Friday, June 24, 2005

Have Dream for Peace

The legend of Normandy Landings in 1944 led to creation of various movies including “Private Ryan” (1998). However, Okinawa Landings in 1945 which are said to have surpassed the scale of US military mobilization for Normandy Landings have rarely become a subject of entertainment.

On March 26, 1945, 548,000 US troops with 1,500 US ships surrounding the Okinawa Islands began landing and invasion to seize the islands equally distanced to Taiwan, Shanghai, and the southern part of Mainland Japan. It took about two months for US military to finish the battle and establish occupation of the Okinawa Island with the longitudinal distance of 60 miles and located some 1000 miles south of Tokyo.

According to certain statistics, the Battle of Okinawa left 22,000 deaths and 26,000 neuropaths among US troops. The Empire of Japan lost about 100,000 soldiers and more than 150,000 Okinawa civilians.

About 2,000 kamikazes (suicide-attack fighter planes) in addition to fierce fighting on the ground put many US soldiers into mental disorder. In fact, US ships were well defended by more advanced weapon, kamikaze planes sank 26 US navy vessels and damaged 368 ships.

Today the U.S. holds many military bases in Okinawa, which are the largest in Asia-Pacific region. Without Okinawa bases, the US military capability would not sufficiently cover the Strait of Taiwan, Korean Peninsula, and channels between Japan and Russia.

Since 1945, there occurred Taiwan-China struggles, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the War on Afghanistan and Iraq. And unfortunately, the US bases in Okinawa with about 28,000 US troops have remained until today.

One of the reasons that the Empire of Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor in 1941 is that then Japanese government thought Japan would have died down sooner or later due to American embargo of oil. Then US government had stopped export of oil and other key products to the Empire of Japan for various reasons, while WWII had already begun in Europe.

After the Perl Harbor attack, the Imperial Forces of Japan advanced down to south and to oil fields in Indonesia colonized by the Netherlands through Malay Peninsula colonized by the U.K. It looks ironical that today new oil fields have been discovered and developed in the East China Sea, Sakhalin Island, Manchuria, and the offshore area of Vietnam.

Of course, if the Empire of Japan had not occupied Korean Peninsula and some part of mainland China, the Pacific War including the Battle of Okinawa could have been avoided.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait over oil field disputes, though Iraq has plenty of oil reserves. It triggered the Gulf War, created situations where Al-Qaeda began to operate, and the US War on Terror.

It is not clear how much one would learn form experiences of a big war. In the Pacific theater of WWII, Richard Nixon, JFK, and George H.W. Bush all participated. Though they were each the supreme commander of US forces in the era of the Cuban Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, it is interesting how what they learnt during WWII affected their decision in each situation.

In any wat, it is good to have a reluctant commander, no matter how excellent their ability to lead the army is, when a dispute could be resolved through appropriate negotiations over oil.

Yesterday, a ceremony was held in Okinawa to commemorate victims of the Battle of Okinawa. As usual in this kind of ceremony, no arguments over cause of the war were discussed, but people, including Prime Minister attending there, just showed and shared the extreme sorrow and expressed their determination not to make a war again forever.

One Japanese general who fought and died in the Battle of Okinawa sent his last report to the headquarters in Tokyo, asking for special care for residents in Okinawa who had suffered so much and become true victims of the war. He did not mention any tactic or strategic matters except his request that the government should, after the war, take special measures to repay Okinawa people for their extreme sacrifice.

It was still a long way to the end of the war after Okinawa. But, a daughter of the general, after the war, happened to marry an American. In a sense, a dream for peace was realized at least between those who had had such a dream.

Now, the most important thing about Iraq where some Arabs and Americans are fighting, for whatever reasons, seems to be whether there are some who have a dream for peace.

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APPENDIX. Pictures of the Battle of Okinawa

(The amphibious landing operation on Okinawa Island is of the largest scale in the history as the one using large military ships only, different from the Normandy Landings, dispatched over the Ocean.  The US and the UK navies mobilized total 22 aircraft carriers for the Battle of Okinawa.)


Monday, June 20, 2005

Another Warning Surfaced from Nagasaki in 1945

Greece is called Hellas; and the nation Japan is called Nippon or Nihon by its people.

Nippon means Sun’s Rising Place, the sound of which changed to “Jipang” in the era of Marco Polo (the 13th century) and finally to “Japan” mostly in the West. But, the old imperial court of Japan has been traditionally called the Yamato Regime, for capitals of ancient Japan were mainly located in the Yamato Area (currently Nara Prefecture south of Kyoto).

When Japan built the world’s largest and strongest battle ship, it was named Yamato. The ship weighed 64,000t and was equipped with the nine 46.0cm battery guns. There were no matching counterparts in the US Navy in 1941 (USS New Jersey 48,000t with nine 40.6cm battery guns) when the Yamato was put into operation.

However, eventually, the Yamato was downed in 1945 during a kind of Kamikaze mission for the battle of Okinawa.

It has been a legendary battle ship, because the Yamato was and will remain to be the world’s largest and strongest battleship forever and ever, since the age of large battleships was gone once and for all during WWII.

The Yamato has been featured many times in various works of Japanese popular art. This year, it is said, another movie featuring the battleship is going to be released.

So, it was not an easy game for the US Navy to sweep away the Imperial Japan’s Navy during WWII. Even when a crew of a US submarine needed an emergency operation for appendicitis, a captain should be well aware of tactical situation.

April 2005, a man who had actually performed this kind of operation under the South China Sea in 1942 died in the U.S. His story was not new, since George Weller on board of the submarine reported it and got awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work.

However, recently George Weller surfaced again and was focused upon in a Japanese newspaper. It was not for his Prize-winning reporting on the submarine hero but for his long-hidden report on Nagasaki, an atomic-bombed city the writer visited just after the surrender of the Empire of Japan.

Nagasaki, a historic port city known for tradition of Catholicism in Japan since the 16th century, is one of major shipbuilding cities, and it was so during WWII. George Weller came to the city to discover the scale of catastrophes of an atomic bomb. He checked situations in hospitals and recorded symptoms of victims suffering from horrible effect of radioactivity.

His report was sent for permission of publication to the Headquarter of the Allied forces in Tokyo but forbidden to be released. The report was not returned to George Weller and seemed to be lost somewhere. Censorship seemed to be exercised.

After George Weller died in 2002, his son found a copy of the report in Rome where the writer had lived his last days.

It is effect of radioactivity that should be hidden from the public eye. If American people had been alerted on fatal side-effect of an atomic bomb, further development of atomic bombs might have been hindered due to wide public opposition.

If the report had been made public in 1940’s, today’s issue on depleted uranium might have been avoided; and many modern US soldiers might have been relieved from the terrible side-effect.

Recently a very old, former FBI deputy director has also surfaced in the U.S. as a key information source to heroic reporters who pursued the plot linked to then President Nixon. George Weller and the former FBI deputy director seem to belong to the same generation.

The former’s secret was intended to be hidden forever, but the latter’s secret has been revealed by the very person himself 30 years after the notorious incident involoving resignation of President Nixon.

The two secrets might be just one of aftermath effects of the Pearl Harbor attack and the JFK assassination, respectively, both of which made the moment when people had first heard the news unforgettable for them.


(Source of Information: The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper)