Monday, December 22, 2014

映画「アンブロークン」と大東亜戦争でのアメリカ人捕虜の真実 The movie “Unbroken”, and history of US POW’s

It seems that my post about the movie Unbroken has gained me a lot of new readers.


So now I would like to comment on the American POW situation in Japan in WWII.


Let me start with one fact.  Many more American POW’s died in Japanese camps than in German camps.  Many Americans use this fact to say that Japan was a brutal, evil nation in WWII.


That is simply not true.  Let look at the reasons for this.


First of all, among White Americans in WWII, many were ethnic German.  I myself was born in America, but I am ethnic German.  I do speak conversational German.  This would have been true of a certain number of American POW’s in custody during the war.


Also, American food, White people’s food, is based on German and English food.  So food given to prisoners in German prison camps would have been familiar to Americans.


And many Germans at that time had been to America.  In short, in WWII, both Germans and Americans knew quite a lot about each other.


On the other hand, an American POW in a Japanese camp who could speak Japanese would have been extremely rare in WWII.  And Japanese food would have been incomprehensible to Americans.  Americans are not very adventurous when it comes to food.  They do not like to try new things.


In the war, Japanese people were starving.  And at that time, few Japanese ate pork or beef, it was impossible to serve such meat to American prisoners.


It is true that some Japanese prison camp administrators would executed after the war.  One of the reasons was for serving Katsuobushi and Gobo.  For my non Japanese speaking readers, Katsubushi is dried Bonito flakes, we usually eat on rice.  American POW’s thought it was tree bark.  Gobo is a root vegetable, Americans thought is was tree root.


In Vietnam and Korea, American POW’s sometimes died because they refused to eat rice, or soybeans.  They wanted bread made specially for them.


On Facebook, one of my friends wrote how his father had worked in POW camps in the war, and that American prisoners were very rude to Japanese guards.


This exposes an aspect of American character which is not so nice.   Americans love to defy authority.  For 20 years in Japan, I used to work at talent agency putting foreigners on Japanese television and film.


I would go to a major train station in Tokyo at 06:30 in the morning, meet a group of foreigners, and take them to the film job.  I would then tell them that I was the manager, and would take care of them that day.


Often, some American, always an American, would say, “Nobody told me you were the manager, I am not listening to you!”.  It would be a bad day.  This American would cause trouble all day, on purpose.


This is a deep theme in American thinking.  That is why in an American job environment, people are easily fired, punishment is swift.


We have English phrases, like “Shape up or Ship out!”  “You are on thin ice!”


It is very difficult to explain these phrases to Japanese people, Japanese people naturally work hard.  Not so with Americans.


Such an attitude in a Japanese POW camp would have been disastrous for the American POW.  Japanese people look on a POW as some one who has been humiliated.  The POW should be humble.


So a Japanese guard would get very angry at such a rude American.  Working with Americans in Japan, there were many times when I wanted to beat them, they were so rude.


In Germany, German guards had more understanding of this.  They would smile at the rude American.  But when they found something, like a forbidden radio, or evidence of an escape attempt, German punishments were very severe.


And we must also remember that American racial prejudice, both then and now, was very strong against Japanese people, well against any non White person.


I think this too is a reason for so many American POW’s dying under Japanese custody in the war.  To White Americans, Japanese were an inferior race.  But as a POW, White Americans were in a position where they were forced to take orders from Japanese people, a non White race.


Their psychological world had changed, and they could not cope with this.  So in a spiritual sense, they gave up and died.


There is another thing here that angers me about Americans who criticize Japan for WWII.  In the Bush administration, torture of captured Muslims was common place.  America executed some 1,100 Japanese after the war for water boarding.


Former Vice President Cheney says what Americans did was not as bad as Japan.


But the torture that America conducted in Iraq was horrific.


The former Vice President is quite wrong.  Also, he does not mention that the American Army Air Force conducted a campaign of extermination against Japanese civilians during the war.


Americans have never experienced constant attack upon the homeland by a foreign power.


In the movie “Unbroken” Mr. Zamperini was an American Aviator, one of those who was exterminating Japanese civilians.  He should be grateful that he was not killed outright.  Americans killed half of surrendering Japanese soldiers when they tried to surrender.


This bombing of Japanese cities had no military purpose, all it did was kill civilians.  Americans to this day do not want to discuss it.


But Angelina Jolie should have been more alert to what is presently happening in Asia.


Japan is under attack by China, South Korea, and some Americans.  They are twisting the historical record in order to get money out of Japan, or to humiliate Japan.


In an interview, she says it was an extremely emotional experience to make the movie.


She should have done more research, then she would know that Japanese prison camp guards in mainland Japan did not eat prisoners as sashimi, and that Koreans on Tinian could not be captives of Japan because they were indeed Japanese at the time.  


If she is going to say this movie is a historical narrative, she has to get the details correct.


American and Japan did fight a terrible war that ended 69 years ago.  Americans very easily say that Japan was evil, and that America made Japan a better nation.


This is simply not true.  Japan was a different nation, not evil.  And actually, Americans did not reform Japan so much.  Japan’s recovery after the war was due to Japanese hard work, not American generosity.


Since the end of that war, Japan has loyally supported America in every way, even when it damaged Japan.  When speaking about the war, Americans should try to remember this fact.


For my new readers, I cover these topics and many others in my new book, “The Truth about Americans”.


Or, you can buy it at Kinokuniya main store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, 3rd floor.



Japedant said...



ところで、これは慰安婦・竹島・韓国問題になりますが、Gerry Beversさんという方はご存知でしょうか?

truebird said...

Hello , Mr. Max


Max von Schuler-Kobayashi said...


メッセージを有難うございます。そのアメリカ人、Gerry Beversさんにメールをします。日本人、世界の人々に韓国人の本音を教える事はとても大切です。貴重な情報を教えてくれて有難うございました。これからも宜しくお願いします。

Max von Schuler-Kobayashi said...



Max von Schuler-Kobayashi said...

Goodbye again Mr. Laduron. Keep this up, I will enquire with American authorities to report you as a cyber stalker, I am sure the FBI has such a group.