As The Wind Rises Comes To The US, So Does The Controversy

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As The Wind Rises Comes To The US, So Does The Controversy

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises finally gets it's English-language wide release in the U.S. this week, over seven months since bowing in it's native country. MovieBob interviews Inkoo Kang about the controversy surrounding the film.

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MovieBob:
As The Wind Rises Comes To The US, So Does The Controversy

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises finally gets it's English-language wide release in the U.S. this week, over seven months since bowing in it's native country. MovieBob interviews Inkoo Kang about the controversy surrounding the film.

Read Full Article

After reading the article, I have to say that the point being raised about how the Japanese treat WWII is interesting but it would be nice to read talk pieces from the other side of the ocean.

Japan is a country of pride, they hold themselves up to a standard and work ethic in present life that puts them through hell(their college exams are literally called "juken jigoku" or exam hell. They believe that hardship and struggle build character and that before moving to the next task, the current must be done to perfection. So imagine what a country like this feels when they look back and see the crimes and imperfections they committed. Any country with some sort of guilt will want to hide such errors and the collective shame for a people like this would be immense. As such, we have the divisions that Bob talked about: the Nationalists that believe that they were in the divine right to progress and that they did nothing wrong and Liberals that want the country to finally admit their fault out of shame.

It should be noted however that Miyazaki was born in 1941, the start of the pacific war so that his view on the war would be influenced by the postwar education which tried to erase the past out of shame. This mindset would be hard to change, even with exposure to the many centenarians in Japan who have experienced it.

As for the criticisms against Jiro and the female lead, It could be argued that the sociopathic nature could be linked to how Japanese idolize stoicism and would prefer not to let emotion influence their speech and actions. It's a concept that clashes with America and how we like to be expressive but it's an alternative perspective. As for the female lead, judging by the description of frailty, it could be argued that it's a yamato nadeshiko type character: one who is mature, humble, loyal and wisdom. The issue is that a true yamato nadeshiko does have some sort of power over the family or the male, often through influence, words, and other subtle methods.

In any case, I openly invite any with an understanding of the differences between American and Japanese culture as well as Japanese reactions to WWII to comment and correct. All I can say is that this is an incident when history rears its ugly head and we have to deal with how the culture dealt with it

It's an interesting take she has. I think that movies that focus on the individuals behind the war machines and actually try to discard the actual war elements do a service in trying to humanize people that we would regard as villains of history. I understand the larger cultural problem of whitewashing, particularly regarding WWII Japan, but it's hard to hold someone complicit in war crimes when their involvement consists mainly on the design end and not the execution end, especially actions that they had nothing to do with other than a national allegiance. If your view of the war was mainly constrained to an office or warehouse with the occasional firebombing, your biography is probably not going to cover the atrocities in China or Korea.

Still, I'll put this on my watch list, if only as something to watch on DVD.

this is by far not in the same wheel house but remember how outraged people were that the ice age movies added dinosaurs when they would have been long dead by the time the movie represented? I remember it because it was soooo mind bogglingly stupid that people cared even a little bit about historical accuracy in a movie about a talking mammoth, sloth, and sabertooth tiger best friends....

but point being if we can get upset over historical inaccuracies in a kids movie, then certainly being mad about how real people are depicted in a movie about something that actually happened. sure it's fictionalized but it's still something. I haven't seen this movie I'm not a big fan of miyazaki's work but it sounds like a valid criticism the simple fact that more Chinese died at the hands of Japanese soldiers than Jews killed by Hitler is a sobering thing. in fact most people don't believe it when they hear it which speaks to the way everyone kid of glosses over that period.

The Gentleman:
It's an interesting take she has. I think that movies that focus on the individuals behind the war machines and actually try to discard the actual war elements do a service in trying to humanize people that we would regard as villains of history. I understand the larger cultural problem of whitewashing, particularly regarding WWII Japan, but it's hard to hold someone complicit in war crimes when their involvement consists mainly on the design end and not the execution end, especially actions that they had nothing to do with other than a national allegiance. If your view of the war was mainly constrained to an office or warehouse with the occasional firebombing, your biography is probably not going to cover the atrocities in China or Korea.

