Our spiritual leader of the moment: Pete Seeger
"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Since this newspaper doesn't archive stuff and this editorial will disappear in a day or two, I will post the whole thing in the interest of stirring debate and shining a light under the rock at the revisionist who run the Japanese media. I will try to comment at length and add links later
Class-B, -C 'war criminals' should never be forgotten
For Japan, today marks the 59th anniversary of the end of World War II. The occasion offers an opportunity to pay tribute to all those who were killed in the war and renew our pledge to pursue eternal peace.
Under international law, however, Aug. 15, 1945, did not mark an end to World War II for this nation. Article 1 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty states that a technical end to the warfare between Japan and the Allies took place on April 28, 1952, when the pact went into effect.
During those years, 25 Japanese wartime leaders and others were convicted as so-called Class-A war criminals in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, known as the Tokyo Trial. Of the 25 convicts, former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and six others were sentenced to death by hanging.
After the conclusion of the trial, Dutch Judge B.V.A Roling visited Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby, the chief intelligence officer at GHQ, to bid him farewell before leaving Tokyo for the Netherlands. In his meeting with Roling, Willoughby is said to have denounced the Tokyo Trial as the "worst hypocrisy" in legal history. The GHQ officer told Roling that he would even ban his own son from serving in the army.
The episode symbolizes the nature of the Tokyo Trial.
Meanwhile, about 5,700 Japanese and others were tried at 49 military tribunals at home and overseas on charges relating to the violation of wartime laws, including the mistreatment of prisoners of war and the slaughter of civilians. A total of 920 convicts, including Koreans and Taiwanese, were executed as Class-B and -C war criminals.
Undeniably, the Imperial Japanese Army's conduct was marked by such barbarous acts as the abuse of POWs. Given this, it was correct that those involved in these atrocities were tried as Class-B and -C war criminals.
But questions must be raised about many cases involving those tried as Class-B and -C war criminals.
The Allies hunted for suspects mainly on the strength of testimony taken from former POWs. But many Japanese and others were arrested and executed for crimes they had nothing to do with. Judges at those military tribunals were often careless in examining items presented as evidence. In some cases, defendants were never given the opportunity to state their cases.
It is said that the Dutch military tribunal in Indonesia was egregious in this respect. The tribunal was set up by the Netherlands, which invaded Indonesia two years after Japan's surrender to the Allies in 1945.
Two Japanese military officers were put to death as Class-B and -C war criminals for "competing to see which would be able to behead 100 Chinese with swords" during Japan's incursion into Nanjing in 1937. The accusation must be dismissed as fictional.
In 2003, the families of the two officers filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, seeking to restore their honor by proving that the accusation against them is groundless. The case is being heard at the district court.
Some rank-and-file soldiers were sentenced to death for executing POWs under orders issued by their superiors.
This is in stark contrast to the failure to dispense justice by trying Allied soldiers who visited atrocities on Japanese civilians. No one has been tried for the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the U.S carpet bombing of Japanese cities.
On the contrary, the Allies tried a jurist of the Imperial Japanese Army for allegedly mistreating a U.S. pilot who was taken prisoner after his plane was downed. The jurist had sentenced the pilot to death for carrying out indiscriminate air raids on a Japanese cities.
Experts have said that the decision by the Allies to try the jurist was made because there were defects in procedures carried out by the Imperial Japanese Army in sentencing the pilot to death. Still, the trial of the Japanese jurist should be deemed to be retaliatory.
U.S. soldiers have drawn international condemnation for abusing Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Graib prison. Reports have said that victims include those who were ordered to stand on small boxes with electric wires tied to their fingers and toes. Other victims were forced to go naked and form human pyramids. Some female prisoners allegedly were raped. Reported cases also include some deaths of prisoners.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has acknowledged that some methods employed by the U.S. forces to interrogate Iraqi prisoners violated the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.
If the standards applied in trying Japanese Class-B and -C war criminals were applied in the prosecution of the U.S. soldiers involved in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, then it follows that they should receive the death penalty for committing such atrocities. We are interested to know what the United States will choose to do.
'Criminals' died for country
On May 30, 1958, the final 18 Class-B and -C "war criminals" were released from prison. This was six years after the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect.
In 1959, those executed as Class-B and -C war criminals were enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine, where the souls of the war dead rest in peace. In 1978, the executed Class-A war criminals were enshrined at the Shinto shrine.
China and South Korea have reacted angrily to visits to Yasukuni Shrine by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in recent years. These nations defended their attitude by emphasizing that the shrine hosts the souls of the "Class-A war criminals."
Neither China nor South Korea have yet issued official comments critical of Japan's decision to enshrine the Class-B and -C "war criminals" at Yasukuni Shrine.
But what will China do if the Japanese government gives in to Chinese pressure and relocates the souls of the Class-A "war criminals" from the shrine to another facility? There are concerns that China and some of Japan's other neighbors could point a finger at Japan's decision to enshrine the Class-B and -C "war criminals" at the Yasukuni facility when they deal with issues involving their relations with this country.
Concerning the issue of paying tribute to the dead, it is a cultural tradition in Japan for everybody to be treated equally once he or she has passed away. In this sense, no "war criminal" should be excluded from the list of those to be honored at an annual government-sponsored memorial service for the war dead.
A bronze statue stands near the Marunouchi south exit of Tokyo Station, with its arms spread toward the sky. The statue's pedestal bears an inscription that reads "Love."
The bronze was erected in 1955 by an association called Sugamo Isho Hensan-kai, which hoped it would symbolize its members' earnest wish for world peace. Proceeds from the sale of "Seiki no Isho" (Wills of the Century)--a collection of essays written by the executed "war criminals" and later published by the association--were used to build the statue. It is a pity that this fact seems to have been forgotten.
"Seiki no Isho" contains about 700 essays and other articles written by Class-A, -B and -C "war criminals." The book shows that many of these "war criminals" quietly accepted their destinies as they looked toward their nation's future, although they insisted that the trials conducted to judge their wartime conduct were unfair.
No one should forget that Japan's current peace and prosperity have been made possible through the contribution that about 3.1 million Japanese killed in World War II and other wars made to their country.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 15) Copyright 2004 The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nanjing and other atrocities