Japan’s Historical Background

To understand the present-day Japan, it is necessary to know her historical background at least since the early 20th century. This section is intended to provide an overview on a set of reliable publications on the theme with emphasis on her relationship with theUnited States. One of the overwhelming topics is the origin of the Pacific War that started in December 1945. Even though a majority of people around the world are with a view that the war started by a sneak attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor on December 7, this attack may have to be viewed in the context of the political movements of various actors. This section provides brief summaries of authoritative publications for deepening the understanding of the subject.

Author: Beard, Charles A.
President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, 1941
Publisher: Transaction Publishes (2003)
Originally published by Yale University Press, 1948

▶ One of the most influential American historians in the first half of the 20th century

▶ The first historian who accused FDR for lying to the American people and tricking them into the Second World War by provoking Japan

▶ This book reveals the FDR conspiracy  by citing numerous quotes from his cabinet members during the crucial two weeks in the late November and the early December 1941

The author contends that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had intentionally imposed economic pressures to Japan through oil embargo and freezing Japan’s assets within the U.S. and working together with Allied nations so that Japan would become desperate to the extent of attacking the U.S. His ultimate aim was to bring the U.S. into a war with Germany by utilizing the Tripartite Treaty which Germany had with Japan and Italy. Beard presented this view by pointing out detailed statements and diaries made by inner circle administrators of the FDR administration.

Author: Fish, Hamilton
Tragic Deception: FDR & America’s Involvement In World War II 
Publisher: Devin-Adair (1983)

▶ A prominent historian and Congressman, Hamilton Fish accuses Franklin D. Roosevelt for bringing the United States into war with Japan, and also with Europe, through deceptions.

In startling contrast to what most Americans believe (and what most historians teach), the United States did not become involved in World War II because of an unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Rather, according to prominent historian and former Congressman Hamilton Fish, the nation’s entrance into the War was deliberately orchestrated by President Franklin Roosevelt. Through the issuance of a secret “war ultimatum” to Japan and blatant provocation of German U-boats, Roosevelt was able to maneuver the U.S. into a war that 80 percent of the American people opposed.

Tragic Deceptions a shocking indictment of unlimited presidential power exercised at the expense of the will of the people. Hamilton Fish, as ranking Republican on the House Foreign Committee prior to and during World War II, and a leading spokesman for non-interventionism, was an intimate eyewitness to this crucial period in the nation’s history. (from book cover)

Author: Stinnett, Robert B. 
Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor 
Publisher: Touchstone (2000)

▶ Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCullum wrote a five-page memo calling for a provoking Japan into an overt act of war against the United States. The memo was addressed to FDR

▶ FDR took actions according to McCullum’s 8-points memo

▶ The U. S. military became able to intercept and read Japanese diplomatic and military communications, but these messages were kept within a close circle around President Roosevelt, and were not shared with Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander in Chief, the Pacific Fleet

While the tension was heightened in the relationship with Japan, the U. S. military was warned by President against taking any defensive action before the Japanese side takes an overt action against the U.S.

▶ This policy allowed the Japanese to attack at Pearl Harbor successfully, and resulted in a disaster to the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

This book improves drastically At Dawn We Slept by Gordon Plange et al of 1991 describing the tense two weeks culminating in the attack by the Japanese navy on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This was possible by having materials declassified in 1994.It appears FDR followed McCullum’s logical recommended actions laid out in his memo of October 1940. The author argues that the U.S. military was able to decode most of Japanese diplomatic and military communications by November 1941, and the FDR administration pushed the Japanese to the brink of attacking the U.S. for survival. But, Admiral Kimmel and Army Lt. General Walter Short in Hawaii were not informed of the possible attack out of fear that a prior warning would make the Japanese attack as an expected attack and not a surprise attack. This notion of a surprise attack was used by FDR for persuading the American people to participate in foreign wars in Europe and Asia. This book would be the best book available for getting to know the strategy employed by FDR prior to the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

Author: Mera, Koichi
Whose Back Was Stabbed?: FDR’s Secret War on Japan
Publisher: Hamilton Books (2017)

▶ Japan was trapped twice by the United States, first her attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the second, the Allies occupation policy from 1945 to 1952. These were two tragic events with which the Japanese people lost their valuable characters. With the first trap, Japan lost many lives as well as properties, and with the second, Japan lost much of her traditional characters

▶ Japan successfully modernized herself without being subjected to colonialism, and became one of the world Powers by the time of the First World War. But, the rise of Japan was frequently suppressed by the established Powers

▶ As a leader among suppressed people in Asia, Japan proposed the elimination of racial discrimination at the opening of the League of Nations in 1919. But, the proposal was tabled by the representative of the United States

▶ The various documents made available in the 1990s and 2000’s, show that President Franklin Roosevelt had taken a numerous actions in preparation for a war with and provocation of war with Japan in 1940 and 1941

▶ The American occupation policy which started in 1945 was very successful in castrating Japan. The present Japan is still maintaining the effects of the occupation policy

▶ As a result of the Second World War, most of Asian and African colonies became independent. Japan contributed to this vast and remarkable transformation in the world

▶ Japan should take pride in her past, and get rid of the ill effect of the occupation policy

Japan was a late comer to the Western civilization, but was able to avoid being colonized by a Western Power through devoted effort for modernization and enrichment of the nation. However, there were a number of hurdles imposed by “advanced“ nations. Japan’s fight with the Allied nations in WWII was one of the harshest. Documents recently made available indicate that the Pacific War was apparently planned and provoked by the FDR administration rather than initiated with the aggressiveness of Japan. The author presents a number of actions taken by President Roosevelt in preparation and in provoking Japan into a war. Going through the devastating war and the defeat in the war certainly changed the national characteristics of Japan. Although the International Military Tribunal (Tokyo Trial) concluded that Japan was an aggressor responsible for the tragedies which took place in Asia, this trial was heavily biased and should not be accepted as judicial justice. The author argues that Japan was not an aggressor and behaved decently. Japan did not violated international law, but was trapped by other Powers. Recognizing these facts, the book concludes Japanese should be behaving with pride without sense of guilt.