Still, I'll put this on my watch list, if only as something to watch on DVD.

The "office or warehouse" work is exactly how war got so dehumanizing in the twentieth century. People allowed their horizon of moral responsibility to shrink to paperwork and moving boxes. So much of the work of the holocaust was organizational, sorting through census records, routing trains, planning facilities, etc. The actual killing was limited to a small handful. But their evil could not have taken place - or at least not at the same scale - without the bureaucrats and engineers to prepare the way.

And what is one to do after the fact? We could point the finger of blame at those bureaucrats and say, "You should have asked questions; You should have known better." We could point the finger at those above and blame them for subverting the otherwise good work the bureaucrats perform. But the worst thing to do is idealize the work and pretend that the evil is completely detached from it. That positively encourages this sort of thing to happen again.

Also I think it's worth mentioning that Miyazaki is basically a Japanese Walt Disney, and as I'm sure everyone is pretty well aware of, Disney also takes pretty large liberties with the source material for their films in order to make them more generally appealing to mass audiences. If a Japanese film would be made accurately representing it's actions during WWII, I don't think Miyazaki is the best person to make it.

nightmare_gorilla:

but point being if we can get upset over historical inaccuracies in a kids movie, then certainly being mad about how real people are depicted in a movie about something that actually happened. sure it's fictionalized but it's still something. I haven't seen this movie I'm not a big fan of miyazaki's work but it sounds like a valid criticism the simple fact that more Chinese died at the hands of Japanese soldiers than Jews killed by Hitler is a sobering thing. in fact most people don't believe it when they hear it which speaks to the way everyone kid of glosses over that period.

A lot of right wingers in Japan like to present Japan as quietly minding its own business right until the nukes hit (to paraphrase one commentator, presenting the war as from the perspective of, say Grand Moff Tarkin's wide eyed innocent grandson just pootling around the Death Star as the evil Luke Skywalker blows it to pieces). Manga and textbooks that don't quietly excise Japans atrocities can end up banned (last year Barefoot Gen, an acknowledged classic covering the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombings, was banned in one school prefecture specifically because it contextualized the bombings with the atrocities the japanese had committed) or face heavy criticism for their content.

To be fair, I've always had a problem with movies that create incredibly fictionalized portrayals of its characters and history...
imageimage

Granted, real movies like Braveheart, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator, and so many others do it too... Not just cartoons.

"Spanish-language animation-news website dismissed my article as typical American propaganda."
God damnit, someone must shut up, or at least flat out ignore, this particular strain of my countrymen. I apologize for them, they are just close minded weeaboos that have no idea what they are talking about :P

As someone who studied the History and Culture of Japan I can see the point the critic was trying to make pretty clear from the get go. The bigger question is what the goal is by bringing up the subject to begin with? If Japan did accept it had participated in war crimes actively in WW2 I'm not sure it would change much in the grand scheme of things.

I have to say that any Japanese students I've talked to are *hugely* more knowledgeable about WWII history and Japan's role in it than North Americans. One of the students was shocked when she found out that many of her North American peers couldn't even name the combatants (US vs. USSR was a favorite).

If there's a movement to whitewash Japanese involvement in WWII, I'd compare it with the quite widespread tendency to whitewash the Confederate cause, attempting to make it something other than what it was, a war fought exclusively to keep slavery.

Put in that light, it seems fairly natural to try and de-demonize the instigators of war to avoid feeling the need to expatiate the guilt for crimes one wasn't involved in. After all, everybody involved in the Civil War is long dead and gone.

Except, that while it may be natural to want to do so, that makes us the perpetrator of crimes today in order to cover the (much worse) crimes of our ancestors. The avoidance of that miasma of guilt is in no way worth the damage it does to ourselves and to the descendents of the victims of those original crimes.

It sounds to me like Japan's attitude towards the bad things it did over fifty years ago is no different from America's. I mean, in the last five years there have been two separate video games extolling the actions of the US in the Vietnam War while at the same time exploiting the "controversial" nature of anything that so much as brings it up.

