When I was in my teens I spent a few days with an Englishman who was visiting in California. I was driving a Japanese car, and, to my amazement, he would not ride in it. He flattered me by explaining something he almost never talked about (according to his family). He had been a soldier and was captured by the Japanese, captured when Singapore fell. He spent the whole of the war as a slave laborer under the Japanese. He said he very much regretted that he could not forgive them for their horrid treatment of the Allied prisoners. We drove around in my father’s Chevy.
Robert Asahina review a new book by Brian MacArthur, Surviving the Sword: Prisoners of the Japanese in the Far East, 2942-45. The tale is a relentless tale of savagery.
Numbers can only begin to suggest the staggering dimensions of the horror. Within five months after Pearl Harbor, more than 50,000 British and Australians in Singapore, 52,000 Dutch and British in Java and 25,000 Americans in the Philippines had fallen into Japanese hands -- a total of 132,142 Fepows. Most spent the next three and a half years in prison camps, where 27 percent of them died (compared to 4 percent of Germans in Allied prisons). A third of the dead -- 12,000 men -- perished during construction of the Burma-Thailand railroad, immortalized in "The Bridge on the River Kwai."
The story just gets worse. (Thanks to Powerline).
9/11 analogies to Pearl are wrong, wrong, wrong. It was the aftermath of the event that empowered our response. Shoot, with a few months of 9/11 it was patently clear that the opposition party got the all clear sign to begin their rants.
No such "all clear" appeared after Pearl. The entire world was laid in balance between clear-cut lines of black and white ("Uncle Joe" notwithstanding of course). No doubt that defining day is going to come again, but it did not arrive on September 11, 2001.
I think Pearl Harbor analogies are apt, but the country has changed. What we saw after 9/11 is what the country is capable off at this point...about half of us continue to look at 9/11 as a sneak attack that requires a determined, long-term response (i.e., winning), and the other half sees the same event as either come-uppance for the twin sins of global capitalism and whiteness or simply as a nuisance in need of proper diplomacy and law enforcement. Our civilization, although threatened by terrorism, is really endangered by the fools and traitors within...same thing that killed Rome in the long run.
Japanese treatment of POWs was absolutely horrific. Period. No excuses possible.
A historical curiosity, though: a disproportionate number of Allied POWs perished in Allied air & submarine attacks, during the last year of the war. As the Japanese empire shrank, the Japanese loaded prisoners onto transport ships in the Philippines, & attempted to move them to Japan. I believe half or so of all American POW casualties perished during these extremely hazardous sea voyages.