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WWII firebombings of Japanese cities largely ignored

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By ELAINE KURTENBACH and MARI YAMAGUCHI

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178 Comments
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Tit for tat!

-39 ( +18 / -57 )

War is hell. Those that want apologies for the atomic bombings should realize that this was the alternative.

-3 ( +25 / -28 )

One politician at least had the dignity to describe the event without resorting to self-serving justification:

"In that single night, we burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo: men, women, and children." (Robert McNamara)

32 ( +35 / -3 )

This is what Robert McNamara cites as what would have been war crimes by the US, had the Allies lost the war for some reason. I cannot imagine what this must have been like.

I was in Kumagaya recently and did some research on the fire bombing of that city. It's tragic for the people because the US sorties took off with rumours that the Japanese had surrendered and subsequently weren't sure if they were to proceed. For the people of the city, they experienced the horror of the firebombing only to discover that the Emperor surrendered the very next day and the war was done.

My wife's grandmother watched the bombing take place from across the Arakawa river as a little girl. It sounded harrowing and nightmarish.

21 ( +26 / -5 )

Horrible time for Japan. The lesson should be clear. Don't start wars unless you are ready to expose your people to such attacks. All out war is hell on earth.

18 ( +32 / -14 )

General Curtis LeMay chose the firebombing tactic because he clearly knew of reports from American diplomats of what Japanese cities were like--mostly wooden structures with a lot of small production shops that could produce goods for any war effort. As such, these firebombings actually substantially reduced the output of weapons for the Japanese military.

8 ( +20 / -12 )

Japanese were lied to by Tojo and his henchmen up until those bombings. They were told that the Imperial Forces were on the advance and the mainlaind could never fall under attack. So the ultimate goal of the US, was to decimate these cities and ultimately destroy Japan's will to keep fighting.

24 ( +28 / -4 )

tit for tat? they bombed Pearl harbor because you wanted them to. in fact australia even warned the US of the incoming japanese attack but the US didnt react so that the damage would have been higher and thus, people would get enraged and would be motivated to go to war (just like in world war 1 the US sent a civil ship to nazi waters on purpose) also its hard to compare the millions the US killed with pearl harbor. but i guess tit for tat explains it right?

-25 ( +20 / -44 )

“Some of you young men think that war is all glamour and glory, but let me tell you, boys, it is all hell!” -General William T. Sherman 1880 The pain is sometimes more than what people want to remember or talk about, and by not talking about it, those most affected wish to bury and forget it. It is always the innocent that suffer from the weakness, greed, or lack of humanity by politicians throughout history from every corner of the World. There is brutality and suffering so inhuman, happening today across the Middle East and Africa, yet most people refuse to talk about it. Every war, there are events that almost imperceptible evil, but it is a war, and ultimately the fault lies with the People that support the Government that leads them either into war's victory or defeat. I watched the fire bombing of WW2 played out on a family TV show, Hanako to Anne, that showed the horror the people suffered on a very small, yet powerful scale. War is hell, and it is all to often the innocent are the victims. Bring 'blame' out now, is akin to the South Koreans or Chinese blaming Japan for WW2 'war crimes'. Those who committed those 'crimes' are long dead, it is the succeeding generations duty to remember and not repeat those mistakes.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Scary time, Don't need to be apologized. We celebrated Shusen. ) emd of war)

8 ( +8 / -0 )

.... and it wasn't just Japan.

Consider the cities in Germany (like Dresden) that were completely destroyed the same way.

War .... when diplomacy and talks fail. All these "events" should also teach the younger generation a lesson:

No more wars!

20 ( +22 / -2 )

The US even waited for the first winds of spring, the prevailing winds helping to hurry the flames. Terrible times, war is insane, a total loss of reason and logic. Don't look to do the same, it only ends with us all losing.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

A bleek reminder of nationalism and stupidity.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

As some have mention Robert McNamara was haunted by what transpired, and Le May and his British equivalent Harris would have been tried for crimes against humanity if they'd lost. If you haven't, see The Fog of War.

A sentiment that is laughed at and sneered at by many, but, hey, IMAGINE...

Peace.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Tojo and others did great evil to the people of Japan. I am surprised that some still praise the man or claim that he, "did no wrong" even today...sad.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

This was a nice story!

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

“The United States went too far with the firebombing, but I don’t quite understand why the Japanese government and the rest of the Japanese don’t talk about this very much,” he said.

In February, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a case involving suffering caused by Japanese air raids on China during the war years. This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of 'conventional' air raids by Japan, and countless issues/cases such as these would come to the forefront if Japan began placing greater emphasis on its suffering in such attacks. This scenario is something the government would obviously like to avoid.

With the nuclear bombings, on the other hand, the narrative has been that Japanese people 'uniquely' suffered in that the nation endured a nuclear attack, but did not inflict such an attack on others. This narrative and Japan's defeat in the war has formed much of he basis for the prevailing mentality that the suffering endured by Japan trumps that caused by Japan, and by extension assuages guilty consciences of many.

16 ( +23 / -7 )

In all wars, without making any judgment as to the necessity of any given war, there is usually one certainty: those that pay the highest price are usually the civilians. True 100 years ago, true today.

These are stories and memories that should be preserved and remembered, for future generations to read/listen to and reflect on.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@Klausdorth: Or Leningrad or Coventry or Warsaw or London or, or, or. Everyone loses in war.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I've always wondered why the firebombings were ignored while everyone focused on the atomic bombs. I mean, I guess I know why - cold war, MAD, nuclear winter, and all that. Still, it never quite made sense to me.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It seems that Japan would neither make war nor join war as long as people remember atomic bombs, firebombings,,,such war killed so many people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The business of war is killing, if you don't like that don't start one.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

S'truth, I only learned about these events myself maybe a month ago. And I'm an American. This stuff didn't make it into the history books. And it's odd to compare the total carpet bombing of cities like Dresden in Germany, which the military and government seemed quite proud of, though horrendous, and the fact that seemed almost to hide the same thing in Japan. very odd, indeed. But while I do tend to study the history of WW2 and the war with Japan, I don't study it deeply enough, as a writer, to analyze these things. Perhaps there should be a companion anime movie to barefoot gen to tell this story.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Exactly.

I have prayed several times at Yasukini. My Dad was an American WWII vet.

Forgiveness requires understanding.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Sorry there are no excuses to killing innocent people whether it is conventional or atomic bombing. The truth is that bombing must have gone on. The military industry had to be satisfied... as for the atomic bombing it was more to pass a message : hey we are the strongest now ok! Sorry I found no valid excuses to nuke people...honestly, how the hell would you vaporize people? Japan should never forget

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Possibly the greatest horror inflicted on the most people in human history. Immeasurable suffering.

And the emperor and the warlords witnessed it all - and still they didn't surrender, dragging the people of Japan into a further 6 months of terror and devastation.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

S'truth, I only learned about these events myself maybe a month ago. And I'm an American. This stuff didn't make it into the history books.

bonestructure - In fact, the Tokyo firebombings have been well recorded in history books. Don't blame your ignorance on the matter on your inability to get to a bookstore or use Google.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Over a million killed between March and August and then the atom bombs on top of that. War is murder on a grand scale and yet it remains a political tool, so easy to start, so difficult to end. Whatever justifications we assign at the time or in hindsight, war is the shame of humanity.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

..and the moral of the story is: DON'T start wars you can't FINISH.

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

“It was a hellish frenzy, absolutely horrible. People were just jumping into the canals to escape the inferno,” said Kase, 89. He said he survived because he didn’t jump in the water, but his burns were so severe he was in and out of hospital for 15 years.

The article doesn't explain the seeming contradiction of Kase's comment. He survived because he DIDN'T jump into the waters of the canal. The reason is, the fire was so intense on both sides of the canals that the water was quickly heated to boiling. Anyone in the water was boiled alive. The rivers had more space between the sides and the odds of surviving were much higher.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yamabe, the historian, said authorities “are reluctant to acknowledge civilian suffering from the wartime leaders’ refusal to end the war earlier.”

“If they don’t disclose such data, it can’t be discussed. If the victims remain anonymous then there’s less pressure for compensation,” said Yamabe, a researcher at the privately funded Tokyo Air Raid and War Damages Resource Center, Japan’s main source of information about the firebombings

“The United States went too far with the firebombing, but I don’t quite understand why the Japanese government and the rest of the Japanese don’t talk about this very much,” he said.

Agree with both his conclusions -- Japanese leaders would rather not discss this, because of the "leaders' refusal to end the war earlier". But, also 'the United Sates went too far with the firebombing". Let's be honest, if the U.S. had lost the war, this would have been considered a war crime. As the saying goes "two wrongs do not make a right".

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Japan brought years of war and destruction. In 4 short years, the USA established peace and laid the foundations for the current prosperity (the Japanese Economic Miracle was invented in Iowa. Look up W. Edwards Deming).

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Couple of quick comments.

Definitely should be considered a war crime. The waging of wars (by all countries) that specifically target civilian populations constitute heinous acts of barbarism.

Talking specifically about the bombings of Japan, by an interesting twist of fate a number of the young men who came to Japan with the strategic bombing survey after the war ended up becoming leading scholars of the country. Some also became rather well known business people/Tokyo identities. One name that comes to mind is James Abbeglan.

Another strange twist of fate is that Curtis Le May was actually awarded with the Grand Cordon by the Japanese government. Make of that what you will. One elitist group awarding another elitist stooge for incinerating the great unwashed?
2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's pretty disgusting that they were dropping napalm on the populace. Bombing kills of course, but it is used to destroy infrastructure. Adding napalm to that is just meant to kill painfully. Horrible.

That said, this is what happens when you start a war. The moral of the story is don't start wars.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

Japanese revisionists who are wont to extoll the virtues of their military frequently make the claim that it was disinclined to target civilians. That's a specious argument. For several years during the war, it did not escape Americans' notice that the Japanese military regularly bombed Chungking (Chongqing), which at the time was the provisional capital of one of America's allies. The city had practically no targets of military significance; the purpose of the air raids was to encourage China to sue for peace.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Not ignored everywhere.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tokyo-fire-bombing-70th-anniversary-survivors-beg-japan-to-remember-the-forgotten-100000-10096651.html

It is important to acknowledge the past and for the truth to be revealed.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The napalm was for the wooden buildings. Stranger is thinking of Vietnam. Now THERE is a war-crime.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Curtis Lemay, who planned the firebombing, had a doctrine of total war. That means every man, woms, and little crawling baby is a legitimate target. That is clearly still the doctrine of the US.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

JohnInJapan Japan brought years of war and destruction. In 4 short years, the USA established peace and laid the foundations for the current prosperity (the Japanese Economic Miracle was invented in Iowa. Look up W. Edwards Deming).

