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For readers who are married to Japanese persons, how much does your spouse know about Japan's actions before and during World War II?

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Of these incidents, most Japanese and many non-Japanese are entirely ignorant:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731

https://medium.com/frame-of-reference/the-japanese-soldiers-who-competed-to-kill-100-people-7750f9e3dcba

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjing_Massacre

This is why Japan is still not trusted by its neighbours.

-15 ( +13 / -28 )

well i have asked before and got reply that there were no pages about that in their school history book...

in general I am sure average japanese 40yo or younger have no idea about at all.maybe because of quality of education here,maybe because of imposed censorship in school books or just because no one mind it anymore.jpn government dont need well educated people with knowledge about even these atrocities,they need ones who will obey they rules and vision of world by Japan Inc.no knowledge-no stupid questions.

so contrast with say nations in Europe.we still remember who was agressor and who was liberator from nazism.

-9 ( +12 / -21 )

This question is for those married to Japanese. Not an excuse to just post anti-j comments, and I hope he Mod takes this into account.

My wife is completly aware of Japan's history and actions 1930-1945. I am well aware of No Gun Ri, My Lai, the taking if Japanese skulls in the Pacific islands, the massive rape of civilians in immedate post war Japan by both US and other allied troops. And as much as I stand by my country's decision to use the A-bombs to end WWII, I can not deny that what was done to some 200,000 civilians, the old, women and children was a War Crime. By exchanging views we have mutually reached the conclusion that all people can be monsters in war time.

I find most older Japanese are very aware of Japan's WWII history. Books on Unit 731 were on the store shelves starting at least 10-15 years ago. Most comments about "Japanese people not being aware" come from non-Japanese who do not go into Japanese bookstores or watch NHK specials. In general older Japanese know more about their country's WWII history than my American family knows about theirs.

As for the younger people in Japan, they know nothing. But then, the younger people of every country know nothing about their country's history, especially the dark side.

Today we are watching civiians in Ukraine getting killed daily. How will the majority of Russians remember their country's actions in the years to come? Dictatorships censor disadvantageous information and use propaganda to direct and control public thought. Imperial Japan up to and during WWII was the same, the civilians were kept in the dark. Only when the B-29s started bombing the cities did they reaize that they had been lied to by the military government. But under the path of democracy the truth inevitably comes out. Today we are seeing autocracies doing the same thing. Best to put it all in perspective.

10 ( +24 / -14 )

Funny how this never came up in 20 years of marriage. I wonder how we stayed married so long without discussing this essential issue. Perhaps I should start the day by asking my wife over breakfast what she thinks of the Nanking Massacre. Sounds like a promising way to start the day...

Otherwise, I generally agree with OssanAmerica's comment above.

8 ( +19 / -11 )

ZERO!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

This begs a followup question:

*For readers who are married to Japanese persons, how much do you know about Japan's actions before and during World War II? How much has your spouse contributed towards your knowledge and understanding of the era?*

Much of what is taught in schools up to the college level, in many countries, is either riddled with obvious errors and falsehoods, or is incomplete to the point of clouding many factors and realities that are still in play inside today's international relations.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

She knows quite a lot, but she also knows that history is written by the victors. She thinks that Japan did bad things but so did the Allies, and that in wartime anything goes.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Not married, but had an ex who said it didn't really matter what Japanese soldiers did in WW2, as "all soldiers" do those things. Hmm....k.

16 ( +24 / -8 )

Two of my paternal grandfather's brothers died in Burma, and two of my maternal Grandfather's brothers died in Italy.

I came to Japan in 1995, when both of my grandfathers were still alive. I met a beautiful young lady.

As we got to know each other, she felt self-conscious about our different histories, and worried about meeting my family.

When I told her that my grandfathers never talked about the war, it became apparent that my good lady had never even heard of Mussolini.

I told her there was nothing to worry about. It was a long time ago.

Both of my grandfathers attended our wedding, and seemed to be pleased that the horrors which blighted their youth were forgotten about.

"There is no point in making a fight with the grandchildren of people I had to fight," said my Father's father.

"I didn't want to be there, he didn't want to be there, I didn't know who he was, he didn't know who I was and I killed him. I put a knife in a man and I killed him. I had to because someone decided that one of us had to kill the other one. Some Japanese bloke was in the same situation and he killed my brothers. We are all going to feel bad about it until we die."

He was a brave man, and a man of his time. When I married a Japanese lady, he cried with happiness. To him, it was closure.

Love is love. War is an abomination.

22 years later, I still do not feel the need to bring up the war with my Japanese wife.

28 ( +31 / -3 )

How much do they "know"? The wording of the question implies that the Western description of Japan's actions are correct. I encourage my family and others to question that narrative...

7 ( +18 / -11 )

Complicated one, but somehow I believe that other may recognize their spouse in that description:

To wifey, WWII and the Japanese role was "bad" but if you would ask her how and why, she wouldn't really know, hence (at least to me) pointing to the educational system in Japan pushing a "conclusion" without actually "discussing" as to how they reached said conclusion.

