The Sins of the Fathers: Japan’s Unresolved Historic Legacy Sixty Years After the War in the Pacific

Presented at Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS)
2005 Spring Symposium
2255 Rayburn House Office Build

by Dennis P. Halpin
Professional Staff
East Asian Affairs
International Relations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Presented at Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS)
2005 Spring Symposium
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
May 19, 2005

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This statement reflects my own views and not necessarily those of the International Relations Committee nor its Chairman Henry J. Hyde.
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Sang Joo, Members of ICAS, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my honor to appear here today to address the issue of the history of the Second World War. It is a fitting time as world leaders have gathered in Moscow earlier this month to commemorate the Allied victory in Europe. We hopefully anticipate a similar commemoration of the Allied victory in Asia later this summer. It was the victory in Asia, after all, which was the final nail in the coffin of the Nazi, Fascist and militarist forces which had plagued mankind for the first decades of the Twentieth Century and which threatened to plunge the world into a second Dark Age. Still, here today, we celebrate that victory. We mourn those many victims. We cherish that history.

For, yes, history matters. It matters profoundly. This is because, as philosopher George Santayana famously noted “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But history matters not just as an insurance policy against a repetition of catastrophe. It matters as story telling, as a reflection of who we are and from where we have come.

Americans, having come from so many other places, are not particularly inclined to recall historic events, even of the recent past. At times this national characteristic of “historic amnesia” can have a healing effect. “Let bygones be bygones,” is a favorite American saying. Yet, at other times, this easy attitude about the past can lead to indifference and even carelessness, a lack of affirmation and empowerment of those who feel their stories have been either patronized or completely ignored.

This lesson on the importance of giving a voice to history was clearly demonstrated the other week when I took some relatives to visit the newly-opened National Museum of the American Indian. The orientation film there, prepared by Native Americans, explained the struggle they have had attempting to give voice to the historic record of the various peoples who inhabited two continents, North and South America, before the arrival of Europeans. The film also spoke of the stereotyping of Native Americans in Hollywood films, which led to a misperception of them as somehow having less value than other human beings. The museum’s mission is explained as follows:

[T]he museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.”

Certainly such empowerment was and is necessary. When I was a child and studied American history in school, we learned a one-sided story of the White Man’s Manifest Destiny and the westward settlement of a continent as a triumph of science over nature and of civilization over the savage. There were no lessons on Andrew Jackson’s deportation of Native Peoples to west of the Mississippi River, known as “the Trail of Tears,” nor an account of the Seminole struggle to remain in Florida as “the Unconquered Tribe,” nor a retelling of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Now, if belatedly, American school children can learn the Native American story by visiting this museum in our nation’s capital. Every nation has moments of shame, but the willingness to speak with candor of that shame to future generations is one good measure of a nation’s mettle.

There is another museum in another nation’s capital. This is the Yushukan Museum of the War in the Pacific, which stands next to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Washington Post in a recent article reported about the museum as follows:

“In a museum film, Pearl Harbor is described as a ‘battle for Japan’s survival,’ while one exhibit blames the 1937 Nanjing Massacre – in which Chinese officials say Japanese soldiers slaughtered 300,000 people — on the Chinese leaders who fled the city while ordering their men to fight to the death. After the fall of Nanjing to the Japanese, the museum noted ‘the Chinese citizens were once again able to live their lives in peace.”

A colleague from the International Relations Committee and I made a visit to this museum in January of last year. Our conclusions were contained in a report of our staff delegation visit to Taiwan and Japan, which was submitted in March of last year to the Committee’s Chairman, Henry J. Hyde. Our findings included the following:

“A staff[] visit to the Yasukuni Shrine and the neighboring Yushkan Museum supported reports that Japan has a long way to go before it makes peace with its neighbors over World War II atrocities . . . . The Yushukan Museum further supports the accusations of Japan’s neighbors. The museum gives an account of modern Japanese history, from the Meiji Restoration to the end of World War II, that justifies Japan’s military aggression and trivializes gross human rights abuses. While this is not a mainstream Japanese interpretation of the war, it appeals to a wide enough audience that it has been given prominence in a major museum . . . . A clear indication of the unique interpretation of history put forward at the museum is a wall near the exit containing photographs of leading Asian leaders of independence movements, most prominently being Mahatma Gandhi. The caption connected to the photographs noted that, although Japan’s ambitions for a “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” failed to be realized, various independence movements sprang up after the Second World War to continue the struggle for an end to racial discrimination and colonialism in Asia.”

Whatever profound political and ethical differences existed between Mahatma Gandhi and the British Raj, there has never been any indication to my knowledge that the apostle of nonviolence ever supported Japanese militarism as a viable alternative to India’s colonial status. And given documented Japanese cultural attitudes of racial superiority with regard to their Asian neighbors at the time, one finds the museum’s claim of support by other Asians for Imperial Japan’s concept of a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” to be ludicrous. Tokyo’s slogan of “Asia for the Asians” was a cruel deception with tragic results. Given the brutality of Japanese troops, especially of the Kempeitai (Imperial Japan’s version of the Nazi Gestapo), it is difficult to conceive of many Asians, even under the yoke of European colonialism, ever rallying to the flag of the Rising Sun.

The then British colony of Singapore is a case in point. One recollection:

“Singapore fell so quickly that most locals were stunned. It took some time before they realized that the colonial regime had collapsed. The Japanese proclaimed themselves the “liberators” of Singapore when they took control on February 16, 1942 . . . . The Europeans and the Chinese suffered the most under Japanese rule. . . . Treatment of POWs was harsh – prisoners were often tortured and forced to do manual labor at construction sites and at the harbour. It included working on the infamous Burma-Siam Railway. Few returned from this hell hole.

The Japanese were angry with the Chinese, because the local Chinese had provided help to the Chinese during the Sino-Japanese War. Their hatred ended in Operation Sook Ching – a mass killing to “purge” or eliminate” suspected anti-Japanese elements among the Chinese from Singapore.

On February 18, 1942, many Chinese were driven from their homes and assembled at five major “registration camps” to be screened. Many were dragged out of their homes at bayonet point. . . . In some centres, women and children were released while the men, and even boys, were herded into trucks and driven away, never to be seen again. In other centers the Kempeitai condemned people at will, sometimes sending entire families to their death . . . . Thousands of local Chinese died in Operation Sook Ching (“wipe out”). The official death figure was six thousand, but unofficial figures ranged from twenty-five to fifty thousand. The Japanese also forced a $50 million ‘gift’ out of the Malayan Chinese. The task of raising $10 million, Singapore’s share of the $50 million, fell on the Overseas Chinese Association.”

No less a figure than Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has written, in his memoirs, his recollection of Japanese colonial rule:

“However, once the Japanese lorded over us as conquerors, they soon demonstrated to their fellow Asiatics that they were more cruel, more brutal, more unjust and more vicious than the British. During the three and a half years of occupation, whenever I encountered some Japanese tormenting, beating or ill-treating one of our people, I wished the British were still in charge. As fellow Asiatics, we were filled with disillusionment, but then the Japanese themselves were ashamed to be identified with their fellow Asiatics, whom they considered racially inferior and of a lower order of civilization. They were descendents of the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami Sama, a chosen people, distinct and separate from the benighted Chinese, Indians and Malays.”

Mr. Lee also gave an eyewitness account of a public execution:

“One of my first outings was into town. . . . On the way, I saw a crowd near the main entrance to Cathay cinema. . . . Joining the crowd, I saw the head of a Chinese man placed on a small board stuck on a pole, on the side of which was a notice in Chinese characters. I could not read Chinese, but someone who could said it explained what one should not do in order not to come to that same end. The man had been beheaded because he had been caught looting, and anybody who disobeyed the law would be dealt with in the same way.”

So much for present day claims in Japan that Imperial Japan’s militaristic adventure in the first decades of the Twentieth Century was a noble crusade to free its Asian neighbors from Western imperialism and colonialism.

Americans, of course, would focus their attention first upon the claims made in the Tokyo museum about the bombing of Pearl Harbor which resulted in the largest loss of American life in any such attack prior to September 11, 2001. Every American school child should know President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s stirring words regarding this attack: Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

Please note that President Roosevelt made reference to the then Emperor of Japan in his address to a Joint Session of Congress requesting passage of a Declaration of War – the last such declaration ever passed by an American Congress. It seems clear that President Roosevelt assumed the Emperor had some culpability for the events at Pearl Harbor or he would not have evoked his title in his December 8, 1941 statement. Yet, according to the Washington Post, in an article last weekend, Japanese legislators overwhelmingly approved a controversial bill on Friday, May the Thirteenth – an inauspicious date – creating a national holiday to honor Hirohito, Emperor of Japan during World War II, a move that critics called the latest in a series of steps to glorify Japan’s militarist past. By a vote of 202 to 14, the Upper House of Japan’s Parliament passed the bill to give the country a day off on Hirohito’s April 29th birthday.

This vote reflects the depths of denial and the degree of insensitivity with which considerable portions of the Japanese government and people continue to view their nation’s imperialist past. In fairness, as the Post reported in the same article, some Japanese lawmakers did raise objections. Seiji Mataichi of the Social Democratic Party, stated that “this is inviting opposition from neighboring countries such as China and South Korea.”

Yes, and what about the United States? I have heard a number of journalists and Congressional staffers grumbling under their breaths about this callous slap in the face to the American dead in Bataan and at Pearl Harbor, not to mention my uncle who died prematurely due to his participation in the War in the Pacific. No one, however, seems to want to say anything publicly. Well, I shall.

I remember vividly that, during Emperor Hirohito’s official visit to the continental United States in 1975 (he had stopped briefly in Alaska in 1971), there was a firestorm of controversy that erupted among American veterans’ organizations. Perhaps the legislators in Tokyo assume that the WWII generation is now largely dead in the United States and no one will notice. My older relatives in Chicago, however, are still very much alive and they are incensed by this action taken by the Japanese legislature. Would the German Bundestag ever consider passing legislation enacting a Kaiser Wilhelm Day? I think not.

Symbolism is important, especially in Asia. I would hope that, at a minimum, the American Embassy in Tokyo and U.S. Consulates in Japan would remain open on April 29th each year and conduct business as usual in silent protest and in honor of the American dead at Pearl Harbor and in Bataan.

This holiday for Hirohito, however, follows a growing trend of historic revisionism in Japan. The top earning domestic film in Japan in 1998, for example, was “a controversial movie that depicts Japan’s top war criminal as a hero. . . . “Pride,” a film about World War II leader General Hideki Tojo. . . . immediately provoked an outcry from neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, which were occupied by Japanese troops. . . . The film portrays Tojo as a peaceful man who went to war in self-defense, and to liberate Asia from Western colonialism – a popular view among nationalist Japanese.”

Perhaps the Italian film industry should undertake the filming of “Il Duce and the Second Roman Empire?”. . . although I doubt it would have much box office appeal in Rome, where I once lived.

American perceptions of Tojo are naturally quite the opposite. American ire throughout the war was directed at the perceived treachery of the Pearl Harbor attack, even more than at the Nazis and Italian Fascists and their horrific human rights violations in Europe. A racially-tainted expression of that ire was the internment of Japanese-Americans, but not German or Italian-Americans, in camps after the war broke out. I had my own private affirmation of American animosity toward Japan when my grandfather died thirty-seven years ago and we went to clean out his attic. There we found the textbooks of my mother’s younger brother, who was a high school senior when Pearl Harbor was attacked. In the front of each book, he had written clearly “Remember Pearl Harbor” as well as other inscriptions which reflected the depth of his anger. He went on to fight in the Pacific and is alive today as an eighty year-old veteran of the Second World War.

If one asks older Americans when World War II ended, they will invariably reply that it was when the guns fell silent in the Pacific not the Atlantic. The month of May, despite the recent exuberance displayed in Moscow by the world’s leaders, is not the hour of reckoning remembered by the Greatest Generation. It was hearing that General Douglas MacArthur had accepted Imperial Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945 on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay that meant the war had finally ended for them. One hopes that this sixtieth anniversary will be equally celebrated for Americans this year as May 9th was celebrated for the Russian people.

Some in Washington may state that dredging up distant memories of a long ago war involving a now dying generation does not serve the national interest. But America bears a unique responsibility for both the successful execution of the war and its aftermath. It was the United States and Great Britain that led the world in defeating Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Militarist Japan. It was the United States, exercising the authority of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur, which shaped the drafting of the post-war Japanese constitution. This constitution, still in effect to this day, contains the historic Article Nine, the subject of much controversy and speculation over possible revision. Washington, in 1945, believed the militaristic spirit of bushido contained in the Japanese national psyche required Japan’s renunciation of war to assure peace in Asia. Many in Washington now, conversely, would welcome Article Nine’s revision or outright abolition as they seek a strategic partnership with Tokyo. Many in Asia fear such action would be a first step toward the revival of a dormant samurai spirit, which could lead an unrepentant Japan again down the path of militarism.

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

A key question, which many in Washington raise, is: has not Japan apologized enough? Aren’t its Asian neighbors just being unreasonably stubborn? Why can’t we just move on and allow Japan to assume the role of a normal state with a sufficient military apparatus to reflect its economic power? Prime Minister Koizumi, in a Jakarta speech on April 22, stated:

“In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility.”

Well said. However, on the exact same day as the speech, eighty-one Diet Members visited the Yasukuni Shrine for its spring festival. The Shinto shrine honors fourteen Class-A war criminals. The Diet delegation intends to visit the shrine again on August 15th, the sixtieth anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the Pacific War.

A South Korean newspaper carried a cartoon lampooning this odd juxtaposition of events. Titled: “Is this an apology?” the cartoon showed the Diet Members at the Yasukuni Shrine. A legislator says: “The Prime Minister was not available to come here since he was on a trip.”

Can one imagine German or Italian Parliamentarians ever going to a commemorative ceremony for Nazi or Fascist leaders? How sincere is an apology given in such circumstances?

The United States and its Allies equally chastised all the leaders of the Axis for their war crimes and demanded their unconditional surrender. Washington, however, was able to render justice to only one of the three leaders of this original Axis of Evil. Adolph Hitler, as we all know, avoided the day of reckoning by committing suicide in a Berlin bunker. Benito Mussolini, fleeing toward Italy’s northern frontier, received the vigilante justice of a group of partisans who executed him and his mistress and then strung their bodies up in a square in Milan. Only Hideki Tojo, who unsuccessfully attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest, faced accountability for war crimes. A total of 1128 Japanese nationals were imprisoned to await trial before a military tribunal organized under the authority of the SCAP. Tojo, along with five other Japanese generals, as well as one civilian, received the death penalty and were hung as Class A war criminals.

It is the inclusion of the spirit tablets of Class A war criminals, including Hideki Tojo, in the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, that has been the source of such controversy. The webpage of the Yasukuni Jinja Shrine raises questions about the impartiality of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, and ponders whether those convicted are, in fact, guilty. It states:

“This matter is drawn upon the judgment professed by the Military Tribunal for the Far East that Japan fought a war of aggression. Can we say that this view is correct? We must pass judgment on this matter in the same manner of a tribunal that passes judgment after gathering credible proof. We cannot help but feel that the possibility of ulterior motives has not been discounted. Isn’t it a fact that the West with its military power invaded and ruled over much of Asia and Africa and that this was the start of East-West relations? There is no uncertainty in history. Japan’s dream of building a Great East Asia was necessitated by history and it was sought after by the countries of Asia. We cannot overlook the intent of those who wish to tarnish the good name of the noble souls of Yasukuni.”

This is a clear assertion, in a circumspect Japanese manner, that the IMTFE, held under the authority of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General MacArthur, was a case of merely “to the victor goes the spoils” without having a valid legal foundation in actual fact. The participation of Japan’s highest political leaders in ceremonies at the Yasukuni Shrine is an indication of endorsement of these views expressed by the Shrine’s authorities. Such an assertion cannot be left unchallenged. It should not be met by continued silence in Washington. Either the U.S. government should reassert the correctness of the judgment at Tokyo and the sentences rendered or Washington should offer an apology to the Japanese government and people for carrying out a crude act of political vengeance after the war.

As the Yasukuni web page notes “there is no uncertainty in history.” And there is no uncertainty that Hideki Tojo and those who collaborated with him were war criminals, the same as their Nazi and Fascist allies in Europe. This is a historic fact that the government and people of Japan should accept if Asian history is to move forward as has been the case in Europe.

What crimes against humanity did Tojo and his cohorts implement which earned them the appellation of Class A war criminals? Let us briefly examine the historic record.

Americans should have a particular interest in the crimes committed against the captured American and Allied POWs, for these were the men and women who had gone forward after Pearl Harbor to give their lives, if necessary, to protect the United States from further attack. Unlike the German and Italian military in Europe, who, despite atrocious crimes in other areas, had a fairly decent record of complying with the Geneva Convention regarding the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Imperial Japan has a shameful and shocking record during the Second World War, including, but not limited to, the Bataan Death March. Lester Tenney, from the Maywood, Illinois National Guard unit, has written a poignant and painful memoir as a survivor of that Death March:

“No sympathy, no concern for us as humans, no burials – the Japanese were treating us like animals. We had no doubt as to how we would be treated as prisoners of war. . . . All Japanese soldiers were indoctrinated to believe that surrender was the coward’s way out, and a soldier who was captured was expected to commit hara-kari at the first possible opportunity.”

Tenney went on to describe brutal, summary executions on the march, including that of Filipino civilians for their acts of compassion to the “zombie-like”men trudging past them, who had had nothing to eat and were dehydrated:

“Finally, on the fourth day, as we entered the town of Balanga, Filipino civilians stood along the sides of the road, throwing various food items to us: rice cakes, animal sugar cakes, small pieces of fried chicken, and pieces of sugar cane. . . . These Filipinos’ gestures lifted our sunken spirits to a new high. Suddenly, we heard shots ring out from somewhere in the middle of our marching group. Within seconds, the people along the side of the road scattered in all directions, for the Japanese soldiers were shooting them for offering food to us prisoners. Two of the Filipinos started to run across the field, heading for a water hole. . . . The guards then ran over to the fallen men and began hollering at and kicking them…Next, the Japanese guards fired several shots at point-blank range into the men’s prostrate bodies.”

American POWs were also executed randomly and in the most inhumane manner:

“One of the men had a very bad case of malaria and had barely made it to the rest area. He was burning up with fever and severely disoriented. When ordered to stand up, he could not do it. Without a minute’s hesitation, the guard hit him over the head with the butt of his gun, knocked him down to the ground, and then called for two nearby prisoners to start digging a hole to bury the fallen prisoner. The two men started digging, and when the hole was about a foot deep, the guard ordered the two men to place the sick man in the hole and bury him alive. The two men shook their heads, they could not do that…the guard shot the bigger of the two prisoners. He then pulled two more men from the line and ordered them to dig a hole to bury the murdered man. The Japanese guard got his point across. They dug the second hole, placed the two bodies in the holes, and threw dirt over them. The first man, still alive, started screaming as the dirt was thrown over him.”

Lester Tenney’s memoir contains over two hundred pages describing the abuse, torture and execution of U.S. prisoners of war, both on the death march in the Philippines and as slave laborers of major Japanese corporations, some of whom continue to do business in the United States. He lists at the end of his book the names of almost one hundred comrades-in-arms who did not return as a result. I received my copy of Mr. Tenney’s book a few years ago when he petitioned those on Capitol Hill to support legislation put forward by Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Honda to seek compensation and an apology from those Japanese corporations who made use of American POW slave labor. The legislation was not passed. State Department lawyers informed the Congress that the Treaty of San Francisco, signed in 1951, settled all outstanding war claims with Japan and precluded civil suits by Mr. Tenney and others. I am not an international lawyer and I do not know if the zaibatsu system of corporate fascism in place in Japan before and during the war inoculated these corporations from POW lawsuits. I leave that to the lawyers. One thing I do know, however. There is nothing in international law or in any peace treaty which precludes the offer of an apology. While Americans sentimentalize over “the Greatest Generation,” including construction of a memorial fifty-nine years after the end of the war, the Japanese corporations involved in slave labor of war prisoners stubbornly refuse to offer any _expression of remorse. It is time, before the last of these prisoners of war, who have suffered so much, pass away into history to offer them the apology they have requested.

A declassified U.S. government document on this issue, discovered by author Linda Goetz Holmes, indicates a degree of discomfort by American officials over the exclusion of American citizens from war compensation. The American Embassy/Tokyo memorandum, dated June 9, 1955, states:

“Although there is nothing that can be done about it, it may be a little awkward for us to explain to American civilians who were interned by the Japanese in the Far East why they should receive no compensation if the Dutch Government succeeds in getting some compensation from Japan for Dutch civilian internees. You will recall we had a lot of explaining to do to American prisoners of war about their being cut out of the Article 16 fund. We were able to remind prisoners of war that the United States Government provides compensation to them out of Japanese assets in the United States. But the United States Government has not provided any compensation to American civilians who were captured outside of the Philippines or other United States territory.”

There was a massacre of American prisoners of war in the Philippines that surpassed even the events documented up to this point. December 14, 1944, Puerto Princesa Prison Camp, Palawan, Philippines was a second date of infamy for the Japanese military. The event, as described by author Hampton Sides, was as follows:

“A third air-raid alarm sounded. . . . Reluctantly the American prisoners did as they were told, all 150 of them, crawling single file into the poorly ventilated pits. . . . They waited and waited but heard not a single American plane, let alone a hundred. . . . Then, peeking out of the ends of the trenches, the men saw several soldiers bursting into the compound. They were carrying five-gallon buckets filled with a liquid. The buckets sloshed messily as the soldiers walked. With a quick jerk of the hands, they flung the contents into the openings of the trenches. By the smell of it on their skin, the Americans instantly recognized what it was – high octane aviation fuel from the airstrip. Before they could apprehend the full significance of it, other soldiers tossed in lighted bamboo torches. Within seconds, the trenches exploded in flames. The men squirmed over each other and clawed at the dirt as they tried desperately to shrink from the intense heat. They choked back the smoke and the fumes, their nostrils assailed by the smell of singed hair and roasting flesh. They were trapped like termites in their own sealed nest. Only a few managed to free themselves.”

Hampton Sides, in his riveting work Ghost Soldiers, proceeds from the description of this massacre to a description of how a few survivors escaped to warn the U.S. military of the retreating Japanese army’s plan for a mass murder of POWs to cover up their war crimes in the Philippines. The heroic story of the rescue of American POWs by a group of hand-selected U.S. Army Rangers, with the assistance of Filipino guerrilla forces, is the main focus of the book. I have heard that Sides’ book may be made into a movie. Such a film could provide Americans with a visual reminder of the horrors of the War in the Pacific similar to that provided by the Spielberg film Schindler’s List regarding the War in Europe.

Americans, however, were not the only victims of Japanese militarism. The agony of Japan’s neighbors, in both length of duration and scale of suffering, would make the American experience pale by comparison.

The Korean people not only endured a formal occupation of thirty-five years but a systematic attempt to wipe out their culture, language, and their very identity as a people. Americans heard some of this story at the recent dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, where an eleventh-grader from Potomac, Maryland was chosen in a nationwide essay contest to present a written expression of Lincoln’s ideal of freedom. President Bush and Speaker Hastert were among the dignitaries who attended the dedication and heard the Korean-American school girl’s words. Mihan Lee spoke of her great-grandfather, Jung In-seung, who was arrested and sent to a prison camp for writing a Korean dictionary when use of the Korean language was forbidden by the Japanese occupiers. Mihan summarized the values she learned from both Lincoln and her great-grandfather as follows:

“I believe that freedom in the 21st century means the liberty of individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, or class, to express themselves in their own words, and to use those words to shape history.”

Koreans were subjected to one of the world’s most brutal colonial experiences, with tens of thousands transported as slave laborers to Japan and Manchuria. The Korean-American writer, Richard Kim, in his work, Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood, poignantly describes the brutality of the Japanese occupation between 1932 and 1945 from a child’s point of view, where teachers beat students for any utterance of the Korean language. The New York Times’ Book Review stated that: “Lost Names is not a poem of hate, but a poem of love. . . we see the cemeteries full of Koreans apologizing to their ancestors for having lost their names.” The attempted denial of both national and family identity for such a proud, ancient, Confucian people is hard to forgive. As one example of the thoroughness with which Tokyo authorities sought the cultural annihilation of Korea, the Government-General, upon the formal annexation in 1910, conducted a nationwide search for books on Korean history and geography and, in one of the greatest book burnings of all time, destroyed between 200,000 and 300,000 volumes.

Resistance to Japanese rule, of course, predated the Second World War. Most notable was the March 1st Movement of 1919. This nationwide explosion started in Seoul’s Pagoda Park where thirty-three intellectuals, gathered during a period of public mourning for the recently deceased last King of Korea, Kojong. Kojong promulgated a petition, the Declaration of Korea’s Independence, just prior to his death.

The former King and many Korean nationalists had been inspired by President Woodrow Wilson’s words regarding “self-determination” at the Versailles Peace Conference, not realizing that those words were directed only to peoples living under the yoke of old Empires within Europe and not to Asians and Africans. At least half a million Koreans took part in nationwide demonstrations over the period of the two months following March 1st. At the end, the number of dead protestors was in the 7,500 range. In the cruelest act of suppression, Japanese police locked protestors inside a church and then burned it to the ground.

In 1929, in Kwangju, a city whose name would later be written in blood in Korean history, a group of student demonstrators, shouting “Long live Korean Independence!” headed in procession toward the Japanese governor-general headquarters. So Chong-ju, then a thirteen year-old boy, wrote in a poem what happened next:

“Mounted police drove us like sheep into a corner. From the police station yard, one by one we were dragged into a room, stripped to the waist, beaten fifteen, twenty times with leather straps. Those who had been followers were turned loose, though for days after I could not lie down in bed, for soreness, each day angrier, I muttered at them, “Butchers! Bastards! Just you wait.”

The Kempeitai, mentioned earlier in reference to Singapore, were fully engaged, with collaborators, in the repression of the Korean people. Sodaemun (“West Gate”) prison in Seoul was built by the Japanese authorities in 1907, even before the formal annexation of Korea. It was used to imprison and torture Korean patriots, stands today as a museum giving empowerment to the voices of those who suffered and died there. The footprint of Imperial Japan’s institutions still lies heavily on Korean soil. The U.S. military base at Yongsan, soon to be turned over to Korean authority, was first built as the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army in Korea. The U.S. naval base at Chinhae and the USFK Army base at Camp Hialeah in Pusan are likewise legacies of the Japanese military – Hialeah having been a racetrack before it became a base. The former KCIA headquarters on Namsan, the Draconian symbol of South Korean military rule, was likewise reportedly originally a Japanese government facility. The Japanese footprint even reached to Rajin in the far northeastern corner of the Korean peninsula. When I attended a UN conference in that North Korean city in 1996, a group of westerners went to a dinner at an old hotel. One of the western professors in attendance, a Korean expert, told us that the hotel had once served as headquarters for Kempetai operations against Korean guerrilla forces in the border area and across in Manchuria. I could almost hear the cries of the dead as we ate our sober meal.

The most reprehensible colonial policy of all, however, was the sexual enslavement of between 100,000 and 200,000 Korean young school girls and women as “comfort women” for the Japanese Imperial Army’s combat troops (lesser numbers of Chinese, Filipina, Taiwanese, and Dutch women from Indonesia were also so enslaved.) I was the Embassy coordinator for the Fourth World UN Conference on Women held in Beijing in the summer of 1995. The Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) conference was moved out of Beijing to the town of Huairou, supposedly because then Chinese Premier Li Peng had experienced an unpleasant confrontation with NGOs at a UN conference in Europe. While the Chinese authorities placed their own “comfort women” activists under house arrest for the duration of the conference, the South Korean NGOs, together with their sisters from the Philippines, spontaneously organized a series of events and demonstrations centered on the unresolved issue.

The “comfort women” issue should be a subject of concern for the U.S. government which, over the last decade, has made the “trafficking in persons” issue a top foreign affairs priority. It would seem impossible then to ignore an unresolved issue which involves the most extensive case of government-organized trafficking in women in the entire Twentieth Century. That injustice is compounded by the Japanese government’s continued insistence that the trafficking was carried out by private contractors without the specific sanction of the Japanese Imperial Army. The continuing refusal to offer apologies or to compensate the now elderly victims should be a source of national shame. The fact that it took decades for these women to come forward, long after World War II settlements were reached between governments, should not be an issue. The psychological scars must be immense and the sense of shame, especially for women from socially conservative Asian cultures, must be overwhelming.

One woman of conscience, a former Japanese teacher at a Korean middle school during the colonial period, returned to Korea when I was American consul in Pusan a decade and a half ago. She visited her old school and, with tears of remorse, she examined old school records, remembering the virginal young Korean school girls who were taken away to be “comfort women.” This Japanese woman was the exception to a general attitude of denial and disdain. Please note the following:

“On March 29, 2001, a Japanese court overturned the first and only compensation award ever ordered for former World War II sex slaves or ‘comfort women.’ Hiroshima’s High Court reversed the landmark April 1998 ruling by a lower court under which the Japanese government was to pay 300,000 yen (2,440 U.S. Dollars) each in damages to three South Korean women.”

I have been given a declassified U.S. government document from 1945 which challenges Japanese official claims of lack of involvement of the Imperial Army in the recruitment of comfort women. An interview by the U.S. military with a prisoner of war, a civilian brothel owner in Burma, confirms official Japanese involvement:

“A prisoner of war, a civilian brothel owner, captured with his wife and twenty army prostitutes near Waingmaw on 10 August 1944, stated: “Prisoner of war, his wife and sister-in-law made some money as restaurant keepers in Keijo, Korea, but, their trade declining, they looked for an opportunity to make more money and applied to Army Headquarters in Keijo for permission to take ‘comfort girls’ from Korea to Burma. According to prisoner of war, the suggestion originated from Army Headquarters and was passed to a number of similar Japanese ‘businessmen’ in Korea.”