Thanks for that. I knew about this back-side story from a few years back, then lost track of my notes and Deming's name. Not that it is directly pertinent (perhaps) to the above story, but again, thanks for the reminder and info.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There are people saying "don't start wars you can't finish" etc. but think about it. Japanese citizens who were not at all involved in the war were killed. The government started the war, not the people of Japan so bombing civilians should be considered a war crime (and the fact that it isn't just goes to show how stupid humanity is). Westerners (not only Americans) try to justify it with the attack on pearl harbor but that was an attack on a military base, not a city full of civilians. Well frankly, if Japan had just chased Americans out instead of start a war, that would have been a better alternative. If you look up history before even WWI, foreign countries put Japan through a load of crap so if there was some resentment towards America due to that, it wouldn't be surprising.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

War is hell. Those that want apologies for the atomic bombings should realize that this was the alternative. exactly for those that say the A bombs were not nessasary, only have to look at the fire bombings, The US would have most certainly used fire bombings as a major offensive in making Japan surrender. the death toll would have far exceeded Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And thats not even including a US ground invasion. The A bombs were as much shock and awe exercise as it was destructive. Thankfully the emperor could see that after just two cities destroyed. many in the Imperial army would have fought to the last man woman and child

0 ( +7 / -7 )

"The bombing campaign set a military precedent for targeting civilian areas" - article

Some precedents:

In 1935, General Erich Ludendorff had published "The Total War", "He argued that civilians were combatants"

"In April 1937, Guernica was the first city to be deliberately targeted for aerial bombing. Guernica was the ancient capital of the Basques - a group who had withstood the advances of the army since the Spanish Civil War begun in 1936. The region's resilient stand was punished by Franco when he allowed the unprotected city to be bombed by Hitler's air force."

reference: http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?35156-Bombing-of-Guernica-A-History

Little doubt, going back to the times of Alexander and before, targeting ordinary civilians has been adorned in a time worn claim of legitimacy.

Fire bombing Japan was, in and of its time, not treated with triumphal swagger but as a symptom of the nature of Japan's military structure and supply.

There has yet to be mentioned anyone who celebrates the destruction of civilian lives in war.

If a global washing of the sheets would help, it's probably certain their are few mature enough to begin to understand the meaning of the process. Be careful what you wish for.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It is another of those ironies of history that Robert McNamara speaking of the fire-bombing of Japanese cities as a "war crime" would himself become a "war criminal" as the prime architect of the US war of aggression against Vietnam which together with the illegal war against Cambodia and Laos cost the lives of 5 million human beings and brought misery and ruination to many more millions. Although successive Japanese governments have been rightly criticised for showing a lack of reflection and remorse for the murder and mayhem suffered by Asian peoples at the hands of the Japanese military, the world still waits for an official and more heartfelt apology (like Germany) from the government of the USA.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

very good article

2 ( +3 / -1 )

For a people so In touch with their ancestors and past, it does come as a surprise that so many who died appear to be ignored? And to hear the idea that those in power today do not discuss some things seems mean spirited and out of touch considering the prosperity enjoyed today?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

They want everyone to believe Japan didn't do any harm, but they want the world to recognize Japan's suffering. Only Japan suffered. Only Japanese were victims.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

US military is the best of the worst. True heroes seem to be the firemen.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It's only some who ignore them. The Japanese psyche is always to move on but I don't think they totally forget. Just look at the flower offerings for the WWII casualties. It's just that they chose to move on and quit harping on the past. The past is indeed a very hard lesson. If only for that we shld outlaw war. It's just there's someone, somewhere who's so fanatic trying to impose one's beliefs on the others.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In order to get the maximum damage for their bombing runs, the U.S. set up a mock Japanese city block of residences at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. From May 1943 until sometime in 1944, they would bomb the Japanese block, evaluate the resulting damage, rebuild the block, and repeat. By the time this testing had started, the U.S. Army Air Force had already added "Incendiary Attack" to the itemized list of targets.

"...by October (1943) the engineers, scientists, and strategic planners had finalized a report that unsurprisingly confirmed what common sense as well as several decades of apocalyptic pulp literature had already suggested: that Japan's population as well as war industry was densely concentrated in a small number of cities, and these cities were tinderboxes waiting to be ignited."

"Cultures of War" (2010) by John W. Dower, page 176

In short, by Fall of 1943 the U.S. had already decided that they could eliminate the maximum population while pointing at a few military targets in the same area to cover the fact that civilians were the targets.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In the end, all civilians are pawns and expendable. Those in charge are the only ones virtually unaffected by any of this

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The napalm was for the wooden buildings. Stranger is thinking of Vietnam. Now THERE is a war-crime.

No, I was not thinking of Vietnam. I was thinking exactly what I said.

Are you trying to claim that the napalm somehow was engineered to avoid the people it was being dropped upon?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I do recall seeing documentaries made from the archival footage left over from the 1930s showing Imperial flags waving everywhere and school kids, housewives, politicians, etc. reveling in what was going on. In China and other parts of the world, the Japanese military brutally ran roughshod over a vast area. Very few people in Japan seemed in opposition. You go into war, brutally enslave others and then you lose and think you are the victim? They, like the Nazis, were an evil regime and needed to be stopped at all cost. They were not going to surrender so their will to fight had to be completely broken. The loss of life is definitely tragic but many countries went through that. Think of the people in the Solomons and other Pacific islands who had nothing to do with this '' White Man's War,'' as some called it, but bombs were dropping all over them too.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I think in retrospect, the Japanese should have learned from the German experience and moved as much of their war production to places not vulnerable to bombing from the air. Given Japan's mountainous terrain, they should have moved aircraft, military vehicle, artillery and small weapons production to bored out caves in the mountains of Japan. But they never did, and the combination of all those small production shops located in the of the city and the center of city mostly made of wooden structures meant a raid with incendiary bombs could have devastating results, as demonstrated by what happened in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe within the space of eight days in March 1945, where the urban raids severely impacted Japanese war production. And Japan never recovered from the shock of those raids.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It has been reported by some historians that the devastating Tonankai Earthquake that struck the Chubu region on Dec.7, 1944 actually did more damage to Japan's war industries than did US bombings. And what an ironic date! (Although Japanese generally recognize the date of the Pearl Harbor attack as Dec. 8, owing to the time zone difference between Japan and Hawaii.)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Its important to remember to actual facts of war, there are no winners. War brings suffering, territory is only a boundary in the mind. Let all people live in peace and harmony. We may not like those who are different to us but repect is the grounds of common humanity.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

To slaughter each other like animals is to be human, to war is to be human. This is the cycle of human life that has been from the beginning and will continue to the end. Everyone has their own definition of right and wrong so both sides will claim to be victims and both will be the aggressors. The only thing that matters is who is willing to invest in the biggest, fastest most efficient way to eliminate your enemy. The strong will survive and the weak will fall by the wayside.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Overlooked is the simple fact that as the bombings went on, military manufacturing could no longer be done in large factories, which were easy targets. Manufacture of guns, airplanes, engines, and other things was spread out among small shops throughout the city, and in the countryside. Germany did the same thing as their factories were destroyed.

Next, America wanted a quick end to the war. By 1944, it was already known that Japan's defeat was inevitable. Yet Japan persisted in fighting, "The war will last 100 years!" the Japanese cried in demonstrations throughout Asia. They knew they couldn't win, but they could make America pay dearly for a victory. In the end, it was the Japanese who paid, and such was the price for starting a war which killed millions throughout Asia.

105,000 deaths is catastrophic, but who is to blame? The Japanese military government, who moved military production into residential areas, and who refused so surrender long after defeat was inevitable. But the IJA killed many times more civilians during their conquest, as many as 100,000 prisoners of war and civilians died building the Thailand-Burma railroad, it is said by those that survived the construction that each railroad tie which held up the rails cost one human life.

And, let's not forget that throughout the war, America avoided bombing culturally significant places. The Imperial Palace was never attacked, and Kyoto, built entirely out of wood, was never attacked either.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I get tired of japan playing the victim as if they were somehow the most severely done by during the WW2, here are some facts, Soviets lost around 20million people fighting the Germans, Germany lost over 6 millon people, 2/3 of all deaths were civilian. Yes Japan suffered huge loss but the European side of WW2 was by far more bloody. Add to that the 6 million jews that Hiltler slaughtered, if you want to get a glimps of how inhumane people can be go to youtube and watch. "Documentary One Day In Auschwitz HD" during WW2 there was an extimated 60million lives lost, that works out to almost 3000 people a day over 6 yrs+

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

A lot of Japanese Americans, and Japanese special agents were in involved in the US war effort too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thousands of Japanese comfort women went up in flames too. The firebombings were probably the most horrific part of the war. RIP everyone. War is terrible.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is why it is important to remember the past and live in the present. We shouldn't repeat history. War is hell on Earth, it should not be entered in to lightly. Governments have a responsibility to their people to avoid war unless all other options have been explored. Their are many victims in war, no human that has been exposed is unharmed physically or mmentally, these are the lessons we must not forget. Ask any veteran they will tell you, "There are no winners."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

unforgettable war!!! it's terrible and wish for never repeat again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The U.S. must admit, but not necessarily apologize, it committed heinous acts and atrocities during WW II that were comparable to, or even worse than, those committed by Imperial Japan.

The air raid on Naha on Oct. 10, 1944, known in Okinawa as the Great Naha Air Raid, was the precursor of indiscriminate attacks on 67 Japanese cities that were reduced to rubble and ashes, where an estimated 500,000 civilians were killed and another 400,000 wounded.

The two masterminds of the Great Tokyo Firebombing were Gen. Curtis LeMay, a.k.a. "Old Iron Pants" and "The Demon", and his subordinate Robert McNamara, the DoD Secretary under the Johnson administration that executed carpet bombings of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Strangely enough, LeMay was awarded Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun on December 7, 1964 by the Japanese government (the then PM was Eisaku Sato, Shinzo Abe's grand-uncle).

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I think the firebombing was a strategic move to try to break the spirit of the Japanese war-cabinet and thus save US lives. In the end it worked and the war ended. I aslo think that the up to 900 000 killed civilian individuals in the firebomb campaigns are worth remembering. It is not about Japan playing the victim card in a competition with the others trying to play the victim card in a never ending process. Targeting and mass-murdering innocent populations in cities should always be considered a war crime, no matter the tit-for-tat logic or who wins. By not lifting these issues we are simply saying that it is okay with war atrocities depending on who does them, a fact that can be used by anyone. This is the bad part of the history of ww2.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

“The United States went too far with the firebombing, but I don’t quite understand why the Japanese government and the rest of the Japanese don’t talk about this very much,” he said.

Because that would invite others to bring up the issue of the Nanking massacre, the forced labour of POWs and Unit 731. Japan wasn't an innocent victim of WW2, terrible as the firebombing of Tokyo was

4 ( +7 / -3 )

It's easy to point fingers and lay blame, hindsight after 70 years is 20/20. We can not go back and undo what has been done, but we can ensure it doesnt happen again in the future.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Some perspective

"This class is the first in six years that will not face the horror of war. It should be said that the last war we fought was filled with death and destruction of nightmarish proportions - on all sides. The lesson to be learned by warrior and civilian alike is that unless we find peaceful ways to settle disputes then we shall revisit these horrors again."

