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History is the story of winners. At least that’s who writes the first draft.

Over the years the story changes; call it revisionist history. It’s not a bad thing if you’re not hiding God awful actions.

America tries to open up history for all participants, for all the good it does.

Now we know the history of Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, environmental history, the works.

An honest effort is all you need to start. Is honest effort debatable? If so, by who?

In a story by for the McClatchy Foreign Staff, Albert Siegel details current Japanese thought on WWII.

There’s debate on the cause of war and why it ended, Japan’s version of events, and why Japan has apologized enough for it’s part.

That’s all good and healthy for a nation like Japan, but why not stick to the facts?

Or get better historians.

The atomic bombing didn’t have any effect whatsoever on the decision of ending the war by the Emperor,” says Hiroyuki Fujita, a Japanese journalist and member of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, a nationalist group. “The Emperor had already made up his mind to end the war.”

Fujita’s views represent a growing trend in Japan toward a revision of generally accepted positions on the war by most historians – a trend that that is constantly criticized by neighboring countries.

Advanced college courses (beers with professors) and archival research tell a different story.

It’s fair to say Japan was guided by a freakish combination of gentle persuasion and deathly obedience.

Their emperor was a God-like figure so revered he wore ill-fitting off the shelf clothes because tailors were forbidden to assist him. Why?

They had a no-touch rule for the emperor. He isn’t the Queen of England, is he?

That’s normal?

How does a kind and gentle emperor build a hostile nation and let his military run amok? How does the leader of a war crime nation avoid the hangman’s noose?

He did it by defying his misguided military leaders, some who knifed themselves for the shame of Japanese surrender while others got a one way ticket to the gallows.


The Japanese offer of surrender, and the Allied reply, were known only to high government officials. Morning newspapers in Japan on August 11 carried a statement in the name of General Anami and addressed to the army: “The only thing for us to do is fight doggedly to the end … though it may mean chewing grass, eating dirt, and sleeping in the field.”

General Anami’s idea of warfare goes against the prevailing idea that an army marches on it’s stomach. No one marches far on grass and dirt, even if it’s prepared with love and care.

In the end Anami knifed himself twice but didn’t die. His brother in law had to step in and ‘pinch hit/stab’ to finish the suicide.

As a side note, General Anami also thought America had only one bomb, so no worries. Nagasaki changed his mind.

Japanese surrender still a problem in Japan?

Fight on and eating grass and dirt was the plan no one wanted, but they’d do it. In an extraordinary feat, the Japanese emperor explained the problem:

Despite Fujita’s skepticism that the atomic bombs had influenced the emperor, Hirohito made it clear that the threat displayed with the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was driving his decision.

“Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization,” he said.

With a military willing to kill themselves instead of surrender, and at their death apologize to the emperor for their failure, it took extraordinary measures to convince Japan surrender was the right thing. Better than bleeding out at their own hands.

What were the choices for Japanese senior staff? Fight on and die in a fire bombing raid, a nuclear explosion, an allied invasion, or surrender and kill yourself before getting fit for a noose on your neck.

For the sake of the rest of a world Japanese fanatics could care less about, a Japanese surrender finally sunk in. The curious thing is how the emperor finally convinced his war leaders to raise the white flag and not get himself hung.

America has plenty to apologize for, though not all are in an apology frame of mind.

The rule of victory goes with, “Winners do what losers won’t do.” Sorry about the flamethrowers, firebombing, and nuclear bombs, but?

It’s never pretty, never clean, but WWII was dirty from the start and got nastier when new evidence came forward after both the German and Japanese surrender.

Years after the Japanese surrender the nation has had enough of apologizing.

In his speech commemorating the surrender Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe struck many of those themes, acknowledging Japan’s role, but asserting that the guilt should not be passed on without end.

“Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war,” Abe said, recalling what he called “the histories of suffering” of Japan’s neighbors. He pledged Japan would continue to promote “peace and prosperity of the region.”

But he also noted that 80 percent of Japanese today were born after World War II. “We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize.”

That sounds like 80 percent of Japan who might listen to the next uber-nationalistic leader, and the numbers grow each year.

Should we spend all of our lives apologizing for the actions of our ancestors? When is it time to let go of the sneak attacking, head chopping, banzai charging, kamikaze flying, death marching, medical experimenting, comfort lady raping behavior of the past?

No percent of any civilized country celebrates that stuff. The middle east seems to refresh the worst of Japanese war behavior every other day.

Is 70 years enough? 80? 100?

When a kind and gentle people fall under the spell of nationalistic fanatics once, why not keep those deeds current in the hope of avoiding it the next time?

No free passes for nations that use mass extermination as policy, genocide as law, and adulterated history as fact.

Apologize as often as possible. It sounds like this:

“We’re sorry.”

Not so hard.

Why wait for an anniversary. A nice, “I’m sorry for the state of affairs my former leaders allowed. Supporting the goals of a ruthless, bloodthirsty, military minority will never happen again,” is all the rest of the world needs.

Showing remorse for past evil is not a sign of weakness, covering it up and ignoring it is.

How will the Japanese surrender read another 72 years out?

About David Gillaspie
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