© The Japan Times
Tokyo, Japan
October 25, 1998

Troubling memories of the past

          I am troubled by some of the stories in the press recently about the atomic bombings of Japan at the end of World War II, and I worry that the further World War II fades into the mist of history, the more the voices that portray Japan as a victim of that war and the United States as a "war criminal" will drown out the truth.
          Though the U.S. is often looked at as a villain for using nuclear weapons, Japan and Germany were also trying to develop nuclear weapons during the war – to use against the U.S. For better or worse, the U.S. won that nuclear-weapons race.
          Before an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese were clearly warned by the U.S. that if they did not stop fighting the war Japan was liable to face complete destruction. Rather than surrendering though, an army of 28 million Japanese was training to stop an allied invasion with nothing but bamboo spears.
          Many people suggest the U.S. should have blockaded Japan instead of using nuclear weapons, but many Japanese were already starving at the time, and a blockade would have only caused more starvation.
          Despite the fact that a good argument can be made for the U.S. using nuclear weapons on Japan, Americans tend to be quick to express remorse about the atomic bombings (as well as the internment of Japanese Americans during the war). The Japanese, however, tend to cover up their responsibility for atrocities such as the Rape of Nanking and the Bataan Death March. With the foreign apologists for Japanese aggression and critics of U.S. bombing to stop it growing stronger in recent years, Japan's denial of reality is becoming more and more contagious.
          I am worried about how future generations will examine the past.

Don MacLaren