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The Road from Perry’s Arrival to Pearl Harbor

By Henry Scott Stokes,

The Road from Perry’s Arrival to Pearl Harbor
- Why America started a War against Japan? -
By Henry S. Stokes
Chapter 1 100 Years of American Ambition
The Historical Fact America has covered up
I have a relative whose name is Nathan Clark. He died in May, 2011 at the age of 94. He had two passports, one American and one British. And Nathan served with the British army in India, starting in early 1941. He had the rank of Captain and he was a very observant character.
And one day in mid 1941, he found himself in Rangoon Airport in Burma (presently Myanmar) and he was astonished to see a huge buildup of American fighters and bombers. On their bodies were the Stars which symbolized America. Up until then, there were no occasions on which so many American military airplanes had showed up so suddenly in Burma without any warning.
This was six months roughly before Pearl Harbor. Nathan saw this huge force and he saw that America was bent on war. It was a shock to him, He was a logistics man, he knew his facts, He realized he was looking at a build-up that could only mean all-out war lay just ahead. There was absolutely no question of anything else. He was indignant that the US Government, specifically President Roosevelt, was deceiving American citizens.
And when he told me this story, I was in my mid twenties. It took my breath away because at the time he referred to Burma was British. Nathan felt doubly responsible for what he felt a witness to. And of course he had to keep it to himself.
When I heard this story, I did not really understand why he was so indignant. He was really upset because he cared so much for America. I was bowled over by Nathan’s passion.
And many years later—I have been living in Japan now for forty years—I came to realize that my cousin had unfolded to me what had been a solemn secret in his time. Somewhere within him the burden of that secret still lingered on as if it had been yesterday. By now everyone understands that both sides were preparing for war on a pretty much all-out war basis. But if so then the responsibility for the war lies on both sides, not just on Japan, as many Americans must still believe. That is Nathan’s testimony. It took two to tango at that time, and if you go back much further in time—to the Black Ships era and to Perry—the picture becomes radically more complicated. One hundred years is nothing on a Japanese time-scale. To go back to the late Edo Era becomes essential. On that basis it looks very much as if the US was a prime instigator and not Japan. After all it was the Black Ships that crossed the seas to open up Japan, come what may, and absolutely not the other way round. Japan had no navy at that time,–no navy existed in the late Edo Era, so the casus belli has to be sought in the US!! That applies to Pearl Harbor and it applies to the Black Ships in all fairness. To be fair was my cousin’s wish. That is the way I see it while “reading” him.
This is elementary logic. You don’t go and tread on someone’s toes and expect no reaction. If they set store by the honor of their country, the reaction is likely to be all the stronger, when it comes. Consider the fate of 500 years of colonialism. Ending that curse took only a few months in the case of India, the first nation to throw off the colonial yoke—in 1947.
Everyone else followed in short order, bringing colonies to an abrupt end. Japan never had such a yoke, it had something else—the United States and that big base at Yokosuka.
For many Japanese the question then becomes what lies behind the actions of the US in regards to Japan—the multiple pinpricks verging in due course on the hammer blow. Such was the introduction of the Black Ships to Japanese waters a century and a half ago. That was a hammer blow alright, and there were others coming along, so much so that the Japanese sometimes feel that they were hand-picked for hammer blows. First off was Perry and his Black warships, and it becomes reasonable to ask what lay behind this particular first hammer blow? If one can answer this, many Japanese feel, then that would be a clue to the whole enigma of America vs. Japan!
It took time for the mess of pottage to erupt but 71 years ago it did in an all-time spectacular on December 8 (Japan Time). Japanese air power attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor and the war immediately spread across the Pacific in all directions. It was in fact prepared for in advance by the United States as well as Japan and the veritable progenitor was the US and not Japan, so Nat suggested to me. He ought to know, he was there, But who in America wants to be in denial on Pearl Harbor? I wonder? Hands up those who believe that 9/11 was a Mossad production. Conspiracy theorists of the world unite? The correct attitude, I believe, is that America conditioned Japan to a reflex throw in the course of the 90 years that came after Perry. Various follies—for example Woodrow Wilson’s call on the anti-racism vote at Versailles in 1919—undermined those in Japan who were moderate. The horrors of colonialism around the East served to undermine moderates every where, including Japan. Whites such as Nathan took no part in the racial sniping commonly found in the bars and drinking clubs of the British in our planters’ Asia and under the Raj. Churchill saw the Japanese as little yellow people–see Churchill’s letters to his wife for his use of the English language, and errors of judgment. Of a man who imagined the Japanese were nobodies.
I was a child at the time of the outbreak of the war. I was a child of three years old at the time of Pearl Harbor.
And I had grown up in school where we were proudly shown a pink globe. And the parts of the globe in pink were British. My country controlled more than half of the world. Almost all of Africa was pink. Most of Asia or much of Asia, Japan excluded, was pink. All of India and of course Burma was pink.
And what happened as a result of this war was that almost all of those pink spaces were eliminated by the early fifties. An entirely new world has emerged.
India, for example, gained its independence in 1947. I grew up in the world where rapidly that pink globe was becoming converted to other colors and wasn’t pink anymore.
And I think Japanese people who suffered, as we did, so terribly in the Second World War may console themselves. It is largely as a result of Japanese shedding their blood that we entered a new world where colonies did not exist any more and there is racial equality.
Still, none of the above answers the question why did America deliver this strong punch? How did the US come to sock Japan on the jaw originally?
To answer these questions, one has to go to the life of Commander Matthew Perry.
Yukio Mishima and the Black Ships
I am known as the foreign correspondent who was closest to Yukio Mishima. Why should the most famous man in Japan bother with the likes of small fry like yours truly? It had to
do with my foreign correspondent’s card and the fact that I had written about him for my newspaper in England – The Times of London. The name impressed him.
It was lucky for me that there weren’t any other Tokyo foreign correspondents pursuing him at that time. That had some bearing too. Plus there was the fact that the Japanese press, say the Asahi, was paying no attention to Mishima’s latest moves – his creation of a private right-wing nationalist “army” of sorts. That had put off the generally left-wing Japanese press, totally. But the fact that Japanese media, including NHK and Asahi, massively reported Mishima and his “Tateno-kai” after his suicide proves there was enough news value in him.
Mishima and I liked each other, I told my wife. She was doubtful about our friendship. “You are not friends,” she declared when we were alone with no one else there. “He is using you,” she added. Nonetheless, I continued to see Mishima every month or two depending on events. He had invited me to join his family at Shimoda on their annual summer holiday.
One night in the summer of 1969, Mishima Yukio took me out to dinner in Shimoda. He chose the restaurant, a scrubby little old place overlooking the sea. Waves crashed beneath our feet. Funamushi –those ugly little insects (“ship insects”)—scurried around our bare feet. The menu was lobster caught fresh and thrown kicking into the pan. The drinks were beer and Japanese sake.
After dinner, I was just about to take a taxi when Mishima came chasing me to say,
“Shall I drop you off at your hotel.”
“Please do,” I responded.
“So where are you staying?” Mishima asked. “What should I tell the driver?”
“The Kurofune,” I pronounced in a firm voice. The inn where I was staying was named the Kurofune in Japanese—or “Black Ships” in English.
“Why would you stay there?” Mishima asked, lowering his normally hale-and-hearty voice.
“Why are you staying there?” he asked again.
He was displeased
“I just wanted to tease you,” I said.
For the past two years, I read about Perry and his Black Ships as I am going to publish a book about Perry in English for a prestigious New York publisher, co-authored with Hideaki Kase. So, forty years later, everything about that evening remains vividly in my mind.
The cab with its gaudy color scheme. The late evening light. The paper lanterns hanging outside the restaurant. The sound of the waves outside the restaurant, crashing away. The forbidding exterior of the dark and gloomy Kurofune ryokan. (The present day Kurofune Hotel is a sparkling resort inn with ocean views from all the guest rooms.), dark and gloomy. I knew that this evening would never be repeated. A longing all the more to spend more time with Yukio. A sense of Japan at an ideological cross-roads with Mishima acting as a traffic warden of sorts. What was it that he so hated and despised about the Black Ships, I wondered?
It wasn’t that he was hostile to America. Far from it. All his major books were published in the US in translation. He took his honeymoon in the US & etc. So it was something specific to the Black Ships that he objected to, not just their being the US Navy per se.
I didn’t quite get it. Better said, I didn’t get it at all. I didn’t know enough about Japan to follow Mishima’s thinking. I lacked basic information having to do with the man – and his thinking, his weltanschauung, his view of the world as a whole, and of Japanese history. Call me an ignoramus or a poor student of Asia in general, and Mishima in particular. Japan is a closed book by many standards, so I thought.
Crime committed by ‘Pirates’ named Perry
Who and what were the Black Ships Mishima hated so much?
In a word, they were a bunch of pirates even if clad in US Navy uniforms, and they were commanded by a burly-shouldered skipper from New York by the name of Matthew Perry.
They sailed under the Stars and Stripes but they might as well have flown a Jolly Roger with the Skull and Cross-Bones from their yardarms.
So daring were they in their stratagems, and so extensive was their weaponry –they mounted shell-guns and said they were ready to use them.
Their sphere of operation was the Pacific, and once out at sea they were totally under the command of “Old Bruin” as his men knew their skipper, a solemn man of 59 when he came to Japan, only he looked much older than that after 40 years at sea.
And the Black Ships? They were known as such in deference to their hull timbers. Their hulls were black because their timbers were painted with pitch, so as not to let them rot.
The seas off northern Japan in those days were rich with whales and extensively and were hugely popular among the numerous US whale hunters of America, then running to hundreds of whaling craft, all focused on the NW Pacific. From time to time one or another of these adventurous whale captains lost a vessel in a shipwreck, sometimes on the shores of Hokkaido or northern Japan—the Tohoku. Unfortunately for the crews of these hapless craft the local Japanese communities they stumbled into regarded them without much joy, but lacked a social mechanism within Edo Japan for taking care of these sea-faring basket cases.
