by Paulina Hernandez
[The painting above depicts an encounter between the TBD Destroyer and the Japanese Navy during the naval battle of the Midway Island]
The Battle of Midway was a turning point in the Pacific War between the United States and Japan. The battle was from June 4th to June 6th, 1942, six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A month before the attack, American cryptographers were able to decode transmissions sent amongst the Japanese forces. The mission of the United States Navy was to ambush the Japanese Navy. The Japanese Navy under the leadership of Admiral Naguma, had no inkling that they were about to be ambushed. Admiral Naguma came upon an American aircraft carrier but, chose to wait rather than attack. Naguma mistakenly assumed that the American aircraft was alone. Naguma’s decision changed the course of the Asia-Pacific war.
Naguma chose to wait before attacking the US Navy. While Naguma was waiting, American squadrons of torpedo bombers, en route to the Japanese went separate ways without air support, leaving themselves vulnerable to enemy fire. In the ensuing battle against Japanese fighter pilots, the Enterprise Torpedo Squadron lost 18 of 28 men, the Yorktown squadron lost 21 men out of 24, and the Hornet squadron lost all of 30 except 1. Sadly, none of the torpedo squadrons were successful in striking against the Japanese fleet.
At this point in time, America was facing defeat at Midway while Admiral Nagumo was planning an attack that would end the American fight for Midway. American forces were able to recuperate and began attacking the Japanese fleet. As American dive bombers flew around looking for the Japanese, they were unable to find them because the Japanese had moved position northward. The reason for this, was so the Japanese could engage in battle with the remaining US ships. On a whim, the Enterprise squadron changed their course and spotted four Japanese carriers. The Japanese carriers were without air support as the Japanese pilots were engaging in battle with the last of the American torpedo planes. The lack of air support enabled the Enterprise dive bombers to open fire on the Japanese carriers. Torpedo squadrons and dive bombers were successful in striking at the Japanese Navy fleet carriers.
The four fleet carriers were the Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu1 .The Japanese Navy had lost 322 aircraft and over five thousand men3 while the American forces had lost 147 aircraft and more than 300 men3 . The destruction of Japanese carriers resulted in survivors floating in the water for hours waiting for rescue while others committed suicide. In just five minutes, the heart of the Japanese Navy was decimated.
Over the next two days, the US continually attacked the Japanese causing them retreat. In the end, the Japanese lost 3,057 men, four carriers, one cruiser, and hundreds of aircraft4. The United States had lost 362 men, one carrier, one destroyer, and 144 aircraft5.
National Geographic.The Battle for Midway. Date Accessed September 22,2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAdnmCeDwKg
TBD: Attacking At Midway. Date Accessed September 29, 2017. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TBD_attacking_at_Midway_painting.jpg
by Danielle Dybbro
In a previous blog post I wrote about Unit 731, but the facility in Harbin was not the only Imperial Japanese facility used for biological warfare research.
General Shiro Ishii was the head of the Imperial Japanese biological warfare research program. Ishii made extensive visits to Europe in order to tour military hospitals during the mid 1920s, but the main reason for his European tour was to investigate biological warfare research. Ishii studied the research that was developed during World War I, which later heavily influenced his creation of Unit 731. Additionally, on his world tour, some of the countries he visited were secretly researching biological warfare, and a Military Attaché in the Japanese Embassy in Washington D.C. “said that he heard that Ishii had studied bacteriological warfare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.” Upon his return to Japan in 1930, he managed to convince the Japanese State Department of Military Affairs to develop a biological weapons program.
The invasion of Manchuria in 1931 by the Japanese was the golden opportunity that General Ishii had been waiting for. The wide expanses of uninhabited land served as the perfect arena for conducting biological warfare research, as the small island nation of Japan had severely limited research potential because of the issues of space and safety. By 1933 Ishii had established facilities in Manchuria for conducting both defensive and offensive biological warfare research. Defensive research involved the production of vaccines and offensive research was the main focus of the notorious Unit 731 for the purpose of developing diseases for use as weapons, including plague, glanders, anthrax, and typhus. World War II began in 1939 for the Western world, but by this time there were an estimated 18 other biological warfare facilities scattered throughout the Japanese empire, from Manchuria in the north to Indonesia in the south.
In the use of human subjects, researchers would refer to the subjects as ‘marutas’ which translated to ‘wooden logs.’ By dehumanizing the Chinese, Russian, Mongolian, and Communists that were rounded up by the Japanese secret police, the Kempeitai, researchers could justify the harsh treatment of marutas in their experiments. In a testimony, Yoshio Shinuzaka confirmed this practice and said that, “We called the victims ‘logs’… We didn't want to think of them as people. We didn't want to admit that we were taking lives. So we convinced ourselves that what we were doing was like cutting down a tree. When you see someone in that state, you just can't move. Your mind goes blank. The fear is overwhelming.”
Evidence of biological attacks in China are recorded in official records of a number of Japanese military officers, including field tests in Chinese villages leading to outbreaks of cholera and the plague. At Unit 731, bombs with fleas infected with the plague, shrapnel carrying anthrax, and planes spraying other diseases were tested on prisoners. Prisoners would be tied to stakes and the bombs would be dropped at varying distances and their bodies were monitored for reactions, which often involved cutting subjects open without anesthetic. After death, their organs would be preserved for further study.