I should point out that Germany doesn't have this problem. If anything, they tend to have the exact opposite problem.

TomWest:
I have to say that any Japanese students I've talked to are *hugely* more knowledgeable about WWII history and Japan's role in it than North Americans. One of the students was shocked when she found out that many of her North American peers couldn't even name the combatants (US vs. USSR was a favorite).

If there's a movement to whitewash Japanese involvement in WWII, I'd compare it with the quite widespread tendency to whitewash the Confederate cause, attempting to make it something other than what it was, a war fought exclusively to keep slavery.

Put in that light, it seems fairly natural to try and de-demonize the instigators of war to avoid feeling the need to expatiate the guilt for crimes one wasn't involved in. After all, everybody involved in the Civil War is long dead and gone.

Except, that while it may be natural to want to do so, that makes us the perpetrator of crimes today in order to cover the (much worse) crimes of our ancestors. The avoidance of that miasma of guilt is in no way worth the damage it does to ourselves and to the descendants of the victims of those original crimes.

That's an interesting observation and one that complicates the matter further. Perhaps Miyazaki wanted to make a personal story about the engineer since the majority of students know about the crimes committed or maybe all the talking heads in Japan are merely the old guard talking for the sake of it.

Like i said, we probably need some native Japanese voices to comment but this is good for a start into understanding this issue

Windknight:

nightmare_gorilla:

but point being if we can get upset over historical inaccuracies in a kids movie, then certainly being mad about how real people are depicted in a movie about something that actually happened. sure it's fictionalized but it's still something. I haven't seen this movie I'm not a big fan of miyazaki's work but it sounds like a valid criticism the simple fact that more Chinese died at the hands of Japanese soldiers than Jews killed by Hitler is a sobering thing. in fact most people don't believe it when they hear it which speaks to the way everyone kid of glosses over that period.

A lot of right wingers in Japan like to present Japan as quietly minding its own business right until the nukes hit (to paraphrase one commentator, presenting the war as from the perspective of, say Grand Moff Tarkin's wide eyed innocent grandson just pootling around the Death Star as the evil Luke Skywalker blows it to pieces). Manga and textbooks that don't quietly excise Japans atrocities can end up banned (last year Barefoot Gen, an acknowledged classic covering the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombings, was banned in one school prefecture specifically because it contextualized the bombings with the atrocities the japanese had committed) or face heavy criticism for their content.

yeah, that is just a whole level of ignorance but the question is what do they have to gain; is it pride, nationalism, guilt or something else that drives these right-wingers to such extremes.

Also, what about the left? What do they believe Japan was like during the war?

Historical Revisionism: rewrite the story JUUUUUUUUSSST right, and you can totally reverse the roles of victim and villain in any conflict. It's not just for white people anymore!
Still, Japan is being wussy about owning up to the crap it did in WWII. I am sick of how often America is badly portrayed in anime, as if Japan never, ever, ever did anything wrong ever.

Okay, I get that the Japanese whitewashing the dark blots out of their history is an issue, and that some people are annoyed that the film doesn't go into how the guy's building death machines...but does it need to? I mean, by the sound of it, thats not the point. Its a character piece about one guy's Da Vinci-esque desire to fly. If the film was about the morality of building warplanes but barely touched on it in favour of wacky spirit guide shenanigans or something I could understand, but that doesn't seem to be its goal.
I mean, as a comparison, was anyone outraged because Monuments Men didn't delve into stuff the Allies did that was, shall we say, less than morally heroic?

reiniat:
"Spanish-language animation-news website dismissed my article as typical American propaganda."
God damnit, someone must shut up, or at least flat out ignore, this particular strain of my countrymen. I apologize for them, they are just close minded weeaboos that have no idea what they are talking about :P

I'm afraid that maybe coming from Spain it might be more than just weeaboos. Spain has similar issues regarding its past, hasn't it?

Pallindromemordnillap:

I mean, as a comparison, was anyone outraged because Monuments Men didn't delve into stuff the Allies did that was, shall we say, less than morally heroic?

If Monuments Men will be as a self-congratulatory circle-jerk as the book was I will be not exactly outraged (because i'm expecting it) but I will be at least pissed.