The Japanese public is rightly concerned about the abductions of its citizens by agents of the North Korean regime a number of years ago, including a young girl. The abduction of another young girl many years ago, now grown old, should be a cause for equal concern. This is her story: One of the surviving comfort women, Ok Seon Lee, spoke as a guest of the Korean-American Students Association of Brown University in the autumn of 2002. . . . At that time she was seventy-five years old. For the previous two years, she had been living in a charity home operated for surviving comfort women in South Korea. Before that, she lived in China, where she had resided for almost five decades after three years of enslavement as a Japanese military ‘comfort woman.’ Ms. Lee’s story:

‘One day when I was out on an errand in town, I was captured by a Japanese man. I tried to fight him off, but my resistance had no effect. He took me down the road and threw me into a truck. On the truck there were five other girls – six including myself. We had all been captured and were held against our will . . . . Eventually, because we each began to fight and yell, demanding to be let go, they stuffed our mouths with cloth. I had actually arrived in China but did not know this until one year after my arrival . . . . The youngest girl was fourteen years old. I was fifteen. The oldest was seventeen years old. The Japanese soldiers there had no mercy or compassion. They beat us all the time, until we bled, saying we were bad workers. We would resist and try to fight back to the best of our abilities, telling them we wanted to go home…They took in young girls who had no knowledge and fed them almost nothing besides the food they gave to pigs, and they expected us to serve up to thirty or forty soldiers per day.”

Imperial Japan’s conquest of China was just as brutal as that of Korea. And China endured the longest war of all. If you ask an American when World War II began, they will inevitably reply: “December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor.” Ask a European, and they will state: “September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland.” But if you ask a Chinese, they will say: “July 7, 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Beijing.” To paraphrase the former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, “all wars are local.” Western historians say as many as 8 million Chinese civilians died during the period between 1937 and 1945, and perhaps 2.5 million Chinese soldiers. Chinese sources claim up to 30 to 35 million died. Whatever the final number of casualties, it was a horrific loss for China and her people.

China’s resistance to Japan, however, can be traced at least as far back as May 4, 1919. Just as Koreans had been engaged earlier, on March 1st of that fateful year, China’s young people were enchanted by the siren song of “self-determination” coming out of the mouths of Western political leaders gathered to make peace in Versailles after the devastation of the First World War. Self-determination, however, was really intended only for Czechs and Poles and not for Chinese or Koreans. When Chinese students learned that the final Peace Treaty at Versailles had granted the former German concessions in China to Imperial Japan, rather than returning them to Chinese sovereignty, they felt a sense of betrayal and erupted in massive demonstrations in Beijing and other cities. And so China was engaged in its long twilight struggle against Japanese militarism.

China and the United States ultimately joined hands in the common struggle. Major General Clare Chennault’s “Flying Tigers” daringly flew over the Himalayan “Hump” to resupply embattled Chinese forces. When Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle called for air crews to launch a raid on Tokyo in April 1942, to lift American spirits in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the eighty men who piloted 16 B-25 bombers knew that it was a possible suicide mission. There was not enough fuel to return to American-held territory. Crew members captured in the raid were either executed or interned in POW camps, where one died of malnutrition. The crews of eleven of the bombers bailed out over China or crash landed there, however. Most of these men were rescued by friendly Chinese guerrilla fighters or local Chinese peasants.

Of all the horrors inflicted by Japanese Imperial troops during their march toward empire, first in Manchuria and then in the rest of China, none can surpass for savagery what occurred in the Chinese city of Nanjing: After Nanjing fell, on December 13, 1937, the Japanese military ran amok in the city and surrounding areas until February 1938, when relief garrison forces finally relieved the frontline fighters. Until that time, the soldiers continued with acts of arson, torture, murder, and rape on a scale that has few parallels in history. Buildings were looted and burned. Tens of thousands of presumed Chinese soldiers were rounded up and summarily executed. Civilians of all ages were tortured and executed. Women were raped by the thousands. The late author, Iris Chang, originally from Illinois, wrote the definitive work on the Nanking Massacre. Her discovery of eyewitness accounts in the West, from American missionaries who were in the city at the time, as well as from the diary of the Nazi Party member John Rabe, provided definitive evidence that a wholesale massacre of Chinese people took place in the city during those two months.

One of the eyewitness accounts which Iris Chang recorded was provided by American missionary Minnie Vautrin, aged fifty-one at the time of the massacre. Vautrin attempted, with other missionaries, to establish a “safety zone” around her Ginling College’s campus. Iris Chang recorded:

“That evening Vautrin saw women being carted away in the streets and heard their desperate pleas. A truck went by with eight to ten girls, and as it passed she heard them scream, ‘Jiu Ming! Jiu Ming! (Save our lives!)’ …As she accommodated the stream of wild-eyed women, she heard stories of the Japanese raping girls as young as twelve and women as elderly sixty, or raping pregnant women at bayonet point.”

Another American eyewitness was missionary surgeon, Dr. Robert Wilson, who had been born in Nanjing. He was raised in China, where he learned geometry from Pearl Buck. After receiving a degree from Harvard Medical School, he returned to the city of his birth to practice medicine at the University of Nanking Hospital. Iris Chang records Dr. Wilson’s account:

“One of the worst scenes Wilson saw in Nanking – a scene he would remember for the rest of his life – was a massive gang rape of teenage girls in the street. A group of young women between the ages of fifteen and eighteen were lined up by the Japanese and then raped in the dirt, one after another, by an entire regiment. Some hemorrhaged and died, while others killed themselves shortly afterwards. But the scenes in the hospitals were even more horrifying than those in the streets. Wilson was mortified by the women who came to the emergency room with their bellies ripped open, by the charred and horribly disfigured men whom the Japanese tried to burn alive, and by numerous other horrors he barely had time to describe on paper. He told his wife that he would never forget the woman whose head was nearly cut off, teetering from a point on her neck.”

The Japanese Ambassador to Washington at the time of publication of Iris Chang’s book, Kunihiko Saito, did not display the usual culturally expected Japanese reticence and politeness in verbally attacking Chang’s work as “inaccurate,” “distorted” and “erroneous.” Ms. Chang responded by challenging the Ambassador to a televised debate. (On The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Iris challenged Ambassador Saito to apologize to the victims of the Nanking Massacre. He declined.)

I was living in Beijing at the time and remember that the debate was widely broadcast via cable television. I have a very close personal friend, a Chinese-American businesswoman, a partner in a major U.S. corporation, who is usually extremely cool-headed, conducting business in Japan and elsewhere in a highly professional manner. She rushed over to see me a day or so after the debate, however, to ask me rhetorically “Would the German Ambassador to Washington ever dare to criticize a Jewish writer who published a work on the Holocaust?” She was shaking with rage.

A site of particular concern in this era of renewed interest in chemical and biological weapons is the infamous Unit 731. Located just outside of the Chinese city of Harbin, this is where biological and chemical weapons experiments were carried out on Chinese, Korean, Russian, and other nationals, including American POWs, between 1938 and 1945. My children and I visited the Harbin museum, which records the 731 war crimes, in 1997. The biological weapons experiments conducted on helpless prisoners there included anthrax, an agent with which we on Capitol Hill are now familiar.

One description of what happened there:

“The noise was like the sound when a board is struck. On the frozen fields at Ping Fang, in northeast China, chained prisoners were led out with bare arms, and subjected to a current of air to accelerate the freezing process. Then came the noise. With a short stick, the arms of the prisoners would be struck to make sure their limbs had indeed frozen. In the gruesome world of Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, experiments with frostbite on human subjects became a favorite in a macabre litany of cruelty. . . . Apart from the frostbite experiments, prisoners were infected with diseases including anthrax, cholera, and the bubonic plague. To gather data, human vivisections were performed. Whole villages and towns were infected with the plague and cholera.

In the end, at least three thousand prisoners, mainly Chinese, were killed directly, with a further 250,000 Chinese left to die through the biological warfare experiments. It is called the Asian Auschwitz and, in terms of inhumanity and horror, it certainly warrants this description. Yet there remains a fundamental difference with the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews. While Germany has shown deep contrition and remorse, the leaders of the country that spawned the evil of Unit 731 still struggle to come to grips with what occurred.

This week (August 2002) in a Tokyo court, the world was again reminded of Japan’s inability to deal with its march across Asia. In courtroom 103, three judges of the Tokyo District Court rejected a claim for an apology and compensation by one hundred and eighty Chinese, either victims or the family of victims of Unit 731. . . . The judges claimed all compensation issues were settled by a treaty with China in 1972.”

Yes, your honors, and what about the apology part? What is so hard about saying “We are sorry for what you suffered?’ A Japanese man of conscience, Yoshio Shinozuka, came forward in 1997. A former member of Unit 731, he gave testimony and declared his remorse. Some of his harrowing testimony:

The Chinese victims were known as “logs” and it was Shinozuka’s job to scrub them down before the vivisection. “I still remember clearly the first live autopsy I participated in,” he recalled. “I knew the Chinese individual we dissected alive because I had taken his blood once before for testing. At the vivisection, I could not meet his eyes because of the hate he had in his glare at me.” The victim had been infected with the plague, and was totally black. Shinozuka was reluctant to use the brush on the man’s face. “Watching me, the chief pathologist, with scalpel in hand, signaled me to hurry up.” He recalled. “I closed my eyes and forced myself to scrub the man’s face with the deck brush.”

The museum in Harbin, which I visited, pointed out an embarrassing fact for Americans: those Japanese commanders, including “the brutal psychopath” Lieutenant-General Shiro Ishii, the Doctor Mengele of the Pacific Theater who ran the infamous Unit 731, were never brought to justice by the United States at the IMTFE in Tokyo. Ishii and his cohorts in torture and mass murder got off scot-free. They received immunity from prosecution in return for supplying their research to American scientists.

In his work Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45, and the American Cover-up, Sheldon Harris points out that the matter was raised only once at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal of 1946-48:

An American counsel assisting the Chinese, David N. Sutton, stunned the war crimes tribunal by saying: “The enemy . . . took our countrymen as prisoners and used them for drug experiments. They would inject various types of toxic bacteria into their bodies, and then perform experiments on how they reacted. . . . this was an act of barbarism by our enemy.” …The presiding judge, Australia’s Sir William Webb, said “How about letting this item go?” Sutton replied: “Well, then, I’ll leave it.” The issue never surfaced again. . . . ”

No account of Japanese war guilt would be complete without a description of what happened in the Philippines, the nation where the Chairman of the International Relations Committee, Henry J. Hyde, served as a young naval officer under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur is remembered to this day for keeping his pledge to the people of the Philippines, made on the eve of the fall of the island fortress of Corregidor: “I shall return.” The Philippine people had a long, if somewhat conflicted, relationship with the United States of America. The documentation of their fidelity to the American people during the brutal Japanese occupation is stunning and one of the greatest but largely untold stories of the entire war. Hampton Sides records it in his book on the U.S. Army Rangers’ perilous mission through the Philippines countryside to rescue American POWs:

“Captain Prince nervously craned his neck to learn what the delay was. He heard something strange, a chorus singing softly in the twilight. The tune was hard to make out at first, but then Prince caught it – “God Bless America,” the familiar stanzas rendered in thickly accented English, the melody charmingly curdled with the occasional stale note. At the entrance of the town a few dozen teenage girls dressed in white gowns were singing in sad, sweet voices. . . . The town was planning a feast. People were slaughtering their chickens and cows, building fires, stirring vats of stew. The villagers had prepared a classic Filipino fiesta. . . . Many of the Rangers welled with tears. That the people of Platero were throwing this kind of reception in the midst of war’s misfortunes made their generosity all the more stirring.”

Hampton Sides also recorded from veterans the attitudes the Filipino villagers expressed toward the Japanese occupiers:

“Of course, they despised the Japanese with a countervailing passion. . . . At the start of the war, the Japanese thought they could easily win over the countryside with their “Asia for the Asiatics” rhetoric. They declared: ‘We’ve come to free you from the bonds of Western colonialism. Join us in a new day. . . . It didn’t help that the Japanese military police, the Kempeitai, had sent any number of provincial villagers off to dungeons in Manila. Nor that pimp contractors for the Emperor’s Army had come and drafted pretty Filipino girls, often under false pretenses, to serve as “comfort women” in crab-infested bordellos over in New Guinea or the Solomon Islands. . . . Japanese soldiers were prodigious slappers. They slapped to discipline, to scare, to convey a point. . . . But the slap clashed fundamentally with a basic rule of Filipino etiquette. One of the worst ways to insult a Filipino is to slap him in the face. . . . You do that to a Filipino and you have a deadly enemy for life.”

The sacking of Manila was brought to my attention when, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I went down to the Philippines from Korea in the winter of 1972 to find a little warm weather. Our tour guide in Manila, who took us through the Intramuros, the “Walled City”, a jewel of Spanish colonial architecture constructed in 1571, had tears in her eyes as she spoke of the Japanese Imperial Army’s wanton destruction of churches and monuments as they withdrew from the city. It was as if American occupying forces would have sacked Kyoto, that gem of Buddhist architecture and the cultural center of Japan. And it was so unnecessary as the war was by then clearly lost.

Even as devoted a follower of the Emperor as General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the “Tiger of Malaya,” who had led the blitzkrieg down the Malayan peninsula to capture Singapore in early 1942, must have recognized this. General Yamashita took command in the Philippines in October 1944 and soon concentrated his efforts in a defense of the main island of Luzon. Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi, the 31st Naval Special Base Force Commander, had operational control of Manila. . . . Yamashita ordered a retreat but by this time the United States had cut off Manila and the admiral could not break out. In Iwabuchi’s battle of desperation that followed, his naval force engaged in an orgy of rape, torture and murder of a civilian population for which Yamashita would be legally held accountable. It is estimated that eight thousand civilians were killed and at least five hundred women were raped during this period. . . . Yamashita was served on 26 September 1945 with a generic charge of war crimes. . . . Yamashita was brought before a Military Commission. . . . Significantly, the court brought down its verdict of guilty on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1945 and sentenced the accused to death. He was hanged in Manila on February 23, 1946, the first Japanese official to be executed for war crimes. The hastiness of the trial raised questions about its legitimacy, with some claiming Yamashita had no knowledge of the actions of Iwabuchi and his troops. It should be noted that the people of Guam maintained their loyalty to the United States and the American people during a bitter encounter with Imperial Japan similar to that suffered by the people of the Philippines. The nearly three year period of brutal occupation followed an invasion of the island territory by Japanese imperial forces in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ms. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, the Member of Congress serving as the Delegate from Guam, has introduced legislation, H.R. 1595, The Guam WWII Loyalty Recognition Act, which addresses these issues and which would implement the recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission.

Ms. Bordallo, in her May 17th letter to Members of the House regarding the legislation, stated:

“Sixty-four years ago the people of Guam awoke to a calm peaceful morning. The date was December 8, 1941, and they gathered in their churches to pay homage to their island’s patron saint, Our Lady of Camarin. Their services and prayers were interrupted with the sounds of air raids and the noise of heavy bombardments…Subjected to death, rape, internment, forced march, and forced labor, the people of Guam remained resolute in their loyalty to the United States Flag in the cause of freedom. On July 21, 1944 the Americans returned to Guam: the liberated met their liberators.”

There is a final, compelling issue which I wish to address. There are those who would raise the American nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as cases of moral equivalency with what Imperial Japan did during the war. I visited both Japanese cities during the nineteen seventies. I observed the peace ceremony in Hiroshima in August 1972 and saw the melted girders of the memorial dome left standing since the day of the attack. I saw, in January 1973, the stone statues of saints and angels with melted faces at a Catholic church in Nagasaki, where Mass was being said near ground zero on the morning of the blast. Many Americans have a sense of disquietude, even a degree of guilt, over our country being the first and only nation to use a nuclear weapon in conflict. Perhaps that is one reason we are so tolerant of Japan’s official silence on the war crimes committed by its armed forces.

Back in high school, I read an assigned book in history class, the John Hersey classic on the subject titled Hiroshima. It led to an often heated and very candid debate of the moral issues involved, with pacifist views very pronounced in that nineteen sixties suburban Catholic high school classroom. Such debate is often worthwhile. Perhaps, instead of only the approved and often controversial history textbooks available in Japanese schools, high school students in Japan should be assigned to read Iris Chang’s work, The Rape of Nanking, or Hampton Sides’ book, Ghost Soldiers. As a result, there might be a greater and clearer understanding by future generations of Japan’s role in the Second World War and greater expressions of compassion for the victims. It is just a thought. Hersey’s account is wrenching:

As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching her neighbor, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. . . . Timbers fell around her as she landed, and a shower of tiles pummeled her, everything became dark for she was buried. The debris did not cover her completely. She rose up and freed herself. She heard a child cry, “Mother, help me!” and saw her youngest – Myeko, the five year-old, buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Mrs. Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the baby, she could see or hear nothing of her other children.

I was very critical of the American atomic bombings, even though my World War II era father and uncles insisted these actions were absolutely necessary to swiftly bring the war to an end and save American lives. Last year, however, in preparation for a staff delegation visit to Okinawa, my first visit to the island, I read George Feifer’s work on The Battle of Okinawa: The Blood and the Bomb. I learned that the battle of Okinawa was the largest battle of the war in the Pacific, and surpassed even the D Day landing in Normandy in the scope of its operations. Feifer states that it was “the site of the largest land-sea-air battle in history.” More people died during this battle than those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including 12,000 Americans, 107,000 Japanese troops and Okinawan conscripts, and about 100,000 Okinawan civilians. Many of the civilians committed suicide by jumping off cliffs out of fear of what Japanese government propaganda had said the Americans would do to them if captured. The fanaticism of the Japanese defense – which we could see again in a future battle with North Korea – included the use of suicide kamikaze pilots who willingly gave their lives to the Emperor in exchange for sinking an American ship and killing or maiming its crew.

President Truman, seeing the results from Okinawa, was presented with an untenable choice, a need to render a decision that even King Solomon in all his wisdom would find difficult to determine. He could end the war quickly and save countless American and Japanese lives, or prolong it for six more months with a bloody attempt to occupy the Japanese home islands which would make the Battle of Okinawa look like only a dress rehearsal. It is not a decision any of us would want to face.

However, people on both sides of the Pacific must realize that it was Hideki Tojo, perhaps in consultation with others, who opened the genie’s bottle and released the winds of war by the sudden and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. The tempest of those winds wailed ceaselessly for almost four long years before bringing a nuclear tsunami which crashed down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, taking tens of thousands of innocent lives. This was part of the bargain which Tojo and his militarist cohorts unwittingly made in their pact with the god of war on December 7, 1941.

As we commemorate this sixtieth year of the end of the greatest war of all time, remembrance of things past will have profound significance. The conflict in the Pacific involved the United States in a major way. It was our fight too. Can we ignore the sacrifice of the Americans, and our British and other Allies, who died to rid the East of fascist militarism? Can we ignore the suffering of our POWs in Bataan? Can we so easily forget the sailors eternally interned at the bottom of Pearl Harbor? Can we ever forget the brave Filipinos who suffered or died because of their fidelity, in the face of grave danger, to their American friends? Can we ignore the warm-heartedness of those Chinese people who risked their lives to save the survivors of Doolittle’s Raid? I sincerely hope not.

I fear that the sounds of footsteps entering a shrine will disturb the tranquility of a summer’s morning. The echoes of those footsteps will resound across the water reaching distant places, north to Seoul, west to Beijing, south to Manila, and east to Honolulu. I fear that the lessons of history will then rise in the air like wisps of incense from that shrine, blowing in the summer breeze, but then gone with the wind. I fear that the bows by dignitaries toward the tablets of those who caused such pain will disturb the final repose of the spirits buried in Nanjing, in the American Cemetery in Manila, (which contains 17,206 graves), near Unit 731 in Harbin, and in the sunken frame of the battleship USS Arizona lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. And then all hope for a more harmonious tomorrow in Asia will vanish with the fading sounds of the retreating footsteps.

Some in Washington are dreaming an impossible dream. They wish for Japan to become the Great Britain of Asia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a partner of the United States in securing the peace in Asia and beyond. We Americans, at least, would like to see this happen. But without an honest accounting of its history, as was done in Europe, Japan can never become a Great Britain. Japan, despite its immense generosity in the funding of international organizations, can never secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Japan will be excluded and marginalized unless Tokyo makes some great historic _expression of remorse, like that of German Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1971 kneeling at a memorial in Poland to the victims of the Nazis. Without such a sincere act of contrition there is very little Washington can do to help Tokyo achieve its diplomatic goals. For Japan must first help itself.

Confession, as the Catholic Church teaches, is good for the soul. But a true confession requires both contrition and penance toward those who were offended. Only then can historic sins finally be forgiven.

Those who contend that the discussion of historic legacy issues regarding Japan’s role in World War II is simply manipulation by hostile neighboring governments or an expression of fanatics who will never be appeased demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the perceptions of the peoples of East Asia. I have lived among the Korean people for eleven years and the Chinese people for four years. Their feelings about what happened to their people are deep and genuine. Americans have proclaimed that we will not forget what happened on September 11, 2001, presumably not even after sixty years have passed. How can we then ask others to be less true to their historic national tragedies than we ourselves are?

That is not to say that there is not any manipulation or fanaticism. The rulers of Beijing, especially, when they demand a historic accounting for past atrocities, should remember June 4, 1989. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. John Tkacik of the Heritage Foundation has pointed out that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao misspoke to an American audience in 2003 when he told them that his family home near Tientsin was burned by “Japanese aggressors.” Tkacik reports that the family home was actually destroyed in January 1949, long after the Japanese had departed, in a fight between Communist and Nationalist forces.

In South Korea, fanatic nationalists reportedly recently broke into the shrine of Nongae. This was a place I had the honor to visit as the U.S. consul in Pusan to express America’s admiration for this Korean heroine. Nongae was the gisaeng who made a suicide leap off a cliff clutching a Japanese general during the Hideyoshi invasions of the late sixteenth century. These South Korean “Red Guards” reportedly tore down her portrait because it was allegedly painted by an early twentieth century Korean artist who was too accommodating to the Japanese occupation.

But the manipulation of some and the fanaticism of others do not negate the fact that there must be a day of reckoning for what happened in the Pacific as well as what occurred in the Atlantic. Are the two hundred thousand Korean and other Asian women, imprisoned and brutalized as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army, of less value than the millions who suffered and died in the Nazi Death Camps?

Are the three hundred thousand Chinese men, women and children slaughtered in Nanjing of less human worth than the twenty-seven million Soviet citizens who died in the Nazi onslaught? The historic accounting of atrocities must be color blind. In any event, we will not be able to forget. Over seventy million Koreans will not let us. Nor will 1.3 billion Chinese. Then there are the Singaporeans and the Filipinos who also will not be silent.

In this sixtieth commemorative year of the Second World War, Japanese government officials and Diet Members who go to the Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to the memory of war criminals hurt the feelings of the families of their victims. If the Yasukuni Shrine is to be a national memorial to a nation’s war dead, like Arlington Cemetery, then the spirit tablets of Tojo and the other Class A war criminals should be removed.

Otherwise, such acts of veneration will continue to disturb the tranquility of the Chinese people, the Korean people, the Philippine people, the Singaporean people, the people of Hong Kong, and the Indonesian people. I cannot speak for all American veterans of World War II, but I can say that venerating Tojo is offensive to Jack Lannan, 88, of Des Plaines, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Pacific and my uncle; it is offensive to Tom Foley, 80, of Glenview, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Pacific and my uncle; it is offensive to Ed Halpin, 95, of Park Ridge, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Atlantic and my uncle; and it is offensive to Tom Halpin, 87, of Glenview, Illinois, another World War II veteran of the Atlantic and my father. Both Ed and Tom lost their brother, Nick, prematurely from a disease he contracted while fighting in the Pacific War. Thus, my father’s and my uncles’ message is simple and direct to anyone willing to listen in Tokyo:

“Don’t bow before the convicted war criminal Hideki Tojo. We well remember Pearl Harbor even if some Americans have historic amnesia.”

To conclude with a quote from the title of Senator Obama’s autobiography, this paper, in reality, represents dreams from my father. Thank you.

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The Sins of the Fathers: Japan’s Unresolved Historic Legacy Sixty Years After the War in the Pacific

Presented at Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS)
2005 Spring Symposium
2255 Rayburn House Office Build

by Dennis P. Halpin
Professional Staff
East Asian Affairs
International Relations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Presented at Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS)
2005 Spring Symposium
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
May 19, 2005

________________
This statement reflects my own views and not necessarily those of the International Relations Committee nor its Chairman Henry J. Hyde.
_______________

Sang Joo, Members of ICAS, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my honor to appear here today to address the issue of the history of the Second World War. It is a fitting time as world leaders have gathered in Moscow earlier this month to commemorate the Allied victory in Europe. We hopefully anticipate a similar commemoration of the Allied victory in Asia later this summer. It was the victory in Asia, after all, which was the final nail in the coffin of the Nazi, Fascist and militarist forces which had plagued mankind for the first decades of the Twentieth Century and which threatened to plunge the world into a second Dark Age. Still, here today, we celebrate that victory. We mourn those many victims. We cherish that history.

For, yes, history matters. It matters profoundly. This is because, as philosopher George Santayana famously noted “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But history matters not just as an insurance policy against a repetition of catastrophe. It matters as story telling, as a reflection of who we are and from where we have come.

Americans, having come from so many other places, are not particularly inclined to recall historic events, even of the recent past. At times this national characteristic of “historic amnesia” can have a healing effect. “Let bygones be bygones,” is a favorite American saying. Yet, at other times, this easy attitude about the past can lead to indifference and even carelessness, a lack of affirmation and empowerment of those who feel their stories have been either patronized or completely ignored.

This lesson on the importance of giving a voice to history was clearly demonstrated the other week when I took some relatives to visit the newly-opened National Museum of the American Indian. The orientation film there, prepared by Native Americans, explained the struggle they have had attempting to give voice to the historic record of the various peoples who inhabited two continents, North and South America, before the arrival of Europeans. The film also spoke of the stereotyping of Native Americans in Hollywood films, which led to a misperception of them as somehow having less value than other human beings. The museum’s mission is explained as follows:

[T]he museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.”

Certainly such empowerment was and is necessary. When I was a child and studied American history in school, we learned a one-sided story of the White Man’s Manifest Destiny and the westward settlement of a continent as a triumph of science over nature and of civilization over the savage. There were no lessons on Andrew Jackson’s deportation of Native Peoples to west of the Mississippi River, known as “the Trail of Tears,” nor an account of the Seminole struggle to remain in Florida as “the Unconquered Tribe,” nor a retelling of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Now, if belatedly, American school children can learn the Native American story by visiting this museum in our nation’s capital. Every nation has moments of shame, but the willingness to speak with candor of that shame to future generations is one good measure of a nation’s mettle.

There is another museum in another nation’s capital. This is the Yushukan Museum of the War in the Pacific, which stands next to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Washington Post in a recent article reported about the museum as follows:

“In a museum film, Pearl Harbor is described as a ‘battle for Japan’s survival,’ while one exhibit blames the 1937 Nanjing Massacre – in which Chinese officials say Japanese soldiers slaughtered 300,000 people — on the Chinese leaders who fled the city while ordering their men to fight to the death. After the fall of Nanjing to the Japanese, the museum noted ‘the Chinese citizens were once again able to live their lives in peace.”

A colleague from the International Relations Committee and I made a visit to this museum in January of last year. Our conclusions were contained in a report of our staff delegation visit to Taiwan and Japan, which was submitted in March of last year to the Committee’s Chairman, Henry J. Hyde. Our findings included the following:

“A staff[] visit to the Yasukuni Shrine and the neighboring Yushkan Museum supported reports that Japan has a long way to go before it makes peace with its neighbors over World War II atrocities . . . . The Yushukan Museum further supports the accusations of Japan’s neighbors. The museum gives an account of modern Japanese history, from the Meiji Restoration to the end of World War II, that justifies Japan’s military aggression and trivializes gross human rights abuses. While this is not a mainstream Japanese interpretation of the war, it appeals to a wide enough audience that it has been given prominence in a major museum . . . . A clear indication of the unique interpretation of history put forward at the museum is a wall near the exit containing photographs of leading Asian leaders of independence movements, most prominently being Mahatma Gandhi. The caption connected to the photographs noted that, although Japan’s ambitions for a “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” failed to be realized, various independence movements sprang up after the Second World War to continue the struggle for an end to racial discrimination and colonialism in Asia.”

Whatever profound political and ethical differences existed between Mahatma Gandhi and the British Raj, there has never been any indication to my knowledge that the apostle of nonviolence ever supported Japanese militarism as a viable alternative to India’s colonial status. And given documented Japanese cultural attitudes of racial superiority with regard to their Asian neighbors at the time, one finds the museum’s claim of support by other Asians for Imperial Japan’s concept of a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” to be ludicrous. Tokyo’s slogan of “Asia for the Asians” was a cruel deception with tragic results. Given the brutality of Japanese troops, especially of the Kempeitai (Imperial Japan’s version of the Nazi Gestapo), it is difficult to conceive of many Asians, even under the yoke of European colonialism, ever rallying to the flag of the Rising Sun.

The then British colony of Singapore is a case in point. One recollection:

“Singapore fell so quickly that most locals were stunned. It took some time before they realized that the colonial regime had collapsed. The Japanese proclaimed themselves the “liberators” of Singapore when they took control on February 16, 1942 . . . . The Europeans and the Chinese suffered the most under Japanese rule. . . . Treatment of POWs was harsh – prisoners were often tortured and forced to do manual labor at construction sites and at the harbour. It included working on the infamous Burma-Siam Railway. Few returned from this hell hole.