The logical step was for them to be forwarded to Nagasaki, and take ship to America, but that required a degree of coordination between several sets of Japanese local authorities which was rarely forthcoming as quickly as the impatient mariners from the US were concerned. This knot of contention got worse, as the numbers of shipwrecks multiplied, there were cases where the rowdies among them were caged or worse. In fairly short order the handful of whalers who made it back to America spread the word that their compatriots were in dire straits in Japan.
Came the autumn of 1852 and Old Bruin had a project, it turned out.
He was to invade that almost totally unexplored territory known as the Land of the Rising Sun and raise hell over the whalers stuck in Japan. Let the White House come to the rescue! Word rose to the level of the President (Willard Fillmore) and he looked around for someone to address this issue on the spot i.e. in Japan.
However, no one was around who knew anything about Japan the nation’s policy having called for seclusion for two and a half centuries. Not a single foreign ship had ever sailed the waters of the Bay of Edo. Here was a challenge second to none in the East.
The pirate chief was first in line…
Thus it came about that on a hot and muggy afternoon in July 1853 that grizzled Old Bruin pushed his 4-ship squadron into the coastal waters of Japan just close by the Straits of Uraga—leading up into the Bay of Edo and leading to Edo the city.
Simply put, this was one of the key moments in thousands of years of Asian history. Japan had never been invaded, the failed Mongolian invasions apart. This was a first.
Old Bruin made his forced (and illegal) entry to the Bight of Uraga on July 8, 1853, without a shot being fired, thereby threatening Edo, with his guns to the fore – and while ignoring the pleas of the Japanese authorities to withdraw and make his way to Nagasaki, the long-established port of entry for foreign vessels..
Perry’s bold move caught the Japanese authorities—the Shogun and his men—completely by surprise (here was the first “surprise attack in the history of US-Japan relations, but not the last—the attack on Pearl Harbor coming just 88 years later). Edo, the largest city in the world, was suddenly at risk.
One single shell on target and the all-wooden construction city could have been set on fire and destroyed. Every second that the Black Ships hung on in the Edo Wan served to undermine the prestige of the Shogun (the Barbarian Subduing General), with his headquarters in Edo Castle, at the heart of the teeming city. Perry in fact lingered for eight days, quite enough to leave the citizens of Edo in a deep trauma. They had thought their lovely city was totally impregnable and had learned that this was far from being the case. In fact, all the Edo Wan little fortresses on the water were little more than pea shooters in many American eyes. The Black Ships by contrast carried some of the most powerful naval guns in the world, and Old Bruin had rolled them out into the open prior to anchorage at 5 pm that day. Once at anchor his ships aligned their guns on the fortresses and sat back waiting for the fire fight that never materialized. The Edo high command, no doubt, counted experts who knew Bruin’s French-designed guns.
During the Edo Era, Japan did not have major streets wide enough to allow the traditional ox-drawn wagons to get past each other. Thus the food supply of the city of Edo was entirely dependent on sea traffic. If the Bay of Edo was blockaded by the Black Ships, the people of Edo had to starve.
Fully briefed as Bruin was to the vulnerability of the locals the ancient pirate led his squadron into the Bay of Edo with panache as if he owned the place. His warships simply dwarfed the tiny, flimsy craft that were all the Japanese possessed.
To give some idea, Susquehanna, the flagship of the C-in-C, was almost 100 meters long, whereas the Japanese boasted not a single ocean-going vessel of any size—when typhoons threatened the Japanese hauled their boats up their beaches, made them fast on land, and waited for the storms to blow over before ever going out to sea. Their elegant thin boats were suited for coastal waters and met the needs of fishermen who carried no weapons and didn’t want massive bulwarks to protect them. Perry moved in a different world, he and his fellow bandits had as much in common with the Japanese, as with men from Mars.
The sudden arrival of these Western men with long noses and monkey-like faces was a devastating blow to Edo Japan. Their previous experience with Christian missionaries—and with Westerners in general—had been mixed at best, verging on tragic when all Christian activity was banned in the early 17th century. Occidentals had never made sense of Shinto. They had contempt for Shinto and its 8 trillion deities, and a religion that called for the whole archipelago to be of divine origin, as compared with the monotheist tendency of the Christian faith? This way lay trouble. The Japanese had no dispute with anyone on religious doctrine, they were practitioners of two major religions—Shinto and Buddhism. They expected no hostility from anyone on religion. And then here came Old Bruin and his people always with a cleric in tow.
Christian teachers on the other hand had brought with them the notion that Shinto was somehow evil to the core and to be abhorred. Old Bruin, bold pirate he, had a responsibility—a supreme role as Defender of the Faith, Here he was accomplishing a God-given mission. On the other hand, he paid no respect to the deities of Japan, saying and believing and no doubt thinking that they were evil. Perry trampled on the Soul of Japan while taunting the million strong residents of Edo. Yamamoto Isoroku, the brains behind Pearl Harbor, would never have sanctioned the attack had the US side not fired the first metaphorical shots 88 years earlier. Perry had done Japan an incalculable injury and had
never said sorry.
And yet the West glorifies the pirate chief and all his works. This is astonishing.
No doubt, Perry did a brilliant job of bringing technology to Japan, thereby opening the way for this country, however isolated and behind hand in western science and technology to become the first industrial power in Asia – fully 100 years ahead of China waking up and racing to the top in the East, following in Japan’s tracks.
Thus, the ledger on Perry is glorious to behold seen from a Western standpoint. He and his officers made friends with the Japanese, faithful to the mission that they set out to fulfill. They threw riotous parties for the locals in the wardrooms of their warships, the guests got tipsy and the hosts loaded up their visitors with presents. Perry raised US-Japan relations to another level by playing the glad host to the full. Yet he had concrete goals surely, diplomacy apart? So, what was Old BB setting out to produce on his Far East perambulations?
What motivated Perry?
Perry gravitated back and forth in 1853-1854 from China to the Ryukyu Islands, meaning Okinawa, then across to the Bonin Islands, then up to Japan.
What was all this motion in aid of? What was driving Old B?
Raising the Stars and Stripes and going around the world to reach the Far East, skippering the most powerful naval force – the Black Ships –was a grand project.
What was so vital to Perry and his bosses back in Washington DC, in the US Navy Department and in the White House? What was the great goal?
Surely, there had to be some majestic purpose, something quite remarkable to justify a project as grand as this! Indeed there was.
The formal goal of the Black Ships project–and here a roll of drums & a sounding of trumpets & a 21-gun salute from Perry’s flagship would be called for–was to bring a historic letter.
It was a letter of intent of sorts from the President of the US, Willard Fillmore to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Japan—the latter lived out of sight in Kyoto, the imperial capital.
These two men had never met—hardly anyone had ever been honored with an Imperial Audience—and the whole purpose of this communication, so the letter itself said, was to commence relations between the two sides on a friendly footing!
In that spirit the letter commenced with a greeting;
“Great and Good Friend”, it began with a flourish.
This letter, I should also mention, was tucked away in a beautiful rosewood box and lodged in a safe place in the captain’s cabin aboard the veteran warship Mississippi. This proud vessel, considered the finest of its kind in the US Navy, served Old Bruin as his flagship, when he set out from Norfolk, Virginia, to cross the seas to the East on November 26, 1852. The Letter to the Emperor had been entrusted to our faithful skipper by President Fillmore, to be personally conveyed by Ol’ Bru to His Imperial Majesty.
All of which tended to make a Glorified Postman of Matthew Perry. He was deeply flattered. His reaction was that this was the greatest honor that had been conferred on him in all the years since he had joined the US Navy as a midshipman at the age of 15. He must do his utmost—must the Big Bear—to execute his responsibility.
He saw a deeply political and significant role in this move.
The sacred epistle in the rosewood box, duly tied up inside with beautiful silk ribbons,
would serve to bring the two great emerging Powers of the Pacific into direct contact and then direct communication with each other and at the highest level! This would be for the first time in their respective histories. Banzai!
However, did it require four warships of the US Navy to deliver a single item of mail, asked the ever-polite and only so very slightly sarcastic Japanese officials of Perry’s people? Surely there was more to this Letter than met the eye was their meaning!
Various explanations rose to the surface, not all of them persuasive. The usual story—one of the most common points—had to do with the international whaling industry, then entering a super boom, based upon the needs of American families for oil to light their lamps at home at night.
Whale oil was best and whales were found in the NW reaches of the Pacific. So the sailors had to head out into those often inhospitable waters, following in the wakes of the Moby Dicks of this world—Herman Melville’s great whaling novel was published in 1851 at the absolute peak of the industry it drew upon,
So, this initiative was being taken to ensure decent treatment for shipwrecked US mariners cast upon the shores of Nippon? That was part of the story. The powerful whaling industry chiefs had lobbied the White House for protection. The White House was duly impressed. However, other factors were involved as well.
For one thing the Black Ships—creatures 100 meters long—didn’t come cheap. Nor did the cost of steaming them around the world with one thousand sailors and Marines on board. It was a 100-day trip to get these fightin’ ships up to Japan, going round the world—there being no Panama Canal at the time.
Not all of this trouble and expense was being incurred, to solace a bunch of toughie whalers! Whose captains were used to faring for themselves, they were archetypal experts on the Pacific North West, they needed no help in finding their way around those stupendous waters, with their schools of whales, second to none in the world.
Invasion justified by the “God’s Will”
We come then to a second theory about the origins and raison d’ etre of the Black Ships—and their two-year foray to the East. It is that they were a sort of glorified trade mission. In other words, they were trying to accomplish the mission celebrated by the Christian God.
There is some truth in this. Evangelizing barbarian territories met the needs of satisfying economic desire. Trade was, therefore, a God to the 19th century.
Puritans who founded the United States of America, based upon their notion of “Manifest Destiny”, believed that it was to realize “God’s Will” to evangelically expand their land to the West, and further to the Far West. Trade was “God’s Will.”
With its sense of Manifest Destiny, America was then, all of a sudden, sky-rocketing into the world of commerce, picking up influence here and territory there, and acquiring new ports facing the Pacific—San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland.
Invasion after invasion! All of this was coming about at the speed of light, with one ultimate result, namely the US was emerging as the sea power of the Pacific, and all because of trade, if still in its infancy.
