by Mark Witzke
There is no person more important to Singapore’s modern history than Lee Kuan Yew. He led Singapore into the modern age, guiding Singapore from devastated British colony to thriving and prosperous independent city-state. His determination to reshape Singapore was shaped in part by his experiences during the brutal Japanese occupation.
Lee was born in 1923 to an ethnic Chinese family that had lived in Singapore for several generations. Originally from Guangdong, his family had been early settlers in Singapore after it was established as a British colony. Lee was educated in English schools and was often at or near the top of his class. However, his schooling was delayed by the onset of World War II and he found himself in Singapore as the Japanese invaded, just struggling to survive.
Later in life, Lee would reflect poignantly on the atrocities suffered by Singapore during the occupation. In his earlier days, Lee stated that he knew the Japanese as “a clean, neat, disciplined and self-contained community” so he was shocked when he faced the realities of the oppressive occupation. He found the Japanese occupiers to be “unbelievably cruel… systematic brutalization by their military government made them a callous lot. We suffered three and a half years of privation and horror” . Lee described that later during the rebuilding of Singapore, it was not uncommon to find caches of bones in mass graves. Ultimately 40 such sites were located and by Lee’s own estimates, more than 50,000 people were executed following the fall of Singapore. When pressing the Japanese government for reparations and apologies, he was met with regrets and favorable loans, but never a complete apology . (For more information on the fall of Singapore be sure to check out other PAE blogposts here and here)
Lee had himself narrowly avoided the aforementioned purges following the fall of the city he would one day rule. In the chaotic aftermath of Singapore’s defeat, the Japanese began to carry out what became known as “Sook Ching”; a process of routinely rounding up and executing anyone whom they thought might oppose their rule. As an educated Chinese man, Lee soon found himself targeted. After being confined to a detention center for several days, he was ordered to board a truck, along with many other young Chinese men. Lee instinctively felt something was wrong and asked for permission to gather his belongings before he left. Permission was granted but Lee did not return, he instead searched for a hiding place and managed to take refuge in the shanty of a rickshaw puller who had worked for Lee’s family his entire childhood, eventually managing to escape a few days later . Lee later heard that those who boarded the truck were shot on the beach near Changi prison. Lee had narrowly avoided being executed and Singapore narrowly avoided losing someone who would become a transformational leader . Thousands of others were not so lucky and the city of Singapore would have to persevere through several more years of hardship before eventual liberation.
These experiences, while harrowing and traumatic, would shape Lee’s outlook on life and create determination to build a thriving and strong Singapore. Lee stated the fall of Singapore was “the single most important event of my life” and shaped his worldview such that he felt “determined that no one – neither the Japanese nor the British – had the right to push and kick us around” . The trauma of Japanese occupation made Lee see that the Singaporean people would have to depend on themselves if they wanted safety and security. The dead can’t be brought back to life, the past cannot be erased and the hardships should not be forgotten. However, Lee and the rest of Singapore successfully moved past these hardships and used these events to inspire the creation of an independent and prosperous Singapore.
Bowring, Philip. “Lee Kuan Yew Obituary.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Mar. 2015, www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/22/lee-kuan-yew.
Chew, Cassandra. “The Rickshaw Puller Who Saved Lee Kuan Yew.” The Straits Times, The Straits Times, 19 Jan. 2016, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/the-rickshaw-puller-who-saved-lee-kuan-yew.
Chng, Henedick. “4 Intriguing Stories of How 4 of S’Pore’s Founding Fathers Survive the Japanese Occupation.” Mothership.SG , Mothership, 15 Feb. 2017, mothership.sg/2017/02/4-intriguing-stories-of-how-4-of-spores-founding-fathers-survive-the-japanese-occupation/.
Josey, Alex. Lee Kuan Yew. Time Books Internaitonal Times Centre, 1980.
“Lee Kuan Yew.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 22 Mar. 2015, www.economist.com/news/asia/leekuanyew.
Lee, Kuan Yew. From Third World to First: the Singapore Story, 1965-2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2015.
by Paulina Hernandez
The Imperial Japanese Forces attacked Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Islands simultaneously. This planned attack on these two specific areas was a strategic attack meant American control in the Pacific and expand Japan’s territory.Following the surrender of the Allies at the Battle of Corregidor, all radio connections and communications ceased as the Japanese military invaded the Philippine Islands. Despite the lack of communication, some American and Filipino soldiers were able to evade the Japanese and go into hiding. One of those soldiers who was able to escape was Ramon Magsaysay Sr. who would become a prominent leader in the Western Luzon Guerrilla Force .
[Ramon Magsaysay Sr., future President of the Philippines]
The Western Luzon Guerrilla Force was not the only resistance group to form. Alongside it, “several bands of resistance fighters sprouted up throughout the philippine landscape” . What set these various groups apart were their ideas on how to take back their island. A big hindrance within these groups was that many were also politically motivated. Some groups were politically motivated in that they had differing views on agendas and a nationalistic goal. The Hukbalahap Guerrilla was one of the more commonly known resistance groups that had a political agenda. The Hukbalahap, known as “Huk”, was comprised of Filipino citizens from all backgrounds. Members included “peasant farmers, workers’ union, communist party members, and both rural and urban laborers” . The Huk were seen as highly successful in that they eliminated many Japanese soldiers. Furthermore, the Huks saw rich Filipinos who collaborated with the Japanese as being targets as well. The killing of rich Filipino collaborators enabled the Huk to capture estates. Within these estates, they created their own government,taxes, and laws. In 1954, the Hukbalahap would end with the Presidential election of Ramon Magsaysay Sr. and overwhelming pressure to stomp out communist groups .