South of Harbin, where Unit 731 was located, was the city of Changchun, which was chosen as the capital for the Manchurian puppet state. In 1936 the Anti-Epizootic Protection of Horses Unit was created in Changchun, which later became known as Unit 100. Unit 100 was not run by Ishii, but by Major Yujiro, a veterinarian who sometimes cooperated with Ishii in joint research. This unit specialized in the prevention of animal diseases, but also researched plant and animal biological warfare akin to Unit 731’s activities. The unit’s focus was on sabotage operations, with research conducted for the cultivation of crop viruses and livestock diseases. Both people and animals were subjected to experimentation, and a number of recorded testimonies from former workers and medical students describe seeing dead bodies being wheeled away from operating rooms and animals being poisoned with contaminated crops. In Soviet-sponsored war trials, a former Unit 100 worker confirmed that he had “taken part in these inhuman experiments on living people, in bacteriological sabotage and in the preparations for bacteriological warfare against the Soviet Union,” and other admissions of guilt are found throughout the trial transcript.
According to some scholarship, the United States government struck a plea bargain with General Ishii in exchange for all the medical research acquired from the experiments conducted at Unit 731. In a letter written in 1998, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations in Los Angeles confirmed that the exchange occurred: “Two of these [formerly classified] reports [about biological warfare data collected by the Japanese and the arrangement made between the United States and Lieutenant General Shiro Ishii, the Commander of the Unit 731], dated November 17, 1981 and May 5, 1982, confirm that Ishii and his colleagues received immunity from prosecution and that, in exchange, they provided a great deal of information to U.S. authorities.” In contrast, in memo dated from 1995 from the Department of the Army, Edward Drea, then the Chief of the Research and Analysis Division of Military History, claims that “there is no primary source material guaranteeing General Ishii immunity from prosecution. He was not tried as a war criminal apparently in order to conceal from the Soviet Union the extent of the information he provided the United States about biological warfare. Even that interpretation, however, rests on very fragmentary evidence.”
However, in 1995 in another primary government source, an internal memo claims that with the emergence of the Cold War, the Americans felt that they could not entrust the biological warfare information amassed by the Japanese to the Soviets. In order to keep the research from falling into Soviet hands, the documents handed over to the United States in 1945 were classified and thus were not able to be used as evidence in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Despite this cover up, the Soviet Union tried twelve of them in 1949 in the Khabarovsk Trials, which are available to read online through Google books.
Unfortunately, the United States “dismissed the verdicts [in the Khabarovsk trials] with the evidence as another in a series of long-running Stalinist show trials.” Additionally, though 12 Japanese officers involved with Unit 731 were tried in Khabarovsk, the convicts received prison sentences ranging from 2-25 years and most were freed in the 1950s. This is in stark contrast to the Nuremburg and Tokyo war crime trials, which resulted in German and Japanese officials being hanged or sentenced to life in prison.
Scholarship on Japan’s biological warfare program has been increasing since the 1980s with admissions of guilt by former Unit 731 workers and the discovery of a cache of forgotten military records in a Tokyo bookstore in 1984, but the issue is that the evidence is scattered and often fragmentary in nature. Historians must continue to piece together the narrative and bring to light a fuller picture of Imperial Japan’s biological warfare research that began well before the outbreak of World War II.
Cunliffe, William H. “Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records: Select Documents on Japanese War Crimes and Japanese Biological Warfare, 1934-2006.” Interagency Working Group.
Drea, Edward; Bradsher, Greg; Hanyok, Robert; Lide, James; Petersen, Michael, & Daqing Yang. Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays. Washington, D.C.: Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, 2006.
Harris, Sheldon. Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-up. New York: Routledge Press, 1994.
“Japanese Biological Warfare Experiments in World War II,” NSC Contingency Press Guidance. U.S. Internal Memo, August 16, 1995.
Letter, December 17, 1998. Headed “Re: U.S. Non-prosecution of Japanese War Criminals,” sent to the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles. Quoted in Reynolds, Gary. “U.S. Prisoners of War and Civilian American Citizens Captured and Interned by Japan in World War II: The Issue of Compensation.” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, The Library of Congress. Updated 2002. 22.
Pawlowicz, Rachel and Grunden, Walter. “Teaching Atrocities: The Holocaust and Unit 731 in Secondary School Curriculum.” History Teacher, Vol. 48 Issue 2, p. 271-294, February 2015.
Talmadge, Eric, “Japanese Soldier Faces the Poison of His Past,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2004.
Tsuchiya, Takashi. “The Imperial Japanese Medical Atrocities and its Enduring Legacy in Japanese Research Ethics.” Abridged from chapter “The Imperial Japanese Experiments in China” in Oxford Textbook of Clinical Research Ethics, 2008.
Tsuneishi & Asano, Suicide of Two Physicians, 48. Quoted in Harris, Sheldon. Factories of Death: Japanese biological warfare 1932-45 and the American cover-up, 19.
Tyson, James. “Proof found of Japanese gas, germ tests on POWs.” United Press International, August 16, 1984.
Working, Russell. “The trial of Unit 731.” Japan Times, June 5, 2001.
Yamada, Otozo. Materials on the trial of former servicemen of the Japanese Army, charged with manufacturing and employing bacteriological weapon. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1950. Accessed via Google Books.
By Paulina Hernandez
On September 22,2017, the Comfort Women Justice Coalition, or CWJC for short, unveiled a memorial honoring “comfort women”. “Comfort women” is translated from the Japanese word,”ianfu” which is a euphemism for prostitution. “Comfort women” were women and girls subjected to rape, and beatings by the Japanese Imperial Army. During World War II, young women from the following countries were used as “comfort women”: Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, New Guinea, Taiwan, Macau, and French Indochina. A small number of women from Netherlands and Australia were also used as “comfort women”
The unveiling ceremony was emceed by Phyllis Kim and Judith Mirkinson. Speakers included former Congressman Mike Honda, Dr.Jonathan Kim and former Supervisor Eric Mar. The theme of the ceremony was memory, resilience, and justice. A commonality amongst the speakers was accountability from the Japanese government and the demand for reparations for the victims and their families. Furthermore, for the Japanese government to conduct an investigation and punish those found guilty. Finally, the coalition demanded that the government of Japan teach an accurate history of Japan during World War II.
