Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.
Driving to Kerrville yesterday my mind wandered to the uncle of my ex-wife. Uncle Ed. Interesting man.
He was on the staff of Douglas MacArthur during WWII and was one of the first group of people into Japan after they agreed to stop fighting. Stood on the USS Missouri while the documents were being signed by all the parties and served on MacArthur’s staff for a while when MacArthur was Supreme Commander of Allied Pacific Forces.
Uncle Ed had a lot to say about all that when he could find someone to listen. I listened a good bit.
Ed thought there were a lot of serious flaws in the Japanese surrender speeches and documents by the Emperor and the other high-ranking Japanese officials. Fact is, neither the Emperor, nor the high-underlings ever mentioned the word, surrender. Nothing in any of it contained anything suggestingJapanese Imperial behavior toward the conquered lands was reprehensible, no mention was made of the treatment of prisoners, the tortures, the slaughters.
In fact, the ‘surrender amounted to a Japanese admission they’d tried to do what they thought was best for Asia and Japan, and lacked the moxey to pull it off. The Emperor confirmed this as his view in a presentation to the Diet four days after the arrival of MacArthur onto Japanese soil. Immediately following the speech by the Emperor his uncle, Prince somebody-or-other went further and proclaimed Japanese behavior was no different from the behavior of other strong, modern nations. He pointed out they didn’t take Indochina from the Indochinese, but from the French, didn’t take Malaya from the Malayans, but from the British. And so on.
Maybe it’s actually no surprise the Mayor of Osaka made his statements recently that the ‘comfort girls’ they forced to serve their troops were just a necessary evil to keep up the morale.
Carolyn’s uncle Ed recalled the Japanese aristocracy was egalitarian in this regard. He smiled that within five days of the arrival of US troops in Yokohama they’d brought in hundreds of peasant girls to serve in brothels to keep up the morale of occupying US troops. The money from those whore houses, the supposed, was the first significant US currency to circulate in Japan after the war. A few hundred thousand GIs need a lot of comforting.
I don’t suppose there’s actually any reason the Japanese today should feel any shame and remorse for the actions of their grandfathers. Any acknowledgement. The fact is, Asia remembers for them, even though the US has forgotten. Of all the countries in the world in danger of flexing their military muscles, probably there’s not one with as many willing hands on whatever it would take to stop them among their potential adversaries.
Digression: Aside from the deck of the USS Missouri and the whore houses, one of Ed’s most vivid recollections of immediate post-War Japan was that every civilian vehicle he saw ran on charcoal. Charcoal! Imagine that!