[Pictured above is Luis Taruc whom was the main commander of the Huk Resistance.]
The main catalyst for the Filipino resistance was the mistreatment of POWs and Filipino citizens at the hands of the Japanese forces. Filipino citizens had heard stories such as the Rape of Nanking in China, and of the atrocities committed in other occupied territories such as Korea. Sadly, Filipino citizens were subjected to beatings, rape, starvation, and many other atrocities. The atrocities committed and the destruction of their homeland empowered many Filipino/Filipinas to commit to the resistance and take back their land.
The Japanese forces had noted during the Bataan Death March, an alarming amount of sentiment for the Allied forces among the Filipino people. In order to combat any form of resistance, Japanese soldiers would beat or kill any Filipino citizen who sympathized with Allied forces or whom questioned the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. A tactic the Japanese employed was the use of propaganda in the form of leaflets, and films. Through films such as Dawn For Freedom (1944), Japanese had hoped to squash any ties between the Filipino people and Western ideology and cement their hold on the country and its people.
[Left] Filipino resistance fighters taking a break; [Right]: resistance fighters guarding Japanese prisoners
There were many resistance groups such as the Hunters ROTC, Marking’s Guerrillas,the Aetas and the USAFIP-LN which stands for United States Army in the Philippines of Northern Luzon. The Hunters ROTC was comprised of former cadets from the Philippine Military Academy. Wanting to fight, the former cadets trained other resistance fighters as “saboteurs( running phone lines, radio connections, eliminating pro-Japanese Filipinos and spies, and conducting small hit and run raids” . The Marking's Guerrillas were mainly centered in east Manila and under the command of Colonel Marcos V. Agustin. In contrast, to the Hunters ROTC, the Marking’s Guerrillas was comprised of older citizens and soldiers. The Marking’s Guerrillas are known for the taking of the Ipo Dam . USAFIP-NL differed from the other two guerilla forces in that the USAFIP-NL was comprised of American, Filipino and guerilla soldiers. The USAFIP-NL was commanded by General Russell W. Volckmann and a military force that was more than 8,000 infantrymen . The Aetas were an “indigenous guerilla unit that served in Northern and Central Luzon . The Aeta were a considerable asset to the underground resistance due to their superior tracking skills and understanding of the Luzon province. The Aeta would hide and protect American soldiers in the mountain caves and when food supply ran dry, they would grow “tubers (sweet potatoes and yam) and rice to feed their units” . In closing, minority groups such as the Aetas and the Igorts contribution to the resistance would enable the American guerilla troops to cut off supply line for the Japanese and enabling recruit for the Philippine resistance.
Britannica Encyclopedia.Hukbalahap Rebellion. Date Accessed October 6,2017.https://www.britannica.com/event/Hukbalahap-Rebellion.
Wikipedia. Ramon Magsaysay Sr. Date Accessed October 6, 2017.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramon_Magsaysay
Pinterest.Child soldier. Date Accessed October 6, 2017.https://www.pinterest.com/pin/238550111491419417/?lp=true
Villasanta, Art. The Filipino Nation-in-Arms and and its defeat of the Empire of Japan in World War II. Date Accessed October 6,2017.http://filipinonationinarms.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-philippines-was-grave-of-dai-nippon.html
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By Chris Sayas
During the Second World War, cannibalism was committed by Imperial Japanese soldiers across the entire Pacific theater for a variety of reasons. Over the course of the war, occupying Japanese officers and soldiers in their conquered territories would face food shortages and supplies. Over time, Allied efforts of attacking and harassing Japanese supply routes intensified leading to ever increasing scarcity of military rations in Japanese occupied countries. This was especially true with positions far from the Japanese home islands and would only get worse as the war progressed. Although circumstances differed on the locality and where each unit was stationed, some soldiers were in positions to take from the locals while others were not quite so fortunate to be stationed near agriculturally rich areas.
Yet there is evidence that some Imperial Japanese commanders actually ordered their own units to commit such acts of cannibalism. Although many occupying Japanese units faced supply shortages, some accused of committing, ordering, and carrying out such crimes were in conditions that did not actually warrant such extreme measures to be taken. There is the case of the American pilots of which 8 airmen were shot down but able to bail out of their Grumman TBF Avengers after executing a raid on Chichijima, a long range radio communication station. As the airmen swam ashore they were quickly captured and while some were executed almost immediately, the surviving airmen were saved for something much more sinister. Imperial Japanese medical personnel under orders from the Japanese officers to prepare these prisoners of war for consumption. The Japanese officers at a party later would remark on certain parts of the human flesh as a delicacy such as the livers as well as state that most of the flesh tasted wonderful to them. The officers later on when interviewed considered the flesh of their enemies to be “good medicine for the stomach” describing it as if these actions were far from absurdity and treating such deeds as being ordinary if not seemingly a natural thing to do as a Japanese soldier serving in the Imperial Army. There are other instances as well with captured Indian soldiers whom were also eaten slowly one by one. In one account an Allied Indian unit who had been captured had officers and soldiers taken away by the Japanese one by one for nearly 100 days. There are even accounts of soldiers still alive with their flesh being torn off to be prepared for consumption by the Japanese troops and officers.
