After the attack of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the United States was forced to engage a foe whose territory included encompassed much of the North Pacific and South Pacific Oceans. At its height in 1942, the Empire of Japan stretched from Alaska’s westward Aleutian Islands, southward to New Guinea and westward to the Philippines Islands, Thailand, French Indo-China (modern-day Vietnam), Sumatra and coastal China. With Japan entrenched through such a vast territory, the United States had to employ specific tactics to defeat enemy forces in isolated areas, recover occupied territories, and ultimately defeat Japan on its homeland. The employment of island hopping was instrumental in achieving this victory.
Also known as leap-frogging, island hopping focused on bypassing heavily armed locations for islands and atolls where airstrips could be constructed. With these airstrips in place, long-range bombers could attack the Japanese mainland while the Army and Navy avoided prolonged and bloody conflict. A large pincer movement was designed, with General Douglas MacArthur leading the Southwest Pacific Forces northward towards the Philippines, while Admiral Chester Nimitz lead the Central Pacific fleet westward from Hawaii. General MacArthur’s forces moved northward and gained important victories at Guadalcanal, New Guinea, and the Philippines, reaching that archipelago in June of 1945. Admiral Nimitz’s forces moved westward, taking key locations such as the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, reaching that important location in June of 1945. All the while, American B-29 Bombers attacked Japan throughout 1944 and 1945, most notably the firebombing of Tokyo in May 1945. The success of this pincer movement culminated in the dropping of two atomic bombs in early August of 1945, bringing the war to a quick-yet destructive conclusion, yet avoiding the bloody stalemate of a mainland-invasion.
Author unknown “Island Hopping” http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1671.html
Haywood, John PhD. Atlas of World History. New York : Barnes and Noble Books, 1997
Liu, Xiaoyuan “A Partnership for Disorder: China, America, and World War II” Journal of Empire Studies . September 5, 2011 http://empirestudies.com/2011/09/05/partnership-for-disorder/
“Island Hopping: Foothold Across the Pacific”: The National World War II Museum http://www.nationalww2museum.org/campaigns-of-courage/road-to-tokyo/island-hopping.html
While the world was watching Indian independence unfold, waves of experiences found on the Indian front of World War II are often drowned in silence. However, Indian involvement in WWII spanned the scope of the world, and caused many negative impacts within the subcontinent as well.* With over two and a half million Indian soldiers serving in WWII, the Indian army became the largest volunteer army in history. In addition to these soldiers, billions and billions of pounds were borrowed by the British from India to be used on war expenses. In many ways, it is apparent that without Indian involvement in WWII, the Allies would not have been strong enough to sustain their wins against their enemies. Unfortunately, this is a story that many have chosen to forget. The British did not recognize the Indian people who fought for them during this time, and in India too, these stories are quickly fading from the collective memory.
During the War, Indian politicians held contentious views against each other, further solidifying tensions that were already causing rifts among communities at the time. Even though many of the Indian soldiers volunteering fought alongside the British against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, many also supported and fought for Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan’s win. This was due to the contested notions of whether or not Indian Independence was more important than fighting in the war. These arguments were often based on the notion that the British was fighting this war for moral reasons. Under the assumption that the British’s moral war would be fighting the devastating violence the Axis powers had enacted on others, many Indians argued that they could therefore not side with the British, as the British Raj had committed just as much violence on Indian people under colonial rule. In fact, both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan looked at the British colonial model in South Asia as inspiration for their own imperial and genocidal pursuits.
Regardless of the contrasting political arguments during this time, two and a half million Indians still voluntarily fought in WWII for the British.** Not only did Indians fight in various parts of South Asia, but they also were stationed in different parts of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In many parts of Europe, Indians fought to protect the freedom, humanity, and lives of the British, even though they were denied these same rights as subjects of colonial rule. They were also not given the same amount of pay nor the same decent living conditions that the British soldiers received. But without the help of these Indians, the Allies would not have been powerful enough to stop the brutal forces of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
Geographically speaking, India served the Allies as a blockade between Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany; this kept the enemies severed from each other and unable to fight battles together in the Middle East. Maintaining this geographical separation was crucial for the Allies; if Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were to join forces closer to Europe and gain control of the oil in the British colonies of the Middle East, the Axis powers may have been unstoppable.
