong, Jingwei.
Mao Zedong would later become the founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who took over China.
Chiang Kai-shek became the chairman of KMT and was exiled in Taiwan after World War 2 as he spent most of the military power fighting the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War, and lost the civil war with the Mao's CCP.
Wang, Jingwei was a part of the KMT but was in a constant argument with Chiang, Kai Shek. Then he joined the CCP and in the later days of the Sino-Japanese War, he joined forces with the Japanese Army and would be known as the traitor in the Sino-Japanese War.
However, during the time when Sun, Yat-Sen was alive, he was able to unite these strong personalities to the cause of TMS. Xinhai Revolution was a demonstration of the leadership of Sun, Yat-Sen. As Sun, Yat-Sen had thought, most of the Chinese were fed up with the leadership of the Qing dynasty and was able to use that cause to unite Chinese people across different walks of life. The revolution was supported by students and intellectuals who returned from abroad, as well as participants of the revolutionary organizations, overseas Chinese, soldiers of the new army, local gentry, farmers, and others.
The Xinhai Revolution was not the first revolution attempted to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. However, it was a revolution started at the right time. In 1911, the Qing Dynasty had planned to nationalize local railway development but to transfer control to foreign banks. This triggered a Railway Protection Movement which led to Wuchang Uprising, which led to a series of revolutionary movement and the abdication of the Qing throne and the founding of modern China.
by Kelly Suen
Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath By Michael Norman
Japanese and U.S. World War II Plunder and Intrigue By Rodney Stich
War Crimes: Japan's World War II Atrocities By Malcolm Joseph Thurman, Christine Sherman
Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army: Charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons By Otozō Yamada
Japanese and U.S. World War II Plunder and Intrigue By Rodney Stich
Not only is Crazy Rich Asians featuring a full Asian cast for the first time in 25 years, it is also bringing back the jazzy tunes of Shidaiqu. From Yao Li’s “Ren Sheng Jiu Shi Xi” to Grace Chang’s “Wo Yao Ni De Ai” to the remake of “Waiting for Your Return” by Jasmine Chen, the soundtrack of Crazy Rich Asians brings shidaiqu back from 1930s Shanghai to the 21st-century audience.
Shanghai was a small agricultural village until officials from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) decided to develop it into a trading post due to its location. By 1820, China’s economy was the largest in the world according to British economist Angus Maddison. However, the military of the Qing dynasty was of no competition with the British during the Opium Wars. After the Opium Wars, Shanghai fell victim to the Treaty of Nanking to be one of the five Chinese cities to be opened up to British consults, merchants, and their families. Soon after the Treaty of Nanking, merchants from France, Germany, and the United States moved into Shanghai to carve out territories as International Concessions.
In 1912, Qing Dynasty fell but Shanghai remained a metropolitan city with the birth of modern China founded by Sun Yet Sen. With many different cultures being in Shanghai, it was covered in buildings designed by European architects, and its inhabitants were fashionable. In fact, qipao was invented in 1920s Shanghai as a fusion of the west and the east fashion. The city was lined with casinos, fine restaurants, movie theaters, and nightclubs. It was known as the Paris of the Orient.
Jazz was brought in by Americans into nightclubs. It was an unfamiliar tune to many Chinese people at the time, but like everything else in Shanghai at the time, it was quickly adapted into the eastern culture. Shidaiqu was then born in the 1920s, combining jazz music with Chinese folk music, which is consisted by pentatonic folk melody. Early shidaiqu had vocals that were high pitched and sounded like a cat being strangled. As time progresses, vocal performances were filled with more sophisticated singers.
Yao Li, the singer of “Ren Sheng Jiu Shi Xi” as heard in Crazy Rich Asians, was one of the seven great singing stars of shidaiqu in Shanghai in the 1940s during the occupation by the Japanese Army. The list of the 7 great singers includes Bai Guang, Bai Hong, Gong Qiuxia, Li Xianglan, Wu Yingyin, Yao Li, and Zhou Xuan. Li Xianglan was a Chinese-born Japanese actress and singer, but her agency, Manchukuo Film Association, wanted to conceal her identity and gave her the name of Li Xianglan. Her real name was actually Yamaguchi Yoshiko. During the time of occupation, she was paid 10 times more than the Chinese performers and Chinese people suspected that she was at least half Japanese. She performed propaganda for the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese War period. After the war, she returned to Japan as an actress. In the 1970s, she was elected into the Japanese parliament and served for 18 years.
