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Documentary debunks the myths of the official US justification to drop the atomic bombs

71 years ago today, the US Empire murdered 150,000 innocent human beings in Hiroshima to threaten & dominate the entire world.
Our documentary debunks the myths of the official US justification to drop the atomic bombs.

Obama’s high-profile trip to Hiroshima was accompanied by a media storm that gave endless justifications for the US use of the atomic bomb on Japanese civilians. The myths are widely accepted in society, and underpin the notion of American exceptionalism.

Abby Martin interviews Dr. Peter Kuznick, co-author with Director Oliver Stone of the bestselling book and HBO series “The Untold History of the United States,” about the real story behind the use of the atomic bombs—as well as the untold history of Imperial Japan, its role today for the US Empire, and the danger for new war on the horizon.

August 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why did Japan surrender in World War II?

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There is contentious debate among scholars about why Japan surrendered in World War II. Some believe the Aug. 15, 1945, declaration was the result of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It’s possible that these finally pushed Emperor Hirohito (posthumously called Emperor Showa) to break the deadlock in the Supreme War Council and accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender issued by the Allied leaders on July 26, 1945. In that declaration, there was a promise of “prompt and utter destruction” if the armed forces of Japan didn’t surrender. The use of weapons of mass destruction causing the incineration of large swaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in quick succession backed up that threat, highlighting the futility of continuing the war. Emperor Hirohito’s intervention on the side of those favoring capitulation was crucial to winning over those hardliners who didn’t. In this narrative, the dawning of the nuclear age brought peace. It also allowed military leaders to save face, since they could claim that the war was not lost on the battlefield, and agree to surrender to spare the Japanese people from more suffering.

This meant abandoning ketsu-go, the strategy of fighting one last decisive battle intended to inflict so many casualties on a war-weary America that it would relax its demands for unconditional surrender and negotiate a peace. This would, at a minimum, safeguard the Emperor, and potentially preserve the armed forces and shield them from prosecution for war crimes. This strategy was affirmed in June 1945 as the gruesome and bloody Battle of Okinawa was winding down. Reinforcements had been transferred from Manchuria to bolster the defense of Kyushu where the U.S. was expected to attack next.

In February 1945, Joseph Stalin met with Allied leaders in Yalta, promising to attack Japan three months after Germany’s surrender. He kept his promise, and Soviet troops invaded Manchuria in the wee hours of Aug. 9 before the Nagasaki bombing later that day. This came as a shock to Japanese leaders who had been trying throughout July that year to engage the Soviets as brokers in a peace deal with the Allies.

Soviet entry into the war was an alarming development for a military leadership that vowed to keep fighting to save the Emperor. The fate of the czar at the hands of communists, and prospects for a punitive Soviet occupation, influenced the calculus of surrender.

In February 1945, the Japanese military conducted a survey that concluded that Japan could not win the war. But they were not squeamish about the suffering of the Japanese public — more than 60 Japanese cities were subjected to extensive firebombing in 1945, displacing, maiming and killing several hundred thousand civilians. Military leaders could not contemplate the ignominy of surrender, so they compelled their nation to continue fighting a war that was already lost, subjecting the Japanese to horrific suffering that they could have ended far sooner.

Historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, in his 2005 book “Racing the Enemy,” provides compelling evidence that the Pacific War ended due to the entry of the Soviets, not the atomic bombings. Having tasted defeat at the hands of the Soviets twice in the late 1930s in Manchurian border clashes, the generals knew that the new front meant further resistance was futile.

Sheldon Garon, a professor of history at Princeton University, takes issue with Hasegawa’s contention that the military was insouciant about Japanese suffering and ready to fight to the last civilian. Recently, Garon gave a talk in Tokyo about an ongoing book project focusing on how the war was lost for Germany and Japan.

He argues that the U.S. was surprised by Japan’s sudden surrender, noting that by Aug. 19, 1945, America would have had three more atomic bombs ready and had six more in production — it did not anticipate a swift end.

