I am an admirer in general of Jeff Kingston’s articles, but I can’t believe his Feb. 16 Counterpoint article, “Tokyo firebombings and unfinished U.S. business.” Is he so naive as to think that the United States should apologize not only for the Tokyo firebombings of March 9-10, 1945, but also for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
I was a fighter pilot in the Cold War during the 1960s, protecting my country (and Germany) against the then-perceived threat of a Warsaw Pact invasion. As such, I have strong and clear opinions on war in the air.
During my military service I came to know some pilots (fighters and bombers) who flew on missions over Europe during World War II. Some were my instructors and some were friends of my father. Not one of them ever expressed any remorse about what they did in the course of their duty.
I knew bomber pilots who bombed or even firebombed Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, etc. The first wave of bombers dropped high explosives to “open up the buildings” of brick and stone — unlike the wood structures of Tokyo — and the second wave dropped incendiaries to “light them up” (their words).
Readers might know that the Royal Air Force’s chief architect for this “terror” bombing was Air Chief (later Sir) Arthur “Bomber” Harris. Despite the severe criticism he received in my country after the war — some labeled him a war criminal — he died not only unrepentant but also absolutely proud of what his “boys” did for their country and for civilization in stamping out Nazism by all means available.
Kingston quotes Hiroshima Peace Institute researcher Yuki Tanaka’s statement that if the U.S. government apologizes for the firebombings of Tokyo, “they would have to apologize for the atomic bombings as well.” My sources in the U.S. assure me the U.S will never apologize for such actions, deemed at the time to be necessary and expeditious in prosecuting total war against an implacable and a hated enemy.
As for the Japanese waiting a long time to hear an apology from the U.S. (what about from the U.K., too, as we were more than 50 percent responsible for the Manhattan Project?), what hypocrisy, when Asia still waits for a sincere apology from Japan!
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.