Cannibalism in this case can be seen not as an act of desperation to survive but rather a tool for projection of power. It almost seems that the fact that cannibalism existed within several realms of the Japanese military institution may seem like an attempt by Allied or even post World War rewritten history. Yet such acts of brutality manifested because of the height of Imperial Japanese military culture, that is through a very general understanding of the Bushido warrior code if not outright corruption of it. The fanaticism that permeated throughout Japanese military culture before the war also pervaded throughout Japanese culture as well, essentially forming the mindset of how both Japanese imperial officers and soldiers viewed their job as warriors. Eating the enemy could even be seen as something of a process of imbuing It would seem that their understanding of the Loyalty component of the ancient samurai Bushido code essentially would mean not only going to any lengths to fight for the Emperor but also commit oneself to one’s perception of what he should do for the Empire as a whole. Millions of Japanese soldiers entered the war with this fanatical and twisted mindset of loyalty to the Emperor, making sure that it became a contributing factor in how many Imperial Japanese soldiers would act, carrying out brutal crimes against prisoners of war and civilians alike.
Pearl Harbor Navy Base before the attack
Pearl Harbor was a United States Naval base on the island of Oahu, located west of Honolulu. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy bombed the Pearl Harbor Naval base in a surprise attack.
Admiral Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy came to the conclusion that for the Japanese to be victorious in the pacific, they had to destroy the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was considered to be geographically perfect for the United States to have their Pacific fleet based there. The island had a narrow entrance and shallow water which made it an ideal and impenetrable fort. An attack by enemy forces was thought to have been impossible. Prior to the attack, Japanese Naval forces practiced the attack at Kagoshima Bay, a Japanese base. It was described as the “twin sister” of Pearl Harbor for its near identical structure.
The goal of the Japanese was to sink the aircraft carriers but, if unable to, they were advised to sink battleships. The Japanese would attack in three waves.The first wave was to attack military installations along the island of Oahu. The second wave would target specific areas whilst, the third wave would target fuel storage tanks.
The Japanese carriers went unnoticed because they had approached Pearl Harbor from the north of Oahu. In that area, no radar was able to detect them because of the mountains so it was essentially a dead zone. Furthermore, that Sunday there were no American surveillance planes circling the area.
The first wave attacked along Oahu, specifically Pearl Harbor. One of the Japanese air pilots bombed the USS Arizona ship causing the battleship to be sunk in less than nine minutes. The bombing of the USS Arizona ended in the death of over 1,100 men.
[Above is a picture of the USS Arizona after the attack]
The USS Oklahoma then proceeded to be hit by over 10 torpedoes. At the bottom is a picture of the USS Oklahoma before the attack. By coincidence, the USS Oklahoma was scheduled that morning for inspection which made it one of the easier targets. Portholes and water hatches had been opened the night before, allowing seawater to enter the battleship. The bombing of the USS Oklahoma caused it to sink, trapping over 400 men. Additionally, bombs hit drydocks such as the Pennsylvanian.
[Above is a picture of the USS Oklahoma after being bombed]
The second wave of the attack came in from the north and 78 dive bombers continued the attack on Pearl Harbor. Four hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the first wave of pilots returned to Japanese carriers which were now 190 miles off the coast of Oahu. As stated above, the Japanese had planned for a third wave but, surprisingly an admiral named Naguma chose to call off the attack regardless of the success of the first and second wave. It was later discovered, that Naguma was unsure of where the U.S aircraft carriers were so, he chose to not risk his forces. The Japanese had ended their assault on the island of Oahu after two waves of attack.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, residents and military personnel were advised to prepare themselves for Japanese invasion. Additionally, paranoia against Japanese-American residents rose. The fear of the Japanese invading led Honolulu police to raid the Japanese embassy. Furthermore, the attack led government agents to confiscate any broadcasting system from Japanese-American residents, fearing them sending information to Japan. Almost immediately, Japanese-Americans from Hawaii were rounded up and placed in internment camps. A total of 800 Japanese-Americans were interned. Execute Order No.9066, interning all Japanese-Americans would not take effective until 74 days after Pearl Harbor.
The governor of Hawaii had declared martial law, Hawaii was now under military control. Changes occurred such as the creation of bomb shelters, and sandbags placed in the front of downtown buildings. In the schools, the creation of trenches, practice runs in the case of bombings, and the use of gas masks had been implemented.
