Forgive but Never Forget

65 years ago, on August 6th, Hiroshima, Japan was bombed — making Japan the only country to ever be attacked with an atomic weapon. And U.S. ambassador to Japan, John Roos, attended the Hiroshima memorial ceremony in Japan. This is the first time any U.S. ambassador has accepted the invitation to the ceremony. Why? State Department Philip Crowely explained, “[T]o express respect for all the victims of World War II.” An editorial in the Nikkei newspaper sees Roos’ attendance as “a far cry from the apology to bombing victims that both cities are hoping for,” but the Obama Administrations decision to send an ambassador, “is a golden opportunity to harness the moving power of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We hope that Obama will visit the bombing sites himself before his tenure is over.”

Gene Tibbets — the son of Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. who bombed Hiroshima — says that the Obama Administration’s decision is, “an unsaid apology.” While this is likely, saying “all the victims” Crowley raises a specter of moral equivalence, a problem growing worse when talking about right and wrong judgments during WWII.

When the U.S. bombed Hiroshima with the “little boy”, the Japanese didn’t give up. So they were bombed again on August 9th with the “fat man” in Nagasaki, which led to Japan’s unconditional surrender. The bombings killed more than 120,000 people instantly, and approximately 140,000 from radiation exposure. It should be noted that Harry Truman considered an invasion of Japan alternatively to the bombings. His advisors estimated that an invasion would cause 1 million American casualties and at least 2 million Japanese deaths. “In the strange calculus of war,” says Warren Kozak with the Wall Street Journal, “the bombs actually saved Japanese lives.”

Kozak continues, “If the Obama administration wants to ease the friction over this event or even to apologize, then perhaps it is also a good time for the Japanese government to begin to discuss World War II truthfully with its own people.”

Since 1945, Japan’s teachings of WWII has centered almost exclusively around the bombings and our role as the victimizers — with a brief confession given to the Japanese invasions of China, Manchuria, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indochina, Burma, New Guinea and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese School children are taught little these days about the 17 million Asians who died in the hands of the Japanese in some of the most brutal ways imaginable. Little is said to them in regard to Japan starting the war in the first place. And when you add the fact that two-thirds of the Japanese public were born after the atomic bombings it’s no wonder Japan is looking for an apology.

When the Japanese fail to teach the failures of past mindsets and ideas, they become a threat. As the old who remember the problems with the past die, it only leaves the young who are oblivious to the problems that were created by those decisions. Failure to teach mistakes of the past is only delaying the progression of their country. Delaying the chance to learn and move on.

The mindset that led to aggravation, brutality and millions of deaths must not continue. All life is sacred, it must be protected. We cannot afford the lives of millions to be thrown away in the name of industrial “resources” or cultural “purification” ever again.

President Obama should take note of a similar mistake President Reagan made in 1985. Reagan placed a wreath over the graves of Nazi Soldiers and SS troops. The reasoning was that Reagan wanted to bolster his ally, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The negative response to Reagan’s decision was not because we did not want or believe the Germans to be strong allies, it was because Reagan was placing the Nazi SS Strom Troopers at a similar level to U.S. soldiers. Even though you could call both SS troopers and U.S. soldiers “victims,” SS troopers were ruthless killers who were on a mission of world domination and U.S. soldiers served for freedom and liberation from that tyranny. U.S. soldiers worked against the evil that sprung from the fountain of the mindset that killed millions of people. U.S. soldiers fought for the sanctity of life and equality.

Kozak concludes:

Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them—something so obvious that it’s trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.

Concerning today’s event in Hiroshima, the State Department said ‘at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do.’ It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II’s participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.-Warren Kozak with The Wall Street Journal, August 6th, 2010 (emphasis mine.)

The value of truthfully taught history becomes more and more valuable, as it becomes more and more rare. We must never forget what really happened, less we repeat it.

-Ben

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