The ceremony included drumming from Cham E. Sori and singing from Do Hee Lee. The ceremony was presented as a multiethnic project between the following communities: Korean, Filipino, Japanese-American, Chinese, and Japanese. The keynote speaker of the event was Yong-Soo Lee, one of just a few survivors left to tell the story of being a “comfort woman”. Her main message was of the importance in acknowledging the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, specifically to the “comfort women”. Furthermore, the opportunity for her to share her story and the impact it will have for future generations. She was especially grateful to retired Judges Lillian Sing and Julie Tang for their impact on this project.
The memorial is named, the Women’s Column of Strength. The sculptor who designed the memorial is Steven Whyte. The memorial depicts three “comfort women”, one Korean, one Filipina, and one Chinese. They are being watched over by a fourth figure, a grandmother.The grandmother is Kim Hak-Soon who was one of the many “comfort women” who came forward with her story in 1991. The Women’s Column of Strength memorial is open for public viewing at the Saint Mary’s Square.
1. Wikipedia. Comfort Women. Date Accessed September 26, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women#Notable_former_comfort_women
Comfort Women Justice Coalition. Date Accessed September 26,2017.http://remembercomfortwomen.org/
Collister, Nikki. Protesters Expected For Friday Unveiling of “Comfort Women” Statue. Hoodline San Francisco. Date Accessed September 26,2017. http://hoodline.com/2017/09/protestors-expected-for-friday-unveiling-of-comfort-women-statue
Constante, Anges. San Francisco to Become First Major U.S to Install Comfort Women Memorial. Date Accessed September 26,2017.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/san-francisco-become-first-major-u-s-city-install-comfort-n719621
by Christopher Sayas
The Imperial Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 allowed for the culmination of the Second World War to reach the Asian continent. To fulfill its ambitions as an asian empire that could rival any formidable western colonial power it needed the raw resources to build such a domain. Wanting to emulate western colonial expansion, Imperial Japan saw the use of military force the only way in which it could fulfill its own goals of Asia. But through expansion the Imperial Japanese government committed countless atrocities across the Asian continent.
Events of the Rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March, as well as numerous individual stories of Japanese imperial savagery to prisoners of war, civilians, and those who were often viewed as being inferior are well documented. Yet the Japanese government did not seem to go through the same intense cleanse of its imperial government the way that Nazi Germany seemed to go through. Although both Axis allies and guilty of horrendous crimes, Germany underwent an intense cultural transformation to rid itself of Nazism and the vehicles that which were driving forces of militant expansionism. Many who were responsible within the Japanese government and private institutions following the war retained their positions or were only jailed for a fraction of their sentences, leaving many quite free only a few years after the war. Some would serve quite soon after as officials for the new post world war government that would seem drastically liberal to many outsiders but in reality would still be quite hard right leaning. The Cold War also had an affect as well, prompting some more liberal political elements to be suppressed and an component of conservatism to be retained that has survived over the years and generations.
Although Imperial Japan was defeated and its military empire dismantled following the end of the war, it did not shed the same kind of conservancy that Germany had been able to following the end of the war. Officially, the Japanese government of the post world war has apologized on different occasions but often falling on deaf ears. For many the official apologies feel insincere and perhaps only seemingly to gain political points from its closest military ally and trading partner, the United States. It would also seem that because official apologies are tied to compensation and financial redress creates a highly politicized statement that many Japanese officials have used as bargaining chips in the international community. Even more surprising is the continued maintenance and reverence of the Yasukuni Shrine of which many accused of war crimes are honored by the Shinto priests and many Japanese officials. Although the shrine itself is not exclusive to the Second World War it has remained
Today’s modern day Japan does not hold the same kind of blatant and aggressive ambitions that its past empire once held. The Japanese Constitution holds in Article 9 that the government never again will take up arms and display the same kind of belligerence and hostility that it manifested during the Second World War. This clause in the constitution in its official English translation states that the “Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” But more recent events have challenged the idea of a less militaristic and aggressive Japanese nation. Some laude the more flexible interpretation as a sovereign right while others see it only as a means to justify future conflict and perhaps help spark another global conflict.
Just in 2014 the official reinterpretation of the article meant that Japan could officially come to the aid of its allies if they were under attack. Additionally, it has also meant that the nation is able to now officially sell or give military grade equipment to its allies. With a more liberal understanding of the clause some in China and Korea have denounced the moves, interpreting the moves as a harkening back to the past imperial ambitions. Furthermore, Japan, although banned from having a traditional military has in its place a Defense Force that remains one of the most well armed and funded forces in Asia. Its own equipment is some of the most sophisticated and advanced in the region making the nation one of the most well equipped nations in the world.
Yet there are dissidents in Japan in both the Diet and the public who are in fact in favor of a more stronger and direct apology policy regarding the past atrocious war crimes. It can only be that accepting the past and not denying such actions, that Japan and its neighbors can move forward to build a longer lasting peace.
Hideki Tojo Trial
Bodies of victims along Qinhuai River out of Nanjing's west gate during Nanjing Massacre.
Chinese people being buried alive by Japanese soldiers, Nanking Massacre
By: Paulina Hernandez
Burma was a mountainous country nestled between British India and Japan occupied China. Prior to 1941, Burma was of little importance to countries such as Great Britain and United States. The mountainous region of Burma discouraged any type of trade or travel. Only once did the campaign of the Japanese to control Southeast Asia began, did Great Britain and the United States realize the value of Burma.
From the beginning, Great Britain and United States agreed that Burma was strategic in defeating Japan. Interestingly enough, Great Britain and the United States differed in their motives for protecting Burma. First, Great Britain viewed Burma as a barrier between British India and Japan occupied China. The barrier between these two countries would secure the safety of the “Crown Jewel of the British Empire”. In contrast, the United States saw Burma as a lifeline for China, who was under occupation by Japan. The United States believed that if they were to hold Burma, the Chinese could overthrow Japan and take back their country. The continued support of the Chinese, was an effort by Franklin D. Roosevelt to gain a potential ally in China.
