© The Japan Times
May 3, 1998Pride in the name
I found the story on the Japanese movie
"Pride" ("Movie paints Tojo in different light,"
April 9) very
The article, from The Associated Press, states
that "As Japanese troops marched across Southeast Asia in 1941 and 1942, the
countries they occupied were all colonies of Europe or the United
Actually, the Philippines was not a colony when the
Japanese attacked in December 1941. Though the country was colonized by the US
after the Spanish-American War, (and I believe the US was wrong to do so), the
internal self-governing Commonwealth of the Philippines was established in 1934,
and preparations for full independence were in place, only to be interrupted
when Japanese troops invaded.
Though The AP's error is
probably an unintentional result of sloppy research, the Japanese filmmakers
seem to be making an intentional effort to mislead - portraying Japan's military
as a liberator in East Asia in the 1940s. The filmmakers imply this is a source
of "pride," but the Filipinos who strongly resisted the brutal Japanese
occupation of the Philippines would probably disagree.
Filipinos, the Vietnamese were probably no more happy to see the Japanese
invade. In fact, Ho Chi Minh founded a nationalist movement to fight the
Japanese, and over a million Vietnamese reportedly died of starvation because
the Japanese hoarded the rice crop.
Unlike the Philippines
though, which became completely independent after the war, Ho Chi Minh's
nationalists fought for Vietnamese independence and unification in wars with the
French and the US.
The Vietnam War still causes deep
soul-searching in Americans. In contrast to the Japanese, Americans study the
history of their involvement in Southeast Asia in school textbooks.
I hope the Japanese will someday find the courage to portray
their own history more accurately. In a democracy it is sometimes right to
admit you were wrong, and this honest self-criticism can be a source of