In the end, of the 92 ships docked at Pearl Harbor, 19 had been sunk. The United States Navy had 92 of their aircrafts destroyed and 31 damaged. The United States army had 96 aircrafts sunk and 128 damaged. 2,388 were killed and 1,178 wounded. A direct hit on the USS Arizona had resulted in the death of over 1,100 men. The Japanese had only lost 29 planes in the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
[Above is a picture of the USS Arizona Memorial]
Two decades after the events on December 7th, a memorial for the USS Arizona was opened on Memorial Day 1962. The memorial was built where the USS Arizona was docked at Pearl Harbor Navy Base. Nearby the USS Arizona memorial, is the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument honoring all those who fought in the pacific during World War II. It is estimated that about a 1 million and half people from around the world pay tribute to the brave men who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
.World War II: Attack on Pearl Harbor Documentary. Date Accessed September 19,2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnQ_6h3VtRo
Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Date Accessed September 22,2017.https://www.pinterest.com/dmschaffner/world-war-ii-and-pearl-harbor/
USS Arizona Memorial. Date Accessed September 19,2017.https://visitpearlharbor.org/history-of-the-uss-arizona-memorial/
USS Oklahoma. Pearl Harbor-USS Oklahoma: The Final Story. Date Accessed October 3,2017.http://www.pbs.org/program/pearl-harbor-uss-oklahoma-final-story/
by Paulina Hernandez
[The painting above depicts an encounter between the TBD Destroyer and the Japanese Navy during the naval battle of the Midway Island]
The Battle of Midway was a turning point in the Pacific War between the United States and Japan. The battle was from June 4th to June 6th, 1942, six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A month before the attack, American cryptographers were able to decode transmissions sent amongst the Japanese forces. The mission of the United States Navy was to ambush the Japanese Navy. The Japanese Navy under the leadership of Admiral Naguma, had no inkling that they were about to be ambushed. Admiral Naguma came upon an American aircraft carrier but, chose to wait rather than attack. Naguma mistakenly assumed that the American aircraft was alone. Naguma’s decision changed the course of the Asia-Pacific war.
Naguma chose to wait before attacking the US Navy. While Naguma was waiting, American squadrons of torpedo bombers, en route to the Japanese went separate ways without air support, leaving themselves vulnerable to enemy fire. In the ensuing battle against Japanese fighter pilots, the Enterprise Torpedo Squadron lost 18 of 28 men, the Yorktown squadron lost 21 men out of 24, and the Hornet squadron lost all of 30 except 1. Sadly, none of the torpedo squadrons were successful in striking against the Japanese fleet.
At this point in time, America was facing defeat at Midway while Admiral Nagumo was planning an attack that would end the American fight for Midway. American forces were able to recuperate and began attacking the Japanese fleet. As American dive bombers flew around looking for the Japanese, they were unable to find them because the Japanese had moved position northward. The reason for this, was so the Japanese could engage in battle with the remaining US ships. On a whim, the Enterprise squadron changed their course and spotted four Japanese carriers. The Japanese carriers were without air support as the Japanese pilots were engaging in battle with the last of the American torpedo planes. The lack of air support enabled the Enterprise dive bombers to open fire on the Japanese carriers. Torpedo squadrons and dive bombers were successful in striking at the Japanese Navy fleet carriers.
The four fleet carriers were the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu1 .The Japanese Navy had lost 322 aircraft and over five thousand men3 while the American forces had lost 147 aircraft and more than 300 men3 . The destruction of Japanese carriers resulted in survivors floating in the water for hours waiting for rescue while others committed suicide. In just five minutes, the heart of the Japanese Navy was decimated.
Over the next two days, the US continually attacked the Japanese causing them retreat. In the end, the Japanese lost 3,057 men, four carriers, one cruiser, and hundreds of aircraft4. The United States had lost 362 men, one carrier, one destroyer, and 144 aircraft5.
National Geographic.The Battle for Midway. Date Accessed September 22,2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAdnmCeDwKg
TBD: Attacking At Midway. Date Accessed September 29, 2017. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TBD_attacking_at_Midway_painting.jpg
by Danielle Dybbro
In a previous blog post I wrote about Unit 731, but the facility in Harbin was not the only Imperial Japanese facility used for biological warfare research.
General Shiro Ishii was the head of the Imperial Japanese biological warfare research program. Ishii made extensive visits to Europe in order to tour military hospitals during the mid 1920s, but the main reason for his European tour was to investigate biological warfare research. Ishii studied the research that was developed during World War I, which later heavily influenced his creation of Unit 731. Additionally, on his world tour, some of the countries he visited were secretly researching biological warfare, and a Military Attaché in the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. “said that he heard that Ishii had studied bacteriological warfare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.” Upon his return to Japan in 1930, he managed to convince the Japanese State Department of Military Affairs to develop a biological weapons program.
The invasion of Manchuria in 1931 by the Japanese was the golden opportunity that General Ishii had been waiting for. The wide expanses of uninhabited land served as the perfect arena for conducting biological warfare research, as the small island nation of Japan had severely limited research potential because of the issues of space and safety. By 1933 Ishii had established facilities in Manchuria for conducting both defensive and offensive biological warfare research. Defensive research involved the production of vaccines and offensive research was the main focus of the notorious Unit 731 for the purpose of developing diseases for use as weapons, including plague, glanders, anthrax, and typhus. World War II began in 1939 for the Western world, but by this time there were an estimated 18 other biological warfare facilities scattered throughout the Japanese empire, from Manchuria in the north to Indonesia in the south.
In the use of human subjects, researchers would refer to the subjects as ‘marutas’ which translated to ‘wooden logs.’ By dehumanizing the Chinese, Russian, Mongolian, and Communists that were rounded up by the Japanese secret police, the Kempeitai, researchers could justify the harsh treatment of marutas in their experiments. In a testimony, Yoshio Shinuzaka confirmed this practice and said that, “We called the victims ‘logs’… We didn't want to think of them as people. We didn't want to admit that we were taking lives. So we convinced ourselves that what we were doing was like cutting down a tree. When you see someone in that state, you just can't move. Your mind goes blank. The fear is overwhelming.”