I also noticed that years into our marriage, she started to challenge that conclusion (again, for lack of having any actual details helping her to understand why we came to said conclusion). She therefore started to do her own digging (which was good), unfortunately most of the stuff she found online and in Japanese language was far-right blogs / sites / other nonsense (which was much less good). Also, when you start to go down the rabbit hole of WWII in Japanese language, you end up very quickly in a "rabid" hole of echo chambers.

Ultimately, she ended up in a situation where she was trying to reconcile the bad role of Japan which suffered from lack of data, the victimization of Japan (i.e. Nagasaki and Hiroshima) which is cranked up on a regular basis by the media with the vociferous denials by the right-wingers and being stalked online by pop-ups and ads for revisionist publications, books, CDs, DVDs, etc and which are based on simply too much made-up BS...hence, the reconciliation is impossible...

Ultimately, back then we settled to a bland and rather frustrating "muzukashii desune" (it's difficult)...

Me thinks that the resulting mess in people's mind from the initial lack of discussion or educational material on the topic was the actual "goal" of omitting it in the first place, just to "blurr the lines" so-to-speak.

I come from Europe, (despite not being actually German) I am familiar with German language, culture and how the Germans dealt with their History. This is what Japan lacks.

A few years ago (2016) was Hitler's Mein Kampf going to fall into German public domain (the state of Bavaria had the copyrights and opposed any legal publication). So what happened, is that they republished an annotated version (2 volumes, 6 kilos and 3,500 annotations), debunking the original text as complete hysterical nonsense. It may sound like overkill, but I strongly believe that something like this is badly needed in Japan.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Ms Kipling asks why there were British soldiers in Burma, Singapore, India etc

So the "good" guys had colonies?

6 ( +15 / -9 )

My wife generally knows quite a bit about Japan's pre-WWII history and the events during. She might not know the specific island names and the months and years they were fought over but she does know about the atrocities committed on both sides.

OssanAmericaToday  Books on Unit 731 were on the store shelves starting at least 10-15 years ago.

Actually, books about the horrors of Unit 731 had come to light in Japan much earlier. My Japanese mom was reading a book about their experiments back in the early 80s. I watched her grimace while reading it so I asked her about it. That's how I learned about them too.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Never mention It until she ask me why I don’t tell her why I go to Yokohama every 25 th of April. I try to explain and I took her the the War Memorial and Shrine in Tokyo. More like she took me because I never visit it before. She was very very up after we exited my many many questions where asked and many truth told. She is into the Japanese Royalty and when I told her a Dawn Frazer just the gate and stilling the emperor flag. I google it to prove it and add you can google the answer to the war if you want to query what I told her. The conversation never comes on 25 of April about where I am going anymore.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

@Speed

Actually, books about the horrors of Unit 731 had come to light in Japan much earlier. My Japanese mom was reading a book about their experiments back in the early 80s. I watched her grimace while reading it so I asked her about it. That's how I learned about them too.

When I came to Japan in 2004, there were still video-clubs (with VHS tapes) everywhere. I noticed that most of them had a copy of the Hong-Kong exploitation movie Men behind the Sun (1988) which depicted the actions of unit 731 in either the horror or the history-section which was, well, quite unexpected...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

This seems like a terribly loaded question. It clearly assumes this to be somehow not the case for many people.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

@Derek Grebe One of the most illuminating posts I've read on this site.My family are very similar.My grandmother said on numerous occasions,"I hate the Japanese for what they did", but each time she met my girlfriends,she demurred,"But she'll do".

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As others have said, it's a loaded question. I often read comments that Japanese schools teach little or nothing about the World War 2. But I don't think I was taught much at school in Scotland about that period either. By the age of about 12, what I'd learned came from TV films and documentaries, comic books, and family. Basically I learned Germans had clean uniforms, dropped bombs, and killed Jews and British people. And that Japanese killed decent British people who were taking care of the natives in Asia. I suspect my wife was as ignorant as me at that age. But I learned a lot from older people in Japan, including my wife's family. I went with my mother-in-law on her first visit to the Hiroshima memorial. It seemed odd as I'd been there a few times before. She told me that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings had come as a relief to her at the time, and she felt a little guilty about those feelings.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

My grandfather-in-law was in his classroom in Hiroshima when they dropped Little Boy. Far from Ground Zero so he survived but he was left with scars because the windows exploded and he got hit by glass. We’re all aware of how incredibly lucky he was. Now, I’m gonna tell you all something. My grandpa doesn’t hate anybody.

It was one of the worst acts in the history of mankind, but it was war. War is an ugly, ugly thing. The Japanese did horrible things, but so did the allies. Politics and brainwashing played a huge role during WWII. My wife and her family and I believe most of Japanese know that there were millions of innocent people ( on both sides ) whose lives were destroyed because of politics ( remember, not just civilians ). And we also know that it was more than 70 years ago; those people full of hate died long ago. But yes, we’re all still healing.

To answer your question, my wife and her family know enough. How much is enough? Tbh, I don’t care. We never bring it up, because… why should we?

9 ( +12 / -3 )

@rcch, thanks.

my wife and her family know enough

Sane here.