Author: Henry Scott Stokes
Allied Nations’Historical Perception as Observed by a British Journalist
Publisher: Shodensha/Hamilton Books/Society for the Dissemination of Historical Facts in Tokyo
Copyright @2013,2014, 2017

About the Author and the Book:
Henry Scott Stokes
Born in England in 1938. After completion of MS at Oxford University joined the Financial Times in 1962, then became the first Tokyo Bureau Chief in 1964.  He then became the Tokyo Bureau Chief for The Times,   the Head of New York Times Tokyo Office in 1978, covering Japan and Asia for more than 50 years.

Living and working in Japan for nearly 60 years he is regarded as the ‘Dean’, of the foreign correspondent/journalist circle in Japan and one of the erudite authorities on Japan and Asia’s modern social, political and economic issues.

Well known as a foreign correspondent with close friendship with Yukio Mishima.  His works include Life and Death of Yukio Mishima (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux Inc. New York).

This is a compelling ‘third party’- non-Japanese, non-Chinese, non-Korean-perspective of the historic events before, during and after World War II, pointing out many of fallacies of prevailing historic perceptions, which have been the effort and intent of the Allied Nations to distort or erase historical facts, indoctrinate and impose a sense of guilt upon the Japanese through War Guilt Information Program.

When Stokes arrived in Tokyo in 1964 he never doubted for a moment that Japan had committed war crimes adjusted by the Tokyo Trials. For more than fifty years Stokes analyzed the past century’s event not from an Allied or Japanese standpoint, but from a third-party perspective, and realizes that the opinions I had previously embraced were wrong.

Japan did not invade Asian countries but made them independent from Western colonial rule which has prevailed since the Age of Exploration of 15th Century, a profound claim based on a different perception of history, a perspective from Japan side, which must be expressed.

Author: Bunyu, Koh (黄 文雄)
大日本帝国の真実 ~西欧列強に挑んだ理想と悲劇~
Truth about the Imperial Japan
~Ideals and Tragedy of Challenging The West~
Publisher: Fuso Sha, Tokyo, Japan 

About the Author and the Book:
黄文雄 (Bunyu Koh / Huang Wenxiong)

Born in Gangshan, Taiwan in l938 Bunyu Koh is an award winning (Wu Yung Fu Award,Taiwan Pen Club Prize 1993) journalist with academic foundations in economic and cultural  history of China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and eastern Asia, known for critical works about China who express supportive of pre and post WWII Japan, embracing controversial yet truly insightful perspective of Japan from non-Japanese perspective.  Koh obtained a BA degree on Western History at Waseda University in Japan, received Master’s Degree Economics from Department of Political Economics, and studied in the European Economic History Program of Meiji University Graduate School.  Koh is  currently a visiting professor at the Takushoku University in Japan.   His incisive and insightful works have had widespread influence throughout East Asia, especially in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and China.  His major works include: “日本の植民地の真実”(The Truth about Japan’s Colonies),”Taiwan: The Necessary Conditions For a Nation”, “反日教育を煽る中国の大罪”(Great Chinese Crimes of Fanning Anti-Japanese Indoctrination)、“捏造された日本史”(Fabricated History of Japan)、”Manzhouguo: The True Story of a Short-lived, Ideal Stae in Manchuria” ,etc.  Koh conducted number of lecture tours in the US and in Europe.

Today when one hears the phrase “大日本帝国(Dai Nippon Teikoku)(Great Japan Empire, Imperial Japan)”people will usually express some remorse, if not overwhelmingly negative reaction against Japan, in Japan or in Asia.

黄文雄 (Bunyu Koh / Huang Wenxiong), an award winning Chinese journalist from Taiwan presents a diametric opposite view of Japan; he extols and explains Japan’s idealistic, inevitable, justifiable, yet tragic decision to take leadership in Asia,  enter into wars-Sino Japanese War (1895), Russo Japanese War (1905) and Great East Asia War (World War II in the Pacific)-from the macro-perspective of global and Asian history, as well as micro-perspective of Asian/Japanese socio/political/economic events, deriving conclusions that are diametric opposite of what is conventionally held by the world.

Koh’s book begins the analysis from the historical developments from the days of Age of Exploration in 16th Century, as Europeans began their exploitive quest for Asian colonies, explaining in great detail of events after the opening of Japan by the Americans in 1853.  Koh will explain in detail why Japan being the last un-colonized major nation in Asia took an existentially critical step to modernize, westernize and take leadership to become an Asian and global power after Meiji Restoration.  In essence Koh extols Japan for its success to culturally, socially, politically, militarily evolve from an isolated ancient Eastern nation to a powerful modern global power in just few decades after the Meiji Restoration (1868), then take leadership to create an Asian alliance to stop further attempts to colonize Asia by nations like Russia, then to emancipate all colonized Asian nations from the British, Dutch, French, et al,  and lead them to their independence.

Japan lost the World War II (Great East Asia War), but after the war all of former Asian colonies gained their independence thus ending the Age of Western Colonization which had lasted nearly 400 years.

This book will test the validity of conventional held vilified views about Japan’s history in Asia with stunningly convincing narrative and details.

Author: Helen Mears
Mirror for Americans: Japan
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin (1948)

Author: James Bradley
The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War 
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (2009) 

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