The Japanese were angry with the Chinese, because the local Chinese had provided help to the Chinese during the Sino-Japanese War. Their hatred ended in Operation Sook Ching – a mass killing to “purge” or eliminate” suspected anti-Japanese elements among the Chinese from Singapore.

On February 18, 1942, many Chinese were driven from their homes and assembled at five major “registration camps” to be screened. Many were dragged out of their homes at bayonet point. . . . In some centres, women and children were released while the men, and even boys, were herded into trucks and driven away, never to be seen again. In other centers the Kempeitai condemned people at will, sometimes sending entire families to their death . . . . Thousands of local Chinese died in Operation Sook Ching (“wipe out”). The official death figure was six thousand, but unofficial figures ranged from twenty-five to fifty thousand. The Japanese also forced a $50 million ‘gift’ out of the Malayan Chinese. The task of raising $10 million, Singapore’s share of the $50 million, fell on the Overseas Chinese Association.”

No less a figure than Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has written, in his memoirs, his recollection of Japanese colonial rule:

“However, once the Japanese lorded over us as conquerors, they soon demonstrated to their fellow Asiatics that they were more cruel, more brutal, more unjust and more vicious than the British. During the three and a half years of occupation, whenever I encountered some Japanese tormenting, beating or ill-treating one of our people, I wished the British were still in charge. As fellow Asiatics, we were filled with disillusionment, but then the Japanese themselves were ashamed to be identified with their fellow Asiatics, whom they considered racially inferior and of a lower order of civilization. They were descendents of the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami Sama, a chosen people, distinct and separate from the benighted Chinese, Indians and Malays.”

Mr. Lee also gave an eyewitness account of a public execution:

“One of my first outings was into town. . . . On the way, I saw a crowd near the main entrance to Cathay cinema. . . . Joining the crowd, I saw the head of a Chinese man placed on a small board stuck on a pole, on the side of which was a notice in Chinese characters. I could not read Chinese, but someone who could said it explained what one should not do in order not to come to that same end. The man had been beheaded because he had been caught looting, and anybody who disobeyed the law would be dealt with in the same way.”

So much for present day claims in Japan that Imperial Japan’s militaristic adventure in the first decades of the Twentieth Century was a noble crusade to free its Asian neighbors from Western imperialism and colonialism.

Americans, of course, would focus their attention first upon the claims made in the Tokyo museum about the bombing of Pearl Harbor which resulted in the largest loss of American life in any such attack prior to September 11, 2001. Every American school child should know President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s stirring words regarding this attack: Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

Please note that President Roosevelt made reference to the then Emperor of Japan in his address to a Joint Session of Congress requesting passage of a Declaration of War – the last such declaration ever passed by an American Congress. It seems clear that President Roosevelt assumed the Emperor had some culpability for the events at Pearl Harbor or he would not have evoked his title in his December 8, 1941 statement. Yet, according to the Washington Post, in an article last weekend, Japanese legislators overwhelmingly approved a controversial bill on Friday, May the Thirteenth – an inauspicious date – creating a national holiday to honor Hirohito, Emperor of Japan during World War II, a move that critics called the latest in a series of steps to glorify Japan’s militarist past. By a vote of 202 to 14, the Upper House of Japan’s Parliament passed the bill to give the country a day off on Hirohito’s April 29th birthday.

This vote reflects the depths of denial and the degree of insensitivity with which considerable portions of the Japanese government and people continue to view their nation’s imperialist past. In fairness, as the Post reported in the same article, some Japanese lawmakers did raise objections. Seiji Mataichi of the Social Democratic Party, stated that “this is inviting opposition from neighboring countries such as China and South Korea.”

Yes, and what about the United States? I have heard a number of journalists and Congressional staffers grumbling under their breaths about this callous slap in the face to the American dead in Bataan and at Pearl Harbor, not to mention my uncle who died prematurely due to his participation in the War in the Pacific. No one, however, seems to want to say anything publicly. Well, I shall.

I remember vividly that, during Emperor Hirohito’s official visit to the continental United States in 1975 (he had stopped briefly in Alaska in 1971), there was a firestorm of controversy that erupted among American veterans’ organizations. Perhaps the legislators in Tokyo assume that the WWII generation is now largely dead in the United States and no one will notice. My older relatives in Chicago, however, are still very much alive and they are incensed by this action taken by the Japanese legislature. Would the German Bundestag ever consider passing legislation enacting a Kaiser Wilhelm Day? I think not.

Symbolism is important, especially in Asia. I would hope that, at a minimum, the American Embassy in Tokyo and U.S. Consulates in Japan would remain open on April 29th each year and conduct business as usual in silent protest and in honor of the American dead at Pearl Harbor and in Bataan.

This holiday for Hirohito, however, follows a growing trend of historic revisionism in Japan. The top earning domestic film in Japan in 1998, for example, was “a controversial movie that depicts Japan’s top war criminal as a hero. . . . “Pride,” a film about World War II leader General Hideki Tojo. . . . immediately provoked an outcry from neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, which were occupied by Japanese troops. . . . The film portrays Tojo as a peaceful man who went to war in self-defense, and to liberate Asia from Western colonialism – a popular view among nationalist Japanese.”

Perhaps the Italian film industry should undertake the filming of “Il Duce and the Second Roman Empire?”. . . although I doubt it would have much box office appeal in Rome, where I once lived.

American perceptions of Tojo are naturally quite the opposite. American ire throughout the war was directed at the perceived treachery of the Pearl Harbor attack, even more than at the Nazis and Italian Fascists and their horrific human rights violations in Europe. A racially-tainted expression of that ire was the internment of Japanese-Americans, but not German or Italian-Americans, in camps after the war broke out. I had my own private affirmation of American animosity toward Japan when my grandfather died thirty-seven years ago and we went to clean out his attic. There we found the textbooks of my mother’s younger brother, who was a high school senior when Pearl Harbor was attacked. In the front of each book, he had written clearly “Remember Pearl Harbor” as well as other inscriptions which reflected the depth of his anger. He went on to fight in the Pacific and is alive today as an eighty year-old veteran of the Second World War.

If one asks older Americans when World War II ended, they will invariably reply that it was when the guns fell silent in the Pacific not the Atlantic. The month of May, despite the recent exuberance displayed in Moscow by the world’s leaders, is not the hour of reckoning remembered by the Greatest Generation. It was hearing that General Douglas MacArthur had accepted Imperial Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945 on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay that meant the war had finally ended for them. One hopes that this sixtieth anniversary will be equally celebrated for Americans this year as May 9th was celebrated for the Russian people.

Some in Washington may state that dredging up distant memories of a long ago war involving a now dying generation does not serve the national interest. But America bears a unique responsibility for both the successful execution of the war and its aftermath. It was the United States and Great Britain that led the world in defeating Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Militarist Japan. It was the United States, exercising the authority of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur, which shaped the drafting of the post-war Japanese constitution. This constitution, still in effect to this day, contains the historic Article Nine, the subject of much controversy and speculation over possible revision. Washington, in 1945, believed the militaristic spirit of bushido contained in the Japanese national psyche required Japan’s renunciation of war to assure peace in Asia. Many in Washington now, conversely, would welcome Article Nine’s revision or outright abolition as they seek a strategic partnership with Tokyo. Many in Asia fear such action would be a first step toward the revival of a dormant samurai spirit, which could lead an unrepentant Japan again down the path of militarism.

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

A key question, which many in Washington raise, is: has not Japan apologized enough? Aren’t its Asian neighbors just being unreasonably stubborn? Why can’t we just move on and allow Japan to assume the role of a normal state with a sufficient military apparatus to reflect its economic power? Prime Minister Koizumi, in a Jakarta speech on April 22, stated:

“In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility.”

Well said. However, on the exact same day as the speech, eighty-one Diet Members visited the Yasukuni Shrine for its spring festival. The Shinto shrine honors fourteen Class-A war criminals. The Diet delegation intends to visit the shrine again on August 15th, the sixtieth anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the Pacific War.

A South Korean newspaper carried a cartoon lampooning this odd juxtaposition of events. Titled: “Is this an apology?” the cartoon showed the Diet Members at the Yasukuni Shrine. A legislator says: “The Prime Minister was not available to come here since he was on a trip.”

Can one imagine German or Italian Parliamentarians ever going to a commemorative ceremony for Nazi or Fascist leaders? How sincere is an apology given in such circumstances?

The United States and its Allies equally chastised all the leaders of the Axis for their war crimes and demanded their unconditional surrender. Washington, however, was able to render justice to only one of the three leaders of this original Axis of Evil. Adolph Hitler, as we all know, avoided the day of reckoning by committing suicide in a Berlin bunker. Benito Mussolini, fleeing toward Italy’s northern frontier, received the vigilante justice of a group of partisans who executed him and his mistress and then strung their bodies up in a square in Milan. Only Hideki Tojo, who unsuccessfully attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest, faced accountability for war crimes. A total of 1128 Japanese nationals were imprisoned to await trial before a military tribunal organized under the authority of the SCAP. Tojo, along with five other Japanese generals, as well as one civilian, received the death penalty and were hung as Class A war criminals.

It is the inclusion of the spirit tablets of Class A war criminals, including Hideki Tojo, in the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, that has been the source of such controversy. The webpage of the Yasukuni Jinja Shrine raises questions about the impartiality of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, and ponders whether those convicted are, in fact, guilty. It states:

“This matter is drawn upon the judgment professed by the Military Tribunal for the Far East that Japan fought a war of aggression. Can we say that this view is correct? We must pass judgment on this matter in the same manner of a tribunal that passes judgment after gathering credible proof. We cannot help but feel that the possibility of ulterior motives has not been discounted. Isn’t it a fact that the West with its military power invaded and ruled over much of Asia and Africa and that this was the start of East-West relations? There is no uncertainty in history. Japan’s dream of building a Great East Asia was necessitated by history and it was sought after by the countries of Asia. We cannot overlook the intent of those who wish to tarnish the good name of the noble souls of Yasukuni.”

This is a clear assertion, in a circumspect Japanese manner, that the IMTFE, held under the authority of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General MacArthur, was a case of merely “to the victor goes the spoils” without having a valid legal foundation in actual fact. The participation of Japan’s highest political leaders in ceremonies at the Yasukuni Shrine is an indication of endorsement of these views expressed by the Shrine’s authorities. Such an assertion cannot be left unchallenged. It should not be met by continued silence in Washington. Either the U.S. government should reassert the correctness of the judgment at Tokyo and the sentences rendered or Washington should offer an apology to the Japanese government and people for carrying out a crude act of political vengeance after the war.

As the Yasukuni web page notes “there is no uncertainty in history.” And there is no uncertainty that Hideki Tojo and those who collaborated with him were war criminals, the same as their Nazi and Fascist allies in Europe. This is a historic fact that the government and people of Japan should accept if Asian history is to move forward as has been the case in Europe.

What crimes against humanity did Tojo and his cohorts implement which earned them the appellation of Class A war criminals? Let us briefly examine the historic record.

Americans should have a particular interest in the crimes committed against the captured American and Allied POWs, for these were the men and women who had gone forward after Pearl Harbor to give their lives, if necessary, to protect the United States from further attack. Unlike the German and Italian military in Europe, who, despite atrocious crimes in other areas, had a fairly decent record of complying with the Geneva Convention regarding the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Imperial Japan has a shameful and shocking record during the Second World War, including, but not limited to, the Bataan Death March. Lester Tenney, from the Maywood, Illinois National Guard unit, has written a poignant and painful memoir as a survivor of that Death March:

“No sympathy, no concern for us as humans, no burials – the Japanese were treating us like animals. We had no doubt as to how we would be treated as prisoners of war. . . . All Japanese soldiers were indoctrinated to believe that surrender was the coward’s way out, and a soldier who was captured was expected to commit hara-kari at the first possible opportunity.”

Tenney went on to describe brutal, summary executions on the march, including that of Filipino civilians for their acts of compassion to the “zombie-like”men trudging past them, who had had nothing to eat and were dehydrated:

“Finally, on the fourth day, as we entered the town of Balanga, Filipino civilians stood along the sides of the road, throwing various food items to us: rice cakes, animal sugar cakes, small pieces of fried chicken, and pieces of sugar cane. . . . These Filipinos’ gestures lifted our sunken spirits to a new high. Suddenly, we heard shots ring out from somewhere in the middle of our marching group. Within seconds, the people along the side of the road scattered in all directions, for the Japanese soldiers were shooting them for offering food to us prisoners. Two of the Filipinos started to run across the field, heading for a water hole. . . . The guards then ran over to the fallen men and began hollering at and kicking them…Next, the Japanese guards fired several shots at point-blank range into the men’s prostrate bodies.”

American POWs were also executed randomly and in the most inhumane manner:

“One of the men had a very bad case of malaria and had barely made it to the rest area. He was burning up with fever and severely disoriented. When ordered to stand up, he could not do it. Without a minute’s hesitation, the guard hit him over the head with the butt of his gun, knocked him down to the ground, and then called for two nearby prisoners to start digging a hole to bury the fallen prisoner. The two men started digging, and when the hole was about a foot deep, the guard ordered the two men to place the sick man in the hole and bury him alive. The two men shook their heads, they could not do that…the guard shot the bigger of the two prisoners. He then pulled two more men from the line and ordered them to dig a hole to bury the murdered man. The Japanese guard got his point across. They dug the second hole, placed the two bodies in the holes, and threw dirt over them. The first man, still alive, started screaming as the dirt was thrown over him.”

Lester Tenney’s memoir contains over two hundred pages describing the abuse, torture and execution of U.S. prisoners of war, both on the death march in the Philippines and as slave laborers of major Japanese corporations, some of whom continue to do business in the United States. He lists at the end of his book the names of almost one hundred comrades-in-arms who did not return as a result. I received my copy of Mr. Tenney’s book a few years ago when he petitioned those on Capitol Hill to support legislation put forward by Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Honda to seek compensation and an apology from those Japanese corporations who made use of American POW slave labor. The legislation was not passed. State Department lawyers informed the Congress that the Treaty of San Francisco, signed in 1951, settled all outstanding war claims with Japan and precluded civil suits by Mr. Tenney and others. I am not an international lawyer and I do not know if the zaibatsu system of corporate fascism in place in Japan before and during the war inoculated these corporations from POW lawsuits. I leave that to the lawyers. One thing I do know, however. There is nothing in international law or in any peace treaty which precludes the offer of an apology. While Americans sentimentalize over “the Greatest Generation,” including construction of a memorial fifty-nine years after the end of the war, the Japanese corporations involved in slave labor of war prisoners stubbornly refuse to offer any _expression of remorse. It is time, before the last of these prisoners of war, who have suffered so much, pass away into history to offer them the apology they have requested.

A declassified U.S. government document on this issue, discovered by author Linda Goetz Holmes, indicates a degree of discomfort by American officials over the exclusion of American citizens from war compensation. The American Embassy/Tokyo memorandum, dated June 9, 1955, states:

“Although there is nothing that can be done about it, it may be a little awkward for us to explain to American civilians who were interned by the Japanese in the Far East why they should receive no compensation if the Dutch Government succeeds in getting some compensation from Japan for Dutch civilian internees. You will recall we had a lot of explaining to do to American prisoners of war about their being cut out of the Article 16 fund. We were able to remind prisoners of war that the United States Government provides compensation to them out of Japanese assets in the United States. But the United States Government has not provided any compensation to American civilians who were captured outside of the Philippines or other United States territory.”

There was a massacre of American prisoners of war in the Philippines that surpassed even the events documented up to this point. December 14, 1944, Puerto Princesa Prison Camp, Palawan, Philippines was a second date of infamy for the Japanese military. The event, as described by author Hampton Sides, was as follows:

“A third air-raid alarm sounded. . . . Reluctantly the American prisoners did as they were told, all 150 of them, crawling single file into the poorly ventilated pits. . . . They waited and waited but heard not a single American plane, let alone a hundred. . . . Then, peeking out of the ends of the trenches, the men saw several soldiers bursting into the compound. They were carrying five-gallon buckets filled with a liquid. The buckets sloshed messily as the soldiers walked. With a quick jerk of the hands, they flung the contents into the openings of the trenches. By the smell of it on their skin, the Americans instantly recognized what it was – high octane aviation fuel from the airstrip. Before they could apprehend the full significance of it, other soldiers tossed in lighted bamboo torches. Within seconds, the trenches exploded in flames. The men squirmed over each other and clawed at the dirt as they tried desperately to shrink from the intense heat. They choked back the smoke and the fumes, their nostrils assailed by the smell of singed hair and roasting flesh. They were trapped like termites in their own sealed nest. Only a few managed to free themselves.”

Hampton Sides, in his riveting work Ghost Soldiers, proceeds from the description of this massacre to a description of how a few survivors escaped to warn the U.S. military of the retreating Japanese army’s plan for a mass murder of POWs to cover up their war crimes in the Philippines. The heroic story of the rescue of American POWs by a group of hand-selected U.S. Army Rangers, with the assistance of Filipino guerrilla forces, is the main focus of the book. I have heard that Sides’ book may be made into a movie. Such a film could provide Americans with a visual reminder of the horrors of the War in the Pacific similar to that provided by the Spielberg film Schindler’s List regarding the War in Europe.

Americans, however, were not the only victims of Japanese militarism. The agony of Japan’s neighbors, in both length of duration and scale of suffering, would make the American experience pale by comparison.

The Korean people not only endured a formal occupation of thirty-five years but a systematic attempt to wipe out their culture, language, and their very identity as a people. Americans heard some of this story at the recent dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, where an eleventh-grader from Potomac, Maryland was chosen in a nationwide essay contest to present a written expression of Lincoln’s ideal of freedom. President Bush and Speaker Hastert were among the dignitaries who attended the dedication and heard the Korean-American school girl’s words. Mihan Lee spoke of her great-grandfather, Jung In-seung, who was arrested and sent to a prison camp for writing a Korean dictionary when use of the Korean language was forbidden by the Japanese occupiers. Mihan summarized the values she learned from both Lincoln and her great-grandfather as follows:

“I believe that freedom in the 21st century means the liberty of individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, or class, to express themselves in their own words, and to use those words to shape history.”

Koreans were subjected to one of the world’s most brutal colonial experiences, with tens of thousands transported as slave laborers to Japan and Manchuria. The Korean-American writer, Richard Kim, in his work, Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood, poignantly describes the brutality of the Japanese occupation between 1932 and 1945 from a child’s point of view, where teachers beat students for any utterance of the Korean language. The New York Times’ Book Review stated that: “Lost Names is not a poem of hate, but a poem of love. . . we see the cemeteries full of Koreans apologizing to their ancestors for having lost their names.” The attempted denial of both national and family identity for such a proud, ancient, Confucian people is hard to forgive. As one example of the thoroughness with which Tokyo authorities sought the cultural annihilation of Korea, the Government-General, upon the formal annexation in 1910, conducted a nationwide search for books on Korean history and geography and, in one of the greatest book burnings of all time, destroyed between 200,000 and 300,000 volumes.

Resistance to Japanese rule, of course, predated the Second World War. Most notable was the March 1st Movement of 1919. This nationwide explosion started in Seoul’s Pagoda Park where thirty-three intellectuals, gathered during a period of public mourning for the recently deceased last King of Korea, Kojong. Kojong promulgated a petition, the Declaration of Korea’s Independence, just prior to his death.

The former King and many Korean nationalists had been inspired by President Woodrow Wilson’s words regarding “self-determination” at the Versailles Peace Conference, not realizing that those words were directed only to peoples living under the yoke of old Empires within Europe and not to Asians and Africans. At least half a million Koreans took part in nationwide demonstrations over the period of the two months following March 1st. At the end, the number of dead protestors was in the 7,500 range. In the cruelest act of suppression, Japanese police locked protestors inside a church and then burned it to the ground.

In 1929, in Kwangju, a city whose name would later be written in blood in Korean history, a group of student demonstrators, shouting “Long live Korean Independence!” headed in procession toward the Japanese governor-general headquarters. So Chong-ju, then a thirteen year-old boy, wrote in a poem what happened next:

“Mounted police drove us like sheep into a corner. From the police station yard, one by one we were dragged into a room, stripped to the waist, beaten fifteen, twenty times with leather straps. Those who had been followers were turned loose, though for days after I could not lie down in bed, for soreness, each day angrier, I muttered at them, “Butchers! Bastards! Just you wait.”

The Kempeitai, mentioned earlier in reference to Singapore, were fully engaged, with collaborators, in the repression of the Korean people. Sodaemun (“West Gate”) prison in Seoul was built by the Japanese authorities in 1907, even before the formal annexation of Korea. It was used to imprison and torture Korean patriots, stands today as a museum giving empowerment to the voices of those who suffered and died there. The footprint of Imperial Japan’s institutions still lies heavily on Korean soil. The U.S. military base at Yongsan, soon to be turned over to Korean authority, was first built as the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army in Korea. The U.S. naval base at Chinhae and the USFK Army base at Camp Hialeah in Pusan are likewise legacies of the Japanese military – Hialeah having been a racetrack before it became a base. The former KCIA headquarters on Namsan, the Draconian symbol of South Korean military rule, was likewise reportedly originally a Japanese government facility. The Japanese footprint even reached to Rajin in the far northeastern corner of the Korean peninsula. When I attended a UN conference in that North Korean city in 1996, a group of westerners went to a dinner at an old hotel. One of the western professors in attendance, a Korean expert, told us that the hotel had once served as headquarters for Kempetai operations against Korean guerrilla forces in the border area and across in Manchuria. I could almost hear the cries of the dead as we ate our sober meal.

The most reprehensible colonial policy of all, however, was the sexual enslavement of between 100,000 and 200,000 Korean young school girls and women as “comfort women” for the Japanese Imperial Army’s combat troops (lesser numbers of Chinese, Filipina, Taiwanese, and Dutch women from Indonesia were also so enslaved.) I was the Embassy coordinator for the Fourth World UN Conference on Women held in Beijing in the summer of 1995. The Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) conference was moved out of Beijing to the town of Huairou, supposedly because then Chinese Premier Li Peng had experienced an unpleasant confrontation with NGOs at a UN conference in Europe. While the Chinese authorities placed their own “comfort women” activists under house arrest for the duration of the conference, the South Korean NGOs, together with their sisters from the Philippines, spontaneously organized a series of events and demonstrations centered on the unresolved issue.

The “comfort women” issue should be a subject of concern for the U.S. government which, over the last decade, has made the “trafficking in persons” issue a top foreign affairs priority. It would seem impossible then to ignore an unresolved issue which involves the most extensive case of government-organized trafficking in women in the entire Twentieth Century. That injustice is compounded by the Japanese government’s continued insistence that the trafficking was carried out by private contractors without the specific sanction of the Japanese Imperial Army. The continuing refusal to offer apologies or to compensate the now elderly victims should be a source of national shame. The fact that it took decades for these women to come forward, long after World War II settlements were reached between governments, should not be an issue. The psychological scars must be immense and the sense of shame, especially for women from socially conservative Asian cultures, must be overwhelming.

One woman of conscience, a former Japanese teacher at a Korean middle school during the colonial period, returned to Korea when I was American consul in Pusan a decade and a half ago. She visited her old school and, with tears of remorse, she examined old school records, remembering the virginal young Korean school girls who were taken away to be “comfort women.” This Japanese woman was the exception to a general attitude of denial and disdain. Please note the following:

“On March 29, 2001, a Japanese court overturned the first and only compensation award ever ordered for former World War II sex slaves or ‘comfort women.’ Hiroshima’s High Court reversed the landmark April 1998 ruling by a lower court under which the Japanese government was to pay 300,000 yen (2,440 U.S. Dollars) each in damages to three South Korean women.”

I have been given a declassified U.S. government document from 1945 which challenges Japanese official claims of lack of involvement of the Imperial Army in the recruitment of comfort women. An interview by the U.S. military with a prisoner of war, a civilian brothel owner in Burma, confirms official Japanese involvement:

“A prisoner of war, a civilian brothel owner, captured with his wife and twenty army prostitutes near Waingmaw on 10 August 1944, stated: “Prisoner of war, his wife and sister-in-law made some money as restaurant keepers in Keijo, Korea, but, their trade declining, they looked for an opportunity to make more money and applied to Army Headquarters in Keijo for permission to take ‘comfort girls’ from Korea to Burma. According to prisoner of war, the suggestion originated from Army Headquarters and was passed to a number of similar Japanese ‘businessmen’ in Korea.”

The Japanese public is rightly concerned about the abductions of its citizens by agents of the North Korean regime a number of years ago, including a young girl. The abduction of another young girl many years ago, now grown old, should be a cause for equal concern. This is her story: One of the surviving comfort women, Ok Seon Lee, spoke as a guest of the Korean-American Students Association of Brown University in the autumn of 2002. . . . At that time she was seventy-five years old. For the previous two years, she had been living in a charity home operated for surviving comfort women in South Korea. Before that, she lived in China, where she had resided for almost five decades after three years of enslavement as a Japanese military ‘comfort woman.’ Ms. Lee’s story:

‘One day when I was out on an errand in town, I was captured by a Japanese man. I tried to fight him off, but my resistance had no effect. He took me down the road and threw me into a truck. On the truck there were five other girls – six including myself. We had all been captured and were held against our will . . . . Eventually, because we each began to fight and yell, demanding to be let go, they stuffed our mouths with cloth. I had actually arrived in China but did not know this until one year after my arrival . . . . The youngest girl was fourteen years old. I was fifteen. The oldest was seventeen years old. The Japanese soldiers there had no mercy or compassion. They beat us all the time, until we bled, saying we were bad workers. We would resist and try to fight back to the best of our abilities, telling them we wanted to go home…They took in young girls who had no knowledge and fed them almost nothing besides the food they gave to pigs, and they expected us to serve up to thirty or forty soldiers per day.”

Imperial Japan’s conquest of China was just as brutal as that of Korea. And China endured the longest war of all. If you ask an American when World War II began, they will inevitably reply: “December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor.” Ask a European, and they will state: “September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland.” But if you ask a Chinese, they will say: “July 7, 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Beijing.” To paraphrase the former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, “all wars are local.” Western historians say as many as 8 million Chinese civilians died during the period between 1937 and 1945, and perhaps 2.5 million Chinese soldiers. Chinese sources claim up to 30 to 35 million died. Whatever the final number of casualties, it was a horrific loss for China and her people.

China’s resistance to Japan, however, can be traced at least as far back as May 4, 1919. Just as Koreans had been engaged earlier, on March 1st of that fateful year, China’s young people were enchanted by the siren song of “self-determination” coming out of the mouths of Western political leaders gathered to make peace in Versailles after the devastation of the First World War. Self-determination, however, was really intended only for Czechs and Poles and not for Chinese or Koreans. When Chinese students learned that the final Peace Treaty at Versailles had granted the former German concessions in China to Imperial Japan, rather than returning them to Chinese sovereignty, they felt a sense of betrayal and erupted in massive demonstrations in Beijing and other cities. And so China was engaged in its long twilight struggle against Japanese militarism.

China and the United States ultimately joined hands in the common struggle. Major General Clare Chennault’s “Flying Tigers” daringly flew over the Himalayan “Hump” to resupply embattled Chinese forces. When Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle called for air crews to launch a raid on Tokyo in April 1942, to lift American spirits in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the eighty men who piloted 16 B-25 bombers knew that it was a possible suicide mission. There was not enough fuel to return to American-held territory. Crew members captured in the raid were either executed or interned in POW camps, where one died of malnutrition. The crews of eleven of the bombers bailed out over China or crash landed there, however. Most of these men were rescued by friendly Chinese guerrilla fighters or local Chinese peasants.

Of all the horrors inflicted by Japanese Imperial troops during their march toward empire, first in Manchuria and then in the rest of China, none can surpass for savagery what occurred in the Chinese city of Nanjing: After Nanjing fell, on December 13, 1937, the Japanese military ran amok in the city and surrounding areas until February 1938, when relief garrison forces finally relieved the frontline fighters. Until that time, the soldiers continued with acts of arson, torture, murder, and rape on a scale that has few parallels in history. Buildings were looted and burned. Tens of thousands of presumed Chinese soldiers were rounded up and summarily executed. Civilians of all ages were tortured and executed. Women were raped by the thousands. The late author, Iris Chang, originally from Illinois, wrote the definitive work on the Nanking Massacre. Her discovery of eyewitness accounts in the West, from American missionaries who were in the city at the time, as well as from the diary of the Nazi Party member John Rabe, provided definitive evidence that a wholesale massacre of Chinese people took place in the city during those two months.

One of the eyewitness accounts which Iris Chang recorded was provided by American missionary Minnie Vautrin, aged fifty-one at the time of the massacre. Vautrin attempted, with other missionaries, to establish a “safety zone” around her Ginling College’s campus. Iris Chang recorded:

“That evening Vautrin saw women being carted away in the streets and heard their desperate pleas. A truck went by with eight to ten girls, and as it passed she heard them scream, ‘Jiu Ming! Jiu Ming! (Save our lives!)’ …As she accommodated the stream of wild-eyed women, she heard stories of the Japanese raping girls as young as twelve and women as elderly sixty, or raping pregnant women at bayonet point.”