Meanwhile, Yao Li and other shidaiqu singers including Grace Chang had to flee to Hong Kong as the Communist government took over China in 1952. Communist China banned all nightclub activities. Shidaiqu then lived in Hong Kong and Taiwan after the war and became the predecessor of Mandopop. Now, it is being played in the theaters of the world thanks to Jon Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians.
 Soundtrack of Crazy Rich Asians https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988/soundtrack
 A Short History of Shanghai https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/fodors/top/features/travel/destinations/asia/china/shanghai/fdrs_feat_145_5.html?n=Top%252FFeatures%252FTravel%252FDestinations%252FAsia%252FChina%252FShanghai
 Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run by Angus Maddison, 45
 Treaty of Nanking http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Treaty_of_Nanking
 The Shanghai Problem, 247.
 A Brief History of the Cheongsam https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-cheongsam/
 Shanghai's golden age of jazz music https://gbtimes.com/shanghais-golden-age-jazz-music
 The Seven Great Singing Stars- https://www.last.fm/tag/seven+great+singing+stars
 Fragrant Orchid: The Story of My Early Life (Critical Interventions) by Yamaguchi Yoshiko
by Katrena Porter
Human beings have been collecting things for as long as anyone can remember. While there is some disagreement as to whether this activity is purely psychological in basis, there are certainly a number of possible motives for why a person might collect things. People may collect things because of some sentimental value or monetary value; they may also collect because it is fun, to preserve the past, or simply because they enjoy the hunt. Some people collect things that are unusual, such as swizzle sticks, outfits worn by celebrities, or even string. It only makes sense that at some point, somebody might end up collecting something that seems taboo or offensive to another person.
So, how does one determine when something is considered “offensive?” According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the legal definition of the term “offensive” is defined as:
“causing displeasure or resentment; especially: contrary to a particular or prevailing sense of what is decent, proper, or moral.”
Using that definition, it is very easy to see how one might perceive collecting war-time memorabilia as offensive, especially if the items being collected are from “the bad guys.” For instance, some people collect Nazi and Japanese World War II memorabilia.
While many people almost immediately correlate Nazi symbolism as synonymous with torture and death camps and evil, people often do not have the same gut reaction to Japanese wartime items. It is very likely that this lack of reaction results from the intentional omission of war crimes and atrocities from many countries’ history books. However, this deliberate ignorance does not mean that Japanese wartime memorabilia is any less offensive than Nazi memorabilia.
One semi-anonymous collector began gathering Japanese items in a purely innocuous way. For example, Mike, who goes by the alias of stepback_antiques on Show & Tell (a page on the Collectors Weekly website), stated that his obsession began when he came across a Japanese helmet in an antiques shop. He further stated:
“‘The American pieces were pretty easy to obtain,’ he says. ‘Part of the attraction of collecting the German and Japanese pieces was the hunt—a lot of the Japanese equipment at the end of the war was melted down and destroyed. U.S. vets came back with pocketfuls of German badges, a helmet, a rifle, or a flag, but they were harder to find.’”
Unlike collectors like Mike, people whose relatives survived the Japanese Occupation often donate their collected wartime memorabilia to museums. In June of 2017, Takashi Yanagishita of Nagoya donated a number of items to the Material Pavilion of War and Peace Aichi. These items were obtained by his father after the war. Though he did not learn about his father’s wartime experiences before he passed away, he felt that the items could teach future generations about war. Yanagishita is not the only person who has donated such items to the museum. In fact, a spokesperson for the museum stated that it has collected over 2,600 items from 425 people. Similar to donating wartime items to a museum, there have been other initiatives to return this type of memorabilia to their owners. For instance, one website discusses a movement for the return of Japanese artifacts to their rightful owners. 
In contrast, some people call for the complete condemnation of the sale or trade of Japanese wartime memorabilia. One issue with this is the lack of regulation of online sales. At one time, Yahoo! Auctions even began posting government notices each time someone posted a Japanese wartime item for sale on its website, but it was difficult to regulate only online sales of the items. Overall, there is a perception that Japanese war memorabilia is not as sought after as Nazi memorabilia. Regardless, both types of memorabilia still sell online today.
