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Japanese writer who documented WWII Tokyo firebombing dies

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By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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General LeMay also orchestrated the devastating bombing of North Korea during the Korean war...

LeMay was also the one that tried to goad President Kennedy into bombing the missile sites in Cuba during the crisis. Furthermore, he thought the US should threaten to bomb the North Vietnamese "back into the Stone Age"

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Look, the firebombings of civilians in Tokyo were horrific and General LeMay was pretty much of a nutcase.

He bragged that he was responsible for killing more people in the least amount of time in the history of the world. After the atomic bomb, he advocated never accepting any surrender and to continue using nuclear bombs until there were no living Japanese left in Japan.

Low level bombers intentionally cut off escape routes the civilians were taking to get to the rivers, to trap them in the inferno. That’s not much to brag about.

Downvote all you want, but the truth is the truth, even if you don’t like it.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

WA4TKGToday 08:22 am JST

Did he write about the atrocities of the Japanese military or just how bad the USA was for doing this

He wrote about his own experiences surviving the firebombing, and stories of other survivors.

It was not meant to be a balanced history of that conflict, but of his experience and his city at one single point in the conflict. As a 12 year old he committed no atrocities.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

"to raise awareness of the massive civilian deaths and the importance of peace..." 

The Japanese only started to realize "the importance of peace" after their own country was attacked. For about a decade before then, the people's enthusiasm was devoted to the conquest and subjugation of all their neighbors.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

General LeMay also orchestrated the devastating bombing of North Korea during the Korean war, in which every town in North Korea was reduced to rubble, and citizens were routinely targeted with napalm as US pilots were instructed not to return with their payloads; he also gave the okay to bombing dams (contradicts the Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime), which then condemned millions to death from starvation as they were unable to irrigate their crops.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Curtis LeMay and Robert McNamara were masterminds of the carpet bombing of Tokyo with incendiary bombs.

Later, McNamara said this about the bombing:

We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo – men, women, and children... Lemay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost... But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win? LeMay said "if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals". And I think he’s right – and I’d say – we were behaving as war criminals.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

WA4TKGToday  05:47 am JST

You REAP what you Sew.

You reap what you sow. We're not making shirts.

And let's get some perspective, Desert Tortoise. The US military didn't even take Japanese prisoners. Japanese soldiers were told to fight until the end because they would be killed by the Americans. And they were.

Surrendering Japanese were shot after being searched, then ears cut off for souvenirs.

US military intelligence couldn't get live prisoners to interrogate. It wasn't until late in the war when they finally got some, after offering ice cream to soldiers who turned in prisoners instead of killing them. So there you go, ice cream for your life.

Google to find information on Japanese POW's. You wont find anything, because there weren't very many.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

W4TJK,

I posted my comment with you in mind. Do you have anything to say about it? I think Japanese war criminals were executed in the locality where war crimes were committed or in Tokyo where  the retaliatory Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal took place.

Has anyone from the victor side been subjected to such a trial?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

LeMay was a war criminal and the firebombing of Tokyo on March 10 1945 was a war crime, pure and simple, aimed specifically at causing civilian deaths and destruction on as massive a scale as possible. They even workshopped it beforehand to determine how to cause the maximum incendiary damage In Tokyo’s close packed streets and wooden houses. But of course it would be wrong to sheet all the moral responsibility for the bombing on to LeMay, as the approval for the raids would have been shared among many other individuals, not least the President.

Others have written about the many war crimes committed by the Japanese Army and its commanders during WW2. It wasn’t Saotome’s job to tell those stories. He had his own tale to tell. Maybe one day someone in the US administration will at least choose to formally acknowledge and apologise for the unnecessary carnage that the US wreaked on civilians that night and others. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

So, No. He never Informed the Subjects of the Emperor, what their Military had been doing all over the world.

No, he did not. Should everyone writing of their experience in the war be listing atrocities their nation was responsible for?

Perhaps a footnote like, In addition, my nation started the war in the Pacific and committed numerous atrocities?