A crucial roadway in providing aid for China was the Burma Road. The Burma Road was used as a means to transport aid to Japan-occupied China from their American allies. Japanese strategists decided to cut the Burma Road in order to gain complete control over China. Japan’s motive for the occupation of Burma would ensure the protection of their other occupied lands in the pacific. Furthermore, the occupation of Burma could possibly lead to an invasion on British India.
The loss of the Burma Road led to alternative methods of transportation.
For example, an alternative method employed by the allies, was the use of mules. The idea was that packs of mules ,would be guided through the jungles, across rivers, and the Himalayas into China. Harsh conditions such as freezing temperatures and the limitation of supplies caused this option to be questioned. Another example, was the construction of an air bridge that would enable supplies to be flown from India to China. The pilots would travel in unarmed planes across the eastern Himalayas, nicknamed the “hump”, by allied forces. The flights were perilous because the aircrafts were unarmed and crossing into enemy territory.
In December of 1942, British General Sir Archibald Wavell was in agreement with American General Stilwell to construct the Ledo Road and make it a NCAC operation. The NACA was the Northern Combat Area Command and under the command of General Stilwell. The allied forces began the creation of the Ledo Road, towards the end of December of 1942. The route would began in Assam, India to a juncture in Mung-Yu that connected to the Burma Road. The Burma Road would then connect to Kunming, China. Through the Ledo Road, allied forces would be able to send aid to the Chinese forces.
The difficulty in constructing the Ledo Road was because of Japanese forces controlling most of the Burma Road. Therefore, allied forces had no idea about the terrain nor the layout of the area. The allied forces gained this knowledge as construction continued.
The Ledo Road was not completed until late 1944. During its construction, the airbridge proved to be instrumental in the fight against Japan. The flights taken across “the hump” proved more effective than the planned Ledo Road. By the end of construction, flights across the “hump” had carried 650,000 tons of supplies to China. The number of supplies surpassed the number of the Ledo Road, which had transported 147,000 tons.
The Ledo Road was named Stilwell Road in honor of General Stilwell. While it was planned to be a strategic road, the Ledo Road proved to be a waste of time, money, and resources for the Allied forces.
While construction of the Ledo Road was underway, offensive forces infiltrated Burma. One offensive force was known as the Chindits. The Chindits were a special unit force who operated behind enemy lines. The Chindits were formed in the summer of 1942 under the command of Major General Ode Wingate DSO. There were two Chindits expeditions into Burma.
The first was Operation Longcloth which commened on February of 1943. Operation Longcloth consisted of 3,000 British Gurkha and Burmese soldiers. The main objective of operation Longcloth was to remove a possible threat to Fort Hertz which was the last British outpost in northern Burma. During the operation, Major General Wingate would change tactics, failing to advise various columns which would result in miscommunication. The majority of the Chindits resupply came from air support. The Japanese forces became aware of the transportation of supplies and quickly cut off the Chindits’ resupply. Ultimately, Major General Wingate and the Chindits were forced to retreat into India. They would soon return to Burma in the March of 1944 for Operation Thursday. The Chindits were a experimental unit that partook in the eventual victory over Japan in Burma.
Towards the end of the campaign, British attention went into planning the invasion of Malaya. This plan never took effective due to the surrender of the Japanese. The Battle for Burma ended with Japan’s surrender.
Xu, Guangqiu. War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation 1929-1949. Greenwood Press (2001).
American Office of War Information. The Stilwell Road.1945. Narrated by Ronald Reagan.
BBC Worldwide, Nugus/Martin Productions Ltd. Gladiators of World War II: The Chindits. Narrated by Robert Powell.2002. British Broadcasting Casting.TV
Burma Star Association. Burma Campaign: Diary 1942-1945. Date Accessed September 15,2017.https://www.burmastar.org.uk/burma-campaign/diary-1941-45/1945/
WW2 Flags. Date Accessed September 15,2017, http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/mm-old.html#ww2
Burma Road to China. Date Accessed September 15,2017, http://www.dangerousroads.org/asia/china/321-burma-road-china.html
Ledo Road. Date Accessed September 15,2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ledo_Road#/media/File:Allied_lines_of_communication_in_Southeast_Asia,_1942-43.jpg
CBI Time. Date Accessed September 15,2017. https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-CBI-Time/index.html
CBI Theater. Date Accessed September 15,2017. http://www.cbi-theater.com/ledoroad/aerial/photos.html
Chindits Longcloth: History and Overview. Date Accessed September 15,2017. http://www.chinditslongcloth1943.com/history-and-overview.html
MacArthur in Manilla, Philippines, 1945, smoking a corncob pipe
The Philippine Islands gained semi-autonomous status in 1935 with the creation of a Philippine Commonwealth and the election of Manuel L. Quezon as president of the newly formed government. One of the most pressing concerns and new responsibilities was the creation of a new military force capable of defending the islands. With this in mind, Douglas MacArthur, then the chief of staff of the U.S. Army was chosen by President Quezon to be part of the Office of the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government. His new job as Field Marshall of the Philippines was to create a new national army complete with its own small off-shore naval patrol force and air contingent over a conservative 10 year period.
But with diplomacy failing in Europe with Nazi Germany and especially with an ever more daring and increasingly militant Imperial Japan it became clear that the United States would need to mobilize for war. The U.S. embargoes on industrial materials such as iron and copper while closing the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping failed to halt Imperial ambitions. MacArthur was recalled into active service by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and returned to his original position as a major general on July 26, 1941. The general gained the responsibilities of heading the newly established United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) command as it became clear that U.S. escalation to war was more than a possibility. This included the task of training the Philippine army, creating a brand new staff of headquarters, and securing enough supplies and reinforcements for the upcoming conflict of which there was little time to prepare.