While there are a number of options related to the collection or donation of Japanese war memorabilia, the bottom line is that each item paints a painful picture for many, many people in the Asian Pacific. Perhaps if there was more awareness of the wartime atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army and others, the few remainders of their presence might be less in demand. At the very least, informing the public of the types of war crimes that were committed might deter new collectors from the thrill of the chase or might cause others to donate their memorabilia to a museum’s collection.
 Daniel Faris, “The Problem with Using Psychology to Explain Collecting,” ZMEScience, Sept. 5, 2017, https://www.zmescience.com/other/feature-post/problem-using-psychology-explain-collecting/.
 Mark B. McKinley, Ed.D., “The Psychology of Collecting,” The National Psychologist, Jan. 1, 2007, https://nationalpsychologist.com/2007/01/the-psychology-of-collecting/10904.html.
“Offensive,” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/offensive.
Mariko Oi, “What Japanese history lessons leave out,” BBC News, March 14, 2013, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21226068.
“Show & Tell,” Collectors Weekly, https://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories.
 Ben Marks, “Why Would Anyone Collect Nazi?” Collectors Weekly, June 23, 2011, https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/why-would-anyone-collect-nazi/.
Chunichi Shimbun, “Japanese war memorabilia pile up at museums, while online auctions of artifacts remain unregulated,” The Japan Times, Aug. 21, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/21/national/japanese-war-memorabilia-pile-museums-online-auctions-artifacts-remain-unregulated/#.W4N7GcJOnIU.
Kiyoshi Nishiha, “Let War Memorabilia Come Home,” Apr. 18, 2010, http://www.hlswilliwaw.com/nishiha/english.htm.
Chunichi Shimbun, “Japanese war memorabilia pile up at museums, while online auctions of artifacts remain unregulated,” The Japan Times, Aug. 21, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/21/national/japanese-war-memorabilia-pile-museums-online-auctions-artifacts-remain-unregulated/#.W4N7GcJOnIU.
Kenneth W. Rendell, “What Are Those World War II Collectibles Really Worth?” Bottom Line, May 15, 2010, https://bottomlineinc.com/life/collectibles/what-are-those-world-war-ii-collectibles-really-worth.
by Jack Demlow
It is well known in the American popular consciousness that Japanese Imperial Army at the time of World War II abhorred the idea of being taken prisoners in war, leading to suicidal attacks by Japanese soldiers and utter contempt for any enemies that they took prisoner. Additionally, though Japan officially stated that the terms of the Geneva Convention would be followed so far as it was possible, Japan had itself never ratified it. Following the Convention “so far as it was possible” meant it would not be followed very far at all, for excuses of cultural difference and necessity for labor would be used by the state as an external pretense to mask the Japanese military’s total antipathy regarding their prisoners’ well being; The Imperial Army violated at least 5 different articles of the Geneva convention with regards to the trial and execution of Allied POWs alone, not to mention further violations with regard to treatment of prisoners in the camps and using prisoners for labor. It is also worth noting that the disciplinary culture within the Imperial Army was extremely severe, and an institution that encouraged beatings for its own soldiers would hardly be expected to protect prisoners of war. Common means of execution were bayoneting, beheading with the sword, and by firing squad, while in fewer cases prisoners were drowned or immolated en masse.
While the behavior of Japanese soldiers and camp guards showed disturbing callousness towards the lives of defeated Allied soldiers, sadism was not reserved for prisons and camps: on several occasions, surrendering Allies were bayoneted or shot en masse on the spot. In
Hong Kong and Singapore, wounded soldiers were killed in their beds or penned up alongside civilian doctors and nurses for execution later. The captured defenders of Amboina Island (nearly 300 men) and both the civilian and military crew of the Vynor Brook (also around 300 persons) provide additional examples of mass slaughter, their executions seemingly ordered to prevent them from being a “drain” on the resources and manpower of the Japanese military.
