Jeff Kingston’s review was simply one of the best essays published recently in The Japan Times. It addresses some of the issues facing Japan over its World War II-era atrocities. For nearly 20 years the public has been told by various Japanese leaders (mainly of the Liberal Democratic Party) that the Tojo Hideki government set out to “liberate” Asia from Western colonialism, when in fact the true intent of the Japanese militarists was to ruthlessly root out European and American imperialism across Asia and the Pacific and replace it with a brutal new world order that incorporated belief in Japan’s divine role in world affairs and the need to place “the eight corners of the world under a Japanese roof.”

Liberation was never Tojo’s intent. By 1944 it was clear to all those living under Japanese military authority that the old European colonial system had been far less oppressive. The slave laborers who died by the millions in Indonesia could hardly look upon the new Japanese regime as their “liberator.” Nor would the Koreans sent (abducted) to Japan by the thousands think of their new “colonial master” as a partner in prosperity. What absurdity. The sooner such myths are put to rest, the sooner Japan will begin to win greater trust in the Asian and Pacific community of nations.

Why doesn’t anyone use the term “Holocaust” when writing about Japan’s brutal treatment of forced laborers in places like Indonesia and farmers in Vietnam? Japanese leaders who continue to perpetuate the “liberation myth” are too arrogant to see the truth. Or too cowardly. Consider for a moment if modern Germany was to claim that the victims of the Nazi Holocaust were simply “employees” of that once powerful fascist regime and that most concentration camp victims died from overwork out of devotion and loyalty to Adolf Hitler!

Wake up Japan, the Cold War is over and your war-related myths no longer serve any purpose. I’m going to buy many copies of Paul Kratoksa’s book and send a copy to every LDP leader. Pity that the education ministry will not buy the book for its high school libraries.

robert mckinney

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