After the Fall of Dunkirk in June 1940, the British desperately needed a larger army to protect their national borders; the large manforce the British Indian army could provide served perfectly for this cause. The large number of Indians in the British army has been attributed to the victories of other important battles in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Almost two hundred and fifty thousand Indians were sent to fight in North Africa alone, and many of them were under equipped for the battles they faced in the desert.
There were also many battles fought closer to home in Burma, Malaya, and Singapore. When the Japanese invaded Singapore in 1941-1942, most of the British army protecting British rule in Singapore and Malaya were Indian. However, the British lied to the Indian soldiers by telling them the planes of the Japanese invasion belonged to their American allies. In doing this, Indians were trapped in enemy territory as they did not have time to retreat to safety. This betrayal of the British resulted in the deaths of many Indian soldiers by the Japanese. Not only were many Indian soldiers murdered during this time, but the Japanese also used captured Indian soldiers as live shooting targets to train their own military. If the Indian soldiers survived these firing squads, they were subjected to cruel and unusual punishments until their death. The Japanese also forced captured Indian soldiers to work ten to twelve hours a day with very little food as POWs. They were tortured if they did not work hard enough. Some Indians were even killed and eaten by the Japanese during food shortages. Almost 60,000 Indians were taken as Japanese prisoners.
Following this betrayal, many Indians joined the side of the Indian National Army (INA) in order to free India from British rule. The INA was led by Mohan Singh, who desired Indian independence from the British. In order to do this, he and his followers believed they should fight with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan against the British. About twenty thousand men and women joined the INA. However, when Singh and the Japanese began having disagreements, Singh was removed and replaced by Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose was a passionate nationalist leader who was able to convince many Indians to join the INA. However, his alliance with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan has been highly criticized by many. He eventually died while fleeing to Tokyo a few months before the Japanese surrendered in 1945.
Partnered with the Japanese, the INA troops began advancing into Burma in 1944 in order to attack India. In the Battle of Arakan, Indian soldiers fought each other, both in hopes that their home country would eventually be freed from colonial rule. The battles between the two sides were extremely brutal; ultimately Japan was able to advance through a decimated Burma to attack India. While the Japanese and INA were mostly unsuccessful in this pursuit, it was apparent to the British that they would need more defense for the Indian front. The Japanese and INA would not survive much longer in this war from here on out, but many of the INA leaders are still considered to be heroes in India today.
Countless people from various parts of South Asia critically suffered from the horrific realities of war at home. Once Imperial Japan was able to invade the Andaman Islands, Burma, Malaya, and Singapore they were able to begin their attacks on India as well. Many of the major cities like Delhi and Madras (now Chennai) were bombed by the Japanese. Thousands of people forcefully displaced from their homes, causing unnatural migrations to occur within the subcontinent that are still the root cause of tension and violence in India today. Moreover, many children had to be pulled out of school for safety precautions, which caused the illiteracy rate to rise dramatically. Many of the people who fought on the side of the British were not given sufficient pensions after the war, which only continued cycles of poverty in the region.
The atrocities committed by members of all sides of the war also plagued the Bay of Bengal with massive violence while the British Raj was also implementing its own cruel punishments to their colonial subjects in South Asia. One example of this is the famine they institutionalized in the Bengal region during 1943. Due to various economic strategies surrounding WWII, the British were able to create inflation in Bengal at such a high rate that no one could afford food. Rather than assist with food security in this region, Churchill thought it was best to experiment with how much the British could profit by testing how much starvation people could endure. Because of this famine, almost three million people died from starvation and disease.
At this time, activists, experts, and scholars are attempting to bring these stories of WWII in India to the attention of the public in order to bring awareness to those involved in the war. This is not only important because it portrays a more nuanced, accurate form of history, but it’s also important because it brings to light many of the hypocrisies surrounding the war and the lack of effort put into bringing justice to those who have suffered and continue to suffer.
In interviews and conversations of South Asians who fought for the British, one will almost always hear South Asians discuss how upsetting it was to have sacrificed their lives to protect a group of people who would only insult or mock them in return. Churchill himself would publicly announce his hatred of Indians and their religion and offered no respect towards their desires or achievements. Not only did the Indian participants of WWII have to bear these negative responses from the British, but they have also had to experience it from the Indian government as well. Because the Indian government does not want to acknowledge a time in which so many people supported their colonial master, many of the narratives of WWII are ignored or only come up in hushed tones. However, this erasure does not benefit any party; rather, it paints a distorted image of India that has led to further complications and injustice.