Evidence of biological attacks in China are recorded in official records of a number of Japanese military officers, including field tests in Chinese villages leading to outbreaks of cholera and the plague. At Unit 731, bombs with fleas infected with the plague, shrapnel carrying anthrax, and planes spraying other diseases were tested on prisoners. Prisoners would be tied to stakes and the bombs would be dropped at varying distances and their bodies were monitored for reactions, which often involved cutting subjects open without anesthetic. After death, their organs would be preserved for further study.
South of Harbin, where Unit 731 was located, was the city of Changchun, which was chosen as the capital for the Manchurian puppet state. In 1936 the Anti-Epizootic Protection of Horses Unit was created in Changchun, which later became known as Unit 100. Unit 100 was not run by Ishii, but by Major Yujiro, a veterinarian who sometimes cooperated with Ishii in joint research. This unit specialized in the prevention of animal diseases, but also researched plant and animal biological warfare akin to Unit 731’s activities. The unit’s focus was on sabotage operations, with research conducted for the cultivation of crop viruses and livestock diseases. Both people and animals were subjected to experimentation, and a number of recorded testimonies from former workers and medical students describe seeing dead bodies being wheeled away from operating rooms and animals being poisoned with contaminated crops. In Soviet-sponsored war trials, a former Unit 100 worker confirmed that he had “taken part in these inhuman experiments on living people, in bacteriological sabotage and in the preparations for bacteriological warfare against the Soviet Union,” and other admissions of guilt are found throughout the trial transcript.
According to some scholarship, the United States government struck a plea bargain with General Ishii in exchange for all the medical research acquired from the experiments conducted at Unit 731. In a letter written in 1998, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations in Los Angeles confirmed that the exchange occurred: “Two of these [formerly classified] reports [about biological warfare data collected by the Japanese and the arrangement made between the United States and Lieutenant General Shiro Ishii, the Commander of the Unit 731], dated November 17, 1981 and May 5, 1982, confirm that Ishii and his colleagues received immunity from prosecution and that, in exchange, they provided a great deal of information to U.S. authorities.” In contrast, in memo dated from 1995 from the Department of the Army, Edward Drea, then the Chief of the Research and Analysis Division of Military History, claims that “there is no primary source material guaranteeing General Ishii immunity from prosecution. He was not tried as a war criminal apparently in order to conceal from the Soviet Union the extent of the information he provided the United States about biological warfare. Even that interpretation, however, rests on very fragmentary evidence.”
However, in 1995 in another primary government source, an internal memo claims that with the emergence of the Cold War, the Americans felt that they could not entrust the biological warfare information amassed by the Japanese to the Soviets. In order to keep the research from falling into Soviet hands, the documents handed over to the United States in 1945 were classified and thus were not able to be used as evidence in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Despite this cover up, the Soviet Union tried twelve of them in 1949 in the Khabarovsk Trials, which are available to read online through Google books.
Unfortunately, the United States “dismissed the verdicts [in the Khabarovsk trials] with the evidence as another in a series of long-running Stalinist show trials.” Additionally, though 12 Japanese officers involved with Unit 731 were tried in Khabarovsk, the convicts received prison sentences ranging from 2-25 years and most were freed in the 1950s. This is in stark contrast to the Nuremburg and Tokyo war crime trials, which resulted in German and Japanese officials being hanged or sentenced to life in prison.
Scholarship on Japan’s biological warfare program has been increasing since the 1980s with admissions of guilt by former Unit 731 workers and the discovery of a cache of forgotten military records in a Tokyo bookstore in 1984, but the issue is that the evidence is scattered and often fragmentary in nature. Historians must continue to piece together the narrative and bring to light a fuller picture of Imperial Japan’s biological warfare research that began well before the outbreak of World War II.
Cunliffe, William H. “Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records: Select Documents on Japanese War Crimes and Japanese Biological Warfare, 1934-2006.” Interagency Working Group.
Drea, Edward; Bradsher, Greg; Hanyok, Robert; Lide, James; Petersen, Michael, & Daqing Yang. Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays. Washington, D.C.: Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, 2006.
Harris, Sheldon. Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-up. New York: Routledge Press, 1994.
“Japanese Biological Warfare Experiments in World War II,” NSC Contingency Press Guidance. U.S. Internal Memo, August 16, 1995.
Letter, December 17, 1998. Headed “Re: U.S. Non-prosecution of Japanese War Criminals,” sent to the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles. Quoted in Reynolds, Gary. “U.S. Prisoners of War and Civilian American Citizens Captured and Interned by Japan in World War II: The Issue of Compensation.” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, The Library of Congress. Updated 2002. 22.
Pawlowicz, Rachel and Grunden, Walter. “Teaching Atrocities: The Holocaust and Unit 731 in Secondary School Curriculum.” History Teacher, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p. 271-294, February 2015.
Talmadge, Eric, “Japanese Soldier Faces the Poison of His Past,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2004.
Tsuchiya, Takashi. “The Imperial Japanese Medical Atrocities and its Enduring Legacy in Japanese Research Ethics.” Abridged from chapter “The Imperial Japanese Experiments in China” in Oxford Textbook of Clinical Research Ethics, 2008.
Tsuneishi & Asano, Suicide of Two Physicians, 48. Quoted in Harris, Sheldon. Factories of Death: Japanese biological warfare 1932-45 and the American cover-up, 19.
Tyson, James. “Proof found of Japanese gas, germ tests on POWs.” United Press International, August 16, 1984.
Working, Russell. “The trial of Unit 731.” Japan Times, June 5, 2001.
