by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
When we think of family feuds, we think of brother-sister bickering, friendly cooking competitions between cousins and in-laws, political arguments over the dinner table, or even who’s turn it is to pay the check. Rarely does one imagine a family feud that has the power to influence market capitals, transform the sports world, and divide communities. This is the story of Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, and how a comment over the crisis of World War II led to the creation of two of the world’s largest and most popular sport apparel brands in the world.
In the small town of Herzogenaurach, Germany in the 1920s, Adolf “Adi” Dassler and Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler founded the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Company (Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik in German). Similar to any start-up story you would hear from Silicon Valley or San Francisco, the brother’s base of operation was one of convenience, comfort, and cost-effectiveness; their mother’s laundry room. The brothers effective collaboration relied played to each other’s strengths. Adi, the youngest, was the creative one, in charge of designing and constructing the shoes. Rudi, the more charismatic older brother, took care of marketing and sales. To the small town of Herzogenaurach, they were an unstoppable force.
When the National Socialist German Workers’ party gained power in 1933, Adi and Rudi were faced with both a political and business dilemma; accept membership to the Nazi party to have the Dassler shoe company remain in business and protect the job security of 100 German workers or refuse, and face the wrath of modern artillery. (This decision, evidently, led the Dassler shoe company to be the only active athletic foot company to exist during the war). Still motivated by his love of sports and athleticism, Adi was inactive and disinterested in the party and its policies and in 1936 made a decision that was arguably, one of the most controversial, high points of the company’s history; providing his running shoes to African American Athlete Jesse Owens.
While Hitler meant to have the Olympic event exemplify the superiority of the Aryan race, Owen’s record breaking performances, victory as a Black athlete on a worldwide stage, and sponsorship from a German-based company, challenged the feuer’s power and racial allegations. Coupled with the fact that the 1936 Olympics was one of the first widely televised shows in the world, Owen’s four gold medal victories in Dassler shoes introduced the company to the international stage. Unfortunately, in 1948, after 28 years of the familial partnership, the brothers split the company in two, creating Adidas and Puma.
There are many speculations on the reasoning behind the split. Some have claimed that the separation was due to the rivalry and distaste the brother’s wives had for each other. Others have mentioned that their politics, visions about the future of the company, and business development plans were always at odds, with Adi wishing to prioritize shoe development while Rudi was focused more on the company’s profitability. However, the most widely accepted incident cited by sneaker historians and researchers alike is an event that took place during the bombing of Herzogenaurach. When Adi and his wife climbed into the house’s bomb shelter that was already occupied by Rudi and his wife, Adi made a comment under his breath about the Allied Air Force, quoting “The dirty bastards are at it again”. Rudi, however, interpreted his brother’s comment to be about him and his family. By the end of the war, the arguments and disagreements escalated and in the end, the company assets were split. Rudi chose to build his new company, then named ‘Ruda’, across the Aurach river away from his brother. He would later rename his company to ‘Puma’, attempting to make his brand sound more athletically appealing.
The brother’s feud and newly founded shoe empires also impacted Herzogenaurach’s economy. Since the Dassler shoe company was the main hub of employment in the vicinity, the brother’s split caused everyone within the town to choose to work for one company or the other. Similar to a real life Romeo and Juliet story—or a college football rivalry, depending on how you choose to look at it--the workers were eventually pulled into the brother’s feud. Local business began turning away customers from rival companies, workers were disallowed to communicate, date, or marry anyone from the opposing side, and levels of interactions were determined by what types of shoes one chose to wear.
Other events involving the company's relationship to World War II are also worth noting. Multiple incidents of bickering between Rudi and Adi persisted before the bomb shelter pandemonium. When Rudi was drafted in 1943, Rudi claimed it was Adi who had arranged for him to be away from the factory so that he would take over the company in Rudi’s absence. In another instance, Rudi abandoned his post on the front lines, worried that his brother was making uninformed business decisions. This lead to his arrest and detention later one (which some have claimed, was Adi’s doing). Another remarkable event involved Adi’s wife Käthe, who was credited with saving the company from an Allied bombing. When U.S. troops arrived in Herzogenaurach ready to destroy the Dassler facility, Käthe argued to spare the company as its main purpose was to produce sports shoes. Well aware of their athlete’s Olympic victory in the past and Dassler’s growing popularity in the U.S., the troops decided against bombing and mobilized in the family’s house instead.
