That’s one reaction to the atomic bombs on Japan

Having been set free by Allied troops, he travelled through Nagasaki a few weeks after its destruction. All he could see was a landscape “completely black. Here and there was a chimney. All the houses were just stone and rubble.” As he looked across it he thought, “good for the Americans”.

Having worked on the Burma railway as slave labour, then sent to the coal mines as slave labour.

Forced to carry back-breaking railway sleepers, Bras witnessed lives being thrown away daily for no reason at all. He had to watch his friends’ executions, knowing that if he intervened he would be executed too. Some 13,000 prisoners of war died during the construction of the railway, as did 100,000 native workers. It is estimated that one died for every sleeper laid.

Might not be a wholly empathic reaction but……

When the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies, Bras’s father was taken captive and killed. Soldiers put a tube down his throat and filled it with water until his stomach burst.

Even with all that, a highly perceptive man:

He liked the British, finding the Welsh and Scots pleasingly direct and the English less sincere but very amusing. Dad’s Army made him weep with laughter.

33 thoughts on “That’s one reaction to the atomic bombs on Japan”

  1. The Japs got off very lightly for the shite they pulled. A sizeable chunk of their Imperial Army should have been executed after the war. Impossible to assign individual guilt likely. We could have picked 3 out of 10 for the chop. But that would make us as scummy as them so I guess not.

    Also considering that the scum of socialism have ordered (and their henchmen carried out) far more and suffered far less.

  2. “The Japs got off very lightly for the shite they pulled.”

    Nah.

    3 million deaths, hundreds of thousands of civilians burned to death, children dying of starvation, two of their cities nuked, decades of foreign occupation.

    It can always be worse, but the Japs paid a terrible price for their campaign of rape and murder across the Pacific Rim.

    I’ve heard it said that it’s the Rape of Nanking that broke them. Or rather, their atrocities in that city and throughout the rest of the war were a result of some kind of collective psychological fracture. The Chinee, you see, were supposed to surrender. Not relocate their capital and draw the Japanese into a protracted land war in Asia. Sent the Japanese army berserk when they realised they still hadn’t won. Glorious victory, still denied, by people they regarded as inferiors.

    Dunno if that’s true or not, but there’s probably something to the trick cyclist approach. The Japs seemed to feel a burning sense of racial inferiority to the roundeyes, which they greatly resented, and it amplified their Asiatic cruelty.

    But I’m glad more of them didn’t die. No doubt many that survived deserved death, but their children and grandchildren don’t.

  3. “The Japs got off very lightly for the shite they pulled.”

    The Emperor certainly did, getting to keep his position and all.
    Plus unlike the Germans, there isn’t really a sense that they did anything wrong, the atrocities they committed are still downplayed in their history books (The war museum attached to the Yasukuni Shrine is particularly eye-opening).

    Regarding the atomic bombings, it really shouldn’t be controversial to state that they shortened the war and saved many more lives on both sides, an invasion of the Japanese homeland would have been horrific (I’ve been to Okinawa and seen the museums on the fighting there, on the mainland it would have been a lot, lot worse)

  4. Steve, I have to agree with Ecks.
    From Wiki: ” It really began in 1895 with Japan’s assassination of Korea’s Queen Min, and invasion of Korea, resulting in its absorption into Japan, followed quickly by Japan’s seizure of southern Manchuria, etc. – establishing that Japan was at war from 1895 to 1945. Prior to 1895, Japan had only briefly invaded Korea during the Shogunate, long before the Meiji Restoration, and the invasion failed. Therefore, Rummel’s estimate of 6-million to 10-million dead between 1937 (the Rape of Nanjing) and 1945, may be roughly corollary to the time-frame of the Nazi Holocaust, but it falls far short of the actual numbers killed by the Japanese war machine. If you add, say, 2-million Koreans, 2-million Manchurians, Chinese, Russians, many East European Jews (both Sephardic and Ashkenazi), and others killed by Japan between 1895 and 1937 (conservative figures), the total of Japanese victims is more like 10-million to 14-million”.

  5. Forgot to add this link for an example of the fighting on Okinawa-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himeyuri_students- the museum mentioned is the one I went to, ranks up there with Auschwitz and the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall as one of the most disturbing places I’ve been to)

  6. I’ve been to Okinawa and came away with the thought that the US forces would have attacked my cave with flame-throwers because of my views on tax justice

  7. “Sent the Japanese army berserk when they realised they still hadn’t won”

    Are you sure it wasn’t their repressed homosexuality that made them angry? I’ve seen “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence”.