And Imperial Japan did not fight "all over the world".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Desert Tortoise

[ May 1953: Attacks on major dams[edit]

After running low on urban targets, U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops.[26]

On 13 May 1953, 20 F-84s of the 58th Fighter Bomber Wing attacked the Toksan Dam, producing a flood that destroyed seven hundred buildings in Pyongyang and thousands of acres of rice. On 15–16 May, two groups of F-84s attacked the Chasan Dam.[27] The flood from the destruction of the Toksan dam "scooped clean" 27 miles (43 km) of river valley. The attacks were followed by the bombing of the Kuwonga Dam, the Namsi Dam and the Taechon Dam.[28][29] The bombing of these five dams and ensuing floods threatened several million North Koreans with starvation; according to Charles K. Armstrong, "only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine."[20]

And yea, I put more stock in those researchers than your testimony.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Another disgusting entry in America's long list of crimes.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Rest in peace.

Mr. Saotome, "The Cat is Alive" (猫は生きている) is still my treasured picture book.

WA4TKGToday  08:22 am JST

Did he write about the atrocities of the Japanese military

Yes, he wrote about what the Japanese did in Chongqing, Nanking and Harbin, about the revolt against Japan in Taiwan, about a Korean independence activist, about a chinese forced laborer, and about Japanese-occupied Vietnam, or about a captured B-29 crew.

『母と子でみる南京からの手紙 日本は中国でなにをしたか1』編. 草の根出版会, 1989

『母と子でみる重慶からの手紙 日本は中国でなにをしたか2』編. 草の根出版会, 1989

『母と子でみるハルビンからの手紙 日本は中国でなにをしたか3』編. 草の根出版会, 1990

『延安からの手紙 日本軍の反戦兵士たち』 (母と子でみる) 編. 草の根出版会, 1991

『ベトナム"200万人"餓死の記録 1945年日本占領下で』大月書店, 1993

『柳寛順の青い空 韓国で歴史をふりかえる』 (母と子でみる) 編. 草の根出版会, 1995

『台湾からの手紙 霧社事件・サヨンの旅から』 (母と子でみる 編. 草の根出版会, 1996

『ハロランの東京大空襲 B29捕虜の消せない記憶』新日本出版社, 2012

『徴用工の真実 強制連行から逃れて13年』新日本出版社, 2019

『穴から穴へ13年 劉連仁と強制連行』 (母と子でみる) 編. 草の根出版会, 2000

『ふたたび南京へ』 (母と子でみる) 編. 草の根出版会, 2000

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Curtis LeMay and Robert McNamara were masterminds of the carpet bombing of Tokyo with incendiary bombs. They knew what would happen to crowded match box houses in the city and talked with each other about a possibility of being executed for the war crime if the Allies lost the war.

Strangely enough, after the war, LeMay was awarded a highest medal of honor by the Japanese government for his contribution to the creation of JASDF. That means the U.S. military and JSDF are all part of the same gang, smacking of erstwhile militarism and colonialism.

.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Ego, the Victor write history, whether they are wrong or right

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Both Curtis LeMay (USAAF) and Arthur 'Bomber' Harris (RAF) should've been in the dock at the War Crimes Tribunals after WW2. The fact that neither were, nay rather, lauded by their respective countries, just shows that it was 'victor's justice' and not true justice at all.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

WA4TKG: May 13 05:47 am JST,

You REAP what you Sew.

True, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor by surprise. But what if Japan played into the hands of Franklin Roosevelt, who was looking for excuses to enter the war at the time? Wasn't Pearl Harbor a godsend for him? The war-weariness mood of the nation dissipated instantly and the U.S. citizens supported Roosevelt's war policy all across the board.

If the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the incendiary bombing of Tokyo are the answer to Pearl Harbor, killing hundreds of thousand civilians, wasn’t the retaliation way manifold?  Can you say, nonchalantly, "You reap what you sewed"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I thought it was only me who knows about this.

the figure probably 500,000 and America did to demoralize Japanese soldiers because most of the victims were women and children.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There are official documents which show unequivocally that Roosevelt and the US top brass wanted to enter the war.