According to Garon, the Japanese military was deeply concerned by worsening conditions in Japan because they were undermining the war effort. Authorities, for example, planned the evacuation of a few hundred thousand school children to spare them the urban conflagrations, but were not prepared for the mass exodus of adults who bailed because they knew the military could not protect them. Roads out of Tokyo were clogged with these refugees: 8.5 million fled Japanese cities in the final five months of war, paralyzing transport networks.

This rural-escape survival strategy meant demoralized workers were abandoning factories, compounding existing shortages of war-related production.

According to Garon, these acts of sabotage also meant that an orderly society was no longer obeying orders, responding to accumulating signs of impending defeat. Alas, many of these unlucky refugees fled to smaller cities, and thus were subject to more bombings as America moved onto second-tier targets. The U.S. dropped leaflets warning of impending strikes, and then delivered, stoking fear and undermining faith in the government.

Officials were also demoralized by Germany’s surrender, and the horrific fight to the end that Adolf Hitler insisted on, subjecting his people and cities to a relentless pounding.

Garon observes that the Germans fought like samurai, sacrificing all even when they knew it was for a losing cause. While much is made of Japanese authorities training women and children to resist U.S. invaders with bamboo staves, Garon notes that none ever did so. In contrast, Germany took desperate measures, resorting to full mobilization and deploying these untrained conscripts to battlefields where many died or were injured.

Japan’s diplomats in Europe were shocked by the devastation of Germany and conveyed their concerns about Hitler’s “fighting to the finish” strategy. They advised against emulating the Germans, and thus implicitly counseled surrender for the national interest. But finding an exit with dignity proved elusive.

Garon attributes Japan’s delayed surrender to military intransigence and diplomatic incompetence, a dithering that subjected Japan to needless devastation.

Finally, it was the Soviet entry into the war and the atomic bombings that precipitated a hasty surrender. But it was overdue because the signs of defeat, including a devastating series of setbacks on the home front, had been gathering for some time: endless fire bombings, growing shortages of food due to the U.S. blockade “Operation Starvation,” bereaved families and the subversion of people voting with their feet. There was no appetite for suffering the fate of the Nazis or subjecting the nation to more nightmarish ruination.

As the public — no longer willing to endure — soured on the war, what choice did the Emperor and his advisers have if the Imperial Household was to survive?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/08/06/commentary/japan-surrender-world-war-ii/#.V6Z_DkmCsXg.facebook

August 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

If Abe is serious, he should listen in earnest to anti-nuke calls

(We can choose) a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.” That was how Barack Obama wound up his 17-minute-long public address during his historic visit to Hiroshima on May 27.

He was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city leveled by the world’s first atomic bombing. The 71st anniversary of that event fell on Aug. 6. Nagasaki suffered the same fate as Hiroshima three days later, on Aug. 9, 1945.

Obama’s visit to Hiroshima was a benchmark event. Even so, nuclear stockpiles around the world are still in excess of 15,000 warheads. A world without nuclear weapons remains a distant dream.

Action is needed to carve out the future. In this regard, there are particularly high expectations for the role of Japan, which experienced the ravages of atomic bombings.

But the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are increasingly suspicious of the central government’s intentions. In their view, the government seems to be obstructing the global trend for trying to eradicate nuclear weaponry.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who accompanied Obama during his Hiroshima visit, pledged that he would “continue to make incessant efforts” toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.

But what precisely is he determined to do, we wonder. The key question here is that of a concrete vision.

TOKYO EMBARRASSED BY TALK OF ‘NO FIRST USE’

The Washington Post reported last month that the Obama administration is considering changes in its nuclear policy.

Notably, a declaration of “no first use” is reportedly being weighed as an option. The term refers to a country’s pledge that it will not be the first to use nuclear arms unless it comes under nuclear attack from another nation. China and India, among the world’s nuclear weapon states, have adopted that policy.

No first use” is expected to significantly reduce the role of nuclear arms in security policy. It is also believed to be highly effective in urging other nuclear weapon states to engage in nuclear disarmament.

Ten U.S. Democratic senators have called on Obama to declare “no first use.” The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have sent a letter to Obama to express their support for the potential nuclear policy changes, saying such moves would “mark an important step toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons.”

But Tokyo appears to be embarrassed by this. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said only that Japan and the United States “should remain closely in touch” over the matter. When the Obama administration reviewed its nuclear policy in 2010, it stopped short of declaring “no first use” out of consideration for Japan and other U.S. allies.

