It's past time for Western churches to stop treating Japan as victim every Aug. 6 and 9.
I know this is a "dog bites man" kind of story, but once again the World Council of Churches has got it wrong with, "Prayers for Peace and Justice on Hiroshima Day."
Let me be clear. I certainly have no problems with prayers for peace and justice. I pray them myself. But the order of remembrance (at the link) promulgated by the WCC is not one that I can in good conscience lead. One reason why is the inclusion of a, "Reading of an eye witness account from Hiroshima," adapted from an account by Murakami Toshio. It is a compelling account, and what he endured was dreadful beyond description. I gainsay that not. But the reading's conclusion is unacceptably incomplete:
We, the people of Hiroshima, crushed by nightmares, exasperation, resignation and hardships, have come to hate war, more than any other people, and above everything else. We have eagerly sought for peace, being so urged from the bottom of our hearts, from our very innermost core. ...I would like to know whether Mr. Toshio hates that war equally from its beginning as from its end. Does he hate what his country did to Nanking as much as what America did to Hiroshima? After all,
When Japanese forces conquered Nanking, for example, they killed at least 200,000 civilians and probably as many as 300,000 over a six-week period (or so) beginning in mid-December 1937.Japanese atrocities in Nanking were so terrible that Nazi Germany's Consul to the city personally intervened to save hundred of Chinese, especially women, tens of thousands of whom Japanese soldiers gang-raped and then, usually, murdered.
The list of Japanese atrocities during the war - which it started many years before it attacked Pearl Harbor - is literally too long to list here. For example, During America's campaign to liberate the Philippines, the Japanese command declared Manila to be an open city, a term in international law with the specific meaning that it would not be defended and American forces could occupy it unopposed. This was treachery and deceit: the Japanese defended the city fiercely, resulting in the deaths of 100,000 Filipino civilians. The city itself was devastated just as completely as either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
During 1945, a half million civilians under Japanese occupation were being killed or dying every month because of the occupation.
Japan has never come to grips with its actions and has deliberately refused to face them. Germany, at least, went through such self examination after World War II, and indeed, repentance, that its Nazi past, though not erased, no longer strongly stains the nation of today. Indeed, Germans today have understood their special, historical obligation to face their past honestly and to stand for better angels of human nature today.
Japan, murderer of at least as many people as the Nazis, has never done this and will not do this. Its many years of atrocities: concentration camps, its biowar experiments on Chinese civilians, its deliberate programs of starvation and murder of prisoners, the rapacious pillaging of conquered cities and their peoples, its impressment of foreign women as sex slaves for soldiers - this and more all swept under the Japanese rug with even the barest pretense of acknowledgement that they ever occurred.
So what, exactly, about the war is it that we are supposed to be so morosely prayerful about every Aug. 6? Aug. 6 and 9 are being used by Japan to play the victim card, and when the West plays along it enables the millions of innocent victims of Japanese bushido militarism to be flushed down the memory hole. But facts are stubborn things. Japan and Japan alone is solely responsible for the Pacific and Asia wars and for America's entry into them. The delusion of the WCC and other Hiroshima apologists is that somehow the war could have ended more gently than by the bombings. But as I explained in, "The atom bombings and Japan's surrender,"
Had President Truman not ordered the atom bombings, the US military could have done nothing but intensify conventional bombing and blockading. Hence, Japan could not possibly have been brought to a gentler end of the war than the ending that occurred. Had fighting continued after early August 1945, additional civilian deaths would certainly have numbered in the many hundreds of thousands and probably in the millions by the end of the year.I refuse on principle to pollute God's ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC's service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan's blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.
More likely, though, is that without the atom bombings, Japan would have become embroiled in civil war, which also would have been lethal beyond estimate. Japanese records show that the overriding fear of Japan's high council was the destruction of the emperor's office and line, and the most serious threat thereto was revolution by the Japanese people themselves. The American blockade was so punishing the people that Japan's internal security service, the Kempei Tai, had soberly concluded that revolution was becoming ever-more possible.
Update - Richard Fernandez:
[T]ry this quiz. Name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.
Battle of Manila 100,000
Richard posts these two photos. One is of Manila after the the battle. The other is of Hiroshima. Without cheating, identify which photo is of which city.
Also from Richard's post, the words of a memorial in Intramuros, Philippines, to victims of Japanese atrocities.
This memorial is dedicated to all those innocent victims of war, many of whom went nameless and unknown to a common grave, or even never knew a grave at all, their bodies having been consumed by fire or crushed to dust beneath the rubble of ruins.“Given enough time and opportunity," writes Richard, "the masters of the narrative will eventually succeed in making the Pacific War all about American aggression.”
Let this monument be the gravestone for each and every one of the over 100,000 men, women, children and infants killed in Manila during its battle of liberation, February 3 – March 3, 1945. We have not forgotten them, nor shall we ever forget.
May they rest in peace as part now of the sacred ground of this city: the Manila of our affections.
Oh, the first photo is of Manila, the second of Hiroshima. Yet you will never see a Japanese delegation sent to Manila to pray for its people on the anniversary of the battle.