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Japan WWII leaders’ descendants reach out for reconciliation

29 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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"Decades later, Japan and its Asian neighbors are still seeking closure on their wartime past"

No, Japan is and so are the former Allied nations that actually fought Japan in WWII. China (PRC) and South Korea (ROK), neither of which existed in 1945 are not seeking closure as that would put and end to their political agenda.

-11 ( +11 / -22 )

Great point from Togo. How often, however, must we hear new proposals for reconciling with allies. Look closer to home, not across the Pacific!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Educating the younger generations in Japan about the role these men played and how they brought so much misery and suffering to millions of people, both within Japan and abroad should be mandatory.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Characteristics of asians are they are emotional rather than logical or rational. It is not an easy thing to persuade emotional people with logic. They will become even more emotional or get angry. For them, losing faces are the most humiliating thing in life. Japan after the war contributed economically to the countries which were damaged by the aggressions of Japan but was weak in impressing them with ideas and philosophy. Germany is respected by having a world-leading research organization like Max Planck Instutue. It may be nice if Japan also have such an organization inviting talented people from asian countries and from the world. By contributing in culture and science to the world, they will change their views of Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i agree with Yubaru. the problem is at home, not abroad. give the right education here at home, not a distorted one.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

It is heartening to know that Tojo's grandson who must have gone through a lot of angst for his difficult family legacy is trying to be a positive influence reaching out to Harry S. Truman's grandson for a better world. Human resilience is such a wonderful quality. And he's an entrepreneur, somebody who blazes his way on his way. I like this guy.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

China & Korea were the victimized by brutal japanese aggression. Who colonized who (Manchkuo / Korean Peninsula)? Obviously Yubaru is spot on.

“Of course, unlike me, (Daniel) is on the victor’s side, but I wonder how he feels about being the grandson of someone who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Tojo said.

Oh please. It was necessary to quickly end the war.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

tina, it is convinient for you to see the good things, but inconvinient to see the opposite. do you think teaching the correct version of history is not the right thing to do?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Congrats to Togo for actually forming a plan. I don't quite agree with it (the war criminals enshrined at Yasukuni don't concern me, because if you're not Shinto they just plain don't matter. The flagrant historical revisionism, racism, and deceit on display at Yasukuni's Yushukan museum on the other hand, affects everyone), but at least he has a plan. That puts him one step ahead of practically everyone in this entire dispute.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If Tojo's own grandson can understand why its a good idea to remove the 14 Class A war criminals from Yasukuni then why is it so difficult for Abe whose own grandfather managed to escape any conviction? Abe considers himself a patriot but actually he has probably done more damage to Japan than any modern PM of Japan.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Removing the 14 Class-A war criminals from Yasukuni would be great. But there are problems with this:

Unfortunately, the priests of the shrine refuse to do this. And the state cannot force them, since officially Yasukuni is an independent religious institution, and the state cannot violate the separation of religion and state. (Yes, the PM visiting the shrine can also count as a violation of the same law, and there have been court cases about this). I don't think it will go down well with the majority of the Japanese people. Even those who believe Japan did all the wrong, many people believe that the executed and the dead have paid their dues and should be "appeased." (In Japan, souls who died a violent death wreak havoc in this world if they are not taken care of). Non-Japanese might find this ridiculous, but there it is. Even if they would remove them, would China and Korea be OK with the Japanese PM visiting Yasukuni? What about the other 1,000 or so Class-B war criminals?

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this problem.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hideki Tojo was PM of Japan, not Japan's dictator. I am not aware of any act or order of Tojo's that was deserving of execution. If there were, I could think of a long list of my own countrymen that should have been executed all the way back from Abe Lincoln through Truman and up to Dick Cheney, at least. Its really the class B and C war criminals that did the worst, but they all died way too easy.

Even so, Tojo's grandson should certainly offer some negative criticism of Tojo and the war in general. I don't see that here. All I see is that old saw about Japanese people being a victim of atom bombs, which is true, but the charge loses all credibility when a Japanese says nothing about Japan's victims. And not because it would excuse the atom bombs, cause it wouldn't, but I am sick of Japanese acting like only Japan suffered horrible brutality.

That said, it also makes me sick that Truman's grandson can't say anything negative about his grandfather. He murdered civilians that had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. Some he had killed were not even born at the time! Direct attacks on civilian populations is a war crime, and I would spit on my own grandfather's grave if he did it.

....but I wonder how he feels about being the grandson of someone who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Tojo said.

My bet is that he is not busted up about it. He grew up in a country that is very aggressive and persistent in excusing its own war crimes while hanging others by the neck for theirs.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“That was your great-grandfather,” Hidetoshi Tojo’s mother told him after he watched the scene.