While the brother’s feud existing to this day—as they are buried at opposite sides of the the Herzogenaurach cemetery—not the same could be said their employees. After six decades of pettiness and shoe politics, a friendly soccer match was organized by employees of Puma and Adidas in 2009. While the past feud might have distracted the two companies from the eventual rise of the American-run Nike brand in the sports industry, the story of the Dassler brothers is one of the many examples of entrepreneurial accomplishments persisting throughout the dark and depressing atmosphere that was World War II.
“Chronicle and Biography of Adi and Kathe Dassler” Adi and Kathe Dassler Foundation, https://www.adidassler.org/en/life-and-work/chronicle
“The Family Feud that Spawned Adidas and Puma” How Stuff Works, https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-figures/family-feud-that-spawned-adidas-and-puma.htm
“The Hatred and Bitterness behind Two of the World's Most Popular Brands.” Fortune, (http://fortune.com/2013/03/22/the-hatred-and-bitterness-behind-two-of-the-worlds-most-popular-brands/)
“Sports Shoe Feud that Keeps on Running” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2007/apr/10/1
United States is a home to immigrants, or at least in theory. However, history and present day event would prove it otherwise. As immigration policy change according to political climate, this puts thousands of immigrants unsure of their future.
1784- America trade with China began, North America exported items such as furs, sandalwood, and ginseng while China exported furniture, silk, and tea.
The 1790 Naturalization Act specified that “free, white persons” could become citizens; Asian immigrants were later classified as “aliens ineligible for citizenship,” excluding them from full incorporation into American society.
1815- Sino-U.S. maritime trade began bringing Chinese merchants into United States
1844- The Treaty of Wangxia
First treaty signed between United States and China after the First Opium War in 1842 which opened up China to trade with the U.S.
1848-1880- Waves of Chinese migrated to Golden Mountain after news of gold being discovered. The first Asians that arrived in the United States were Chinese people.
1850 People vs. Hall
The People of the State of California v. George W. Hall or People v. Hall. It was an appealed murder case in the 1850s in which the California Supreme Court established that Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants had no rights to testify against White Americans in court.
1852- Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry was sent to the Port of Japan by President Millard Fillmore as a part of gunboat diplomacy to force open Japanese ports to American trade.
1862- Chinese Police Tax Law
A California law which imposed a monthly tax only to adults of “Mongolian race” who worked in the mines or were hired to work in most businesses. It was an act to protect free white labor against competition with Chinese coolie labor, and to discourage the immigration of Chinese into the State of California
1868 Burlingame Treaty
It established a friendly relationship between the U.S. and China, including the encouragement of Chinese immigration but Chinese people had no rights to become citizens.
1870 Naturalization Act
It puts controls on U.S. immigration and limited naturalization to “aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent”, which means “whites” exclude all Asians from receiving citizenship”
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
As white miners saw Chinese labor as a threat, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, which banned Chinese from immigrating to the United States.
1885-86 Anti-Chinese Riots Washington
After years of anti-Chinese sentiment stemmed from the Union Pacific Railroad company which hired Chinese as strikebreakers in 1875 and ended up in tragic riots. The Chinatown in Seattle was burned down during this riot. There were violent riots against Chinese people all across California, Washington, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska.
1898 U.S. Acquires Philippines from Spain
The United States won the Spanish-American War resulting in the Philippines gaining Spain as a territory. This marks the start of the Filipino migration.
1905 Anti-Japanese Movement
Started with the Anti-Chinese movement, Japanese and Korean immigrants also faced discrimination when they arrived in the United States with the efforts of politicians, intellectuals, and community leaders. 67 labor unions in San Francisco formed a Japanese and Korean Exclusion League.
1906 Filipino Migration to Hawaii
Hawaii Sugar Planters Association started recruiting workers from the Philippines in 1906 after immigration legislation limited their access to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean migrant workers. By 1930, about 100,000 Filipino workers had migrated to Hawaii.
1907 Asian Exclusion Act League
Due to the influx of Indian immigrants, the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League renamed themselves to the Asian Exclusion League.
1907-1908 Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan
The United States and Japan entered into an agreement in 1907 to hinder the migration of Japanese to the U.S. with a goal to reduce tensions between the two countries. Japanese government decided to deny passports to laborers seeking to enter the U.S. instead of U.S. restricting Japanese migration.
1910 Angel Island
San Francisco opened up Angel Island, which is off the coast of San Francisco as an immigration station. Many Asian migrants were unjustly held there or even turned away.
Many Asian Americans served in the war despite discrimination against Asian-Americans. In return of their service, they were awarded naturalization By the end of WW1 in 1918, there were about 180,000 Asian Americans living in the United States, including about 100,000 Japanese, 60,000 Chinese, and 5,000 Filipinos.