It is clear that violence of unprecedented levels was taking place in India at the time of WWII; however, this era of Indian history is primarily remembered by the nonviolent movements toward Indian Independence. While neither event is more important than the other, we must begin questioning why certain sides of histories are left to be forgotten as others are emphasized. Both Indian Independence and Indian involvement in WWII are intrinsically tied to one another; in studying these events together--juxtaposed by their different ideas about freedom, justice, and morality--helps us see the violences caused by war and colonialism that are often ignored and purposely forgotten by contemporary political powers.
* In this piece, ‘India’ describes what is now the nation states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of Burma. Prior to British colonization, these areas were not categorized as countries or nations; under the British Raj, this whole region was known as British India (or just India for short).
** It is important to remember that while statistics show that Indians voluntarily joined the army, this may have been a coerced agreement. Many people joined out of poverty and need to sustain themselves and their families--not because they wanted to fight for the British. For the last century, the British had been depleting the resources of South Asia as part of their colonial project. Extreme poverty of this level did not exist in precolonial South Asia--the effects of colonial rule can therefore still be seen today as poverty reduction continues to be a pressing issue in contemporary India.
Cate, James Lee and Wesley Frank Craven, eds. “China-Burma-India.” HyperWar Foundation.
Karnad, Raghu. Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.
Mukerjee, Madhusree. Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India
during World War II. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
Raghavan, Srinath. India’s War: World War II and the Making of Modern South Asia. New York:
Basic Books, 2016.
Sen, Amartya. “Famine Mortality: A Study of the Bengal Famine in 1943.” Peasants in History:
Essays in Honor of Daniel Thorner. London: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Sen, Amartya. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. London: Oxford
University Press, 1981.
Sharmal, Manimugdha S. “Japanese ate Indian PoWs, used them as Live Targets in WWII.” The
Times of India. 11 Aug. 2014. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Japanese-ate-
Singh, Pav. “Fall of Singapore during World War Two - Kartar Singh, eyewitness to atrocities.”
Online video clip. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Trj71LzqM.
Srivathsan, A. “October, 69 years ago, when Madras was bombed.” The Hindu. 2 Oct. 2012.
By Mei Mei Chun Moy
On February 15, 1942 Singapore and surrounding Malaya countries fell into the hands of the Japanese Empire. The conflict began on December 8, 1941 when Japanese forces bombed Singapore and continued to make their way through the treacherous Malayan jungle. British prime minister Winston Churchill called the attack, “the worst disaster and the largest capitulation in British history”. Once the Japanese took over, Singaporeans were immediately ordered to come in for questioning. While men, women, and children were questioned, their homes were looted and destroyed by the Kempeitai, the secret Japanese police.
The Sook Ching Massacre, literally meaning “purge through cleansing”, began on February 21, 1942. The mass murder of Singapore residents ages 18 to 50, was targeted at eradicating anti-Japanese sentiments. Victims of the massacre were either Chinese, suspected of being pro-Chinese, anti-Japanese, or Communist. Men and women were questioned and if found guilty, they were taken to one of Singapore’s beaches and murdered. The death toll shows less than 5,000 according to the official Japanese record, while Singaporean officials claim the number of victims was at least 50,000.
Seven Japanese vessels in the Singapore harbor were demolished by a special forces team from Australia and Britain. Operation Jaywick was a mission to be completed by special forces, but the Kempeitai mistakenly thought the attack on the shipping vessels was carried out by British prisoners. 13 days after the destruction, on October 10, 1943, the Kempeitai infiltrated and raided cells at the Changi prison. This event is aptly named the Double Tenth Incident. The name is significant because October 10 is the date the Republic of China was founded. During the prison raid, the police found prohibited radio sets, and later interrogated 57 civilians. The Japanese were determined to find the culprit behind the shipwreck and whom supplied the radio pieces. In the end, 15 civilians ended up dead due to the horrendous torture tactics.
Elizabeth Choy, born Yong Su-Moi, was an educator, politician, and war hero. She moved from North Borneo to Singapore in 1929, and there she continued her education at a missionary boarding school. Since Singapore and the Malaya countries were under the mighty British rule, it was unthinkable that Japan would ever attack them. But on December 8, 1941, Elizabeth experienced the casualties and horror first hand while volunteering as a night shift nurse at the hospital. Very few families were prepared for the bombing, and many did not build adequate shelters. When Japanese planes began flying overhead, Elizabeth removed her family including her newlywed husband, hoping each new place would be safer than the last.