Yamada, Otozo. Materials on the trial of former servicemen of the Japanese Army, charged with manufacturing and employing bacteriological weapon. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1950. Accessed via Google Books.
By Paulina Hernandez
On September 22,2017, the Comfort Women Justice Coalition, or CWJC for short, unveiled a memorial honoring “comfort women”. “Comfort women” is translated from the Japanese word,”ianfu” which is a euphemism for prostitution. “Comfort women” were women and girls subjected to rape, and beatings by the Japanese Imperial Army. During World War II, young women from the following countries were used as “comfort women”: Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, New Guinea, Taiwan, Macau, and French Indochina. A small number of women from Netherlands and Australia were also used as “comfort women”
The unveiling ceremony was emceed by Phyllis Kim and Judith Mirkinson. Speakers included former Congressman Mike Honda, Dr.Jonathan Kim and former Supervisor Eric Mar. The theme of the ceremony was memory, resilience, and justice. A commonality amongst the speakers was accountability from the Japanese government and the demand for reparations for the victims and their families. Furthermore, for the Japanese government to conduct an investigation and punish those found guilty. Finally, the coalition demanded that the government of Japan teach an accurate history of Japan during World War II.
The ceremony included drumming from Cham E. Sori and singing from Do Hee Lee. The ceremony was presented as a multiethnic project between the following communities: Korean, Filipino, Japanese-American, Chinese, and Japanese. The keynote speaker of the event was Yong-Soo Lee, one of just a few survivors left to tell the story of being a “comfort woman”. Her main message was of the importance in acknowledging the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, specifically to the “comfort women”. Furthermore, the opportunity for her to share her story and the impact it will have for future generations. She was especially grateful to retired Judges Lillian Sing and Julie Tang for their impact on this project.
The memorial is named, the Women’s Column of Strength. The sculptor who designed the memorial is Steven Whyte. The memorial depicts three “comfort women”, one Korean, one Filipina, and one Chinese. They are being watched over by a fourth figure, a grandmother.The grandmother is Kim Hak-Soon who was one of the many “comfort women” who came forward with her story in 1991. The Women’s Column of Strength memorial is open for public viewing at the Saint Mary’s Square.
1. Wikipedia. Comfort Women. Date Accessed September 26, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women#Notable_former_comfort_women
Comfort Women Justice Coalition. Date Accessed September 26,2017.http://remembercomfortwomen.org/
Collister, Nikki. Protesters Expected For Friday Unveiling of “Comfort Women” Statue. Hoodline San Francisco. Date Accessed September 26,2017. http://hoodline.com/2017/09/protestors-expected-for-friday-unveiling-of-comfort-women-statue
Constante, Anges. San Francisco to Become First Major U.S to Install Comfort Women Memorial. Date Accessed September 26,2017.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/san-francisco-become-first-major-u-s-city-install-comfort-n719621
by Christopher Sayas
The Imperial Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 allowed for the culmination of the Second World War to reach the Asian continent. To fulfill its ambitions as an asian empire that could rival any formidable western colonial power it needed the raw resources to build such a domain. Wanting to emulate western colonial expansion, Imperial Japan saw the use of military force the only way in which it could fulfill its own goals of Asia. But through expansion the Imperial Japanese government committed countless atrocities across the Asian continent.
Events of the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March, as well as numerous individual stories of Japanese imperial savagery to prisoners of war, civilians, and those who were often viewed as being inferior are well documented. Yet the Japanese government did not seem to go through the same intense cleanse of its imperial government the way that Nazi Germany seemed to go through. Although both Axis allies and guilty of horrendous crimes, Germany underwent an intense cultural transformation to rid itself of Nazism and the vehicles that which were driving forces of militant expansionism. Many who were responsible within the Japanese government and private institutions following the war retained their positions or were only jailed for a fraction of their sentences, leaving many quite free only a few years after the war. Some would serve quite soon after as officials for the new post world war government that would seem drastically liberal to many outsiders but in reality would still be quite hard right leaning. The Cold War also had an affect as well, prompting some more liberal political elements to be suppressed and an component of conservatism to be retained that has survived over the years and generations.
Although Imperial Japan was defeated and its military empire dismantled following the end of the war, it did not shed the same kind of conservancy that Germany had been able to following the end of the war. Officially, the Japanese government of the post world war has apologized on different occasions but often falling on deaf ears. For many the official apologies feel insincere and perhaps only seemingly to gain political points from its closest military ally and trading partner, the United States. It would also seem that because official apologies are tied to compensation and financial redress creates a highly politicized statement that many Japanese officials have used as bargaining chips in the international community. Even more surprising is the continued maintenance and reverence of the Yasukuni Shrine of which many accused of war crimes are honored by the Shinto priests and many Japanese officials. Although the shrine itself is not exclusive to the Second World War it has remained
Today’s modern day Japan does not hold the same kind of blatant and aggressive ambitions that its past empire once held. The Japanese Constitution holds in Article 9 that the government never again will take up arms and display the same kind of belligerence and hostility that it manifested during the Second World War. This clause in the constitution in its official English translation states that the “Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” But more recent events have challenged the idea of a less militaristic and aggressive Japanese nation. Some laude the more flexible interpretation as a sovereign right while others see it only as a means to justify future conflict and perhaps help spark another global conflict.
