Sunday, August 8, 2010

We Are A Sick Sick World

Okay. Kek sei. Seems like every time I want to wind down in preparation for something stressful, something pops up that I just cannot ignore.

Recently, Hiroshima held its annual memorial ceremony to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, and for the first time, the U.S.A. sent a delegation to the ceremony. But Japan is angry! Because U.S.A. has offered no apology for the bombing. Over 250,000 people, civilians, died as a result, from the bombing itself, or from the radiation aftereffects. 

There are some people who actually believe that just because Japan committed many war crimes itself during WWII, that Japan deserves no apology for the heinous death toll inflicted upon its civilians[1]. Still others believe that because Japan refuses to acknowledge its warcrimes, such as the Rape of Nanking and the Bataan Death March, because there is no outrage over this silence from Japan, that there is no reason to honour Japan's dead. 

OK look. 

Japan has fucking issues. I have issues with Japan's fucking issues. LOTS of people who pay the least bit of attention to Japan's role in WWII have issues with Japan's fucking issues. Namely, the fact that the Japanese government refuses to acknowledge these war crimes, refuses to even teach young Japanese about Japan's heinous massacres, refuses to apologize for abusing women kidnapped and forced into military brothels, refuses to apologize to other countries and crimes perpetrated on civilians in other countries during Japanese occupation -- the list goes on. JAPAN HAS ERASED ITS OWN HISTORY. From what I understand, Japan's history books portray Japan as a victim that was dragged into WWII. Even Japanese people have issues with Japan's fucking issues. Japanese activist Tamaki Matsuoka recently released a film documentary interviewing Japanese war veterans admitting their role in the Nanjing Massacre, despite harassment from fringe groups who deny the war crimes. 

I have so much damn fucking outrage towards Japan, that when I researched more on what happened during WWII, I hated Japan for a while. I hated not only Japan, but I hated Japanophiles around me who thought Japan was so fucking cool and awesome.

However, Japan's devastation of so many lives during WWII in no way justifies the devastation inflicted on hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

There is talk about how, if U.S.A. hadn't set Japan up the bombs, the war would had dragged on for much longer than it did. There is talk about how, until the U.S. became part of the war there was no end in sight. There is talk about how Japan would have invaded U.S.A. if nothing had been done. These are lies that serve to maintain the nobility of American intervention in WWII.

Let me tell you about what I know about Japanese Occupation in Malaya at the time. I know that the Japanese soldiers treated Chinese people very badly (although I cannot remember who told me). I know that sometimes our countrymen, the Malays and Indians and aboriginals, tried to help, but many times, they did not, and indeed, what could they have done? We Chinese diasporans were targeted specifically for our blood links to the mainland. I know that when the Japanese came, the British could do nothing, and we Malayans learnt, bitterly, that the colonial masters were not as powerful as they claimed to be, that they would not do their all to protect us as part of their Empire as it looked like they would (social contract and all), that we as Asians had the power to rule over ourselves, that white was not as mighty as had been driven into our bones. I like to say that Thailand sold us out, lent the Japanese a backdoor into Malaya in exchange for not being occupied. When I think of the Japanese during World War II, I don't think about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; I think instead of the invasion force arriving past the Thai/Malaya on bicycles, in full uniform with rifles on their backs. I know some of our women were forced into the ranks of comfort women. My older relatives don't speak much about the war, and I have no doubt I lost family then that I could have known today.

I know all this, and I still say: nothing justifies the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. 

To say that Japan's war crimes erases our responsibility towards its civilians is a banal and hateful thing to say. Innocent people never deserve death because of what their governments do. Just as 9/11 victims didn't deserve what happened to them without an apology. 

Nothing justifies war and nothing justifies the kind of mass-murder of civilians like all participants of WWII inflicted on each other. There are some of us who have personal stakes in Japan's culpability during WWII, me included. But refusing to apologize won't bring back the dead. It won't make the pain go away. 

I said it in aqrima's, and I'll say it again here: It is so so sad to see how violence has poisoned our minds that we cannot see beyond the hurt done to us to see that these wars hurt other people too. That this is a race of righteousness, that there's a competition here on who had gotten it right, who was on the side of good and who was on the side of evil and needed punishing.

It was war. When you join in any kind of fight and hurt innocent people for it, you bear responsibility for your own actions. You don't say that just because others have also hurt innocent people you have no obligation to show some respect to the people you have hurt. It's hateful, brutal, unkind, and inhuman to refuse to acknowledge other people's pain, because you are hurting. You're not the only one hurting. And the fault doesn't lie in the civilians who died at Ground Zero of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, so why did they deserve to die? To maintain American sovereignty? Don't make me fucking laugh - America was already powerful then, powerful enough to ignore the rest of the world if it had wanted. 

Yeah, okay, Pearl Harbour. And then what? America retaliated on its own Japanese-American citizens, that's what. Don't think the rest of the world is so stupid that we cannot see that USA, too, has its hands covered with the blood of innocents. Don't think that by quoting the numbers of civilians dead at Japanese hands and guns, you could possibly justify the numbers of civilians dead by American bombs. DEAD. IS. DEAD. These are human beings we're talking about, no matter which side they were on, no matter what country, no matter who did what to whom. Each of these lives were and still are precious to someone else, someone who is not us, who is just as innocent of these war crimes as we who were uninvolved are. None of us are in any position to downplay the horror these people had to live through. 

Yes, Japan has war crimes it has to apologize for. There are victims and survivors still alive, like the Japanese government is waiting for them to die so it never has to give them justice. But so what? Like this justifies the mass-murder of hundreds of thousands of Japanese people? Is this really justice? No, it's not. Refusing to give Japanese people an apology, some closure, some justice, for the heinous crime perpetrated upon them by U.S. America is NOT going to make up for the fact that Japan refuses to give Chinese, Filipino, Malayan peoples apologies, closure, and justice. The lack of graciousness displayed by a country so powerful it can afford, and should model, such a gesture is appalling. 

It is the height of obnoxious privilege to state that Japan shouldn't want apologies for Nagasaki and Hiroshima because of what it has done to other countries. Speaking as a person coming from a country that the Japanese occupied and that is also affected by U.S. imperialism, this sentiment is frankly insulting. Actually, speaking as just a human being, this sentiment is frankly insulting, and it is sickening to know that I share a living breathing world with sick people who think that killing other human beings is in any way justifiable.

Time and time again it has been proven that when we devalue other people's histories, when we claim that one story is more important than another, when we refuse to acknowledge other people's pain - that is when we are at our worst. Wars don't come about because we are at our best; they came about because certain person in power are at their worst and have full capability and desire to inflict pain on other human beings, and the people they lead condone their violence towards others. Today, these damages done to each other is done through corporations, but the underlying principle is the same: the refusal to acknowledge social responsibility towards each other.

Refusing to apologize is condoning the violence perpetrated on innocent people. Not just on the Japanese, but on ALL victims of World War II. 

You want to talk about how America triumphed over evil when Truman decided to drop the N-bombs? How American won the war and saved the rest of the world from a longer war? Fucking excuse me, but the rest of the world already fucking lost when the World Wars started in the first place. And we still lose, because now we know the horror that can be inflicted by nuclear bombs, so kyrios being what they are, U.S. America lives in paranoia of other people's bombs and rags on everybody else who it thinks might have their own bombs. 

Yeah, we are a sick sick world, because we believe that atrocities will end wars. And instead of reeling at our inhumanity, we applaud and defend it, because clearly it worked... for members of that one over-privileged oppressor group that continues to profit and live off the backs of everyone else who suffered and continue to do so. 

4 comments:

  1. this is just so powerful. i agree withe everything you've written.

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  2. I agree that crimes against civilians are never justified.

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  3. but again.. no matter how anger we are, they (the japs) still think all massacres that you have mentioned, are Factitious.. or, they will even think that you are being brainwashed. The only thing we can hope for is, China become stronger and more civilised (Bcos the japs hates chinese only)....

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  4. That doesn't matter, Penny. There are pockets of resistance within Japan itself that try to bring the truth out, and they also get shut down and threatened.

    Japan's refusal to apologize is economic - there are many Japanese who acknowledge the war crimes. It still doesn't diminish the fact that the bombs on Japan were still a heinous thing.

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