Allied airmen were a unique case, for they were especially despised by their Japanese captors. After the “Doolittle Raid” bombed several cities on the Islands of Japan as a reprisal for Pearl Harbor, the Enemy Airmen’s Act was created by the Japanese government as a deterrent to Allied air strikes: in essence, the act declared that any Allied airmen who were found guilty of attacking civilians, private property, nonmilitary objectives (beyond what was unavoidable) or committing ‘violations of war-time international law’ would be prosecuted as war criminals and could be given the death penalty or ten years imprisonment. Three captured Doolittle pilots would be executed for such “offenses,” with their trials being little more than formal fronts for state-sponsored revenge. In the case of the Doolittle flyers, and many others that would be executed throughout the war, the impossibility of determining which plane was responsible for the destruction of which buildings did not stop the Imperial Army from finding them guilty. As the war progressed and more and more airmen were captured in greater numbers, trials were often dispensed with and prisoners were executed straight away. Regardless of whether or not they were given an official trial, their “guilt” was already determined by the flags on their uniforms.
As for the Allied soldiers who were not executed immediately or charged with war crimes and executed later, their fates were notoriously bleak and uncertain. They might be tortured or worked to death, murdered on the whim of a Japanese guard, or they might survive long enough to fall victim to another cruelty: mass execution to prevent their rescue by the Allies. Not only were these mass murders aimed to spite their foes, but in some cases, the executions were carried out to silence witnesses to the Imperial Army’s atrocities. Massacres on Formosa and Palawan took place while the war was still raging, with the events on the latter island being particularly chilling: the prisoners were fooled into thinking that an Allied bombing run was on its way, and then when they were all huddled in bomb shelters the Japanese soldiers lit the structures on fire and hosed them down with machine gun fire. Allied soldiers held on Wake Island and Fukuoka were murdered when their captors heard about Japan’s surrender, final acts of cruel defiance by men who were taught that defeat was anathema.
Francis, Timothy Lang. ""To Dispose of the Prisoners"." Pacific Historical Review (1997):
496-501. Journal Article.
MacKenzie, S. P. "The Treatment of Prisoners in World War II." The Journal of Modern History
(1994): 487-520. Journal Article.
Russel, Edward Fredrick Langley. The Knights of Bushido. New York: Skyhorse Publishing,
by Kelly Suen
Unit 731 was a biological and chemical weapons research and development unit of the Japanese Army. It operated covertly for ten years since 1935 in Harbin, China, and was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes committed by Imperial Japan, due to its extensive use of lethal human experimentation. With science and medicine as its stated purpose, Unit 731 was called upon to develop cures for sexually transmitted diseases, which had begun to spread among the Japanese army due to soldiers’ rape of civilians and sex with comfort women. To study STDs, Unit 731 prisoners were used as human test subjects. Female prisoners, for example, were infected by syphilis either by forced sex with an infected male prisoner or by injections. These women were forced to become pregnant for use in STD experiments, and the babies born to these women were also used in experiments.
Pregnant women were infected with syphilis and other STDs for use in studying the effect it may have on the fetus. Female prisoners were systematically raped, sometimes by doctors, resulting in a large number of babies born in captivity. Babies born to women with syphilis were tested on the moment they were born. These babies were personally delivered by doctors instead of nurses, as it normally would be the case. Blood flow from mother to child would be stopped and released intermittently to take multiple blood samples. This was done to determine the intensity of syphilis transmitted from mother to child, and to study the progression of the disease from the time of birth.
Some women were forced to have sex to study the transmission of STDs. When the infection of STDs by injection was abandoned, the researchers started forcing prisoners to have sexual intercourse with each other. The process was handled by four or five Unit 731 members, dressed in white laboratory clothing which would cover the body entirely, leaving only eyes and mouth visible. A male and female, one infected with syphilis, would be brought into a cell together and forced to have sex with each other, under threat of getting shot if anyone resisted. Once the healthy partner was infected, researchers closely observed the progress of the disease to determine, for example, how far it advanced the first week, the second week, and so forth. Instead of looking for external changes, such as the condition of sexual organs, researchers performed live dissections to investigate the effect of the disease on the internal organs at different stages of the disease. Unsurprisingly, some women were impregnated from these sexual encounters.
Babies, whether born outside or in Unit 731, were also made use of in experiments. The ones born in Unit 731 were the results of rape. A few months after being impregnated, women would be dissected and their fetuses removed while they were awake. On one occasion, a pregnant woman was infected with syphilis, and when her child was born, they were both dissected. Another experiment conducted on children was for a frostbite cure. A temperature sensing needle was inserted into the hand of a three-month-old baby and the infant was immersed in ice water, then temperature changes were recorded.
