Saturday, February 21, 2009

Readers respond to Japanse heroism comments


When I wrote the newsletter the other day about being instructed to portray the Japanese acts of fanaticism as heroism, I expected both positive and negative reactions. So far there have been no negative responses. I’d like to share the letters with you. Since these letters were to me I will not print the names, and in some cases have removed paragraphs that would reveal an identity, with one exception.

I received a series of emails from a Filipino who lives in Manila. There is no way to reproduce them here without possibly giving away his identify. He is very upset that a private Catholic boy’s school would try to indoctrinate its students in such a way. Being a graduate of a tremendous private Catholic boy’s school, St. John’s Preparatory in Collegeville, Minnesota, I am, too. I would gladly accept a chance to appear at the school and set the record straight, but my guess is that the invitation will never come.

I am attaching the original letter because I’ve added to the mailing list, and for those of you who may have missed it and are now curious.


From a Filipino-American whose father, a Philippine Scout, was captured along with mine on Corregidor:


From a Filipino who frequents Corregidor:

Hi Steve,

One thing I observe, when this elderly Japanese tourist come to visit Corregidor, most of them bring with them Filipina bar girls. I don’t know if they do this on purpose, to insult the Filipino and American people, or are these tourists just being boorish and showing what kind of people they are. I don’t feel comfortable, that they visit this war memorial island, and they act as if they are still in a karaoke bar.

I wonder how these old farts would feel if I visited one of their war shrines and I would be touting with me 2 giggling Nip bar girls.

If only I could communicate with them, I would ask them point blank to their very faces why they act and behave in such a manner. These people are showing gross disrespect to my country, people and history.

From a retired American teacher whose brother died in the Philippines during WW II:

Marcia and Steve:

You cannot alter history! It still is real and should accurately be interpreted! More power to you!!!

From a Filipina whose father was in the guerilla movement during WW II:

This is a touching email. I agree that the atrocities should be told as is. During my research, I came across descriptions of the atrocities numerous times. At first I would read it but after awhile, I could not stomach the capacity for inhumanity. The younger Japanese generations need to know via your tours because their textbooks are being whitewashed.

From a Filipino whose father was a Filipino guerrilla leader during WW II:

I fully understand how you feel about the Japanese now, especially since they are truly monkeying around with their history books so as to erase any vestige of WWII.

My father … was the … commander of approximately 25,000 [guerillas] in number, according to their own estimates.

My father also suffered much at their hands. A Japanese bayonet scraped the skin of his neck and he had a very visible scar until he died. In 1967, he had many small shrapnel removed from his body, but the doctors told him they couldn’t remove so many more smaller pieces, and these stayed in his body until he died, at the very young age of 53, due to his war wounds and stresses.

I remember how badly I felt when I first saw the Japanese shrine on Corregidor. I couldn’t understand how Japanese money (ostensibly to increase the numbers of Japanese tourists to Corregidor) could erase the sad and bad memories my parents, grandparents, uncles (all veterans) transmitted to me. Perhaps they shouldn’t have done that at all, so I wouldn’t have to feel this way.

But my father was a unique man. Immediately after the war, he was part of the government team to Japan to work out many arrangements for the government-to-government reparations program, and he did his work straight and with integrity, never allowing his personal feelings to overcome his main mission. Many years later, when my father and I were in business together, we were exporting Philippine specialty logs to Japanese companies, and also found Japanese to be humans after all. My father often resisted telling me the stories of his painful war days, and now I can understand why. He didn’t want hate to become a part of my being.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t, and shouldn’t, tell the truth like it is. The Japanese will officially try to erase all accounts of WWII from their books, but we have the sworn duty to the truth. That is, after all, what God said would set us free.

The following letter is from Yuka Ibuki, a woman who was a little girl when the war ended. She has spent the past several years trying to educate the Japanese people so that they will not repeat past mistakes.

In 2006 she and a younger Japanese lady, Kinue, accompanied us on our Bataan Death March Tour, which included the dedication of the Hellships Memorial at Subic Bay. The four veterans felt very comfortable with them. Yuka and Kinue listened as one of our guests read a dozen different accounts of atrocities that the Japanese committed against American and Filipinos during the Death March. I actually felt a little sorry for them, and very uncomfortable. But they sat through the readings and reacted just as every American on the bus did, having become very familiar with such stories through their own research projects.

