Aftermath of War and Issues of War Memory, Term Paper Example
Words: 4543Term Paper
Japan is world renowned for their strong military capabilities. The Japanese main islands, according to recorded history, have never been successfully invaded unless one counts the occupation of the Allied Powers at the end of the Second World War. Japan is undeniably one of the most active participating countries in the recent wars. From the First World War that lasted for a span of 4 years from the 28th of July, 1914 until the 11th of November, 1918 to the Second World War that lasted for a span of 6 years from the 1st of September, 1939 until the 2nd of September in 1945, Japan’s name and history had been tarnished by being very synonymous with those conflicts.
Japan in the First World War
Japan participated in the First World War that was ignited 1914 until 1918. They joined in an alliance with the Triple Entente and greatly contributed in conquering the sea lanes in certain territories against the Germans. Even though the Japanese military successfully seized the control over the Germans in the East Asian territories, this never caused large-scale improvement in the country’s economy. Regardless of the small improvement of its economy, Japan took advantage of the chance to expand its power and influence in China. This also became one of the reasons in Japan’s gaining the recognition of being a postwar politics great (Altman 386-400).
Although the Japanese light industry had held a share of the world market after the First World War, the prosperity, wealth and improvement in the economy that Japan experienced that was brought to them by the war did not last long. Japan returned to being a debtor-nation status after the end of the World War I. Japan’s victory in the war and its political instabilities helped contribute to the uprising of Japanese militarism (Schencking 308-26).
Japan in the Second World War
After a seemingly short while after the end of the First World War, another war between the world’s nations started. World War II erupted. This war involved a majority of the world’s nations and all of the great powers, eventually outlining two opposing alliances which were named the Allies and the Axis. This worldwide scaled war spanned from 1939 and ended in 1945.
Japan got involved into the Second World War with very narrow aims. Its main objectives were only to secure the resources of Southeast Asia that was mostly controlled by China. According to Robert Coakley, their “principal objectives were to secure the resources of Southeast Asia and much of China and to establish a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” under Japanese hegemony. In 1895 and in 1905 Japan had gained important objectives without completely defeating China or Russia, and in 1941 Japan sought to achieve its hegemony over East Asia in similar fashion.” (Coakley 502).
During the war, the major participating countries placed a large percentage of their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities and potentials to aid and service their war efforts, resulting in civilians being involved as military resource of their country. The Second World War was also distinct because of the significant events and instances involving very high death toll of civilians, such as the Holocaust by the Nazis in Europe and the use of nuclear weapons by the United States in Japan. The outcome of these major events caused over 70 million deaths and fatalities. These death numbers made the war the deadliest conflict recorded in human history (Sommerville 5).
On the 11th of July, 1945, the Allied leaders confirmed earlier agreements about Germany (Williams 90), and restated the demand to Japan for the unconditional surrender of all of its Japanese forces, stating that “the alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction” (Miscamble 201). Japan continued to ignore the demand which resulted to the United States dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki City in August. Between the two bombs, the Soviet Union, in accordance to the agreement made on the 1944 Yalta conference which state that they would join the war against Japan, invaded and defeated the Japanese occupied Manchuria, having the Kwantung Army, the Japanese largest fighting force (Pape 154-201). On the 15th of August, 1945, Emperor Hirohito, Japan’s leader that time, broadcasted a message to the radio for the Japanese people, informing them that continuing the war “would ultimately mean the extinction of our people and the utter destruction of human civilization” (Takemae n.pag). Japan finally surrendered. The related documents were finally signed aboard an American battleship named USS Missouri on 2nd of September 1945, thus ending the war.
The Occupation of Japan
After the surrender and the end of the Second World War, Japan was occupied by the United States with the British Occupation Force, together with other countries of the Allied Powers. According to the compilation of Lawrence Smith and Ichimoku Kai, this occupation of foreigners in Japan is the first in the country’s history (Smith n.pag). The United States had a sense of urgency that Japan should not only be introduced to a democratic system to prevent the reemergence of the country’s militarism, but they should fight against the influence of communism (Dower 75). The fact that the Allied Powers tried to democratize Japan is one of the unique facts in this occupation. Since the Japanese political leaders had almost no power to stop it, still fearing the trial and punishment that they will go through for their role in the war, they just agreed to the imposition (Gordon n.pag)
The Occupation of the Allied Powers was not a simple traditional democratization often portrayed by occupied countries. With the escalation of the Cold War after the Second World War, General Douglas McArthur, the appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP) by the United States President Truman, focuses in the country’s reform initiatives. Starting late 1947, the priorities of the United States shifted distinctively to focus on political stability and the country’s economic recovery. The previous focus of the State to demilitarize and democratize Japan lost momentum and then seemed to become stagnant. American authorities then focused on encouraging policies regarding business and the industry (Flores 901).