The British had led the way into Asia, while building their Empire into the four corners of the world.
Trading houses from the UK, with its Royal Navy giving a helping hand, had moved far ahead of everybody else with trade as their religion.
This was, moreover, highly acceptable in the US, once nation-building had reached a certain point.
America originally was founded by Puritans who left England and crossed the Atlantic Ocean. They, self-centeredly, proclaimed the North American continent as the “Promised Land” and invaded the territory. So for America, nothing was more natural than to believe in a god-given right to a role in the Pacific as a trading power par excellence.
Such was the thinking fostered by Daniel Webster, three-time Secretary of State, a great rhetorician in politics and the single person most widely seen as a supporter of the adventure of the Black Ships.
Yet the bulk of the US Congress was not as enthusiastic as Webster and Willard Fillmore, the US President on whose watch the Black Ships project gained traction in the early 1850s, thanks to Webster.
To a great extent America looked inward and not outward. Accordingly, the idea of sending US warships into distant foreign parts found little acclaim. The US had so many items on the national agenda.
There was the Gold Rush of ’49, as triggered by the discovery of gold in northern California in that year. Simply to digest the newly-found States of the Union was a mammoth undertaking. America was not in an empire building mode in the mid-19th century, such as was the UK, deeply committed to the Raj in India as Britain was.
Perry and his Black Ships were not looking to seize control of a piece of Japan for the US—with one exception we shall come to (namely Yokosuka). By contrast… the British were grabbing Hong Kong and expanding along the lines of “Let the Sun Never Set” on glorious Britannica and its sovereigns. Somehow America never generated such enthusiasm for Empire or not until much later in the 19th century, fifty years or so after the Black Ships.
“Black Gold” buried in Japan
Then there is a third theory. It is that what the Black Ships were really after was coal.
This idea—or rather conviction—sprang full-armed from the head of Webster, a man incidentally to whom Americans looked up to as an ultimate source of wisdom, when it came to foreign affairs and statecraft. He died in October, 1852 and did not live to see the Black Ships floated off as a project, but he played a big part in the preliminaries.
The first steamships ever built date back to the early 1820s. Had they existed a couple of decades earlier, no doubt, they would have featured, to heaven knows what effect in the Napoleonic Wars.
As it was, steam-driven warships did not feature on the seas and in battle in a conspicuous way until the US Civil War that commenced in 1862. Thus there was a calm period of roughly 40 years during which a few pundits (Perry was one) struggled to persuade a skeptical US public that steam was the future in naval warfare, and sails were a thing of the past.
Sails still prevailed, however, as a means of driving warships across the sea, right up to the early 1840s or so, during which time the world’s foremost naval fleets—the Royal Navy and the French navy—paused to consider and to reflect. Sail or steam? Which was it to be?
The matter was complex, the transition was coming, everyone knew that, but when would (lovely to look at) sails give way to (beastly to look at) steam chimneys? What was the timing? The affair was made a million times more crucial, I beg you to believe, by the advent of a grand new technology in munitions, namely the shell-gun as perfected by Paixhans in France. The shell-gun, as its name implies, fired shells and not cannon balls.
The shells exploded on impact, that is, on hitting something or some one.
Shells, it should be clear, totally transformed the technology of war at sea. They introduced another world—as everyone saw demonstrated on the battle field, when the US chose to spring a surprise attack of sorts on Mexico, an innocent republic in 1846. Perry—by this time a salty sea-dog with a resume as a sort of latter-day pirate—commanded the US naval forces that pounded the coastal forts of Mexico and crumbled them like so much Kit-Kat.
Winning that widely unequal war of 1846-7 set the seal on American ambition in the Pacific.
Running through all these events, however, was one particular reality, one vital need, one commodity—and that was the black gold of coal.
Without coal there might have been no easy Mexican War taken at the trot. Perry, be it understood, was in the thick of things as a perceived victor of exceptional powers of leadership based in turn on intimate knowledge of the new technologies. He wanted a “Steam Navy”, that was his idea.
But still no coal, no steam, no steamship! Where was the coal to come from? Without which, no US Navy. That was the Perry line. It took time to get that new line accepted, however. Decades and decades. Throughout the 1830s Perry was engaged at the US Navy’s Brooklyn Yard, while living with his family in New York. The main agenda was the steam navy, all right.
But again, where was its coal to come from? The answer was simple. Take the Pacific. Steam ships, the Americans found, needed additional coal. The coal holds of the new steamships carried enough of the stuff to get as far as Japan, itself rich in native coal supplies, but not enough to get as far as China, a main destination for trans-Pacific ships of the new era.
The existence of coal struck that great man Daniel Webster as positively providential. God had surely made the coal of Kyushu available. God had laid these coal reserves in wait for the blessed Americans. It was His doing. It was a miracle, manna had come. Not all Americans thought this way, but that didn’t deter the Secretary of State. The Black Ships expedition to China, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands could ascertain and confirm what God had decreed; this was Webster’s line of thinking!
Webster put it like this: “coal is a gift of Providence deposited by the Creator of all things in the depths of the Japanese islands for the benefit of the human family.”
But of course, non-Christians were not able to be the member of the human family. There is always God. It is fact, Americans cannot eliminate Him, can they now!
Base Yokosuka as the fruit of Perry’s Ambition
So what was the true mission of the Black Ships? If it wasn’t to get coal, and wasn’t to whip up some trade, and has had almost nothing to do with the whaling community? Eliminate these three bills of fare, and what are we left with?
Here I have a disclosure to make. Perry’s forefathers in England were Quakers of Devon stock. Quakers have tended to succeed in business as they are very practical people. Perry was also a serious man for anything. He was a do-er.
What then was he up to, I ask once more, that justified the budget for the Black Ships—and the flamboyant use of these craft on the far side of the world? And the deployment of a band of elite US Navy officers, as sailed aboard these craft for two years? I have thought about this, and I think I see what the Black Ships were up to.
It’s dead simple. They were looking for a base. The Black Ships were out there looking for
what America has today, that enormous, strategic base at Yokosuka.
Today that base—pretty much precisely where Perry anchored his battle squad—accommodates the US Seventh Fleet. According to their Web site, 60-70 US naval vessels with 200-300 aircrafts and approximately 40,000 sailors and Marines were at Yokosuka. Also, many Japanese people work in the base.
The Black Ships preceded all this paraphernalia by 150 years roughly. Little has changed in the meantime. Nothing fundamental. True, the scale has gone up 1,000-fold but the principle is the same. Perry found it for the US Navy!
This is what he focused on from the very first second he was in Japanese waters—for the first time in his life. He claimed the fabulous anchorage that is Yokosuka, suitably protected from the elements.
On his first night, a meteor shot across the night skies.
“The Ancients,” wrote Perry in his Journal, “would have construed this remarkable appearance of the heavens as a favorable appearance for any enterprise they had undertaken … It may be so construed by us, as we pray God that our present attempt to bring a singular and isolated people into the family of civilized nations may succeed without resort to bloodshed…”
We may note that Perry made a distinction between the “civilized” people on earth, all of them Christian and no doubt white—and the rest of the “human family” who were “isolated” barbarians!
Edo was then the world’s most cultured city
Was Japan with its 2,000 year history quite such an uncivilized land as Old Bruin maintained, when he said his prayers, and pleaded with God for a break?
The city of Edo was a thing of beauty. Such was the testimony of Sir Rutherford Alcock, Britain’s first envoy to Edo Era Japan. He could ride forever on horseback and still encounter sights to “gladden the eye”, he wrote.
But not he alone. The joys—and the leisure-time forays—of a million-strong population testified to the attraction of the city.
The biggest capital on earth—bigger than Paris, bigger than London or New York, and larger, far, than any other Asian city—Edo was rich in the arts—visual and performing. Citizens of Edo were rich in income, even richer than the ruling class of Samurai warriors. The city was filled with various cultural assets. Rich in inherited culture. Crime was extremely minimal in not only Edo but also in all across the country. In Japan, safety was well-maintained.
Along the most popular route which connected Edo and Osaka, the biggest merchant city in the Western part of Japan, there were estimated to be no less than 1,000 inns called “Hatago” along the route. Hatago inns were overnight stopover places for travelers. Visitors dossed down with strangers—these inns were communal spaces with no or few private rooms. People were expected to muck along with whoever was there, as in youth hostels in the West. But then we would never have 1,000 youth hostels along a single highway! What staggers the mind is the sheer volume of the traffic!
Most descriptions of Edo and its Era harp on the samurai and see all the hustle and bustle of Edo as deriving from the daimyo lords parading through the city to pay their respects on the shogunal staff. But in fact this is a radical if common misreading of the whole thrust of life in Edo.
The Townspeople organized in trade guilds—and the common folk as a whole—were the
ones who did the work, gathered in the money and prospered. They set the tone of Edo. They were the boss men on the block. They were the ones that the samurai turned to, when they needed to borrow. Which they did.
The arbiters of taste, inevitably, were the prospering bourgeosie and not the swashbuckling cavaliers with their two swords at the ready. Those epoch-making 19th century woodblock prints emanating from the likes of Hiroshige, Utamaro, Hokusai and others—winning admires among the ranks of the post-Impressionists in Paris, notably Vincent van Gogh but really everybody—were set up for the townspeople of the Edo precincts and not the samurai at all.
Of course the samurai had their own taste. Subtlety of Nohgaku was appreciated by them and so were Haiku, poem-making and calligraphy. But culture of Edo was enjoyed by the commoners. This kind of phenomenon was not observed in the West nor China or India.
Imagine growing up in the city that produced some of the finest woodblock prints in the history of man. Those prints were not expensive, they were made to wrap up the shopping in, almost. They were not made for serious money—just a few coins were what a first-rate Hiroshige would cost you in mid-19th century Edo. These prints were given away, you could say.
Ah those wonderful Japanese hands! St. Francis Xavier was onto something when he commended the Japanese as formidable but he didn’t rise to a mention of Japanese manual dexterity. Japan became a world leader in print-making thanks to those great hands its people have.
