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Thoughts on VJ Day

August 13th, 2005 . by Matt

The Japanese government surrenders on the USS Missouri

The 15th of August will mark Victory over Japan Day. More than anything, this year will not be one of celebration, but one of mild surprise that the allied powers and Japan that once fought against each other so fiercely are so closely allied now. It also marks the 60th year in which Japan has been a perfect member of the international community of nations.

Is 60 years enough to forgive and forget? It certainly is for the western countries that did the bulk of the fighting against Japan (China fought longer, but had very few victories). Japanese that were born in 1945 will now be 60 years old, and yet certain countries in Asia continue to demand apologies and compensation, even after apologies have been given and compensation paid. Why do they continue to antagonise a country in which 99% of the people had nothing to do with the war?

As my tribute to the day and to peace, I would like to offer up a sad Japanese song about the war. Listening to the song, you realise that even men sent off to die still had hopes and dreams, and were human beings not just killing machines. It is called ‘tokkoutai bushi’ (right click and save to download). Lets forgive and forget, and look to good relations in the future rather than dwelling in the past.

The Lyrics


燃料片道 テンツルシャン 涙で積んで 
行くは琉球 死出の旅 エーエ 死出のたび

地上離れりや テンツルシャン この世の別れ
想ひだします 母の顏 エーエ 母の顏

雨よ降れ降れ テンツルシャン せめても雨よ
整備する身の この辛さ エーエ この辛さ

7 Responses to “Thoughts on VJ Day”

  1. comment number 1 by: YoshoMasaki

    Good post. I agree wholeheartedly that since everone else involved (including Japan, which LOST, and got the only two nukes ever used on it!) has forgiven and forgotten, China and Korea’s childish insistence on hating the Japanese is several decades past acceptability.

    The anthropoligist Ruth Bendict’s seminal work “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” [菊と刀] is a great resource to learn about the motivations and psychology of Japanese people and soldiers up to the war period. Insightful and balanced, the book has received -and is quite deserving of- much lavish praise. In any case I can tell you right now that none of them were “killing machines’ and they were motivated on quite a different level from personal hopes and dreams (which of course they had). You can probably get through the book in a few afternoons’ reading, and it comes highly recommended. You’ll find out the answers to some YD threads as well …

    (Amazon link)

  2. comment number 2 by: Mask

    Just showing how even now the Japanese are still apologising for past aggressions on colonisation and invasion by even right winged leaders of Japan giving opportunities for other countries to forgive and forget as so many other countries already have done so….

    Japanese Apology August 2005

  3. comment number 3 by: Japan Sympathizer 同情者

    “Lets forgive and forget, and look to good relations in the future rather than dwelling in the past.”

    Let us forgive…


    Of course, you understand fully well the feelings of Korea and China concerning Japan. It was your ancestors who suffered under the Japanese occupation. Of course, I cannot understand your feeling since my family was safe across the ocean. But, since you know the hardships better than me, I suppose you can truthfully say that we should not dwell in the past.

    I wonder, if my grandparents or ancestors had been forced to live under the dictatorial rule of Japan, if I could so easily forgive as you.

  4. comment number 4 by: Mika

    I wonder, if my grandparents or ancestors had been forced to live under the dictatorial rule of Japan, if I could so easily forgive as you.

    It was that kind of era called imperialism. Invasion was the trend back then, and nations that weren’t invading were invaded. Most of Asian and African countries were colonized by Western Countries. So while their grandparents doubtlessly have humiliating memories, I don’t think that subsequent generations should continue to have a grudge.

  5. comment number 5 by: ponta

    To Japan Sympathizer
    The great numeber of civilians were killed at Tokyo, Hirosima, Nagasaki,and the great number of Americans were killed by Japanese army;yet,most Japanese do not hate the U.S and most Americans do not hate Japanese. Japan and the U.S have good relationships.

    A civilians who is a victim of nuclear weapon might bet angry at Truman, but if he/she is angry at Americans living now, i think he/she is mistaken.Truman is dead, the U.S has changed.

    Most of the victims by nukes do not hate American.
    Most of Japanese do not hate American.
    I was born after the war, I don’t think I have right to demand aplogy from an American living now. I don’t have any reason to hate them.

    Sure,the devasticating nature of nuclear weapon must not be forgotten,but,it must be remembered for the future peace and it must not hurt the good relation between the two countries.

    Yes,the davastigating nature of colonization must not be forgotten, but do you think it justify the hate of younger generation against Japan and a bad relation between the two counries now?

  6. comment number 6 by: randomcow

    Looks like Japan has a friend:



  7. comment number 7 by: Jahn

    “a perfect member of the international community of nations” -Matt

    “I can tell you right now that none of them were “killing machines'” -Yosho Masaki

    It’s overfetched statements like these that piss people off. Matt, just what is a perfect member of the international community. Yosho, how can you tell me that none of them were killing machinesb when there are a lot of photos, even though some propagandistic, of horrific massacres.