Japan's defense minister Fumio Kyuma apologized today for telling the truth.
Defence Minister Fumio Kyuma said he had not meant to offend the victims when he said on Saturday that the bombings "couldn't be helped" because they had brought World War Two to an end and prevented the Soviet Union from entering the war against Japan.
"If my remarks were seen as lacking regard for the feelings of atomic bomb victims, then I am sorry," he told a news conference.
On Saturday, Kyuma had said in a speech: "My understanding is that it ended the war and that it couldn't be helped ... I don't hold a grudge against the United States."
The remarks drew condemnation from victims of the August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and the August 9 attack on Nagasaki, which together killed more than 210,000 people by the end of the year. Some opposition parties demanded Kyuma's resignation.
The Japanese have always had a hard time facing up to the truth of their behavior in World War II, and this is just the latest round. As Captain Ed pointed out, the firestorm started 10 days ago when the Japanese government announced that it was planning to tone down textbook accounts of Japanese soldiers ordering Okinawan civilians to commit suicide during WWII.
Lawmakers from Japan's southern island of Okinawa, site of one of World War Two's bloodiest battles, blasted a government decision to tone down textbook accounts of soldiers ordering civilians to commit suicide.
Friday's resolution urging the government to scrap the textbook revision comes a day before the anniversary of the end of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, a "Typhoon of Steel" that left some 200,000 dead -- soldiers, civilians, Japanese and Americans.
Many Okinawan civilians, often entire families, committed suicide rather than surrender to Americans, by some eyewitness accounts on the orders of fanatical Japanese soldiers.
Some conservative Japanese historians -- also eager to revise descriptions of wartime atrocities in China and other parts of Asia -- have called into question the eyewitness accounts, arguing the suicides were voluntary.
In March, the education ministry ordered publishers of high school textbooks to modify their descriptions of the suicides. The step outraged many Okinawa residents.
"It is an undeniable fact that mass suicides could not have occurred without the involvement of the Japanese military," the Okinawa assembly said in a statement that was presented in person to the education ministry in Tokyo later on Friday.
"We strongly call on the government to retract its instruction and immediately restore the description in the textbooks so the truth of the Battle of Okinawa will be correctly conveyed and such a tragic war will never happen again."
But, as Captain Ed states, there's more.
That reaction paled in comparison to the worldwide condemnation of a group within Japan's ruling party, who declared that the Rape of Nanking was a fabrication. In six weeks, the Japanese killed between 150,000-300,000 civilians in a city that presented no wartime threat to Japan. The disciplined Imperial Army turned into a pillage movement, raping women, killing civilians indiscriminately and purposely. They put the city to the torch -- and it wasn't an isolated incident. After getting a bloody nose from the Chinese in Shanghai, they pillaged all the way to Nanking.
The Japanese have refused to acknowledge these atrocities, and many more besides, which gives them the intellectual cover to consider themselves victims in the final two bombings of the war. In truth, the Japanese had conducted themselves as brutally and as cruelly as any army could possibly have. In Okinawa, they made it clear that they would murder their own people before admitting military defeat, and they had even less compunction about murdering civilians in other nations, as the Chinese and Filipinos can attest.
Faced off against that kind of enemy, the US had no choice but to use the most powerful weapon in its arsenal to avoid the inch-by-inch massacre of an invasion of the main island. The Japanese refused to surrender, still believing in their megalomaniacal mission to rule Asia to the very end. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were significant cities for Japan's war effort, and the US warned Japan that we would target them with a terrible new weapon if they did not surrender. And as Kyuma notes, the Soviet Union had finally declared war on Japan, and they would have been more than interested in carving up the islands as they were with Germany and eastern Europe.
Kyuma has no reason to apologize. The Japanese should pull their heads out of the darkness and start acknowledging that their brutality and bloodthirstiness in a decade of war in Asia led to the inevitable in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The dropping of the atomic bombs was tragic, but Kyuma was correct when he said it prevented greater bloodshed and the entry of the Soviet Union into the Asian sphere of the war. It prevented the Japanese from becoming another Soviet satellite, trapped for 50 years.