An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.
Japan is a country of about 100 million on the eastern edge of the Asian landmass. It is an island nation that has for the last 125 years dominated Asia until it was forced to submission by the Americans in World War 2. One aspect of the Japanese character stands out. They consider themselves a cut above all other Asian civilizations like China. In addition, they have had very little intercourse with other Asian nations like India and also nations of Africa.
Japanese ascendancy can be traced to the Russian-Japanese war in the early 19th century when Japan became the first Asian power to have defeated a western power in the famous battle of Tsushima Strait ( 28 May 1905)when the Japanese fleet decimated the Russian fleet.
One other aspect of the Japanese character that stands out is the need for isolation. Japan isolated itself from most Asian countries and did not allow entry of foreigners till the Americans sent a fleet under Admiral Mathew C Perry (1852). The superiority of the American fleet forced Japan to open its closed world. They not only opened but embraced Uncle Sam
This had a unique effect on Japan and I have observed in my visits to Japan that the Japanese still consider them superior to other Asians and they really don't want anything to do with them. They have been extremely brutal also as the occupation of China and Korea including the Philippines show. This part of the Japanese character is difficult to understand as they follow the Buddhist religion and the Buddha was a man of peace but the Japanese believed in militarism and glorified fighters like the Samurai who believed in the Nihilist doctrine.
An aspect that stands out is that there are no natural resources of any value in Japan and the Japanese for the last 150 years after the industrial revolution came have been colonizing the Asian mainland for raw materials. During the 20th century up to the time of the defeat in World War 2, they referred to their empire as (the "Co-Prosperity) sphere but it was a brutal occupation in which the Japanese even practiced target shooting on POWs and raped women
They incorporated more than a million women from the countries they had occupied as comfort women.
In contrast to the Japanese disdain of the Asian people, I have observed the Japanese have a love for everything American. This facet of Japan is not understood. It is also a fact that the Americans had enforced a blockade of Japan and also Atom bombed it killing 200000 Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The so-called Japanese Co-prosperity sphere was nothing short of a relationship between a slave and his master. Unlike the British Empire which did bring a modicum of progressive justice to the people who were the ruled, the Japanese Empire was the antithesis of this.
Their occupation of China and the brutality committed, as well as the famous Rape of Nanking, are well known. They ignored all the mandates of the League of Nations. The Americans and the Western world enforced a trade embargo. History tells us that a stage had come when the Japanese had just a week or two of oil left. One reason for this trade embargo was the Americans had more sympathy for China than for Japan.
As a result of the trade embargo, the war cabinet led by general Hideki Tojo under the aegis of the emperor Hirohito decided to attack America but in 3 years of fighting the Japanese used to easy victories against weak opponents had a tough time against the United States Navy. After the battle of Midway( 1942) where the Japanese carrier fleet was annihilated, it was a one-way ticket to doom.
By the beginning of 1944, Japan had been defeated and the British Indian army had also begun to move for the liberation of Burma. The Americans Navy had completely sealed the ocean routes and it was difficult for the Japanese to get supplies to the island nation. In addition, the supply chain to their army in Southeast Asia collapsed. in such a scenario right from December 1944, the Japanese leadership knew they had been defeated and were looking for a face-saving way out.
They had sent feelers to the Western world that they would surrender and the only condition they put forward was that the Japanese emperor must not be removed. At that time the Americans were developing the atomic bomb and American scientists and generals wanted to test the weapon. Truman who took over after the death of Roosevelt was in favor of this. He signed on the dotted line for three Japanese cities which had been spared the firebombing namely Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Kyoto for the guinea pig experiments.
Many writers have commented that the Americans were extremely callous in their behavior and they would have never bombed Nazi Germany but the Asian nations had low priority for the Americans. Though the Japanese had indicated they wanted to surrender the Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing 200000 Japanese. The plans were kept ready for a third atomic bomb but by then the Japanese had surrendered unconditionally.
Japan was occupied by the Americans and the famous Tokyo tribunal took place. This has been well documented. All the Japanese leaders were hung to death as war criminals.
The Japanese rever their dead and the names of the Japanese heroes and the generals are still kept in the Yuskhuni Shrine in Tokyo. Japan never reconciled to its defeat or to the fact that it had carried out a brutal occupation of Asia.
In my travels to Japan, I found that there was a deep admiration for everything American. Another thing I will add is that Japanese men have a great fascination for American women. There was a movie which I saw many years back when I had come to Singapore in which a Japanese submarine is shown having approached the coast of the United States and when it surfaces there is an American woman trapped in a swimming costume on the periscope. The Japanese are delighted and one of them says, " this is America."
Ultimately the Americans agreed for all the terms the Japanese wanted and allowed the emperor who was the biggest war criminal of all time to continue to rule Japan. Throughout the 20th century, the Japanese always had admiration for America and the American way of life. After the end of the war, they took to America and became their lap-dop. This is not a proper word to use but I cannot think of a better word.
For the last 75 years, the Japanese have allied with the western powers. A facet of the Japanese mind can be seen from the pact that they even had diplomatic relations with South Africa when it was practicing Apartheid and were very happy to have got the status of " honorary whites." This is a very interesting aspect of Japanese mental make-up. They do not wish to be associated with Asian nations and would be happy to be considered white along with the Americans and the other western powers. Somebody must analyse this thinking of the Japanese mind as to how it has crept into them.
Even now in the battle in Ukraine, the Japanese are going all out to support the Americans and consider Russia and China to be enemies. The Japanese are not apologizing to China for war crimes and consider China to be their major enemy.
During World War 2 the Japanese had a strong association to a degree with India when the Indian Wartime leader Subhash Chandra Bose made the pact of the devil with the Japanese. But it must be recorded that the Japanese did not treat the Indians as equals and despite the Andaman Islands having been occupied by Japan and handed over to the provisional Azad Hind government, the Japanese continued killing hundreds of Indians and raping the women.
I have not been able to understand that despite the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan, the killing of the people, the occupation of Japan, and the execution of Japanese leadership the Japanese are still entirely Pro American. They are going out of the way to enforce sanctions on Russia and recently the Indian government had refused permission to the Japanese Air Force to supply weapons and other supplies by using India as a staging post.
History, however, is nobody's friend and we know that Japan now is no longer the power it used to be and is entirely dependent on America to defend it. The Russians and the Chinese are not going to forgive Japan for taking unilateral decisions in support of America.
Japanese people still have a great love for American culture and society. At every stage, I find in Japan the desire to emulate everything American. This remains for many an enigma and maybe we will never know the truth. why it is so? Just as we do not know why Japanese Buddhism is given a cover of a warrior, this love for everything American looks bizarre.
I am amused when I read the other day that the Japanese during World War 2 had a competition as to how many Chinese men could be beheaded and who could be the winner of this act.
Japan is on the horns of a dilemma. It loves American everything American but I wonder if the Americans now grappling with China will reciprocate. The downside of Japan has begun and 25 years later, Japan may go further down. Its policy of being the American lapdog may boomerang.
© 2022 MG Singh emge