Another American eyewitness was missionary surgeon, Dr. Robert Wilson, who had been born in Nanjing. He was raised in China, where he learned geometry from Pearl Buck. After receiving a degree from Harvard Medical School, he returned to the city of his birth to practice medicine at the University of Nanking Hospital. Iris Chang records Dr. Wilson’s account:

“One of the worst scenes Wilson saw in Nanking – a scene he would remember for the rest of his life – was a massive gang rape of teenage girls in the street. A group of young women between the ages of fifteen and eighteen were lined up by the Japanese and then raped in the dirt, one after another, by an entire regiment. Some hemorrhaged and died, while others killed themselves shortly afterwards. But the scenes in the hospitals were even more horrifying than those in the streets. Wilson was mortified by the women who came to the emergency room with their bellies ripped open, by the charred and horribly disfigured men whom the Japanese tried to burn alive, and by numerous other horrors he barely had time to describe on paper. He told his wife that he would never forget the woman whose head was nearly cut off, teetering from a point on her neck.”

The Japanese Ambassador to Washington at the time of publication of Iris Chang’s book, Kunihiko Saito, did not display the usual culturally expected Japanese reticence and politeness in verbally attacking Chang’s work as “inaccurate,” “distorted” and “erroneous.” Ms. Chang responded by challenging the Ambassador to a televised debate. (On The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Iris challenged Ambassador Saito to apologize to the victims of the Nanking Massacre. He declined.)

I was living in Beijing at the time and remember that the debate was widely broadcast via cable television. I have a very close personal friend, a Chinese-American businesswoman, a partner in a major U.S. corporation, who is usually extremely cool-headed, conducting business in Japan and elsewhere in a highly professional manner. She rushed over to see me a day or so after the debate, however, to ask me rhetorically “Would the German Ambassador to Washington ever dare to criticize a Jewish writer who published a work on the Holocaust?” She was shaking with rage.

A site of particular concern in this era of renewed interest in chemical and biological weapons is the infamous Unit 731. Located just outside of the Chinese city of Harbin, this is where biological and chemical weapons experiments were carried out on Chinese, Korean, Russian, and other nationals, including American POWs, between 1938 and 1945. My children and I visited the Harbin museum, which records the 731 war crimes, in 1997. The biological weapons experiments conducted on helpless prisoners there included anthrax, an agent with which we on Capitol Hill are now familiar.

One description of what happened there:

“The noise was like the sound when a board is struck. On the frozen fields at Ping Fang, in northeast China, chained prisoners were led out with bare arms, and subjected to a current of air to accelerate the freezing process. Then came the noise. With a short stick, the arms of the prisoners would be struck to make sure their limbs had indeed frozen. In the gruesome world of Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, experiments with frostbite on human subjects became a favorite in a macabre litany of cruelty. . . . Apart from the frostbite experiments, prisoners were infected with diseases including anthrax, cholera, and the bubonic plague. To gather data, human vivisections were performed. Whole villages and towns were infected with the plague and cholera.

In the end, at least three thousand prisoners, mainly Chinese, were killed directly, with a further 250,000 Chinese left to die through the biological warfare experiments. It is called the Asian Auschwitz and, in terms of inhumanity and horror, it certainly warrants this description. Yet there remains a fundamental difference with the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews. While Germany has shown deep contrition and remorse, the leaders of the country that spawned the evil of Unit 731 still struggle to come to grips with what occurred.

This week (August 2002) in a Tokyo court, the world was again reminded of Japan’s inability to deal with its march across Asia. In courtroom 103, three judges of the Tokyo District Court rejected a claim for an apology and compensation by one hundred and eighty Chinese, either victims or the family of victims of Unit 731. . . . The judges claimed all compensation issues were settled by a treaty with China in 1972.”

Yes, your honors, and what about the apology part? What is so hard about saying “We are sorry for what you suffered?’ A Japanese man of conscience, Yoshio Shinozuka, came forward in 1997. A former member of Unit 731, he gave testimony and declared his remorse. Some of his harrowing testimony:

The Chinese victims were known as “logs” and it was Shinozuka’s job to scrub them down before the vivisection. “I still remember clearly the first live autopsy I participated in,” he recalled. “I knew the Chinese individual we dissected alive because I had taken his blood once before for testing. At the vivisection, I could not meet his eyes because of the hate he had in his glare at me.” The victim had been infected with the plague, and was totally black. Shinozuka was reluctant to use the brush on the man’s face. “Watching me, the chief pathologist, with scalpel in hand, signaled me to hurry up.” He recalled. “I closed my eyes and forced myself to scrub the man’s face with the deck brush.”

The museum in Harbin, which I visited, pointed out an embarrassing fact for Americans: those Japanese commanders, including “the brutal psychopath” Lieutenant-General Shiro Ishii, the Doctor Mengele of the Pacific Theater who ran the infamous Unit 731, were never brought to justice by the United States at the IMTFE in Tokyo. Ishii and his cohorts in torture and mass murder got off scot-free. They received immunity from prosecution in return for supplying their research to American scientists.

In his work Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45, and the American Cover-up, Sheldon Harris points out that the matter was raised only once at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal of 1946-48:

An American counsel assisting the Chinese, David N. Sutton, stunned the war crimes tribunal by saying: “The enemy . . . took our countrymen as prisoners and used them for drug experiments. They would inject various types of toxic bacteria into their bodies, and then perform experiments on how they reacted. . . . this was an act of barbarism by our enemy.” …The presiding judge, Australia’s Sir William Webb, said “How about letting this item go?” Sutton replied: “Well, then, I’ll leave it.” The issue never surfaced again. . . . ”

No account of Japanese war guilt would be complete without a description of what happened in the Philippines, the nation where the Chairman of the International Relations Committee, Henry J. Hyde, served as a young naval officer under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur is remembered to this day for keeping his pledge to the people of the Philippines, made on the eve of the fall of the island fortress of Corregidor: “I shall return.” The Philippine people had a long, if somewhat conflicted, relationship with the United States of America. The documentation of their fidelity to the American people during the brutal Japanese occupation is stunning and one of the greatest but largely untold stories of the entire war. Hampton Sides records it in his book on the U.S. Army Rangers’ perilous mission through the Philippines countryside to rescue American POWs:

“Captain Prince nervously craned his neck to learn what the delay was. He heard something strange, a chorus singing softly in the twilight. The tune was hard to make out at first, but then Prince caught it – “God Bless America,” the familiar stanzas rendered in thickly accented English, the melody charmingly curdled with the occasional stale note. At the entrance of the town a few dozen teenage girls dressed in white gowns were singing in sad, sweet voices. . . . The town was planning a feast. People were slaughtering their chickens and cows, building fires, stirring vats of stew. The villagers had prepared a classic Filipino fiesta. . . . Many of the Rangers welled with tears. That the people of Platero were throwing this kind of reception in the midst of war’s misfortunes made their generosity all the more stirring.”

Hampton Sides also recorded from veterans the attitudes the Filipino villagers expressed toward the Japanese occupiers:

“Of course, they despised the Japanese with a countervailing passion. . . . At the start of the war, the Japanese thought they could easily win over the countryside with their “Asia for the Asiatics” rhetoric. They declared: ‘We’ve come to free you from the bonds of Western colonialism. Join us in a new day. . . . It didn’t help that the Japanese military police, the Kempeitai, had sent any number of provincial villagers off to dungeons in Manila. Nor that pimp contractors for the Emperor’s Army had come and drafted pretty Filipino girls, often under false pretenses, to serve as “comfort women” in crab-infested bordellos over in New Guinea or the Solomon Islands. . . . Japanese soldiers were prodigious slappers. They slapped to discipline, to scare, to convey a point. . . . But the slap clashed fundamentally with a basic rule of Filipino etiquette. One of the worst ways to insult a Filipino is to slap him in the face. . . . You do that to a Filipino and you have a deadly enemy for life.”

The sacking of Manila was brought to my attention when, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I went down to the Philippines from Korea in the winter of 1972 to find a little warm weather. Our tour guide in Manila, who took us through the Intramuros, the “Walled City”, a jewel of Spanish colonial architecture constructed in 1571, had tears in her eyes as she spoke of the Japanese Imperial Army’s wanton destruction of churches and monuments as they withdrew from the city. It was as if American occupying forces would have sacked Kyoto, that gem of Buddhist architecture and the cultural center of Japan. And it was so unnecessary as the war was by then clearly lost.

Even as devoted a follower of the Emperor as General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the “Tiger of Malaya,” who had led the blitzkrieg down the Malayan peninsula to capture Singapore in early 1942, must have recognized this. General Yamashita took command in the Philippines in October 1944 and soon concentrated his efforts in a defense of the main island of Luzon. Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi, the 31st Naval Special Base Force Commander, had operational control of Manila. . . . Yamashita ordered a retreat but by this time the United States had cut off Manila and the admiral could not break out. In Iwabuchi’s battle of desperation that followed, his naval force engaged in an orgy of rape, torture and murder of a civilian population for which Yamashita would be legally held accountable. It is estimated that eight thousand civilians were killed and at least five hundred women were raped during this period. . . . Yamashita was served on 26 September 1945 with a generic charge of war crimes. . . . Yamashita was brought before a Military Commission. . . . Significantly, the court brought down its verdict of guilty on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1945 and sentenced the accused to death. He was hanged in Manila on February 23, 1946, the first Japanese official to be executed for war crimes. The hastiness of the trial raised questions about its legitimacy, with some claiming Yamashita had no knowledge of the actions of Iwabuchi and his troops. It should be noted that the people of Guam maintained their loyalty to the United States and the American people during a bitter encounter with Imperial Japan similar to that suffered by the people of the Philippines. The nearly three year period of brutal occupation followed an invasion of the island territory by Japanese imperial forces in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ms. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, the Member of Congress serving as the Delegate from Guam, has introduced legislation, H.R. 1595, The Guam WWII Loyalty Recognition Act, which addresses these issues and which would implement the recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission.

Ms. Bordallo, in her May 17th letter to Members of the House regarding the legislation, stated:

“Sixty-four years ago the people of Guam awoke to a calm peaceful morning. The date was December 8, 1941, and they gathered in their churches to pay homage to their island’s patron saint, Our Lady of Camarin. Their services and prayers were interrupted with the sounds of air raids and the noise of heavy bombardments…Subjected to death, rape, internment, forced march, and forced labor, the people of Guam remained resolute in their loyalty to the United States Flag in the cause of freedom. On July 21, 1944 the Americans returned to Guam: the liberated met their liberators.”

There is a final, compelling issue which I wish to address. There are those who would raise the American nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as cases of moral equivalency with what Imperial Japan did during the war. I visited both Japanese cities during the nineteen seventies. I observed the peace ceremony in Hiroshima in August 1972 and saw the melted girders of the memorial dome left standing since the day of the attack. I saw, in January 1973, the stone statues of saints and angels with melted faces at a Catholic church in Nagasaki, where Mass was being said near ground zero on the morning of the blast. Many Americans have a sense of disquietude, even a degree of guilt, over our country being the first and only nation to use a nuclear weapon in conflict. Perhaps that is one reason we are so tolerant of Japan’s official silence on the war crimes committed by its armed forces.

Back in high school, I read an assigned book in history class, the John Hersey classic on the subject titled Hiroshima. It led to an often heated and very candid debate of the moral issues involved, with pacifist views very pronounced in that nineteen sixties suburban Catholic high school classroom. Such debate is often worthwhile. Perhaps, instead of only the approved and often controversial history textbooks available in Japanese schools, high school students in Japan should be assigned to read Iris Chang’s work, The Rape of Nanking, or Hampton Sides’ book, Ghost Soldiers. As a result, there might be a greater and clearer understanding by future generations of Japan’s role in the Second World War and greater expressions of compassion for the victims. It is just a thought. Hersey’s account is wrenching:

As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching her neighbor, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. . . . Timbers fell around her as she landed, and a shower of tiles pummeled her, everything became dark for she was buried. The debris did not cover her completely. She rose up and freed herself. She heard a child cry, “Mother, help me!” and saw her youngest – Myeko, the five year-old, buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Mrs. Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the baby, she could see or hear nothing of her other children.

I was very critical of the American atomic bombings, even though my World War II era father and uncles insisted these actions were absolutely necessary to swiftly bring the war to an end and save American lives. Last year, however, in preparation for a staff delegation visit to Okinawa, my first visit to the island, I read George Feifer’s work on The Battle of Okinawa: The Blood and the Bomb. I learned that the battle of Okinawa was the largest battle of the war in the Pacific, and surpassed even the D Day landing in Normandy in the scope of its operations. Feifer states that it was “the site of the largest land-sea-air battle in history.” More people died during this battle than those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including 12,000 Americans, 107,000 Japanese troops and Okinawan conscripts, and about 100,000 Okinawan civilians. Many of the civilians committed suicide by jumping off cliffs out of fear of what Japanese government propaganda had said the Americans would do to them if captured. The fanaticism of the Japanese defense – which we could see again in a future battle with North Korea – included the use of suicide kamikaze pilots who willingly gave their lives to the Emperor in exchange for sinking an American ship and killing or maiming its crew.

President Truman, seeing the results from Okinawa, was presented with an untenable choice, a need to render a decision that even King Solomon in all his wisdom would find difficult to determine. He could end the war quickly and save countless American and Japanese lives, or prolong it for six more months with a bloody attempt to occupy the Japanese home islands which would make the Battle of Okinawa look like only a dress rehearsal. It is not a decision any of us would want to face.

However, people on both sides of the Pacific must realize that it was Hideki Tojo, perhaps in consultation with others, who opened the genie’s bottle and released the winds of war by the sudden and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. The tempest of those winds wailed ceaselessly for almost four long years before bringing a nuclear tsunami which crashed down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, taking tens of thousands of innocent lives. This was part of the bargain which Tojo and his militarist cohorts unwittingly made in their pact with the god of war on December 7, 1941.

As we commemorate this sixtieth year of the end of the greatest war of all time, remembrance of things past will have profound significance. The conflict in the Pacific involved the United States in a major way. It was our fight too. Can we ignore the sacrifice of the Americans, and our British and other Allies, who died to rid the East of fascist militarism? Can we ignore the suffering of our POWs in Bataan? Can we so easily forget the sailors eternally interned at the bottom of Pearl Harbor? Can we ever forget the brave Filipinos who suffered or died because of their fidelity, in the face of grave danger, to their American friends? Can we ignore the warm-heartedness of those Chinese people who risked their lives to save the survivors of Doolittle’s Raid? I sincerely hope not.

I fear that the sounds of footsteps entering a shrine will disturb the tranquility of a summer’s morning. The echoes of those footsteps will resound across the water reaching distant places, north to Seoul, west to Beijing, south to Manila, and east to Honolulu. I fear that the lessons of history will then rise in the air like wisps of incense from that shrine, blowing in the summer breeze, but then gone with the wind. I fear that the bows by dignitaries toward the tablets of those who caused such pain will disturb the final repose of the spirits buried in Nanjing, in the American Cemetery in Manila, (which contains 17,206 graves), near Unit 731 in Harbin, and in the sunken frame of the battleship USS Arizona lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. And then all hope for a more harmonious tomorrow in Asia will vanish with the fading sounds of the retreating footsteps.

Some in Washington are dreaming an impossible dream. They wish for Japan to become the Great Britain of Asia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a partner of the United States in securing the peace in Asia and beyond. We Americans, at least, would like to see this happen. But without an honest accounting of its history, as was done in Europe, Japan can never become a Great Britain. Japan, despite its immense generosity in the funding of international organizations, can never secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Japan will be excluded and marginalized unless Tokyo makes some great historic _expression of remorse, like that of German Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1971 kneeling at a memorial in Poland to the victims of the Nazis. Without such a sincere act of contrition there is very little Washington can do to help Tokyo achieve its diplomatic goals. For Japan must first help itself.

Confession, as the Catholic Church teaches, is good for the soul. But a true confession requires both contrition and penance toward those who were offended. Only then can historic sins finally be forgiven.

Those who contend that the discussion of historic legacy issues regarding Japan’s role in World War II is simply manipulation by hostile neighboring governments or an expression of fanatics who will never be appeased demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the perceptions of the peoples of East Asia. I have lived among the Korean people for eleven years and the Chinese people for four years. Their feelings about what happened to their people are deep and genuine. Americans have proclaimed that we will not forget what happened on September 11, 2001, presumably not even after sixty years have passed. How can we then ask others to be less true to their historic national tragedies than we ourselves are?

That is not to say that there is not any manipulation or fanaticism. The rulers of Beijing, especially, when they demand a historic accounting for past atrocities, should remember June 4, 1989. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. John Tkacik of the Heritage Foundation has pointed out that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao misspoke to an American audience in 2003 when he told them that his family home near Tientsin was burned by “Japanese aggressors.” Tkacik reports that the family home was actually destroyed in January 1949, long after the Japanese had departed, in a fight between Communist and Nationalist forces.

In South Korea, fanatic nationalists reportedly recently broke into the shrine of Nongae. This was a place I had the honor to visit as the U.S. consul in Pusan to express America’s admiration for this Korean heroine. Nongae was the gisaeng who made a suicide leap off a cliff clutching a Japanese general during the Hideyoshi invasions of the late sixteenth century. These South Korean “Red Guards” reportedly tore down her portrait because it was allegedly painted by an early twentieth century Korean artist who was too accommodating to the Japanese occupation.

But the manipulation of some and the fanaticism of others do not negate the fact that there must be a day of reckoning for what happened in the Pacific as well as what occurred in the Atlantic. Are the two hundred thousand Korean and other Asian women, imprisoned and brutalized as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army, of less value than the millions who suffered and died in the Nazi Death Camps?

Are the three hundred thousand Chinese men, women and children slaughtered in Nanjing of less human worth than the twenty-seven million Soviet citizens who died in the Nazi onslaught? The historic accounting of atrocities must be color blind. In any event, we will not be able to forget. Over seventy million Koreans will not let us. Nor will 1.3 billion Chinese. Then there are the Singaporeans and the Filipinos who also will not be silent.

In this sixtieth commemorative year of the Second World War, Japanese government officials and Diet Members who go to the Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to the memory of war criminals hurt the feelings of the families of their victims. If the Yasukuni Shrine is to be a national memorial to a nation’s war dead, like Arlington Cemetery, then the spirit tablets of Tojo and the other Class A war criminals should be removed.

Otherwise, such acts of veneration will continue to disturb the tranquility of the Chinese people, the Korean people, the Philippine people, the Singaporean people, the people of Hong Kong, and the Indonesian people. I cannot speak for all American veterans of World War II, but I can say that venerating Tojo is offensive to Jack Lannan, 88, of Des Plaines, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Pacific and my uncle; it is offensive to Tom Foley, 80, of Glenview, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Pacific and my uncle; it is offensive to Ed Halpin, 95, of Park Ridge, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Atlantic and my uncle; and it is offensive to Tom Halpin, 87, of Glenview, Illinois, another World War II veteran of the Atlantic and my father. Both Ed and Tom lost their brother, Nick, prematurely from a disease he contracted while fighting in the Pacific War. Thus, my father’s and my uncles’ message is simple and direct to anyone willing to listen in Tokyo:

“Don’t bow before the convicted war criminal Hideki Tojo. We well remember Pearl Harbor even if some Americans have historic amnesia.”

To conclude with a quote from the title of Senator Obama’s autobiography, this paper, in reality, represents dreams from my father. Thank you.

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The Sins of the Fathers: Japan’s Unresolved Historic Legacy Sixty Years After the War in the Pacific

Presented at Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS)
2005 Spring Symposium
2255 Rayburn House Office Build

by Dennis P. Halpin
Professional Staff
East Asian Affairs
International Relations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Presented at Institute for Corean-American Studies (ICAS)
2005 Spring Symposium
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
May 19, 2005

________________
This statement reflects my own views and not necessarily those of the International Relations Committee nor its Chairman Henry J. Hyde.
_______________

Sang Joo, Members of ICAS, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my honor to appear here today to address the issue of the history of the Second World War. It is a fitting time as world leaders have gathered in Moscow earlier this month to commemorate the Allied victory in Europe. We hopefully anticipate a similar commemoration of the Allied victory in Asia later this summer. It was the victory in Asia, after all, which was the final nail in the coffin of the Nazi, Fascist and militarist forces which had plagued mankind for the first decades of the Twentieth Century and which threatened to plunge the world into a second Dark Age. Still, here today, we celebrate that victory. We mourn those many victims. We cherish that history.

For, yes, history matters. It matters profoundly. This is because, as philosopher George Santayana famously noted “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But history matters not just as an insurance policy against a repetition of catastrophe. It matters as story telling, as a reflection of who we are and from where we have come.

Americans, having come from so many other places, are not particularly inclined to recall historic events, even of the recent past. At times this national characteristic of “historic amnesia” can have a healing effect. “Let bygones be bygones,” is a favorite American saying. Yet, at other times, this easy attitude about the past can lead to indifference and even carelessness, a lack of affirmation and empowerment of those who feel their stories have been either patronized or completely ignored.

This lesson on the importance of giving a voice to history was clearly demonstrated the other week when I took some relatives to visit the newly-opened National Museum of the American Indian. The orientation film there, prepared by Native Americans, explained the struggle they have had attempting to give voice to the historic record of the various peoples who inhabited two continents, North and South America, before the arrival of Europeans. The film also spoke of the stereotyping of Native Americans in Hollywood films, which led to a misperception of them as somehow having less value than other human beings. The museum’s mission is explained as follows:

[T]he museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.”

Certainly such empowerment was and is necessary. When I was a child and studied American history in school, we learned a one-sided story of the White Man’s Manifest Destiny and the westward settlement of a continent as a triumph of science over nature and of civilization over the savage. There were no lessons on Andrew Jackson’s deportation of Native Peoples to west of the Mississippi River, known as “the Trail of Tears,” nor an account of the Seminole struggle to remain in Florida as “the Unconquered Tribe,” nor a retelling of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Now, if belatedly, American school children can learn the Native American story by visiting this museum in our nation’s capital. Every nation has moments of shame, but the willingness to speak with candor of that shame to future generations is one good measure of a nation’s mettle.

There is another museum in another nation’s capital. This is the Yushukan Museum of the War in the Pacific, which stands next to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Washington Post in a recent article reported about the museum as follows:

“In a museum film, Pearl Harbor is described as a ‘battle for Japan’s survival,’ while one exhibit blames the 1937 Nanjing Massacre – in which Chinese officials say Japanese soldiers slaughtered 300,000 people — on the Chinese leaders who fled the city while ordering their men to fight to the death. After the fall of Nanjing to the Japanese, the museum noted ‘the Chinese citizens were once again able to live their lives in peace.”

A colleague from the International Relations Committee and I made a visit to this museum in January of last year. Our conclusions were contained in a report of our staff delegation visit to Taiwan and Japan, which was submitted in March of last year to the Committee’s Chairman, Henry J. Hyde. Our findings included the following:

“A staff[] visit to the Yasukuni Shrine and the neighboring Yushkan Museum supported reports that Japan has a long way to go before it makes peace with its neighbors over World War II atrocities . . . . The Yushukan Museum further supports the accusations of Japan’s neighbors. The museum gives an account of modern Japanese history, from the Meiji Restoration to the end of World War II, that justifies Japan’s military aggression and trivializes gross human rights abuses. While this is not a mainstream Japanese interpretation of the war, it appeals to a wide enough audience that it has been given prominence in a major museum . . . . A clear indication of the unique interpretation of history put forward at the museum is a wall near the exit containing photographs of leading Asian leaders of independence movements, most prominently being Mahatma Gandhi. The caption connected to the photographs noted that, although Japan’s ambitions for a “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” failed to be realized, various independence movements sprang up after the Second World War to continue the struggle for an end to racial discrimination and colonialism in Asia.”

Whatever profound political and ethical differences existed between Mahatma Gandhi and the British Raj, there has never been any indication to my knowledge that the apostle of nonviolence ever supported Japanese militarism as a viable alternative to India’s colonial status. And given documented Japanese cultural attitudes of racial superiority with regard to their Asian neighbors at the time, one finds the museum’s claim of support by other Asians for Imperial Japan’s concept of a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” to be ludicrous. Tokyo’s slogan of “Asia for the Asians” was a cruel deception with tragic results. Given the brutality of Japanese troops, especially of the Kempeitai (Imperial Japan’s version of the Nazi Gestapo), it is difficult to conceive of many Asians, even under the yoke of European colonialism, ever rallying to the flag of the Rising Sun.

The then British colony of Singapore is a case in point. One recollection:

“Singapore fell so quickly that most locals were stunned. It took some time before they realized that the colonial regime had collapsed. The Japanese proclaimed themselves the “liberators” of Singapore when they took control on February 16, 1942 . . . . The Europeans and the Chinese suffered the most under Japanese rule. . . . Treatment of POWs was harsh – prisoners were often tortured and forced to do manual labor at construction sites and at the harbour. It included working on the infamous Burma-Siam Railway. Few returned from this hell hole.

The Japanese were angry with the Chinese, because the local Chinese had provided help to the Chinese during the Sino-Japanese War. Their hatred ended in Operation Sook Ching – a mass killing to “purge” or eliminate” suspected anti-Japanese elements among the Chinese from Singapore.

On February 18, 1942, many Chinese were driven from their homes and assembled at five major “registration camps” to be screened. Many were dragged out of their homes at bayonet point. . . . In some centres, women and children were released while the men, and even boys, were herded into trucks and driven away, never to be seen again. In other centers the Kempeitai condemned people at will, sometimes sending entire families to their death . . . . Thousands of local Chinese died in Operation Sook Ching (“wipe out”). The official death figure was six thousand, but unofficial figures ranged from twenty-five to fifty thousand. The Japanese also forced a $50 million ‘gift’ out of the Malayan Chinese. The task of raising $10 million, Singapore’s share of the $50 million, fell on the Overseas Chinese Association.”

No less a figure than Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has written, in his memoirs, his recollection of Japanese colonial rule:

“However, once the Japanese lorded over us as conquerors, they soon demonstrated to their fellow Asiatics that they were more cruel, more brutal, more unjust and more vicious than the British. During the three and a half years of occupation, whenever I encountered some Japanese tormenting, beating or ill-treating one of our people, I wished the British were still in charge. As fellow Asiatics, we were filled with disillusionment, but then the Japanese themselves were ashamed to be identified with their fellow Asiatics, whom they considered racially inferior and of a lower order of civilization. They were descendents of the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami Sama, a chosen people, distinct and separate from the benighted Chinese, Indians and Malays.”

Mr. Lee also gave an eyewitness account of a public execution:

“One of my first outings was into town. . . . On the way, I saw a crowd near the main entrance to Cathay cinema. . . . Joining the crowd, I saw the head of a Chinese man placed on a small board stuck on a pole, on the side of which was a notice in Chinese characters. I could not read Chinese, but someone who could said it explained what one should not do in order not to come to that same end. The man had been beheaded because he had been caught looting, and anybody who disobeyed the law would be dealt with in the same way.”

So much for present day claims in Japan that Imperial Japan’s militaristic adventure in the first decades of the Twentieth Century was a noble crusade to free its Asian neighbors from Western imperialism and colonialism.

Americans, of course, would focus their attention first upon the claims made in the Tokyo museum about the bombing of Pearl Harbor which resulted in the largest loss of American life in any such attack prior to September 11, 2001. Every American school child should know President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s stirring words regarding this attack: Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

Please note that President Roosevelt made reference to the then Emperor of Japan in his address to a Joint Session of Congress requesting passage of a Declaration of War – the last such declaration ever passed by an American Congress. It seems clear that President Roosevelt assumed the Emperor had some culpability for the events at Pearl Harbor or he would not have evoked his title in his December 8, 1941 statement. Yet, according to the Washington Post, in an article last weekend, Japanese legislators overwhelmingly approved a controversial bill on Friday, May the Thirteenth – an inauspicious date – creating a national holiday to honor Hirohito, Emperor of Japan during World War II, a move that critics called the latest in a series of steps to glorify Japan’s militarist past. By a vote of 202 to 14, the Upper House of Japan’s Parliament passed the bill to give the country a day off on Hirohito’s April 29th birthday.

This vote reflects the depths of denial and the degree of insensitivity with which considerable portions of the Japanese government and people continue to view their nation’s imperialist past. In fairness, as the Post reported in the same article, some Japanese lawmakers did raise objections. Seiji Mataichi of the Social Democratic Party, stated that “this is inviting opposition from neighboring countries such as China and South Korea.”

Yes, and what about the United States? I have heard a number of journalists and Congressional staffers grumbling under their breaths about this callous slap in the face to the American dead in Bataan and at Pearl Harbor, not to mention my uncle who died prematurely due to his participation in the War in the Pacific. No one, however, seems to want to say anything publicly. Well, I shall.

I remember vividly that, during Emperor Hirohito’s official visit to the continental United States in 1975 (he had stopped briefly in Alaska in 1971), there was a firestorm of controversy that erupted among American veterans’ organizations. Perhaps the legislators in Tokyo assume that the WWII generation is now largely dead in the United States and no one will notice. My older relatives in Chicago, however, are still very much alive and they are incensed by this action taken by the Japanese legislature. Would the German Bundestag ever consider passing legislation enacting a Kaiser Wilhelm Day? I think not.

Symbolism is important, especially in Asia. I would hope that, at a minimum, the American Embassy in Tokyo and U.S. Consulates in Japan would remain open on April 29th each year and conduct business as usual in silent protest and in honor of the American dead at Pearl Harbor and in Bataan.

This holiday for Hirohito, however, follows a growing trend of historic revisionism in Japan. The top earning domestic film in Japan in 1998, for example, was “a controversial movie that depicts Japan’s top war criminal as a hero. . . . “Pride,” a film about World War II leader General Hideki Tojo. . . . immediately provoked an outcry from neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, which were occupied by Japanese troops. . . . The film portrays Tojo as a peaceful man who went to war in self-defense, and to liberate Asia from Western colonialism – a popular view among nationalist Japanese.”