In 1946, a new Constitution for Japan had been ratified that is closely a ‘model copy’ that was prepared by the General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (Takemae 37). The political reform drew much of its basis from the US Bill of Rights and other liberal constitutions of several European States that belongs to the Allied Powers including the Soviet Union. The reform transferred sovereignty and power from the Emperor to the people in an attempt to remove the Throne and demote it to the status of just a state symbol.
Article Nine, which states the demilitarization of Japan, was also included in the revised charter. The new 1947 Constitution also prioritized women, guaranteed human rights, improved powers for the Parliament and the Cabinet, and decentralization of the police and local government (Takemae 39). On the 10th of April, 1946, an election was held that gave Japan its first prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida.
When the international tribunals for war criminals were assembled in Nuremberg in Germany and Tokyo in Japan in the 1945 and 1946 after the war, the response from policy makers and lawyers were varied. According to Kirsten Sellars, a PhD in the Aberdeen University’s School of Law, some lawyers “believed that the Second World War was an exceptional event requiring special legal remedies, and commended the tribunals for advancing international law” (Sellars 1085). Since then, generations of commentators and critics have interpreted the happenings at the tribunals in their own ways, based heavily by the conflicts and political factors of their own generation.
The IMTFE or International Military Tribunal for the Far East, or more commonly known as simply the Tokyo Trial, was started on the 29th of April 1946 and ended on the 12th of November of the year 1948. The span of the trial lasted almost far longer than the Nuremberg Trial, the trial that judged the German War Criminals, which only lasted for almost a year from 1945 until 1946. The transcripts of the open session, compiled together with the separate documents and opinions, consist of approximately 57,000 pages. The full proceedings also proved to be longer which included the full text of the Trial Exhibits and other documentation compiled and accumulated for use during the trial. The transcript represents by far the largest collection and compilation of materials and documents that exists on Japan and on Japanese relations with the other country (Pritchard).
The IMTFE court comprises of 11 members from one of the 11 nations involved and caught up in the Tokyo Trial prosecution. The countries taking part in the prosecution were: 5 members of the British Commonwealth which includes Australia, New Zealand, India and Great Britain and Canada. Along those five is the United States and the Philippines, which was a part of the United States commonwealth. China, the Soviet Union and two European countries (France and Netherlands) are also included. Other countries such as Korea, Cambodia, Manchuria, Burma, Mongolia, Thailand, and other East Asian countries was also accepted by the tribunal, but those territories were not formally participated in the on-going proceedings (Watanabe v).
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) opened in the highly symbolic location of the former Imperial Army Officers’ School in Tokyo. The prosecutors and lawyers would face all the problems experienced by their Nuremberg counterparts, and other issues regarding War Crimes in Japan. One of the greatest issues of these difficulties that their counterpart experienced is closely related to the characteristics and the nature of the Second World War itself. From the beginning, the Allied Powers had justified and warranted the prosecution of the leaders of the opposing Axis Powers on the grounds that the World War had been exceptional in the archives of warfare because of its brutality and barbarity. This argument is primarily based upon a single event that made the war unique: the Holocaust in Europe. Although the judges stated and declared that crimes against peace are the ‘supreme international crime’ (Tomuschat 831), the fact the existence of the death camps resolved the moral core of the Allied Powers’ case against the Nazi and German leaders.
Based on the stated facts, the Second World War was therefore regarded as a unique and very exceptional incident that requires special legal actions and prosecution judgment. The Japanese policies were viewed as indifferent and unexceptional. The Japanese leaders had certainly taken control over wide-scale assaults resulting to terrible carnage and atrocity, but these acts had never broken the international instituting policies against annihilation of an entire nation, race or religious groups. This is one of the major differences between the trial of Tokyo and Nuremberg. The happenings in Europe, especially the extermination camps and annihilation of the Jews by the Germans are significantly far in terms of the offences committed compared to what the Japanese political and military leaders did. None of the war crimes and offences committed by Japan came close to the Nazis’ barbarity (Simma 83).
The IMTFE prosecution opened its case on the 3rd of May, charging the defendants with War Crimes, Crimes against Peace, and Crimes against Humanity. The trial spanned for more than two years, hearing testimonies from 419 witnesses, and accepting 4,336 exhibits of evidence including depositions, affidavits and other related documents from 779 other individuals (Kajimoto n.pag).
Crimes against humanity are also the casualties discussed at Tokyo against the Japanese leaders and military. Although the crime was included in the Tokyo Charter with their crimes against peace and war crimes, it was just mentioned just once in the condemnation and only in passing in the majority Judgment. According to Sellars, the decisive factors about this issue must have been the Allied Powers’ unspoken acceptance and recognition that no crime committed by the Japanese leaders and military could be compared closely to the crimes of the Germans. This is also an act of the Allies’ reluctance to continue emphasizing this sovereignty-piercing fact (Sellars 1092). Sellars also added that even though the committed war crimes can be closely compared to crimes against humanity, many unjustified victims, more commonly the comfort women that suffered at the War from Japan’s colonies were left to seek justice.