One of the most apparent obstacles that the combined U.S. and Filipino forces had to overcome was an overall lack of equipment and its quality. Although there were enough firearms such as the Springfield and the British Lee Enfield rifles, the weapons were often too long for the average Filipino infantryman while the the rifles themselves had low quality extractors that would often break. Additionally there was a serious lack of items such as gas masks, steel helmets, and entrenching tools while most issued boots were only rubber based and wore out quickly. Supply of many units was all too often not consistent and highly dependant on the enthusiasm and will of the quartermaster or officer with the responsibility of supply. There was an even more pressing lack of transportation as all units lacked sufficient quantities of heavy trucks or vehicles to transport troops and supplies. The lack of sufficient equipment, training, and supplies would not bode well for the USAFFE in the Philippines in the next few months.
Over the next short months General MacArthur would organize the Philippines into four different military commands, each having its own units and areas of responsibilities. This included the North Luzon Force which was by military intelligence the most likely area to receive an invasion force, the South Luzon, Visayan–Mindanao, and Reserve Forces. Over the next months the more than 22,000 original U.S. Army troops made up of Filipinos and Americans would be reinforced by mostly National Guard units that drew their own strength from states like California, Kentucky, and Missouri to name a few. Although these newly formed units were trained quite quickly and without proper instruction, the guard units brought more modern equipment than was already present on the islands. Over one hundred M3 Stuart light tanks and 107 P-40 Warhawk fighters were shipped from the U.S. mainland in preparation for defensive operations. There were also 35 B-17 bombers operated by the Army Air Force, making the philippine air contingent to be the highest concentration of American combat aircraft outside of the U.S. itself. Yet problems also arose as there were not enough airfields, maintenance facilities and personnel for effective use of the brand new air assets and worrying much of the USAFFE headquarters. The U.S. government policy also hindered the volume of new equipment available to be shipped to the Philippines. The Lend-lease policy to Britain and France effectively cut into available military transportation that could be used to ferry the much needed equipment to both Asia and Europe. Additionally, the United States had not created the capacity for its military industry the same way that it would be renowned for only a year later. The available manufacturing was used not only for domestic military needs but also for another theater of war for two nations. Although many of MacArthur’s military requests would be approved right away, the time needed to create a fighting force that would be totally independent and sufficient to guard the entire archipelago was not available.
The United States was drawn officially into the Second World War when Imperial Japanese forces launched a preemptive attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Just hours later and more than 5,000 miles from Hawaiian islands the Japanese launched an invasion of the Philippine archipelago beginning the first combined U.S. and Filipino campaign of the war. This resulted in the activation of war plan Rainbow 5, putting in place the War Department’s strategy that would last throughout the remainder of the war.
Bailey, Jennifer L. “Philippine Islands.” Philippine Islands, www.history.army.mil/brochures/pi/PI.htm. Accessed 11 Sept. 2017.
Morton, Louis. The Fall of the Philippines. Honolulu, HI, University Press of the Pacific, 2004.
Toland, John. The Rising Sun: the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 1936-1945. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England, Pen & Sword Military, 2011.
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur smoking his corncob pipe, Manila, Philippine Islands, 2 August 1945. Digital image. Www.wikipedia.com. N.p., 2 Aug. 1945. Web. 18 Sept. 2017. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MacArthur_Manila.jpg>
Philippine Scouts engineers preparing sections for a pontoon bridge. Digital image. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Philippine_Scouts_engineers_preparing_sections_for_a_pontoon_bridge.jpg>
Canadian Forces in the Battle of Hong Kong 1941
Hong Kong was under British control till 1941, when the Battle of Hong Kong was waged against Japan. Initially, the British were unconcerned with Japan’s invasion of China and the mistreatment of the Chinese people. A major concern of the British government was the growing number of refugees coming from China. To combat an invasion by Japan, the British government enlisted the help of two other countries under their rule, British India, and Canada.
The Canadian forces were sent in as reinforcements. The Canadian reinforcements were formed from two battalions, the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. The two battalions were recommended by General Chief of Staff, Harry Crear2. On December 7th, the Japanese 38th Division attacked Hong Kong, a mere six hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
With the invasion underway the British, Canadian, and Indian soldiers encountered difficulties. The first issue was the language barrier between the Indian and Canadian soldiers. Another complication was that Japanese soldiers had previous battle experience, while the Canadian soldiers were new to war. Furthermore, the Japanese soldiers were familiar with hill fighting, while the Canadian soldiers were inexperienced. Additionally, the Canadian regiments could not differentiate between the Chinese and Japanese soldiers3.
For two weeks, under the command of Brigadier C. Wallis, Canadian troops attempted to stem Japanese advance. As a result, Canadian troops were short of water and without proper transportation. Even though the British, Canadian and Indian soldiers fought brilliantly, Hong Kong was surrendered to Japan. The remaining British, Canadian, and Indian soldiers were now prisoners of war.
In the aftermath, civilians, and soldiers were subjected to the brutality of the Japanese army. As a result, hundreds of Canadian soldiers died from starvation and illness within POW camps. After the war, a committee was formed in Ottawa to investigate Canada’s involvement in Hong Kong. Commissioner Chief Justice Lyman Duff pardoned the Cabinet, and the Department of National Defense, ignorant of any evidence. An outside analysts concluded that with sufficient training, proper equipment, and staff, Canadian forces would not have been able to defeat the Japanese.
In closing, 554 Canadians died in Hong Kong and in the camps. The soldiers are buried amongst the Sai Wan Bay Memorial, the Stanley Military Cemetery both in Hong Kong. A remaining 107 Canadians, mostly POWs are buried at the British Commonwealth Cemetery in Japan.