They both attend various POW conventions and are welcomed as if they were family. Truly they have become our friends.

Dear Steve,

I especially appreciate this correspondence, which I've saved in a file as part of the history that should be known and remembered. I didn't know this event, although I' ve researched on Japanese side records of May 5 & 6, 1945 for another son of a POW. I'll also summarize this in Japanese for Juji and Yuji. They will be grateful for your telling them the facts: your father, fighting of both soldiers, US and Japanese. Your meeting with the Chinese descendants and Japanese people is truly great. I'm sure knowing the hidden realities of the war is necessary, for a better future of every one. I'm now forwarding your message to Naoko and her group.

By the way, Mr. Horikoshi, my former boss at the high school [where] I was teaching for more than twenty years, got a permission from Linda to translate her "Unjust Enrichment" for the group of POW Research Network Japan. He did a fantastic job, which was in 2003. Linda was aware of the need of some revision and didn't want this version to be published in Japanese, so it was printed and distributed among the group members, which include leading Japanese researcher of the POW Issue.

Indeed, the Pacific theatre of WWII was fanatic war of the Imperial Japan. Japan was ruled by the fanatic militarism that took over Japan 1920's to 1945. There were broad-viewed officers in both the Navy and Army, who had studied abroad, who knew it was suicidal for Japan to go into war against the US and other western countries. However, those narrow-viewed fanatic nationalists won in the Japanese Military. Coups were planned by some young officers. In China, war originally developed, by the local Japanese force led by such officers, against the order of the HQs in Tokyo, believe it or not.

Could I tell you a bit of the general history of Japan? It consists of four main islands, which emerged as a country in 4 century. The sea offered routes for a lot of communication with Korea, China and other Asian continent. Through the Silk Road, a lot of Greek and other European influences, and Buddhism, came into Japan. By 15 century, trade with the Philippines and other Asian and European countries was flourishing. The first Catholic missionary Francisco Xavier arrived in 1506, followed by a number of missionaries, while Japan was going through the War Period of a hundred years. Imported guns were already there.

Then, Hideyoshi took control of other Warrior Lords, and after his death, Ieyasu Tokugawa united Japan under his rule, and closed the country against the outer world. Japan isolated itself since the beginning of 17 century till 1854, when it reopened the ports, to the US, then to other European powers. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan had been divided into more than 160 domains. Each was ruled by a feudal Lord. People was confined to their birth village or town, the elder boy inheriting his father's land or occupation, in the four-class society of Samurai Ruling Class, Peasants, Craftsmen, and Merchants.

Just a handful of the top rulers got some western knowledge through the only opening port of Nagasaki from only Holland, which was permitted trade with Japan. Fishermen and merchants, who were ship-wrecked, saved by Russians, English, Americans or whatever, were not allowed to return, because knowledge of the outside world was strictly banned to ordinary people.

Demands for opening the port first by Admiral Perry, followed by others, divided the Japanese rulers into two: Opening the country and trade party and Keep Closing the country fighting against the Foreigner Party. Eventually, through a lot of events, they learned and Japan decided to reopen.

Power of seat was returned to the Emperor, who was then a boy of twelve, the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Feudal Lords returned their domain, and swards were banned to wear. The feudal four classes were abolished. Meiji Period oligarchy, who consisted of young former samurai who studied abroad, tried to get people united under a new concept of One State, modernizing the country, catching up the western technology, under the motto of Strong Defense and Rich Country. Modernization and development was made in rush and lacked in balance.

"Die for the Emperor" is a nationalistic propaganda, under the false belief of the "Emperor is a Living God." A lot of people now say they never believed he was a living god. However, those who publicly announced it were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and the family was ostracized. I believe a lot of Japanese soldiers killed themselves, because they didn't want their families to be dishonored and live in shame.

Well, thank you for reading. I'd be happy to talk with you about this or other topics, if you were interested. I would very much like to bring you and Marcia some books, or anything from Japan.

Please suggest some topics or items.

Very Best Wishes,


Yuka’s great website is:

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