What also pisses me off is that whole concept of "art for art's sake". That is not even an argument, it's just bullshit. Seriously, if you can watch this:

...without an ice-cold chill running down your spine then I'm gonna call you a liar, an idiot or both.

The problem here is that Japan has mostly tried to hide it's culpability and atrocities in the war, which means that they do not have the cultural capital to "white wash" their historical characters.

If, like Germany, Japan had a robust history of introspection and repudiation of WWII, then it might be fine to make a movie about a driven genious trying to create aircraft. But Japan has little of this, and Imperial Japan was one of the most systematically horrible empires in mordern times (the rape camps and slave labor camps are particularly gruesome), yet are much less universally condemned than Nazi Germany. So when Miyazaki makes this movie, he has even less ground to stand on than Disney making the "happy" Pocahontas story. Simply by making a movie about Imperial Japan and not talking about the atrocities, he is in fact making a statement. Had there been many Japanese movies already discussing the problematic actions of the Japanese airforce then he would be in far less trouble. Art is not created in a vacuum.

As for the Allies, of course there where many incidents of less than heroic actions on our side to. But for all its flaws, the US has no shortage of literature, movies and public debate that criticize its wars. Maybe less for WW2 than others, but then again, it is hard to argue that the US was not on the right side that time. WW2 is much less morally ambiguous than many other, more recent wars, largely because of the obvious "villainy" of Germany and Japan, and the real agressive treat they were to world peace.

So anyone who disagrees is relegated to the role of "backlash", either a Miyazaki fanboy, apathetic, nationalistic, or apolitical? Any disagreement is crass, shallow, or reflexive?

I would have loved one honest, neutral question about why a director like Miyazaki- even if he is a cultural icon, even if he was touching upon a real historical figure, however fictionalized- is required to bear the burden of righting his country's historical wrongs. Especially when so many other makers of "historical" films get the pass. I'm not saying that isn't a valid point of view to have- just that there might actually be some value to something other than an interviewer taking the interviewee's view as self-evident gospel that requires little to no support.

But I guess wishing someone else's interview to fulfill your expectations is not unlike wishing someone else's movie upheld your agenda.

RoonMian:

reiniat:
"Spanish-language animation-news website dismissed my article as typical American propaganda."
God damnit, someone must shut up, or at least flat out ignore, this particular strain of my countrymen. I apologize for them, they are just close minded weeaboos that have no idea what they are talking about :P

I'm afraid that maybe coming from Spain it might be more than just weeaboos. Spain has similar issues regarding its past, hasn't it?

Pallindromemordnillap:

I mean, as a comparison, was anyone outraged because Monuments Men didn't delve into stuff the Allies did that was, shall we say, less than morally heroic?

If Monuments Men will be as a self-congratulatory circle-jerk as the book was I will be not exactly outraged (because i'm expecting it) but I will be at least pissed.

What also pisses me off is that whole concept of "art for art's sake". That is not even an argument, it's just bullshit. Seriously, if you can watch this:

...without an ice-cold chill running down your spine then I'm gonna call you a liar, an idiot or both.

I don't really disagree with you, but when it comes to Riefenstahl, it's kind of hard to deny her actual ability. Sure, what she's most known for is fundamentally disturbing, but I'll be damned if she wasn't amazing at it.

I haven't seen the film and am not knowledgeable about the context, but I do have issues with how the person came off in the interview. The criticism of her article by the Spanish media as being typically American is an interesting point, not one to be dismissed. Raised in a culture that celebrates the war and the defeat of the Japanese, will obviously have an effect on how you perceive something. She also mentions being of Korean descent, and if that family connection is within three generations, it's very unlikely that it won't have been an influence on her development. I say this as a Brit with Italian heritage - I have a different perspective on certain sides of the war to my contemporaries. To dismiss these criticisms makes it harder to accept her original critique of the film. Also, anyone who substitutes the word "fandom" with "fanboydom" automatically looses a hell of a lot of credit in my book.