Perhaps the Italian film industry should undertake the filming of “Il Duce and the Second Roman Empire?”. . . although I doubt it would have much box office appeal in Rome, where I once lived.

American perceptions of Tojo are naturally quite the opposite. American ire throughout the war was directed at the perceived treachery of the Pearl Harbor attack, even more than at the Nazis and Italian Fascists and their horrific human rights violations in Europe. A racially-tainted expression of that ire was the internment of Japanese-Americans, but not German or Italian-Americans, in camps after the war broke out. I had my own private affirmation of American animosity toward Japan when my grandfather died thirty-seven years ago and we went to clean out his attic. There we found the textbooks of my mother’s younger brother, who was a high school senior when Pearl Harbor was attacked. In the front of each book, he had written clearly “Remember Pearl Harbor” as well as other inscriptions which reflected the depth of his anger. He went on to fight in the Pacific and is alive today as an eighty year-old veteran of the Second World War.

If one asks older Americans when World War II ended, they will invariably reply that it was when the guns fell silent in the Pacific not the Atlantic. The month of May, despite the recent exuberance displayed in Moscow by the world’s leaders, is not the hour of reckoning remembered by the Greatest Generation. It was hearing that General Douglas MacArthur had accepted Imperial Japan’s surrender on September 2, 1945 on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay that meant the war had finally ended for them. One hopes that this sixtieth anniversary will be equally celebrated for Americans this year as May 9th was celebrated for the Russian people.

Some in Washington may state that dredging up distant memories of a long ago war involving a now dying generation does not serve the national interest. But America bears a unique responsibility for both the successful execution of the war and its aftermath. It was the United States and Great Britain that led the world in defeating Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Militarist Japan. It was the United States, exercising the authority of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur, which shaped the drafting of the post-war Japanese constitution. This constitution, still in effect to this day, contains the historic Article Nine, the subject of much controversy and speculation over possible revision. Washington, in 1945, believed the militaristic spirit of bushido contained in the Japanese national psyche required Japan’s renunciation of war to assure peace in Asia. Many in Washington now, conversely, would welcome Article Nine’s revision or outright abolition as they seek a strategic partnership with Tokyo. Many in Asia fear such action would be a first step toward the revival of a dormant samurai spirit, which could lead an unrepentant Japan again down the path of militarism.

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

A key question, which many in Washington raise, is: has not Japan apologized enough? Aren’t its Asian neighbors just being unreasonably stubborn? Why can’t we just move on and allow Japan to assume the role of a normal state with a sufficient military apparatus to reflect its economic power? Prime Minister Koizumi, in a Jakarta speech on April 22, stated:

“In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility.”

Well said. However, on the exact same day as the speech, eighty-one Diet Members visited the Yasukuni Shrine for its spring festival. The Shinto shrine honors fourteen Class-A war criminals. The Diet delegation intends to visit the shrine again on August 15th, the sixtieth anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the Pacific War.

A South Korean newspaper carried a cartoon lampooning this odd juxtaposition of events. Titled: “Is this an apology?” the cartoon showed the Diet Members at the Yasukuni Shrine. A legislator says: “The Prime Minister was not available to come here since he was on a trip.”

Can one imagine German or Italian Parliamentarians ever going to a commemorative ceremony for Nazi or Fascist leaders? How sincere is an apology given in such circumstances?

The United States and its Allies equally chastised all the leaders of the Axis for their war crimes and demanded their unconditional surrender. Washington, however, was able to render justice to only one of the three leaders of this original Axis of Evil. Adolph Hitler, as we all know, avoided the day of reckoning by committing suicide in a Berlin bunker. Benito Mussolini, fleeing toward Italy’s northern frontier, received the vigilante justice of a group of partisans who executed him and his mistress and then strung their bodies up in a square in Milan. Only Hideki Tojo, who unsuccessfully attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest, faced accountability for war crimes. A total of 1128 Japanese nationals were imprisoned to await trial before a military tribunal organized under the authority of the SCAP. Tojo, along with five other Japanese generals, as well as one civilian, received the death penalty and were hung as Class A war criminals.

It is the inclusion of the spirit tablets of Class A war criminals, including Hideki Tojo, in the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, that has been the source of such controversy. The webpage of the Yasukuni Jinja Shrine raises questions about the impartiality of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, and ponders whether those convicted are, in fact, guilty. It states:

“This matter is drawn upon the judgment professed by the Military Tribunal for the Far East that Japan fought a war of aggression. Can we say that this view is correct? We must pass judgment on this matter in the same manner of a tribunal that passes judgment after gathering credible proof. We cannot help but feel that the possibility of ulterior motives has not been discounted. Isn’t it a fact that the West with its military power invaded and ruled over much of Asia and Africa and that this was the start of East-West relations? There is no uncertainty in history. Japan’s dream of building a Great East Asia was necessitated by history and it was sought after by the countries of Asia. We cannot overlook the intent of those who wish to tarnish the good name of the noble souls of Yasukuni.”

This is a clear assertion, in a circumspect Japanese manner, that the IMTFE, held under the authority of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General MacArthur, was a case of merely “to the victor goes the spoils” without having a valid legal foundation in actual fact. The participation of Japan’s highest political leaders in ceremonies at the Yasukuni Shrine is an indication of endorsement of these views expressed by the Shrine’s authorities. Such an assertion cannot be left unchallenged. It should not be met by continued silence in Washington. Either the U.S. government should reassert the correctness of the judgment at Tokyo and the sentences rendered or Washington should offer an apology to the Japanese government and people for carrying out a crude act of political vengeance after the war.

As the Yasukuni web page notes “there is no uncertainty in history.” And there is no uncertainty that Hideki Tojo and those who collaborated with him were war criminals, the same as their Nazi and Fascist allies in Europe. This is a historic fact that the government and people of Japan should accept if Asian history is to move forward as has been the case in Europe.

What crimes against humanity did Tojo and his cohorts implement which earned them the appellation of Class A war criminals? Let us briefly examine the historic record.

Americans should have a particular interest in the crimes committed against the captured American and Allied POWs, for these were the men and women who had gone forward after Pearl Harbor to give their lives, if necessary, to protect the United States from further attack. Unlike the German and Italian military in Europe, who, despite atrocious crimes in other areas, had a fairly decent record of complying with the Geneva Convention regarding the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Imperial Japan has a shameful and shocking record during the Second World War, including, but not limited to, the Bataan Death March. Lester Tenney, from the Maywood, Illinois National Guard unit, has written a poignant and painful memoir as a survivor of that Death March:

“No sympathy, no concern for us as humans, no burials – the Japanese were treating us like animals. We had no doubt as to how we would be treated as prisoners of war. . . . All Japanese soldiers were indoctrinated to believe that surrender was the coward’s way out, and a soldier who was captured was expected to commit hara-kari at the first possible opportunity.”

Tenney went on to describe brutal, summary executions on the march, including that of Filipino civilians for their acts of compassion to the “zombie-like”men trudging past them, who had had nothing to eat and were dehydrated:

“Finally, on the fourth day, as we entered the town of Balanga, Filipino civilians stood along the sides of the road, throwing various food items to us: rice cakes, animal sugar cakes, small pieces of fried chicken, and pieces of sugar cane. . . . These Filipinos’ gestures lifted our sunken spirits to a new high. Suddenly, we heard shots ring out from somewhere in the middle of our marching group. Within seconds, the people along the side of the road scattered in all directions, for the Japanese soldiers were shooting them for offering food to us prisoners. Two of the Filipinos started to run across the field, heading for a water hole. . . . The guards then ran over to the fallen men and began hollering at and kicking them…Next, the Japanese guards fired several shots at point-blank range into the men’s prostrate bodies.”

American POWs were also executed randomly and in the most inhumane manner:

“One of the men had a very bad case of malaria and had barely made it to the rest area. He was burning up with fever and severely disoriented. When ordered to stand up, he could not do it. Without a minute’s hesitation, the guard hit him over the head with the butt of his gun, knocked him down to the ground, and then called for two nearby prisoners to start digging a hole to bury the fallen prisoner. The two men started digging, and when the hole was about a foot deep, the guard ordered the two men to place the sick man in the hole and bury him alive. The two men shook their heads, they could not do that…the guard shot the bigger of the two prisoners. He then pulled two more men from the line and ordered them to dig a hole to bury the murdered man. The Japanese guard got his point across. They dug the second hole, placed the two bodies in the holes, and threw dirt over them. The first man, still alive, started screaming as the dirt was thrown over him.”

Lester Tenney’s memoir contains over two hundred pages describing the abuse, torture and execution of U.S. prisoners of war, both on the death march in the Philippines and as slave laborers of major Japanese corporations, some of whom continue to do business in the United States. He lists at the end of his book the names of almost one hundred comrades-in-arms who did not return as a result. I received my copy of Mr. Tenney’s book a few years ago when he petitioned those on Capitol Hill to support legislation put forward by Mr. Rohrabacher and Mr. Honda to seek compensation and an apology from those Japanese corporations who made use of American POW slave labor. The legislation was not passed. State Department lawyers informed the Congress that the Treaty of San Francisco, signed in 1951, settled all outstanding war claims with Japan and precluded civil suits by Mr. Tenney and others. I am not an international lawyer and I do not know if the zaibatsu system of corporate fascism in place in Japan before and during the war inoculated these corporations from POW lawsuits. I leave that to the lawyers. One thing I do know, however. There is nothing in international law or in any peace treaty which precludes the offer of an apology. While Americans sentimentalize over “the Greatest Generation,” including construction of a memorial fifty-nine years after the end of the war, the Japanese corporations involved in slave labor of war prisoners stubbornly refuse to offer any _expression of remorse. It is time, before the last of these prisoners of war, who have suffered so much, pass away into history to offer them the apology they have requested.

A declassified U.S. government document on this issue, discovered by author Linda Goetz Holmes, indicates a degree of discomfort by American officials over the exclusion of American citizens from war compensation. The American Embassy/Tokyo memorandum, dated June 9, 1955, states:

“Although there is nothing that can be done about it, it may be a little awkward for us to explain to American civilians who were interned by the Japanese in the Far East why they should receive no compensation if the Dutch Government succeeds in getting some compensation from Japan for Dutch civilian internees. You will recall we had a lot of explaining to do to American prisoners of war about their being cut out of the Article 16 fund. We were able to remind prisoners of war that the United States Government provides compensation to them out of Japanese assets in the United States. But the United States Government has not provided any compensation to American civilians who were captured outside of the Philippines or other United States territory.”

There was a massacre of American prisoners of war in the Philippines that surpassed even the events documented up to this point. December 14, 1944, Puerto Princesa Prison Camp, Palawan, Philippines was a second date of infamy for the Japanese military. The event, as described by author Hampton Sides, was as follows:

“A third air-raid alarm sounded. . . . Reluctantly the American prisoners did as they were told, all 150 of them, crawling single file into the poorly ventilated pits. . . . They waited and waited but heard not a single American plane, let alone a hundred. . . . Then, peeking out of the ends of the trenches, the men saw several soldiers bursting into the compound. They were carrying five-gallon buckets filled with a liquid. The buckets sloshed messily as the soldiers walked. With a quick jerk of the hands, they flung the contents into the openings of the trenches. By the smell of it on their skin, the Americans instantly recognized what it was – high octane aviation fuel from the airstrip. Before they could apprehend the full significance of it, other soldiers tossed in lighted bamboo torches. Within seconds, the trenches exploded in flames. The men squirmed over each other and clawed at the dirt as they tried desperately to shrink from the intense heat. They choked back the smoke and the fumes, their nostrils assailed by the smell of singed hair and roasting flesh. They were trapped like termites in their own sealed nest. Only a few managed to free themselves.”

Hampton Sides, in his riveting work Ghost Soldiers, proceeds from the description of this massacre to a description of how a few survivors escaped to warn the U.S. military of the retreating Japanese army’s plan for a mass murder of POWs to cover up their war crimes in the Philippines. The heroic story of the rescue of American POWs by a group of hand-selected U.S. Army Rangers, with the assistance of Filipino guerrilla forces, is the main focus of the book. I have heard that Sides’ book may be made into a movie. Such a film could provide Americans with a visual reminder of the horrors of the War in the Pacific similar to that provided by the Spielberg film Schindler’s List regarding the War in Europe.

Americans, however, were not the only victims of Japanese militarism. The agony of Japan’s neighbors, in both length of duration and scale of suffering, would make the American experience pale by comparison.

The Korean people not only endured a formal occupation of thirty-five years but a systematic attempt to wipe out their culture, language, and their very identity as a people. Americans heard some of this story at the recent dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, where an eleventh-grader from Potomac, Maryland was chosen in a nationwide essay contest to present a written expression of Lincoln’s ideal of freedom. President Bush and Speaker Hastert were among the dignitaries who attended the dedication and heard the Korean-American school girl’s words. Mihan Lee spoke of her great-grandfather, Jung In-seung, who was arrested and sent to a prison camp for writing a Korean dictionary when use of the Korean language was forbidden by the Japanese occupiers. Mihan summarized the values she learned from both Lincoln and her great-grandfather as follows:

“I believe that freedom in the 21st century means the liberty of individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, or class, to express themselves in their own words, and to use those words to shape history.”

Koreans were subjected to one of the world’s most brutal colonial experiences, with tens of thousands transported as slave laborers to Japan and Manchuria. The Korean-American writer, Richard Kim, in his work, Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood, poignantly describes the brutality of the Japanese occupation between 1932 and 1945 from a child’s point of view, where teachers beat students for any utterance of the Korean language. The New York Times’ Book Review stated that: “Lost Names is not a poem of hate, but a poem of love. . . we see the cemeteries full of Koreans apologizing to their ancestors for having lost their names.” The attempted denial of both national and family identity for such a proud, ancient, Confucian people is hard to forgive. As one example of the thoroughness with which Tokyo authorities sought the cultural annihilation of Korea, the Government-General, upon the formal annexation in 1910, conducted a nationwide search for books on Korean history and geography and, in one of the greatest book burnings of all time, destroyed between 200,000 and 300,000 volumes.

Resistance to Japanese rule, of course, predated the Second World War. Most notable was the March 1st Movement of 1919. This nationwide explosion started in Seoul’s Pagoda Park where thirty-three intellectuals, gathered during a period of public mourning for the recently deceased last King of Korea, Kojong. Kojong promulgated a petition, the Declaration of Korea’s Independence, just prior to his death.

The former King and many Korean nationalists had been inspired by President Woodrow Wilson’s words regarding “self-determination” at the Versailles Peace Conference, not realizing that those words were directed only to peoples living under the yoke of old Empires within Europe and not to Asians and Africans. At least half a million Koreans took part in nationwide demonstrations over the period of the two months following March 1st. At the end, the number of dead protestors was in the 7,500 range. In the cruelest act of suppression, Japanese police locked protestors inside a church and then burned it to the ground.

In 1929, in Kwangju, a city whose name would later be written in blood in Korean history, a group of student demonstrators, shouting “Long live Korean Independence!” headed in procession toward the Japanese governor-general headquarters. So Chong-ju, then a thirteen year-old boy, wrote in a poem what happened next:

“Mounted police drove us like sheep into a corner. From the police station yard, one by one we were dragged into a room, stripped to the waist, beaten fifteen, twenty times with leather straps. Those who had been followers were turned loose, though for days after I could not lie down in bed, for soreness, each day angrier, I muttered at them, “Butchers! Bastards! Just you wait.”

The Kempeitai, mentioned earlier in reference to Singapore, were fully engaged, with collaborators, in the repression of the Korean people. Sodaemun (“West Gate”) prison in Seoul was built by the Japanese authorities in 1907, even before the formal annexation of Korea. It was used to imprison and torture Korean patriots, stands today as a museum giving empowerment to the voices of those who suffered and died there. The footprint of Imperial Japan’s institutions still lies heavily on Korean soil. The U.S. military base at Yongsan, soon to be turned over to Korean authority, was first built as the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army in Korea. The U.S. naval base at Chinhae and the USFK Army base at Camp Hialeah in Pusan are likewise legacies of the Japanese military – Hialeah having been a racetrack before it became a base. The former KCIA headquarters on Namsan, the Draconian symbol of South Korean military rule, was likewise reportedly originally a Japanese government facility. The Japanese footprint even reached to Rajin in the far northeastern corner of the Korean peninsula. When I attended a UN conference in that North Korean city in 1996, a group of westerners went to a dinner at an old hotel. One of the western professors in attendance, a Korean expert, told us that the hotel had once served as headquarters for Kempetai operations against Korean guerrilla forces in the border area and across in Manchuria. I could almost hear the cries of the dead as we ate our sober meal.

The most reprehensible colonial policy of all, however, was the sexual enslavement of between 100,000 and 200,000 Korean young school girls and women as “comfort women” for the Japanese Imperial Army’s combat troops (lesser numbers of Chinese, Filipina, Taiwanese, and Dutch women from Indonesia were also so enslaved.) I was the Embassy coordinator for the Fourth World UN Conference on Women held in Beijing in the summer of 1995. The Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) conference was moved out of Beijing to the town of Huairou, supposedly because then Chinese Premier Li Peng had experienced an unpleasant confrontation with NGOs at a UN conference in Europe. While the Chinese authorities placed their own “comfort women” activists under house arrest for the duration of the conference, the South Korean NGOs, together with their sisters from the Philippines, spontaneously organized a series of events and demonstrations centered on the unresolved issue.

The “comfort women” issue should be a subject of concern for the U.S. government which, over the last decade, has made the “trafficking in persons” issue a top foreign affairs priority. It would seem impossible then to ignore an unresolved issue which involves the most extensive case of government-organized trafficking in women in the entire Twentieth Century. That injustice is compounded by the Japanese government’s continued insistence that the trafficking was carried out by private contractors without the specific sanction of the Japanese Imperial Army. The continuing refusal to offer apologies or to compensate the now elderly victims should be a source of national shame. The fact that it took decades for these women to come forward, long after World War II settlements were reached between governments, should not be an issue. The psychological scars must be immense and the sense of shame, especially for women from socially conservative Asian cultures, must be overwhelming.

One woman of conscience, a former Japanese teacher at a Korean middle school during the colonial period, returned to Korea when I was American consul in Pusan a decade and a half ago. She visited her old school and, with tears of remorse, she examined old school records, remembering the virginal young Korean school girls who were taken away to be “comfort women.” This Japanese woman was the exception to a general attitude of denial and disdain. Please note the following:

“On March 29, 2001, a Japanese court overturned the first and only compensation award ever ordered for former World War II sex slaves or ‘comfort women.’ Hiroshima’s High Court reversed the landmark April 1998 ruling by a lower court under which the Japanese government was to pay 300,000 yen (2,440 U.S. Dollars) each in damages to three South Korean women.”

I have been given a declassified U.S. government document from 1945 which challenges Japanese official claims of lack of involvement of the Imperial Army in the recruitment of comfort women. An interview by the U.S. military with a prisoner of war, a civilian brothel owner in Burma, confirms official Japanese involvement:

“A prisoner of war, a civilian brothel owner, captured with his wife and twenty army prostitutes near Waingmaw on 10 August 1944, stated: “Prisoner of war, his wife and sister-in-law made some money as restaurant keepers in Keijo, Korea, but, their trade declining, they looked for an opportunity to make more money and applied to Army Headquarters in Keijo for permission to take ‘comfort girls’ from Korea to Burma. According to prisoner of war, the suggestion originated from Army Headquarters and was passed to a number of similar Japanese ‘businessmen’ in Korea.”

The Japanese public is rightly concerned about the abductions of its citizens by agents of the North Korean regime a number of years ago, including a young girl. The abduction of another young girl many years ago, now grown old, should be a cause for equal concern. This is her story: One of the surviving comfort women, Ok Seon Lee, spoke as a guest of the Korean-American Students Association of Brown University in the autumn of 2002. . . . At that time she was seventy-five years old. For the previous two years, she had been living in a charity home operated for surviving comfort women in South Korea. Before that, she lived in China, where she had resided for almost five decades after three years of enslavement as a Japanese military ‘comfort woman.’ Ms. Lee’s story:

‘One day when I was out on an errand in town, I was captured by a Japanese man. I tried to fight him off, but my resistance had no effect. He took me down the road and threw me into a truck. On the truck there were five other girls – six including myself. We had all been captured and were held against our will . . . . Eventually, because we each began to fight and yell, demanding to be let go, they stuffed our mouths with cloth. I had actually arrived in China but did not know this until one year after my arrival . . . . The youngest girl was fourteen years old. I was fifteen. The oldest was seventeen years old. The Japanese soldiers there had no mercy or compassion. They beat us all the time, until we bled, saying we were bad workers. We would resist and try to fight back to the best of our abilities, telling them we wanted to go home…They took in young girls who had no knowledge and fed them almost nothing besides the food they gave to pigs, and they expected us to serve up to thirty or forty soldiers per day.”

Imperial Japan’s conquest of China was just as brutal as that of Korea. And China endured the longest war of all. If you ask an American when World War II began, they will inevitably reply: “December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor.” Ask a European, and they will state: “September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland.” But if you ask a Chinese, they will say: “July 7, 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge outside Beijing.” To paraphrase the former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, “all wars are local.” Western historians say as many as 8 million Chinese civilians died during the period between 1937 and 1945, and perhaps 2.5 million Chinese soldiers. Chinese sources claim up to 30 to 35 million died. Whatever the final number of casualties, it was a horrific loss for China and her people.

China’s resistance to Japan, however, can be traced at least as far back as May 4, 1919. Just as Koreans had been engaged earlier, on March 1st of that fateful year, China’s young people were enchanted by the siren song of “self-determination” coming out of the mouths of Western political leaders gathered to make peace in Versailles after the devastation of the First World War. Self-determination, however, was really intended only for Czechs and Poles and not for Chinese or Koreans. When Chinese students learned that the final Peace Treaty at Versailles had granted the former German concessions in China to Imperial Japan, rather than returning them to Chinese sovereignty, they felt a sense of betrayal and erupted in massive demonstrations in Beijing and other cities. And so China was engaged in its long twilight struggle against Japanese militarism.

China and the United States ultimately joined hands in the common struggle. Major General Clare Chennault’s “Flying Tigers” daringly flew over the Himalayan “Hump” to resupply embattled Chinese forces. When Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle called for air crews to launch a raid on Tokyo in April 1942, to lift American spirits in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the eighty men who piloted 16 B-25 bombers knew that it was a possible suicide mission. There was not enough fuel to return to American-held territory. Crew members captured in the raid were either executed or interned in POW camps, where one died of malnutrition. The crews of eleven of the bombers bailed out over China or crash landed there, however. Most of these men were rescued by friendly Chinese guerrilla fighters or local Chinese peasants.

Of all the horrors inflicted by Japanese Imperial troops during their march toward empire, first in Manchuria and then in the rest of China, none can surpass for savagery what occurred in the Chinese city of Nanjing: After Nanjing fell, on December 13, 1937, the Japanese military ran amok in the city and surrounding areas until February 1938, when relief garrison forces finally relieved the frontline fighters. Until that time, the soldiers continued with acts of arson, torture, murder, and rape on a scale that has few parallels in history. Buildings were looted and burned. Tens of thousands of presumed Chinese soldiers were rounded up and summarily executed. Civilians of all ages were tortured and executed. Women were raped by the thousands. The late author, Iris Chang, originally from Illinois, wrote the definitive work on the Nanking Massacre. Her discovery of eyewitness accounts in the West, from American missionaries who were in the city at the time, as well as from the diary of the Nazi Party member John Rabe, provided definitive evidence that a wholesale massacre of Chinese people took place in the city during those two months.

One of the eyewitness accounts which Iris Chang recorded was provided by American missionary Minnie Vautrin, aged fifty-one at the time of the massacre. Vautrin attempted, with other missionaries, to establish a “safety zone” around her Ginling College’s campus. Iris Chang recorded:

“That evening Vautrin saw women being carted away in the streets and heard their desperate pleas. A truck went by with eight to ten girls, and as it passed she heard them scream, ‘Jiu Ming! Jiu Ming! (Save our lives!)’ …As she accommodated the stream of wild-eyed women, she heard stories of the Japanese raping girls as young as twelve and women as elderly sixty, or raping pregnant women at bayonet point.”

Another American eyewitness was missionary surgeon, Dr. Robert Wilson, who had been born in Nanjing. He was raised in China, where he learned geometry from Pearl Buck. After receiving a degree from Harvard Medical School, he returned to the city of his birth to practice medicine at the University of Nanking Hospital. Iris Chang records Dr. Wilson’s account:

“One of the worst scenes Wilson saw in Nanking – a scene he would remember for the rest of his life – was a massive gang rape of teenage girls in the street. A group of young women between the ages of fifteen and eighteen were lined up by the Japanese and then raped in the dirt, one after another, by an entire regiment. Some hemorrhaged and died, while others killed themselves shortly afterwards. But the scenes in the hospitals were even more horrifying than those in the streets. Wilson was mortified by the women who came to the emergency room with their bellies ripped open, by the charred and horribly disfigured men whom the Japanese tried to burn alive, and by numerous other horrors he barely had time to describe on paper. He told his wife that he would never forget the woman whose head was nearly cut off, teetering from a point on her neck.”

The Japanese Ambassador to Washington at the time of publication of Iris Chang’s book, Kunihiko Saito, did not display the usual culturally expected Japanese reticence and politeness in verbally attacking Chang’s work as “inaccurate,” “distorted” and “erroneous.” Ms. Chang responded by challenging the Ambassador to a televised debate. (On The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Iris challenged Ambassador Saito to apologize to the victims of the Nanking Massacre. He declined.)

I was living in Beijing at the time and remember that the debate was widely broadcast via cable television. I have a very close personal friend, a Chinese-American businesswoman, a partner in a major U.S. corporation, who is usually extremely cool-headed, conducting business in Japan and elsewhere in a highly professional manner. She rushed over to see me a day or so after the debate, however, to ask me rhetorically “Would the German Ambassador to Washington ever dare to criticize a Jewish writer who published a work on the Holocaust?” She was shaking with rage.

A site of particular concern in this era of renewed interest in chemical and biological weapons is the infamous Unit 731. Located just outside of the Chinese city of Harbin, this is where biological and chemical weapons experiments were carried out on Chinese, Korean, Russian, and other nationals, including American POWs, between 1938 and 1945. My children and I visited the Harbin museum, which records the 731 war crimes, in 1997. The biological weapons experiments conducted on helpless prisoners there included anthrax, an agent with which we on Capitol Hill are now familiar.

One description of what happened there:

“The noise was like the sound when a board is struck. On the frozen fields at Ping Fang, in northeast China, chained prisoners were led out with bare arms, and subjected to a current of air to accelerate the freezing process. Then came the noise. With a short stick, the arms of the prisoners would be struck to make sure their limbs had indeed frozen. In the gruesome world of Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, experiments with frostbite on human subjects became a favorite in a macabre litany of cruelty. . . . Apart from the frostbite experiments, prisoners were infected with diseases including anthrax, cholera, and the bubonic plague. To gather data, human vivisections were performed. Whole villages and towns were infected with the plague and cholera.

In the end, at least three thousand prisoners, mainly Chinese, were killed directly, with a further 250,000 Chinese left to die through the biological warfare experiments. It is called the Asian Auschwitz and, in terms of inhumanity and horror, it certainly warrants this description. Yet there remains a fundamental difference with the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against Jews. While Germany has shown deep contrition and remorse, the leaders of the country that spawned the evil of Unit 731 still struggle to come to grips with what occurred.

This week (August 2002) in a Tokyo court, the world was again reminded of Japan’s inability to deal with its march across Asia. In courtroom 103, three judges of the Tokyo District Court rejected a claim for an apology and compensation by one hundred and eighty Chinese, either victims or the family of victims of Unit 731. . . . The judges claimed all compensation issues were settled by a treaty with China in 1972.”

Yes, your honors, and what about the apology part? What is so hard about saying “We are sorry for what you suffered?’ A Japanese man of conscience, Yoshio Shinozuka, came forward in 1997. A former member of Unit 731, he gave testimony and declared his remorse. Some of his harrowing testimony:

The Chinese victims were known as “logs” and it was Shinozuka’s job to scrub them down before the vivisection. “I still remember clearly the first live autopsy I participated in,” he recalled. “I knew the Chinese individual we dissected alive because I had taken his blood once before for testing. At the vivisection, I could not meet his eyes because of the hate he had in his glare at me.” The victim had been infected with the plague, and was totally black. Shinozuka was reluctant to use the brush on the man’s face. “Watching me, the chief pathologist, with scalpel in hand, signaled me to hurry up.” He recalled. “I closed my eyes and forced myself to scrub the man’s face with the deck brush.”

The museum in Harbin, which I visited, pointed out an embarrassing fact for Americans: those Japanese commanders, including “the brutal psychopath” Lieutenant-General Shiro Ishii, the Doctor Mengele of the Pacific Theater who ran the infamous Unit 731, were never brought to justice by the United States at the IMTFE in Tokyo. Ishii and his cohorts in torture and mass murder got off scot-free. They received immunity from prosecution in return for supplying their research to American scientists.

