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Should Kamikaze letters get UNESCO world heritage status?

 
 
Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 03:45 am
I saw a feature about this on Newsnight last night. Some of these letters do glorify sacrifice to the emperor, but others are more considered, and speak of the futility of war. In either case these are letters from young men who thought they were going to their deaths, and most did. You could compare some of them to the war poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Does that important aspect of humanity mean that these letters should be given the same status as Anne Frank's letters, or should Japan's war record automatically disbar them?



Quote:
China has attacked a proposal by a Japanese city to list letters written by World War II kamikaze pilots on a United Nations register.

The Japanese city of Minami-Kyushu has made a bid to include the farewell letters of suicide pilots on a UNESCO world memory list.

The same register also contains the diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who hid in Amsterdam with her family in an attempt to avoid Nazi deportation. She died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 1945.

China's foreign ministry says the plan is part of an effort to glorify Japan's aggressive military history and challenge the victory over fascism.

"This is an effort to beautify Japan's history of militaristic aggression, and challenge the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the post-war international order," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said.

Speaking at a regular press briefing, Ms Hua added that Japan had committed "numerous" crimes against humanity during World War II.

"This effort runs completely counter to UNESCO's objective of upholding world peace, and will inevitably meet strong condemnation and resolute opposition from the international community," she said.

The Chiran Peace Museum in Minami-Kyushu wants to win registration in 2015, "to forever hand down the letters to generations to come as a treasure of human life", it said on its website.

The kamikaze letters are included in thousands of items kept at the museum, left behind by 1,036 pilots who died in suicidal attacks on enemies in the final years of World War II.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2014-02-11/china-slams-japans-bid-to-register-kamikaze-letters-with-unesco/1262502
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izzythepush
 
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Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 09:34 am
One comparison that was made was with the suicide bombers of Al Qaida. These letters may help us understand the mindset of such people.
Foofie
 
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Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 05:25 pm
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

One comparison that was made was with the suicide bombers of Al Qaida. These letters may help us understand the mindset of such people.


I basically root for the Chinese. I basically boo the Japanese. So, these letters, in my opinion, should have no official UN sanction. If the Japanese want to put it in a Japanese National library, or some such thing, who should say no? But, giving it official sanction with the UN? Nyet!

I also do not believe that the Japanese culture has rid itself completely of the superiority complex that led to the atrocities in Manchuria. In that context, I am a "fan" of team China, and as I said before, I boo team Japan, in all international situations.

Give me a "C." Give me a "H." Give me an "I." Give me an "N." Give me an "A." Yea, CHINA! [Foofie doing a little cheerleading.]

ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 05:34 pm
@izzythepush,
I would think it would be worthwhile to save them - definitely.
izzythepush
 
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Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 05:41 pm
@Foofie,
I think that's a very simplistic approach. There are right wing elements in Japan that still glorify the kamikaze, but they're quite small. These were letters written by young men about to die, and as such there's a greater urgency than other letters sent home from combat. They could say something very valuable about the human condition, and give greater understanding on how to stop things like this happening again. UNESCO heritage status will make them more easily available for future academics. Any decision should look at their relative value, weighed up against ethical considerations. It shouldn't be reduced to a Japan vs China, decision. That would be childish in the extreme.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 05:42 pm
@ossobuco,
I don't think they're in any danger of being destroyed.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Feb, 2014 05:54 pm
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

I think that's a very simplistic approach. There are right wing elements in Japan that still glorify the kamikaze, but they're quite small. These were letters written by young men about to die, and as such there's a greater urgency than other letters sent home from combat. They could say something very valuable about the human condition, and give greater understanding on how to stop things like this happening again. UNESCO heritage status will make them more easily available for future academics. Any decision should look at their relative value, weighed up against ethical considerations. It shouldn't be reduced to a Japan vs China, decision. That would be childish in the extreme.


Copies can be given to a university that does research on Japanese history. In the meantime, go team China!
izzythepush
 
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Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 02:17 am
@Foofie,
That's still a very childish attitude to take.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
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Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 02:52 am
@Foofie,
These are artifacts that, as any pice of evidence, should be preserved and given proper artifact "Status"

China will, Ive found from personal experience from working in China and Taiwan, not soon forget the genocide of WWII, until maybe one or two more generations pass.That shouldn't dictate the care and preservation of important artifacts as these.
History is often inconvenient to all sides of the events in question.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 03:53 am
@farmerman,
I agree my daughter is currently in China, for her first six weeks she was at a summer school in Nanjing. The rape of Nanjing still looms large, and it's important that we never forget what happened there. That does not detract from the importance of the letters as historical documents.