Politics and brainwashing played a huge role during WWII. 

In all wars I think. It gets channeled into goodies versus baddies. And, as a line in the song below says, we end up with a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-38PB_5ozc

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sorry, that should be "Same here"

3 ( +5 / -2 )

*As for the younger people in Japan, they know nothing. But then, the younger people of every country know nothing about their country's history, especially the dark side.*

Not correct. In my native country young people are taught honestly and openly about the darker side of the countries history. A good way to ensure that dark history does not repeat itself.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

I try to avoid the subject or anything that would be remotely against Japan with my wife.

My late father-in-law former Japanese navy, was rescued by the U.S. Navy after they sunk the ship he was assigned to, and spent the rest of the war recuperating at a Naval hospital in Pearl Harbor.

When he gave me permission to marry his only daughter, he cited the humane treatment he had received as a prisoner of war from the Americans.

I regret that I did not talk more about the war to him when he was alive, but he never brought the subject up and I considered myself lucky to have been able to marry his daughter, so I just kept my mouth shut.

The only comments my wife has made was that she understood Hiroshima was necessary to end the war, but Nagasaki was too much and probably could have been avoided.

I served USMC (1967-70) and know that our guys have committed some inhumane acts too so we have never really discussed the matter.

Probably best to leave it that way.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think the same question could be asked of westerners about there own treatment of other countries etc. Most people have no idea about the atrocities their own Govts have carried out in the name of spreading democracy or fighting communism etc. History books used at school in any country tell the story from the victors point of view.

Stupid myopic question to be honest!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

My private student thinks she's knowledgeable about the war, but insisted that Japan had never invaded China - only Manchuria. The Pacific War to them means the war against America. They have only the fuzziest notion of any fighting against Britain, China or The Netherlands. Mention Imphal or Kohima and you'll be met with silence.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I talk about politics with my wife and my views on ecology etc. but not about history. Some people have views of history which colour their political beliefs or values, it becomes part of who they are, but I don't think that applies to us. I'm not a person who says "We British are ...." and she is not one who says "we Japanese ...." I don't think I could have married someone who talks like that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Of all the times wartime has come up with people I worked with in Japan I don't recall anyone knowing about any of the atrocities committed by Japanese forces except for some vague, 'oh yeah, they did some bad things didn't they?'.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I've been married 30 years and haven't talked about the war once. I have never been in one and neither has she. We have more important and relevant things to discuss, like our children.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Lord DartmouthJune 25  12:09 pm JST

My private student thinks she's knowledgeable about the war, but insisted that Japan had never invaded China - only Manchuria. The Pacific War to them means the war against America. They have only the fuzziest notion of any fighting against Britain, China or The Netherlands. Mention Imphal or Kohima and you'll be met with silence.

How old is your private student?

FYI- 9 out of 10 Americans believe the U.S. defeated Japan alone in the Pacific in WWII. So I'm not at all surprised hat a young Japanese person would think likewise.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Alan HarrisonJune 25  12:55 am JST

As for the younger people in Japan, they know nothing. But then, the younger people of every country know nothing about their country's history, especially the dark side.

Not correct. In my native country young people are taught honestly and openly about the darker side of the countries history. A good way to ensure that dark history does not repeat itself.

What is your native country? Without that your comment is totally meaningless.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

letsberealisticJune 25  12:21 pm JST

Of all the times wartime has come up with people I worked with in Japan I don't recall anyone knowing about any of the atrocities committed by Japanese forces except for some vague, 'oh yeah, they did some bad things didn't they?'.

Growing up in the U.S. I don't recall meeting anyone who knew about the atrocities commited in and by my country. So that's hardly any indicator of anything. I'm certain the same can be said for nearly all countries.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

My wife has brought up our atrocities in the past. She's from Chile, so is well aware of the meaning of her own country committing awful acts (upon their own people, however).

I'm of a generation that's well aware of how Japan behaved during the war/colonial period. I'm lucky to have lived and worked in over 10 countries, and generally the impression of Japan has been a good one from the people I've met.

Our children know bits and bobs I'm sure, but it's not a topic we've discussed in detail.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

 Basically I learned Germans had clean uniforms, dropped bombs, and killed Jews and British people. And that Japanese killed decent British people who were taking care of the natives in Asia. 

This is good one. They teach like British and Spanish, Dutch, and more were like UN employees to help Asians.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Growing up in the U.S. I don't recall meeting anyone who knew about the atrocities commited in and by my country. So that's hardly any indicator of anything. I'm certain the same can be said for nearly all countries.

Well, most kids in the US have a terrible level of education. I always have a good chuckle at the Youtube videos of Americans being asked something like a country which begins with U, or name a continent, or the currency used in the UK (Queen Elizabeth money!).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Ossanamerica

How old is your private student?

55

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Even coming from Hiroshima, she knows about the same concerning WWII that most Americans that I know know, just about ZERO. Some foggy details, a few propaganda words, but actual KNOWLEDGE of the behaviors and horrors of that or ANY war, essentially nashi. And the warmongers in all countries want it that way because if the people really understood what war is, they would hang their leaders at the first mention.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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