Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

Martin Luther King (1957-1968)

I've Been to the Mountaintop , 1968

Japan and World War Two

Recorded: August 14th, 2020


Saturday marks 75 years since the end of World War II when Japan's Emperor, Hirahito, announced his country's unconditional surrender. Even after so many decades reconciliation in Asia remains illusive with many Japanese seeing their country as a victim of US atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the same time China and Korea view Japan's postwar apologies as incomplete and insincere. From Tokyo our correspondent, Rupert Winfied Hayes, reports:

At Tokyo's Yasakuni shrine the Narashino Brotherhood has come to bow to the spirits of Japan's wartime leaders. August is a busy month for these far right nationalists. First, they try to get to Japan's Parliament but the way is blocked, so they crank up the speakers and begin shouting abuse,

"The Liberal Democratic Party is useless", they shout, "You're idiots."

With more and more of her troops landing at Shanghai, pushing on toward Nanking...

Japan committed many crimes during World War II but by far the worst was the Nanjing massacre. After the city fell tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians were slaughtered. But not according to Takehiro Ezaki:

First of all, the Nanjing massacre does not exist. The civilian population of the city was evacuated. If there was a massacre where did all the dead bodies go? There is no evidence. It's all a lie.

China is not the only country these groups claim has wronged Japan. Today, their target is Russia.

So, this is another piece of highly contested history for Japan's nationalists. Up the street, just here, is the Russia Embassy, and they believe at the end of World War II Russia stole a big chunk of territory from Japan, and today they're here to demand it back.

75 years on the wounds inflicted by World War II remain open and festering. Anger is strongest in South Korea where Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is a figure of hate and ridicule. Last month a Korean artist unveiled this statue of Mr Abe prostrating himself before a young Korean woman. It symbolises the begging for forgiveness that Japan has yet to do for the crimes it committed against thousands of Korean women.

The United States which was the occupying power in Japan did not want to get into the history question. It wanted everyone to move forward. And, erh, you had, you know, millions, erm, tens of millions, of victims in China and Korea, erh, who had a sense of saying, "Wait a second, wait a second, that's not OK. I'm not ready to move on."

On Saturday, thousands will gather at the Yasakuni Shrine. many will come to pray for a relative, one of the two and a half million Japanese war dead. But others will come here to pay homage to the fourteen Class A war criminals who are also honoured here. In Seoul, and Beijing, they will see a country that still refuses to face its own past. Rupert Winfield Hayes, BBC news in Tokyo.


Where to begin? The BBC clearly demon state that Japanese nationalists deny the Nanjing massacre took place but at the same time completely gloss over the crimes against humanity committed against people in Japan. Rupert Winfiled Hayes uses the word slaughter for Nanjing but no such terminology is used for the strategic bombing raids undertaken by United States against Japan during the war, they are not mentioned at all. The phrasing used for Hiroshima and Nagasaki is particularly ugly. Can one imagine the BBC ever claiming that many US citizens see themselves as victims because of the 2001 September 11 attack?

Then legitimate grievances about territorial disputes (for example, the "Kurile islands") are dismissed as Japanese nationalists wanting a big chunk of territory back from Russia. I'm reminded of the Falklands war.

The focus of the report is on the Japanese state's refusal to apologise for its crimes and face its past. To my memory, BBC World News has yet to broadcast similar reports about the UK and the US.

For a different perspective read John Another Hiroshima is Coming — Unless We Stop It Now.

getfiles: Japan and World War Two

MP4 (Full HD Video), 125.26 mb PDF, B5, 2 pages: 1.74 mb