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The days leading up to the Bataan Death March were catastrophic for the American and Filipino armies that were stationed in the Philippine island of Luzon. General Douglas McArthur was the general in charge of the Filipino Army in the Pacific during World War II. One of his generals on the island of Corregidor, where an American military base was organized, requested military aid for his ground troops that were in Bataan. There was a Japanese Naval blockade that prevented any aid to General Jonathon M. Wainwright’s company, leaving ground troops without aid. On the field, General Edward P. King’s company were stuck between a rock and hard place. Their resources including their ammo supply were running low or were non existent. The men suffered from diseases like malaria. Weeks prior to the “Bataan Death March,” King’s men slaughtered the packed horses and mules but regardless food rations were running low.
While American and Filipino soldiers were starving, The Japanese army was planning an attack on the central American line near Mount Natib. Japanese bombers took out the central front within 2 days when the Rising Sun flag flew visible to the military base on Corregidor, near Mount Samat in Marveles. McArthur suggested to Wainwright to never surrender, with that said, Wainwright ordered King to set up a counter attack. King who was a strategic solider knew that a counter attack was impossible. A reason of impossibility was that in late March Japan assigned 15,000 soldiers, 140 artillery pieces, and 80 bombers to the Philippine Islands in order to support the Japanese Naval blockade. Another reason of impossibility was the lack of ammo and physical strength of the starving soldiers. One effect of losing the central American line was that the front was divided between soldiers desperately fleeing to Corregidor and the other badly defeated. King knew that a surrender would have to take place but Wainwright wouldn’t allow a surrender. On April 9th 1942, around 6 am, white flags of truce waved on the American line. This was not addressed to Wainwright in Corregidor because King didn’t want him to be responsible for the defeat in the field. Not only was the Battle of Bataan the greatest defeat in the Pacific for the American military but it was the cause of the inhuman march that thousands of prisoners of war endured.
Soldiers that surrendered after the three month conflict of Bataan, would find themselves transported to Camp O’Donnell, Camp Capas, and Camp Tarlac. Over 60,000 prisoners of war reached the camps but the journey is a key example of the atrocities made by the Imperial Japanese Army. Soldiers were starving already during the conflict of Bataan but on the march those who were malnutrition or suffered from a disease would be left behind on the march. Roughly 7,000 did not reach the camps and among them 300 Filipino soldiers were bayoneted. Survivors faced limited rice rations, disease and torture in the camps until the end of the Pacific war in August of 1945.
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by Christopher Sayas
Nazi Flag vs. The Rising Sun Flag
There is nothing that can spark quite so much controversy than the Nazi flag. Its black swastika and red backdrop can produce a strong flurry of extreme emotions to many around the world. The flag itself was made famous as it became the official state flag for Nazi Germany and became a potent symbol of Axis aggression during the Second World War. With the Third Reich’s racially motivated goals of cleansing the world of the Untermenschen, or what they viewed as the undesirables most famously through the concentration camps, the Nazi Flag, or Hakenkreuz, has transformed into a symbol of hatred and far right extremism at its peak. Despite the fact that the Third Reich did not last for quite the intended one thousand year reign, its symbols and imagery have left lasting impressions on the modern world.
Although it has been 72 years since it has been used as an official state flag, extreme-right wing organizations around the world have appropriated it when they can. They have used the swastika as a whole to proudly display their so called racial superiority and as a symbol for others to join their hate for immigrants and minorities. It has also been used as a favorite for more extreme far right political groups who utilize its strong imagery to rally more people to hate as well as a symbol to defend so called ‘white culture.’ Knowing the power of this toxic symbolism both France and Germany passed legislation outlawing the use of Nazi insignias, symbols, and the flag directly following soon after the end of the Second World War. Western society, media, and mainstream culture demonize the symbol of the Nazi regime yet there is more of lukewarm feeling when it comes to Germany’s old Axis ally.
The flag of the Rising Sun was first originally used throughout feudal Japan and during the Meiji Reformation officially became a battle flag for the new imperial military. During the Second World War and well before, the Empire of Japan used the Rising Sun flag for not just state use or functions but also naval jacks and army banners, cementing its image as a symbol for an aggressive and imperialist Japan. To many Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, and countless Asian ethnicities, the Rising Sun Flag occupied the same moral space as the swastika and the Nazi flag. Yet although Japan was also an Axis power responsible for heinous war crimes, Japan did not seem to go through the same deep cultural cleansing of its official and state symbols the way that Germany was following the end of the war. The flag did not receive an official ban from the government nor from the allied occupation forces.
The Rising Sun, although a symbol of the Japanese Empire would see its official return again in 1954 when the Japan Self Defense Forces were officially founded following soviet military and nuclear threats. Less than a decade earlier it had been used for militaristic and imperialist motivations by an aggressive government seeking to build an empire and enrich itself by any means necessary. To many throughout the Asian continent the Rising Sun symbolizes hostility and serving unwillingly to an empire. To many it also brings images of comfort women, the Rape of Nanking, and the brutality of a warmongering military.
Yet the image of Imperial Japan’s flag however seems at least to the perspective of much of western society to be a much more benign emblem than the swastika. It can be found throughout Japanese culture and products around the world; from toys, to poster, and clothing the image of the Rising Sun is a pervasive symbol that permeates on a global scale and in turn seems to become a more innocuous design without any negative connotations. In this regard the Rising Sun flag occupies a seemingly grey area here in the west in which it is not only a symbol of oppression to some but also a symbol of globalized Japan. It has been transformed into what kind be described as an innocent symbol devoid from its historical roots of aggressive nationalism.
