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Jeremiah Hall
Jeremiah Hall

Japanese War Crimes During World War II: Atroci...


The Empire of Japan committed war crimes in many Asian-Pacific countries during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese and Pacific Wars. These incidents have been described as "the Asian Holocaust".[4][5] Some war crimes were committed by Japanese military personnel during the late 19th century, but most were committed during the first part of the Shōwa era, the name given to the reign of Emperor Hirohito.




Japanese War Crimes during World War II: Atroci...



Since the 1950s, senior Japanese government officials have issued numerous apologies for the war crimes. Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges Japan's role in causing "tremendous damage and suffering" during World War II, especially during the IJA's entrance into Nanjing, during which Japanese soldiers killed a large number of non-combatants and engaged in looting and rape.[17] However, some members of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Japanese government, such as the former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzō Abe, have prayed at the Yasukuni Shrine; this has been the subject of controversy, as the shrine honours all Japanese who died during the war, including convicted Class A war criminals. Some Japanese history textbooks offer only brief references to the war crimes,[18] and members of the Liberal Democratic Party have denied some of the atrocities, such as government involvement in abducting women to serve as "comfort women", a euphemism for sex slaves.[19][20]


Outside Japan, different societies use widely different timeframes when they define Japanese war crimes.[citation needed] For example, the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910 was enforced by the Japanese military, and the Society of Yi Dynasty Korea was switched to the political system of the Empire of Japan. Thus, North and South Korea both refer to "Japanese war crimes" as events which occurred during the period of Korea under Japanese rule.[31]


Militarism, nationalism and racism, especially during Japan's imperialist expansion, had great bearings on the conduct of the Japanese armed forces both before and during the Second World War. After the Meiji Restoration and the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Emperor became the focus of military loyalty, nationalism and racism. During the so-called "Age of Imperialism" in the late 19th century, Japan followed the lead of other world powers by establishing a colonial empire, an objective which it aggressively pursued.


Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, was fully aware that if Japan lost the war, he would be tried as a war criminal for that attack;[citation needed] as it turned out, he was killed by the USAAF in Operation Vengeance in 1943. At the Tokyo Trials, Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, Shigenori Tōgō, then Foreign Minister, Shigetarō Shimada, the Minister of the Navy, and Osami Nagano, Chief of Naval General Staff, were charged with crimes against peace (charges 1 to 36) and murder (charges 37 to 52) in connection with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Along with war crimes and crimes against humanity (charges 53 to 55), Tojo was among the seven Japanese leaders sentenced to death and executed by hanging in 1948, Shigenori Tōgō received a 20-year sentence, Shimada received a life sentence, and Nagano died of natural causes during the Trial in 1947.[57][66]


Shortly after the war, Japan's Foreign Ministry wrote a comprehensive report about Chinese laborers. The report estimated that of some 40,000 Chinese laborers taken to Japan, nearly 7,000 had died by the end of the war. The Japanaese burned all copies except for one for the fear of that it might become incriminating evidence at the war crimes trials.[170] In 1958, a Chinese man was discovered hiding in the mountains of Hokkaido. The man did not know that the war was over, and he was one of thousands of laborers who were taken to Japan. This specific event brought attention to Japan's use of forced Asian labor during the war.[171]


The official apologies are widely viewed as inadequate or only a symbolic exchange by many of the survivors of such crimes or the families of dead victims. In October 2006, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed an apology for the damage caused by its colonial rule and aggression, more than 80 Japanese lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party paid visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. Many people aggrieved by Japanese war crimes also maintain that no apology has been issued for particular acts or that the Japanese government has merely expressed "regret" or "remorse".[244] On 2 March 2007, the issue was raised again by Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe, in which he denied that the military had forced women into sexual slavery during World War II. He stated, "The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion." Before he spoke, a group of LDP lawmakers also sought to revise the Kono Statement.[19][20] This provoked negative reaction from Asian and Western countries.


On 31 October 2008, the chief of staff of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force Toshio Tamogami was dismissed with a 60 million yen allowance[245] due to an essay he published, arguing that Japan was not an aggressor during World War II, that the war brought prosperity to China, Taiwan and Korea, that the Imperial Japanese Army's conduct was not violent and that the Greater East Asia War is viewed in a positive way by many Asian countries and criticizing the war crimes trials which followed the war.[246] On 11 November, Tamogami added before the Diet that the personal apology made in 1995 by former prime minister Tomiichi Murayama was "a tool to suppress free speech".[245]


As with investigations of Nazi war criminals, official investigations and inquiries are still ongoing.[as of?] During the 1990s, the South Korean government started investigating some people who had allegedly become wealthy while collaborating with the Japanese military.[260][261] In South Korea, it is also alleged that during the political climate of the Cold War, many such people or their associates or relatives were able to acquire influence with the wealth they had acquired collaborating with the Japanese and assisted in the covering-up, or non-investigation, of war crimes in order not to incriminate themselves. With the wealth they had amassed during the years of collaboration, they were able to further benefit their families by obtaining higher education for their relatives.[261] 041b061a72


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