When Japan conquered Singapore everyone was immediately mandated into concentration camps and questioned. Soon after, the Sook Ching Massacre occurred ensuing in chaos and devastation everywhere. The ghastly acts continued for many weeks. Numerous were arrested and sent to Changi prison. When Elizabeth’s husband and father were released, medical professionals from a hospital named Miyako asked them if they would be willing to open a restaurant where the staff could buy food. Elizabeth and her family agreed to help. The Japanese sent ill prisoners to Miyako to be treated. As expected the prisoners had no communication with the outside world. Since the Choy’s had many British friends who were imprisoned, they agreed to help them send and receive messages. It began as messages, then written notes, and later even packages of food and other items.
During the Double Tenth Incident, the Kempeitai raided the Changi prison, they discovered several radio sets meticulously hidden under prison chairs. One of the prisoners finally admitted he had received parts to build the radio from the Choy’s. While the Choy’s passed notes and food, sometimes they passed radio parts. But they rarely knew the exact contents of each package. One day Elizabeth’s husband was taken to jail, and a few weeks later Elizabeth was unexpectedly taken to jail with the false promise of seeing her husband. There she was pushed into a cell, only 10 by 12 feet, crowded with other prisoners. Almost daily, Elizabeth was interrogated, beaten, brutally tortured, threatened with death, tied up, and other monstrous acts. The Kempeitai tried to force her to say she was anti-Japanese and pro-British. While she always denied it, she did admit that she and her husband may have aided prisoners with creating radios, but they never opened the packages. Though she was going through an unspeakable time, she relied on God and continued to help and encourage her fellow inmates. When she was allowed more food, she immediately gave it to the sickest prisoner in her cell. Elizabeth constantly told her peers, “you must believe…justice will triumph”.
On May 26, 1944, Elizabeth was finally released from prison. She was inside for 193 days. After the Japanese were defeated, the British government learned of Elizabeth’s story and asked her which officers she would recommend for execution. However she displayed grace and dignity by refusing to name a single soldier. She believed that war is wicked and knew the officers had a duty to their country. Later, Elizabeth was recognized in many ways including representing Singapore during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, given a private meeting with the Queen Mother, and was even asked by the British Foreign Office to speak about her experiences in the United States and Canada. She also entered politics and taught in various schools for 40 years. Elizabeth Choy passed away in 2006 and will forever be remembered for her heroism and bravery during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.
Atwood, Kathryn J. Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review, 2013. Print.
Ho, Stephanie. "Operation Sook Ching." Infopedia. National Library Board Singapore, 01 Mar. 2011. Web.
Wong, Heng. "Double Tenth Incident." Infopedia. National Library Board Singapore, 29 Sept. 1997. Web.
by Syona Puliady
In public schools throughout the United States, students often learn that Asian involvement in World War II began with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. From this perspective the war began in 1941. However, this incident did not occur in isolation—in fact, there were a series of events that preceded this attack that are often left forgotten in American education.
From the Eurocentric lens, WWII began in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland causing Britain and France to declare war on Germany. However, if we approach WWII from the Asian Pacific perspective, fragments of this war takes root beyond that. An argument can be made that the beginnings of this war started in 19th century Japan, when American policies forced an isolated Japan into opening up trade with the United States. This led to the modernization and Westernization of Japan that transformed the country politically and economically. While the development of Japan was inevitably informed, defined, and inspired by Western concepts of progress, Japan also adopted ideas of militarized imperialism and colonialism from these Westerners as well.
At this time, Japan also fought on behalf of the West during WWI. While Japan was recognized for its efforts, it was not given an equal status to Western nations during the making of the League of Nations. This resonated badly with the Japanese, as they had not only proven their great military abilities, but it seemed as if they were being punished for it. This was because in many of the agreements made by the League of Nations, Japan was not allowed to engage in the same type of imperialism and/or colonialism as Western countries had been pursuing in the Far East. Restricting Japan’s access from engaging in similar imperial or colonial conquests prevented Japan from being a strong global power that could compete with the West.
