Hakko Ichiu was not only the justification for the war and its atrocities but it is alive and well today – two studies.


Shobun : A Forgotten War Crime in the Pacific Mechanicsburg, PA : Stackpole Books, c 1995      Michael J. Goodwin ; edited by Don Graydon World War, 1939-1945 , Atrocities.,  War crime trials , Japan Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xx, 147 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 141-142) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Michael J. Goodwin had not even been born when his father died. Lieutenant junior grade William Francis (“Bill”) Goodwin,Jr., was second in command of Consolidated PBY Catalina No. 08223 when the plane was shot down over Kendari, in the Colobos Islands, in October 1944. Throughout their attack on Japanese shipping, the pilot, Jack Schenck, kept up acontinuous transmission in Morse Code. When the attack was completed, he was to transmit “A-OK.” Schenck never got the chance to send that message.

The downed fliers feared capture more than death. During the course of the war, it had become evident that the Japanese mistreated prisoners. Fewer than one in 10 Allied prisoners of war died in captivity in Germany; a full third died at the hands ofthe Imperial Japanese forces. Many of these men died from disease, malnutrition, neglect and effects of the climate. Others,however, died as the result of Japanese brutality. That was the fate of Goodwin and his crew members.

Many Allied airmen carried pistols that they intended to use if captured by the Japanese. They were willing to commit suicide rather than be shown the “way of Bushido,” a code of conduct for the samurai warrior. As part of Bushido, a warrior was to show compassion in battle and for the enemy. By Western standards, however, the code is reprehensible. When a samurai was wounded in battle and unable to continue, his friends would cut off his head so that it would not fall into enemy hands. The Japanese captors continued that same practice on their American prisoners during WWII, including Goodwin and his friends.

After five or six days of freedom, the downed fliers were captured by natives friendly to the Japanese and turned over to them.Then the hell began. One by one, sometimes in pairs, the men were taken to different locations near Kendari, marched out into an open area and made to kneel before a freshly dug grave. With samurai sword in hand, the executioner slashed each prisoner’s neck, leaving the head hanging by a slender thread of tissue. Japan’s military leaders clearly ignored the rules regarding prisoners of war set forth in the Geneva Convention, which, although not a signatory, Japan had agreed to follow.

Following World War II, retribution was expected and enacted. War crime trials were held in Nuremberg and elsewhere, and noted German and Japanese leaders were executed or given long prison sentences. Four separate trials were conducted for the murderers of Bill Goodwin and his crew. Information from one trial was not used in another, a factor that served to compromise justice. Although convicted, the murderers never served their complete sentences. Some, the author reports, were paroled; others were given clemency. By 1958, the prisons that once held Japanese war criminals were empty. This was not the case with German war criminals. As late as 1993, a suspected Nazi war criminal was tried in Germany for crimes he hadcommitted in Italy 50 years before. After the war crime trials of the 1940s were completed, the investigation into the conduct of the Japanese military ended.

Michael Goodwin’s book is excellent, and his research is impeccable. He unearths horrible memories of World War II and suggests that the Japanese, even today, are unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions. In 1993, when Moribiro Hosokawa became prime minister, he publicly expressed “profound remorse and apologies for the fact that Japan’s actions,including acts of aggression and colonial rule, caused unbearable suffering and sorrow for so many people.” The response from members of Japan’s House of Representatives described his apology as “a blasphemy against history” and demanded he retract his statement. One member went so far as to say, “Those indiscreet remarks without solid historical view points deserve death.”

Soldiers of the sun : the rise and fall of the Imperial Japanese Army      Meirion and Susie Harries  Japan. Rikugun History, Military 1868-1945  New York : Random House, c 1991 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xiii, 569 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. 497-551) and index. Soldiers of the Sun traces the origins of the Imperial Japanese Army back to its samurai roots in the nineteenth century to  tell the story of the rise and fall of this extraordinary military force. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Soldiers of the Sun traces the origins of the Imperial Japanese Army back to its samurai roots in the nineteenth century to tell the story of the rise and fall of this extraordinary military force.

Meirion and Susie Harries have written the first full Western account of the Imperial Japanese Army. Drawing on Japanese, English, French, and American sources, the authors penetrate the lingering wartime enmity and propaganda to lay bare the true character of the Imperial Army.

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