Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Japan started the Pacific War, and everyone knows it. Japan came into colonial possession of Korea and it did wrong to invade China from there. Then it did more wrong when it invaded Indochina, and again later when it attacked America at Pearl Harbor. It was not a grab for land, but a grab for oil and markets - a typically sophisticated mesh of causes. Then Japan proceeded to do more wrong by ignoring opportunities to negotiate an end to it and continuing to prosecute its war beyond all reason, sanity and morality after it became evident that it could not win. I understand that conservatives profess that each of these “incidents” was a defensive response to foreign provocation and that Japan was a longsuffering innocent throughout an ordeal orchestrated by the West, but that is a weak and unconvincing argument. That fact that it is also a wrong argument might be beside the point that it is unconvincing. So I was angry to read reports of ASDF General Toshio Tamogami’s remarks in his contribution to the Apa Group’s essay contest that denied Japanese aggression in the Pacific War (“Beijing, Seoul rip ASDF chief essay,” November 2nd). Then on November 4th we read in “Axed ASDF chief hawk till the end; no apology” that the now sacked General laments his persecution for exercising his free speech. But instead of more anger I am inclined to pity for him. General Tamogami just doesn’t get it. He is not being persecuted for his views or for his exercise of free speech. He is being persecuted for his stupidity because his opinions are not just false, but dumb and folly like his is unbecoming to his high office in the Self Defense Forces of this great nation.
Published on Sunday, November 9, 2008 as “Dumb remarks deserve pity.”
Several letters were printed in response to the retired General Tamogami’s remarks on Japan’s war role, mine among them. Of today’s crop all but one was in the same vein as mine, while one supported the general’s right to be wrong and stupid. I was happy that they printed the bold declaration that the general’s opinion was “stupid” because I was unsure if a Japanese paper would print language like that. I expect even more letters on this topic to appear in the coming week. I’d say it’s a safe bet, but we’ll see.