Regardless of what was agreed upon by the League of Nations, Imperial Japanese Army invaded the northeastern Chinese province, Manchuria, in 1931. Even though Western countries had their own dark, violent histories of imperialism and colonialism all over the world, they still frowned upon Japan’s decision to control Manchuria.
The Imperial Japanese invasion of Manchuria led to rising tensions between Imperial Japanese and Chinese relations that were already strained. This ultimately led to the second war between Japan and China in 1937, which lasted for eight years. Many scholars mark this event as the beginning of WWII in the Asian Pacific, as this war caused grave casualties, traumas, and atrocities to various communities within this region.
Feeling betrayed by Western allies, Japan sought a different approach of governance that would better suit its own needs. By appropriating Japanese feudal history and the importance of samurais, militarized extremists were able to rise to power and manipulate the people into believing narratives of Japanese superiority that justified Japan’s desire to control the Far East. While Japan claimed it was following its own pre-modern history of governance and rule, they were still upholding Western notions of control and conquest that had pillaged and plundered the rest of the world. During the war with China at this time, the Imperial Japanese Army carried out a number of violences that resulted in the United States issuing a number of economic sanctions against Japan.
These economic sanctions only brought about more aggression from Japan; this was another instance in which Japan perceived that the West was preventing their nation from gaining power like Western countries were able to in their colonies. Disregarding what these nations had to say about Japanese colonialism, Imperial Japanese Army continued taking over parts of China and quickly joined forces with those fighting against the nations that had been prohibiting Japan’s rise to power. Soon after this alliance was formed, some Western nations, including the United States, issued trade embargo with Japan.
One of the most notable allies Imperial Japan made at this time was with Nazi Germany. Using Hitler’s model of conquest as a guide, Imperial Japan planned to conquer other parts of Asia in order to make up for the economic losses they were suffering from due to being cut off from crucial trade routes. Thus, in 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army bombed a number of places in the Asian Pacific (including Pearl Harbor), with surprise attacks. For many Japanese Nationalists, this was a victory against Western powers that had attempted to prohibit Asian nations from becoming global powers. As many American students are taught, this marks the United States’ entrance into WWII.
After these bombings, the Imperial Japanese Army continued to exploit and attack people of other nations. It continued to conquer other parts of Asia while implementing cruel policies in order to strengthen their regime. From 1941-1945 a number of violent exchanges between Japan and the other nations involved pursue, causing catastrophic situations all over the Asian Pacific region. Ultimately, the strength of military technology possessed by the West forces the Imperial Japanese Army to surrender towards the end of 1945.
Boulding, E. Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2000.
Fujitani, T. White, Geoffrey M., Yoneyama, Lisa, eds. Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s). Durnham and London: Duke University Press, 2001.
"World War Two in the Pacific." The History Place. http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/pacificwar/timeline.htm. 1999.
by Alistair Rogers
The two maps given here illustrate Japan’s expansion throughout the Far East and Southeast Asia from 1931 until 1944. Determined to expand throughout the region and turning their back on the international systems to ensure peace, the Japanese invaded and took over the state of Manchuria in northeast China in 1931, establishing the puppet state of Manchukuo the following year. This would provide a base for further incursion into China in 1937. Growing tension with the United States culminated in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, with war being declared the following day. Japan would spend the next four years fighting against both the United States and their allies in the region, taking over possessions held by the British, Dutch, and French. This included French Indochina (modern-day Vietnam), Thailand, Burma, Batavia (modern-day Java) and the Malay Peninsula, including Singapore. Japanese expansion would halt at their defeats at Guadalcanal and Midway, and the United States forces, combined with the efforts of the Soviet Union and China, forced the Japanese to retreat in the 1944 and 1945.
Iriye, Akira The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific, Pearson Education: 1987
Haywood, John, PhD. Atlas of World History, Barnes and Noble Books: 1997
by Danielle Dybbro
The systematic medical experimentation of Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, and Allied prisoners during World War II was conducted by the Japanese military with the operation’s headquarters based in Harbin, Manchuria. Unit 731, also known as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Department, was responsible for the deaths of at least 3000 people in the Manchurian headquarters from 1939-1945 and the experimentation of at least another 250,000. Prisoners were victims of such procedures such as live vivisection, frostbite, and disease experiments, all in the name of furthering Japanese medical, military, and biological warfare research.