Gen Douglas MacArthur to the West Point class of 1946

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The U.S. must admit, but not necessarily apologize, it committed heinous acts and atrocities during WW II that were comparable to, or even worse than, those committed by Imperial Japan.

No, the US need not do anything. It was Japan which started the war, and in war blood lust leads to terrible actions. Had Japan not started the war, millions of inexperienced young men would not have had to leave their homes and their country to fight, kill, and die in places they had never heard of. They would not have been subjected to the terror and horror of war, or had their humanities warped by these things. Japan, as the party started the war, ends up being responsible for any and all atrocities committed by all sides.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

SentimentsMar. 10, 2015 - 12:25PM JST I think the firebombing was a strategic move to try to break the spirit of the Japanese war-cabinet and thus save US lives. In the end it worked and the war ended.

Honestly? Post 9/11 you're honestly going to try and argue that terrorism and the slaughter of innocent civilians is okay if it protects YOUR people?

The hypocrisy of this position is so immense and glaring that I simply cannot imagine how anyone could type it.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

One little problem American excusers, the attacks on civilian targets were against the Geneva Treaties the Americans had signed. Btw the Japanese were damned for their mild attacks on allied cities. I think they hanged some Japanese for doing it. So why was the Americans held to the same standard?

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Don't forget the 249,000 people lost their lives in Okinawa. More than both atomic bombings. We should be learning from our past and building toward peace in the future.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This article reminded me of visiting the Tokyo Edo Museum many years ago, before I could read much Japanese. There was only one section of the museum with no English translations; the part about these air raids.

I did learn about this history in my U.S. school, but O would have liked to be able to learn more from the Japanese perspective.

I have since been told a little bit about the bombings from elderly Japanese, but mostly in the context of 'I hope Japan is never again involved in a war'

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Honestly? Post 9/11 you're honestly going to try and argue that terrorism and the slaughter of innocent civilians is okay if it protects YOUR people?

Remember the battle of Okinawa? How many Japanese survivors were there? The Japanese soldiers fought to the death, many Japanese civilians killed themselves out of fear or shame, many were instructed to, or forced by Japanese soldiers to kill themselves. American soldiers suffered heavy casualties on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, even though these were relatively sparsely populated islands with no sea or air defences, and few places to hide.

Remember the battle of Manila? What was left of the city after the Japanese were finally defeated? Nothing at all.

What would have happened if soldiers had had to invade mainland Japan? American casualties would have been high, but casualties among Japanese soldiers and civilians would have been vastly higher, at least 5 to 1. Millions may have been killed, right? It was not only American deaths which America was concerned with. America knew very well at the time that Japan would have to be reconstructed after the war, reconstruction and administration plans were already underway in 1944, long before the war ended. America wanted a quick end to the war, knowing that it was best for both sides.

My grandfather was one of those who fought his way across the Pacific during the war, he was one of only two survivors from his troop. You have the luxury of living in an age which knows nothing of what people like he, and the soldiers in Japan had to go through, nor do you know about the hardships endured by civilians on either side. You cannot judge what America did during the war, you weren't there at the time. If you were, you might have been one of those who was sent to fight. Needless to say, your opinion would be far different.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Fire bombing was a very wide spread tactic of the allied forces and used also in Germany and other theaters of war. Its primary purpose was to kill as many civilian as possible to demoralize a country.

In the case of Dresden our bombers bombed all the surrounding cities and towns but avoided bombing Dresden giving people the false feeling that Dresden was a safe haven. Then after Dresden filed with refugees our bombers fired bombed with incredible numbers of civilian causalities.

Contrary to our Hollywood inspired image of war the greatest number of casualties will always be innocent civilians rather than military personal. The military even today refers to it as collateral damage and ever bothers to keep any statistics on the number of civilian that are killed in a battle. Nor is the United States keeping any statistics on civilians in our present wars. In Vietnam, the one I fought in, there were 3.5 million causalities, most of them civilian, and most of the killed by American forces, even as bad as the Communist forces were. Remember we carpet bombed much of South Vietnam our alleged ally. We also drop tens of millions of tons of chemical weapons as well, including Agent Orange which many of our vets can tell you how that affected their health for the rest of their lives. I a one of the.

I hate to break your romantic illusion but there are no good guys in war, only bad and worse though often no way to tell which side was worse. In Vietnam it was napalm, white phosphorus, flame throwers and carpet bombing [more bombs than used in all of World War One and World War Two combined and the heaviest use of chemical warfare the word had ever known ad that was just the American side. If any other country had done it, it would have called a war crime. However that is true of all wars, on all sides. There are no honorable men in the midst of war and the longer and the war continues, the less honorable they become. That was the most awful lesson that I learned in war time and that was even before the Big Tet offensive.

So yes, we must remember all of the real horrors of war and forget one of it. Otherwise our leaders can trick us into another war.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Btw the Japanese were damned for their mild attacks on allied cities.* well how about the disgusting treatment of allied POWs, the thousands of Asian civilians that were slaughtered by the Imperial army. these are all aginst the geneva convention. but I guess some people will only look at one side of the story if it pleases them.
1 ( +5 / -4 )

Gen Douglas MacArthur to the West Point class of 1946

MacArthur alone, was also responsible for sparing the imperial family from any sanction - and in a way perpetuating the shifting of blame that has gone on in Japan ever since. This needs to be recognised, just as much as the horror of the firebombing

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why wasnt this done at Iwo Jima? It would have saved alot of Marines.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

many Japanese civilians killed themselves out of fear or shame, many were instructed to, or forced by Japanese soldiers to kill themselves

They weren't exactly Japanese civilians. Okinawa was independent and spoke their own language before Japan invaded the islands. The Japanese at that time didn't consider Okinawans Japanese. They killed themselves mostly because the Japanese soldiers told them Americans would be worse than they were. Some were forced to kill themselves to cover up the crimes committed by the occupying Japanese forces.

There wasn't a lot of places to hide?? The island has numerous caves where the forces did hide. There is a long and steep hill with all kinds of caves overlooking a bay where the landing took place. It was here that the most intense battles were fought. It took two days after landing before the real man to man shooting started.

Otherwise, I agree with everything else. We have a life of luxury compared to what regular Japanese and allied forces had to live and die in. We shouldn't forget the history or try excuse away the past. I only hope that as a society we will never repeat these atrocities.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why wasnt this done at Iwo Jima? It would have saved alot of Marines.

In theory napalm could have been used against Kuribayashi and the entrenched defenders. Problem was, most of them were hidden in the underground caves concealed from US forces - as with Okinawa as well. Even the pre-landing US bombardment had limited effect, for that reason

0 ( +2 / -2 )

One little problem American excusers, the attacks on civilian targets were against the Geneva Treaties the Americans had signed.

Please do yourself a favor and take a look at the Geneva Convention and the treaties you are referring to here.

The Convention that you are talking about here was not signed until well after WWII was over, you are talking about the 4th Geneva Convention which discusses and outlines treatment of civilians during wartime.

That happened in August of 1949.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@YuriOtani @Frungy

I think you need to see this quote from Mocheake

You go into war, brutally enslave others and then you lose and think you are the victim? They, like the Nazis, were an evil regime and needed to be stopped at all cost. They were not going to surrender so their will to fight had to be completely broken.

Rules of warfare are like speedlimits at the Indianapolis 500.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Not by the poor victims who dies it and those who survived it. WW2 threw up so many horrors but we still tend to focus on the "popular" (wrong word, i know) ones like the Holocaust and atom bombs and blitz. War is hell all round. Not that it stops us from waging them as much as we can.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

the attacks on civilian targets were against the Geneva Treaties the Americans had signed

Ah, much like the coercion of sex slaves and the forced labour of POWs was in violation of treaties Japan had previously signed. Oh and let's not forget Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in 1934. The usual "but others did it too" argument of revisionists doesn't wash here

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

With some posters this thread is going round and round in an ever tighter circle of "You did this and NO you did that" and the irony is it'd probably end in, guess what, a fight. So, the anger and abrasive language, aggressive posturing aside, the bombing of Japanese cities, as were the cities in all other theaters of that global conflict, was sanctioned. Japan bombed civilian populations in the Philippines, China, Australia, Malaysia etc... in China even bombing with Unit 731 biological weapons, plague infected fleas for one, so, those putting Japan firmly, resolutely, in the 'victim Box', stop, because you are wrong. Those saying Japan deserved it, I can only disagree --but that's now from a different moral framework-- but as stated earlier, we all lose in war. Be at peace for those who lost their lives due to man's folly. The men that easily took control of an essentially feudal society in Japan and led this country's people and the region's peoples to such misery are ultimately the ones to blame and it is they and their lust for Hakkō ichiu and all that nationalistic nonsense --that many people are again taking up in various parts of the world-- made victims of everyone. Reach out, make friends, be at peace know your sins and don't hide truths.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The United States went too far with the firebombing, but I don’t quite understand why the Japanese government and the rest of the Japanese don’t talk about this very much,” he said.

A very one sided story/argument. So, they think it is all right japan's imperial military sweep the asia pacific into destruction and great human suffering?

Of course hiroshima is in every textbook and whatever the US and allied powers committed, they are widely discussed.

But..how about the other side of the story that is still widely hidden and are not subject for discussion in textbooks here in Japan? Unbelievable.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

In that single night, we burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo: men, women, and children." (Robert McNamara)

Now, imagine that many Americans and most politicians were to get up on stage and say that they don't officially stand by what this man said, that they deny the firebombing ever took place, or that 'some bad things happened but only about 10,000 died', and started to form panels to discuss downplaying the damage done to Japan during WWII, reiterating that such bombings, and the atomic bombings, were absolutely necessary and that it was all military targeting and that Japanese enlisted to help with the attacks, etc. etc., and you'd get about one hundredth of the denial that Japanese politicians are spewing. Where are all the posters who always tell such old people telling their stories that the old people liars? or that they can't remember things correctly? It's extremely sad that the Japanese government will barely acknowledge this kind of horror even when it befell its own people, but that's again telling of the government here.

voiceofokinawa: "The U.S. must admit, but not necessarily apologize, it committed heinous acts and atrocities during WW II that were comparable to, or even worse than, those committed by Imperial Japan."

When has the US denied it? In any case, leave your anti-US/pro-Okinawan baggage at the door, please. The US committed some horrible atrocities, as did most if not all nations in war, but there is NO way they came close to doing such heinous acts as the IJA with Nanjing (do you deny it? say the numbers are wrong?), with civilians massacres in the Philippines, China, Vietnam, India, Thailand, Myanmar, and countless other places, nor is it anywhere close to the atrocities carried out by unit 721 (yet another thing the government denies). Did the US forces push your fellow Okinawans off the Itoman cliffs? Force little girls into combat in their war of attrition? Nope! Your government did, bud.