  8. @ Professor Murphy

    It could be argued that the whole of WWII was about a Neoliberal hatred of Sustainable Cost Accounting.

  9. I’ve visited the museum at Hiroshima, and I wasn’t very impressed by the approach. There’s a lot of “poor us” in the displays, and their explanations try to suggest that they were in the process of putting peace feelers out through the Russians. It looks like all school kids in Japan have to visit it – I saw many school parties with even quite young kids there.

  10. “…they were in the process of putting peace feelers out through the Russians”

    Whilst the Soviets with 1.5 million soldiers, 27,000 artillery pieces and 5,500 tanks were putting ‘feelers’ through the Japanese army, overrunning an area the size of Western Europe in little more than a week. Obviously the Soviets were a little hard of hearing.

  11. Whilst the Soviets with 1.5 million soldiers, 27,000 artillery pieces and 5,500 tanks were putting ‘feelers’ through the Japanese army . . .

    The Russians didn’t attack until after the Hiroshima bombing. The prospect of communist occupation was likely as much an incentive to surrender as the atom bombs.

  12. The Japs got off very lightly for the shite they pulled.

    Agreed.

    The Cold War saved both Germany and Japan as nations. We were much nicer to them than we would have been if the Russians had just been a regular allied nation.

  13. “The Russians didn’t attack until after the Hiroshima bombing.”

    True, but they began planning the attack months before that, didn’t know what the USA was up to and couldn’t have known the Japanese were going to surrender. You don’t have that much hardware lying around wondering what to do with it. Fair to surmise that the Soviets would have attacked whether or not the A bomb was dropped.

    “The prospect of communist occupation was likely as much an incentive to surrender as the atom bombs.”

    Likely true. The Russians wouldn’t have left Tokyo if they’d got there.

  14. My wife met a Malaysian woman who said “My mother liked the British”.

    “Why?”

    “Because she remembered the Japanese.”

    Her mother had tales such as Japanese soldiers arriving at a village, arbitrarily arresting some inhabitants, and taking them into the jungle to use for bayonet practice.

  15. Fair to surmise that the Soviets would have attacked whether or not the A bomb was dropped.

    Indeed, the Russian action was part of the allied war plan agreed during the “big three” conferences. Stalin agreed to go in within three months of the German defeat.

  16. In a quandary, because I love Japanese culture (art, alcohol, food, technology, entertainment) and have met very many Japanese, all charming.

    Yet… there’s no getting away with the fact that they are capable of immense cruelty.

  17. It really began in 1895 . . .

    I’d say it began in 1854, when the US invaded Japanese waters unprovoked and, using intimidation, humiliation and threats, successfully persuaded the Japanese that they should stop being medieval, feudal, externally-peaceful, fiercely isolationist and threatening-to-no-one, and join the modern world. And join they did, going from nothing to industrialised military power capable of defeating a major western nation within 50 years. Those barbarous feudal tendencies didn’t disappear, of course, and were augmented by a massive chip on the shoulder.

  18. Addolff – yes, but what PJF said.

    I’m biased because I saw Grave of the Fireflies

    Andrew – Melly Clistmas Mr Lawlence, shurely

    Idk why posh blokes like homoflexible stuff so much, you’d never catch Richard Sharpe bumming another man even if he was the prettiest star

  19. I remember all that Spirit Level bollocks about how the Japanese lived longer lives because they had a more wealth equal society.

    Maybe they live longer because they’re all xenophobic, misogynistic, cruel and slaughter dolphins in shallow bays? Spirit Level didn’t address those points of course.

  20. I’m sorry, the ‘we were only nasty because xxxxxx (insert colonial / imperial / foreign nation of your choice) made us do it’ argument doesn’t wash.
    There must have been something intrinsic to the Japs for them to do the horrific things they did*(James Clavell’s Shogun et al gives an idea of the Japanese mindset and that was set in a period around 1600).

    *Ditto, my thoughts on the Germans after I visited Auschwitz.

  21. There must have been something intrinsic to the Japs for them to do the horrific things they did.

    Absolutely, though it may be more widely Asiatic than purely Japanese; the Thais and Vietnamese are lovely people – until they’re not. But the colonial / imperial angle does explain rather basically why they were doing it to us. Our boys wouldn’t have suffered in Malaya if, you know, we hadn’t been in Malaya.