Regarding how the US treated Japanese POWs, here's an interview with a Marine vet who openly admits taking one out to be shot-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vSf8oMyaN0

So yeah obviously you've been indoctrinated pretty well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, can one say Imperial Japan was solely responsible for that war and that Japan reaped what it sowed? The atomic bombings of Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the fire-bombing of Tokyo are Japan's own making?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A poster commented on another thread some time ago that Okinawa’s burden to have to host so many U.S. bases was also the end result of the Pearl Harbor Attack, insinuating Japan alone was to blame for starting the war and that the U.S. had every right to maintain bases in Okinawa, using them for whatever purposes for how long.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like Russia is doing to Ukraine right now. 

It's nothing like it. Ukraine didn't invade all its neighbors and kill around 25 million people in the process, Ukraine did not start the war by destroyed a major Russia naval base in a sneak attack.

By the spring of 1945, the global community was desperate to get Japan to surrender. If the US left Tokyo and other major Japanese cities untouched, Japan would have never surrendered and the mass killings in Asia would have continued.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

So, No. He never Informed the Subjects of the Emperor, what their Military had been doing all over the world.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Isoroku Yamamoto, IJ Navy Admiral and the mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack strategy, fully knew about the enormous difference of national power between Japan and the U.S. He had been enrolled at Harvard University and later served as a naval attache for the Japanese embassy in Washington, D.C. He was against war with the U.S. and worked hard for Japan not to go to war. But war became unavoidable and imminent when all diplomatic talks came to a standstill. 

Asked by then Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe if Japan was capable of fighting against the U.S., he answered that the Navy could get a ruckus for the first one year but after that nobody knew what would happen. Even some of the Kamikaze pilots who actually took part in the Pearl Harbor attacks had some doubt as to the outcome of the attacks and the course of the subsequent even with these military achievements. The sequence of events afterwards went as they worried. 

Yamamoto was wrong in believing that the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor would crush American citizens’ will to fight, inflaming their antiwar sentiments ever more. He thought Japan could take advantage of this opportunity and negotiate peace in Japan's favor. He was completely wrong in this point.

It's said that the U.S. intelligence already had deciphered IJA's cryptograms and reported their findings of IJ naval force's movement to F.D.R. point by point. But FDR made short shrift of them, letting the attacks happen.

After announcing war against Japan on the radio from the Oval Office in the White House surrounded by intense-faced subordinates, in a film footage, he alone seemed relaxed and was all smiles by throwing the legs on the table. It may be that Japan played in FDR’s hands without knowing it.

So, can one say Imperial Japan was solely responsible for that war and that Japan reaped what it sowed?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sounds like Russia is doing to Ukraine right now. We never learn do we?

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

One of the greatest war crimes ever committed, and yet the Japanese today adore the USA and loathe China and Korea: countries that have never attacked them. Furthermore, they are constantly told how evil Russia is for mistreating the POWs captured in Manchuria (as if they themselves were any nicer to their POWs), and for invading a couple a footling islands north of Hokkaido (1,018 Japanese killed or wounded, and almost 2000 killed or wounded on the Soviet side).

A testament, my friends to brilliant brainwashing by America during the Occupation.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Sorry there MoonShine, Japan and North Korea are different Countries, in case you didn’t notice.

You’ll get Zero Remorse for anything that happened there.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

True, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor by surprise. But what if Japan played into the hands of Franklin Roosevelt, who was

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor the US believed Japan would attack an overseas possession, in particular the Philippines. The US thought Japan would not dare attack a US state or territory. Such an attack was thought to be so inflammatory the Japanese would not risk the wrath of the US for such an attack. What the military in particular worried about on US soil was sabotage by Japanese Americans. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the Navy, Marines and Army had all of their airplanes parked tightly together on flight lines where it was easy to guard them from sabotage rather than park them in revetments to protect them from air attack. The respective commanders were under orders to protect their aircraft from sabotage and had guards posted on the flight lines to protect them. That made it much easier for the Japanese to destroy more aircraft than would have been possible if the aircraft had been in revetments. These stories about Roosevelt somehow wanting Pearl Harbor to be attacked or knowing it would be attacked are nothing but lies. The Japanese had done such a good job of hiding their plans and their fleet movements that in November naval intelligence didn't know where the Japanese fleet was. It bothered them too but this was before satellites and long range patrol aircraft.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The real Japanese victim ,were Japanese American,put in concentration camps

