To the Editor:
Re: Letter from Asia, Japanese Wartime Savagery,? Better to Forget it?
Unnoticed in this reminder of the eradication of the memory of Japanese war crimes in the east, Hong Kong in particular, is the fact that V-J-Day, August 15, was mostly unpublicized in the U.S. Even the NYTimes let it ease by, only noticed in the depths of the on-line, “On This Day In History;” buried among many, many other events.
VE day 2005 was widely noted. The use of the A-bomb was debated. But V-J day, which goes directly to the assessment of whole of the hell of World War II—mutual murder of prisoners, rape as a political/racist weapon, the return to power of key war criminals, the communist roles, the not-so-unconditional victories, the alignments of the world today—slipped by.
Why? Complexities of opportunism (trade, investments, mutual debt, U.S. bases, a Japanese buffer-client state, concern about the power and anger of China, etc.) on all sides, set up the political nature of history, necessarily going beyond an analysis of the past from a standpoint in the present, to a call to action for the future. Memory becomes a partisan affair.
Even so, why the famous photo of “The Kiss,” by Alfred Eisenstaedt was not on the front page of every newspaper in the US is beyond me.
Dr Richard Gibson
San Diego State
Associate Professor of Education