The 1,781-page judgment of the tribunal took a long time to prepare. After six months of the judgment preparation, Sir William Webb of Australia, the court’s president, read it all in court and lasted over nine days (November 12, 1948).
The Japanese war criminals that were greatly involved in the war were judged by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East that was based in Tokyo. Of the 80 war criminal suspects that were classified as Class A, twenty-eight 28 men were sentenced to death by the IMTFE. The accused included 9 civilians and 19 professional military men. The indictment charged the war criminals of murder, and ill-treatment of the prisoners of war and civilians and forcing them to labor under terrible conditions. Plundering public and private property, destroying cities, towns and villages beyond any military necessity, mass murder, torture, rape and other inhumane cruelties upon the innocent civilians are also charged against the detainees (Basic Facts on the Nanking Massacre and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial n.pag).
On the 13th of November, 1948, the day of the Judgment of the Tokyo Trial, the Asahi Shimbun editorialized that “The judgment of the Tokyo Trial has a special significance in the history of Japan and the world because it is a global expression of the determination for peace, which can be commonly held both by the victors and the vanquished, and is an oath of its practice among related countries (Asahi n.pag).” An editorial in Mainichi Shimbun also pointed out a positive message of the Tribunal’s Judgment. He stated that it is ‘the zeal for peace and the spirit of democracy’, and that it should be accepted and supported by the people in Japan (Mainichi n.pag).
Yuma Totani, a researcher based in the US, situated the Tokyo Trial as a significant legal event in the history of international law, and examined the Trial’s significance in relation to the development of international criminal justice (Totani 220)
To date, history’s verdict on Tokyo has not been favorable. In 1948, a British Foreign Office official considered it to be a ‘political failure’. Some described it as a precedent which legal history can only consider ‘with a view not to repeat it’.
Neil Boister and Robert Cryer, however, set themselves the task of reassessing the legal issues arising from the trial, and they do so to good effect. They did not have a great deal of secondary literature to draw from. The coverage of the trial was unremarkable, thus can be considered unreliable, with only a few lines of articles, mostly short pieces about congratulations written by prosecutors, which is appearing in law journals written in English (Boister n.pag). And since then, although there have been some notable additions to the literature by historians and political scientists, there has not been much from the legal profession (an exception being the works of the Dutch jurists, Cornelus Pompe and Bernard Röling) (Pompe 455-72).
The Second World War dramatically affected the Japanese economics, politics and their culture as well. Japan today is considered one of the most powerful countries in the modern world and this accomplishment has been caused by the war, making the Japanese people to do a lot of exceptional work and changes to improve the modern Japanese society. The annihilation of Japanese cities and the countless death of a lot of Japanese people during the World War II caused them to change their system of politics and foreign policy. The changes made in the country were not only limited in the Japanese politics but it also changed their culture greatly because of the introduction of western ideas during the U.S. occupation into Japan after the war. These factors made the Japanese adapt and mix their traditional and ancient rich culture to some of the western culture (Kokusai n.pag).
These changes that were born after the war made the Japanese seem to become a whole new country. According to Kokusai, the modern Japan is now more open to foreign ideas and customs compared to their past traditional norms (Kokusai n.pag). The almost desperate efforts to recover from the wars led the Japanese to have a competitive view in technological and scientific advancements. These modern times, the Japanese people are recognized as one of the most diligent, resourceful, and most intelligent people, because of their progression in technology. The Japanese may have experienced a really difficult time to go through after the Second World War, but the Japanese citizens and the people around the world eventually adapted to the new image of Japan and tried to make it a better than the prewar times by implementing very strict and competitive norms.
With these new reconstructions, he Japanese economy eventually entered an economic growth and stability with positively reinforcing feedback such as demand expansions, production expansion, increase in income, consumption expansion, investment growth and an expansion of the country’s production capacity. The country’s rapid growth period from the late 1950s to1960s was thus created. From 1955 to 1972, the Japanese real GDP grew by an annual average rate of 9.3% (Otsubo 13).
After the distinct and significant changes in Japan, the citizens have proven to the world that they are capable of a lot of things like adapting change in their lives and their country in terms of politics, economics, technology and culture (Kokusai n.pag). This kind of sudden and important change or evolution in any society is a very complex task to undertake and it’s rare for a country to be able to do it if opportunity presented it. The effects of the Second World War, including the destruction of Japan by the nuclear weapon of the United States, gave the Japanese people to prove that they were very strong and firm. They worked themselves out of the hell hole the aftermath of the war left and succeeded in rebuilding and reconstructing their country. Japan is now regarded as one of the superpower country of the world (Gibney n.pag).