1917 Immigration Act
This act restricted immigration from anyone born in a geographically defined “Asiatic Barred Zone”.
1924 Immigration Act
This created a national origins quota to limit the number of immigrants by the country and excluded all immigrants from Asia.
1941 Pearl Harbor Attack
Discrimination against Japanese immigrants started after the Pearl Harbor attack.
1942 Japanese Internment Camps
President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the War Relocation Authority to forcefully move Japanese residing in America to internment camps. However, even with this discrimination, many first generation Japanese immigrants still joined the U.S. military despite the internment camp.
1942 Second War Powers Act
This Act was to open naturalization to many immigrant groups. This was created with intentions to naturalize persons that served in the U.S. military during WW2.
1943 Chinese Exclusion Act Repealed
In order to strengthen ties with China as an ally during WW2, which removed the annual quota that limited Chinese migration to 105 visas per year. Even with the removal of Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration Act of 1924 still was in effect, which meant that aliens including Chinese, who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship were not permitted to enter the U.S.
1945 End of World War II and the War Brides Act
At the end of WWII, Asians except Japanese who had fought in the war were given the option of U.S. citizen. By December 28th of 1945, the War Brides Act allowed the immigration of all non-Asian spouses and children of U.S. military personal.
1946 Luce-Cellar Bill
The bill was passed in 1946 to allow 100 Indians and Filipinos to be admitted in the US per year and allow them to be naturalized.
1947 War Brides Act modified
It was modified to include Asians as well, but the ban was lifted for only the spouses of U.S. military personnel and not children, and only if the marriage occurred no later than 30 days after the law’s enactment.
1948-1965 Indian Immigration
During this period of time, nearly 7,000 East Indians immigrated to the U.S., which was the largest number in history.
1950-1953 Korean War
Many Asian-Americans served in the Korean War, which helped to combat Asian discrimination in the United States.
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act
This Act ended the Asian exclusion from immigrating to the U.S. and created a preference system which was determined by skill sets and family ties in the United States. This Act eliminated laws preventing Asians from naturalizing and got rid of the Asiatic Barred Zone and allotted each Asian country a minimum of 100 visas annually. However, this allowed persons of Asian parentage and any nationality to receive visas under the generic quota for the “Asian Pacific Triangle” and ended up limiting Asian immigration, and the law resulted in allotting Asian quotas based on race rather than nationality.
1950’s-1960’s Asian-Americans elected to Congress
In 1957, Dalip Singh Saund became the first Asian-American to be elected to Congress. Then Hiram Fong became the first Chinese American Senator in 1959, and Daniel Inouye became the first Japanese American in the House.
1965 Immigration and Nationality Act
This Act is also known as the Hart-Cellar Act. It established an annual cap of 270,000 immigrants per year with no more than 20,000 from one country, abolished the discriminatory national origins quota system, and replaced it with preference system that was based on skills and family ties to the U.S.
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act
This allowed undocumented person who had resided in the U.S. continuously since January 1st, 1982 to apply for legal status.
1990 Immigration Act
This Act of 1990 increased the annual visa cap to about 700,000, tripling the original number.
2012 Asians surpass Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrant in the U.S.
Asians were recorded to be the fastest growing racial group in the country as there was a record of 18.2 million Asians were living in the U.S.
2013 Immigration Reform Bill
In the spring of 2013, a comprehensive immigration reform was introduced to the U.S. Congress. This created the DREAM Act for persons of all ages, resulting in thousands of new visa allotments and a path to naturalization for undocumented persons living in the U.S.
2017 Trump Immigration Plan
The Trump administration proposed drastic cuts in legal immigration. The White House pressed to cut family sponsored immigration by as much as 40%.
2017 The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act
This was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2017 to reduce the levels of legal immigrants by 50% by halving the number of green cards issued. This bill would also impose a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year and would end the visa diversity lottery.
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
One day the war will be over, and I hope that the people who use this bridge in years to come will remember how it was built, and who built it. Not a gang of slaves, but soldiers!
About a two hour drive from the capital city of Bangkok is the western province of Kanchanaburi. With an etymological name translating to “The City of Gold”, Kanachanburi is exemplified by its national parks, waterfalls, and elephant sanctuaries. Following the flow of the Khwae Yai river, spectators can gaze upon farmers tending to their rice patties or marvel over the natural landscape of hills and mountains in the backdrop of the city. But behind the façade of lush forestry, lies a horrific memory of World War II; the forced construction of a railroad system that took the lives of over 100,000 individuals.
