• Kobe, Hyogo


This is in reply to Philip White’s Nov. 20 letter, “How to treat a wounded ASDF,” which recommended, after Air Self-Defense chief Toshio Tamogami was sacked, “instilling a historically informed awareness that war and aggression are bad.”

Can White tell us of a way to do this when any attempts at instilling such an awareness — whenever they offend the oft-cherished delusion that Japan was not at fault in the Pacific War or in China post-1931 — are met by physical intimidation by Japanese rightwing groups, and when the police refuse to crack down on such groups on the pretext that it would only win them public sympathy? Not that there really seems to be any lack of sympathy for the view that Japan was basically blameless in World War II anyway.

The controversy over Tamogami’s views are yet another sweeping under the carpet of unpleasant realities. Most Japanese people have no idea what Japan actually did — consider Nanking 1937, Burma Railway, Bataan Death March, atrocities in Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila — and Japan’s rightists are happy to see that they never find out, with the connivance of many Japanese politicians and the police. I am keen to hear White’s ideas on this. Maybe he could tell us at the same time exactly how Britain, the United States and other allies contributed to Japan’s aggression in China and Southeast Asia.

barry ward

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.