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Did he write about the atrocities of the Japanese military or just how bad the USA was for doing this

A war winner version history.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

 he also gave the okay to bombing dams (contradicts the Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime), 

Not quite. The Norks were releasing water intermittently from their dams using the spillway gates as way to disrupt UN force ground operations. They would hold water back until the dam was full then open the spillway gates to create a flood. The US Navy used aerial torpedoes to destroy the floodgates. The dams themselves were undamaged and remain in use to this day. But with the floodgates blown out the Norks could no longer lower them to build up water behind the dams and then open them suddenly and fully to create artificial floods. The US did not do like the RAF did in WWII bombing great big chunks out of German dams and destroying some.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I had family in that war so sorry folks but no apologies from us. My mother was on the Manhattan Project. An uncle fought the IJA on Guadalcanal and was on his way to invade Japan when the little project my Mother was working on ended the war. My father and other uncles saw duty in other theaters or in the Merchant Marine. Unfortunately my uncle who fought in the Pacific was disabled from a war injury and walked with a limp the rest of his life. You won't hear any kind words from my family for the Japan of WWII. Try to get my father to buy a Japanese car. Wasn't happening, life long hatred of Japan. Can you blame him? Go visit the Arizona Memorial, then read up on the Bataan Death March. Maybe even visit some of the locales along that march. Do it during their hot rainy season so you can experience what those poor POWs had to experience in terms of heat, humidity and bugs. Then imagine some miserable IJA soldier poking a bayonette in your back if you start to falter, or just let you die if you can't go any further. That was the kind hearted IJA. Over half the Allied POWs held by the Japanese died during their captivity while a bit over 90% of Allied POWs held by the Germans survived the war. Nice people the IJA. This is personal to me because our family was affected and not in a good way. Japan got what it deserved in that war.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

You REAP what you Sew.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Surrendering Japanese were shot after being searched, then ears cut off for souvenirs.

That is vile and despicable and emphatically not true. My own father was proud of the fact that the enemy soldiers they captured were not mistreated. They were also proud of the fact that these enemy soldiers avoided nearby British units to surrender to the Americans knowing they would be well cared for. The British soldiers had a reputation for treating captives roughly while the Americans were well known for treating POWs well. This is the truth, not the evil fantasies of kids on the internet. My father and my uncles were there and you were not! My father had hands on experience with enemy captives.

The fact is it was considered to be a violation of IJA regs to surrender and it was made clear to their troops that anyone who surrendered would be punished harshly after the war. Their soldiers and officers were taught that by surrendering they severed all ties to Japan. Suicide was encouraged and officers often led by falling on their swords to commit suicide. It was only later in the war that Japanese soldiers started to realize the futility of the war and started to surrender instead of commit suicide. Japanese POWs held by western allies were confined under good conditions. Interesting the Japanese teaching that those who surrendered had severed their ties to Japan led to many Japanese POWs speaking freely to western intelligence services.

There is a funny story we learned during our own POW survival training about a POW camp in Oahu during WWII. The phone was being manned by a Japanese officer who was among the captives. Someone important in the US Navy called the camp and was not real happy to hear the phone being answered by someone with Japanese accented English. The Navy officer ask where the camp commander was and was told by this Japanese officer he was outside playing volleyball with some of the captives. Needless to say there was a reorganization of the camp soon afterwards, and some personnel changes. The US treated POWs good. Quite a few chose to remain in the US and eventually become citizens.

Later in life my father was absolutely crushed by what happened at Abu Ghraib as that would have never been allowed when he was in the Army.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

They thought less of Japanese,than they did Germans,if any one deserve the atomic bomb,it was Germany,this be should be warning to Japanese,those have power over you will not hesitate to use it

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Did he write about the atrocities of the Japanese military or just how bad the USA was for doing this

A war winner version history.

Win or lose, fact is fact. Japan started a war, committed war crimes, and the allies finished the war, Japan surrendered. One thing some Japanese fail to grasp. Action - Reaction.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Did he write about the atrocities of the Japanese military or just how bad the USA was for doing this

-17 ( +5 / -22 )

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