Matthew Perry, to be fair, had picked up this point, as indicated by a speech of his, made in New York a couple of years after he returned from the Orient. There, as noted in his Narrative record of his visits to Japan, he remarked that Japan would emerge one day as an industrial power second to none, thanks to its people being so good with their hands. This is the Perry comment on Japan that is most remarked on in recent decades—as his prophesy came true.
Yet something else—something other than simple manual dexterity lay behind the rise of Edo as world No. 1 city. To many Japanese that surge from nowhere in the late 15th century to global pre-eminence within a few decades has to do with education.
The system was based upon and rooted in the terakoya or “temple schools” that were set up all over Japan and greatly matured as schools thanks to those peaceful times. Since the beginning of the Edo Shogunate, for over 250 years peace had prevailed and people were able to enjoy freedom as long as safety in the city was maintained.
The fact that Japan had this school system—and China and India had nothing at all to teach kids the basics—is something pointed to to explain how it was that Japan was able to take off in the early Meiji Era as an industrial power on western lines, and to do so fully 100 years before the rest of Asia got cracking.
However great the terakoya schools were in terms of teaching kids to read and write and to give them a knowledge of the classics nothing would have availed the terakoya had the students themselves not been imbued with a tremendous desire to learn and the question then becomes where did that zeal come from?
It is there, no doubt, still, and these days it is found among Chinese and Korean students, perhaps rather less among Japanese, but definitely Japan showed the model. It is sad that the Japanese people have lost the extraordinary eagerness they used to have historically.
Ah, the glory that was Edo—and its theater! Nothing, no other cultural phenomenon speaks to that whole era (1603-1868) more profoundly than the Kabuki.
Everything about this Japanese theatrical form says that this was the spirit of the times
made manifest. What big spirits they had, the pioneers of Kabuki.
Everything about the Kabuki was on the grand scale. First the stage was (and is) huge-roughly the size of La Scala at Milano or even more. The Kabuki stage is, if anything, bigger still, as it features a long walk-way on the left hand side of the stage proper. This is the hanamichi (the “flower walk”) along which the prima donna (only in Kabuki the entire cast is male) may strut his stuff.
The world of Edo was dominated by men with big hearts and minds. The age demanded it and the age got it, early in the Edo Era when Kabuki was conjured full-grown out of thin air, as was the exquisite, small-scale puppet theater known as Bunraku. This form too manifested itself out of nowhere, in the 17th century.
By contrast, the chosen theater of the aristocracy and the ruling samurai class in Japan was the Noh—but for ordinary people it was Kabuki that counted, with its gorgeous garments, its musical scores calling for improvisation, and its clatter of shamisen. Truly, was there born anywhere in the world a more strikingly original pair of traditions than Kabuki and Bunraku, both for the vulgar masses?
What was it that gave Edo its magic? Whatever it was, it dates to the 17th century. There was so much wealth around, that is what did it, I have little doubt. Of course, there were other factors. Having continuous peace and stability for 250 years must have helped to nurture and to maintain the new cultural heritage.
Extreme Prejudice Americans had about Japan
And yet there is a body of opinion in America that somehow the Era was an evil one and Edo thoroughly deserved to be turned upside down. See for example these remarks below by Admiral Samuel E. Morison, the biographer of Perry—the hard-working Morison served as the US Navy historian of the Pacific War to which he devoted 15 volumes (he was no Japanophile). The backwardness of Edo civilization justified setting aside if not crushing out all surviving reminders of that null and void age in the eyes of Morison. He summarized (the key words are italicized by me):
Almost everything in government and society remained exactly as it had been when Shogun Ieyasu adopted his exclusion policy (in 1603), The people still wore their traditional dress, home-made and hand-woven, and were confined within rigid class lines. The 260 daimyo did pretty much as they liked within their own domains and traveled in lacquered sedan chairs carried by retainers accompanied by a guard of two-sworded samurai who cut down or killed any common people who got in the way or who failed to do proper obeisance. These samurai, a hereditary class of warriors, were the original “gentlemen of Japan”. Although for the most part poor, living on whatever their masters chose to give them, and uneducated in everything except sword-play, they were completely loyal to the rulers, the customs and traditions of old Japan. (see Morison’s biography p. 268)
Oh dear, what can the matter be? Where does Morison’s attitude come from? He is anti-Edo. He sees vast gaps between the classes (“rigid class lines”) True, there was an elite class of samurai (who never attended Kabuki) considering it to be vulgar and beneath them and stuff fit only for the plebs. Yet the majority of the population were commoners and they were the driving force behind the urban culture of Edo, as witness the plays of Chikamatsu and the novels of Ihara Saikaku. Edo wasn’t just the biggest city on earth in terms of its size but its
deep culture.
Books were in great demand. Literature flourished. Multi best-sellers, each going over 100,000 copies, were not uncommon.
Edo Era Japan contrary to Morison was in many respects an egalitarian society and long had been so to judge by what the Jesuits found on all sides.
Xavier reported to Rome his surprise on discovering (in the late 16th century) that: “here in Japan even women and children can read and write”. So much for the Admiral’s finding that the samurai were uneducated. Morison spent five years writing his 482-page biography, doing massive amounts of field research. And it is full of good stuff as regards life in the US Navy, yet he ended up with a ragbag of stereotypes in Japan. He sees the world through the eyes of his “hero,” the Commodore!
Edo was a beautiful orderly city where an absolute minimum of police—a merely symbolic presence—went through the motions of guarding the populace, while scarcely needed in the streets.
Today some 46,000 police are employed in Tokyo, while in Edo the total strength consisted of “Doshin” the samurai police officers and their “Okappiki” subordinates who were commoners, ran to 60, even including “Shitappiki” who were informers–there were 300 of them. That was all that was required to maintain safety in a vast, rambling city whose population of commoners was 700,000.
Basically, the population saw to its own needs.
Morality was strong. Neighbors took pride in helping each other when difficulties arose. Thefts and violence stood at a minimum and citizens took pride in resolving knotty situations without having resort to ever calling in the cops. To do that would immediately be seen as a failure.
Japan was a hunt Powers continuously watched for attack
All of a sudden, then, to hear that a flotilla of huge foreign ships had barged into coastal waters just off Edo Wan (Tokyo Bay) was awful, frightening, obscene. What Perry did was a flagrant breach of Japanese laws and regulations which called on all foreign ships to anchor and declare themselves at Nagasaki, 400 miles down the coast.
No one was able to predict their moves, but Edoites were sure of one thing, they said, the invaders would enter Edo and put fire to the city—as in a time of war. The Black Ships meant war—that was certain. However the populace reached this (mistaken) conclusion, it was sure that after 250 years of peace and stability the citizens of Edo were ill-equipped to deal with men from outer space.
Two ships out of the squadron of four ships—they were the Susquehanna, the old man’s flagship that day, and the storied Mississippi, a veteran of the Mexican War under Perry—had 20 shell guns on board and fat 8-meter high black chimney stacks built into them amidships, and these protuberances produced the smoke.
This was the first time that steamships appeared off Edo. Everything about them—above all the means of propulsion—was mysterious to the Japanese. They glided along, with their paddle wheels doing the driving—at a speed of 8-9 knots, quickly leaving any local costal craft behind them. Perry used the Susquehanna and the Mississippi interchangeably in the Edo Wan as his flagship.
These scenes were without precedent. The threat to the existing power structure in Japan was palpable—and immediate. What authority, what prestige and what power to act still remained in the hands of the Shogun and his officials in Edo. Every second that the Black
Ships remained where they were was another second of disaster. The Shogun, the Barbarian-Suppressing Generalissimo was losing (or had lost) his face.
Be fair to him. All over Asia at that time, change was afoot. As the crews of the Black Ships saw with their own eyes, on their way through the Straits of Malacca, even just a few decades after Sir Stamford Raffles had founded Singapore the waterfront he had selected to be the pivot of this outpost of the British Empire was alive and bustling with activity.
Godowns—small warehouses—had sprung up along the sea-front, British-style clubs and trading companies stood side-by-side. Here were steam-ships, already taken for granted.
It was the same story in Hong Kong. And this was where the Black Ships had assembled as a task force, for the first time. And made their preparations, and laid in additional stores. For example: advised by traders in Hong Kong that coal was in short supply Perry’s logistics people had signed off on as much as they could manage, and duly loaded the black stuff in the holds of the Black Ships—two out of four of which were sailing ships not steamships, and carried supplies. Perry’s people got used to working in a hard-driving if small Hong Kong community that had constructed a succession of waterfront facilities, as in Singapore, only more so.
As to Shanghai, Perry’s next port of call, it was the same story. The British had less of a hold there than in Hong Kong and Singapore. But everywhere roughly the same strategy was being employed in building up local logistics, with the trading companies of European background taking the lead, always or usually with a warship or two showing the flags—of France, the UK, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Asia was on fire with new opportunities given that China, India and Indonesia drew no lines on no maps to demarcate their countries. And natives were not treated as human beings.
For European Powers, first-come-first-served was the name of the game. Savage instincts prevailed on all sides. The strong preyed upon the weak. A prick of conscience was nonexistent. The world of White Supremacy had been firmly established. They believed it was the privilege of the White race to rule over the rest.
In such a savage party, Japan alone was not being seen. The Japanese would surely join in, they all agreed. That was the view in the clubs and watering-holes of the colonial powers.
Yet Japan was different—from China and India—in declining the honor. The Japanese were a proud and prickly lot, they were seen to be. The Japanese had a strong spirit of being independent.
As night fell on that July 8, 1853, someone tolled a temple bell, going on far into the night. Along the shores and on the headlands people lit signal fires or beacons. The message was “watch out!” People joined in lighting the beacons, setting the flames going all the way round the straits running into the Bay of Edo. Who tolled the bell? Who lit the beacons? Whoever they were, they had a message in common. Watch out! Anything can happen! That was just common sense.
All the Powers had a feeling that, crudely, Japan was up for grabs. One of the European powers would make a run at Japan, using force. Perry was watching the Russians as prime suspects, but all the western Powers had a feeling that Japan was there to be eaten.