In his work Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45, and the American Cover-up, Sheldon Harris points out that the matter was raised only once at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal of 1946-48:

An American counsel assisting the Chinese, David N. Sutton, stunned the war crimes tribunal by saying: “The enemy . . . took our countrymen as prisoners and used them for drug experiments. They would inject various types of toxic bacteria into their bodies, and then perform experiments on how they reacted. . . . this was an act of barbarism by our enemy.” …The presiding judge, Australia’s Sir William Webb, said “How about letting this item go?” Sutton replied: “Well, then, I’ll leave it.” The issue never surfaced again. . . . ”

No account of Japanese war guilt would be complete without a description of what happened in the Philippines, the nation where the Chairman of the International Relations Committee, Henry J. Hyde, served as a young naval officer under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur is remembered to this day for keeping his pledge to the people of the Philippines, made on the eve of the fall of the island fortress of Corregidor: “I shall return.” The Philippine people had a long, if somewhat conflicted, relationship with the United States of America. The documentation of their fidelity to the American people during the brutal Japanese occupation is stunning and one of the greatest but largely untold stories of the entire war. Hampton Sides records it in his book on the U.S. Army Rangers’ perilous mission through the Philippines countryside to rescue American POWs:

“Captain Prince nervously craned his neck to learn what the delay was. He heard something strange, a chorus singing softly in the twilight. The tune was hard to make out at first, but then Prince caught it – “God Bless America,” the familiar stanzas rendered in thickly accented English, the melody charmingly curdled with the occasional stale note. At the entrance of the town a few dozen teenage girls dressed in white gowns were singing in sad, sweet voices. . . . The town was planning a feast. People were slaughtering their chickens and cows, building fires, stirring vats of stew. The villagers had prepared a classic Filipino fiesta. . . . Many of the Rangers welled with tears. That the people of Platero were throwing this kind of reception in the midst of war’s misfortunes made their generosity all the more stirring.”

Hampton Sides also recorded from veterans the attitudes the Filipino villagers expressed toward the Japanese occupiers:

“Of course, they despised the Japanese with a countervailing passion. . . . At the start of the war, the Japanese thought they could easily win over the countryside with their “Asia for the Asiatics” rhetoric. They declared: ‘We’ve come to free you from the bonds of Western colonialism. Join us in a new day. . . . It didn’t help that the Japanese military police, the Kempeitai, had sent any number of provincial villagers off to dungeons in Manila. Nor that pimp contractors for the Emperor’s Army had come and drafted pretty Filipino girls, often under false pretenses, to serve as “comfort women” in crab-infested bordellos over in New Guinea or the Solomon Islands. . . . Japanese soldiers were prodigious slappers. They slapped to discipline, to scare, to convey a point. . . . But the slap clashed fundamentally with a basic rule of Filipino etiquette. One of the worst ways to insult a Filipino is to slap him in the face. . . . You do that to a Filipino and you have a deadly enemy for life.”

The sacking of Manila was brought to my attention when, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I went down to the Philippines from Korea in the winter of 1972 to find a little warm weather. Our tour guide in Manila, who took us through the Intramuros, the “Walled City”, a jewel of Spanish colonial architecture constructed in 1571, had tears in her eyes as she spoke of the Japanese Imperial Army’s wanton destruction of churches and monuments as they withdrew from the city. It was as if American occupying forces would have sacked Kyoto, that gem of Buddhist architecture and the cultural center of Japan. And it was so unnecessary as the war was by then clearly lost.

Even as devoted a follower of the Emperor as General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the “Tiger of Malaya,” who had led the blitzkrieg down the Malayan peninsula to capture Singapore in early 1942, must have recognized this. General Yamashita took command in the Philippines in October 1944 and soon concentrated his efforts in a defense of the main island of Luzon. Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi, the 31st Naval Special Base Force Commander, had operational control of Manila. . . . Yamashita ordered a retreat but by this time the United States had cut off Manila and the admiral could not break out. In Iwabuchi’s battle of desperation that followed, his naval force engaged in an orgy of rape, torture and murder of a civilian population for which Yamashita would be legally held accountable. It is estimated that eight thousand civilians were killed and at least five hundred women were raped during this period. . . . Yamashita was served on 26 September 1945 with a generic charge of war crimes. . . . Yamashita was brought before a Military Commission. . . . Significantly, the court brought down its verdict of guilty on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1945 and sentenced the accused to death. He was hanged in Manila on February 23, 1946, the first Japanese official to be executed for war crimes. The hastiness of the trial raised questions about its legitimacy, with some claiming Yamashita had no knowledge of the actions of Iwabuchi and his troops. It should be noted that the people of Guam maintained their loyalty to the United States and the American people during a bitter encounter with Imperial Japan similar to that suffered by the people of the Philippines. The nearly three year period of brutal occupation followed an invasion of the island territory by Japanese imperial forces in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ms. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, the Member of Congress serving as the Delegate from Guam, has introduced legislation, H.R. 1595, The Guam WWII Loyalty Recognition Act, which addresses these issues and which would implement the recommendations of the Guam War Claims Review Commission.

Ms. Bordallo, in her May 17th letter to Members of the House regarding the legislation, stated:

“Sixty-four years ago the people of Guam awoke to a calm peaceful morning. The date was December 8, 1941, and they gathered in their churches to pay homage to their island’s patron saint, Our Lady of Camarin. Their services and prayers were interrupted with the sounds of air raids and the noise of heavy bombardments…Subjected to death, rape, internment, forced march, and forced labor, the people of Guam remained resolute in their loyalty to the United States Flag in the cause of freedom. On July 21, 1944 the Americans returned to Guam: the liberated met their liberators.”

There is a final, compelling issue which I wish to address. There are those who would raise the American nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as cases of moral equivalency with what Imperial Japan did during the war. I visited both Japanese cities during the nineteen seventies. I observed the peace ceremony in Hiroshima in August 1972 and saw the melted girders of the memorial dome left standing since the day of the attack. I saw, in January 1973, the stone statues of saints and angels with melted faces at a Catholic church in Nagasaki, where Mass was being said near ground zero on the morning of the blast. Many Americans have a sense of disquietude, even a degree of guilt, over our country being the first and only nation to use a nuclear weapon in conflict. Perhaps that is one reason we are so tolerant of Japan’s official silence on the war crimes committed by its armed forces.

Back in high school, I read an assigned book in history class, the John Hersey classic on the subject titled Hiroshima. It led to an often heated and very candid debate of the moral issues involved, with pacifist views very pronounced in that nineteen sixties suburban Catholic high school classroom. Such debate is often worthwhile. Perhaps, instead of only the approved and often controversial history textbooks available in Japanese schools, high school students in Japan should be assigned to read Iris Chang’s work, The Rape of Nanking, or Hampton Sides’ book, Ghost Soldiers. As a result, there might be a greater and clearer understanding by future generations of Japan’s role in the Second World War and greater expressions of compassion for the victims. It is just a thought. Hersey’s account is wrenching:

As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching her neighbor, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. . . . Timbers fell around her as she landed, and a shower of tiles pummeled her, everything became dark for she was buried. The debris did not cover her completely. She rose up and freed herself. She heard a child cry, “Mother, help me!” and saw her youngest – Myeko, the five year-old, buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Mrs. Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the baby, she could see or hear nothing of her other children.

I was very critical of the American atomic bombings, even though my World War II era father and uncles insisted these actions were absolutely necessary to swiftly bring the war to an end and save American lives. Last year, however, in preparation for a staff delegation visit to Okinawa, my first visit to the island, I read George Feifer’s work on The Battle of Okinawa: The Blood and the Bomb. I learned that the battle of Okinawa was the largest battle of the war in the Pacific, and surpassed even the D Day landing in Normandy in the scope of its operations. Feifer states that it was “the site of the largest land-sea-air battle in history.” More people died during this battle than those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including 12,000 Americans, 107,000 Japanese troops and Okinawan conscripts, and about 100,000 Okinawan civilians. Many of the civilians committed suicide by jumping off cliffs out of fear of what Japanese government propaganda had said the Americans would do to them if captured. The fanaticism of the Japanese defense – which we could see again in a future battle with North Korea – included the use of suicide kamikaze pilots who willingly gave their lives to the Emperor in exchange for sinking an American ship and killing or maiming its crew.

President Truman, seeing the results from Okinawa, was presented with an untenable choice, a need to render a decision that even King Solomon in all his wisdom would find difficult to determine. He could end the war quickly and save countless American and Japanese lives, or prolong it for six more months with a bloody attempt to occupy the Japanese home islands which would make the Battle of Okinawa look like only a dress rehearsal. It is not a decision any of us would want to face.

However, people on both sides of the Pacific must realize that it was Hideki Tojo, perhaps in consultation with others, who opened the genie’s bottle and released the winds of war by the sudden and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. The tempest of those winds wailed ceaselessly for almost four long years before bringing a nuclear tsunami which crashed down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, taking tens of thousands of innocent lives. This was part of the bargain which Tojo and his militarist cohorts unwittingly made in their pact with the god of war on December 7, 1941.

As we commemorate this sixtieth year of the end of the greatest war of all time, remembrance of things past will have profound significance. The conflict in the Pacific involved the United States in a major way. It was our fight too. Can we ignore the sacrifice of the Americans, and our British and other Allies, who died to rid the East of fascist militarism? Can we ignore the suffering of our POWs in Bataan? Can we so easily forget the sailors eternally interned at the bottom of Pearl Harbor? Can we ever forget the brave Filipinos who suffered or died because of their fidelity, in the face of grave danger, to their American friends? Can we ignore the warm-heartedness of those Chinese people who risked their lives to save the survivors of Doolittle’s Raid? I sincerely hope not.

I fear that the sounds of footsteps entering a shrine will disturb the tranquility of a summer’s morning. The echoes of those footsteps will resound across the water reaching distant places, north to Seoul, west to Beijing, south to Manila, and east to Honolulu. I fear that the lessons of history will then rise in the air like wisps of incense from that shrine, blowing in the summer breeze, but then gone with the wind. I fear that the bows by dignitaries toward the tablets of those who caused such pain will disturb the final repose of the spirits buried in Nanjing, in the American Cemetery in Manila, (which contains 17,206 graves), near Unit 731 in Harbin, and in the sunken frame of the battleship USS Arizona lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. And then all hope for a more harmonious tomorrow in Asia will vanish with the fading sounds of the retreating footsteps.

Some in Washington are dreaming an impossible dream. They wish for Japan to become the Great Britain of Asia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a partner of the United States in securing the peace in Asia and beyond. We Americans, at least, would like to see this happen. But without an honest accounting of its history, as was done in Europe, Japan can never become a Great Britain. Japan, despite its immense generosity in the funding of international organizations, can never secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Japan will be excluded and marginalized unless Tokyo makes some great historic _expression of remorse, like that of German Chancellor Willy Brandt in 1971 kneeling at a memorial in Poland to the victims of the Nazis. Without such a sincere act of contrition there is very little Washington can do to help Tokyo achieve its diplomatic goals. For Japan must first help itself.

Confession, as the Catholic Church teaches, is good for the soul. But a true confession requires both contrition and penance toward those who were offended. Only then can historic sins finally be forgiven.

Those who contend that the discussion of historic legacy issues regarding Japan’s role in World War II is simply manipulation by hostile neighboring governments or an expression of fanatics who will never be appeased demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the perceptions of the peoples of East Asia. I have lived among the Korean people for eleven years and the Chinese people for four years. Their feelings about what happened to their people are deep and genuine. Americans have proclaimed that we will not forget what happened on September 11, 2001, presumably not even after sixty years have passed. How can we then ask others to be less true to their historic national tragedies than we ourselves are?

That is not to say that there is not any manipulation or fanaticism. The rulers of Beijing, especially, when they demand a historic accounting for past atrocities, should remember June 4, 1989. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. John Tkacik of the Heritage Foundation has pointed out that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao misspoke to an American audience in 2003 when he told them that his family home near Tientsin was burned by “Japanese aggressors.” Tkacik reports that the family home was actually destroyed in January 1949, long after the Japanese had departed, in a fight between Communist and Nationalist forces.

In South Korea, fanatic nationalists reportedly recently broke into the shrine of Nongae. This was a place I had the honor to visit as the U.S. consul in Pusan to express America’s admiration for this Korean heroine. Nongae was the gisaeng who made a suicide leap off a cliff clutching a Japanese general during the Hideyoshi invasions of the late sixteenth century. These South Korean “Red Guards” reportedly tore down her portrait because it was allegedly painted by an early twentieth century Korean artist who was too accommodating to the Japanese occupation.

But the manipulation of some and the fanaticism of others do not negate the fact that there must be a day of reckoning for what happened in the Pacific as well as what occurred in the Atlantic. Are the two hundred thousand Korean and other Asian women, imprisoned and brutalized as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army, of less value than the millions who suffered and died in the Nazi Death Camps?

Are the three hundred thousand Chinese men, women and children slaughtered in Nanjing of less human worth than the twenty-seven million Soviet citizens who died in the Nazi onslaught? The historic accounting of atrocities must be color blind. In any event, we will not be able to forget. Over seventy million Koreans will not let us. Nor will 1.3 billion Chinese. Then there are the Singaporeans and the Filipinos who also will not be silent.

In this sixtieth commemorative year of the Second World War, Japanese government officials and Diet Members who go to the Yasukuni Shrine to pay homage to the memory of war criminals hurt the feelings of the families of their victims. If the Yasukuni Shrine is to be a national memorial to a nation’s war dead, like Arlington Cemetery, then the spirit tablets of Tojo and the other Class A war criminals should be removed.

Otherwise, such acts of veneration will continue to disturb the tranquility of the Chinese people, the Korean people, the Philippine people, the Singaporean people, the people of Hong Kong, and the Indonesian people. I cannot speak for all American veterans of World War II, but I can say that venerating Tojo is offensive to Jack Lannan, 88, of Des Plaines, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Pacific and my uncle; it is offensive to Tom Foley, 80, of Glenview, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Pacific and my uncle; it is offensive to Ed Halpin, 95, of Park Ridge, Illinois, a World War II veteran of the Atlantic and my uncle; and it is offensive to Tom Halpin, 87, of Glenview, Illinois, another World War II veteran of the Atlantic and my father. Both Ed and Tom lost their brother, Nick, prematurely from a disease he contracted while fighting in the Pacific War. Thus, my father’s and my uncles’ message is simple and direct to anyone willing to listen in Tokyo:

“Don’t bow before the convicted war criminal Hideki Tojo. We well remember Pearl Harbor even if some Americans have historic amnesia.”

To conclude with a quote from the title of Senator Obama’s autobiography, this paper, in reality, represents dreams from my father. Thank you.

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John Paul II, South Korea, and Regime Change in North Korea: Be Not Afraid

by Dennis P. Halpin, Professional Staff, East Asian Affairs
International Relations Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
______________________
Presented at North Korea Freedom Week
North Korea Human Rights Conference
Sponsored by the Korean Association of Maryland Metropolitan Area
and Jubilee Campaign
_________________
New Covenant Fellowship Church
Germantown, Maryland
April 30, 2005


This statement reflects my own views and not necessarily those of the International Relations Committee nor its Chairman Henry J. Hyde.

The recent death of John Paul II is a poignant reminder of the danger of relying too heavily on Doomsday scenarios for the future of the Korean peninsula. I am referring to those such as ones outlined by Clinton Administration appointee and University of Michigan Professor Kenneth Lieberthal in his recent pessimistic essay on “The Folly of Forcing Regime Change” in North Korea. As we all know, John Paul II was a survivor of the totalitarian experience, first of Nazism and then Communism. He spent his formative adult years behind the Iron Curtain.

The Soviet Union had marched first into Hungary in 1956 and then into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to bring a sudden harsh end to reform movements in both those countries. The Polish people, along with most in Eastern Europe and in the West beyond, assumed that the USSR was here to stay and that a realistic accommodation to the inevitable was the only rational response.

Nightmare scenarios for the fate of a world on the brink of nuclear conflict were even bleaker than those raised by Professor Lieberthal in his recent essay on North Korea. The movie of the early nineteen eighties “The Morning After” terrified all who saw it with a vision of nuclear annihilation. But the new Pope, chosen in a stroke of genius by the College of Cardinals from captive Poland, responded with a smile and the words: “Be not afraid.” Working with Lech Walesa, Solidarity and Ronald Reagan, the Pope put a crack in the iron curtain through the Polish corridor. Within little more than a decade and without the firing of a single bullet, Poland was free and the Soviet Union simply melted away. Who would have believed that possible in 1978 when John Paul II was elected?

Professor Lieberthal in his essay, made the now pro forma and required statement that “North Korea is both morally repugnant and a maddening adversary” before adopting a tepid endorsement of the status quo in the DPRK, a nation recently described at the annual UN Human Rights Commission session in Geneva by British Member of Parliament Bill Rammell as being “widely considered to have one of the worst human rights record in the world.” A few years ago, before the outflow of defectors lifted the bamboo curtain a bit on the human rights nightmare that is North Korea, it was politically correct in Washington to state that there was not enough information on the Stalinist Hermit Kingdom to comment on its human rights record. Silence then was considered safe and human rights concerns were not raised at all as issues in the pursuit of engagement.

That silence is no longer a tenable position. Defector Lee Sun-Ok’s memoirs on her internment in the North Korean political prison camp system, titled “Eyes of the Tailless Animals” have made such a position unthinkable. Ms. Lee’s vivid descriptions include eye witness accounts of babies torn from their returned refugee mothers’ wombs and executed because they might contain seeds from Chinese fathers which would “taint” the Korean bloodline. One had hoped that such racial profiling of genocidal dimensions had been laid to rest after the Second World War. Not so in the case of North Korea.

There is also the research of Rabbi Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center on the use of chemical experimentation on political prisoners, described in a recent Washington Post editorial. Such descriptions should prick at even the most hardened of consciences.

Kim Jong Il’s 2002 admission to Prime Minister Koizumi that his regime had indeed violated Japan’s homeland security by abducting Japanese citizens from their own country, including a thirteen year-old school girl, gave every parent a reason to pause for thought. (Many in the U.S. government had for years insisted that reports of abductions of both Japanese and much larger numbers of South Korean citizens were tall tales with all the credibility of the Cold War film “the Manchurian Candidate.” This was, of course, before the Dear Leader himself confirmed their validity.)

Further elaboration on the shocking human rights record of North Korea, the likes of which have not been seen in Asia since the murderous Pol Pot regime came to power in Cambodia exactly thirty years ago this month, is not needed. We all know what that record is. Is there anyone here who would question the assertion of the British Member of Parliament in Geneva that North Korea has “the worst” human rights record in the world or that it is indeed one of the world’s remaining “outposts of tyranny” as Secretary Rice stated?

The true crisis over human rights on the Korean peninsula is not in North Korea. It is in South Korea. Let me explain.

When the history of the Korean peninsula is written, after eventual unification, there will be a dark stain upon the legacy of the government of the Republic of Korea and South Korean society which no attempts to whitewash will be able to remove. When South Korean soldiers enter the concentration camps of the North they will find victims of abuse as severely mistreated as those seen by my ninety-five year-old uncle when he participated in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald in the spring of 1945, exactly sixty years ago next month. And these South Korean soldiers will be accompanied by CNN and other media journalists who will instantly send images of the camp detainees to television sets around the world.

This will be the hour that South Korea will lose its face before the international community. People around the world will ask how Seoul could have maintained its silence on North Korea’s human rights tragedy, including abstaining year after year on the North Korea Human Rights Resolution in Geneva, as its brethren in the North endured such intolerable suffering.

Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was a master of oratory. After the fall of France, awaiting the coming Battle of Britain, he rallied the British people to face the immense challenge before them by asserting: “if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ Unfortunately, if the Korean nation and people last for five thousand more years I fear, as a friend of Korea, that men will still say “This was their hour of greatest shame.”

I have come to realize, as an observer of Korea for over thirty years, that the 386 generation, which now should be called 486 as they enter their forties, is caught in a time warp and sees all political and human rights issues through the narrow prism of Kwangju. I was working at the American Embassy in Seoul when the Kwangju Massacre occurred. Kwangju was an immense tragedy and I have repeatedly expressed deep regret for the American government’s continued silence for nine years after the massacre took place there. But American silence over Kwangju cannot justify South Korea’s silence over the human rights nightmare that is unfolding in North Korea.

Many of the 386 generation, who hold the leverage of political power in Seoul, appear to be blinded by their animosity toward the past South Korean military regimes and the United States government for the erroneous perception that it authorized the events of Kwangju. As a result, these 386 leaders in Seoul appear willing to embrace many of the ideological pronouncements and even raw propaganda emanating out of Pyongyang. They even join Pyongyang in discussing an American threat, ignoring the fact that it was North Korean propaganda that threatened to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire.” It is North Korean artillery, after all, which is aimed directly at South Korea’s capital. This head-in-the-sand attitude about the North Korean threat reminds me of the Korean proverb that “it is darkest directly under the lamp.”

They should look at North Korean maps which still show Pyongyang as the capital for the entire peninsula and omit both the DMZ armistice line and the notation of “Republic of Korea.” Yet given their anti-American bias, some in Seoul still find common cause with the ultimate anti-Americans, the ruling faction in North Korea.

The tragic result of this bias is a policy of accommodation with regard to North Korean human rights violations. A recent Reuters report on Seoul’s decision to abstain on the North Korea human rights resolution in Geneva pointed out what it termed “the hypocrisy” of 386 generation leaders who fought the past South Korean military regimes for human rights but now turn their backs on the North Korean people’s human rights tragedy.

The issue, however, goes beyond the Korean government. South Korean society, with some notable heroic exceptions, remains surprisingly silent on the issue of North Korean human rights. A younger generation has been taught anti-American bias in South Korean schools by 386 members of the Chunkyojo radical teachers’ union. These political activist teachers have been documented as teaching anti-Americanism directed particularly against the U.S. military. History textbooks in South Korean schools emphasize the 2000 Kim Dae Jung/Kim Jong Il Summit and the brotherly ties with North Korea, meaning the regime in Pyongyang, while largely ignoring the international intervention in 1950 which preserved South Korea as a separate political entity. This young generation grew up, of course, after the events of the Korean War, but they were also born after the period of colonial occupation under imperial Japan. Judged by the widespread participation of young people in anti-Japanese demonstrations in Seoul, one must surmise they have no problem recalling historic events from over sixty years ago while demonstrating ignorance concerning the events of 1950 to 1953.

One major player in that conflict was General Douglas MacArthur, the strategist of the Inchon landing, the major turning point of the Korean War. MacArthur once famously said “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” It now seems apparent that sometimes old soldiers undergo a resurrection long after they have faded away, returning to challenge the conscience of a nation they once faithfully served but which has now largely forgotten them. Two South Korean POWs have made appearances in Washington this past week as part of the events honoring North Korea Freedom Week. These two courageous men were held for over forty years against their wills as coal mine slaves in violation of the POW accords contained in the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Their comments have raised serious questions about the conscience of South Korean society. The pair of POWs stated that they have left at least five hundred of their comrades-in-arms behind to this very day. These of course are not North Korean defectors; they are South Korean men who sacrificed their lives and freedom for the peace, prosperity and liberty which later South Korean generations have taken for granted.

Even more shocking was the amazing degree of silence in Seoul which followed the forced repatriation to North Korea by Chinese authorities, earlier this year, of South Korean POW Han Man-Taek, age 72, who had escaped from the gulag. One American website contrasted this incident with the moving Steven Speilberg movie “Saving Private Ryan” by calling it “Betraying Private Han.” [Link here–OFK] If an old American POW ever crossed into China and was detained for repatriation by Chinese authorities the very roof of the Capitol Building would be lifted by Congressional outrage. The American people would demand action from their government. As a Congressional staff colleague, a former American Marine, observed to me: “the indifference displayed by South Korean society over the forced repatriation of an old POW who fought for the South Korean people raises real questions about South Korea’s reliability as an ally.”

My Marine friend’s question about South Korea’s reliability appeared, sadly, to be answered this week by a young military widow in Seoul. South Korean press reported as follows: Mrs. Kim Jong-seon, the widow of Petty Officer Han Sang-guk, who was killed in a June 2002 naval battle with North Korea in the Yellow Sea, made remarks at the airport before leaving her homeland for the United States. She said, with tears reportedly flowing down her face, that “I did not want any economic compensation, I just wanted sympathy from the government and the citizens towards those who died saving the country. If this indifference and inhospitality shown to those soldiers who were killed or wounded protecting the nation continue, what soldier will lay down his life on the battlefield?” What the widow was referring to was the following, as reported: “Nervous government officials, worrying that the naval incident might cast a pall over the Sunshine Policy, even warned the families to please keep quiet. During the first two remembrance ceremonies in 2003 and 2004, not one high-ranking government official, let alone the Minister of Defense, showed up.” And, as I and several other foreign observers recall with deep shock, then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung chose to attend the last World Cup Game and closing ceremonies in Japan rather than to attend the funeral service for the dead sailors in Seoul. Can one imagine an American President traveling abroad or going to a baseball game after the Oklahoma City bombing or the attacks of September 11th?

No one wants a war on the Korean peninsula. But accepting the evil of the status quo is not a viable alternative. One need neither be largely silent on an atrocious human rights record nor largely uncritical of a regime that imposes such abuse in order to be seen as a proponent of a peaceful solution. It is not a mutually exclusive choice, as some in Seoul and Washington seem to think. Those who would make it so have crossed the line from engagement to accommodation.

The only way for regime survival in North Korea is for Kim Jong Il and his ruling group to clearly understand that the regime, as it is presently formulated, is unacceptable to the international community and that genuine economic and political reform, verified through greater openness, is the only way they will retain power in the long term. That is the message, along with the expression of a deep concern for the welfare of the North Korean people and North Korean refugees in third countries, which was sent by the Congress in the passage last year of the North Korean Human Rights Act. The chief architects of that Act in the House of Representatives, Mr. Leach of Iowa and Mr. Lantos of California, are not, of course, identified as neo-conservatives by any credible Washington observers.

So my message would be to all of you tonight: contact your relatives and friends in South Korea and tell them that, for the sake of the North Korean people and for the preservation of the face of South Korea, they should contact their government and demand that North Korean human rights be given at least equal attention with Tokdo. Contact the South Korean press and demand that they give extensive coverage within South Korea to the immense human rights tragedy unfolding this very hour inside North Korea.

Then we can all repeat with conviction to Kim Jong Il the words written on the Holocaust Museum: “Never again.” And that word “never” should not be just applied to the western white world but for Asia and Africa as well–for the people of North Korea, for the people of Cambodia, for the people of Rwanda, for the people of the Sudan. We will no longer accept racial profiling with regard to the prioritization of human rights issues within the United Nations, within the United States or within South Korea.

As far as the future of the Korean peninsula is concerned, we should take heart from the words of the late Pope, John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” Thank you.

Actual post date: May 3, 2005

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John Paul II, South Korea, and Regime Change in North Korea: Be Not Afraid

by Dennis P. Halpin, Professional Staff, East Asian Affairs
International Relations Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
______________________
Presented at North Korea Freedom Week
North Korea Human Rights Conference
Sponsored by the Korean Association of Maryland Metropolitan Area
and Jubilee Campaign
_________________
New Covenant Fellowship Church
Germantown, Maryland
April 30, 2005


This statement reflects my own views and not necessarily those of the International Relations Committee nor its Chairman Henry J. Hyde.

The recent death of John Paul II is a poignant reminder of the danger of relying too heavily on Doomsday scenarios for the future of the Korean peninsula. I am referring to those such as ones outlined by Clinton Administration appointee and University of Michigan Professor Kenneth Lieberthal in his recent pessimistic essay on “The Folly of Forcing Regime Change” in North Korea. As we all know, John Paul II was a survivor of the totalitarian experience, first of Nazism and then Communism. He spent his formative adult years behind the Iron Curtain.

The Soviet Union had marched first into Hungary in 1956 and then into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to bring a sudden harsh end to reform movements in both those countries. The Polish people, along with most in Eastern Europe and in the West beyond, assumed that the USSR was here to stay and that a realistic accommodation to the inevitable was the only rational response.

Nightmare scenarios for the fate of a world on the brink of nuclear conflict were even bleaker than those raised by Professor Lieberthal in his recent essay on North Korea. The movie of the early nineteen eighties “The Morning After” terrified all who saw it with a vision of nuclear annihilation. But the new Pope, chosen in a stroke of genius by the College of Cardinals from captive Poland, responded with a smile and the words: “Be not afraid.” Working with Lech Walesa, Solidarity and Ronald Reagan, the Pope put a crack in the iron curtain through the Polish corridor. Within little more than a decade and without the firing of a single bullet, Poland was free and the Soviet Union simply melted away. Who would have believed that possible in 1978 when John Paul II was elected?

Professor Lieberthal in his essay, made the now pro forma and required statement that “North Korea is both morally repugnant and a maddening adversary” before adopting a tepid endorsement of the status quo in the DPRK, a nation recently described at the annual UN Human Rights Commission session in Geneva by British Member of Parliament Bill Rammell as being “widely considered to have one of the worst human rights record in the world.” A few years ago, before the outflow of defectors lifted the bamboo curtain a bit on the human rights nightmare that is North Korea, it was politically correct in Washington to state that there was not enough information on the Stalinist Hermit Kingdom to comment on its human rights record. Silence then was considered safe and human rights concerns were not raised at all as issues in the pursuit of engagement.

That silence is no longer a tenable position. Defector Lee Sun-Ok’s memoirs on her internment in the North Korean political prison camp system, titled “Eyes of the Tailless Animals” have made such a position unthinkable. Ms. Lee’s vivid descriptions include eye witness accounts of babies torn from their returned refugee mothers’ wombs and executed because they might contain seeds from Chinese fathers which would “taint” the Korean bloodline. One had hoped that such racial profiling of genocidal dimensions had been laid to rest after the Second World War. Not so in the case of North Korea.

There is also the research of Rabbi Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center on the use of chemical experimentation on political prisoners, described in a recent Washington Post editorial. Such descriptions should prick at even the most hardened of consciences.

Kim Jong Il’s 2002 admission to Prime Minister Koizumi that his regime had indeed violated Japan’s homeland security by abducting Japanese citizens from their own country, including a thirteen year-old school girl, gave every parent a reason to pause for thought. (Many in the U.S. government had for years insisted that reports of abductions of both Japanese and much larger numbers of South Korean citizens were tall tales with all the credibility of the Cold War film “the Manchurian Candidate.” This was, of course, before the Dear Leader himself confirmed their validity.)

