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Imperial Japan


  • Originally published 08/18/2013

    Steel maker to pay if Korean ruling upheld

    Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. will comply if the South Korean Supreme Court upholds a ruling ordering it to pay 400 million won (about ¥35 million) to compensate four Koreans who were for forced to work for its predecessors during the war, company sources said Sunday.The Seoul High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on July 10, marking in the first judgment by a South Korean court ordering a Japanese firm to pay in a case involving postwar reparations.After appealing the ruling, however, NSSMC has apparently changed its mind.“We, as a global company, can’t help but accept (the ruling),” one of the sources said, hinting that failure to comply might lead to seizure of the company’s assets in South Korea....

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Wartime maps of Japanese cities damaged by Allied bombers on exhibit for first time

    Maps of Japanese cities that were devastated by Allied air raids during World War II are currently on display at the National Archives of Japan in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward.Covering 131 municipalities stretching from northern Hokkaido to southern Kagoshima Prefecture, most of the maps are being shown to the public for the first time.The maps were completed in December 1945 to provide information to military personnel, as well as civilian workers for the military, on their way home from overseas battlefields. Records show the maps were displayed in ships bringing back demobilized soldiers to Japan, according to officials....

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Abe to skip visit to Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15

    To prevent relations with China and South Korea from further deteriorating, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided not to visit Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the date marking the end of World War II, sources said.Instead, Abe will make a personal monetary offering in his position as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to the shrine, which memorializes Japan’s war dead along with 14 Class-A war criminals, according to the sources.Abe has been forced into a delicate balancing act concerning Yasukuni Shrine.The prime minister has been repeatedly asked about his plans for Aug. 15. His usual reply has been: “Because the very question of whether I visit the shrine will by itself become a political and diplomatic issue, I will not say whether or not I will visit.”...

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Korean’s war brothel diaries offer new details

    SEOUL – The diaries of a Korean man who worked in wartime brothels for Japanese soldiers in Burma and Singapore during World War II have been found in South Korea.Researchers believe the diaries, the first ever found that were written by someone who worked at a “comfort station,” are authentic and provide actual details of the brothels and the lives of “comfort women.”They also show that the Imperial Japanese Army was involved in the management of the facilities, which the Japanese government acknowledged in a 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono....

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Papers that pushed for Pacific War revisited

    The key was lost and the safe remained locked for 22 years after the 1989 death of its owner, former Lt. Gen. Teiichi Suzuki of the Imperial Japanese Army, who had been the last surviving Class-A war criminal of World War II.Suzuki, who died at the age of 100 in Shibayama, Chiba Prefecture, was among key Cabinet members when Japan started the Pacific War with the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.Two years ago, Suzuki’s relatives had NHK open the safe. Inside were diaries, notebooks and other documents, including a 16-page typed manuscript that the general had read out in front of Emperor Hirohito and national leaders at an Imperial Conference on Nov. 5, 1941, to detail Japan’s logistical strengths.Suzuki, who headed the Planning Board, a government body in charge of allocating resources for the army, navy and civilians, concluded that Japan, which was already at war in China, would be able to still wage war against the United States, Britain and the Netherlands....

  • Originally published 08/14/2013

    James Dawes: Why Do People Commit Atrocities? (INTERVIEW)

    A Japanese soldier poses with the head of a Chinese prisoner.The human capacity to injure other people is very great precisely because our capacity to imagine other people is very small.--Elizabeth Scarry, For Love of Country?Most Americans know little of Japanese war crimes perpetrated in China during the Second World War. In the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), Japanese troops tortured, raped and murdered Chinese men, women and children, as Japanese scientists conducted horrific medical procedures on living human subjects at facilities such as the notorious Unit 731, a covert research center for biological and chemical experimentation in northeast China.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Yasukuni watch: Who’s going, who’s not, who won’t say

    With just a week to go until Aug. 15, the 68th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender, local media have gone on full Yasukuni alert, trying to predict which Cabinet ministers will be heading to the controversial shrine to pay their respects to the country’s war dead.This annual media circus on an otherwise a solemn day of remembrance is likely to take on an added significance for Japan this year, as China and South Korea increasingly view visits to the shrine as a measure of hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment–or lack thereof–to face up to Japan’s wartime history.The Shinto shrine located in central Tokyo honors over two million war dead, including numerous convicted war criminals.Virtually all of Mr. Abe’s Cabinet ministers were asked about their schedules for next Thursday during their respective post-Cabinet meeting press conferences....

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Japan’s finance minister retracts statement on Nazis

    TOKYO — Japan’s finance minister on Thursday publicly retracted comments he made this week that appeared to call on Japan’s current conservative government to emulate Hitler’s takeover of prewar Germany. The gaffe underscored the potential for disputes over Japan’s own wartime history to derail its popular prime minister, Shinzo Abe.The finance minister, Taro Aso, insisted that his comments on Monday, in which he seemed to say that Japan should learn how the Nazi party quietly rewrote Germany’s Constitution, were taken out of context. Faced with growing criticism in Japan and abroad, he countered that he had never meant to praise the Nazis. He said he had hoped to prompt debate in Japan over whether to change its current pacifist Constitution to allow a full-fledged military, as many conservatives now seek.

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Kirk Spitzer: Shinzo Abe, The Wild Card

    Kirk Spitzer is a Tokyo-based freelance writer and former defense correspondent for USA Today and CBS News. TOKYO — Japanese voters are almost certain to give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) an overwhelming victory in upper house elections on July 21. The election so far has focused largely on economic recovery -- and for once there's hope on the horizon. Abe's aggressive program of monetary easing and government spending has begun to jolt the economy out of nearly two decades of deflation and stagnation. The prime minister, who's been operating with only the lower house of the Diet backing him, is looking to regain a majority in the upper house to help push through his "third arrow" of structural reforms....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Yamamoto's unsettled legacy

    NAGAOKA, Japan – Seven decades after the death of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in an aerial ambush in the South Pacific, Japan is still struggling with how to remember the charismatic naval commander who opposed war with the United States, but nonetheless planned the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor.With tensions once again growing in East Asia and public acceptance of Japan’s military forces beginning to rise, Japan could be ready for a more open discussion of the war era – and its leaders.“They don’t teach about this period in high schools, so people under 50 years old don’t know much about it. But because of the Senkaku problem, people are beginning to get interested,” said Yukoh Watanabe, an amateur naval historian who attended a private memorial service in Yamamoto’s hometown last week....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Pankaj Mishra: To Erase Militarist Past, Japan Must Re-Learn It

    Pankaj Mishra is the author of “From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia” and a Bloomberg View columnist, based in London and Mashobra, India. The opinions expressed are his own.It was raining heavily last week when I visited Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japanese who died in the “imperial cause.” But the tour buses still discharged scores of elderly Japanese visitors, and I received approving looks and even a faint smile from two Japanese women as we stood in the rain before the memorial to an Indian jurist called Radha Binod Pal.Pal was the only Indian judge at the so-called Tokyo Trials, Japan’s protracted version of Nuremberg. In his 1,235- page dissent, he voted to acquit the 25 Japanese accused by Allied powers of the “unprecedented” crime of “conspiring against peace.”

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