This kind of horrific war crime canNOT be forgotten, same as those committed by Japan or anyone else, lest we forget and repeat it again.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Propaganda. The Imperial Army of Japan did not separate military and civilian structures. They had to be taken out as one unit.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The 20th century was so violent. How about the 21st century?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The firebombings were probably the most horrific part of the war.* 6 million jews slaughtered, gassed starved and incinerated by Hitler seems a lot more horrific than firebombings, why is it that most japanese cant see past the pacific side of WW2, when the European side had much more death and destruction.
0 ( +4 / -4 )

These events were terrible BUT...

At least the American's don't deny they happened.

Some Americans think the air raids were justified and necessary, other Americans think that they are close to being war crimes.

But NO Americans deny they happened.

That's a good point about America.

And a bad point about Japan.

Many Japanese these days deny that their armed forces in WW2 did anything bad at all.. they believe and claim that all the reports about Japanese atrocities are lies.

Other Japanese people may say, "Oh yes, Japan did bad things during the war..." but if you ask them a question such as, "Specifically, what bad things did Japan do?" they will not give any specific examples.

Try it. Ask your Japanese friends or acquaintances, "Exactly what bad things did Japan do during the war?"

My personal experience, especially recently, is that many Japanese do not believe that any of the reported atrocities committed by Japan are true.

They will not (or cannot) give any specific examples of Japanese atrocities.

Japanese people will now just deny that they did anything bad at all... deny, deny, deny... that's all they do.

At least Americans do not deny... they accept the history and then debate it.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

And yet, today in JT there are three stories about memorials around Japan. Not to mention the coverage today on TV. What do the authors mean by "largely ignored"?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

nice pix at the end.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Addendum:

LeMay was awarded a medal of honor by the Japanese government for his contribution to help establish JASDF. Minoru Genda, an LDP lawmaker and a former Japanese Imperial Army pilot who participated in the Pearl Harbor Attack, was a behind-the-scene instigator for LeMay's medal awarding. I add this to show how intimately connected Japan's conservative politicians and their U.S. counterparts are in their thinking and behavior. They are all part of the same gang.

To sangetsu03 (Mar. 10, 2015 - 12:47PM JST):

Certainly, it was Japan that started the war even though, as some say, it may have been a case of a cornered mouse attacking a cat. The U.S. side had a lot of justification for retaliating against Imperial Japan. But I think the retaliation was done way beyond that allowed by universal standards of ethics.

When you say "the U.S. need not do anything," you mean to say that the U.S. does not need to admit it did anything wrong. Why admit it made any mistakes when in reality it didn't? you want to say. But to hear you say that is like hearing Japan's conservative politicians say time and again that Japan does not need to apologize its neighboring countries because Japan did nothing wrong to them during the war.

The retaliation by the victorious U.S. is still continuing even today. This excessive U.S. military presence and consequent sufferings derived from it is the proof of it, with Okinawa taking the brunt of it mostly. It's a hot issue and not the 20/20 as some poster says.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Wow, clearly some people here need a refresher course on Japanese history. During the WW2 period, and for a while before it, Japan was NOT a democracy.

You're all stating the Japanese civilians deserved to be killed because their government decided to go to commit an act of war. That twisted logic might apply the U.S.A. because the U.S. is a democracy so the people are responsible for the actions of their government. I reject this logic though because it would also justify 9/11 and give about three dozen countries a justification to kill U.S. citizens, and that's insane.

But Japan wasn't a democracy. Citizens had no voice. Therefore the logic that "Japan started it so we can kill innocent women and children" is insane.

-7 ( +3 / -11 )

My wife's family is from the shitamachi. It's crazy that her grandparents survived all of that. It's also crazy that people are still talking about who should apologize to who. For my kids, their great-grandparents were at war against each other. Should they apologize to themselves? Which side are they "responsible for?" Let us not forget, but let us forgive and move on.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

voiceofokinawa: "The retaliation by the victorious U.S. is still continuing even today. This excessive U.S. military presence and consequent sufferings derived from it is the proof of it, with Okinawa taking the brunt of it mostly. It's a hot issue and not the 20/20 as some poster says."

Here you are doing EXACTLY what I said you were doing -- turning this into a rant against the US through your dislike of their presence in Okinawa. If you seriously want to blame someone for that, blame the Japanese government (I know you dislike their methods already, but stop fobbing any part of it off on the US. At least they gave you the islands back!). I ask you again, though, where do they deny it and why on earth do you say they did just as bad as Japan?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

You're all stating the Japanese civilians deserved to be killed because their government decided to go to commit an act of war.

How poetically ironic. Aren't you the person who associates all Muslims with ISIS? Yes. Yes, you are.

I reject this logic though because it would also justify 9/11

You are comparing different times and rules of law. Your attempted analogy does not work because of this.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

In fairness, the terror bombing in Asia started with Japanese bombing of Chinese civilian areas....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Chongqing

2 ( +4 / -2 )

1glennMar. 10, 2015 - 06:18PM JST In fairness, the terror bombing in Asia started with Japanese bombing of Chinese civilian areas.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BombingofChongqing

So you're putting U.S. morality on the same level as the Japanese Imperial Government and the Nazis... and this doesn't seem like a bad place to be?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Indeed all of the attacks should be condemned but the point with the post above was that when soldiers go for all out war, basically extermination of populations there is no passed atrocities or moral high ground that can excuse such a thing. The international community needs to find a way to convince every member state to put such options in to the historical closet and lock. I believe the US did what it thought it could do at that time. And the US helped Japan to recover in a very fast pace afterwards. Still these actions need to be condemned. At some point the neanderthal logic must be abandoned. Consider this example: If you throw a stone at me I will throw a bigger stone back. You figure out the consequences.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So you're putting U.S. morality on the same level as the Japanese Imperial Government and the Nazis

No, I do not think that is what is being done. The reasons why Japan and Germany did what they did were vastly different from the reasons that the US and its allies did what they did. Perhaps you should read a bit more history yourself.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What I commented in related piece. The firebombings are ignored only if one remembers:

"Yamabe, the historian, said authorities “are reluctant to acknowledge civilian suffering from the wartime leaders’ refusal to end the war earlier.”"

The firebombings are not denied nor downplayed in the United States, and certainly not bt the government.

Japanese can remember, too, if they would choose to do so. One of the most anti- war stories was made into an animated feature called 蛍の墓 -- Grave of the Fireflies. It starts with B-29s firebombing Kobe during which the mother is killed and two young children survive, for a while. Their father is already missing in war, with no word heard from in months, and the two try to scrape by to survive, trying to live an aunt in Nishinomiya -- now one of the tony neighborhoods of Hyogo (and home of the Hanshin Tigers). They ultimately perish, unable to get the help they need or the people from whom care can be given. This is not anti-American per se. It is not even anti-militarist. It is profoundly anti-war. And well Japan should be. This and other accounts should be things that Japanese should see periodically to reflect 反省.

If there is forgetfulness, it is forgetfulness of choice. Just like wars of choice, there are consequences to forgetfulness of choice.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So the US military killed millions so they would have less casualties.Oh how brave they must of been to kill hapless civilians. Next come the excuses to cover their many crimes. The atomic bombs and firebombing are just 2 of the means to kill civilians. There were other types of attacks on civilians. Okinawa was bombarded for 96 hours in a place where their were no Japanese military. I know this place well or the village of Futenma. They could not be bothered to scout the terrain. The "soldiers" they killed were civil servants like police, firefighters and postmen. How brave it is to kill unarmed civilians. After the landings the first thing they did was to rape women. Ten thousand women were raped during the first week after landing. Then there was the indiscriminate killing of civilians. The American troops kill all they saw on sight. True after some time they started taking prisoners. However all civilians were placed into camps. This did not happen to the Germans. So tell me again how honorable it is to kill hapless men, women and children? In Japan mainland millions died of hunger. Thus the allied blockade was responsible for allied deaths. There was little food to feed to the POWs. My last point is it did not work. It did not work in UK, Germany or Japan. The war ended due to the almost complete destruction of the Japanese military and the blockade.

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

One little problem American excusers, the attacks on civilian targets were against the Geneva Treaties

And when did Japan adhere to Geneva Convention when conducting their war on all the other nations? This is just too funny. Maybe Japan shouldn't have allied itself with Hitler Nazi Germany and shouldn't have started the war?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

And when did Japan adhere to Geneva Convention when conducting their war on all the other nations? This is just too funny. Maybe Japan shouldn't have allied itself with Hitler Nazi Germany and shouldn't have started the war?

Japan conveniently left the League of Nations to take it's own path and to hell with any conventions or treaties.

Group amnesia, even to those that today like to look back and think that Japan was a victim or still is a victim.

The war ended due to the almost complete destruction of the Japanese military and the blockade.

The war ended because the Emperor realized that Japan was going to be annihilated, nothing more, nothing less. The US was willing to destroy the country to end the threat of Japanese aggression, just as the allies were willing to to do to Germany and Italy as well.

Be thankful that it did not happen. You probably would not be here today if Hirohito had not surrendered.

There is much in every country's past that historians can look at an point to an complain about. It is also our solemn responsibility to accept that things that happened in the past will not be repeated in the future. To point fingers at anyone is wrong.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@YuriOtani: Why... you'd think it was all the US's fault and it was they that sacrificed Okinawa for the Homeland and NOT the Japanese leaders. Okinawa is and always has been at the very bottom of Japan's elites' concerns, from the every beginning until now and the future.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The Japanese Army defended Okinawa. They killed thousands of Okinawa people it is true. The Americans killed over One Hundred Thousand Okinawa People. Japan did not sign the Geneva Treaty but the US signed it. Often Japanese were killed after being taken captive because "they were too much effort." The theme is Japanese lives matter! Japan was trying to surrender prior to the atomic attacks. My question is if the Americans can indiscriminately kill civilians, why is it wrong for the other nations to do the same?

-17 ( +2 / -19 )

smithinjapan (Mar. 10, 2015 - 05:03PM JST**),

You say: If you seriously want to blame someone for that, blame the Japanese government.

To recap what you say, it goes something like this: If we Okinawans have any complaint about this excessive U.S. military presence, take it to the Japanese government, not the U.S. government, because it was Japan that started the war; Okinawa's suffering is the end result of that war.

If that is what you want to say, then you are in agreement with me in that the retaliation is still going on seventy years after the end of WW II.

The catch is that, officially, the U.S. military presence is for the defense of Japan and, according to the USFJ brass, U.S. troops stationed here are always ready to give their life to defend Japan. But if you and I are right, then they are playing a trick on the Japanese people and swindling them out of land and money called "host-nation support."

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The Japanese Army defended Okinawa. They killed thousands of Okinawa people it is true. The Americans killed over One Hundred Thousand Okinawa People.

Please...get your facts straight. Japan subjugated Okinawa for it's own purposes. They, the Japanese Imperial Army, was willing, and DID in fact kill Okinawan people,to serve it's own desires. If you think differently you really are blind!

Japan did not sign the Geneva Treaty but the US signed it

What a cop out. READ and learn about the history of the Geneva Convention! What you are talking about is FALSE! The US signed the Geneva Conventions with regards to the treatment of civilians in 1949 4 years after the war was over! You are WRONG!

You justify Japanese aggression because it wasnt a signer to the conventions? Your arguments are ludicrous!

