Regarding the March 6 letters by Barry Andrew Ward (“U.S. actions much less egregious“) and by James Hughes (“Japan wouldn’t even save its own”): Maybe we are talking about atrocities of different kinds and on different levels.

Ward states, as if he were following the official line by Washington, that “the Americans bombed Japanese cities to eliminate Japan’s ability to continue its war of aggression.”

But war strategists at the Pentagon certainly must have been able to conclude in early 1945 that Japan had exhausted all of its resources for continuing the war. B-29 Superfortress bombers commanded the air over Japan at the time and met no significant resistance from the Japanese air force, which had no reserves of oil to fly even the few aircraft that had been left unscathed.

Hughes, on the other hand, says that the 500,000 Japanese civilians killed in indiscriminate air raids are no match for the 5 million Asian deaths at the hands of Japan’s military.

Moreover, civilian casualties suffered by China alone during the war are said to have amounted to more than 8 million, before which the 500,000 figure does indeed pale.

It seems to me, though, that the two figures are quite different in nature. To pursue Hughes’ line of reasoning, we need to take a look at how many civilian casualties the U.S. side suffered as a result of Japanese military efforts. According to one source, the U.S. suffered only 10 or so civilian casualties [outside of the Pearl Harbor attack].

Japan must admit to the atrocities that its military committed during the war. Similarly the U.S. must admit it was not innocent and should not feel exonerated in making indiscriminate air raids on 67 cities and dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — in all, killing more than 500,000 civilians.

yoshio shimoji

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.

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