Just in 2014 the official reinterpretation of the article meant that Japan could officially come to the aid of its allies if they were under attack. Additionally, it has also meant that the nation is able to now officially sell or give military grade equipment to its allies. With a more liberal understanding of the clause some in China and Korea have denounced the moves, interpreting the moves as a harkening back to the past imperial ambitions. Furthermore, Japan, although banned from having a traditional military has in its place a Defense Force that remains one of the most well armed and funded forces in Asia. Its own equipment is some of the most sophisticated and advanced in the region making the nation one of the most well equipped nations in the world.
Yet there are dissidents in Japan in both the Diet and the public who are in fact in favor of a more stronger and direct apology policy regarding the past atrocious war crimes. It can only be that accepting the past and not denying such actions, that Japan and its neighbors can move forward to build a longer lasting peace.
Hideki Tojo Trial
Bodies of victims along Qinhuai River out of Nanjing's west gate during Nanjing Massacre.
Chinese people being buried alive by Japanese soldiers, Nanking Massacre
By: Paulina Hernandez
Burma was a mountainous country nestled between British India and Japan occupied China. Prior to 1941, Burma was of little importance to countries such as Great Britain and United States. The mountainous region of Burma discouraged any type of trade or travel. Only once did the campaign of the Japanese to control Southeast Asia began, did Great Britain and the United States realize the value of Burma.
From the beginning, Great Britain and United States agreed that Burma was strategic in defeating Japan. Interestingly enough, Great Britain and the United States differed in their motives for protecting Burma. First, Great Britain viewed Burma as a barrier between British India and Japan occupied China. The barrier between these two countries would secure the safety of the “Crown Jewel of the British Empire”. In contrast, the United States saw Burma as a lifeline for China, who was under occupation by Japan. The United States believed that if they were to hold Burma, the Chinese could overthrow Japan and take back their country. The continued support of the Chinese, was an effort by Franklin D. Roosevelt to gain a potential ally in China.
A crucial roadway in providing aid for China was the Burma Road. The Burma Road was used as a means to transport aid to Japan-occupied China from their American allies. Japanese strategists decided to cut the Burma Road in order to gain complete control over China. Japan’s motive for the occupation of Burma would ensure the protection of their other occupied lands in the pacific. Furthermore, the occupation of Burma could possibly lead to an invasion on British India.
The loss of the Burma Road led to alternative methods of transportation.
For example, an alternative method employed by the allies, was the use of mules. The idea was that packs of mules ,would be guided through the jungles, across rivers, and the Himalayas into China. Harsh conditions such as freezing temperatures and the limitation of supplies caused this option to be questioned. Another example, was the construction of an air bridge that would enable supplies to be flown from India to China. The pilots would travel in unarmed planes across the eastern Himalayas, nicknamed the “hump”, by allied forces. The flights were perilous because the aircrafts were unarmed and crossing into enemy territory.
In December of 1942, British General Sir Archibald Wavell was in agreement with American General Stilwell to construct the Ledo Road and make it a NCAC operation. The NACA was the Northern Combat Area Command and under the command of General Stilwell. The allied forces began the creation of the Ledo Road, towards the end of December of 1942. The route would began in Assam, India to a juncture in Mung-Yu that connected to the Burma Road. The Burma Road would then connect to Kunming, China. Through the Ledo Road, allied forces would be able to send aid to the Chinese forces.
The difficulty in constructing the Ledo Road was because of Japanese forces controlling most of the Burma Road. Therefore, allied forces had no idea about the terrain nor the layout of the area. The allied forces gained this knowledge as construction continued.
The Ledo Road was not completed until late 1944. During its construction, the airbridge proved to be instrumental in the fight against Japan. The flights taken across “the hump” proved more effective than the planned Ledo Road. By the end of construction, flights across the “hump” had carried 650,000 tons of supplies to China. The number of supplies surpassed the number of the Ledo Road, which had transported 147,000 tons.
The Ledo Road was named Stilwell Road in honor of General Stilwell. While it was planned to be a strategic road, the Ledo Road proved to be a waste of time, money, and resources for the Allied forces.
While construction of the Ledo Road was underway, offensive forces infiltrated Burma. One offensive force was known as the Chindits. The Chindits were a special unit force who operated behind enemy lines. The Chindits were formed in the summer of 1942 under the command of Major General Ode Wingate DSO. There were two Chindits expeditions into Burma.
The first was Operation Longcloth which commened on February of 1943. Operation Longcloth consisted of 3,000 British Gurkha and Burmese soldiers. The main objective of operation Longcloth was to remove a possible threat to Fort Hertz which was the last British outpost in northern Burma. During the operation, Major General Wingate would change tactics, failing to advise various columns which would result in miscommunication. The majority of the Chindits resupply came from air support. The Japanese forces became aware of the transportation of supplies and quickly cut off the Chindits’ resupply. Ultimately, Major General Wingate and the Chindits were forced to retreat into India. They would soon return to Burma in the March of 1944 for Operation Thursday. The Chindits were a experimental unit that partook in the eventual victory over Japan in Burma.
Towards the end of the campaign, British attention went into planning the invasion of Malaya. This plan never took effective due to the surrender of the Japanese. The Battle for Burma ended with Japan’s surrender.
Xu, Guangqiu. War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation 1929-1949. Greenwood Press (2001).
American Office of War Information. The Stilwell Road.1945. Narrated by Ronald Reagan.