“The Rape of Edo”
In recent times, the Japanese have tended to see a parallel between Perry and MacArthur, the two major military commanders on the US side in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively. In this connection, as I pressed on and read, my wife brought to me one day a
book by Kishida Shu, a historian of modern times and a psychologist living in Japan. Living in Japan, we have similar views on Perry the Bandit. Kishida makes play with the notion that Perry (and MacArthur after him) was guilty of “the Rape of Edo”. (Thus Kishida has chosen to echo Western allegations against Japan’s “the Rape of Nanking” in 1937 which some Japanese insist never took place. Hideaki Kase, who is the chairman of the Society for Inspecting the Truth of Nanking, proclaims that the Nanking Massacre is a fiction fabricated by the victorious nations of WWII at the Military Tribunal for the Far East (“Tokyo Trial”) for the purpose of counterbalancing the crimes they themselves committed. A thorough investigation has been done and its research results are presented in English at the Web site of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Facts.
Surely the so-called Tokyo Trial, which passed judgments on war criminals of the Pacific War, was a farce mounted for propaganda purposes to announce the justice of the winners.)
Kishida’s summing up of what many Japanese must feel is shocking and yet it rings true. He wrote: “Japan was raped, as it were, first by Commodore Perry, then by General MacArthur”. Kishida’s publication, “A Place for Apology,” which is sub-titled “War, Guilt and US-Japan Relations” was published in a translation by Tanaka Yukio from Hamilton Books in 2004 in America.
Is it time then to re-write the entire history of US-Japan relations, as seen from the American side? Well overdue, I would say. Not that anyone would expect immediate acquiescence from academia in America. Comment on that front has been so quiet in the 50 years or so that I spent coming and going from Japan.
The generally-accepted notion has been that Perry rendered a giant service to Japan by “opening” or “re-opening” the country to the outside world; and that, if it had not been Perry and the Black Ships that wrenched open Japan, admittedly rather abruptly (and breaking the Laws of Japan) then it would have been someone else—the British, fresh from grabbing large chunks of China in the aftermath of the Opium War, or the French, not content with grabbing almost all of Indochina, they wanted more: or the Germans, a bit late in the day for them but still; or the Russians, who had a fleet cruising the East, and snaffling bits of Sakhalin for themselves.
In other words, greed was not in short supply. In such a situation as Perry and his Black Ships immediately found out, when they had sailed round the world to Japan, they had to act quickly or they would be beaten to the punch by others. In this situation the jolly Americans, their confidence running high in the Pacific, which they saw as their own large pond forever, did not hesitate to plunge into Edo Japan. Brutally speaking, the lady was there for the taking. The Americans could pop into bed with the Sleeping Princess, rape the lady, make as if nothing untoward had occurred and rely on the Japanese to turn a blind eye, like now. Just like now, in fact.
MacArthur raised Perry’s Flag on the USS Missouri
The Pacific is the largest of the world’s half dozen oceans. Japan fought with the US in the Pacific theater, but it was not Japan which started the war on the Western Powers—if one goes back to the early 1930s. Asia, except the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand), Nepal and Japan, were colonized by the European Powers and America. China, too, was half-colonized by the British.
Siam and Nepal remained as buffer-states in the midst of the European Powers battle field for fighting one another to get colonial territories. Japan was the only independent nation left in Asia.
Perceiving Asian history from a Macro viewpoint, Perry and MacArthur—who forced Japan to sign surrender documents 100 years later—can clearly be placed on a single timeline. The responsibility for the eventual Pacific War rests on America.
Both men were unashamed exhibitionists. MacArthur with his corn cob pipe and tinted glasses and gladiatorial chin and Perry with his shock of jet black hair—just like a Broadway producer rather than the stern US Navy boss he was.
MacArthur himself reached the zenith of his power in the immediate aftermath of the Pacific War. MacArthur saw a parallel between himself and Perry.
The general chose to make this clear in unmistakable fashion when the war ended in 1945.
The signing ceremony for Japan’s surrender was held on September 2, 1945. Widely noted was General MacArthur’s decision to display Perry’s flag on the deck of the USS Missouri on the day of the surrender ceremony.
MacArthur ordered his staff to see to it that the ensign flag of Perry—the actual original—was displayed at the ceremony for signature of the documents ending the war. This flag belongs to the US Navy Academy Museum at Annapolis. It is a treasured item on display in that museum, usually, but just for this one event MacArthur had it flown out to Japan to hang on the Missouri’s quarter deck. And MacArthur acted as if he were a Perry reincarnate.
The signing ceremony was held in Tokyo Bay, just where Perry anchored his flagship, the Susquehanna. (For the Susquehanna read the Missouri.) America, finally, acquired America’s Far East Navy base which was the purpose of Perry’s arrival in Japan. And that’s exactly the US Navy Base Yokosuka today. Americans prefer showy productions. By raising Perry’s Stars and Stripes, MacArthur demonstrated that he accomplished America’s desire for over one century.
Chapter 2 Perry opened “Pandora’s Box”
Japan’s proposal at the Paris Conference to abolish racial discrimination
World history of the past 500 years is a grand drama of the Western Powers of white Christians ruling the nations of colored races as their colonies. In such a story, Japan is the unprecedented nation in world history which survived away from the colonial tide as if it were God’s miracle.
The Edo era of Japan is seen in world history from outside Japan, across the board, as a feudal age, but Edo flourished by the culture of the commoners. Certainly, there were social classes of samurai, farmers, manufacturers, and merchants, but society was fairly equal. Edo Japan was unbelievably safe and peaceful even by the standard of today’s civilized world.
Such egalitarianism cannot be observed outside Japan. It comes from our mental attitude of “wa”, or harmony, as respected by, Japanese people since ancient times. “Wa” is a unique Japanese value.
Edo was the world’s biggest city state. Peace reigned there. Time was available to build a society based on equality. It is worthy to note that this Japanese spirit of equality was behind a Japanese proposal made at the Paris Conference held right after WWI.
The Allied nations which won the WWI gathered outside Paris in January 1919 to discuss treatment for Germany. This is known as the Versailles Peace Conference (Paris Conference). Japan was one of the Allied nations. At this conference, the post-war order of the world, including the foundation of the League of Nations, was discussed by the leaders of the governments involved.
On February 13, Japan proposed to add a text to Article 21 which stated the equality of all religions. Japan’s request was that equal sovereignty among nations should be the fundamental principle of the League of Nations and all nationals of the Member States should be given equal and fair treatment and guaranteed that no discrimination is practiced legally, practically, racially and in terms of their nationality. Then equality of religion regulation itself was removed and a Proposal for Abolition of Racial Discrimination was presented in return.
The chairman of the Paris conference was the President of the US, Woodrow Wilson. He faced public opinion in America which was strongly opposed saying that it was interference in the internal affairs of other nations. In America, black people were called “niggers” and discriminated against legally as well as socially. The US Senate voted not to ratify the treaty if such a text was approved.
Prime Minister Hughes of White Australia left the conference room, saying he would reject signing and go home. America, Australia and the UK were the countries that adhered to racial discrimination.
On April 11, Japan proposed again that the statement calling for fair treatment of individuals as well as equality should be included.
England and Australia opposed Japan’s proposal. And Chairman Wilson who was the US President demanded that the Japanese Representative withdraw his proposal, saying this matter was an issue which should be treated quietly.
Nobuaki Makino, the chief Japanese representative, who was a former Japanese Foreign Minister, would not follow Chairman Wilson’s demand and requested a vote. Although Britain, America, Poland, Brazil and Rumania opposed, 11 countries, mostly minor, out of 16 countries attending voted for the Japanese proposal. Thus, the proposal won a majority
and was approved.
Nonetheless, Chairman Wilson, the US president, announced that the voting itself was invalid because it was not “a solid vote”.
Makino still demanded that the conference accept the majority vote but Wilson insisted that “important issues like this one required a solid vote in the past. But, at least no objection is needed to proceed the meeting”. Makino unwillingly accepted Wilson’s decision.
Instead of withdrawing Japan’s proposal, Makino demanded it should be recorded in the Minutes that Japan proposed Principle of Equality among Races and the majority result of the vote. This demand was accepted.
Now the President of the United States is black, but such a thing would be totally unbelievable back then. Black people were taken to America as slaves and traded like goods or domestic animals. Whites did not treat colored people the same as human beings, except for black women, who were treated as sex slaves by white men. Black women, in this regard, were treated as “semi-human beings”. Even now there are no black children who do not have white males as their ancestor in America.
In western history, both North and South America were regarded as “New Continents,” but there is no way that both continents suddenly emerged out of the ocean. Continents existed originally there.
In North America, Native Americans (“Indians”) lived there before westerners appeared. But white westerners, cruelly massacred non-Christian, colored people as if they were hunting wild animals and built a Christian country, and that is America.
In South America, the same kinds of things happened. Asia is the same. White Christian nations invaded countries of colored races and practiced exploitation and discrimination under colonial rule.
Japanese are not white, they are a colored race. So the proud Japanese were not able to overlook such whites’ high-handedness.
Behind Makino’s proposal for abolishing racial discrimination at the Paris Peace Conference stood the reality of such a nasty world.
Despite the fact that the proposal for abolishing racial discrimination was approved by an overwhelming majority of 11 to 5, Chairman Wilson, the US president, ignored the vote result saying that it was not a “solid vote”. Such behavior would be unacceptable in today’s more civilized world.
The Philippines under Spanish rule for over 300 years
What had happened in Asian countries under white Christians’ colonial rule?
The Philippines were ruled by America from the late 19th century but before that the country was under Spanish colonial rule. Columbus “discovered” the American continent in1492. At that time, Spain and Portugal were struggling for the mastery of the world.
Ferdinand Magellan, born in northern Portugal, joined an eastward route expedition at the age of 25 and went as far as the Malay Peninsula. Then he changed his nationality to Spanish and served King Charles of Spain, searching for a westward route. Leading his fleet, consisting of the flagship “Trinidad” and 5 others, and 237 crew members, he left on a westward route expedition on September 20, 1519.