    I’m not into the justification and blame game, just the explanation and understanding game. I have some concerns that we haven’t seen the last of Japanese brutality. The Asian-Pacific region is hotting up and current postures won’t last forever.

  22. *Ditto, my thoughts on the Germans after I visited Auschwitz.

    I knew a chap who was in the Royal Artillery during one of our Middle-Eastern adventures (Yemen, I think). He told us (this was during a break at work) that they used to fire white phosphorous shells as navigation aids because in the windless desert the plume would go straight up and deployed special forces could take a bearing. He then says, as a cheery aside,

    “Of course, whenever we could we’d drop it on a village.”

    Ever such a nice chap; would do anything for you.

  23. The water tube down the throat must have been a favored form of entertainment for the Japs in the Dutch East Indies. My wife’s grandfather died that way; he was Chinese.

    The other Asian societies have form for great cruelty as well. POWs suffered greatly at the hands of the Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese.

  24. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “…it really shouldn’t be controversial to state that they shortened the war and saved many more lives on both sides,”

    And since. We are all fortunate that two bombs were dropped on Japan when only one side had only two rather small ones.

    If the war had ended a few weeks earlier the first use of nukes in anger would have been between two countries with rather more and rather bigger bombs. Knowing what they are capable of is a big, big reason that their first use is also, to date, their last.

  25. between 1895 and 1937 (conservative figures), the total of Japanese victims is more like 10-million to 14-million

    A bit of perspective:
    But still way, way less than the number of his own people that Mao Zedong was responsible for killing.

  26. Anyone who doubts Japanese ability to be cruel should perhaps read Russell’s “The Knights of Bushido”. Bamboo shoots being allowed to grow up inside the fingernails of someone tied, immobile, to a post.
    The Americans, quite correctly, never forgot or forgave December 7th 1941.

  27. Re 7/12/41, if you visit Pearl Harbor, you can see the actual document, with his written amendments, that FDR used for his speech to Congress. There is also some of the kit that Friedman’s people used to crack the Japanese ‘Purple’ code. Sadly the import of the plaintext didn’t get to Pearl Harbor soon enough to have any impact.

  28. I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about Japan not officially declaring war before Pearl Harbour. War, if you’re going to do it, is all about winning. No one expects chivalry once it starts. You don’t walk up to the enemy and challenge him to a duel. You shoot him in the back while he’s picking his nose.

    Besides, dropping a bomb on a boat is a pretty clear declaration of war.

  29. I’ve made this point with millennials that a friend of my grandfather hated the Japanese and had spent time in a Japanese POW camp, the question was would it be fair to call him racist

  30. My father would undoubtedly have been part of the Australian contribution to the invasion of Japan.

    Naturally, if I’d been given the choice, I’d have broken my finger pressing the button to drop the bombs. Indeed, to avoid the invasion, I’d have incinerated every man, woman and child in the islands.

    Sound like a Jap, don’t I.

  31. Worth looking at this from the other direction. All this “rules of war” is pretty well restricted to W. Europe. Where wars generally were about which particular hereditary royal got to benefit from which particular bit of real estate. Killing the people working that land in the process would defeat the object of gaining it. Almost war as sport. Line up two sides of largely paid military. Let them shoot at each other for an afternoon & count the bodies at the end to see who won. The officer/management class tried to organise it so they weren’t overly inconvenienced.
    It’s an aberration. Rest of the world didn’t/don’t think like that. They see war as a serious business.

  32. The purpose of war being to kill/enslave your opponent’s women & children. That way you don’t get to have to fight the next generation

  33. I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about Japan not officially declaring war before Pearl Harbour. War, if you’re going to do it, is all about winning. No one expects chivalry once it starts. You don’t walk up to the enemy and challenge him to a duel. You shoot him in the back while he’s picking his nose.

    I agree, but have read (not in any source reliable enough for me to have documented it) that Japan intended to make a formal declaration of war immediately before the attack began, but a diplomatic snafu prevented the relevant papers being served on Washington, and so an unintentional sneak attack resulted. Not that it affects the outcome in any way.

    Ah, here it is (thanks Google):
    https://www.nytimes.com/1994/11/21/world/japan-admits-it-bungled-notice-of-war-in-41.html

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