Further elaboration on the shocking human rights record of North Korea, the likes of which have not been seen in Asia since the murderous Pol Pot regime came to power in Cambodia exactly thirty years ago this month, is not needed. We all know what that record is. Is there anyone here who would question the assertion of the British Member of Parliament in Geneva that North Korea has “the worst” human rights record in the world or that it is indeed one of the world’s remaining “outposts of tyranny” as Secretary Rice stated?

The true crisis over human rights on the Korean peninsula is not in North Korea. It is in South Korea. Let me explain.

When the history of the Korean peninsula is written, after eventual unification, there will be a dark stain upon the legacy of the government of the Republic of Korea and South Korean society which no attempts to whitewash will be able to remove. When South Korean soldiers enter the concentration camps of the North they will find victims of abuse as severely mistreated as those seen by my ninety-five year-old uncle when he participated in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald in the spring of 1945, exactly sixty years ago next month. And these South Korean soldiers will be accompanied by CNN and other media journalists who will instantly send images of the camp detainees to television sets around the world.

This will be the hour that South Korea will lose its face before the international community. People around the world will ask how Seoul could have maintained its silence on North Korea’s human rights tragedy, including abstaining year after year on the North Korea Human Rights Resolution in Geneva, as its brethren in the North endured such intolerable suffering.

Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was a master of oratory. After the fall of France, awaiting the coming Battle of Britain, he rallied the British people to face the immense challenge before them by asserting: “if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ Unfortunately, if the Korean nation and people last for five thousand more years I fear, as a friend of Korea, that men will still say “This was their hour of greatest shame.”

I have come to realize, as an observer of Korea for over thirty years, that the 386 generation, which now should be called 486 as they enter their forties, is caught in a time warp and sees all political and human rights issues through the narrow prism of Kwangju. I was working at the American Embassy in Seoul when the Kwangju Massacre occurred. Kwangju was an immense tragedy and I have repeatedly expressed deep regret for the American government’s continued silence for nine years after the massacre took place there. But American silence over Kwangju cannot justify South Korea’s silence over the human rights nightmare that is unfolding in North Korea.

Many of the 386 generation, who hold the leverage of political power in Seoul, appear to be blinded by their animosity toward the past South Korean military regimes and the United States government for the erroneous perception that it authorized the events of Kwangju. As a result, these 386 leaders in Seoul appear willing to embrace many of the ideological pronouncements and even raw propaganda emanating out of Pyongyang. They even join Pyongyang in discussing an American threat, ignoring the fact that it was North Korean propaganda that threatened to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire.” It is North Korean artillery, after all, which is aimed directly at South Korea’s capital. This head-in-the-sand attitude about the North Korean threat reminds me of the Korean proverb that “it is darkest directly under the lamp.”

They should look at North Korean maps which still show Pyongyang as the capital for the entire peninsula and omit both the DMZ armistice line and the notation of “Republic of Korea.” Yet given their anti-American bias, some in Seoul still find common cause with the ultimate anti-Americans, the ruling faction in North Korea.

The tragic result of this bias is a policy of accommodation with regard to North Korean human rights violations. A recent Reuters report on Seoul’s decision to abstain on the North Korea human rights resolution in Geneva pointed out what it termed “the hypocrisy” of 386 generation leaders who fought the past South Korean military regimes for human rights but now turn their backs on the North Korean people’s human rights tragedy.

The issue, however, goes beyond the Korean government. South Korean society, with some notable heroic exceptions, remains surprisingly silent on the issue of North Korean human rights. A younger generation has been taught anti-American bias in South Korean schools by 386 members of the Chunkyojo radical teachers’ union. These political activist teachers have been documented as teaching anti-Americanism directed particularly against the U.S. military. History textbooks in South Korean schools emphasize the 2000 Kim Dae Jung/Kim Jong Il Summit and the brotherly ties with North Korea, meaning the regime in Pyongyang, while largely ignoring the international intervention in 1950 which preserved South Korea as a separate political entity. This young generation grew up, of course, after the events of the Korean War, but they were also born after the period of colonial occupation under imperial Japan. Judged by the widespread participation of young people in anti-Japanese demonstrations in Seoul, one must surmise they have no problem recalling historic events from over sixty years ago while demonstrating ignorance concerning the events of 1950 to 1953.

One major player in that conflict was General Douglas MacArthur, the strategist of the Inchon landing, the major turning point of the Korean War. MacArthur once famously said “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” It now seems apparent that sometimes old soldiers undergo a resurrection long after they have faded away, returning to challenge the conscience of a nation they once faithfully served but which has now largely forgotten them. Two South Korean POWs have made appearances in Washington this past week as part of the events honoring North Korea Freedom Week. These two courageous men were held for over forty years against their wills as coal mine slaves in violation of the POW accords contained in the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Their comments have raised serious questions about the conscience of South Korean society. The pair of POWs stated that they have left at least five hundred of their comrades-in-arms behind to this very day. These of course are not North Korean defectors; they are South Korean men who sacrificed their lives and freedom for the peace, prosperity and liberty which later South Korean generations have taken for granted.

Even more shocking was the amazing degree of silence in Seoul which followed the forced repatriation to North Korea by Chinese authorities, earlier this year, of South Korean POW Han Man-Taek, age 72, who had escaped from the gulag. One American website contrasted this incident with the moving Steven Speilberg movie “Saving Private Ryan” by calling it “Betraying Private Han.” [Link here–OFK] If an old American POW ever crossed into China and was detained for repatriation by Chinese authorities the very roof of the Capitol Building would be lifted by Congressional outrage. The American people would demand action from their government. As a Congressional staff colleague, a former American Marine, observed to me: “the indifference displayed by South Korean society over the forced repatriation of an old POW who fought for the South Korean people raises real questions about South Korea’s reliability as an ally.”

My Marine friend’s question about South Korea’s reliability appeared, sadly, to be answered this week by a young military widow in Seoul. South Korean press reported as follows: Mrs. Kim Jong-seon, the widow of Petty Officer Han Sang-guk, who was killed in a June 2002 naval battle with North Korea in the Yellow Sea, made remarks at the airport before leaving her homeland for the United States. She said, with tears reportedly flowing down her face, that “I did not want any economic compensation, I just wanted sympathy from the government and the citizens towards those who died saving the country. If this indifference and inhospitality shown to those soldiers who were killed or wounded protecting the nation continue, what soldier will lay down his life on the battlefield?” What the widow was referring to was the following, as reported: “Nervous government officials, worrying that the naval incident might cast a pall over the Sunshine Policy, even warned the families to please keep quiet. During the first two remembrance ceremonies in 2003 and 2004, not one high-ranking government official, let alone the Minister of Defense, showed up.” And, as I and several other foreign observers recall with deep shock, then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung chose to attend the last World Cup Game and closing ceremonies in Japan rather than to attend the funeral service for the dead sailors in Seoul. Can one imagine an American President traveling abroad or going to a baseball game after the Oklahoma City bombing or the attacks of September 11th?

No one wants a war on the Korean peninsula. But accepting the evil of the status quo is not a viable alternative. One need neither be largely silent on an atrocious human rights record nor largely uncritical of a regime that imposes such abuse in order to be seen as a proponent of a peaceful solution. It is not a mutually exclusive choice, as some in Seoul and Washington seem to think. Those who would make it so have crossed the line from engagement to accommodation.

The only way for regime survival in North Korea is for Kim Jong Il and his ruling group to clearly understand that the regime, as it is presently formulated, is unacceptable to the international community and that genuine economic and political reform, verified through greater openness, is the only way they will retain power in the long term. That is the message, along with the expression of a deep concern for the welfare of the North Korean people and North Korean refugees in third countries, which was sent by the Congress in the passage last year of the North Korean Human Rights Act. The chief architects of that Act in the House of Representatives, Mr. Leach of Iowa and Mr. Lantos of California, are not, of course, identified as neo-conservatives by any credible Washington observers.

So my message would be to all of you tonight: contact your relatives and friends in South Korea and tell them that, for the sake of the North Korean people and for the preservation of the face of South Korea, they should contact their government and demand that North Korean human rights be given at least equal attention with Tokdo. Contact the South Korean press and demand that they give extensive coverage within South Korea to the immense human rights tragedy unfolding this very hour inside North Korea.

Then we can all repeat with conviction to Kim Jong Il the words written on the Holocaust Museum: “Never again.” And that word “never” should not be just applied to the western white world but for Asia and Africa as well–for the people of North Korea, for the people of Cambodia, for the people of Rwanda, for the people of the Sudan. We will no longer accept racial profiling with regard to the prioritization of human rights issues within the United Nations, within the United States or within South Korea.

As far as the future of the Korean peninsula is concerned, we should take heart from the words of the late Pope, John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” Thank you.

Actual post date: May 3, 2005

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The demonstration at the Chinese Embassy was a numerical disappointment. Only 100 people, plus or minus a dozen, attended. We were vocal, but not sufficiently numerous to to budge Hu Jintao. About 1/3 were under 40, and about an equal percentage were non-Koreans. The families of the Japanese abductees were much in evidence again. Another Korean-American woman, about whom I’ll write more at some future date, was awaiting the release of her husband from a Chinese jail. He was caught attemping to help a couple dozen North Koreans escape through China.

Explanation? In the immediate sense, LiNK didn’t participate, and given that they produced the vast majority of those who attended last year, it was no surprise that without LiNK, turnout was sharply lower (Adrian Hong and I had a good conversation about this and other matters over a quick meal; he had what I considered sound logical reasons for not participating. Even if I didn’t agee with them, I could see his point). In a broader sense, this small movement is in some ways a victim of its success. Last year, we had an immediate goal–passage of the NKHRA. Having accomplished that, there’s no sense of agreement on the next step that would unite everyone.

Some other information about demonstrations elsewhere. First, the presence of the same abductees’ families’ organizations in Washington persuades me that the impressive turnout in Tokyo was coordinated with events here. A Kyodo News correspondent there informs me that much of it was driven by Japanese anger at China. Reader Brendan Brown tells me that turnout in Seoul rose to about 200 this year, although that’s still miniscule compared to demos over, say, certain traffic accidents or Tokdo. It may be true that people in Seoul who are inclined to go to protests–usually people who are angry, bored, and without steady employment–didn’t. Like conservatives everywhere, conservatives in Korea probably aren’t completely comfortable on the streets carrying signs or shouting into bullhorns. Neither am I, frankly speaking, which may call for a shift of focus. Or maybe the South Koreans simply don’t care.

The most interesting part of the day was running into Gordon Cucullu, whom I ended up driving to and from the demonstration. Cucullu is just about as interesting and pleasant a person as you could end up spending the better part of a day talking with, and given that I’m deep into his book, it was a lot like having my own personal episode of “Book Notes.” He has many interesting projects underway, although I agreed not to discuss them here. Gordon is a regular on Fox News, which means that he could well bring a great deal of needed attention to this cause.

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The North Korean Opposition Meets Washington

If you think establishing a government in exile is a simple matter of renting an office and designing a flag, just pause to consider the history of past efforts that had backing in Washington. The Iraqi National Congress may have loosely united many of the Iraqi emigres in Washington, but it appears to have had little support in Iraq or among most of Washington’s own feuding factions. Angola’s UNITA lived up to its name by uniting the country’s only effective opposition under a charismatic and brutal practitioner of witch-burning who was at least as bad as the Soviet-backed government he sought to replace. Afghanistan’s rebels may have been decisive in winning World War III, but their failure to achieve political unity nearly destroyed their country and sowed the seeds of World War IV.

Few exiled opposition movements have managed to successfully navigate the uncharted path between disunity and factionalism on one hand, and unity imposed by terror on the other. Then there is the matter of appealing to all of the squabbling factions in Washington, whose views vary between blind enthusiasm, hopeless naivete, and perfidious obstructionism. And the relative dominance of these views is subject to change with each U.S. election season.

In the case of North Korea, the challenges are even greater. There is still no known internal opposition of any significance. There are no dissident poets or scientists writing for clandestine newspapers, no Helsinki Watch, and no liberal priests. Any dissidents worthy of the name occupy mass graves. Hwang Jang Yop, an octagenarian with little charisma and deep ties to the regime and its ideology, is the only opposition figure of any national prominence.


North Korea’s Opposition Movement Is Born

Yet if the North Korean people are ever to see past the hopelessness of resisting the irresistable to a better future worth the risk of their lives, they must see a vision of what that future could be. That someone has finally stepped forward to build it deserves to be seen as an important step. At the very least, it should start a discussion among North Korean exiles and refugees (and perhaps, even a few still inside the North) that may lead to the formation of political parties and movements that can compete for popular support, and eventually, votes.

Last Friday, the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy staked its claim on the barren soil of North Korean politics with a conference at the National Press Club and an event in one of the House office buildings on Capitol Hill. The ECNKD advocates supplying information to people inside North Korea, including the smuggling of radios and the broadcasting of information. It speaks of the need to take on the difficult and dangerous work of organizing resistance against the regime, giving a voice to those who are disaffected, hungry, or bereaved by losses during the famine. It means to recruit and train “democratic missionaries” from its 6,300 exiled members to go back and sow resistance inside North Korea.

It is both commendable and overdue for someone to speak to these needs directly, and any North Korean political movement that doesn’t undertake such measures assures that its constituency will not include any actual North Koreans.

The Right Man?

That being said, add me to the “skeptical” column when it comes to the question of whether Hwang Jang-Yop and the other men and women who lead the ECNKD are the ones who can inspire the North Korean people or lead them through what promises to be a difficult transition to reunification. Hwang could have spent his autumn years in the peace of his home. Instead, he has defied threats and South Korean efforts to muzzle him, and yet he remains politically active. It’s never easy to judge men like Hwang Jang-Yop or Rudolf Hess who were instrumental in setting up murderous regimes but later broke from them.

This is not the only baggage Hwang carries to the exiled opposition movement. At the Defense Forum Foundation event last Friday, former Democratic New York Representative Stephen Solarz drove directly to this point. Solarz, now a member of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, asked why Washington should accept Hwang’s professions of belief in democracy as sincere when he was the architect of the juche ideology and frankly, given that his departure from the North appears to have been a prudent act of self-preservation. The ECNKD’s representatives could only respond by asserting that Mr. Hwang is absolutely committed to democracy. Politics takes practice, but I was not among the persuaded.

Hwang doesn’t help matters by clinging to the juche system that was his intellectual offspring. He insists that the real juche–the one with which I’m obviously not familiar, since the one I recognize owes much to the Fuhrerprinzip–was a “people first” system, in contrast to Kim Jong Il’s “military first” wrongheadedness. I suppose it was inevitable that such in a Stalinist system, two such interpretations couldn’t coexist, and the holder of one of the diverging views would end up getting himself shot or running for dear life. The problem is, that’s how it was during the “good old” juche of Kim Il-Sung’s day. Hwang appears disturbingly untroubled by this, as do his colleages, many of whom appear to have absorbed his revisionist view of juche, and none of whom showed signs of the fire-eating charisma that inspires people to risk their lives for their freedom.

How to Lose Your Independence Before You Gain It

The ECNKD’s greatest political handicap is that its platform simply wouldn’t work. It pours its hopes into the leaky vessel of China’s national conscience. To the ECNKD, severing the diplomatic relationship between North Korea and China is the key to changing North Korea. This begs the question–pursued with wonderfully ruthless persistence by Orien Kuang, a young Chinese emigre from the election think-tank IFES–how, exactly do you intend to do that? The ECNKD representative responded that it would seek to move the Chinese government by persuading the Chinese people–the last time I checked this, they didn’t have the vote–and by promising China the eternal friendship of the North Korean people for helping them. The ECNKD also looks to China as a model for gradual economic reform, presumably after the displacement of the current regime. It’s hardly a promising strategy for bending wills in the inner sanctum of sociopathic realpolitik.

The Question of Reunification

The ECNKD also declares that reunification should be delayed for five to ten years while North Korea achieves prosperity under an interim government led by . . . Hwang Jang-Yop.

At this point, Gordon Cucullu (Gordon will emerge as an intellectual and organizational leader in the North Korean human rights movement this year; he has a book on North Korea’s drug trade coming out this fall) asked how Hwang’s interim government could possibly contain the human waves of hungry refugees and job-seekers who will start streaming into Dorasan the minute the statutes of the Great Leader are pulled down. Again, there was no satisfactory answer, nor many details. Would delayed reunification mean no votes for North Koreans in the interim? Would South Korean troops move in? How quickly would the machinery of oppression be dismantled? Does delaying reunification really mean something more like the creation of “special economic zones” inside North Korea, and which would be absorbed into a united Korea on a set timetable?

A sudden collapse will almost certainly mean chaos. Who will restore order if North Korean soldiers and police suddenly strip off their uniforms, blend into the population, or turn to banditry? Someone–either South Korea or China–will have to do it, and delaying the entry of South Korean troops invites China to step into a vacuum of dithering Korean politicians and take control itself. I didn’t leave the event with a clear understanding of whether Hwang was completely hostile to such a scenario. In this case, reunification would probably have to await a democratic upheaval in China itself, and perhaps longer.

A Start, Nonetheless

I hope these important and tough questions won’t be perceived as one ankle-biting American blogger’s criticism of the hard work of a small group of North Koreans who seek to bring freedom to their homeland. These criticisms, because they are honest, could greatly strengthen an opposition movement’s appeal within North Korea. I hope my year-or-two of writing and blogging speaks for my commitment to a common cause. Our own independence movement featured quasi-monarchists and slave-owners, and yet things did eventually work out much for the better. So it usually goes with open political systems, no matter how imperfect they may be at their inception.

If, five years from now, we look back on this as the week that the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy formed the first embryonic political alternative for a new North Korea, it will have been a historic day. But for it to achieve its objectives, it will need the help of other defectors who understand that the North Korean system can only be ended by revolution, not by evolution.

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The demonstration at the Chinese Embassy was a numerical disappointment. Only 100 people, plus or minus a dozen, attended. We were vocal, but not sufficiently numerous to to budge Hu Jintao. About 1/3 were under 40, and about an equal percentage were non-Koreans. The families of the Japanese abductees were much in evidence again. Another Korean-American woman, about whom I’ll write more at some future date, was awaiting the release of her husband from a Chinese jail. He was caught attemping to help a couple dozen North Koreans escape through China.

Explanation? In the immediate sense, LiNK didn’t participate, and given that they produced the vast majority of those who attended last year, it was no surprise that without LiNK, turnout was sharply lower (Adrian Hong and I had a good conversation about this and other matters over a quick meal; he had what I considered sound logical reasons for not participating. Even if I didn’t agee with them, I could see his point). In a broader sense, this small movement is in some ways a victim of its success. Last year, we had an immediate goal–passage of the NKHRA. Having accomplished that, there’s no sense of agreement on the next step that would unite everyone.

Some other information about demonstrations elsewhere. First, the presence of the same abductees’ families’ organizations in Washington persuades me that the impressive turnout in Tokyo was coordinated with events here. A Kyodo News correspondent there informs me that much of it was driven by Japanese anger at China. Reader Brendan Brown tells me that turnout in Seoul rose to about 200 this year, although that’s still miniscule compared to demos over, say, certain traffic accidents or Tokdo. It may be true that people in Seoul who are inclined to go to protests–usually people who are angry, bored, and without steady employment–didn’t. Like conservatives everywhere, conservatives in Korea probably aren’t completely comfortable on the streets carrying signs or shouting into bullhorns. Neither am I, frankly speaking, which may call for a shift of focus. Or maybe the South Koreans simply don’t care.

The most interesting part of the day was running into Gordon Cucullu, whom I ended up driving to and from the demonstration. Cucullu is just about as interesting and pleasant a person as you could end up spending the better part of a day talking with, and given that I’m deep into his book, it was a lot like having my own personal episode of “Book Notes.” He has many interesting projects underway, although I agreed not to discuss them here. Gordon is a regular on Fox News, which means that he could well bring a great deal of needed attention to this cause.

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The North Korean Opposition Meets Washington

If you think establishing a government in exile is a simple matter of renting an office and designing a flag, just pause to consider the history of past efforts that had backing in Washington. The Iraqi National Congress may have loosely united many of the Iraqi emigres in Washington, but it appears to have had little support in Iraq or among most of Washington’s own feuding factions. Angola’s UNITA lived up to its name by uniting the country’s only effective opposition under a charismatic and brutal practitioner of witch-burning who was at least as bad as the Soviet-backed government he sought to replace. Afghanistan’s rebels may have been decisive in winning World War III, but their failure to achieve political unity nearly destroyed their country and sowed the seeds of World War IV.

Few exiled opposition movements have managed to successfully navigate the uncharted path between disunity and factionalism on one hand, and unity imposed by terror on the other. Then there is the matter of appealing to all of the squabbling factions in Washington, whose views vary between blind enthusiasm, hopeless naivete, and perfidious obstructionism. And the relative dominance of these views is subject to change with each U.S. election season.

In the case of North Korea, the challenges are even greater. There is still no known internal opposition of any significance. There are no dissident poets or scientists writing for clandestine newspapers, no Helsinki Watch, and no liberal priests. Any dissidents worthy of the name occupy mass graves. Hwang Jang Yop, an octagenarian with little charisma and deep ties to the regime and its ideology, is the only opposition figure of any national prominence.


North Korea’s Opposition Movement Is Born

Yet if the North Korean people are ever to see past the hopelessness of resisting the irresistable to a better future worth the risk of their lives, they must see a vision of what that future could be. That someone has finally stepped forward to build it deserves to be seen as an important step. At the very least, it should start a discussion among North Korean exiles and refugees (and perhaps, even a few still inside the North) that may lead to the formation of political parties and movements that can compete for popular support, and eventually, votes.

Last Friday, the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy staked its claim on the barren soil of North Korean politics with a conference at the National Press Club and an event in one of the House office buildings on Capitol Hill. The ECNKD advocates supplying information to people inside North Korea, including the smuggling of radios and the broadcasting of information. It speaks of the need to take on the difficult and dangerous work of organizing resistance against the regime, giving a voice to those who are disaffected, hungry, or bereaved by losses during the famine. It means to recruit and train “democratic missionaries” from its 6,300 exiled members to go back and sow resistance inside North Korea.

It is both commendable and overdue for someone to speak to these needs directly, and any North Korean political movement that doesn’t undertake such measures assures that its constituency will not include any actual North Koreans.

The Right Man?

That being said, add me to the “skeptical” column when it comes to the question of whether Hwang Jang-Yop and the other men and women who lead the ECNKD are the ones who can inspire the North Korean people or lead them through what promises to be a difficult transition to reunification. Hwang could have spent his autumn years in the peace of his home. Instead, he has defied threats and South Korean efforts to muzzle him, and yet he remains politically active. It’s never easy to judge men like Hwang Jang-Yop or Rudolf Hess who were instrumental in setting up murderous regimes but later broke from them.

This is not the only baggage Hwang carries to the exiled opposition movement. At the Defense Forum Foundation event last Friday, former Democratic New York Representative Stephen Solarz drove directly to this point. Solarz, now a member of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, asked why Washington should accept Hwang’s professions of belief in democracy as sincere when he was the architect of the juche ideology and frankly, given that his departure from the North appears to have been a prudent act of self-preservation. The ECNKD’s representatives could only respond by asserting that Mr. Hwang is absolutely committed to democracy. Politics takes practice, but I was not among the persuaded.

Hwang doesn’t help matters by clinging to the juche system that was his intellectual offspring. He insists that the real juche–the one with which I’m obviously not familiar, since the one I recognize owes much to the Fuhrerprinzip–was a “people first” system, in contrast to Kim Jong Il’s “military first” wrongheadedness. I suppose it was inevitable that such in a Stalinist system, two such interpretations couldn’t coexist, and the holder of one of the diverging views would end up getting himself shot or running for dear life. The problem is, that’s how it was during the “good old” juche of Kim Il-Sung’s day. Hwang appears disturbingly untroubled by this, as do his colleages, many of whom appear to have absorbed his revisionist view of juche, and none of whom showed signs of the fire-eating charisma that inspires people to risk their lives for their freedom.

How to Lose Your Independence Before You Gain It

The ECNKD’s greatest political handicap is that its platform simply wouldn’t work. It pours its hopes into the leaky vessel of China’s national conscience. To the ECNKD, severing the diplomatic relationship between North Korea and China is the key to changing North Korea. This begs the question–pursued with wonderfully ruthless persistence by Orien Kuang, a young Chinese emigre from the election think-tank IFES–how, exactly do you intend to do that? The ECNKD representative responded that it would seek to move the Chinese government by persuading the Chinese people–the last time I checked this, they didn’t have the vote–and by promising China the eternal friendship of the North Korean people for helping them. The ECNKD also looks to China as a model for gradual economic reform, presumably after the displacement of the current regime. It’s hardly a promising strategy for bending wills in the inner sanctum of sociopathic realpolitik.

The Question of Reunification

The ECNKD also declares that reunification should be delayed for five to ten years while North Korea achieves prosperity under an interim government led by . . . Hwang Jang-Yop.

At this point, Gordon Cucullu (Gordon will emerge as an intellectual and organizational leader in the North Korean human rights movement this year; he has a book on North Korea’s drug trade coming out this fall) asked how Hwang’s interim government could possibly contain the human waves of hungry refugees and job-seekers who will start streaming into Dorasan the minute the statutes of the Great Leader are pulled down. Again, there was no satisfactory answer, nor many details. Would delayed reunification mean no votes for North Koreans in the interim? Would South Korean troops move in? How quickly would the machinery of oppression be dismantled? Does delaying reunification really mean something more like the creation of “special economic zones” inside North Korea, and which would be absorbed into a united Korea on a set timetable?

A sudden collapse will almost certainly mean chaos. Who will restore order if North Korean soldiers and police suddenly strip off their uniforms, blend into the population, or turn to banditry? Someone–either South Korea or China–will have to do it, and delaying the entry of South Korean troops invites China to step into a vacuum of dithering Korean politicians and take control itself. I didn’t leave the event with a clear understanding of whether Hwang was completely hostile to such a scenario. In this case, reunification would probably have to await a democratic upheaval in China itself, and perhaps longer.

A Start, Nonetheless

I hope these important and tough questions won’t be perceived as one ankle-biting American blogger’s criticism of the hard work of a small group of North Koreans who seek to bring freedom to their homeland. These criticisms, because they are honest, could greatly strengthen an opposition movement’s appeal within North Korea. I hope my year-or-two of writing and blogging speaks for my commitment to a common cause. Our own independence movement featured quasi-monarchists and slave-owners, and yet things did eventually work out much for the better. So it usually goes with open political systems, no matter how imperfect they may be at their inception.

If, five years from now, we look back on this as the week that the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy formed the first embryonic political alternative for a new North Korea, it will have been a historic day. But for it to achieve its objectives, it will need the help of other defectors who understand that the North Korean system can only be ended by revolution, not by evolution.

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Voices from the Grave

This is a story that should start with a description of how it ended. Other than a few well-connected activists, most of those in the room had been a select group–congressional staffers, think-tankers, diplomats, attaches from embassies . . . even Nelson Mandela’s nephew, a pleasant enough man, now wearing the uniform of a general. Before the event had even begun, one bored staffer had whined to another, “I’m sooooooo ready for the weekend. When the two men we had come to hear had finished telling us their stories, the people in the room split off into knots and cliques. “I hear he’s retiring after the next term. “It’s never getting out of committee. “I’m sorry, I know I remember you from somewhere. “I’ll e-mail you.

The small old woman and I were two of the few “ordinary” and undistinguished ones who didn’t belong to any other group, and as I left to go back to my son, more thankful than I had ever been that he was just an hour away, the woman asked me the way out of the labyrinth known as the Rayburn House Office Building. She must have been almost eighty and walked slowly, with difficulty. She needed my help to descend the steps to the street, even as she insisted that she could find her bus by herself, and that she didn’t need a cab. She was there for her brother–not the two who had served in World War II, or one who had been wounded in Viet Nam–but for the one who had never come home from Korea. The one who had been reported captured and who was never heard from again. I looked at her face and tried to imagine the face of the scared young American in the captivity of men hardened by war, and for an instant, I thought I saw him, innocent and vulnerable to a hundred reaching fingers of death in a cold, hungry, angry place–one that would never mark his grave or record the final moments of his humanity for those who would spend the next five decades seeking them.

And still, she hoped, for she had heard that one of the Korean men who had escaped that same hell had seen six Americans in August 1953, after the war had ended and was bringing prisoners of all sides back home across the Bridge of No Return. Indeed, the man did say he saw them, but had told us little else. He didn’t describe speaking to them, hearing them speak to others, or their features, clothing, or patches. The woman and I were both disappointed not to know more, but my own disappointment must have been nothing compared to hers. She had been active in the National Alliance of Families and obviously devoted years of her life to finding him. Listening to her, she clearly believed that he could still be alive. Anything is possible, of course, but the odds must surely be against anyone surviving fifty years in what is arguably the world’s cruelest place.

* * * * *

But of course, we had come to hear voices from the grave today, proving that the dead do speak. I won’t tell you their names, because they still have friends, perhaps even family, in the North. For the same reason, I won’t post the pictures I took today. I’ll call these two men C and K instead.

* * * * *

That being said, I wish I could show you C’s face. One look at the man and you understood how he’d made it. He stood like a statue of inextinguishable dignity and spoke with a quaking-yet-strong voice that seemed to have endured a thousand horrors just for the chance to tell everyone in that room, me, and you what he lived through and what it means for us. He told us that it was his duty to expose what he had seen and lived through, and he thanked us for coming to hear it, as if this chance to tell us what he had seen was his last remaining reason for having clung so stubbornly to life for so long. His next words were his heartfelt thanks to the U.S. Congress for passing the North Korean Human Rights Act, and to the American people for the lives they gave for the defense of his country.

