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The WWII Experience in Asia Why Hidden and Forgotten? Its Consequences and Impact. Yue-him Tam Macalester College. Seeds of Japanese Aggression. Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) Annexation of Korea (1905). Japanese Aggression in China.

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The wwii experience in asia why hidden and forgotten its consequences and impact

The WWII Experience in AsiaWhy Hidden and Forgotten?Its Consequences and Impact.

Yue-him Tam

Macalester College

Seeds of japanese aggression
Seeds of Japanese Aggression

  • Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895)

  • Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

  • Annexation of Korea (1905)

Overview of WWII in Asia

Japanese aggression in china
Japanese Aggression in China

  • September 18, 1931 - Manchurian Incident

  • Establishment of Manchukuo, 1932

  • All-out-war 1937

  • WWII in Asia 1931-1945

    • 8 years before hostilities in Europe

    • 10 years+ before N. American participation

    • WWII in Asia lasted for 15 years

Overview of WWII in Asia

Republic of china
Republic of China

  • China unprepared for a modern war

  • Republic of China, 1911

    • Nationalist Party (KMT, Kuomintang)

    • Dr. Sun Yat-sen president

    • Warlordism

    • Gen. Chiang Kai-shek’s Northern Expedition, 1928

Overview of WWII in Asia

Problems of reunification
Problems of Reunification

  • Powers desire a weak and divided China

    • Japanese interfere in Shandong, 1928

  • CCP founded in 1922

    • Challenge KMT for control

    • Civil war

    • United Front against Japan, 1933

Overview of WWII in Asia

Japan s aims china s strategy
Japan’s Aims, China’s Strategy

  • Japanese military highly modernized

    • Chinese guerrillas using swords and spears

  • Japan thought war would be short

    • Desired China’s natural resources

    • Wanted economic capitulation/cooperation

    • US and USSR real enemy

  • Chinese conduct a campaign of attrition

    • Move capital to remote Southwest

Overview of WWII in Asia

International response
International Response

  • 1st 15 years muted international response

    • League of Nations mild condemnation for Japan

  • Increasing Western Sympathy

    • Time and Life Magazines

    • US technicians, nurses, doctors, and professionals volunteer

    • Small western loans

  • Soviet Union provides greatest aide

Overview of WWII in Asia

The west enters the asian war
The West Enters the Asian War

  • After 1939

    • Soviet aid stops.

    • British, US, and other’s aid escalates

  • 1941, Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and British Colonies

    • Pulls Western powers into Asian conflict

    • Changes nature of the war and foreign aid

  • Direct military assistance

    • Flying Tigers

    • Canadian defense of Hong Kong

Overview of WWII in Asia

Overview of WWII in Asia

Captain Chennault in AVG Recruiting Flying Tigers: 1940-1941 & “Blood Chit”

Overview of WWII in Asia

Canadians Arriving in Hong Kong, 1941

American financial aid
American Financial Aid

  • First 9 years very limited international aid

  • American aid from 1942-1946

    • U.S. $1.54 billion

    • Only 3% of total Lend-Lease to all nations

    • Great Britain received US $31.6 billion

    • USSR received US $11 billion

Overview of WWII in Asia

Chinese contribution
Chinese Contribution

  • Chinese resistance denied Japan essential resources for war effort

  • Tied down Japanese troops

    • 1931-39: pinned 50% of Japanese strength

    • 1939-45: pinned 60% of Japanese strength

  • Drove Japan to the road of no return

  • Chinese sacrifice

    • Military casualties: over 3 million

    • Civilian Casualty: over 26 million

    • Damage to Property: incalculable

Overview of WWII in Asia

Japanese war crimes
Japanese War Crimes

  • Nanjing Massacre

  • Sexual slave system (“ comfort women”)

  • Biochemical warfare

  • Forced labor

  • Inhumane treatment of prisoners of war

  • Looting and destroying cultural properties

  • and many more crimes...

Overview of WWII in Asia

Japan as war victim
Japan as War “Victim”

  • Japanese education distorts WWII role

  • Atomic bombings make Japan a “victim”

    • American feelings of guilt

    • Nagasaki & Hiroshima remembrance ritual w/o context

    • Absolve Japan of wartime responsibility

Why Hidden and Forgotten?

Cold war geopolitics
Cold War Geopolitics

  • Japan only viable ally against communism in Asia

    • CCP and USSR. Korea, Vietnam soon to follow

  • China preoccupied with civil war

    • Both attempted to use Japan against the other

    • Some Taiwanese separatists still rely on Japanese support

Why Hidden and Forgotten?

Trans war continuum
Trans-war Continuum

  • Anxiety to build a demilitarized and democratic Japan

  • Japanese war criminals spared prosecution

    • Became leaders in politics, economy, and technology after the occupation

    • Class “A” war criminals in Japanese politics.

      • Kishi Nobusuke - prime minister 1957 to 1960

Why Hidden and Forgotten?

Emperor hirohito
Emperor Hirohito

  • Continuity of reign: 1926 – 1989

  • MacArthur exonerated him from any responsibility

  • Western media presented him as a peace loving and benevolent emperor

    • Told his only political deed was to shorten the war and announce Japan’s surrender.

Why Hidden and Forgotten?

Western confusion
Western Confusion

  • “Mixed messages”

  • WWII Japanese Aggressor vs. Japanese Cold War Ally

  • Predominance of European Holocaust and lack of information on Asian atrocities

The Consequences and Impact

China and korea
China and Korea

  • Japan seen as an untrustworthy nation

  • Youth still have poor outlook towards Japan even 65 years later

    • 2005 protests against permanent Security Council seat

    • Popular culture acceptable but “high” culture or more academic subjects disregarded

  • Any open appreciation of Japanese aid and friendship invites puzzled looks.

The Consequences and Impact

Japan refuses responsibility
Japan Refuses Responsibility

  • Jeopardizes relationship with neighbors

  • Poses a specific threat to justice from the perspective of individual victims

  • Creates atmosphere in which the laws of war fail to be respected

  • Rise of Japanese conservatism

    • Calls to revise the pacifist Constitution

    • Yasukuni Shrine visits

  • UN Security Council Issue

The Consequences and Impact

Asian economic changes
Asian Economic Changes

Pre 1990s


Rise of China & Korea

leaders want issues of unresolved war responsibilities on the agenda

Responding to the popular demand for justice at home

  • Japan only Asian economic power

  • Neighbors accepted economic aid from Tokyo

  • Tacitly agreeing to avoid bringing up the war issues

The Consequences and Impact

Impact on japanese economy
Impact on Japanese Economy

  • China has surpassed the United States as Japan's top trade partner

  • anti-Japanese riots in China in 2005 sharply effected the Tokyo stock market

  • Japanese companies moving factories out of China to less politically sensitive areas

  • Japanese business leaders lobbied Koizumi to stay away from Yasukuni

The Consequences and Impact