Oct 26, 2020 The Philippines played a critical role in American strategy during World War II. Before the war, the United States had large numbers of troops stationed on the islands. After U.S. forces were defeated from the islands, regaining the Philippines became an important goal, especially for General MacArthur, who had been forced to evacuate from his headquarters there in 1942 when the Japanese attacked. Accordingly, MacArthur adopted a strategy of island-hopping, which would allow him to steadily drive Japanese forces out of the islands they had conquered, bringing him closer and closer to Japan itself. Unfortunately, the Philippines’ proximity to Japan meant that they were among the last of the occupied islands to be retaken; fighting on the island of Mindanao continued up until the Japanese surrender in August of 1945.
Episode 63: Japan’s Unofficial War with China
Oct 23, 2020 During the early twentieth century, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded and occupied Chinese lands without ever officially declaring war. In 1915, Japan issued the secret Twenty-One Demands to Chinese president Yuan Shikai, with the intent to claim economic and political power over China. The Demands were divided into five groups, with the Group Five demands including concessions similar to those Japan had forced on Korea. After twenty-five rounds of negotiations and intense political maneuvering on President Yuan’s part, the Twenty-One Demands were agreed to, except for the Group Five demands. The other Demands, though, reinforced Japanese control of southern Manchuria, Shandong, and eastern inner Mongolia.
Episode 62: A Pariah of Singapore - General Henry Gordon Bennett
Oct 21, 2020 The Fall of Singapore was a military disaster contemporary with Pearl Harbor, but it led to division and finger-pointing instead of rallying the Allies further against Japan. The Japanese invasion of Malaya (today’s Malaysia) began December 8th, 1941, landing troops on its shores and pushing south through the peninsula.
Episode 61: What Do People Do with Offensive Wartime Memorabilia?
Oct 19, 2020 Human beings have been collecting things for as long as anyone can remember. While there is some disagreement as to whether this activity is purely psychological in basis, there are certainly a number of possible motives for why a person might collect things. People may collect things because of some sentimental value or monetary value; they may also collect because it is fun, to preserve the past, or simply because they enjoy the hunt. Some people collect things that are unusual, such as swizzle sticks, outfits worn by celebrities, or even string. It only makes sense that at some point, somebody might end up collecting something that seems taboo or offensive to another person.
Episode 60: Censorship and Oppression in Wartime Japan
Oct 16, 2020 The war crimes committed against Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Russians by Imperial Japan during the Pacific War have been well documented and acknowledged, unfortunately mostly outside of Japan. What is discussed less frequently is the McCarthy-like era Japan underwent in the 20th Century. A key difference between Japan’s McCarthy-like era and the United States’ McCarthy era, which followed more than a decade later, is the manner and degree to which those accused were punished.
Episode 59: The Building of Thailand-Burma Railroad aka "Death Railroad"
Oct 14, 2020 About a two-hour drive from the capital city of Bangkok is the western province of Kanchanaburi. With an etymological name translating to “The City of Gold”, Kanachanburi is exemplified by its national parks, waterfalls, and elephant sanctuaries. Following the flow of the Khwae Yai river, spectators can gaze upon farmers tending to their rice patties or marvel over the natural landscape of hills and mountains in the backdrop of the city. But behind the façade of lush forestry, lies a horrific memory of World War II; the forced construction of a railroad system that took the lives of over 100,000 individuals.
Episode 58: The Rise of Laotian Nationalism During WW2
Oct 12, 2020 Looking back, one could say that Laos was in an interesting place during World War II. The country was occupied by two forces, both allied and axis powers while simultaneously fighting off Thai forces near the border, underwent internal struggles due to the conflicting ideals of members of the royal family, and the country was involved in one of the most disastrous bombing tactics in the History of the World. Yet, despite these incident, the country still managed to fight their way towards eventual independence in the late 1970s.
Episode 57: The Burma Campaign
Oct 9, 2020 From January 1st, 1886 to January 4th, 1948 Burma was a territory amassed by the British; who seized it for its tremendous wealth. Burma was wealthy due to the Silk Trade route and its agriculture. Burma’s precious resources such as rubies and gems, gas, oil, tin, and rubber made it a prime target for many countries seeking profitable commodities for the war effort.
Episode 56: The Timeline of the Decolonization of Asia Post WW2
Oct 7, 2020 While independence movements were established well before the beginning of World War II, the conclusion of the war itself served as an important catalyst in forcing foreign powers to retreat and grant nation-states their independence. The following is a structured timeline on when Asian states gained their independence and a brief overview of what lead to their freedom.
Episode 55: Emperor Hirohito Before and After the War
Oct 5, 2020 “That’s all you have to say! I think the highest symbol of human irresponsibility is the Emperor! Followed by officers like you!” - Okuzaki, The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan. Emperor Hirohito was a complex political figure of war: he was responsible for the rise and fall of Imperial Japan before and after World War 2. He ascended to the Japanese throne on December 25th, 1926; a significant time in history for the Japanese imperialism view which led to expansionism until Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces at the end of the war. Although he was as responsible as the rest of his army in committing crimes in the Pacific Asia War, he was able to negotiate with the west to escape prosecution. In fact, he was not even called as a witness during the whole Tokyo Trial as his deal with the United States kept the Supreme Shrine out of the trial. Under his leadership, not only did Japan would rise industrially in just 80 years, Japan would emerge a new era in the reconstruction of modern Japan.
Episode 54: What Does the Rising Sun Flag Mean?
Oct 2, 2020 The rising sun flag refers to the flag of Imperial Japan’s military, particularly the Imperial Japanese Navy, during and before World War II. It has a red circle on a white background with sixteen red rays extending from the circle. It was adopted as the naval ensign in 1870. The rising sun is also sometimes used to refer to Japan’s national flag, the Hinomaru (“sun disk”). The exact origin of the two flags is not clear, but they have been used together for centuries. The meaning of the rising sun flag has been developed through time, with countries of East Asia having their own opinions of the flag.
Episode 53: The Philippines' Struggles for Independence
Sep 30, 2020 From Spanish Colonialism to the Malolos Republic and Resistance to the U.S. Control, then the Commonwealth of the Philippines and WWII, and final Independence. On June 12th, 2020, the Philippines celebrated the 122nd anniversary of their declaration of independence from Spain in 1898. However, like most holidays, the history behind this date is a good deal more complicated than a declaration and a day on a calendar.