Historians estimate that at least half a million people were killed as a direct or indirect result of the biological warfare field tests throughout China, which included airplanes dropping ceramic bombs filled with plague-infested fleas, anthrax contaminating water supplies, and lacing food with other infectious diseases. This biological warfare research was even considered as a tool to attack the United States: the military plan codenamed Cherry Blossoms at Night was in the works, which would have involved kamikaze pilots infesting California with the plague.
Unit 731 was just one of many Epidemic Prevention Departments, with at least 5 other permanent facilities in China, Japan, and Singapore, and at least 18 others throughout the Japanese Empire. However, In August 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies and Unit 731’s leader, General Shiro Ishii, ordered his more than 10,000 workers to bury the evidence by destroying the facilities, killing and burying the remaining prisoners, releasing all disease-infected animals, and taking their secrets to the grave.
The United States granted General Ishii and a number of other prominent Unit 731 workers immunity from war crime investigations in exchange for the medical research they accumulated from their experiments. The Soviet-U.S. rivalry was soon to turn into the Cold War, and the U.S. wanted to get ahead of the USSR in biological warfare research. The U.S. did not want the publicity of an international war crime trial, which would leak any of the secret and valuable research to the Soviets that the Japanese had accumulated at the high cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives. As a result of this war crime immunity, a number of Unit 731 officials were able to become prominent members of society, including professors at medical schools, the director of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company, the president of Japan’s Medical Association, and the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee.
Former members of Unit 731, including medical assistants, nurses, and doctors, have come forward and admitted to following the orders to perform experiments on prisoners and to cover up the evidence at the end of the war. However, to this day, the Japanese government has not taken responsibility for the nearly 1 million deaths that Unit 731 and its biological warfare division is estimated to have caused. Neither have any lawsuits filed by Chinese families affected by Unit 731’s research been answered by the Japanese government.
731: Two Versions of Hell. Film produced by James T. Hong. 2007.
“Japan Unearths Site Linked to Human Experiments.” The Guardian. 21 February, 2011.
“Japanese Veteran Admits Vivisection Tests on PoWs.” The Guardian. 27 November, 2006.
“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.
“Unmasking Horror -- A Special Report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity.” The New
York Times 17 Mar. 1995.
Comfort Women Used to Prevent Military Revolt During Warhttps://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2015/10/117_14697.html
Comfort Women. Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II, Asia Perspectives, translation: Suzanne O'Brien, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 100–101, 105–106, 110–111;
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
High School Sophomores are Moved by Survivor Testimony from Pacific World War II
San Francisco, CA-March 20, 2017-The Jewish Family and Children Service's 15th Annual Day of Learning took place this past Sunday, March 19th. Over 700 students and faculty from 120 different schools came together to participate in the days programs.
"Inspiring, informative, eye-opening, and encouraging," were just a handful of the words used by teens to sum up their experience with this year's program. Although a few of those words may seem out of place when talking about tragedy, they begin to fit when one learns that the theme of the day was "Take a Stand." Students can often find history lessons featuring genocide and war to be filled with horrific photos and events. Sometimes they can be left with a sense of shock and helplessness. Fortunately, given the current political climate in America, the Day of Learning facilitators decided to give the students the next steps after learning about these tragic parts of history.
One workshop in particular, focused efforts on giving students some specific non-violent tools for resisting, and preventing history from repeating itself. Pacific Atrocities Education hosted a workshop for this year's Day of Learning titled: "Tools of Resistance: Women Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors of World War II in the Pacific." Many students shared their surprise and disappointment with America's lack of curriculum teaching this part of history.
After workshops, students welcomed survivors from a variety of backgrounds into the classroom for a speaking session open to questions and answers between students and survivors. Expanding on the brief history touched on during their lecture, Pacific Atrocities Education welcomed Jean B. Chan to give students a personal account from her childhood. Chan survived in China with her family during the Japanese invasion of her small village in Taishan. One student, brought to tears by Chan's heart wrenching story, asked which tool she believed would be most effective in sharing this part of history. The answer to this question, Chan did not know, but she was happy to discuss the options with the class.
One sure take away from Day of Learning 2017, is that students are awake as ever and eager to learn from the lessons that history has to teach. Teachers and other educators can also conclude that it's not enough to lecture about history, students need directions on next steps.