@ voice......

Did you read the title of this thread? Do you comprehend what the article is about? It is "WWII firebombings of Japanese cities largely ignored"

Nothing to do with Okinawa.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Yubaru,

The fire-bombings of Japanese cities have nothing to do with Okinawa? You must have missed reading my post above where I wrote:

The air raid on Naha on Oct. 10, 1944, known in Okinawa as the Great Naha Air Raid, was the precursor of indiscriminate attacks on 67 Japanese cities that were reduced to rubble and ashes, where an estimated 500,000 civilians were killed and another 400,000 wounded.

"The fire-bombings were carried out apparently in retaliation for Japan's attack on the Pearl Harbor. Japan started the war and so all the responsibility rests with Japan. The heavy U.S. military footprint on Okinawa is the end result of that war."

Do you still insist on your claim that the article has nothing to do with Okinawa's current plight?

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Yes, the firebombings were terrible. But, I get so tired of hearing how the Japanese suffered during the war with very little reported on the suffering the IJA caused, over 20 million killed in China alone, to cite just one example. Whenever I talk to my university students about the war, I am shocked about how little they know about the latter. 20,000 million! Heck, most of them don't even know Japan fought a 15-year war with China.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The U.S. Military`s mass slaughter of women and children with napalm during the March '45 "Tokyo Firebombing" was one of the most cowardly atrocities ever committed. That the war criminals that perpetrated this act were allowed to escape beggars belief. Indeed, many were celebrated by the American government. A sure sign of a sick society.

The American military alone has killed over 60 million people in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Japan, The Philippines etc.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The retaliation by the victorious U.S. is still continuing even today. This excessive U.S. military presence and consequent sufferings derived from it is the proof of it, with Okinawa taking the brunt of it mostly. It's a hot issue and not the 20/20 as some poster says.

There is a difference between retaliation and justice. You cannot forget that Japan had invaded China and other parts of Asia some years before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and this invasion was violent and bloody. I have an interesting old photo which was taken by a Japanese soldier in China, it shows a fellow Japanese soldier killing a young mother and her baby with his samurai sword. The shutter in the camera stopped the action after the blade had beheaded the mother, and was halfway through the baby's skull. The mother's eyes are closed, and her face is wet with tears. Exactly how much harm was a young woman with a baby causing? And what threat was she or her baby to a pair of heavily armed soldiers? Countless Chinese were murdered, in the most barbaric ways imaginable, for no reason at all, other than blind hatred. When you speak about America's "military presence, and consequent sufferings", you obviously have no idea what real suffering is, and god forbid you ever learn.

My grandfather fought in the Pacific, and it was from him that I got the photo. His diary is an interesting read, describing the fighting, the Japanese burning and killing everything and everyone during their retreat, men, women, and children. The ruins of buildings, houses, and farms, the smell of human bodies rotting in the tropical heat. It also describes the few allies who were liberated, Brits, Aussies, and New Zealanders, sick, emaciated, weighing from 60 to 100 pounds, who managed to survive years of slave labor and continual abuse.

America was not a "cat cornering a mouse". America knew of the atrocities Japan had been committing in China and elsewhere, and was not so naive as not to understand what Japan's ambitions were. America was right to act as it did, Japan was wrong. And if a mouse is stupid enough to attack a cat, well, that mouse is likely to end up digested and buried in a litter box after a day or two.

When Japan surrendered, they surrendered unconditionally. This unconditional surrender made Japan, and everything in it, the property of America. The Japanese flags were taken down in Tokyo, and the American flag flew over all government buildings and former military bases. The Wako department store in Ginza was the US Army post exchange, my grandfather worked in GHQ in Marunouchi, across from the Imperial Palace.

As for the fact that American soldiers are still in Japan, you probably don't remember about the first world war. The allies pulled out of Germany, and we all know the result. The "war to end all wars" didn't end anything, less than a generation later, a far larger and more deadly war occurred. America was determined that this should never happen again. Lastly, the American soldiers in Japan are almost the only reminder modern Japanese have of the war. They don't see much of it on tv, they certainly don't read much about it in their textbooks.

As it was, America was very just to the Japanese after the war, and, like it or not, Japan owes much of it's postwar success to America. America could very well have made Japan a US territory like the Philippines, or Puerto Rico, Japan's unconditional surrender gave America that right. But Japan regained it's sovereignty quickly, but only on the condition that American troops remain on Japanese soil.

America's soldiers should stay in Japan for as long as there is a Japan. Japan cannot and must not forget about the war, and their part in it. The price of the troop presence is very small compared to the debt which Japan owes to those many millions that Japan killed, and the great harm they did to those who survived.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Great input scap! So if you're students are that ignorant, it must reflect a society or an entire country as a whole.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Whole lotta anti-basers using this article as a chance to go after the US. Take your concerns to Tokyo for crying out loud as they are the only ones that will even begin to listen to you. AFAIAC, Okinawa is a military base with a few old whiners in it for some reason.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

scap,

The number of deaths caused by Imperial Japan's invasion war in China is estimated to be 21 million; 350 thousand in Korean Peninsula; 1 million in the Philippines; 4 million in Indonesia; 2 million in Vietnam; 50 thousand in Myanmar; totaling up 28.4 million in all Japan has responsibility to genuinely apologize to these countries for these gruesome figures and the other well-known atrocities.

Poster scap seems to be arguing that, compared with these facts, the U.S.'s fire-bombing of more than 60 cities and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are nothing worthy of note. If scap is from one of these countries, I will take his word at face value. But if he is from the U.S., the story would be quite different.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

“The United States went too far with the firebombing, but I don’t quite understand why the Japanese government and the rest of the Japanese don’t talk about this very much,”

Well, because doing so will raise the point the Japanese government and the rest of the Japanese don't want to talk about very much: How Imperial Japan started the war.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@sangetsu03, there was another reason why the Americans built up a large military presence in Japan: a way to monitor and contain Communism in eastern Asia. And it proved its worth during the Korean War, when Japan became the waypoint for transportation of troops and war materiel to the Korean Peninsula. Indeed, that's why the USAAF and US Navy never really bombed what was the Imperial Japanese Navy base at Yokosuka, since the US Navy wanted the dock facilities there; today, a good number of buildings at Fleet Activities Yokosuka (as the US Navy base is known today) predate World War II. Given China's increasing belligerent attitude in eastern Asia as I type this, the US military will not be leaving Japan anytime soon.

But getting back on topic, what made the bombing of Tokyo on the night of March 9-10, 1945 so horrible was that much of this could have been avoided. The Tokyo city government never learned from the destructive gigantic fires caused by innumerable overturned cooking stoves during the Great Kanto Earthquake (remember, the quake happened right at about lunchtime), something that should have forced the city government to ban dense construction of wooden housing inside the city afterwards. Had they imposed such a ban, most buildings in Tokyo by the late 1930's would be built of cement and concrete, and that would have made it a lot less practical for the type of incendiary bombing that started in March 1945.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

AP: The bombing campaign set a military precedent for targeting civilian areas that persisted into the Korean and Vietnam wars and beyond. But the non-atomic attacks have been largely overlooked.

Really? A precedent? AP is ignorant of Japan's FIVE-YEAR firebombing of Chinese wartime capital Chongqing, 1938-1943? Or, if we're just focusing on the bad old USA here, of Allied bombings in Europe?

Japan had no cause to complain about bombing of cities, after Chongqing.

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

... A conservative estimate places the number of bombing runs at more than 5,000, with more than 11,500 bombs dropped, mainly incendiary bombs. The targets were usually residential areas, business areas, schools, hospitals (non-military targets). These bombings were probably aimed at cowing the Chinese government, or as part of the planned Sichuan invasion. ...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

And, let's not forget that throughout the war, America avoided bombing culturally significant places. The Imperial Palace was never attacked, and Kyoto, built entirely out of wood, was never attacked either.

The palace was never put on the target list for the same reason the Emperor was specifically excluded from any war crimes trials: The American military leadership were fearful of even more fanaticism from the Japanese population should the Emperor have been killed (either through bombing or hanging).

Kyoto was spared for the simple reason that the man in the U.S. Army Air Force designating the targets for bombing happened to like Kyoto and its antiquities. There was no military policy established protecting culturally significant places. Had a different person been in charge of selecting targets, Kyoto would likely have been flattened as well.

A lot of Japanese Americans, and Japanese special agents were in involved in the US war effort too.

Yes, but they almost exclusively were assigned to the European Theater due to the inherent distrust of anyone with Asian features by the Pacific Command.

One little problem American excusers, the attacks on civilian targets were against the Geneva Treaties the Americans had signed. Btw the Japanese were damned for their mild attacks on allied cities. I think they hanged some Japanese for doing it. So why was the Americans held to the same standard?

Pay attention to timelines. People forget (or never bothered to learn) that the Geneva Convention Treaties were added to over the years, and what exists today isn't necessarily what existed at some time previously. The Geneva Convention treaties in effect during WWII only addressed "Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field" (1929 version), "Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea" (1906 version), and "Treatment of Prisoners of War" (1929 version). The treatment of civilians in time of war wasn't even brought up until after WWII was over and wasn't addressed until the Fourth Geneva Convention:

The Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War was adopted in 1949.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions

Fire bombing civilian populations had a two-fold purpose: to foment terror - destroying the spirit of the enemy's population, and to reduce the fighting capability of the enemy by going directly after the portion of the the enemy's population involved with war material production. After WWII the worldwide repercussions of such attacks (not just the attacks in Japan but in Germany as well) resulted in the addition of a 4th chapter in the Geneva Treaties covering the treatment of civilians in a war zone.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Fadamor brings up a good point about the evolution of human rights and humanitarian law recognition of the rights of non-combatants. The UN Charter is the first international treaty that establishes human rights as an internationally recognized concept. And the reason for that is obvious. It was because of the gross mass slaughter of non-combatants first and foremost by the Axis powers but also then including the obligations of the then United Nations, which was initially the name for the coalition of the war's victors.

But this discussion should not be about the rather technical evolution of international law. I am sure the rightists are just itching to say that there was no law against aggression because everybody was doing it (Yoshida Shigeru actually yielded the point that Japan's aggression was a violation of Kellogg-Briand). But the much larger point is that the war produced mass killings for which the Axis Powers were the more culpable but for which the Allied powers were not innocent.

Our obligation is to remember even if not directly. And the way to do that is in fact to reaffirm and not play revisionist games so that all the efforts that most leaders from most countries whether former Axis or Allied have made to promote reconciliation continue to be realized.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It really is time to let the past fade into history and get over it. NO country that ever waged war has clean hands. They all did horrible things. It's time to get over it and let it rest in peace while trying very hard to prevent it ever happening again. There is no such thing as a noble or honorable war, War is, plain and simple, to kill as many of the enemy as possible. But to keep dragging it up, never letting it rest, only increases the tension and hatred between people's that starts the damn wars in the first place. One only has to look at the tension and hatred between China and Japan to see this clearly. And what good is it doing for either country?

