MacArthur aide: U.S. must learn from errors

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Lennox Tierney, who was on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff during the Japanese occupation, says cultural errors by the U.S. can't be hidden in Iraq.

Toward the end of the occupation of his nation, Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced he would formally apologize to U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur for Japan's actions during World War II - including the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

Lennox Tierney was there, on the fifth floor of the Dai-Ichi Insurance Building in Tokyo, where MacArthur held court from 1945 to 1949, on the day Hirohito arrived. Now 93 years old, Tierney fears a brutishness he saw in MacArthur that day is being repeated by Americans involved in today's wars.

But these days, he says, the country can ill-afford such behavior.

In the years that followed the war, MacArthur came to be thought of as an expert in Japanese culture, but that's not what Tierney says he saw in the eminent general.

"He was culturally stupid," says Tierney, Japan's commissioner for arts and monuments during the occupation, now a semiretired professor and museum curator living in Holladay.

"Apology is a very important thing in Japan," said Tierney. "With us, we don't apologize unless we get caught with our hand in the cookie jar, but for the Japanese, there is a very strong sense of what an apology means."

But when the emperor arrived at his office, MacArthur refused to admit him or acknowledge him, Tierney said.
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