Which history do you teach, propaganda or historic facts?

by Etsuko Ueda

This is a letter I sent to Economist.

Dear Economist
In your recent article titled, Barren rocks, barren nationalism (Aug 25th 2012) you wrote "In Japan that means producing honest textbooks so that schoolchildren can discover what their predecessors did." No one can dispute such wise counseling. Actually it would be even better if "In Japan" is replaced by "In every nation". As to the writer's presumption that Japanese schoolchildren have not been given "honest textbooks", I must agree wholeheartedly. Growing up in post war Japan, I developed a thirst for that part of history, not just Japan's but the world's. Nobody talked much about it in Japan and there was not much I could read. It was long after I left Japan that I learned the military, government leaders, and high officials who had first-hand knowledge of the war were executed in a revenge killing masqueraded as war crime tribunals - not just those 7 I knew from the Tokyo tribunals that executed the Prime Minister, but over 1,000. If you include those who took their own lives before being subjected to such humiliation, the number would be much higher. Moreover, the allied occupation forces ordered the destruction of many publications and documents that would illuminate that part of the history, and Japanese publishers and news media were put under strict censorship under strict secrecy. Also, the Japanese government was ordered to teach Japanese schoolchildren the allied version of the history: "Japan brutally exploited other Asian nations" (just like the European colonial powers it replaced). That is the version I believed for a long time until recently, and it was the understanding the Prime Minister Murayama shared in his apology he made on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.

As unbelievable as it may sound, that is the history Japanese schoolchildren are still taught today. However, if my observation is correct, it won't be long before they will have text books that will tell what really have happened in its entirety. They will learn that Japan was forced to deal with Western colonial aggression after 300 years of peaceful isolated existence, when American as well as British, French, and Russian warships approached its shores uninvited with their cannons pointing to its cities and castles demanding the Japanese to sign unfair treaties.

Japan's leaders at the time realized that to defend Japanese territory, the neighbors had to be protected also. Since China was in no shape to protect itself at the time, Japan took Korea and Taiwan under her wings, and pushed Russia out of China. During WW I, Japan even helped Britain to secure their interest in Asia. Then, with the rise of communism, worldwide recession, and a series of political assassinations by the military in Japan, the world once again marched toward greater turmoil and conflicts. Britain along with the U.S. and other colonial powers soon turned against Japan and imposed an economic embargo to cut Japan's lifeline for oil and other natural resources. Japan had little choice but to do what it could to keep those lifelines. In the end, the poorly managed war ended in unconditional surrender and devastation.

Japanese schoolchildren will also learn that it was not all in vain. Other Asian peoples gained the courage and learned the know-how from Japan to become independent and to prosper, although the Western colonial powers tried to resume their business as usual as soon as Japan surrendered. The Japanese schoolchildren are not yet taught this aspect of that war's consequence, but many South Eastern Asian schoolchildren are.
As I expected, Economist ignored this letter and continues its irrational accusation against Japan for not teaching the allied version of the history, completely ignoring the fact that the allied version of the history (the propaganda based history) IS what Japanese schoolchildren are still taught. Are they really concerned about Japanese school children not being taught the "honest" historic facts, while they teach their children a fake history and their propaganda? Not likely. Why Economist as well as all the allied nations are behaving this way now? The answer has a lot to do with the Communist China. But, that would probably take a book to explain (for a starter, listen to Joshua Blakeney - Japan Bites Back: Allied Demonization of the Empire of Japan. and Deanna Spingola Interviews Joshua Blakeney About His New Book)

So, once again,  I 'd like to ask "Which history do you teach, propaganda or historic facts?"
If you still think Japan was an aggressor nation and need to offer apology forever, see what General MacArthur thought about the U.S.-Japan war, and how Ben Bruce Blakeney argued against the Tokyo Tribunal. The world need to catch up with Japan in the understanding of the U.S.-Japan War. Japan has been branded as an evil, greedy, and cruel aggressor, a criminal nation by the victors, and made to pay for it dearly. That was the propaganda that dominated the postwar world as well as the years leading up to the war (see VENONA (1/3) : "Anti-Japan" Networks by International Communists), but the War Guilt Information Program is about to lose its grip on the Japanese people. The Japanese will leave no stone upturned to expose the historic facts by applying the same diligence they applied to rebuild the postwar economy. Those who refuse to examine the historic facts will be seen as prejudiced and hypocritical, if not evil.

To find out what Henry Scott-Stokes, a British journalist, has found about the propaganda surrounding Nanjing Incident of 1937, here is the full interview and here is the WSJ article about the interview on his book, Fallacies in the Allied Nations' Historical Perception as Observed by a British Journalist. So called "Nanjing Massacre" was most certainly KMT (Chiang Kai-shek's government) propaganda, he says. He detailed the timeline of how the propaganda was manufactured, who were involved, and the historic sources of information available including the Chiang Kai-shek government's archives. Kyodo News who reported total lie about the intent of the book's author made itself more than clear what kind of propaganda machine it has been for whom. The Kyodo article was repeated by various pro-China papers such as South China Morning Post.

For more on the big lies against Japan:

If you believed both the claims of the so-called Nanjing Massacre (rape, murder, and mayhem) and the claims that the war time prostitutes Japanese military used (the majority were Japanese women) under strict licensing were forced slaves, then you have not really thought it through. The very reason Japanese military restricted soldiers to use only those licensed and well paid prostitutes were:

  1. To prevent soldiers from contracting sexually transmitted diseases by mandating regular medical checkups of the prostitutes.
  2. To prevent soldiers from harassing the local people (raping, for example), which will make the establishment of law and order and cooperation of the locals that much harder. Using forced slaves goes against this aim, and any brothel operator and military unit who used forced slaves were band and court-martialed (yes, there was one incident in Indonesia).

    Allowing soldiers to roam freely to harass the locals, or organizing them to engage in  rape, murder, and mayhem makes no sense what so ever from these military objectives.

    Note: I know American and British soldiers went around Japanese cities as soon as they landed on Japan in 1945, and raped women and girls at random. So I understand why many Americans and British assumed Japanese soldiers did the same wherever they went and occupied. Japanese government was alarmed by the occupation force soldiers behavior and obliged their demand to provide prostitution services and facilities called "Recreation Center" for them in order to keep the street safe. Many young Japanese women volunteered to serve for the cause as well as for the money. (see Comfort women for American soldiers in Japan: "Reviewing Kono statement" by Kanji Nishio at Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan). Those women were the real heroes of that 7 year occupation period, as far as I am concerned.