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The firebombings were of course an appalling act in a war full of atrocities. There's plenty of guilt to go around. The Allies were well aware of Japanese atrocities in their attempted conquest of Asia. Perhaps Japanese they need to be reminded about their army taking all the rice harvest out of North Vietnam in 1940 leaving a million Vietnamese to starve to death!!

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It’s good to see some Japanese people (finally!) standing up for themselves; against a government that caused this horror in the first place. More of that spirit is desperately needed in Japan today. Of course, the individuals mentioned in this article have spoken up at a time in their lives when they have nothing to lose. If younger generations spoke up or spoke against policies that do them harm, directly or indirectly; fewer injustices would be inflicted on the Japanese public.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We should hold ALL victims of war with the equal amount of sympathy and respect, regardless of who they are, and while there is nothing wrong with honoring the victims of war against Japan, it's wrong for Japan to then honor the people who committed war crimes in other countries during world war 2

How would Japan like it if Curtis Lemay was honored as a hero in America? They can't feel sympathy for their victims but then ignore the victims of their action because they are not blood related.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yuriotani: "So the US military killed millions so they would have less casualties.Oh how brave they must of been to kill hapless civilians"

Substitute "the US" with Japan and you're bang on... Except that you need to add a few more million to the tally and also that they have themselves to blame.

Voiceofokinawa: "To recap what you say, it goes something like this: If we Okinawans have any complaint about this excessive U.S. military presence, take it to the Japanese government, not the U.S. government, because it was Japan that started the war; Okinawa's suffering is the end result of that war."

No, to recap what I'm saying PROPERLY: "Voiceofokininawa this is NOT about the military presence in Okinawa! So, stop making it about that,", which you have, in every single post, including your incredibly off-base (pun intended) 'recap' of my comment. You don't discuss the thread; only your hatred for the US because your ancestors built around the bases to survive. Try being on-topic for starters.

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As I said there are no good guys in any war only bad and worse. There is no one country that went to war that claim to be good guys based on what they did while in war.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

only bad and worse.

Not exactly. While Japan may have been pushed into a corner by the US pre-WW2, partly their own doing - what Japan did to civilian populations and POWs once the war started cannot be condoned, and simplified with this "bad and worse" reasoning. The US did drop atom bombs on Japan - partly to be the first country to use them, partly to stop the war before the Soviets invaded Hokkaido, partly to save allied lives - and ironically Japanese ones as well. The atom bombs and the firebombing of Tokyo - happened for specific reasons. The allies didn't work Japanese prisoners to death, or test biological weapons on civilians. So "bad and worse" is a little simplistic here

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Do you still insist on your claim that the article has nothing to do with Okinawa's current plight?

Yes, you know why? Because you view the world myopically and think that anything to do with the war and Japan should be focused on Okinawa and no where else.

People all throughout Japan suffered during WWII and afterwards, as well as people throughout Asia, and all combatants from all sides as well, everything isn't about Okinawa, and "this" article is about firebombing in Tokyo, not Naha, it's the anniversary of that event, not anything in Naha. Live and learn.

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It must have been horrific to have lived during that firebombing. I do wish that these things did not happen. Rare to have a war where poor defenceless civvies don't cop it.

I try to feel empathetic towards the suffering of the Japanese during the war because I feel that is the right thing to do. When I think of documentaries I've seen about the Burma Railway where Japanese soldiers talk about the suffering of POWS I know that not all Japanese deny their piece in the war. For me, it is more about a lack of education in the Japanese system that causes the ignorance to filter down to the masses. However, it does not stop the frustration & infuriation grow inside me when met by complete denial of the past by the Japanese. You feel like you're doing all the work to meet them halfway & they're just not even trying to see past what is spoon fed to them.

As far as war in general goes, conflict will never stop. We'll never have a hippie style utopia where everyone gets along. That's sad but true. It will keep going till this ball rolls into the sun or we have some kind of comet-meets-the-dinosaurs type of catastrophe.

Credit to the US BTW. I think they are becoming more & more off the cuff about their war past. But when it comes to self-reflection & acceptance of past wrongs during war time - no one beats Germany.

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Yubaru:

Certainly, this article is about the Great Tokyo Air Raid, which is not so well known to outsiders, especially to Americans, as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the three cases, non-combatant civilians were singularly targeted for killing. The U.S. military strategy to bombard civilians started with the Great Naha Air Raid that took place on October 10, 1944.

The Japanese government officially protested against the U.S. through a neutral diplomatic channel (the Spanish government), saying the indiscriminate killing of non-combatants in war could be war crimes. Tokyo's protest was of course completely ignored by Washington, thus subsequent indiscriminate air raids on more than 60 cities in mainland Japan carried out, culminating in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at long last.

What is the message conveyed by these events? War is a folly. The mistake must never be repeated.

But the catch is that the U.S. government seems to be doing the contrary, encouraging Japan to rearm to the teeth, shed off the Peace Constitution and help U.S. forces fight global wars by exercising the right of collective self-defense.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I'm a blogger and I didn't forget it. I made a nice post about the depth and pain of Japan's history, especially compared to my own "young" country's history.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anyone interested in knowing more about the Tokyo firebombing, please read: "Saotome Katsumoto and the Firebombing of Tokyo: Introducing The Great Tokyo Air Raid" run on The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (http://www.japanfocus.org/-Richard-Sams/4293).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Christopher Glen The US did drop atom bombs on Japan - partly to be the first country to use them, partly to stop the war before the Soviets invaded Hokkaido, partly to save allied lives - and ironically Japanese ones as well. The atom bombs and the firebombing of Tokyo - happened for specific reasons.

Dresden also happened by some "specific" reason. Let's talk about "allie's tactic" : it was the same in Germany and Japan, Korea and Vietnam, Serbia and Iraq - massive bombardment of residential areas

Americans just can't fight enemy face to face.

Today they sitting at home and sending drones - to kill civilians thousands miles away ...

by some special reasons of course

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Olegek: Let's talk about "allie's tactic"

Russia's borders, 1948, absent American bombings of Germany and Japan:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Planned_partition_of_Asia.png

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan asked for it. The Japanese took great pleasure in beheading and starving their prisoners of war.

A good thing is hopefully, japan is now reformed

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turbotsat Russia's borders, 1948, absent American bombings of Germany and Japan:

1 Alternative history books are VERY popular in Russia -but we understand that it's only fairy-tales

2 It was two crucial years during Hitler invasion in Russia - 1941 and 1942 - Russia was at a brink

But it was no mass bombing of Germany at this time - they start mostly in 1943 and reached the maximum in 1944

So it was impossible to stop German invasion in 1941 by mass bombing in 1944

3 Even in 1943-44 Josef Stalin demand to bomb ONLY military and industrial objects - troops, airfields, millitary factories oil fields in Romania , plants of synthesized gasoline , large transportation hubs and so on.

Such tactic decrease fighting capabilities of 3th Reich efficiently without heavy losses among civilians

But allies have chosen other way...

In Japan also.

So it was not about how to win war.

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@Olegek

The proof of the Red Army's brutality was the flood of Germans seeking to surrender to the western powers.

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Olegek: ... ...

In between pogroms, putsches, early-WWII NKVD prisoner massacres, and Russian bombardment of Berlin, was Stalin really moved to restrict bombing to military targets by tender feelings for the citizenry? Or to not waste planes and ordnance?

US and UK also had this discussion, internally and with each other, precision vs. area bombing. Eventually area bombing won out, partly for some of the reasons listed in other posts about Japan's home-based industries. Precision bombing leaves the workers able to restore or distribute military industrial production: http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/war.crimes/World.war.2/Bombing.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Berlin_in_World_War_II

After the capture of Berlin, Soviet General Nikolai Bersarin said, referring to the Red Army's artillery and rocket bombardment, that:

"the Western Allies had dropped 65,000 tons of explosives on the city in the course of more than two years; whereas the Red Army had expended 40,000 tons in merely two weeks". Later, statisticians calculated that for every inhabitant of Berlin there were nearly 30 cubic meters (39 cubic yards) of rubble.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This not really needed end of war overkill was slipped under the carpet for many decades but due to its size it should be remembered in parallel with Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic destruction.

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The conventional firebombing of Tokyo and other cities took vastly more civilian lifes than the 2 nuclear bomb, but the nuclear bombs monopolize all the attention. From that it is clear that the issue is not civilian lifes but propaganda.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it." Robert E. Lee

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some people are talking about who started the war and who ended and whose fault and all that stuff however it is NOT about that, there were victims in Japan, in the US, in China, in Korea.. Anyone who was involved in the war against their will was a victim and the important thing is that we learn from the experience in the past and not to make the same mistake again.

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NOTE TO ANYONE WHO CARES TO READ THIS: RE-FIGHTING THE SECOND WORLD WAR DOES NO GOOD!!!

It happened: the Second World War did. The Allies Won; the Axis Lost. That's it. It took place more than seventy years ago, and still, people in the press fight this thing over, and over, and over again. Does Japan need to deal with this thing? Probably. Should the Allies apologize for winning and how they won? Probably not. What needs to stop is this finger-pointing and "how-the-Allies-won-was-baaaaaaad" mantra. The Second World War --- especially in the Pacific --- didn't have to happen. Period. It did, and the Axis Powers lost, and the Allies won. This hand-wringing on how it was won is pointless (about as pointless as World War One Trench Warfare). The further hand-wringing on how it was lost is also pointless.

I'll say this and simply leave off: The firebombings of Japanese cities are largely ignored --- but so, too, are the atrocities of and committed by the Imperial Japanese Military, especially with regards to China, the Philippines, and the Korean Peninsula. But what pint does such discussions about these make and what good do they?

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Pretty robust debate here since I last looked.

For what it's worth, I certainly don't think America or the Allies owe Japan an apology, in the same way I don't think the Allies owe Germany any kind of apology for what was perpetrated against it's cities. Japan were a fanatically ambitious and viciously destructive force in the 1930's and 40's - an Army almost unparalleled in human history in this respect. I think that within the context of the zeitgeist of the time is how things need to be assessed and judged, not from the comfort of a chair in front of a computer in 2015.

Japan could have spared it's cities at any time by surrendering, but the stubborn, crazed and fanatical military let it's fellow countrymen die en-masse in pursuit of military strategies that were futile and failing daily at the time - that's as much a crime as anything in my book.

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@Tamarama

Whether or not the dropping of second bomb that killed approximately 75,000 in Nagasaki was needed is even more debatable. Why did the U.S. not give the Japanese a little more time to sort out the chaos of the first attack or, after a day or two, communicate an ultimatum? Were the American planners that eager to test the effects of another type of bomb on real people? Some have speculated that the second bomb was needed to prove that the U.S. had more than one such weapon. This implies that the U.S. might have continued to drop atomic bombs until Japan finally surrendered.

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@sfjp330

Some have speculated that the second bomb was needed to prove that the U.S. had more than one such weapon

Uh, yeah! You don't think that was important to prove? The US gave Japan three days to think about it. That is some serious armchair quarterbacking to say that wasn't enough. And it still took nine days after the first bomb before the surrender.