Crossing the ocean he himself named “Pacifico,” meaning peaceful ocean, in 3 months and 20 days, he finally arrived at the Philippines toward the evening of March 16, 1521. He anchored off Suluan Island, located at the entrance to Leyte Bay. This anchorage, incidentally, became exactly the same point where Americans landed first, 423 years later on
October 17, 1944, after Japan had the Philippines regain its independence during WWII.
Magellan landed on the island of Homonhon in Leyte Bay on March 17 and Limasawa on March 28. He conducted the first Mass on an Easter Sunday on March 31. In the evening of that day, Magellan erected a cross on top of the hill looking down on the sea and he named the Philippine islands “San Lazarus Archipelago” because March 16, the day he arrived in the Philippines, was the Sabbath of St. Lazarus. Upon completion of a series of ceremonies commemorating his sacred mission, Magellan reached Cebu Island on April 7 and fired a salvo to announce his arrival.
Through coercion, using force of arms, Magellan formed an “alliance” with Humabon, the Cebu King, on the same day and started his Christian missionary work. Within the day, he baptized about 800 people including the Queen of Humabon and the Prince. In a couple of days, he baptized over 2,200 people.
Once Magellan captured Cebu Island, he made his move to nearby Mactan Island. He proposed to Rajah (King) Humabon of Cebu that he would fight together with Rajah Humabon if anyone rose against him.
Lapu-Lapu of Mactan Island, however, declined Magellan’s demand to subordinate himself to Rajah Humabon by saying “I will not be subordinate to any kings or powers nor will I pay tribute to anyone. If an enemy would challenge us, we will fight to death with our bamboos and clubs”. Magellan was upset and headed for Mactan Island with 60 of his subordinates and 1000 followers of Rajah Humabon on April 26. Due to the shallows and coral-reef, Magellan’s ships were not able to get closer to the shore. The next morning, Magellan took 49 of his armored men to get closer to the shore and started firing salvos.
Lapu-Lapu’s force, however, did not turn their backs but instead, they protected themselves with their shields and shot hundreds of arrows. Magellan, in return, set fire to private houses.
This set off more fighting and stimulated Lapu-Lapu’s forces to fight back. At last, a poisoned arrow hit Magellan’s right leg. This gave Magellan a mortal wound and he died. To give Magellan his quietus, Lapu-Lapu is said to have chopped off his head.
According to western history, Magellan tried his glorious undertaking of going around the world, crossed the Pacific, reached the Philippines and was unfortunately killed by an aboriginal. But this is history from the Western point of view.
In the Philippines’ history textbooks, it is described differently.
“The battle of Mactan was a proud record of the Philippines defending its independence from foreign invaders for the first time.”
The Philippines was ruled as a colony by Spain for about 350 years (by Britain for two years from 1762), and then on August 13, 1898 the Spanish army surrendered to American forces, which came to invade. On December 10, a treaty was signed between Spain and America. Without giving any independent consideration toward the Philippines, the Philippines became American territory in 1899.
The End of the Myth of Whites’ Invincibility and Japan
For the next forty-some years, America colonized the Philippines. Incidentally, the American commander then was the father of Douglas MacArthur, who occupied Japan in 1945. In the Philippines, protest against colonial rule by Spain, Britain and America occurred continuously without rest. The turning point of the Philippines’ independence happened in 1941 when Japan landed and placed the Philippines under military administration. MacArthur had succeeded his father in command in the Philippines, but deserted to Australia, leaving his famous excuse, “I shall return.”
MacArthur was a self-centered man. Thus, he said “I shall return.” If he were a military officer of a democratic nation, he should have said, “We shall return.”
In 1943, Japan let the Philippines become an independent state. On August 15, 1945, Japan stopped its military action. America made The Republic of the Philippines independent in 1946, but it was Japan which gave the Philippines their noble spirit of independence.
Professor Letizia R. Constantino of the History Department of the Philippines University set aside one Chapter in his book entitled “The End of the Myth of White Invincibility,” saying that “Japan’s military advance to East Asia, in many respects, was a powerful force to liberate Asia. The Army of Imperial Japan quickly captured Hong Kong, Burma, Indo-China, India where Western Imperial powers had their forts. This surprised various races who believed Whites were Invincible.”
Collapse of the notion of White “Invincibility” started from the impact of Japan’s victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, which was simply shocking.
But, as Professor Constantino says, the series of Japanese victories at the beginning of WWII (Japan named the war “The Great East Asian War”) completely destroyed the illusion of White Invincibility. This gave the Philippines a great shock as well as a great hope.
Unlike western rulers who colonized Asia, Japan taught fellow Asians the spirit of racial self-determination. Japanese never forgot the humiliation of being forced to accept unequal treaties by the Western powers. Japan worked for the foundation of Asian countries. The Japanese army gave military training to local youths. Such training became a great help when Asian countries including the Philippines moved to become independent.
Japanese people who experienced the end of the Edo era knew that Christian white people were the only humans who committed murder and pillage in Asian countries. So we can imagine how shocking it was for the people of Edo when the Black Ships came to Uraga. Especially, when they came in warships equipped with shell guns, the state of the art military technology at that time.
Achievement of the Japanese for Indonesia’s Independence
Colonial rule in Indonesia began when the Dutch dispatched their navy in 1596. Sadly, Indonesians had no way to fight back. These Dutch established their East India Company in 1602. Seven years later, the Dutch Governor-General’s Office opened in Java. Three hundred fifty years or so of colonial rule by the Dutch ended in 1942 when the Japanese army advanced to Indonesia. The Dutch Army surrendered in only 7 days—not wanting to die.
An Indonesian legend has it that God’s soldiers, led by a hero riding a white horse, helped Indonesia to become independent. Japan’s advance reminded Indonesian people of the coming of those legendary soldiers of God. The Japanese Army was the Army of the Myth.
Dr. George Hueu Sanford Kanahele raises 4 points as to Japan’s role in his book entitled “Japanese Military Rule and Indonesian Independence”:
1. Banned the use of Dutch and English. Due to this, Indonesian spread as the official language.
2. Gave military training to Indonesian youth. Thus, young Indonesian people learned strict rules, endurance and courage.
3. Swept away the Dutch authorities and gave those high posts to Indonesians. This improved Indonesians’ ability and responsibility.
4. Established Putra (as a civil organization) and Hoko-kai (a voluntary service society)in Java and built its network and chapters across the country. The Japanese taught
Indonesians how to operate these nation-wide network organizations.
Until then, the official language of Indonesia was Dutch. But the Japanese military authority allowed Indonesian people to use Indonesian – and Japanese.
It is widely said that Japan invaded Asian countries during WWII. But how come the invaded country provided military training to the youth of the country being invaded, trained their mental skills, gave them high position and helped them build nation-wide organizations where people got together to unite, and taught them how to manage such organizations? These facts certainly prove that Japan was not the country which invaded Indonesia.
It is correct to say that Japan made all efforts possible to let Asian countries be independent. Independent from whom? Of course, from the rule of the Western countries which colonized them.
Needless to say, Japan fought “the Great East Asian War” for their “security” to begin with. MacArthur endorsed this in his statement made at the Public Hearing of the Senate Military Affairs and A Diplomatic Joint Committee from May 3, 1951 for 5 days. “Their (Japanese) purpose, therefore, in going to war was largely dictated by security.” Japan fought for its own security, but once the war broke out, they were highly moved, with strong passion, to build Asia for Asian people. This is another fact. Making Asian countries independent was such a great contribution to International Society.
Why the Independence Day 17-8-05
The Japanese Army established PETA in Indonesia. PETA is an abbreviation of Pembela Tanah Air in Indonesian, which means Defenders of the Homeland. Its members exceeded 38,000. Leaders of independent Indonesia, such as President Soeharto, Vice President Umaru, Defense Minister Surono, etc., were from PETA. PETA was the mother of the Indonesian National Army after independence.
Japan was defeated on August 15, 1945. Indonesian Independence was declared by Hatta and Sukarno on August 17.
Defeated Japan was afraid of the winning countries’ retaliation against Japan and its allies in Asia, so Japan opposed Hatta and Sukaruno strongly on declaring independence, but the two men proceeded to declare independence.
It is worthy of note that historically memorable Indonesian Independence Day is recorded as “17-8-’05.”
17-8 means August 17. What of “’05,” meaning the Year five? Many Indonesians are Muslim, but this does not refer to the Islamic calendar. Needless to say, this does not refer to the Christian calendar. Muslim Indonesian people would certainly not accept the colonial rulers’ Christian calendar. Then, what is this ’05, the Fifth Year?
At the center of Jakarta is Merdeka Park. Besides raising statues of Hatta and Sukarno, the Indonesians also raised a 37-meter tall Memorial Tower of Independence. On the first floor of the basement, there is the original statement of the Declaration of Independence on which we can find the signatures of Hatta and Sukarno. On this document as well the date is clearly written as 17-8-’05.
The Fifth Year, ’05, in fact, refers to the Japanese “Imperial Calendar.” The year 1945 is, according to the Japanese Imperial Calendar, the 2605th year since the first Emperor, Jimmu, ascended to the Imperial throne and officially founded Japan.
Hatta and Sukaruno used Japan’s Imperial Calendar to express their gratitude to Japan, for Japan was the mother of Indonesia’s independence. Thus they used Japan’s “Emperor’s
Calendar” to celebrate their Independence Day in their Declaration of Independence document.
If Japan were the country that invaded Indonesia, Indonesian leaders and their people would have never accepted recording the day they declared their independence using Japan’s “Imperial Calendar.” This fact alone is enough to collapse, from the bottom, the Western historical view that Japan fought a war of invasion into Asia.
Nevertheless, it is surprising to learn that most of the Japanese today believe their country invaded Asian countries. Why is this? After the war, the Japanese became eager merchants, but such a historical recognition of today’s Japanese people is equivalent to selling their own history to the winning nations of WWII as well as the countries which hate Japan.
In the Defense Ministry building in Ichigaya, there is a statue of General Stillman, a military commander at that time of the Indonesian Independence Army, given by the government of Indonesia. Stillman was also a PETA member. The Defense Ministry building is located where the illegal Tokyo Trial was held.