At the United Nations, meantime, there is growing momentum to outlaw nuclear arms, which are inhumane weapons, under international law.

A U.N. working group, which has been discussing the matter since February in Switzerland, is holding its final session this month. The working group’s chairman has worked out a draft report that says, “A majority of States expressed support for the commencement of negotiations … in 2017.”

Japan is one country that is not part of that “majority of States.” Tokyo has reiterated at the working group’s sessions that the time is not ripe for declaring nuclear weapons illegal in view of the current security climate.

Seventy-one years after the A-bombings, the very country that suffered the nuclear attacks is trying to block the trend for nuclear disarmament.

PERSISTENT DEPENDENCE ON NUCLEAR UMBRELLA

The backdrop here is Japan’s dependence on the “nuclear umbrella,” under which it relies on the nuclear arsenal of the United States to deter attacks from other countries.

Tokyo believes Japan must stay under the nuclear umbrella, not the least because it has to face up to China, which is pursuing a rapid military buildup, and to North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and test-firings of missiles.

No approval can be given to a “no first use” policy and a prospective treaty to ban nuclear weapons, both of which would erode the deterrent potential of the nuclear umbrella, according to Tokyo’s position.

Let us remember, however, that nuclear deterrence theory is a relic of the Cold War period. The government of Japan has not ruled out a possible use of nuclear weapons by the United States. That is broadly at odds with the sentiment of the Japanese public, which does not want a repeat of the ravages of a nuclear attack.

As long as deterrence theory is adhered to, other nuclear weapon states will also stick to their reliance on nuclear arsenals, which means the risk of a nuclear war would never diminish.

It goes without saying that the security climate should be taken into account from a tough viewpoint. Many experts believe, however, that conventional war potential–basically that of Japan and the United States–alone is functioning as a sufficient deterrent on North Korea and China.

We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without (nuclear weapons),” Obama said in his Hiroshima address.

Kazumi Matsui, the mayor of Hiroshima, cited that passage in his Aug. 6 Peace Declaration, and added, “We need to fill our policymakers with the passion to … create a security system based on trust and dialogue.”

Courage and passion: These qualities are probably expected from the government of Japan more than anything else. Tokyo should start striving to seek a security policy that does not rely on the nuclear umbrella and begin holding talks with Washington to achieve that goal.

Abe has attended the peace ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year. He has also had opportunities to hold dialogue with representatives of A-bomb survivors.

But the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki strongly distrust Abe. The prime minister has not only rushed through policies that undermine the pacifist principles of the Constitution, such as lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense and enacting new security legislation. He has been less than willing to listen to earnest pleas. In 2014, for example, he used the phrase, “It’s a matter of opinion,” to dismiss concerns expressed by an A-bomb survivor.

POIGNANT CALLS FROM A-BOMBED CITIES

The Nagasaki Peace Declaration to be released Aug. 9 is expected to include, for the first time in two years, a demand for enacting a law to set down Japan’s three non-nuclear principles–not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction into Japan, of nuclear weapons.

Sumiteru Taniguchi, an 87-year-old A-bomb survivor, strongly called, during a drafting committee meeting, for the inclusion of that passage.

Those who never experienced that abominable war are trying to have the (pacifist) Constitution amended,” Taniguchi said. “As a survivor of the A-bomb, I have to continue calling out loud as long as I am alive.”

Poignant calls from the A-bombed cities represent the starting point of efforts to realize a world without nuclear arms. If Abe wishes, as he says he does, to lead initiatives to have nuclear weapons abolished, the first thing he should do is to face up in earnest to the calls of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and seek out a way to go hand in hand with them.

http://www.newsjs.com/url.php?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.asahi.com%2Fajw%2Farticles%2FAJ201608060027.html

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

A mother’s love, after Hiroshima

Behind her the dome ruins in Hiroshima.Japanese children in summer kimono offer prayers with paper lanterns..jpg

 

 

“Someday, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of August 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.”