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Some generals still didn't want to surrender even after the Nagasaki atomic bomb. I was surprised by this.

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Don't forget the 249,000 people lost their lives in Okinawa. we dont , and if the main islands were invaided the same way the death toll would have been ten time greater. were the A bombs justified, Hiroshima yes , Nagasaki probably not. anybody who thinks that using the A bomb was not justified only need to look at Okinawa. Tokyo firebombings would have been a drop in the bucket of what would have followed if America didnt end the war quickly

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Whether or not the dropping of second bomb that killed approximately 75,000 in Nagasaki was needed is even more debatable.

This article is about the firebombing, not the Atomic Bombs.

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What Jason Lovelace (Mar. 14, 2015 - 01:51AM JST) says is mostly correct. The point is atrocities were committed by both sides. Americans cannot pretend they were innocent and sinless like angels. But they behave as such.. You cannot say that the loser's foul is worse than the victor's simply because the former picked a fight first.

-2 ( +0 / -3 )

scipantheist The proof of the Red Army's brutality was the flood of Germans seeking to surrender to the western powers.

You means - Nazi criminals who run from Soviet occupation zone to west ?

I should stress - nobody from these guys run east.

When you in trouble you come to your friends.

turbotsat and Russian bombardment of Berlin, was Stalin really moved to restrict bombing to military targets by tender feelings for the citizenry? Or to not waste planes and ordnance?

It was other thing - artillery. Artillery is much more precise than bomb dropping from high altitude.

In 1945 Soviet artillery was excellent. So it was fire against concrete targets. Than immediately after that - assault.

Soviet artillery was strong enough to just destroy whole city - without assault.

But Red Army lost in this operation about 78 thousands soldiers. And Polish Army - about 3 thousands.

In one week huge fortified city ( 3th Reich capital !!) was taken by force.

It was a battle !!

US Army never even try to do something like this

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Sorry, voiceofokinawa, but I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what atrocities the US Military committed in World War Two that need an apology (especially seeing how it was the Imperial Japanese Navy that helped bring the USA into World War Two [my assertion thqat the War didn't have to happen]), and I've been studying the Second World War for more than thirty years. And let's not fool ourselves: the atomic weapons were necessary. Japan had no intention of giving up and when Showa-Tenno spoke, after August 9th, he never uttered the word "surrender". Seriously, voiceofokinawa, please provide proof of any Western Allied atrocities (and the key word here is "WESTERN": we know the Red Army was vindictively brutal to the Germans, poles, and Ukranians in their Great Patriotic Warm especially as they moved West), and not this baloney hearsay that some in the Japanese Government have stated about Americans raping French women on and in the immediate aftermath of Operation Overlord of 6 June 1944....

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Jason Lovelace,

Atrocities are committed by either individual soldiers or someone higher up sitting at a table in a war strategy room. You are talking about the former case and I am talking about the latter. So in my thinking, atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were atrocities, and so were the Great Tokyo Air Raids and indiscriminate air raids of other 66 cities.

I am not saying the U.S. has to apologize, only that it should admit that it also committed atrocities to the same degree as individual Imperial Japanese soldiers or Imperial Japan as a whole.

-1 ( +0 / -2 )

@voiceofokinawa The only thing the US should apologize for is letting anti-basers settle in peace in Okinawa. They should have been driven out entirely.

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With all sue respect, voiceofokinawa, your thinking is incorrect. Japan brought all of those firebombings and the atomic weapon drops upon herself by attacking a country that was in no way hostile to her: on December 6th, 1941, 68~69% (more than two-thirds majority) of Americans wanted war with nobody. We know American sentiment on December 8th. Saying that the USA committed atrocities in ending a war that was brought upon her in an atrocious manner is like saying it is a crime for a person to shoot an armed robber who stabs him in the leg.

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It's true that most Americans were against entering the war with Japan until December 8 (December 7 in the U.S.) in 1941. The Pearl Harbor attack by Japan all changed that. Visceral hatred toward Japan was engendered instantly and knew no bounds.

That explains why the U.S. government decided to drop two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the end when they knew Japan's surrender was imminent. It must have been partly a strategic decision but the decision was hatred-motivated without a doubt.

I can understand why so many Americans won't accept the fact that the atomic bombings were the most heinous and inhumane acts a human society has ever committed. The Great Tokyo Air Raids are considered in the same vein.

-2 ( +1 / -2 )

I can understand why so many Americans won't accept the fact that the atomic bombings were the most heinous and inhumane acts a human society has ever committed.

Because it's not? There weren't 6 million people killed in these attacks like in the Holocaust, nor 10 million like in the Great Leap Forward. I salute your attempt to stay relevant, though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

scipantheist (Mar. 15, 2015 - 09:14AM JST),

Anti-basers must be driven out entirely? The U.S. won the war and its military is still stationed here as the victors of the war. And you say anyone critical of this situation should be driven out entirely?

If you say the U.S. occupation of Okinawa and Japan in general is the end result of WW II, then the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is nothing but a facade to hide the occupation kept going on despite its formal purpose.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

voiceofokinawa: That explains why the U.S. government decided to drop two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the end when they knew Japan's surrender was imminent. It must have been partly a strategic decision but the decision was hatred-motivated without a doubt.

Then why'd they stop at two?

"Japan's surrender was imminent"?

Reading through "Surrender of Japan" on wikipedia, can only see that Japan was lucky to find the path to surrender, even after the atomic bombings the military side of cabinet was arguing with civilian side over surrender, the Emperor made the "Sacred Decision" to end the war but that almost didn't make out either, except that the rebellion to prevent surrender failed (the Koryo Incident).

Note that the Hiroshima bomb destroyed the Second General Army's headquarters, and when Hirohito was making the rounds after the bombings, discussing officers' opinion of surrender, the Marshal of the Second General Army, responsible for defense of southern Japan from the imminent invasion, voted for surrender. Without loss of his HQ, would he have?

Note also that even after the twin bombings and Soviets' declaration of war, the Japanese were still waffling in their response to the Allies, thus the final conventional bombings of Tokyo and other cities and Allied naval bombardment against shore positions.

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

[July 28 - Prime Minister Suzuki's response to Potsdam Declaration, as made to the press:]

I consider the Joint Proclamation a rehash of the Declaration at the Cairo Conference. As for the Government, it does not attach any important value to it at all. The only thing to do is just kill it with silence (mokusatsu). We will do nothing but press on to the bitter end to bring about a successful completion of the war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan#Japanese_reaction

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan#August_13.E2.80.9314

The Emperor met with the most senior Army and Navy officers. While several spoke in favor of fighting on, Field Marshal Shunroku Hata did not. As commander of the Second General Army, the headquarters of which had been in Hiroshima, Hata commanded all the troops defending southern Japan—the troops preparing to fight the "decisive battle". Hata said he had no confidence in defeating the invasion and did not dispute the Emperor's decision. The Emperor asked his military leaders to cooperate with him in ending the war.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

turbotsat (Mar. 16, 2015 - 07:34AM JST):

Whether U.S. war strategists knew Japan's surrender was imminent or not is not very important. The question is whether it was ethically and legally permissible for them to carry out indiscriminate bombings of city after city, culminating in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with sole intent to kill civilians systematically.

You ask: "Then why'd they stop at two?"

The reason why the U.S. used only two atomic bombs is because there were no more bombs in their possession. So some critics say it was kind of test firing of newly developed weapons.

It's true that the Japanese people at the time were determined to fight to the last man, but that doesn't justify the U.S. can resort to illegal tactics including use of atomic bombs.

Curtis LeMay and Robert McNamara, two masterminds to plan the city bombing strategy, knew too well that they could be tried as war criminals if the Allies lost war.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The reason why the U.S. used only two atomic bombs is because there were no more bombs in their possession. So some critics say it was kind of test firing of newly developed weapons.

Actually the US (before it had successfully tested the atom bomb) invited the Soviets to break their 1939 treaty of neutrality with Japan. Now that the Russians were fulfilling their side of the bargain - the US wanted Japan to surrender before the Russians invaded Hokkaido and (and thus would've had a post-war occupation force in Japan as well) It was the prospect of invasion by the Soviets that really brought about Japan's surrender. The atom bombs allowed the Emperor to "save face" in giving his surrender speech, and the Soviet entry into the war hastened that decision. And as said before, the atom bombings, and firebombings should be remembered - as well as the bombings of Darwin, the attack on Pearl Harbour, the Nanking massacre

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It was the prospect of invasion by the Soviets that really brought about Japan's surrender.

The Japanese were never really concerned about an invasion from the Soviets. They knew that they did not have the ability to invade and hold any of the Japanese main islands, including Hokkaido. They lacked the basic naval and logistical capabilities and would have easily been repulsed. Basically, they didn't have enough boats to move the required number of people and equipment from Korea / Russian Far East to Japan.

The Japanese were terribly worried about an invasion of the main islands but they knew that if it ever happened it would be coming from the US or no one at all.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The Japanese were never really concerned about an invasion from the Soviets

One could easily argue otherwise http://www.dallasnews.com/news/20100815-View-that-fear-of-Soviets-8765.ece http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Downfall

So one might surmise that it was a combination of the Soviets and atom bombs that brought about Japan's surrender. That is not to say the firebombings weren't an awful act

0 ( +0 / -0 )

voiceofokinawa: doesn't justify the U.S. can resort to illegal tactics including use of atomic bombs

Japan also didn't hold that the bombings were illegal, or at least withdrew the contention. So what legal standing does voiceofokinawa have to hold that they are, when even Japan doesn't hold that?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_over_the_atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki#International_law

In 1962 and in 1963, the Japanese government retracted its previous statement by saying that there was no international law prohibiting the use of atomic bombs.

After the five-year bombing of Chongqing, among many other acts, the Japanese could not realistically claim protection under morals they abandoned in repeated and gross fashion.

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

... from 18 February 1938 to 23 August 1943 ... A conservative estimate places the number of bombing runs at more than 5,000, with more than 11,500 bombs dropped, mainly incendiary bombs. The targets were usually residential areas, business areas, schools, hospitals (non-military targets). ... In character with the Japanese approach to air warfare, the bombing of Chongqing was focused almost entirely on the civilian population, an early example of terror bombing. ... Due to the unpreparedness of the Chinese Air Force at the beginning of the war, many of the air raids were totally unopposed. ... A total of 268 air raids were conducted against Chongqing. ...

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a7/ChongqingBombing.jpg

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/ww2_5/w18_3c31086u.jpg

(caption): A Japanese bomber in flight on September 14, 1940. Below, smoke rises from a cluster of bombs dropped on Chongqing, China, near a bend of the Yangtze River.

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/ww2_5/w20_08100119.jpg

(caption): With nothing but devastation confronting him, this Chinese waterboy still carried on after four days and nights of aerial bombardment at the hands of Japanese warplanes, in Chongqing, China, on Aug. 10, 1940.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One could easily argue otherwise

Please note that the Soviet Union was not invading the main Japanese islands, but Manchuria and Korea.