Despite everything they still have no problems doing business with Japan.

Quote:
Total trade between China and Japan was almost $334 billion in 2012. For Japan, struggling to emerge from two decades of economic malaise, exports to burgeoning China are a key source of growth. Companies from Sony to Toyota desperately need Chinese consumers to buy their cars and TVs to offset a sluggish home market and compete with rivals like GM and Samsung. But the relationship is hardly a one-way street. China imports more from Japan than any other country, and many of those goods are indispensable to China’s economic advance ­— high-tech components to fuel its export machine and capital equipment for its expanding industries. Japan also possesses special expertise in technologies that China badly needs for its future development, such as energy efficiency and other eco-friendly know-how that could help China contend with the environmental damage brought about by rapid industrialization.

http://world.time.com/2013/12/01/china-and-japan-may-not-like-each-other-but-they-need-each-other/

As long as the Chinese government focuses their attention on Japanese atrocities they avoid discussing the horrors of the cultural revolution.
Lordyaswas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 05:35 am
These would be interesting to future historians, but there should be efforts to take out the glorification aspect, which runs the risk of romanticising the whole thing.
I also wonder how many of their POW's had the opportunity to write a poignant letter, before they were beaten/tortured to death or beheaded.

My uncle, if he were alive today, along with many other captives from that time, would no doubt have gladly pissed over the lot of them.

Time is a healer, sure, but there should be a sensible balance struck here.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 06:28 am
@Lordyaswas,
I agree, context is everything, Japanese aggression should not seem to be glorified.

These are young men who had been fed a load of propaganda about unspeakable horrors that would be visited on Japan in the event of an allied victory. They weren't all fanatics, and they weren't the same people guarding allied POWs

Having said that they need to be viewed in the context of Japanese aggression.
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 06:40 am
Any rational Japanese government would have surrendered after the fall of the Marianas rather than watch their 70 largest cities get torched. Nobody needed to be Albert Einstein to figure that one out.

The entire kamikaze movement was perverted and should not be honored by any sort of international organization.
0 Replies
 
Lordyaswas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 06:43 am
@izzythepush,
They were all brought up in the bushido culture, where basically honour and duty was everything.
When the Americans actually started occupying Japan, there were numerous suicides up and down the land, because of that dishonour of surrendering.
The other side of the coin though, was that within that culture, an enemy who had surrendered as opposed to fighting to the death was considered the lowest of any animal and treated accordingly.

The Americans under MacArthur did a very good job in turning the Japanese people away from the old bushido and towards modern democracy.

That said, I think it will take the following generation, my lot, the offspring, to properly pop their clogs before the atrocities will be finally put behind us. Maybe thirty years from now there will be nobody left who has a direct memory of someone who actually suffered under them.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 06:52 am
@izzythepush,
There were really two wars going on in China during WWII. China was just as busy fighting itself while it tried to rally to fight the Japanese who were busy with their genocidal occupation .

When I worked there, several Japanese weapons stations were left intact and were painted with garish colors like pink and were covered with graffiti to serve as makeshift historical markers.
In Taiwan its especially true at several of the gates of oil refineries like at Kaoshung the KMT had purposely created flower gardens around light blue painted Japanese "pillboxes" that were old tank turrets with machine guns and 40mm swivel cannons jammed in the ground. Then all about them were large fields of lovely flowers that spelled out "Sino Petroleum" in English and Chinese

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 06:58 am
@Lordyaswas,
My dad was a remaining soldier from the Burma campaign. His post war view of war was not as patriotic when Vietnam came around and was conscripting students who didn't maintain their GPA. My dad would have driven me to Canada if I wasn't doing well in school. He was quite vocal of ALL governments as mostly incompetent, nd I tend to agree.
Lordyaswas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 07:30 am
@farmerman,
Fortunately, our politicians were of a same mind as your Dad and side swerved Vietnam altogether.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 08:57 am
@Lordyaswas,
Good old Harold Wilson.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 09:14 am
@izzythepush,
Unesco seems the right place to me.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Feb, 2014 09:15 am
@Lordyaswas,
where were you to talk us some sense with that little adventure into Iraq?
 

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