Japan was the defeated country tried by the winning nations of WWII at the Tokyo Trial, in which Japan was charged with “Opposing Peace,” a charge which never existed before the Trial. And what was going on in Indonesia when Japan was being tried at the Tokyo Trial?
1000 Japanese Soldiers Died in Indonesia’s War of Independence
Although Japan was defeated in WWII, a spirit of independence was burning among people across Indonesia. But the Dutch Army, then, came back to invade Indonesia once again, and to colonize their former colony.
Under Dutch colonial rule the Indonesian people were obedient like sheep so the Dutch Army figured there wouldn’t be so much resistance. But this time, the situation was different. PETA was built up by the Japanese Army as its central force, so Indonesian people fought against the Dutch Army which once more invaded Indonesia.
In order to fight the War of Independence, Indonesian people needed weapons.
At that time, however, the Japanese Total Army Southward signed a surrender agreement–which called for disarmament–with Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia. Thus, the Japanese Army was not able to, officially, provide fellow Indonesian friends with weapons. The Japanese had been wanting to see Asian liberation from the “White Devil” – as Whites were called from the end of the Edo Era—so, from their true tone, the Japanese Army wanted to provide Indonesians with weapons. Thus, the Japanese Army let the Indonesian Independence Army steal weapons and intentionally left behind their weapons.
The Japanese Army, before their defeat, taught Indonesian youth how to fly airplanes. Japan was subject to a sea blockade toward the end of the war and the mainland lacked oil. To train pilots, Japan had transported many training planes to Indonesia where oil fields are available. In the battle of Java, a part of the War of Independence, the Japanese Army’s biplane exercise planes were painted with half of the Japanese flag’s red sun shown in white to make it look like Indonesian flag and these planes were used to bomb the Dutch Army. As there were no bomb release mechanisms, the pilots threw their bombs with their own hands. The color of the Indonesian flag is red and white, symbolizing the Japanese national flag with its white base and red-colored Rising Sun. In the yard of the War Museum in Jakarta, a training plane with the Indonesian colors, in disguise of the Japanese Rising Sun, is proudly presented.
In central Java, Communist radicals organized armed groups and aimed at attaining
independence through the Communist Party. The Communist Party spread their propaganda, such as “The Japanese Army was a tool of the Allies, which was an enemy of Indonesian independence,” or “The Japanese poisoned drinking water,” etc.
Knowing that the Japanese Army was not able to fight back, the Communists stole weapons and killed Japanese civilians. The official residence of the Defense Commander in central Java was attacked and the Brigade Commander was imprisoned. Thirty-one navy officers and soldiers were abducted. A battalion of Infantry Regiment 14, which was keeping the peace, with no alternative, started to engage with the purpose of preserving the peace and rescuing abducted Japanese. Japanese troops occupied the base of Communist radicals and raided Blue Prison where the Japanese were imprisoned. About 300 Japanese were rescued but 130 or so were found cruelly murdered.
In the cells of Blue Prison, 35 Japanese civilians, attached or non-attached to the military, were put in each cell. The total imprisoned was about 400. Also Dutch and Dutch- Indonesian citizens were imprisoned.
When the Japanese Army attacked, the Communists fought back using machine guns they stole from the Japanese Army. The Japanese Army suppressed the Communists and entered the Prison, where they found piles of murdered bodies in a sea of blood. They had been speared and then killed by grenades. Dying Japanese wrote their last testament on the walls. Teragaki Toshio, an Administrative Office wrote in his own blood: “Die For a Great Cause”. Others wrote “Banzai for the Emperor,” “Banzai for Indonesian independence,” “Merdeka,” which means “independence” in Indonesian. These characters were all written on the wall in blood.
For the Japanese at that time, liberation of their fellow Asian countries was a great cause. Today’s Japanese have lost such a spirit. Many Japanese are immersed in self-centered pursuits such as international cooperation and contribution and allowing government budgets to spend a part of their salary through taxation.
Today, Japan has lost respect from Asian countries. This is, perhaps, because Japan obediently follows America, seeking only economic profit, and lost the noble spirit Japanese people had till they lost WWII. The country which loses its history lacks dignity.
In a cemetery for war heroes in Katariba, located in the suburb of Jakarta, many Japanese are buried. They were the ones who joined the Indonesian Independence Army and fought against the British and Dutch after Japan was defeated on August 15, 1945. For them, Japan’s surrender was not the end of the “Great East Asian War”. In the Indonesian War of Independence, over 2,000 Japanese soldiers stayed in Indonesia and fought together with Indonesian people. And half of them died for Indonesian Independence. In Vietnam, the French Army came back to make Vietnam their colony again. In Vietnam as well, many Japanese stayed on after Japan’s surrender and died for the independence of Vietnam.
British rule of India and Chandra Bose
In India, Britain established the East India Company in 1600 and started their colonial rule. Furthermore, Britain established the East Indian Company in Madras in 1637, in Bombay in 1661 and in Calcutta in 1690. Further invasions continued with the Battle of Plassey in 1764, My Soul War in 1799, Maratha in 1819 and Sikh in 1845. Likewise, Britain expanded its area of colonial rule. From 1857 till 1859, the famous Rebellion of Sepoys took place. It was an anti-British civilian rebellion.
The Japanese Meiji Restoration was in 1867 and Japan opened its doors to the outside
world. At almost the same time in India, Mahatma Gandhi was born in 1869. And in 1877, the Indian Empire, featuring direct colonial rule of the whole of India by the British, was founded. Queen Victoria came to the throne as the “Empress of India”. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born, in the midst of the British Indian invasion, in 1857.
Mahatma Gandhi fought against British colonial rule using a nonviolence philosophy. Mahatma means “Sacred Master”. Contrary-wise, Bose was a war-hawk. During WWII, Bose, with Japan’s support, formed his Indian National Army (INA) and fought in battle as a commander. Bose is called Netaji, meaning “great leader,” in India, even now. He is respected as a hero in his birthplace of Bengal.
Bose was from a prestigious family. He became mayor of Calcutta at the age 33. Then at 41, he became chairman of the National Congress, the same position that Nehru held. Under British colonial rule, he led the movement to destroy various British memorials, statues, etc. built all across India. He was put in prison due to this, but escaped from the prison. He walked across Afghanistan and reached Germany.
Bose was treated warmly and nicely. In Germany, he organized a volunteer army, recruiting Indians in Germany—Indian POWs of the British Army dispatched to the war in Africa.
Bose met Hitler and asked him to support the independence of India. But Hitler declined, flatly saying, “It would take another 150 years or more for India to come to have their own self-government administration”. Hitler wanted to take advantage of Bose for Germany’s anti-British activities, but Hitler himself, being an elite student of White Supremacy and looking down on Asians as Untermensch (which means inferior human, sub-human, sub-man or under man), never considered independence for India.
Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, instead, addressed a session of the Imperial Diet after the fall of Singapore, saying: “It is high time for India to join the Great East Asian Prosperity Sphere, getting away from the atrocity of British colonial rule.”
Bose Address at Hibiya Public Hall
The same year, in 1942, the August Incident occurred in India. The National Congress passed their resolution, “Britain, Get Out of India” and anti-British protest demonstrations were seen across the country. Britain suppressed the demonstration, without any mercy, flying Spitfires and spraying the demonstrators with machine-gun fire. Nine-hundred forty Indians were killed and over 60,000 were arrested.
At about that time, the Japanese government decided to support Bose. Under an agreement of the Japanese and German governments, Bose headed for Japan by sea. On February 8, 1943, Bose left the German military port of Kiel by U-boat and then transferred to a Japanese submarine off Madagascar. Then he took a Japanese military plane from a base in occupied Japanese territory and arrived in Tokyo on May 16, 1943.
Bose met Navy Minister Shimada, Chief of Navy General Staff Nagano, Foreign Minister Shigemitsu, and then met Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. Bose attended a press conference of domestic and foreign journalists, gave a radio address to India, and then gave a speech for 2 hours from the stage of Hibiya Public Hall.
“About 40 years ago when I started going to elementary school, a country of one of the Asian races, Japan, fought against one of the world’s largest white empires, Russia, and Russia was defeated completely. When this news reached all across India, a wave of excitement covered the entire land.”
“At every corner of the country, people enthusiastically talked about the Battle of Port Arthur, the Battle of Mukden, and the thrilling story of the Naval Battle in the Sea of Japan
(the Battle of Tsushima). Indian children honestly adored Admiral Togo and General Nogi.”
“Parents competed to buy the pictures of Admiral Togo or General Nogi in vain. They bought goods made in Japan, instead of the pictures, from the market and ornamented their houses with them as “light of hope of Asia”.
“Revolutionists of India visited Japan to learn how Japan was able to defeat a white superpower, Russia. From Japan, Tenshin Okakura and other leading philosophers visited India and lectured about the spirit to save Asia. Tenshin Okakura insisted “Asia is one”. He was a great pioneer.”
“This time Japan declared war against Britain, the long-time enemy of India. Japan has given us the best opportunity to be independent. We realize its significance and thank Japan from the bottom of our hearts.”
“Once we miss this opportunity, we would not be able to have the same opportunity for another 100 years or more. Victory is in our hands and we firmly believe India will accomplish our goal of being independent.”
On October of 1943, which was the 66th year since Queen Victoria ascended as the throne as the Empress of “Indian Empire”, the Free India Provisional government was established.
At the Convention in Singapore, Bose was nominated to be the head of the Provisional Government by unanimous applause. In his address, Bose declared “On to Deli,” which was a historical start of the march that headed for their Indian homeland.
Indian National Army (INA) officers and soldiers, together with the Japanese Army, undertook Operation Imphal, crossing the border between Burma and India. Shouting “On to Deli” and putting up boards on which the same message was written, they advanced. チャロ・デリー became a military song and sung by many Indians even today. Bose encouraged officers and soldiers saying: “Raise our national flag on the Red Fort.”