So one might surmise that it was a combination of the Soviets and atom bombs that brought about Japan's surrender. That is not to say the firebombings weren't an awful act

It was a combination of everything.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

turbotsat,

It may be man's undeniable nature to try to justify whatever he does, regardless of whether it's right or wrong. There's no action conducted by a person with no justified reason. Even a foul play in the light of general ethical norms is no foul play at all because a justification is readily given to it.

Thus, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the air raids of most major Japanese cities, are no atrocities at all if compared with the Holocaust and the Great Leap Forward (contention by scipantheist: Mar. 15, 2015 - 11:49AM JST)

Now you bring forth 1941 Chongqing air raids in which indiscriminate killing of ordinary citizens were carried out by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service and Navy. You may add to this the Nanjing massacre and the infamous 731 Medical Corps.

Japan must be accused for all the atrocities. But those are matters concerned only with China and Japan. As for the case of the 731 Medical Corps, its personnel from top to bottom were exempted from war-crime trials in exchange for their documented medical data to be given to the U.S.

You cannot use them for justification for America's retaliation against Japan. If there ever was any justification for the U.S. decision to drop the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the indiscriminate air raids of Tokyo and other cities, it would be the Pearl Harbor Attack. The surprise attack must be condemned to the nail, but can the use of atomic bombs be justified for the retaliatory measures?

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@voiceofokinawa

USA came to the defense of UK and China, thus the matters did not concern only China and Japan. The spark was Pearl Harbor. It would have served the USA better to hold back in each theater until the Axis powers were overtaxed fighting the Allied defenders, but that's not what the USA chose. Reference to Unit 731 is just a distraction, I don't agree with their pardon but it was someone else's decision and situation immediately post-war will not look the same 60 years post-war.

True retaliation would have been flattening all of Japan's cities to a much greater extent than they did, instead of trying to encourage Japanese surrender as early as possible by the timing of the atomic bomb drops and the conventional drops and by the content and timing of the messages and demands made between drops. USA certainly had the ability to keep dropping bombs without mercy, and ignoring Japan's eventual move to surrender, treating it as a trick, but they didn't.

The USA even had leaflets dropped, that surrendering soldiers could use to declare their peaceful intentions, and some nicknamed after LeMay that warned Japanese to get out of cities to be bombed soon.

Does all this sound like retaliation? What would retaliation REALLY look like?

https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no3/article07.html

(caption): Front side of OWI notice #2106, dubbed the “LeMay bombing leaflet,” which was delivered to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and 33 other Japanese cities on 1 August 1945.

The Japanese text on the reverse side of the leaflet carried the following warning: “Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America's humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”

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turbotsa tMar. 17, 2015 - 02:40AM JST The USA even had leaflets dropped, that surrendering soldiers could use to declare their peaceful intentions, and some nicknamed after LeMay that warned Japanese to get out of cities to be bombed soon.

These leaflets certainly warned of bombing and destruction. They were not warnings about atomic bombs, though, but firebombs. Does the distinction matter? They are, if anything, the closest thing to any kind of “real warning” that was given to Japanese civilians.

So Nagasaki did get warning leaflets… the day after it was atomic bombed. Well, that’s a grim clarification. The leaflets specifically warning about atomic bombs were created, but they weren’t dropped on either Hiroshima or Nagasaki before they were atomic bombed. The first Truman Library document was the first draft, that was never dropped. The second one was the second draft, and was dropped, but only after the bombs were used.

So what do we take away from all of this? In this case, we’re talking about leaflet drafts, and the context is when they created, why they were created, and specifically when they were used. It doesn’t help, of course, that the library themselves have put incorrect dates on them, but even with a correct date, the context is still not completely straightforward. Context is everything — without it, nothing makes sense, and you can come away with exactly the opposite conclusion from the truth of things.

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Curtis LeMay bragged after the Tokyo firebombing mission that it was the most people killed in the shortest time in history. He was a sick bastard.

The Tokyo bombers flew so low that the crews had to wear oxygen masks because of the smell of burning bodies. The aircraft windscreens were covered in a mist of blood and flesh.

As people found escape routes to rivers, the pilots were ordered to cut them off. The goal had nothing to do with reducing production of military equipment, it was to kill as many people as possible.

LeMay was in league with some members of US Congress (he ran for office himself, later) who believed there should be no surrender and all Japanese cities and the entire nation was should be incinerated and all Japanese should be exterminated from the Earth. They were elated about the atomic bomb and insisted that all future bombs produced should be used against Japan until all of the people of Japan were dead.

LeMay wanted the next 50 atomic bombs to be given to him for his plan against Russia. He had a plan to destroy the 50 biggest Russian cities simultaneously and kill as many people as possible in a single day to set a new personal record.

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sfjp330: They are, if anything, the closest thing to any kind of “real warning” that was given to Japanese civilians. ... So Nagasaki did get warning leaflets… the day after it was atomic bombed. Well, that’s a grim clarification.

Radio warnings were also issued. Other than radio warnings and leaflet drops, what kinds of warning would be sufficient to you and would also make it through Japanese censors? Paratroopers dropping and going door-to-door?

The leaflets unequivocally said to evacuate the cities, and thousands were dropped over the targeted cities in July, predating the atomic bomb drops. The exact technology to be used for the atomic bomb drops may have not been described in the July leaflets, but they were descriptive enough.

When the US government says "these cities will be destroyed", in leaflets dropped over the targeted cities, is that not enough warning for you? The leaflet with text I quoted in the previous post was dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 1, FIVE days prior to the Hiroshima drop and SEVEN days prior to the Nagasaki drop.

Have you seen the photos of Tokyo and other cities that were conventionally firebombed? Total destruction, right? So ignoring that capability after having been warned that it'll be arriving to local area soon is whose fault, again?

Tokyo residential district after firebombing, March 10, 1945, almost all blocks totally destroyed except for some large masonry buildings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tokyo_1945-3-10-1.jpg

Further background for and photos of more of the leaflets: http://www.psywarrior.com/B52leaflets.html

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The firebombings of the mid-1940s were the last of the "flowers of Edo", as far as I know. Tokyo (or Edo, as it was once called) had burned in 1601, 1641 (on March 10th or 11th!), 1657 (also in March), 1683, 1698, 1704, 1745 (on March 14), 1760 (a March fire), 1772, 1806, and 1829 (all three were in April), 1834 and 1845 (both in March), 1855, and 1923. The metropolis was historically very large and quite flammable.

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turbotsat Mar. 17, 2015 - 05:50AM JST The leaflets unequivocally said to evacuate the cities, and thousands were dropped over the targeted cities in July, predating the atomic bomb drops. The exact technology to be used for the atomic bomb drops may have not been described in the July leaflets, but they were descriptive enough.

The fact that Hiroshima, Kukouro, and Niigata were not on the Le May list, can be explained by the fact that they were not being targeted for conventional firebombing. To list them and to continue to not bomb them would diminish the credibility of the leaflet. For this reason, I suspect Nagasaki was not on the list. It is not credible to expect 12 cities to evacuate in three days, the pace of atomic bombing apparent to Japanese aware. The Le May leaflet, if followed, would have depopulated Japanese cities. How would all these homeless people have survived? Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that no one took them seriously.

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@darnname

The 'oxygen masks needed for stench' quote appears in many places on the web unattributed, the closest I could find for original source was a PDF (https://guaciara.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/mike-davis-how-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-incendiary-bomb1.pdf) pointing to Crane's 1993 book "Bombs, Cities, and Civilians, p. 132, which is not available online, but I could not find a direct quote from that book. I think it's questionable that the tiny fraction of humanity in the total mass of the burning debris would be perceivable enough to overwhelm airmen flying at 5,000 feet. Or that their windshields would be covered with blood mist. Or that strategic bombers with no escort could be employed to force people on the ground in particular directions. Or that if they had fighter escorts the escorts would be wasting time on such occupation, instead of staying on mission.

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A person can't lead a life with being tormented by a guilty feeling for life for what he did wrongly So he tries to dispel that guilty feeling by the autosuggestion that what he did was not wrong after all. A search for self-justification thus begins.

To say U.S. reconaissance planes dropped leaflets to warn Japanese city dwellers to evacuate before actual air raids began is an example of such self-justification.

In war both sides resort not only to live ammunition but also information and stratagems. The Japanese military authorities strictly ordered citizens not to pick up leaflets dropped by enemy airplanes. We children were also taught not to pick up fountain pens, toys and other such stuff lying on a street because they might be booby traps dropped by enemy airplanes.

So you know how little effect these leaflets brought about during, and especially toward the end of, the war.

But one must not confuse such trifles as leaflet-dropping with the more essential part of the problem -- U.S. war strategists' real intention to systematically kill ordinary citizens. This is what Gen. Curtis LeMay and his subordinate Robert McNamara planned and carried out. And they knew more than enough that they could be subjected to war crimes trials if the U.S. lost the war.

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It was a combination of everything

Nope. The American submarine campaign was choking Japan, and the firebombings were having a devastating effect. But only three things mattered when Japan decided to surrender: The Soviet entry into the war, the atom bombs, and what the fate of the emperor was going to be

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voiceofokinawa: The Japanese military authorities strictly ordered citizens not to pick up leaflets dropped by enemy airplanes. We children were also taught ... So you know how little effect these leaflets brought about during, and especially toward the end of, the war.

8 million Japanese evacuated the cities in response to the leaflets. If you were prevented from evacuating, is that the Americans' fault?: http://tinyurl.com/qb65dfa (Google Books link)

War leaflets were also dropped, which terrorized 8 million Japanese civilians into leaving from cities.

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum's own brochure also shows such a leaflet:

http://www.city.nagasaki.lg.jp/peace/english/abm/download/leaflet_e.pdf (p. 2)

Leaflets dropped by American bombers

The bombing of the Japanese main islands by American forces grew severe from the early months of 1945. At the same time a variety of propaganda leaflets were strewn over the cities of Japan. This leaflet provides information about the bombing of Hiroshima and the power for the atomic bomb, and it warns citizens to leave the city and to stop fighting.

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turbotsat:

Thanks for referring me to the document. I rearranged words in the relevant sentence in it as follows:

"Leaflets warning Japanese were also dropped, which terrorized 8 million civilians into fleeing from cities."

I wonder if 8 million is a correct figure? Where does the figure come from? Since evacuees were mostly school children who evacuated by school and who numbered a little over 400,000, according to the official document, the figure 8 million must be rigged and inflated. Yes, there were some families who accompanied their children as far as the places of evacuation, but I'm sure their number was quite limited as the Tsushimamaru incident in Okinawa shows.

You must also know evacuations usually took place months before actual air raids began. Warning leaflets were dropped one or two days before the air bombings which nobody took very seriously anyway, if they ever saw them, thinking they were mere enemy stratagems.

As for Nagasaki, the initial target of the B-29 Bock's Car was Ogura City but the pilot changed the target to Nagasaki City due to cloudy weather conditions over Ogura. Had any leaflets been dropped on Nagasaki?

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