I haven't seen it yet, but I know it will be my favorite Miyazaki film. It stings a little that most discussions about it will boil down to whether its Pro/Anti war or this controversy. Japan's refusal to own up to its war-time atrocities is a pretty major issue. It sows bad blood and contributes to a flawed WWII narrative.

But it's like if "Sun also Rises" was made into a movie and the discussion is mostly about the ethics of Bull Fighting in Spain. Yes. That is an ongoing controversy. However, there is a lot more going on.

Hideaki Anno is the VA for the main character. In an interview, Miyazaki says that he choice Anno because "He's living as the most wounded person in this era."

The film "The Wind Rises" was partly based on Tatsuo Hori's short story about observing a sick girl in a tuberculosis sanitarium. It was called "The Wind has Risen" and mainly dealt with the author's melancholy and ruminations on mortality. Tatsuo Hori could write a great tuberculosis story because he was also suffered from the disease.

The name "The Wind has Risen" was a quote from the poem "Le Cimetiere marin" written by Paul Valery a prominent, French Symbolist. Symbolists are all about themes like mortality, ennui, melancholy, and the idea that Art acts as a contemplative refuge from the world of strife.

Japanese writers like Tatsuo Hori, who delved into this subjects are titans. It's a really big deal when Miyazaki taps into one of these writers to create a story about a guy who used his dream as a refuge from the world of strife. This is not a standard Miyazaki movie. It's not the kind of movie Miyazaki would support unless it puts the protagonist through a meat grinder.

None of this seemed worth talking about? This movie has some really great stories and build-up surrounding it.

It's weak. Moviebob takes it as a point of pride that he investigates the history, production and people involved in the movies he watches. Y'know, tries to piece together why a movie doesn't work. I love how he lets his audience know how a film fits in the grand scheme and on a more human level. I wish Moviebob could have focused on the human interest angle a bit more.

Aw, well. Got that out of my system. I do enjoy it when Moviebob interviews other people. I got a new film critic to read watch, so I'll call it a wash.

The united states government white washes its history past present and future each and every day it remains open, why should japan be any different?

seriously the usg has done immensely monsterous crap in the name of "freedom" and national interests and it not even touched on our history books, movies much, public discussion in general. unless you dig and do your own work you wont find out most of this stuff.

Skyweir:
The problem here is that Japan has mostly tried to hide it's culpability and atrocities in the war, which means that they do not have the cultural capital to "white wash" their historical characters.

If, like Germany, Japan had a robust history of introspection and repudiation of WWII, then it might be fine to make a movie about a driven genious trying to create aircraft. But Japan has little of this, and Imperial Japan was one of the most systematically horrible empires in mordern times (the rape camps and slave labor camps are particularly gruesome), yet are much less universally condemned than Nazi Germany. So when Miyazaki makes this movie, he has even less ground to stand on than Disney making the "happy" Pocahontas story. Simply by making a movie about Imperial Japan and not talking about the atrocities, he is in fact making a statement. Had there been many Japanese movies already discussing the problematic actions of the Japanese airforce then he would be in far less trouble. Art is not created in a vacuum.

As for the Allies, of course there where many incidents of less than heroic actions on our side to. But for all its flaws, the US has no shortage of literature, movies and public debate that criticize its wars. Maybe less for WW2 than others, but then again, it is hard to argue that the US was not on the right side that time. WW2 is much less morally ambiguous than many other, more recent wars, largely because of the obvious "villainy" of Germany and Japan, and the real agressive treat they were to world peace.

Japan was not like Germany in which they had been the losers in two world wars. In fact, Japan held their own against Russia during WWI. In other words, I don't think that they are inclined to be as introspective as Germany. Combined with the issues of Japanese pride that I stated in the first post (seriously, i expected someone to comment on it by now), and the issue of Japan's writing out the atrocities becomes all the more complicated. Regardless, Japan is paying the price as they still have uneasy relations with Korea and China (though, whether they care is another thing entirely).

Also important to note is that, while they don't have films talking about the "problematic actions of the Japanese airforce", they do have a strong anti-war sentiment (hell, article 9 of the Japanese Constitution states that they can't fight and must be used only for peacekeeping. problematic when the Americans want them to be more proactive and fight but this is a long complicated issue between the JSDF and the world that is best saved for a separate forum)since the war had basically rewrote their entire culture. After the war, their imperial system that they held for so long was humiliated and destroyed, anxiety was high among the people as they tried to find meaning after the destruction. Their culture at that point was nearly destroyed in their eyes so while they have not addressed their own war crimes, the humiliation they felt after the war is an equal price in their eyes.

Note: anyone have more details on how Japanese culture was affected in the immediate aftermath of WWII? I only knew that they had felt that their culture was in ruins and that they started to become anti-war because of it

cerebus23:
The united states government white washes its history past present and future each and every day it remains open, why should japan be any different?

seriously the usg has done immensely monsterous crap in the name of "freedom" and national interests and it not even touched on our history books, movies much, public discussion in general. unless you dig and do your own work you wont find out most of this stuff.

I do agree that every country has a rap sheet (internment of Japanese during WWII anyone) but the point still stands that if you find offense to any country wiping their dirty laundry from the books, protest as much as you like but don't expect most Americans to want the same treatment that they expect Japan to happen to the States

Steve the Pocket:

I should point out that Germany doesn't have this problem. If anything, they tend to have the exact opposite problem.

Skyweir:
The problem here is that Japan has mostly tried to hide it's culpability and atrocities in the war, which means that they do not have the cultural capital to "white wash" their historical characters.

If, like Germany, Japan had a robust history of introspection and repudiation of WWII, then it might be fine to make a movie about a driven genious trying to create aircraft. But Japan has little of this, and Imperial Japan was one of the most systematically horrible empires in mordern times (the rape camps and slave labor camps are particularly gruesome), yet are much less universally condemned than Nazi Germany.

The thing is, that the Japanese Empire is not Nazi Germany. It is not a country suddenly hijacked by a single party's agenda and after it's defeat, the continuity got "restored".

Imperial Japan *is* in continuity with Japanese culture. Where germans can easily point fingers at "the nazis", Japan didn't have nazis, it had an Emperor as it had for hundreds of years. Regardless of their degree of horribleness, it's actions in Asia are more comparable to the British Empire's actions in India and Africa in terms of their reflection on the national psyche, than to totalitarian-revolutionary regimes like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

I am not knocking the point or anything, though it would be nice if people could direct the same sort of critical analysis upon their own nations history. Especially since there seem to be so many contemporary war films that reinforce the American military mythos.

And there has been no real acknowledgement of American atrocities in the Philippines and Korea. Veterans of the Korean war from South Korea and the US still struggle to get attention for that, with no luck.

cerebus23:
The united states government white washes its history past present and future each and every day it remains open, why should japan be any different?

seriously the usg has done immensely monsterous crap in the name of "freedom" and national interests and it not even touched on our history books, movies much, public discussion in general. unless you dig and do your own work you wont find out most of this stuff.

Why not kill two birds with one stone if you want to talk about USA and Japan ignoring their dirty past? Unit 731, one of the most infamous "science" experiment camps in history. Japanese scientists tortured and mutilated over 3000 victims to study effects of disease and pain on the human body. The United States conveniently let the top leaders of the facility get off scott free in exchange for their research data. War criminals were allowed to retire to respectable positions in medical and pharmaceutical companies while the USA claimed their research results.

Here's the thing though: Japan has a severe problem with accepting responsibility for their actions. That can be said for the United States as well, but I don't think any country other than Japan has ever been so incredibly stubborn about it. Moviebob's interview mentioned a reviewer who said that the war was 70 years old and that people should "get over it".

Tell that to the Canadian POWs from Hong Kong that only received a formal apology from the Japanese government last year. Or to the countless other countries that still demand Japan answer for their actions. The island of Okinawa recently was outraged over Japan's decision to edit history textbooks regarding World War 2, to deny the IJA's role in forcibly arming Okinawans as suicide bombers. Or look at how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a shitton of flak over his defense of Comfort Women, claiming that they were all prostitutes and totally not sex slaves.

Germany may wallow in its guilt over World War 2, but Japan outright denies everything until external pressure makes them grudgingly relent. And even then, it's impressive to see just how carefully they word their responses and apologies to make everything as neutral as possible. The Second Sino Japanese War (japan's invasion of China), is often referred to in Japan as an "incident", because they never formally declared war. A war in everything but name. China won't even deal with Japan anymore because there is still bad blood between the two countries.

King Whurdler:

I don't really disagree with you, but when it comes to Riefenstahl, it's kind of hard to deny her actual ability. Sure, what she's most known for is fundamentally disturbing, but I'll be damned if she wasn't amazing at it.

That is exactly my point. It is absolutely a work of art. But if you look at that and say "Bah, screw context, art for art's sake *smarm smarm*" then you're doing it wrong.

Soviet Heavy:

cerebus23:
The united states government white washes its history past present and future each and every day it remains open, why should japan be any different?

seriously the usg has done immensely monsterous crap in the name of "freedom" and national interests and it not even touched on our history books, movies much, public discussion in general. unless you dig and do your own work you wont find out most of this stuff.

Why not kill two birds with one stone if you want to talk about USA and Japan ignoring their dirty past? Unit 731, one of the most infamous "science" experiment camps in history. Japanese scientists tortured and mutilated over 3000 victims to study effects of disease and pain on the human body. The United States conveniently let the top leaders of the facility get off scott free in exchange for their research data. War criminals were allowed to retire to respectable positions in medical and pharmaceutical companies while the USA claimed their research results.

Here's the thing though: Japan has a severe problem with accepting responsibility for their actions. That can be said for the United States as well, but I don't think any country other than Japan has ever been so incredibly stubborn about it. Moviebob's interview mentioned a reviewer who said that the war was 70 years old and that people should "get over it".

Tell that to the Canadian POWs from Hong Kong that only received a formal apology from the Japanese government last year. Or to the countless other countries that still demand Japan answer for their actions. The island of Okinawa recently was outraged over Japan's decision to edit history textbooks regarding World War 2, to deny the IJA's role in forcibly arming Okinawans as suicide bombers. Or look at how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a shitton of flak over his defense of Comfort Women, claiming that they were all prostitutes and totally not sex slaves.

Germany may wallow in its guilt over World War 2, but Japan outright denies everything until external pressure makes them grudgingly relent. And even then, it's impressive to see just how carefully they word their responses and apologies to make everything as neutral as possible. The Second Sino Japanese War (japan's invasion of China), is often referred to in Japan as an "incident", because they never formally declared war. A war in everything but name. China won't even deal with Japan anymore because there is still bad blood between the two countries.

For unit 731, didn't we do the same thing with rocket scientists in Nazi Germany who gained positions in NASA and helped with the moon landing?

Regardless, yes, Japan is at fault for the crimes and are stupidly trying to hide as much of it as possible but A) so does China, Korea, and the US and B) I already made a statement that losing the war was a major hit on the culture as it was humiliated and nearly destroyed during the American Occupation. To say that the elderly in Japan are still bitter and raw over it is an understatement; after the war, Japan's culture was drastically different and many felt a lack of purpose in the aftermath.

One note about Abe, despite the name of the party (the Liberal Democratic Party), he is a center-right politician which means he is probably affiliated with the nationalists, a group known to try to downplay the war crimes.

P.S. any idea what members of the Democratic Party of Japan think about the war crimes: are they trying to force people to learn or do they downplay the crimes like the Liberal Democratic Party. Also, this forum, while insightful and worthwhile, feels incomplete. I have said it before but can people please post editorials and posts from Japan over the movie and this issue.

Izanagi009:

For unit 731, didn't we do the same thing with rocket scientists in Nazi Germany who gained positions in NASA and helped with the moon landing?

Yes, the US did and Peenemünde was a freaking nightmare, too.

nightmare_gorilla:
this is by far not in the same wheel house but remember how outraged people were that the ice age movies added dinosaurs when they would have been long dead by the time the movie represented? I remember it because it was soooo mind bogglingly stupid that people cared even a little bit about historical accuracy in a movie about a talking mammoth, sloth, and sabertooth tiger best friends....

