The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Hiroshima, Holocaust Denial and Hypocrisy

Posted by Bill Nance on August 7, 2009

Today is August 7. As usual, this is the day my anger over the previous day’s marking of the bombing of Hiroshima subsides.

On August 6, 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew dropped a single Atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima, instantly incinerating some 50,000-70,000 Japanese and injuring another 100,000, resulting in an estimated 60,000 additional deaths over the next five years or so. This bombing, and the one of Nagasaki three days later, resulted in the Japanese’ unconditional surrender to the allies and the end of world War Two.

No one would argue that the loss of some 580,000 Japanese civilians during the war was anything but tragic. Most of these died as a result of the US strategic bombing of Japan, though at least 100,000 were killed in the bloody house to house and cave to cave fighting on Saipan and Okinawa, including at least 5,000 Japanese civilian suicides on Saipan alone.

The civilian death toll during the Second World War was apocalyptic in scale, probably reaching forty million souls.  some of these were inevitable “collateral damage.” That is, civilians inadvertently killed during combat operations.  Some were killed as a result of strategic terror bombings on all sides, designed to sap the enemy’s will to fight.

But the vast majority, estimated to be at least 30,000,000 people, were killed deliberately or from a purposeful policy of neglect, brutality or  murder, to say nothing of the murder of helpless military captives, notably by the Japanese, Germans and Soviets.

Much ado has been made over the German perpetration of the Holocaust against the Jews, Gypsies and others during that war. Museums on the subject dot the world. And rightfully so. But the world has acquiesced to a conspiracy of almost total silence on the Holocaust perpetrated by the Japanese in every land they occupied, as well as in Japan itself, where until the very end of the war, the Japanese government was actively pursuing germ warfare weapons to be used against US civilians and where prisoners of war were vivisected whilst still alive.

If you live in Germany for a while, you will be struck by what even now, some 60 years after the fact, remains a collective consciousness of guilt and shame over the Nazi years and the atrocities of that period. There is of course, no reason for young people, who’s parents weren’t even born until after the war to feel any sense of shame, and many have rejected this with I think a justifiable sense of having paid whatever debt is owed. And collectively, Germany remains a deeply pacifist nation as a result of the memory of those horrible years.

The same sense of Pacifism remains in Japan, but for an entirely different reason.

While I have not lived in Japan, I do have many friends and several relatives who have lived there for years.

In Japan there is little in the way of shame. In fact, Japanese children aren’t even taught about the extent of the atrocities committed by their forbears. The entire nation, from the end of the war until this day have and continue to be in utter denial about both their own guilt in launching an imperialist war of aggression and the horrors committed by their armies, the worst of which was the genocide committed against the Chinese, in which an estimated 20,000,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered.

In the last few years, Americans, notably the Neoconservatives, have noted with horror that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier. In fact, to be a holocaust denier is counted by most people to be a grave sin.  Yet Japan is an entire nation in utter denial of the systematic butchery and unprovoked aggression perpetrated by their country and no one says a word.

Which leads us back to yesterday, August 6, where the usual somber remembrance of the Hiroshima bombing took place all over the world in a sign of collective guilt over the killing of Japanese civilians in that city.

Enough. I’m sick of hearing about it. It was without doubt, a brutal act in a brutal war. but it pales in comparison with the deliberate mass murder perpetrated against helpless civilians in an unprovoked war of aggression. Hiroshima was bombed because the alternative was a bloody invasion of Japan in which many many times the numbers killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined would have been killed. Alternatively, a blockade of the islands would have resulted in the death by starvation of millions of Japanese. In comparison, the bombing of Hiroshima was a trivial price to pay for ending the war.  The fact that the Japanese and their willing co-deniers of history across the globe continue to forget the atrocities of the Japanese, the utter unwillingness to surrender under the terms offered by the Allies and the comparative death tolls of the alternatives to the bomb disgusts me, and it should disgust you as well.

On the day the Japanese government starts printing the unadulterated truth about those years in their school textbooks and officially acknowledges, without equivication or excuse, the crimes they committed, I will begin to have more sympathy for the civilian casualties of the Second World War. But even with compassion for civilians caught up in an awful war, August 6 should rightfully be remembered as the day that led to the end of a nightmare, not as a day of mourning.

The Japanese were victims of their own evil. They were not and are not martyrs.

*For two excellent scholarly works on the subject of the bomb, I reccommend Weapons for Victory, and Hiroshima in History: the Myths of Revisionism by Prof. Robert J. Maddox.

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