The Memory of War
Directly after the end of the Second World War, from 1945 to 1946, the Allied Powers’ military forces managed to send home over 5 million Japanese nationals to Japan. During the same time frame, the Allied Powers also facilitated and commanded the expulsion and deportation from Japan of over a million colonial resources to their country of origin. The Allies viewed these transfers as an unavoidable part of their primary goals: the total demilitarization of Japan.
The story of the mass repatriation and deportations of people provides the means for exploring three main reconfiguration of postwar Japan, the first of which came with defeat: the redrawing of the map of Asia and Japan’s place in it (Watt 3). During the wartime conferences held at Cairo, Potsdam, and Yalta, different representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, China, and the Soviet Union designed a plan for the downfall and defeat of Japan and devised out a map for the postwar surrender and Allied occupation of the territories under Japanese control (Borton n.pag).
The new map of Asia that was sketched has taken into effect on the 15th of August, 1945. Japanese abroad and colonials within Japan was required either their transfer or redefinition. The colonies in the Korean peninsula, Taiwan, China, and other colonial spaces had transformed into promising national ones. The project of comparing each person to his or her national space began. The American military sources explain that a strategic combination and humanitarian concerns motivated the Allied Powers to repatriate Japanese citizens. The Allies wished to prevent colonial rulers in the previous war from having power during the post-colonial Asia and to avert the potential slaughter and revenge of Japanese nationals at the hands of citizens against whom they had waged a barbaric conflict (Reports of General MacArthur 149). The rationale behind the hurry to remove Japan of colonial subjects is not explained; however, based from modern American and Japanese sources, this was based on practicality and racism
The second reconfiguration of postwar Japan, according to Watt was the uneven and incomplete process of absorbing and re-categorizing the fragments of empire within Japan (Watt 5). The redefining of the colonial Japanese and colonial subjects in Japan into something that make more sense or was useful in post-imperial Japan was a task, carried out in a number of lands across the world in the post-war period.
Japan’s people needed to be reinvented as well. After the war, this scene of harmonious racial outbreak was left behind, leaving only the fundamental structures of racial prejudice in its place. According to Oguma Eiji, the image of Japan as a peace-loving state instead of the prewar militaristic empire appeared immediately after the war (Oguma 299).
The reconfiguration of Japan and its people had a deep impact on its returning citizens, especially those who tried to represent themselves as “internationalists”. These people even optimistically wrote about their hopes to serve for the effort of Japan and Asia to build new relationships and to help Japan recuperate from the previous war (Watt 8).
The sketching of the new map of Asia, combined with the political and economic dominance of the United States after the Second World War, led to the third transformation of postwar Asia: the recasting of Japan from its position as the link of a multiple empire in East Asia into a new position as an independent mono-ethnic nation. This was considered as Japan’s geographic and social reorientation (Christy n.pag).
The Japanese antimilitarism constitution stated that all Japanese military forces, as well as other war potential, must never be maintained. However, shortly after the U.S. occupation, the Japanese created Japan Self-Defense Forces. The JSDF is considered to be the most technologically advanced military force in the world. Though the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that was signed on 1960 allowed continued presence of U.S. bases in Japan, there was no agreement by which Japan will rely on any nation for its defense against other countries that may potentially attack them.
By the 1980s, with the last group of colonial returnees arrived home, the Japanese society no longer had a need to detach itself from the colonial failure. According to Watt, the war and defeat have been defining factors in many aspects of “postwar” Japan. In less visible ways, so have the empire and the loss of the colonies.
Japan’s military history is characterized by a long period of feudal wars, uncontrolled imperialism and participation in the two of the largest World War. These histories of wars and conflicts proved the strong undeniable prowess and capabilities of Japan’s military force. This history of militarism ended with Japan’s defeat in the Second World War by the Allied Forces. Since then, the Article 9 of Japan’s constitution has prohibited and restricted the use of military force to declare war but is allowed to be used in self-defense against other nations, thus renaming their military as the Japan Self-Defense Forces or JSDF in the modern times. The JSDF forces have been recently being used as peacekeeping forces in certain operations.
The facts and history that are presented in this paper proved the undeniable strength of Japan, not just their military prowess, but its strength as a country in general. Whether during war or during post war, Japan has a propensity to step ahead further than any other countries. An example to this statement is when the Japanese economy’s catch-up process seemed to have reached its successful conclusion by the end of the 1960s. This also showed their resourcefulness and intelligence. The antimilitarism act may have restricted the Japanese military capabilities but this does not stop the Japanese to enhance its military power to be used for self-defense, assuring that the country is not defenseless by attacks of other nations. By focusing their industrial prowess and skills that was taken advantage in the previous wars and using these skills to utilize and enhance their economy, the Japanese recovery became swift and seemingly easy.
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