The man was a war criminal - but he wasn't the one ultimately reponsible - Hirohito was. Yet he got a free pass by the U.S. At one point Tojo was pressured to alter his testimony to exonerate the emperor - and carry the can for the war

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I thought the problem with just 'removing' the war criminals from the shrine was that they said it was like adding 14 cups of water to a tank of water. You cannot just say "I want to take those 14 cups back out" because as soon as they are added they are mixed irreversibly into the rest of the water.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, the Yushukan museum doesn't belong to the Shinto religion. They could demolish it or move it to some backwater of Japan. That would dilute the sting of Yasukuni a little

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Good on these guys for reaching out and ACTUALLY trying to move forward. It was very interesting, and even moving, to hear how Tojo had reached out to Truman (descendants, I mean), and are talking about their experiences and what they can do to make the world a better place in contrast to Abe and other such leaders who, despite being the children of war criminals as well, want to make things worse. And good on Togo for trying to get Yasukuni to 'de-enshrine' the names of the Class-A war criminals. It won't happen anytime soon, but it's a good start, and coming from domestic sources, with the names of family enshrined their (and asking them to be removed) carries additional weight.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I thought the problem with just 'removing' the war criminals from the shrine was that they said it was like adding 14 cups of water to a tank of water. You cannot just say "I want to take those 14 cups back out" because as soon as they are added they are mixed irreversibly into the rest of the water.

Correct. That is one thing that the shrine priests say. Although, given that this religious stuff is pretty much made up recently, I think if they'd really wanted to remove the 14 war criminals, they could come up with some kind of creative solution.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I thought the problem with just 'removing' the war criminals from the shrine was that they said it was like adding 14 cups of water to a tank of water. You cannot just say "I want to take those 14 cups back out" because as soon as they are added they are mixed irreversibly into the rest of the water.

Easy solution; dump all the water out and start over, it's just symbolic anyway!

1 ( +4 / -2 )

@Wc626

Killing civilians is not easy to justify, whether it be the Japanese, ISIS, or the USA that's doing the killing. Your argument is a typical appeal to utilitarianism and the greater good. But that just opens up a new can of worms cuz then anyone can justify pretty much any act by appealing to some utilitarian argument grounded on subjective values (eugenics, wars, slavery).

Tracing your logic its totally the right thing to do for ISIS to nuke Washington DC if their motive is to end the war; all they gotta do is "suppose" that more people would die compared to the # of nuke victims if the war goes on.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Correct. That is one thing that the shrine priests say

Well, as it seems that Mr Abe likes to send cash gifts instead of visiting the shrine (since Uncle Sam told him off) - he could instead say that he will withold these "donations" till the 14 war criminals are removed. I imagine they would speedily comply.

0 ( +4 / -3 )

Despite his offer to "bear entire responsibility for the war in general," Tojo appears to have gone to the gallows as delusional and self-denying as contemporary Japan can appear to be about its role and actions in the Second World War. Consider these extracts from the journal Tojo kept while in custody awaiting trial:

"Throughout that period (the Sino-Japanese War), Japan had made honest efforts to keep the destruction of war from spreading and, based on the belief that all nations of the world should find their places, had followed a policy designed to restore an expeditious peace between Japan and China. Japan was ensuring the stability of East Asia while contributing to world peace. Nevertheless, China was unfortunately unable to understand Japan's real position, and it is greatly to be regretted that the Sino-Japanese War became one of long duration."

And this, "According to the address by the chief of counsel (for the International Military Tribunal), Japan declared war on civilization, but the responsibility for declaring war lies rather ... with the Anglo-American side, which forced Japan into war. Japan fought in order to ensure its own survival and also to establish the proper survival of the people of East Asia. In other words, it sought true civilization for mankind. This truth is not to be judged hastily as the sorrowful lamentations of a vanquished country, for it is the truth of mankind."

Both these statements are plainly and simply false. It is a mark of Tojo's blindness that he could ever even think them, let alone set them down.

Source: http://www.moreorless.net.au/killers/tojo.html

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Tojo was hanged at Sugamo prison. What did Japan do? They built Sunshine Building over the top, without a single reference to the preceding building.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Know a couple of Togo's relations up in Morioka. One of them used to run a cafe up there. Maybe she still does. Furthermore, I wish the media would try and expand their interpretation of the Prime Minister. Sure, part of his pedigree involves a former Sugamo inmate, however, the other grandfather was actually a fierce critic of militarism back during the war.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Please note that in Higashi Ikebukuro Park that occupies one corner of the Sunshine City complex, there is a large stone monument to “eternal peace”, intended to commemorate the prison and to help quell any remaining restless spirits.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The elderly people are so nice to me. I must say. The children as well. It all bodes well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The sins of the father or grandfather or whomever should not be visited on the descendants. While the past should be remembered and not repeated, there is a place is for forgiveness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Try to reach out with Stalin's great grandson, that will let you know much about a true story of a notorious dictator who was a 'victor' of WW2.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was unaware of Higashi Ikebukuro park, I stand corrected.

The sins of the father or grandfather or whomever should not be visited on the descendants.

No, but the descendants should be aware of the past to ensure it is not repeated

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Consider a unique form of apology. Japan’s Apology to her WWII Asian Victims. One of the most meaningful forms of apology is one that encompasses action. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution is an action of reconciliation, enacted on a daily basis. Therefore this form of apology is a living document, infinite in its scope, providing Article 9 remains a vital part of the constitution. Most official government apologies are words only and relatively short in duration. Japan’s apology via Article 9 may become a template for world peace, not only an apology but also an inspiration for all nations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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