Peter Lockhart (link no longer active) blogs at The Naked Emperor: Why Religion is Bollocks. (link no longer active) He is the author of The Naked Emperor: Why Religion is Bollocks and currently resides on a sheep station in Western Australia.
Recently I have been reading a lot about the Second World War, and especially Japan. Of course, to discuss any aspect of that war in a blog is a flea bite out of an elephant of a subject.
Other than the fact that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was similar in so many ways to the attack on Darwin Harbour just 10 weeks later, mostly because of complacency and stupidity, both attacks by the Japanese caught the Americans and the Australians, asleep at the wheel. The Pearl attack and the Darwin attack were done by the same group of Aircraft Carriers commanded by Admiral Nagumo.
In both attacks, the early warnings were ignored, the element of surprise was maintained, and the damage was severe. Darwin was important strategically after Singapore fell to the Japanese just four days before the first air raid, and it seems, only the Japanese understood that. The raids on Darwin were done in order to disrupt and degrade the efficient functioning of the important port.
What struck me most of all in my recent reading, was the role the Shinto Religion played in the Japanese war machine in the hostilities, which Japan began in 1931.
The Shinto Religion is a good example of just how we cannot just lower our guard with fanatics of religion, or the teachings of the religions, as they can and do cause untold problems for millions of people.
One thing I admire about the Japanese is the fact they do everything whole heartedly. I was born less than 9 years after the Second World War, and I grew up with stories of the brutality of the Japanese. I had teachers who were POWs on the Burma Railway, who were in fact angry and bitter, even cruel, because of that experience. My mother also had friends who were former POWs of the Japanese.
However, as a grown man, I had the honour of meeting and discussing the subject of the Japanese with Vivian Bullwinkel.
Vivian told me she was still afraid of the Japanese people because they had not changed. Vivian was one of 22 nurses marched into the sea by the Japanese and machine gunned down. She survived by feigning death.
The Bangka Island massacre is just one of countless atrocities committed by the Japanese during the hostilities from 1931 to 1945. The question I ask: how can anyone do such things? The answer is of course, Religion.
The Shinto religion teaches nationalism for Japan, along with supernatural destiny of the nation and the people as the dominators of the whole world. The Kami first “Created” Japan by dipping spears into the nothingness, and that which dripped from the spear point, became the first island of Japan.
The sacred and holy god created nation of Japan, has a living son of heaven god as Emperor (note it’s not a king with a kingdom but an emperor with an Empire). The Japanese are, according to Shinto, sacred and lower caste relatives of the Emperor and the Kami themselves.
As for the rest of us mere mortals, we are subhuman and worthless apes, who have no worth other than slaves to be dominated by the masters of the universe, the people and Emperor of Japan. Charming.
It is clear from reading about the conduct of the Japanese during those hostilities, that they lived their religion with no doubt or question or hesitation. Such brutality is only seen in religious fanatics. They have their god on their side telling them they are doing right.
I recently spoke to a young woman from Taiwan, and a group of young people from Hong Kong and Shanghai. They all said exactly the same words to me about Japan: “We still hate them”.
It was Taiwan, Korea and China, where the Japanese army rounded up the “Comfort Women”, a euphemism for sex slave. The “Comfort Women” were pressed into service to provide sex for Japanese troops at a ratio of 1:40. That’s one woman forced to provide ongoing sex with forty men.
There were millions of Japanese soldiers, but the “Comfort Women” numbers can only be estimated. The women were not Japanese, and so according to the Japanese they were without value except to serve Japan as slaves.
In Japan today, the schools do not teach the truth about those hostilities and the Japanese atrocities committed in the name of the Emperor. If a tourist goes to ground zero at Nagasaki or Hiroshima, the tourist will be told that the bombs were only dropped because of American racism.
The USA would only accept unconditional surrender and nothing less, and the “Big Six” or the Supreme War Council only considered such a surrender when Joe Stalin declared war on Japan and rolled up the Japanese soldiers in Manchuria like an old carpet in Operation Autumn Storm. Nagasaki and Hiroshima hardly rated a mention.
The Nuclear weapons were not used out of racism, but most likely as retribution for atrocities on an industrial scale such as the “Rape of Nanking” where 400,000 people were slaughtered often tied up and thrown into “Slaughter pits” to be used for live bayonet practice.
Then there was retribution for the Bataan Death March and countless others. I heard many firsthand accounts of atrocities from former POWs, from family friends, school teachers and from Vivian Bullwinkle herself.
I say Shinto teaches racism. I say the lack of truthful history lessons for Japanese youth is also a Japanese atrocity. I say Vivian Bullwinkle was right to still fear the Japanese. If anyone “knew the enemy”, the first rule of warfare, it was her. Vivian witnessed the Bangka Island Massacre where 21 nurses were machine gunned and wounded Australian soldiers were marched to the next beach and used for live bayonet practice.
The Japanese army wanted soldiers who were heartless killers who would kill on command and without hesitation or remorse. They succeeded in that wish, and if they ever question the use of the Nuclear Weapons on their “sacred” country, they need to take a lesson from the ancient Greeks – “Know thyself”.