President Obama said these words standing in front of the cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Parkon May 27. At that moment, the debates about why he should or should not visit Hiroshima and what he should or should not do there no longer mattered to me. As the daughter of a hibakusha, a survivor of the Hiroshima attack, I was grateful that the president paid respect to the victims who died that day, to those who lived, and to those who continue to live, being victims to their memories of August 6.

My mother, Toshiko Ishikawa, was a 12-year-old girl in Hiroshima the day the atomic bomb was dropped. She was young enough to not quite grasp why it happened, yet old enough to never forget what happened. My mother lost her family, friends, and home, yet she never lost her ability to love.

My mother moved to the United States in 1959 and shortly after that became a US citizen. My mother did not hold hatred; instead she hoped that such a weapon would never be used again on any country. I have presented her experience to middle schools for the past six years, so students would understand there’s more to August 6th and 9th than the textbook picture of the mushroom cloud and a few sentences stating the bomb ended the war. By telling her story to a new generation of future voters, I hope I am honoring her wish and making her proud.

I wrote my middle-grade historical fiction,The Last Cherry Blossom, when teachers inquired if I had a book that they could add to their class reading list to complement my discussion. The Last Cherry Blossom published this month. It’s a bittersweet time for me. My mom passed away in January 2015. However, she did read the latest draft (at that time) of the manuscript, and she knew it would be published.

I wanted to write this book not just to honor my mother and her family, but to honor all the people who suffered or died from the effects of pika don. We need to remember the immense destruction a nuclear weapon produced in the past. Not for blame, but to realize how much worse the damage could be today and how many more innocent lives would be lost. Because the first step toward nuclear disarmament is remembering that the people under those famous mushroom clouds were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, or child.

Originally, scientists said nothing would grow again in Hiroshima for many years after the bomb was dropped. Yet the cherry blossoms bloomed again the following spring. The cherry blossoms endured, much like the spirit of the people affected by the bombing in Hiroshima.

Last summer my family visited Hiroshima to honor my mother at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Victims. Standing on the same ground where she experienced so much horror and destruction at the age of 12 broke my heart.

My mother lost so much that fateful day, yet she gained an inner strength she never thought possible. The love she gave my daughter and me proved that love prevails over fear.

Kathleen Burkinshaw lives in Charlotte, NC, and is the author of The Last Cherry Blossom (Sky Pony Press August 2016).

http://thebulletin.org/mothers-love-after-hiroshima9707?platform=hootsuite

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Hiroshima museum gets hibakusha’s rare copy of A-bomb tanka book written behind censors’ backs

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A tanka collection by late hibakusha poet Shinoe Shoda, recently found in a private home, has been donated to the city of Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA – A copy of an anthology of traditional tanka by Shinoe Shoda written to depict the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and secretly published during the Allied Occupation has been discovered at a temple in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The anthology, titled “Sange,” a Buddhist term meaning death, was donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in the city on Tuesday.

The only other copy was thought to be one found earlier at the house of a relative of the late poet.

The donated copy is “a precious and rare material,” said an official at the Hiroshima Municipal Government’s peace promotion division.

Shoda experienced the atomic bombing while at home, only about 1.7 km from ground zero.

The anthology includes about 100 tanka that give graphic descriptions of what she experienced or heard from other hibakusha.

A translation of one tanka reads:

The heavy bones / must be the teacher / and alongside / small skulls / are gathered.”

In 1947, when the anthology was published, Japan was under U.S.-led Occupation and severe restrictions had been imposed on publications and reporting related to the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to the municipal government.

To evade Occupation censors, Shoda picked Hiroshima Prison as the place to print about 150 copies of the anthology. The copies were handed out only to people close to her.

About 10 years ago, Tomoaki Shoja, the 60-year-old chief priest of Sentokuji Temple in the town of Kitahiroshima, discovered a copy of “Sange” when he was organizing his late priest’s belongings.

The original owner is believed to have given it to Shoja’s family because a son of Shoda was evacuated to the temple in the closing days of the war.

The museum is considering putting the anthology on display.

Not many people know Shoda,” said Shoja. “She could become better known if more people have the chance to see the anthology.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/29/national/history/hiroshima-museum-gets-hibakushas-rare-copy-bomb-tanka-book-written-behind-censors-backs/#.V5w7vTUnDIU

August 3, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment