Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes In World War II Paperback – Dec 17 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
In a shocking brief that's as much an intellectual artifact as a work of scholarship, Japanese historian Tanaka challenges the idea of Japan as a victim in WWII. The core of his thesis is that in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, an "Emperor ideology" based on the "family state" came to dominate Japan. Responsibility was seen as unlimited, while rights existed only in a collective context; this set the stage for various tragedies and atrocities. Tanaka offers several case histories to prove his point. They cover the massacre of more than 2500 Australian prisoners in a Borneo camp, widespread cannibalism by Japanese troops in New Guinea, the shooting of 21 Australian nurses in cold blood and the sexual enslavement of Asian women for the pleasure of Japanese fighting men. Also surveyed are the premeditated murder of 32 civilians, including German missionaries, in 1943; Japanese plans for bacteriological warfare; and the use of prisoners as medical guinea pigs. Tanaka insists that the perpetrators of these brutalities were "ordinary" men enmeshed in a criminal system; he also asserts that people of all nationalities commit atrocities in war. He depicts this era as a definable, relatively brief period during which Japan lost its way and ran amok. This seems no more intellectually acceptable than describing the Third Reich as a historical accident. In fact, Tanaka's study resembles German efforts during the 1950s to come to terms with the immediate past. As such, it is a beginning?no less and no more. Maps and photographs not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A scholar's harrowing if pedantic briefing on largely unpunished and long-ignored atrocities committed by Japan's military during WW II. Drawing on hitherto untapped archives, Tanaka (Unmapped Territories, 1991) documents a series of appalling war crimes that, with few exceptions, have escaped notice in standard histories of the global conflict. In notably dispassionate detail, for example, he recounts the massacre of more than 2,500 Australian and British POWs in a camp called Sandakan on North Borneo, the gratuitous slaughter of 21 nurses on the Indonesian isle of Banka, and the mass murder of civilians (including German missionaries) in the Bismarck archipelago as Allied forces closed in during the spring of 1944. Covered as well is the widespread cannibalism practiced by Japanese soldiers in New Guinea and elsewhere in East Asia. In addition, Tanaka sheds new light on the infamous Unit 731, which conducted horrific medical experiments on helpless prisoners throughout the Pacific theater. He goes on to disclose that US officials unilaterally granted the responsible Japanese physician and his staff immunity from prosecution in return for the information they could provide on Dai Nihon's plans and capacity to wage bacteriological warfare, data that were never shared with other Allied powers. After reviewing the frightful particulars of his case studies, moreover, the author offers anecdotal evidence of similar behavior by other belligerents, eventually concluding, however, that Japanese barbarity was sui generis. In a concluding chapter, Tanaka attempts to explain without excusing the aberrant conduct of imperial troops on and off the front lines, citing among other factors the authoritarian basis of Japanese morality. Shocking annals that bear gruesome witness to the darker realities of what historian John W. Dower (who contributed a thoughtful foreword to the American edition) called a war without mercy. (photos, not seen; maps) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Tanaka describes in pages NOT FOR THE TIMID READER the Japanese high command's plan for using cannabalism to feed their troops in the southern arc of their conquest plans. It wasn't just enemy troops who were on the menu, but low-ranking Japanese ground-pounders. I will spare the detail, but Tanaka doesn't, so be warned.
I give this book only 4 stars because it has one serious flaw. Tanaka makes the laughable, morally unsustainable claim that the atomic bombings are morally equivalent to Japanese crimes. This will rightly outrage every American, but it doesn't tarnish the overall effort.
Professor Tanaka is to be congratulated for his courage in revealing the worst things committed by his people. Things that many in Japan, especially school textbooks, refuse to admit. I don't think it coincidence that the good professor lives in the Land Down Under.
The scary thing is that what was previously demanded is still encouraged as socially desirable -- still for the sake of "social harmony." This means that there is an unwillingness to broach ugly topics like grandpa's inhumanity, thus it is unlikely that books such as this will ever provoke the soul searching that has taken place in other countries that have thrown off fascism or otherwise confronted their past.
Kudos to Tanaka who was brave enough to write about a subject which can still bring around the boys in the blue vans (the ultra-rightists), and a knock on the door, or a bullet through the window in the middle of the night.
But the downside is the author's attempt to explain why the Japanese acted as they did, as if doing so will somehow make us view the Japanese army as something more than the monsters they were. Though Tanaka probaly doesn't mean to, he comes across as making excuses for the Japanese military's barbarism. Nevertheless, when he moves beyond fact description and into analysis, his intentions seem ambiguous at best. But overall, a good read.
However, Japan has never had such custom or culture. Though the Japanese eats plants such as root or weed, they don't eat human in its history of 2600 years. They have a culture that they do Harakiri to kill themselves.
I don't know why this apologist self-abuse the Japanese...
Most recent customer reviews
Every victim was innocent and every criminal a monster but he treats the horror like a crop report and the guilt like quid pro quo.Published 4 months ago by Rudy Krueger
Interesting info, but author seems to try and make the point the Japanese did nothing worse than others have done thru out history.Published on April 8 2002
First of all,I give unstinted praise this book writer.Almost japanese are not accept their crime,Because their textbook and high ranking government officials are to teach lie. Read morePublished on April 9 2000 by hong-seong han
By looking at possible motives behind Japanese war crimes committed in WWII, Yuki Tanaka clearly separates himself from other authors writing on this disturbing subject. Read morePublished on June 29 1999
to all Anti-Japanese books at Amazon. Check the identical posting at "Rape of Nanking". Don't be deceived by Japanese Nationalist lies.Published on Feb. 24 1999
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