Wartime Strategy and the Birth of the Death Railroad
As Japanese naval forces were weakened during the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 causing passages such as the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to be occupied by allied forces, an alternative supply route was needed to sustain and assist the Japanese campaign in Burma. Japanese plans to build a rail line in somewhere in Southeast Asia began as early as 1939. Though building a railway connecting Thailand and Burma was not a new concept, efforts were abandoned as construction through dense jungles, rugged mountains, and turbulent rivers proved to be extremely difficult. However, in 1942 the Japanese Empire found a solution to this impasse; it would be using its 61,000 captured POWs, and another 300,000 Asian workers, as its labor force. Ignoring the Geneva Protocol that forbid using POWs for war-related activities, Japan rounded up captured Allied POWs from Singapore and Indonesian (formerly the Dutch East Indies) prison camps and immediately put them to work.
Thailand’s strategy in building the railroad, along with its allyship with Japan, on the other hand, were the results of rising nationalistic sentiments. When the war broke out in 1939, unlike its position in World War I in which the country fought against the Central Powers, Thailand declared its neutrality. Both France and Britain were anguished of this decision, hoping that the country would help its efforts in protecting its nearby Southeast Asian colonies. At the time, Thailand was under the rule of Plaek Phibunsongkhram (commonly known as ‘Phibun’), a military leader from the People’s Party (Khana Ratsadorn) who had come to power after the 1932 coup d’etat that overthrew Thailand’s absolute monarchy in place for a constitutional monarchy. Phibun’s administration carried fascist overtones, illustrated by the tripling of the country’s military budget and introduction of nationalistic policies. A significant example was the 12 edicts (รัฐนิยม), one edict famously known for changing the country’s name from Siam to Thailand. Laws and cultural mandates that defined how to be a ‘proper’ Thai citizen began to emerge, encouraging a culture of segregation, ethnic discrimination and irredentist sentiments. Another example was the 1940 Franco-Thai war. While the regime’s domestic policies focused on chauvinism and patriotism, international goals were more irredentist. The regime called for the restoration of formerly lost territories in Laos, Cambodia and Burma, areas that were now colonies of the Allied powers. Along the eastern front (in provinces now known as Sa Kaeo and Ubon Ratchathani), war broke out between French and Thai forces. While American forces opposed the occupation, Japanese forces were supportive, using its partnership with Germany to coerce the Vichy regime to grant Thailand concessions. On March 1941, France agreed to cede Laotian and Cambodian territory to Thailand. Both event would later contribute to Thailand’s decision to sign the Treaty of Alliance with the Japanese Empire in 1942.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Japanese forces set foot in Thailand. Japan requested the right of passage through the country and access to Thai weaponry and equipment in exchange for territorial concession and trade deals with the Axis powers. With over 150,000 Japanese soldiers now stationed in Thailand and plans for the railroad about to commence, the country declared war against the Allied powers on January 25, 1942. However, despite the newly created alliance, the underground Free Thai (เสรีไทย) resistance movement--who protested the cruelty of both the Japanese Empire and current regime and the economic issues impacting the nation--gradually gained momentum in the shadows, aided by Allied operative groups. This resistance movement would later grow to over 90,000 individuals and assist the Allied forces in strategically bombing Japanese logistical encampments not only in Thailand but throughout Southeast Asia.
The Plight of Allied POWs and the Romusha
Although known officially as the Thailand-Burma Railway, the nickname “Death Railway” was adopted due to the high death tolls of POWs and Asian laborers in constructing the war-time infrastructure. Though records vary depending on statistical sources, approximately 14,000 Allied POWs and 90,000 Asian laborers lost their lives either due to horrific work conditions, starvation, vitamin deficiency, malaria, or dengue fever. While the British were amongst the highest number of Allied POWs deaths at 6,904 soldiers, it was Australian forces that were disproportionately affected. While 4,000 Australians were captured by German and Ottoman forces in Europe during World War I, more than 22,000 Australians were captured by the Japanese in the Asia-Pacific region. More than a third of Australian POWs lost their lives in captivity, totaling to 20% of all Australian deaths during World War II.