With the prevalence of syphilis and other STDs among Japanese soldiers, Unit 731 was sought out to create cures. Unit 731 performed experiments that had caused the deaths of many female prisoners. Atrocities such as vivisections and forced pregnancies were committed for science. Women were infected with syphilis, and some were also forced to become pregnant. They were infected and impregnated by rape or forced sex with male prisoners. Scientists utilized pregnant women as well as the children they would later give birth to in their STD experiments. Pregnant women, women with syphilis, and babies were dissected alive. Despite knowledge of a large number of children born in Unit 731, there are no records of survivors. It is likely the children were killed along with other prisoners at the end of the war.
Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II by Peter Williams, David Wallace pg. 41
Unit 731: Testimony By Hal Gold
Get our ebook to learn more about Unit 731!
by Jack Demlow
The Fall of Singapore was a military disaster contemporary with Pearl Harbor, but it led to division and finger-pointing instead of rallying the Allies further against Japan. The Japanese invasion of Malaya (today’s Malaysia) began December 8th, 1941, landing troops on its shores and pushing south through the peninsula. The combined British, Indian, and Australian forces under General Arthur Percival’s command had great difficulty stalling the Japanese attack, and in two months the struggle was over: Japan had taken all of Malaya and the surrender of Singapore 130,000 Allied soldiers was being negotiated. This defeat was called “the worst disaster and the largest capitulation in British history” by British prime minister Winston Churchill, and the British generals that had led the defense were not viewed very graciously. Most of the popular blame for the capture of Singapore would fall on General Percival, though arguably this was unjust given lacking support for fortifying the region and a number of his generals who held him in contempt and inhibited smooth military operation.
Among these belligerents, General Henry Gordon Bennett, commander of the Australian 8th Division, was a notable case. He already had a reputation as a courageous frontline commander in WWI: Bennet had been wounded on his first day of battle, but he escaped the hospital ship as soon as he had a chance (not permission) and went right back to the front lines. This reputation was bolstered on many other battlefields, but it gained some unpleasant dimensions as Bennet was found to be argumentative and had a sensitive ego when working with other officers. Additionally, Bennet was not a full-time soldier in peacetime and had a poor opinion of officers who served in the military full-time, a position he vocalized frequently and even worked into a number of newspaper articles in 1937. This drew enough attention to Bennet for him to face Censure by the Military Board, which doubtless only worsened his relations to other officers.
When WWII began, Bennet was the third-highest ranking officer in the Australian military, but he was passed over for command in the field on three separate occasions. A courageous soldier Bennett may have been, but his touchy ego and dislike of regular officers would have harmed Australian capability to work jointly with British forces that were also operating in the Pacific. The promotion of the commander of the 8th Division, Major General Vernon Sturdee, finally gave Bennet a position to fill in the field. Bennett's performance as a commander against the Japanese advance through Johore was as strong any of his fellow commanders in Malaya, but it was not enough. Aside from a successful ambush at Gemas, his Australian and Indian units were pushed back along with the rest of the defending line. Malaya fell in early February, as did Singapore.
Bennet was known as a brave and enthusiastic soldier, no matter his pettiness with his peers and superiors, but his actions during the surrender of Singapore marred that reputation in the eyes of many. Allegedly having sufficient knowledge of Japanese tactics to provide an advantage later on in the war, Bennet gave up his command to Brigadier C.A. Callaghan and escaped Singapore alongside civilian evacuees. Bennett’s claim to possess valuable intelligence did not save him from rebuke for leaving his troops, and his senior officers kept him out of field command for the rest of the war. Bennett, and extended his defense to include criticism of the other commanders of the Malayan campaign in his book Why Singapore Fell. At the end of the war, Bennett found himself under military investigation for his flight from Singapore after the now-released General Percival accused him of unlawfully vacating his command. The investigation’s conclusion condemned Bennet’s actions as unjustified, no matter his intent or his degree of personal courage. Bennett returned to civilian life with his military reputation tarnished, though not in tatters, and he continues to be a controversial figure in the history of WWII.
Austrailian War Memorial. Lieutenant General Henry Gordon Bennet. n.d. web page. 27 June 2018.
Bell, Morgan. Gordon Bennet. n.d. web page. 27 June 2018.
Diamond, John. General Arthur Percival: A Convenient Scapegoat? 17th June 2016. web page. 27th June 2018.
Lodge, A.B. Bennett, Henry Gordon (1887-1962). 1993. web page. 27 June 2018.