The danger here lies in the lack of education regarding the history and nature of the Rising Sun flag. Symbols do have immense power in that they serve to represent ideals, ideas, and whole nations. The Rising Sun often serves to represent to some the past crimes of a world war and a refusal to face the history can be a painful reminder of justice denied. Although the Rising Sun had been used well before the advent of the Second World War, its continued use signals to some that the past sins of a previous imperial government were not totally wrong. To toss symbols around without knowing the events surrounding even something even seemingly harmless such as a flag design would only be irresponsible to not just the victims of the atrocities but also to the past as well.
“Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville.” Southern Poverty Law Center, 12 Aug. 2017, www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/12/flags-and-other-symbols-used-far-right-groups-charlottesville.
Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich. New York: Macmillan.
Rising Sun Flag
“Korean Lawmakers Adopt Resolution Calling on Japan Not to Use Rising Sun Flag.” The Korea Herald, 29 Aug. 2012, www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20120829001376&cpv=0.
Taylor, Adam. “Japan Has a Flag Problem, Too.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 June 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/06/27/japan-has-a-flag-problem-too/?utm_term=.cd4909f536ca.
By: Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas
Japanese Military Strategy in the Pacific 1941-1942.
The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th of 1941 represented the initial step of the Japanese military onslaught of Southeast Asia. The following day, the Japanese continued their aggressive military strategy in the Pacific, targeting American and European holdings in Southeast Asia. From December 8th, 1941 to May of 1942, the Japanese campaign for the Philippines resulted in both the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands and the ultimate surrender of both Philippine and American troops. Estimates of 80,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forced to relocate and enter POW camps throughout the island of Luzon once they survived the horrors of the Bataan Death March. Forced to submit to the harsh working conditions of the camps, supervised and scrutinized by Japanese draconian methods, and forced to live in squalid and poorly supplied quarters, American and Filipino troops experienced first hand the brutality of the Japanese Imperial Army. It was clear even during the initial phases of the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands that Japanese maltreatment of their captured adversaries had completely contradicted the official conduct of war.
The Japanese maltreatment of the Philippine and American POWs was visible to Philippine citizens who witnessed first hand the Bataan Death March as onlookers and passerbys. Philippine civilians who watched the brutality and killing of POWs as they marched to be transferred to the prisoner camps also were vulnerable to the cruelties of the Japanese military. Philippine men and women who attempted to give food or water to the marchers were injured or killed (bayoneted) as a result of their sympathies to the American and Philippine forces. The Bataan Death March would serve as the precursor to the Japanese Imperial Military’s antagonistic treatment of the Philippine citizenry throughout the islands. The visible signs of maltreatment, the aggressive barring of civil liberties (Japanese propaganda, the torture and capture of Philippine citizens who sympathized with the Allies, etc.), and the immediate severing of foreign relations and aide would spur a Philippine grassroots movement to thwart the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands.
The roots of the Philippine Resistance represented the cultural and socio-economic diversity of the Philippine Islands. From socialist peasant farmers, middle school teachers, ROTC youths, to Moro (Philippine Muslim) warriors, the range and inclusivity of the men and women who participated in the struggle against the Japanese Imperial Army was seemingly inexhaustible. Women guerrilla fighters especially made major contributions to the liberation of the Philippines, but unfortunately, similar to the ethnic minority guerrilla fighters, have received less acknowledgement and discussion in World War II history of the Pacific Theater.
The Philippines, during the early half of the twentieth century, witnessed few advances in women’s rights. But with the threat of war and the encroachment of the Japanese Imperial Army upon the Philippine Islands, the patriarchal and religiously conservative culture of the Philippines could not afford to maintain its traditional standards of gender. The grassroots resistance drew in the patriotic fervor of many Filipinas who saw the guerrilla resistance as an opportunity to liberate their homeland as well as prove the capabilities of their sex. Their guerrilla efforts proved women were more than capable of taking on numerous roles: soldiers, leaders, activists, journalists, nurses, doctors, spies, and dedicated patriots. Filipina guerrillas proved to be a vital aspect of both the soldiering and reconnaissance missions that allowed for the Allies to gain an opportunity to retake the Philippines.
Historians estimate that for every ten male guerrillas, one Filipina guerrilla served in the underground resistance. Over 260,000 male Filipino guerrillas served the resistance effort. This male-dominated number therefore reflects that Filipinas in wartime history have been neglected, or because of their status as women were not counted officially as serving, and that the female guerrilla populations represented possibly more than 10% of the guerrilla resistance. These statistics given the little surviving resources on Filipina guerrilla efforts brings to light the missing narratives of a traditionally very American-centered written history on the liberation of the Philippines of World War II. The war time experiences of women of color in the Pacific can provide opportunities to address the various contributions, struggles, and cultural diversity that aided and represented the Allied front of the Pacific.
Filipina guerrillas similar to their male peers were aware of the risks and ultimate sacrifices they would make in their efforts to push the Japanese Imperial Army out of the Philippines. One of the added fears and risks that Filipinas shared that their male peers did not was the threat of rape and being forcibly used as comfort women (sex slaves) for the Japanese Imperial Army. Despite the risks of death, torture, and rape, the Filipina guerrillas of the Philippine Resistance represented a hardy and selfless cause of both liberation from the Japanese imperial regime and progress towards women’s rights in the Southeast Asia.
A Filipina nurse attending to an American soldier at the Catholic Cens Cathedral during the Allied Campaign to retake the Philippines. 