People just love this "argument", don't they? It's for kids, so it doesn't have to be intelligent. It's for kids, so fuck history, and accuracy, and biology. It's for kids, so dodos should be stupid, even though we fuckers are the ones who drove them to extinction. God forbid kids learn a little extra while they're being entertained.

Steve the Pocket:
It sounds to me like Japan's attitude towards the bad things it did over fifty years ago is no different from America's. I mean, in the last five years there have been two separate video games extolling the actions of the US in the Vietnam War while at the same time exploiting the "controversial" nature of anything that so much as brings it up.

I should point out that Germany doesn't have this problem. If anything, they tend to have the exact opposite problem.

This is my thought as well. I realize it's a bit out of the scope of this particular article, but the Japanese tendency to intentionally overlook it's own participation in various atrocities is hardly unique. As a Canadian, there's quite a bit that my country has done in it's past particularly in dealing with our indigenous peoples that doesn't get much space at all in any sort of media unless it's something in an ezpose type format.

Soviet Heavy:

cerebus23:
The united states government white washes its history past present and future each and every day it remains open, why should japan be any different?

seriously the usg has done immensely monsterous crap in the name of "freedom" and national interests and it not even touched on our history books, movies much, public discussion in general. unless you dig and do your own work you wont find out most of this stuff.

Why not kill two birds with one stone if you want to talk about USA and Japan ignoring their dirty past? Unit 731, one of the most infamous "science" experiment camps in history. Japanese scientists tortured and mutilated over 3000 victims to study effects of disease and pain on the human body. The United States conveniently let the top leaders of the facility get off scott free in exchange for their research data. War criminals were allowed to retire to respectable positions in medical and pharmaceutical companies while the USA claimed their research results.

Here's the thing though: Japan has a severe problem with accepting responsibility for their actions. That can be said for the United States as well, but I don't think any country other than Japan has ever been so incredibly stubborn about it. Moviebob's interview mentioned a reviewer who said that the war was 70 years old and that people should "get over it".

Tell that to the Canadian POWs from Hong Kong that only received a formal apology from the Japanese government last year. Or to the countless other countries that still demand Japan answer for their actions. The island of Okinawa recently was outraged over Japan's decision to edit history textbooks regarding World War 2, to deny the IJA's role in forcibly arming Okinawans as suicide bombers. Or look at how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a shitton of flak over his defense of Comfort Women, claiming that they were all prostitutes and totally not sex slaves.

Germany may wallow in its guilt over World War 2, but Japan outright denies everything until external pressure makes them grudgingly relent. And even then, it's impressive to see just how carefully they word their responses and apologies to make everything as neutral as possible. The Second Sino Japanese War (japan's invasion of China), is often referred to in Japan as an "incident", because they never formally declared war. A war in everything but name. China won't even deal with Japan anymore because there is still bad blood between the two countries.

Or ameicans more recent past in south america and the middle east, supporting brutal dictators that rape tortured and murdered their own people to stay in power to hell with everyone elese rights.

We should tidy up our own houses, united states japans canada and so on, but until we do we have no right to get preachy with any nation for white washing its past.

Izanagi009:

For unit 731, didn't we do the same thing with rocket scientists in Nazi Germany who gained positions in NASA and helped with the moon landing?

I think there's a difference between a man who develops rockets like Wernher von Braun, and a doctor who vivisected people without anesthesia to test frostbite on them. I'm not trying to defend von Braun, he's a very complicated subject, but I put the scientists who worked at 731 on the same scale as Joseph Mengele. They were monsters.

cerebus23:

We should tidy up our own houses, united states japans canada and so on, but until we do we have no right to get preachy with any nation for white washing its past.

I think that we have every right. You're speaking as though other countries aren't asking us to own up, as though we're focusing everything on Japan. Canada has had a troubled relationship with our first nations people for years, and we have had other countries pressure us to make amends and push for better treatment of first nations people. Last year, a census group traveled to several of the most affected native reservations to assess the quality of life there, and their report came up severely lacking.

Every country has to be held accountable for their actions and their history, Japan just seems like the hardest nut to crack, they will fight tooth and nail to preserve their version of history, even when the rest of the world is shouting at them.

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