Asian Laborers, known in Japanese as romusha, consisted of people from Burma, Thailand, China, and Indonesia and ethnic communities such as the Tamil, Java, and Karen peoples. Due to its proximately to Thailand, the largest Romusha percentage came Burma and Malaysia (formerly Malaya) with estimates being 90,000 and 75,000 respectively. In total, Japan had over 200,000 romushas at their disposal. Japanese recruitment for romusha initially began as paid contracts, with additional compensation in the form of food, clothing, housing. However, experiencing the physical and mental fatigue of building rail lines through uncharted terrain and the gradual decrease of monetary compensation from Japanese force, contractors began fleeing after their expiration dates. Fearing that the decrease of romushas would slow down construction, Japan soon changed their tactic into forced conscription of romushas. Unlike Allied POWs, romushas did not possess either military or educational backgrounds and as such were not as physically conditioned or informed of emerging health hazards. Furthermore, due to their large numbers, romushas camps became extremely crowded, prompting unsanitary conditions which produce high rates of illnesses and infection. Approximately 90,000 romushas lives were lost by the end of the construction period, 360 persons per mile of track laid on the Death Railroad.
Unfortunately, contrary to their Allied POWs counterpart whose government focuses on their repatriation, romushas had difficulty returning to their country or places of origin. Despite being the largest workforce and experiencing the highest death toll, romushas did not obtain the same international recognition for their suffering, resulting in romushas wandering aimlessly in Thailand or starting a new life in different parts of the Pacific. Those who did return home were not able to leave the country until many years after the end of the war. The biographies and past experiences of romushas continue to remain in the shadows of World War II history. This is due in large part because many romushas were illiterate and non-English speaking, and thus, were unable to document their personal accounts or spread their stories to a larger international audience. Post-war Asian narratives also tended to focus on events that revolved around resistance, uprisings and heroic battle, overlooking memories of slavery and exploitation. Most recently, however, more scholarly and academic research have begun shifting its focus on the stories of romushas during World War II, creating spaces and opportunities for previously forgotten voices.
The Rising Body Count and Hellpass Fire
The highest death count occurred towards the end of the construction period on 1943. Deaths had reached to over 20% of the workforce due in large part to unfavorable weather conditions due to monsoon season and vehement Japanese forces who wanted to get troops and equipment to forces in Burma to launch their India liberation campaign before Allied British forces could regroup. In addition, the quick completion of the rail line would potentially help the Empire’s prospective conquest of British India. This period became known as ‘The Speedo’, a Japanese transliteration of the word ‘Speed’. While a prisoner might have been expected to work ten hour days and drill a meter into mountain sides, soon increased to fifteen then eighteen hour days and three meters of drilling. Workers who were deemed slow or who failed to meet the day’s goal were subjected to harsh and gruesome physical punishment. During its completion, the railroad measured 415 kilometers (about 257 miles), beginning at Non Pladuk in Thailand and ending at Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar (now known as Burma).
When rail lines were unable to be built around mountains, cuttings (the mechanical excavation and removal of rock material via digging or drilling) were required to continue the rail track. One of the most difficult and longest of these cuttings was Hellpass Fire. With the implementation of ‘Speedo’, forced laborers were required to work throughout the night, having only the light from oil lamps to guide their path. The name was coined after the loud noises, dark atmosphere, and shadows of tired prisoners reflected on mountain sides, reminiscent of popular depictions of hell. Excavation of Hellfire Pass done mostly by hand, and by the time of its completion, was some 75 meters (246 feet) in length and 25 meters (82 feet) in depth.
Revisiting and Recollections
The memories and history of the Death Railroad continue to live on. The Thailand Burma Center Railway Museum in Kanchanaburi, contain photographs, images, and blurbs of the horrors behind the railroad’s construction, while also searching as an ongoing research facility. The museum continues to build its database of past prisoners, including some 105,000 profiles of Allied POWs. The museum also annually sponsors personalized trips for relatives of those who worked to build the rail line, taking them as far as to the border of Burma. Across from the museum is the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, where the bodies of some 6,900 POWs are buried, mostly that of Dutch, Australian, and British nationality. Movies like 1957’s The Bridge Over River Kwai and 2013’s The Railway Man also continue to present the struggles and narrative of those who’ve built the Death Railroad. While only parts of the railroad exists today due to bombings, reforestation, and demolition from the Allied side to pay for reparations, parts of the rail from between Nong Pladuk and Nam Tok was reopened in 1957 to serve as transportation for the local community. In particular, the bridge and train route over the Mae Klong ‘Khwae Yai River’ River (commonly known as the Bridge on the River Kwai) remains a popular tourist attraction. Even after 75 years, the memories of the Death Railroad will forever be ingrained via the sweat and blood of POWs and romusha on Thai soil.
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,