Filipina guerrillas took on various roles and missions to aid the resistance against the Japanese Imperial Army. Many served as medical aides or nurses. The late Dorothy Dowlen, a Filipina mestiza (mixed ancestry of Philippine and European heritage) born and raised on Mindanao served as a medical aide helping Allied soldiers and guerrilla fighters while helping her own family escape the brutalities of the Japanese invasion. Filipina nurses provided the much needed medical help for struggling American soldiers who escaped the POW camps throughout the Philippine Islands. Filipina nurses and doctors such as Bruna Calvan, Carmen Lanot, and Dr. Guedelia Pablan would continue to help civilians, soldiers, and POWs in the region surrounding Bataan despite the loss of their hospital and lack of supplies and food. Risking their lives to smuggle medicine into POW camps and maintain their self-constructed health centers (nipa huts), Filipina guerrillas and female resistance supporters helped not only to physically heal the wounded but strengthened community and soldier morale to fight against the Japanese Imperial Army.
WAS founder, Josefa Capistrano 
Many Filipina nurses used their medical training to assist other guerrilla groups such as the WAS (Women’s Auxiliary Service), led and founded by Josefa Capistrano. Josefa Capistrano, a Chinese-Filipina mestiza would be one of the first Filipinas to establish and train women as soldiers, nurses, and spies schooling them in methods of reconnaissance and the use of firearms and self defense. Capistrano’s female troops served under the tenth military district in Mindanao and would also supply the guerrillas and local communities with food, medical, and military supplies. In 1963, the WAS would be renamed the WAC (Women’s Auxiliary Corps) and would become an official military branch of the Philippine Army managed by women for women.
Colonel Yay Panlilio with her husband Marcos Augustin, founder of the Marking Guerrillas 
Other Filipina guerrillas pursued reconnaissance missions, establishing guerrilla networks throughout the Philippine archipelago, maintaining contact with the Allied forces, and thwarting Japanese propaganda efforts (film, radio broadcasts, newspapers, pamphlets) seeking to win over the Philippine people’s support. Filipina guerrillas like Colonel Yay Panlilio served as a radio and newspaper journalist while fighting alongside, and leading her very own unit of, male guerrillas under the Markings Guerrilla troops on the island of Luzon. Panlilio used her journalist skills to skillfully hide resistance messages in public radio announcements. She also documented and maintained guerrilla activities relaying communication to the Allied forces and to other guerrilla organizations. Panlilio also routed out undercover Filipino collaborators (makapili) who sought to paint the Philippine Resistance as detrimental to Imperial Japan’s efforts in absorbing the Philippines into a “friendly” pan-Asia.
These courageous women broke gender norms while ultimately liberating their homeland from Japanese imperialism all the while promoting the capabilities and mastery of skillsets women were capable of in a male centered society. Through their sacrifices, Filipina resistance fighters like Josefa Capistrano championed gender and racial equality as one goal for their resistance efforts. Capistrano would not accept honorable mentions or awards for her efforts until the Philippine government recognized the WAC as an official branch of the military. Most importantly, their contributions to the Pacific Theater demonstrated the many strengths of past colonial territories whom were undoubtedly deserving and capable of self governance during the post war era.
1. Louis Morton, United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific, Strategy & Command: The First Two Years (Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1962), 106.
2. Setsuho Ikehata & Ricardo Trota Jose, The Philippines Under Japan: Occupation Policy and Reaction (University of Hawaii Press, 1999), 60.
3. Kevin C. Murphy, Inside the Bataan Death March: Defeat, Travail and Memory (Jefferson: McFarland, 2014), 104.
4. Peter Li, editor, Japanese War Crimes (New Brunswick: Routledge, 2017), 45.
5. Murphy, Inside the Bataan Death March, 223.
6. Vina Lanzona, Amazons of the Huk Rebellion: Gender, Sex, and Revolution in the Philippines (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009), 7.
7. Nicholas Trajano Molnar, American Mestizos, The Philippines, and the Malleability of Race:1898-1961 (University of Missouri Press, 2017), 126.
8. Getty Images: Time & Life Pictures, Nurses and Wounded Soldiers, photograph, Tumblr, Last Accessed August 30th, 2017, http://cache3.asset-cache.net/gc/53378881-filipino-nurse-tending-to-the-wounded-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=2PqlFQzuD9tjbMbBdVdvPZgwFcAGRxujqrRukD6lkBz50XVWMAogIql58z%2biFkZFbqNv1tfj6UR%2fCt5zE642iQ%3d%3d.
9. Dorothy Dore Dowlen, Enduring What Cannot Be Endured: Memoir of a Woman Medical Aide in the Philippines in World War II (Jefferson: McFarland, 2001), 1-8, 87, 123.
10. Sergeant Carl Ritt, “Filipino Nurses on Bataan,” Bulletin: Medical Women’s Association, Vol. 90 (1945): 346, 347.
11. Filipiknow, Josefa Capistrano, photograph, Pinterest, Last Accessed August 30th, 2017, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/481814860115850950/.
12. Evelyn Jamboy, The Resistance Movement in Lanao, 1942-1945 (Coordination Center for Research and Development, MSU Illigan Institute of Technology, 1985), 74.
13. Philippine National Historical Society, “The Journal of History: Philippines,” The Journal of History: Philippine National Historical Society, Vol. 57 (2011): 253.
14. Manuel Duldulao, A Century of Philippine Legislature: Timelines of Events, People, and Laws that Shaped the Filipino Nation, Vol. 1 (Unang Letra Publishing, 2007), 59.
15. Meaghan Miller, “Kathyn Atwood Showcases the Pacific Theater in her Newest Women Heroes of World War II Book,” Chicago Review Press Blog, last modified September 26th, 2016, accessed August 29th, 2017, http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/blog/kathryn-atwood-showcases-the-pacific-theater-in-her-newest-women-heroes-of-world-war-ii-book/.
16. Ray C. Hunt & Bernard Norling, Behind Japanese Lines: An American Guerrilla in the Philippines (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), 128.
17. National Centennial Commission, Sulong Pilipina! Sulong Pilipinas! A Compilation of Filipino Women Centennial Awardees (National Centennial Commission, Women Sector, 1999), 396.