Pacific Atrocities Education is continuing their efforts to bring the often forgotten history of Pacific World War II to American audiences. Nicole Dahlstrom, Director of Outreach for the San Francisco based non-profit, stated that "the experience introducing students to the topic of Pacific World War II was both challenging and rewarding. It's a vast and underserved narrative, but the feedback we've been getting is our fuel to keep the program running." Nicole represented PAE at the workshop this year, she continues with, "If we can get one student interested in learning more about this part of history, then I know we are making a difference.”
By Derek Pua
Japan’s Declares war on the World (December 7, 1941)
December 7, 1941 is a date that most Americans recognize as the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Much has been said and written about the attack on Pearl Harbor and its significance in dragging the United States and its allies into a war that it did not want to be a part of. However, many people often overlook the fact that Pearl Harbor was simply the beginning of a string of preemptive invasions on American, British, and Dutch colonies throughout Southeast Asia. This was in accordance with Japan’s idea of Pan-Asianism, to help “liberate” the peoples of Asia from Western Imperialism.
As most western nations were preoccupied with the deteriorating situation in Europe prior to 1941, many had neglected to maintain their defenses in their oversea colonies. The western governments also made the mistake of underestimating the resolve and spirit of the Imperial Japanese army before 1941, often regarding them as inferior soldiers. This dismissive nature towards a potential Japanese invasion would prove disastrous and gave the Japanese superiority in numbers, war materiel, and morale in these opening stages of the Pacific Campaign of the Second World War. As a result of this, Japan made massive territorial gains in the months following December 7, 1941.
In the chaos which gripped the world in the days following December 1941, simultaneous invasions were carried out by the Japanese in the British holdings of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong; the American-owned Philippines, Wake Island, and Guam; the Dutch East Indies, as well as the Kingdom of Thailand. These opening battles of the Second World War in the Pacific would be the first time the two sides had fought against one another, and it would turn out to be a rude awakening for the inexperienced troops which guarded these colonies. In many of these engagements, hardened veterans of the Imperial Japanese Army were often pitted against poorly trained and poorly armed colonial units of the US and British military forces.
These surprise invasions typically resulted in quick and decisive victories for the Japanese forces, who enjoyed a strong military advantages over their enemies. Many Allied troops in these opening battles found themselves quickly overrun and were held as prisoners of war in concentration camps until the conclusion of the war. These prisoners were often gravely mistreated by their Japanese captors, and often subjected to slave labor, thousands would die in the squalid and brutal conditions of these camps. The Japanese would also conduct an innumerable amount of atrocities towards POWs, both large and small, with the most infamous one being the Bataan Death March.
These newly “liberated” colonies would similarly be subjected to years of harsh and oppressive Japanese rule, these colonies had simply switched a colonial leadership to a new, and much more brutal one. In the spirit of the war, the Japanese military secret police (the Kempeitai) committed many atrocities against civilians in these areas, often kidnapping, jailing, and torturing those who were suspected of being anti-Japanese. Under the new military administrations local cultures and traditions were also at risk, children were forced to take up Japanese names, lessons in schools were taught in Japanese. The Japanese war effort also made scarcity of basic goods like rice a daily occurrence and countless lives were lost due to starvation.
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Growing up as a child in Hong Kong, I heard much about the terrors that my grandparents on both sides of the family had endured under the rule of the Japanese during their invasions in Pacific East Asia. While these tales horrified me as a child, it sparked an interest in me and set me on the path of getting my bachelor’s degree in history at the University of San Francisco. I was so intrigued by the subject that by the time I was fourteen, I had read Iris Chang’s award winning book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, which was a gift from my grandfather, who insisted that this portion of history can never be forgotten.
As I grew up, I soon realize that most people in the world, even my peers in Hong Kong, were either indifferent or ignorant of the subject. Whilst I was disappointed by this realization, it continues provide me with the motivation and drive to spread the knowledge of this largely forgotten past; as the age-old expression goes: those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.
Nicole Dahlstrom is a non-profit marketing specialist with a history of coordinating marketing efforts for non-profit start-ups. She began her career while still in college when she interned at a local non-profit start-up called Spread the Care. After receiving a B.A. in Marketing, Nicole spent a year as an employment specialist with the national volunteer program, AmeriCorps. During her term of service, she aided a diverse set of clients with anything from learning to speak English to writing a business plan. Since finishing her term of service in September of 2014, Nicole has pursued a freelance writing career while studying online marketing for non-profits. She currently works as the Development Coordinator for the growing San Francisco based non-profit, Pacific Atrocities Education.