C graduated from high school near Seoul in 1950 and entered one of Korea’s most prestigious universities. Two months later, North Korea invaded the South. C did not say how he survived until December, when U.N. forces reentered Seoul, but that month, he entered the Korean Military Cadet School and began a crash training program that ended just four months later, in April 1951, with his graduation and commissioning as a second lieutenant. C soon found himself at the front, assigned to an infantry division.

C’s military career was not a lengthy one. On May 19th, just a month after his graduation, he was taken prisoner of the Chinese Army. After making it through the summer and what must have been a harsh winter, in 1952 he found himself before a North Korean military court, which sentenced him to thirteen years of hard labor at a remote labor camp. For most who shared C’s fate, it would be a slow death sentence without the luxury of finality.

C spent those first thirteen years in the camp without a pillow, a blanket, underwear, or socks. He had nothing but his prisoner’s garb to keep him from freezing. There was no razor for shaving, no water for bathing or washing. An oil drum was the communal toilet. By the age of forty, C had lost all of his teeth. The camp was, he said, “a heaven for the fleas and ticks,” but hell for the men who lived and died there. The primary causes of death were starvation and disease–all of the other four officers POWs who shared C’s post-armistice captivity died there–but some were executed. Executions generally took place outside the camp, in front of members of the public, including family members of the condemned.

In 1964, C completed his military sentence and was sent to the first of two civilian mines where he worked. It was here that he took his first bath in thirteen years. He was still a forced laborer in a mine 1994, when he must have been in his late sixties, in a country where thousands were already dying of famine. It was then that C somehow escaped, though he told us agonizingly little of how he managed to become the first South Korean POW to get out of North Korea after the war’s end. He returned to the Republic of Korea in October 1995.

* * * * *

It was hard to tell where C’s descriptions of his camp life ended and those of North Korean society in general began, just as it often seems to an outsider that all parts of North Korea are different levels of security in one vast prison. C appears to have had little contact with the world outside of his camp until 1964. Even on the “outside,” North Korean society as C described it tolerated no form of dissent, criticism, or religious belief. He reported that from early childhood, North Koreans were taught that Americans were sub-human, like animals with two legs, or hyenas. His final comment was to call South Korea’s abstention from the U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution on North Korea “shameful and embarrassing.

* * * * *

K was drafted into the South Korean Army in 1952, and was wounded and taken prisoner by the Chinese 11 months later, in July 1953. On the 27th of that same month, the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed. The following month, K was released from a Chinese military hospital and sent to a prison camp. It is here that K reports seeing six Americans, although again, the details are unclear. First, K gave no physical description of the men. Second, he reports no contact with them that could corroborate such details as names, home towns, or units. Finally, he reports seeing the men in August 1953, which was within the 60 days permitted for the repatriation of prisoners under Article III, paragraph 51(a). From the little detail we have, it is entirely possible that the men were repatriated as required, or even that they were not American, or even allied, prisoners.

If there is doubt about who K saw in August 1953, there is little doubt about North Korean non-compliance with the armistice. K remained in his prison camp until 1956, when he was transferred to a mine. He worked in the mines for 36 years until 1992, when he had reached an age when most men would be retiring from such a difficult and dangerous occupation. Mining takes a high toll from rock falls, asphyxiation, explosions, and working around heavy equipment. K survived all these hazards under the most dangerous conditions imaginable, without safety equipment or training. Did I mention that he did this with one leg and one eye?

Why not simply return the prisoners as agreed? K describes an order numbered “143” by Kim Il-Sung that became a household term in parts of North Korea, and which ordered the retention of thousands of South Korean prisoners for reconstruction labor. Unlike the North Korean forced laborers who toiled beside them, a “143” or his family members were never eligible for rehabilitation to government jobs and party membership. Nonetheless, K reports that the discrimination against “143’s” was slightly relaxed many years after the end of the war.

Like C, K reports having little to eat and surviving horrific working conditions. A meal generally consisted of watery cabbage soup with a handful of millet. Conditions worsened dramatically in the 1990s. K reports that North Korea’s public distribution system ceased to function for most of the population in 1992, but that miners continued to receive rations to sustain them through their hard labor. This corresponds to when, according to Dr. Andrei Lankov, the regime began telling people to eat two meals per day. K reports that mass starvation began in his area in 1993 and 1994.

From 1992 to 1995, K worked at a farm, and does not report working thereafter. In July of 2000, he escaped into China.

* * * * *

Both C and K were angry that their government had forgotten the cause for which they fought and the nature of the regime that caused their suffering. K was particularly bitter that South Korea had grown prosperous and forgotten that the suffering of his generation at the hand of men like the North Koreans had made it possible. Yet he was humble enough to apologize that he and his fellow soldiers had failed in their duty to unite the country. This was one of several emotional moments as we heard from these men, and not a few of the Koreans in the audience were wiping away tears. Such men deserve better than to be forgotten, but they were. Hundreds of their comrades allegedly remain behind in North Korea while the South Korean government fails to make their release a condition of continued trade and aid.

Contrast this with the extraordinary lengths to which the United States government will sometimes to go recover a few bone fragments from a long-lost crash site, it is astonishing that South Korea simply tolerates this with hardly a word of protest.

My thoughts return to the old woman whose hopeful search for her missing brother will go on. He is a man whose name I may never know, and who may never be found, but whom I will never forget. Later, as my son blissfully ate the Happy Meal I’d promised him that morning, I thought of the men who had made it possible to enjoy our small ration of decadence.

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Actual post date: April 23, 2005

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Voices from the Grave

This is a story that should start with a description of how it ended. Other than a few well-connected activists, most of those in the room had been a select group–congressional staffers, think-tankers, diplomats, attaches from embassies . . . even Nelson Mandela’s nephew, a pleasant enough man, now wearing the uniform of a general. Before the event had even begun, one bored staffer had whined to another, “I’m sooooooo ready for the weekend. When the two men we had come to hear had finished telling us their stories, the people in the room split off into knots and cliques. “I hear he’s retiring after the next term. “It’s never getting out of committee. “I’m sorry, I know I remember you from somewhere. “I’ll e-mail you.

The small old woman and I were two of the few “ordinary” and undistinguished ones who didn’t belong to any other group, and as I left to go back to my son, more thankful than I had ever been that he was just an hour away, the woman asked me the way out of the labyrinth known as the Rayburn House Office Building. She must have been almost eighty and walked slowly, with difficulty. She needed my help to descend the steps to the street, even as she insisted that she could find her bus by herself, and that she didn’t need a cab. She was there for her brother–not the two who had served in World War II, or one who had been wounded in Viet Nam–but for the one who had never come home from Korea. The one who had been reported captured and who was never heard from again. I looked at her face and tried to imagine the face of the scared young American in the captivity of men hardened by war, and for an instant, I thought I saw him, innocent and vulnerable to a hundred reaching fingers of death in a cold, hungry, angry place–one that would never mark his grave or record the final moments of his humanity for those who would spend the next five decades seeking them.

And still, she hoped, for she had heard that one of the Korean men who had escaped that same hell had seen six Americans in August 1953, after the war had ended and was bringing prisoners of all sides back home across the Bridge of No Return. Indeed, the man did say he saw them, but had told us little else. He didn’t describe speaking to them, hearing them speak to others, or their features, clothing, or patches. The woman and I were both disappointed not to know more, but my own disappointment must have been nothing compared to hers. She had been active in the National Alliance of Families and obviously devoted years of her life to finding him. Listening to her, she clearly believed that he could still be alive. Anything is possible, of course, but the odds must surely be against anyone surviving fifty years in what is arguably the world’s cruelest place.

* * * * *

But of course, we had come to hear voices from the grave today, proving that the dead do speak. I won’t tell you their names, because they still have friends, perhaps even family, in the North. For the same reason, I won’t post the pictures I took today. I’ll call these two men C and K instead.

* * * * *

That being said, I wish I could show you C’s face. One look at the man and you understood how he’d made it. He stood like a statue of inextinguishable dignity and spoke with a quaking-yet-strong voice that seemed to have endured a thousand horrors just for the chance to tell everyone in that room, me, and you what he lived through and what it means for us. He told us that it was his duty to expose what he had seen and lived through, and he thanked us for coming to hear it, as if this chance to tell us what he had seen was his last remaining reason for having clung so stubbornly to life for so long. His next words were his heartfelt thanks to the U.S. Congress for passing the North Korean Human Rights Act, and to the American people for the lives they gave for the defense of his country.

C graduated from high school near Seoul in 1950 and entered one of Korea’s most prestigious universities. Two months later, North Korea invaded the South. C did not say how he survived until December, when U.N. forces reentered Seoul, but that month, he entered the Korean Military Cadet School and began a crash training program that ended just four months later, in April 1951, with his graduation and commissioning as a second lieutenant. C soon found himself at the front, assigned to an infantry division.

C’s military career was not a lengthy one. On May 19th, just a month after his graduation, he was taken prisoner of the Chinese Army. After making it through the summer and what must have been a harsh winter, in 1952 he found himself before a North Korean military court, which sentenced him to thirteen years of hard labor at a remote labor camp. For most who shared C’s fate, it would be a slow death sentence without the luxury of finality.

C spent those first thirteen years in the camp without a pillow, a blanket, underwear, or socks. He had nothing but his prisoner’s garb to keep him from freezing. There was no razor for shaving, no water for bathing or washing. An oil drum was the communal toilet. By the age of forty, C had lost all of his teeth. The camp was, he said, “a heaven for the fleas and ticks,” but hell for the men who lived and died there. The primary causes of death were starvation and disease–all of the other four officers POWs who shared C’s post-armistice captivity died there–but some were executed. Executions generally took place outside the camp, in front of members of the public, including family members of the condemned.

In 1964, C completed his military sentence and was sent to the first of two civilian mines where he worked. It was here that he took his first bath in thirteen years. He was still a forced laborer in a mine 1994, when he must have been in his late sixties, in a country where thousands were already dying of famine. It was then that C somehow escaped, though he told us agonizingly little of how he managed to become the first South Korean POW to get out of North Korea after the war’s end. He returned to the Republic of Korea in October 1995.

* * * * *

It was hard to tell where C’s descriptions of his camp life ended and those of North Korean society in general began, just as it often seems to an outsider that all parts of North Korea are different levels of security in one vast prison. C appears to have had little contact with the world outside of his camp until 1964. Even on the “outside,” North Korean society as C described it tolerated no form of dissent, criticism, or religious belief. He reported that from early childhood, North Koreans were taught that Americans were sub-human, like animals with two legs, or hyenas. His final comment was to call South Korea’s abstention from the U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution on North Korea “shameful and embarrassing.

* * * * *

K was drafted into the South Korean Army in 1952, and was wounded and taken prisoner by the Chinese 11 months later, in July 1953. On the 27th of that same month, the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed. The following month, K was released from a Chinese military hospital and sent to a prison camp. It is here that K reports seeing six Americans, although again, the details are unclear. First, K gave no physical description of the men. Second, he reports no contact with them that could corroborate such details as names, home towns, or units. Finally, he reports seeing the men in August 1953, which was within the 60 days permitted for the repatriation of prisoners under Article III, paragraph 51(a). From the little detail we have, it is entirely possible that the men were repatriated as required, or even that they were not American, or even allied, prisoners.

If there is doubt about who K saw in August 1953, there is little doubt about North Korean non-compliance with the armistice. K remained in his prison camp until 1956, when he was transferred to a mine. He worked in the mines for 36 years until 1992, when he had reached an age when most men would be retiring from such a difficult and dangerous occupation. Mining takes a high toll from rock falls, asphyxiation, explosions, and working around heavy equipment. K survived all these hazards under the most dangerous conditions imaginable, without safety equipment or training. Did I mention that he did this with one leg and one eye?

Why not simply return the prisoners as agreed? K describes an order numbered “143” by Kim Il-Sung that became a household term in parts of North Korea, and which ordered the retention of thousands of South Korean prisoners for reconstruction labor. Unlike the North Korean forced laborers who toiled beside them, a “143” or his family members were never eligible for rehabilitation to government jobs and party membership. Nonetheless, K reports that the discrimination against “143’s” was slightly relaxed many years after the end of the war.

Like C, K reports having little to eat and surviving horrific working conditions. A meal generally consisted of watery cabbage soup with a handful of millet. Conditions worsened dramatically in the 1990s. K reports that North Korea’s public distribution system ceased to function for most of the population in 1992, but that miners continued to receive rations to sustain them through their hard labor. This corresponds to when, according to Dr. Andrei Lankov, the regime began telling people to eat two meals per day. K reports that mass starvation began in his area in 1993 and 1994.

From 1992 to 1995, K worked at a farm, and does not report working thereafter. In July of 2000, he escaped into China.

* * * * *

Both C and K were angry that their government had forgotten the cause for which they fought and the nature of the regime that caused their suffering. K was particularly bitter that South Korea had grown prosperous and forgotten that the suffering of his generation at the hand of men like the North Koreans had made it possible. Yet he was humble enough to apologize that he and his fellow soldiers had failed in their duty to unite the country. This was one of several emotional moments as we heard from these men, and not a few of the Koreans in the audience were wiping away tears. Such men deserve better than to be forgotten, but they were. Hundreds of their comrades allegedly remain behind in North Korea while the South Korean government fails to make their release a condition of continued trade and aid.

Contrast this with the extraordinary lengths to which the United States government will sometimes to go recover a few bone fragments from a long-lost crash site, it is astonishing that South Korea simply tolerates this with hardly a word of protest.

My thoughts return to the old woman whose hopeful search for her missing brother will go on. He is a man whose name I may never know, and who may never be found, but whom I will never forget. Later, as my son blissfully ate the Happy Meal I’d promised him that morning, I thought of the men who had made it possible to enjoy our small ration of decadence.

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Actual post date: April 23, 2005

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North Korea Freedom Week, Seoul

Thursday, April 21, 2:00 PM, Myongdong Catholic Cathedrale, downtown Seoul; Speeches about North Korean human rights; March around the church, urging the new pope to try to go to North Korea

Friday, April 22, 12:00, noon, UNHCR-Office, downtown Seoul, Demo against the inactivity of the UN regarding North Korean refugees

Thursday, April 28, 12:00, noon, Across the Chinese Consulate, downtown Seoul in front of the Dongwa Duty Free Shop, Part of the 2. worldwide protest against China`s repatriation of NK refugees

(Actual post date, 21 Apr. 2005; sorry for the late post)

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North Korea Freedom Week 2005

NORTH KOREA FREEDOM WEEK CONFIRMED PUBLIC EVENTS

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005:
—————————————————————————————————–
CAPITOL HILL FORUM HONORING ROK POWS
12 noon: Half a Century in the Hellish Nightmare: South Korean POWs Tell Their StoryChang-Ho Cho, the first South Korean POW to escape from North Korea in 1995, and Chang-Seok Kim, who escaped in 2000, will tell their stories for the first time in the United States. (There are an estimated 500 South Korean POWs still being held in North Korea!) Hosted by Dr. Thomas Chung of the Korean POW Rescue Committee and Defense Forum Foundation ($26 fee for lunch: *RSVP Required to skswm@aol.com)Location: B-339 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. Special Guests: Ambassador James Lilley and representatives from the Embassies of the countries who fought for the democracy and freedom of the South Korean people

After the program, Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Korean War Memorial

TUESDAY, APRIL 26-SATURDAY, APRIL 30:
NORTH KOREA GENOCIDE EXHIBIT
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10am-4 pm DAILY North Korea Genocide Exhibit Fairfax Korean Church, 11400 Shirley Gate Court, Fairfax, Virginia 22030 Special Events at the Exhibit:

Tuesday, April 26, 8 AM, Special VIP Ribbon Cutting and Opening Ceremony including Congressman Frank Wolf, National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, Pastor Kwang-Ho Yang, Moon Gook Han; North Korean defectors Soon-Ok Lee, Ahn Hyok, Dong-Chul Choi, and Seung-Min Kim; Teruaki Masumoto and Yoichi Shimada of the Japanese Rescue Movement and other VIPs9:30 am Meet with the leadership of the North Korean defectors organizations working for human rights

Wednesday, April 27, 9:30 AM: Meet the Author, Book Signing with Soon Ok Lee, author of Eyes of the Tailless Animals, her experiences as a survivor in the North Korea political prison camps

THURSDAY, APRIL 28: FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF NORTH KOREA FREEDOM DAY
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9:30 AM: Meet the Author, Book Signing with Colonel Gordon Cucullo, author of Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin

9:30 AM Washington, D.C., Premiere of Award Winning Documentary Seoul Train depicting plight of the North Korean refugees in China Welcome and Introduction by Congressmen Joseph Pitts (Pa) and Trent Franks (Az)with remarks and discussion led by Seoul Train Producers Jim Butterworth and Lisa SleethHosted by North Korea Freedom Coalition (RSVP to: erin_mccormick@wilberforce.org) Location: 2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

12:00 Noon Protest to Stop China’s Violent Repatriation of North Korean Refugees
Hosted by the International Campaign to Block the Repatriation of the North Korean Refugees Location: Peoples’ Republic of China Embassy, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

(Corrected!)

1:30: Congressional Hearing: International Relations Joint Subcommittee Hearing on North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, Thursday, April 28, at 1:30 PM
Hosted by Congressman James Leach, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations
Location: Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building

(Corrected!)
2:30 pm Second Screening of Seoul Train hosted by North Korea Freedom Coalition
Welcome and Introduction by Senator Sam Brownback with remarks and discussion led by Seoul Train Producers Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth
Hosted by North Korea Freedom Coalition (RSVP to: erin_mccormick@wilberforce.org)
Location: 385 Russell Senate Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

7 pm: Prayer Vigil for Freedom and Human Rights for North KoreaHosted by Pastor Dong Soo Shin Location: Fairfax Korean Church Fairfax Korean Church, 11400 Shirley Gate Court, Fairfax, Virginia 22030

FRIDAY, APRIL 29
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9:30 AM, Meet South Koreans abducted by North Korea and leaders of the Japanese abductee organizations including Teruaki Masumoto, Deputy Secretary General of the Japanese Abducted Family Association, hosted by Mr. Jae Hyun Bae of Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and Yoichi Shimada of the Japanese Rescue Movement
North Korean Genocide Exhibit is Hosted by Pastor Kwang-Ho Yang, Sin U Nam, Suzanne Scholte, rescuer Moon Gook Han of the International Coalition to Save the NK Slaves; The Exhibit, which opened in Seoul in November 2004 for its World Tour, includes displays depicting the plight of North Korean refugees in China, political prison camps, starvation, Japanese abductees, Korean abductees and other evidence of the horrific life for North Koreans under the Kim Jong-il regime; the award winning documentaries Seoul Train (about the underground railroad for the North Korean Refugees) by Incite Productions and the BBC’s Access to Evil and other videos will be shown continuously; the famous painting by French artist Jean-Baptiste Oh “Death and Despairand satellite images provided by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea are also part of the exhibit.

10 am: Press Conference with the North Korean Defectors Organizations represented by Ahn Hyok, Seung-Min Kim and Dong-Chul ChoiHosted by Peter Hickman and the Morning Newsmaker Committee, NPCLocation: Murrow Room, National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W.

12 noon Capitol Hill Forum with the Leadership of the North Korean Defectors Organizations North Korean defectors will describe their work promoting human rights and freedom for North Korea and their plans for a democratic and free North Korea post Kim Jong-il. Hosted by the Defense Forum Foundation ($26 fee for lunch: *RSVP Required to skswm@aol.com) Location: 2168 Rayburn (Gold Room) House Office Building, Washington, D.C. (*RSVP required)

SATURDAY, APRIL 30
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7-10 pm: North Korean Human Rights Conference with North Korean defectors, special guestsHosted by the Maryland Koreans Association and Jubilee Campaign (RSVP to eunhaemary@yahoo.com)Location: New Covenant Fellowship Church,18901 Waring Station Road, Germantown, MD 20874

(Actual post date: 21 Apr 2005)

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North Korea Freedom Week, Seoul

Thursday, April 21, 2:00 PM, Myongdong Catholic Cathedrale, downtown Seoul; Speeches about North Korean human rights; March around the church, urging the new pope to try to go to North Korea

Friday, April 22, 12:00, noon, UNHCR-Office, downtown Seoul, Demo against the inactivity of the UN regarding North Korean refugees

Thursday, April 28, 12:00, noon, Across the Chinese Consulate, downtown Seoul in front of the Dongwa Duty Free Shop, Part of the 2. worldwide protest against China`s repatriation of NK refugees

(Actual post date, 21 Apr. 2005; sorry for the late post)

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Jing’s Rules of Discourse

The infamous commenter Jing of Marmot’s Hole fame has started his own blog. Not being one who subscribes to the theory that decorum requires us to conceal the abhorrent beneath a blanket of smiley equivalency, I’d like to welcome Jing to this tough room we call the blogosphere by engaging in a little Maoist criticism of what I like to call Jing’s Rules of Discourse:

1. If someone criticizes your position, go for the anti-Semitic angle:

Ahh the covetous shylock on the attack. Don’t mind [ZF], he seems to have a strange China fixation that is unhealthy to say the least.

Comment by Jing from — August 22, 2004 (Sunday) @ 2:10 pm

I wouldn’t know about calling Mr. [Thomas] Barnett a hard-nosed realist, as quite frankly he does qualify as a neo-conservative. However, unlike ersatz-Likudniks such as Krauthammer et all, policy need not be determined solely by the security concerns of Israel. . . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 13, 2004 (Saturday) @ 11:36 am.

If I was being anti-semitic, I would have called him a jew. As it stands, I was imply using a literary metaphor to more effectively and colourfuly convey a message. One does that in English yes? I understand it could be construed as anti-semitic, but as I don’t even know if the person in question is Jewish or not it makes it somewhat irrelevant.

Got a problem with that Jewgar of Jewlingrad?

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 4:46 pm

2. Be a class act, and show it.

Wonsanghetto, I’m not going to even bother with civility. Where the hell did I even mention Jews at all you dumb ass?

As for Tron . . . [s]uffice it to say, I’m tired of having to repeat myself and am not even going to bother correcting your errors and will leave other people to read what they will. If they are stupid enough to believe your crap, then so be it.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 7:03 am

You really are an idiot [ZF].

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 5:29 am

I know a lot of you are American conservatives who are naturally predicated toward either a)stupidity b)china bashing but you only need to examine the facts as they stand at present to see that China has no nefarious designs on Korean territory. Instead of conjuring half baked theories about the next red menace.

Comment by Jing from — August 18, 2004 (Wednesday) @ 12:20 pm

You know what, fuck you WonsanGhetto. If you want to think I’m some sort of anti-semitic fascist racial supremacist. Go right on ahead. Maybe from now on I should simply refer to you as Hymie Kimstein and make things easier for you. For anyone else who wants to have an actual discussion that doesn’t involve flying accusations and childish non-sequiturs then proceed.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 1:40 pm

3. Threaten peoples’ kids. People think that’s funny.

“Those who dare oppose us will stand knee deep in the blood of their children.”

Nice words, coming from someone who’ll almost certainly never have any. Starts off as aspirational (and cliche), then veers right to the kid-killing. Always an effective tool of persuasion, and chicks really dig it.

4. Remind your neighbors that you aspire to colonize them. It’s funny when you do that, too. Exhibit A:

Oy vey, you try to discuss something serious and what do I get? Naked mercantalism and sheer ignorance! . . . As for your wish to see the economic collapse of China, well I won’t bother with deconstructing this but suffice it to say”¦ Perhaps the evil Chinese militarists should seek to forelay any economic collapse by gearing their industries for war. Afterall, we need our lebensraum too and the Korean peninsula looks mighty tempting. . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 5:32 am

Exhibit B: This map of China ought to get plenty of laughs in Japan and Korea. Readers in Korea, I beg of you–read Jing’s site every day and internalize its wisdom.

5. Defend the indefensable, in this case, the use by Chinese police of cattle prods against North Korean refugees:

Both those weapons the officers carried were specifically designed for security duty and not to coral [sic] cows. Cattle prods aren’t even resigned for “putting down” big animals, they are designed to irritate them enough to get them moving in a certain direction.

I fully admit that the likely fate for these would be defectors will be “unpleasant” to say the least and I wish China would not send them back to North Korea. Unfortunately nothing can be done and the world is full of unpleasantries that most people would rather not know about. . . .

Comment by Jing from — October 26, 2004 (Tuesday) @ 7:51 am

Don’t worry about a little credibility, Jing. You can always get more later.

6. Always, always, always–toe the Party line:

About the number of Chinese Catholics, I am really skeptical that there are actually several million “underground” Catholics as is claimed. There really is no statistical data to validate this (as far as I am aware) and I’ve never heard anyone actually provide any evidence to substantiate this figure. [Link]

No statistical evidence on the number of religious dissidents in a repressive fascist state? Nope, I can’t explain that.

7. When confronted with uncomfortable facts, run.

Jing–probably the most effective propagandist the CIA never paid.

Continue Reading

Jing’s Rules of Discourse

The infamous commenter Jing of Marmot’s Hole fame has started his own blog. Not being one who subscribes to the theory that decorum requires us to conceal the abhorrent beneath a blanket of smiley equivalency, I’d like to welcome Jing to this tough room we call the blogosphere by engaging in a little Maoist criticism of what I like to call Jing’s Rules of Discourse:

1. If someone criticizes your position, go for the anti-Semitic angle:

Ahh the covetous shylock on the attack. Don’t mind [ZF], he seems to have a strange China fixation that is unhealthy to say the least.

Comment by Jing from — August 22, 2004 (Sunday) @ 2:10 pm

I wouldn’t know about calling Mr. [Thomas] Barnett a hard-nosed realist, as quite frankly he does qualify as a neo-conservative. However, unlike ersatz-Likudniks such as Krauthammer et all, policy need not be determined solely by the security concerns of Israel. . . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 13, 2004 (Saturday) @ 11:36 am.

If I was being anti-semitic, I would have called him a jew. As it stands, I was imply using a literary metaphor to more effectively and colourfuly convey a message. One does that in English yes? I understand it could be construed as anti-semitic, but as I don’t even know if the person in question is Jewish or not it makes it somewhat irrelevant.

Got a problem with that Jewgar of Jewlingrad?

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 4:46 pm

2. Be a class act, and show it.

Wonsanghetto, I’m not going to even bother with civility. Where the hell did I even mention Jews at all you dumb ass?

As for Tron . . . [s]uffice it to say, I’m tired of having to repeat myself and am not even going to bother correcting your errors and will leave other people to read what they will. If they are stupid enough to believe your crap, then so be it.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 7:03 am

You really are an idiot [ZF].

Comment by Jing from — August 23, 2004 (Monday) @ 5:29 am

I know a lot of you are American conservatives who are naturally predicated toward either a)stupidity b)china bashing but you only need to examine the facts as they stand at present to see that China has no nefarious designs on Korean territory. Instead of conjuring half baked theories about the next red menace.

Comment by Jing from — August 18, 2004 (Wednesday) @ 12:20 pm

You know what, fuck you WonsanGhetto. If you want to think I’m some sort of anti-semitic fascist racial supremacist. Go right on ahead. Maybe from now on I should simply refer to you as Hymie Kimstein and make things easier for you. For anyone else who wants to have an actual discussion that doesn’t involve flying accusations and childish non-sequiturs then proceed.

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 1:40 pm

3. Threaten peoples’ kids. People think that’s funny.

“Those who dare oppose us will stand knee deep in the blood of their children.”

Nice words, coming from someone who’ll almost certainly never have any. Starts off as aspirational (and cliche), then veers right to the kid-killing. Always an effective tool of persuasion, and chicks really dig it.

4. Remind your neighbors that you aspire to colonize them. It’s funny when you do that, too. Exhibit A:

Oy vey, you try to discuss something serious and what do I get? Naked mercantalism and sheer ignorance! . . . As for your wish to see the economic collapse of China, well I won’t bother with deconstructing this but suffice it to say”¦ Perhaps the evil Chinese militarists should seek to forelay any economic collapse by gearing their industries for war. Afterall, we need our lebensraum too and the Korean peninsula looks mighty tempting. . . .

Comment by Jing from — November 14, 2004 (Sunday) @ 5:32 am

Exhibit B: This map of China ought to get plenty of laughs in Japan and Korea. Readers in Korea, I beg of you–read Jing’s site every day and internalize its wisdom.

5. Defend the indefensable, in this case, the use by Chinese police of cattle prods against North Korean refugees:

Both those weapons the officers carried were specifically designed for security duty and not to coral [sic] cows. Cattle prods aren’t even resigned for “putting down” big animals, they are designed to irritate them enough to get them moving in a certain direction.

I fully admit that the likely fate for these would be defectors will be “unpleasant” to say the least and I wish China would not send them back to North Korea. Unfortunately nothing can be done and the world is full of unpleasantries that most people would rather not know about. . . .

Comment by Jing from — October 26, 2004 (Tuesday) @ 7:51 am

Don’t worry about a little credibility, Jing. You can always get more later.

6. Always, always, always–toe the Party line:

About the number of Chinese Catholics, I am really skeptical that there are actually several million “underground” Catholics as is claimed. There really is no statistical data to validate this (as far as I am aware) and I’ve never heard anyone actually provide any evidence to substantiate this figure. [Link]

No statistical evidence on the number of religious dissidents in a repressive fascist state? Nope, I can’t explain that.

7. When confronted with uncomfortable facts, run.

Jing–probably the most effective propagandist the CIA never paid.

Continue Reading