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US Racism Directed Against Japan, Japanese

The Oyster World


  The Oyster World                                                                                                                                                                                                 September 1, 2015                Volume IV, #24           

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Lifetime oil changes and Toyota recalls…                                     

                 Let’s Hear It For Japan

       I have no idea why I am going to Japan, and wish somebody would tell me…  The Japs don’t like wisecracking…The Mikado won’t stand for my jokes like Coolidge did.

–        Will Rogers

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         Two of my friends recently – slightly separated geographically between Hanoi and Duluth, Minnesota, but coming from the same place opinion-wise – have been continuing the annual debate about our culpability over World War II in the Pacific and the innocence of Japan, its Emperor and his daughter–in-law-elect, as Gilbert and Sullivan might have said. As a result, I’ve found it necessary to re-examine my prejudice, forged since I was a stripling of 16 in 1945, concerning the noble race of The Rising Sun. At least they seem to be rising, considering the plethora of baseball players and Toyota sales.

         Speaking of baseball, I have to admit that I’ve been strongly influenced in my political renaissance by my admiration for Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees starter, not only for his 98 mph fastball but his superlative slider. And I’ve re-thought my lifelong aversion to that gentle silk and sandalwood culture, triggered by emotional responses to such seminal events as (1) a G.I. friend of mine being strafed by Zeros at Schofield Barracks, so that he was unable to finish his breakfast,  (2) my uncle, a four-ring Captain based at Pearl, who lost his ship, although he was conveniently on shore leave up on Mauna Loa Heights, and (3) another friend with the Winnipeg Rifles Regiment who failed to survive that spirited marathon known as the Hong Kong Death March, although admittedly, his chronic arthritis was a pre-existing condition.

          Spurred on by Chuck and Gary – my aforesaid mentors – I’ve conducted all the cursory research necessary to render me a nouveau Japan booster.

          Let’s start with 1937, at which time I was nine years old, and so can be forgiven for my former hawkishness on the subject.  On July 7, 1937, Chinese and Japanese soldiers clashed on the Marco Polo Bridge just outside Peking. The altercation was understandable, since the visiting Japanese, albeit in mufti, were simply an advisory delegation from the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce  recommending a name change of the city to Beijing, apparently easier for Japanese tourists to pronounce. Besides, the Chinese were still bitter over the fact that an Italian wanderer had named the bridge after himself, and it was suspected that the Italians and the Japanese would shortly align themselves with Germany.

        Immediately following that altercation, the Japanese troops, in the best advisory tradition, continued their mission to help modernize China by proceeding down the coast to the city of Nanjing, which they suggested should be re-named Nanking, which was the name of the Emperor of Japan’s daughter- in-law elect (Nan King, formerly an American heiress).

        The Japanese mission in that city, often referred to as “The Rape of Nanking” by irresponsible American writers, was an attempt to address one of China’s major problems, overpopulation. The commanding general, with the support of the Japanese government and the Emperor himself, merely suggested that a modest number of the city’s men, women and children should be relocated, or perhaps even exported to sparsely populated areas such as Kamchatka or Peoria, Illinois for China’s own good. This demographic solution by socially conscious Japanese advisors has been misconstrued as genocide by irresponsible Americans.

       At the same time, an even greater misunderstanding arose when the U.S.S. Panay, an aggressive American naval vessel reputedly evacuating American citizens, blew up in Nanking’s harbor with some slight loss of life, and of course the Americans blamed it on Japanese bombers which were innocently conducting a fly-over to ensure the orderly evacuation of the Chinese migrants. You can see how things can get exaggerated where the media are involved.

            During 1940 and 1941, American policy dictated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, poured military aid into China and placed embargoes on essential Japanese industry, such as bomber production and battleship fuel. They also froze Japanese assets in American banks even as Russian troops had their assets frozen north of Manchuria (Manchukuo in Japanese) when Japan signed a peace pact with Russia.

               What happened on December 7, 1941 has really been bent out of shape by American propaganda. A few Japanese aircraft were conducting peaceful maneuvers over Oahu for the benefit of Japanese Hawaiian residents, when an American deck hand (played by Cuba Gooding in the Hollywood version) manned a .50 calibre machine gun and fired at one of the Japanese aircraft. In an effort to escape, the Japanese were forced to jettison excess cargo, including  a few bombs, which unfortunately landed on the U.S.S. Arizona. Not their fault.

               All those nasty stories you’ve been told are explainable. And in the end, the Japanese were suing for an honorable peace (in the honorable tradition of Nanking and Pearl Harbor and Luzon, D.M. – another alleged Death March), including retention of the Emperor of Japan (his daughter-in-law- elect had long since moved to St. Tropez). But the cruel Americans were adamant that Hirohito had to go, because they wanted Douglas MacArthur to be Emperor. So Truman – who was in fact such an admirer of Dugout Doug – ordered the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, numerically about what happened to Nanking, what the Germans did to Leningrad and what we did to Dusseldorf. Definitely  not honorable, as in the usual Japanese tradition.

               The Japanese have obviously suffered a bum rap for 85 years or so, and it’s time we changed our ways. That’s why I’m glad the New York Yankees are turning over a new leaf by paying Tanaka 20 million a year or so for pitching about 20 ball games. It sure beats sanctions against a peaceful nation.

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