BBC Worldwide, Nugus/Martin Productions Ltd. Gladiators of World War II: The Chindits. Narrated by Robert Powell.2002. British Broadcasting Casting.TV
Burma Star Association. Burma Campaign: Diary 1942-1945. Date Accessed September 15,2017.https://www.burmastar.org.uk/burma-campaign/diary-1941-45/1945/
WW2 Flags. Date Accessed September 15,2017, http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/mm-old.html#ww2
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Ledo Road. Date Accessed September 15,2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ledo_Road#/media/File:Allied_lines_of_communication_in_Southeast_Asia,_1942-43.jpg
CBI Time. Date Accessed September 15,2017. https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-CBI-Time/index.html
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Chindits Longcloth: History and Overview. Date Accessed September 15,2017. http://www.chinditslongcloth1943.com/history-and-overview.html
MacArthur in Manilla, Philippines, 1945, smoking a corncob pipe
The Philippine Islands gained semi-autonomous status in 1935 with the creation of a Philippine Commonwealth and the election of Manuel L. Quezon as president of the newly formed government. One of the most pressing concerns and new responsibilities was the creation of a new military force capable of defending the islands. With this in mind, Douglas MacArthur, then the chief of staff of the U.S. Army was chosen by President Quezon to be part of the Office of the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government. His new job as Field Marshall of the Philippines was to create a new national army complete with its own small off-shore naval patrol force and air contingent over a conservative 10 year period.
But with diplomacy failing in Europe with Nazi Germany and especially with an ever more daring and increasingly militant Imperial Japan it became clear that the United States would need to mobilize for war. The U.S. embargoes on industrial materials such as iron and copper while closing the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping failed to halt Imperial ambitions. MacArthur was recalled into active service by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and returned to his original position as a major general on July 26, 1941. The general gained the responsibilities of heading the newly established United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) command as it became clear that U.S. escalation to war was more than a possibility. This included the task of training the Philippine army, creating a brand new staff of headquarters, and securing enough supplies and reinforcements for the upcoming conflict of which there was little time to prepare.
One of the most apparent obstacles that the combined U.S. and Filipino forces had to overcome was an overall lack of equipment and its quality. Although there were enough firearms such as the Springfield and the British Lee Enfield rifles, the weapons were often too long for the average Filipino infantryman while the the rifles themselves had low quality extractors that would often break. Additionally there was a serious lack of items such as gas masks, steel helmets, and entrenching tools while most issued boots were only rubber based and wore out quickly. Supply of many units was all too often not consistent and highly dependant on the enthusiasm and will of the quartermaster or officer with the responsibility of supply. There was an even more pressing lack of transportation as all units lacked sufficient quantities of heavy trucks or vehicles to transport troops and supplies. The lack of sufficient equipment, training, and supplies would not bode well for the USAFFE in the Philippines in the next few months.
Over the next short months General MacArthur would organize the Philippines into four different military commands, each having its own units and areas of responsibilities. This included the North Luzon Force which was by military intelligence the most likely area to receive an invasion force, the South Luzon, Visayan–Mindanao, and Reserve Forces. Over the next months the more than 22,000 original U.S. Army troops made up of Filipinos and Americans would be reinforced by mostly National Guard units that drew their own strength from states like California, Kentucky, and Missouri to name a few. Although these newly formed units were trained quite quickly and without proper instruction, the guard units brought more modern equipment than was already present on the islands. Over one hundred M3 Stuart light tanks and 107 P-40 Warhawk fighters were shipped from the U.S. mainland in preparation for defensive operations. There were also 35 B-17 bombers operated by the Army Air Force, making the philippine air contingent to be the highest concentration of American combat aircraft outside of the U.S. itself. Yet problems also arose as there were not enough airfields, maintenance facilities and personnel for effective use of the brand new air assets and worrying much of the USAFFE headquarters. The U.S. government policy also hindered the volume of new equipment available to be shipped to the Philippines. The Lend-lease policy to Britain and France effectively cut into available military transportation that could be used to ferry the much needed equipment to both Asia and Europe. Additionally, the United States had not created the capacity for its military industry the same way that it would be renowned for only a year later. The available manufacturing was used not only for domestic military needs but also for another theater of war for two nations. Although many of MacArthur’s military requests would be approved right away, the time needed to create a fighting force that would be totally independent and sufficient to guard the entire archipelago was not available.
The United States was drawn officially into the Second World War when Imperial Japanese forces launched a preemptive attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Just hours later and more than 5,000 miles from Hawaiian islands the Japanese launched an invasion of the Philippine archipelago beginning the first combined U.S. and Filipino campaign of the war. This resulted in the activation of war plan Rainbow 5, putting in place the War Department’s strategy that would last throughout the remainder of the war.
Bailey, Jennifer L. “Philippine Islands.” Philippine Islands, www.history.army.mil/brochures/pi/PI.htm. Accessed 11 Sept. 2017.
Morton, Louis. The Fall of the Philippines. Honolulu, HI, University Press of the Pacific, 2004.
Toland, John. The Rising Sun: the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England, Pen & Sword Military, 2011.
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur smoking his corncob pipe, Manila, Philippine Islands, 2 August 1945. Digital image. Www.wikipedia.com. N.p., 2 Aug. 1945. Web. 18 Sept. 2017. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MacArthur_Manila.jpg>
Philippine Scouts engineers preparing sections for a pontoon bridge. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Philippine_Scouts_engineers_preparing_sections_for_a_pontoon_bridge.jpg>