The Provisional Government of Free India, together with Japan, declared war against Britain and America. In the fall of the same year (1943) the Great East Asia Conference was held from November 5, for 6 days, in Tokyo. Asia’s national leaders, Prime Minister Tojo, Ahang Jinghui (Prime Minister of Manchuria), Wang Jingwei (Chairman of the Nanking Government), Jose P. Laurel (President of Philippines), Ba Maw (Prime Minister of Burma), Prince Wan Waithayakon (Acting Prime Minister of Thailand), gathered together. Subhas Chandra Bose attended as a representative of India.
This was the first Summit of the colored races ever in the entire history of humanity. This was the beginning of bringing Equality of Races to mankind. Truly, it was an outstanding achievement for Japan.
Today, not a few Japanese scholars regard this conference as if it were a gathering of the Japanese military’s “puppet government” leaders for propaganda purposes. But the Japanese who say such a thing are the “puppets” of foreign powers which intend to control the spirit of Japanese people.
Bose made his address after the Great East Asian Joint Declaration was unanimously approved. He appealed that this declaration be not only for fellow Asians but also “for all the people of the world who are suffering from suppression as the Charter for Equality of Human Rights.”
Bose arrived back in Japan again in November, 1944, but circumstances surrounding Japan became totally different. From March 1944, Japan, together with INA, advanced into India in the Imphal Operation. But due to logistics, food and ammunition were not adequately supplied. In June, they were forced to give up Kohima and from that point they were routed and retreated. Saipan was taken by America in July of 1944. Japan lost its island territories starting from Peleliu in September, and then Guam, Tinian, etc. Under such circumstances,
Bose made his address again in Hibiya Public Hall. Bose was extremely eloquent: “Indian people living in Asia will share the fate with Japan, putting all human and material resources.”
Liberation of Asia was impossible without Japan’s support. Japan was defeated in 1945 but not Bose. At that time, some 2,600 soldiers from the INA’s Imphal Operation and a newly formed Division which was under training in the Malay Peninsula were in Bangkok. Bose made a plan to utilize these forces to advance on Delhi. First, move them to Northern China and, with Soviet support, further relocate them to Central Asia and then to India.
Bose left Saigon and arrived in Taipei on August 18. He took a Japanese transport aircraft for Dalian, but the airplane crashed due to engine trouble on its way. Bose was critically wounded. He told his deputy, “I devoted all my life for our motherland’s independence. I will die now, but the battle must continue.” These words became his last, and thus ended his life of battle with Britain.
People’s Death in the Battle of Imphal Isn’t a Death Like a Dog
Britain aimed to convict INA officers of treason. They had pointed their guns at the King of Britain. Out of the 19,000 remaining soldiers of the INA, three officers were chosen–one Hindu, one Moslem and one Sikh–and tried in a military court. The Red Fort was used for this purpose. The Hindu religion, the Moslem faith and the Sikh faith are the three major faiths in India and the three officers were chosen to symbolize India. The trial began on November 5, 1945. Spontaneous protests occurred all across India, demanding an immediate halt to the illegal trial, the release of the accused, the return of Indian sovereignty and the expulsion of all British, back to their own country.
Renzo Sawada was a former Japanese Ambassador to Burma. He was dispatched from Japan to Burma when Burma became independent through the efforts of Japan. At a defense attorneys’ meeting to defend India, Sawada said: “You should insist that the INA was a puppet of the Japanese Army and Indian officers and soldiers were, against their will, forced to join by the Japanese Army. That way you can lighten the charges against you. I think that is a good approach.”
The Indian attorneys became upset and said to Sawada in unison: “You should not look down on the Indian people. The INA was an independent army, on an equal stance with the Japanese Army, and together we proceeded with joint operations. It was not a puppet army. We never want you to say such a thing. Even if the accused are all sentenced to death, as a result, the Indian people will have no regrets.”
Protest expanded immediately across the country. In Calcutta, where Bose was born, 100,000 people joined the protest. Around the Red Fort, several hundred people were shot to death or injured because British officers ordered the police to fire on them. At last, all the Indian people stood up against British rule. Britain was not able to do anything to resolve the situation and ended up announcing that the UK abandoned exacting a penalty on the accused.
In New Delhi, a big gathering was held to celebrate the release of the three accused Indian officers. At the center of the meeting, a huge portrait of Chandra Bose was put up and the released officers were welcomed with huge applause and enthusiastic cheers, as if they were returning heroes making a triumphal entry.
But the Commanding General in India of the British Army, General Auchinleck, said, “As for the three, we decided not to reprieve [?] them, but non-humanitarian crimes such as murder or torture should be punished in accordance with the law. How many Indians were
tortured or slaughtered during several hundred years of British rule? Protests occurred here and there, and in Calcutta, 19 people were shot to death when the police fired on them.
Following the civilian protest, at long last, Indian officers and soldiers, showing their patriotic spirit, stood up. At military ports and barracks, they pulled down British flags and engaged combat with the British Army.”
Nonetheless, Britain planned a parade to celebrate the victory over Japan in New Delhi on February 7. Fifteen-thousand officers and soldiers were supposed to be reviewed, but in New Delhi, all houses raised flags at half mast and all stores, schools, and factories were closed and people went out to protest. Watching news reports of this protest, we can see some of the demonstrators were holding Japanese national flags. The Japanese people should be proud of this. At that time, Japan was under American occupation. News reporting was strictly censored so the reality was not reported in Japan. On August 15, 1947, India, for the first time in 200 years, ended British colonial rule and attained independence.
After India became independent the Indian chief counsel made his remark about the “trial of revenge” held at the Red Fort. “Japan organized the Indian National Army, armed them and had them advance to the Red Fort. This led to people’s protest movements all across India and, finally, had Britain approve our independence. India’s independence is attributable to the Japanese Army.”
In today’s Japan, the Battle of Imphal is regarded as reckless folly. It is believed that many Japanese soldiers died like dogs. The mountain road along which retreating Japanese soldiers died is called “Skeleton Avenue” and is a focus of criticism. But if we look at history from a bird’s-eye view, the Battle of Imphal, for which the Japanese Army paid a huge sacrifice, has brilliant significance. The spirits of the deceased Japanese and INA officers and soldiers advanced to Delhi to realize the independence of India. Japan was “wounded all over” and surrendered, but achieved the miracle of liberating the colored races from white colonial rule.
Disclosed Secret Operation Plan of Advancing on Mainland Japan
Towards the end of WWII, America made a plan to advance into mainland Japan. The classified operational plan has been kept at the US National Archives in Washington and disclosed in 2006. Each page of the document is stamped “Top Secret”. The document consists of two parts: a landing operation of Kyushu Island and an invasion of the Kanto area of “Honshu,” the main island of Japan.
The Kyushu landing operation is named “Operation Olympic” and was approved by President Truman and the secret order was given on July 24, 1945 to the Commanders of Land, Sea, and Air of the Pacific Theater: General Douglas MacArthur, Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Henry Arnold.
According to this operational plan, in the early morning of November 1, 1945, under the command of Raymond Ames Spruance, the Commander of the Fifth Fleet, 14 Divisions were to be loaded on 3,000 ships, including 66 aircraft carriers rushed to the area around Miyazaki City, Ariake Bay, and a beach in Kagoshima City.
On November 4, a landing was planned in the area near Mt. Kaimondake. Prior to that, on October 27, islands around Kyushu were to be occupied and bases built for airplanes with floats and radar facilities.
The areas to land along the beach near Miyazaki were given the names of automobiles Americans were proud of, such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford. Landing operations were scheduled to include some ships from the British Far East Fleet, and as a
gesture toward Britain, the automobile name of Austin was added. According to the disclosed documents, for the Kyushu invasion operation alone, over 250,000 American casualties were estimated.
The code name for the landing operation in the Kanto Plain was “Operation Coronet” and the plan was to land 28 Divisions in Sagami Bay on March 1, 1946. The number of soldiers to be used was twice the amount of the Kyushu landing operation. Stubborn resistance by Japanese soldiers and civilians was foreseen so casualties would mount to a considerable number. Major General Willoughby, MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence, estimated that US casualties would rise to at least one million, if the conflict persisted up to the end of 1946.
A Vicious Plot American Government Played
Washington was worried about America’s cost for advancing onto the Japanese mainland. The documents disclosed that America threw twice as much force as the Japanese into every single operation to fight against the Japanese. Until then America, applied “Operation Leap Frog” to capture various islands scattered in the Pacific up to Iwo Jima (Iwo-to in Japanese). But in the case of an American landing on mainland Japan, much larger numbers of Japanese would fight, including civilians, and doubling the Japanese would be tough. Japanese soldiers were known to fight crazily to death as if they were possessed by Satan or something. So it was estimated that severe battles would last until 1947 even if America put into play all the might they possessed.
According to this classified document, Japan was expected to resort to “Kamikaze” suicide attacks from land, sea, and air without relenting and that considerable amounts of American blood would be lost. In fact, after their Occupation, America found, at the time of their defeat, Japan had kept, in strong hangars, a total of 12,725 airplanes—fighters, bombers, reconnaissance planes etc. –including 5,651 Army airplanes and 2,074 Navy airplanes. Thus, it was foreseen, for Japan’s surrender, if the United Nations demanded unconditional surrender, even if atomic bombs were dropped, the Japanese would never stop resisting. So the American government, with a suggestion of former US Ambassador and then Secretary of State, Joseph Clark Grew, came up with a vicious plot.
To force Japan to surrender, America decided to offer “Conditional Surrender,” taking advantage of maintaining the Imperial system as its bait. On July 26, 1945, President Harry S. Truman took his initiative to have a summit meeting of America and Britain at Potsdam, in a suburb of Berlin. At that time, the government of Chiang Kai-shek was not invited but later they joined. America was having a difficult time due to Japan’s strength, and tempted the Soviet Union to enter the war against Japan. Thus, the Soviet Union joined in the Potsdam Declaration and, on August 8, ignored the Russo-Japanese Non-Aggression Pact, and invaded Japan.
The Potsdam Declaration demanded the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Army, but to the Japanese government, it was a conditional one as it clearly stated, “Our conditions are as follows” and then listed the conditions. But once Japan was occupied and disarmed, America, as if by magic, pretended that Japan had surrendered unconditionally.
Taking the Japanese Emperor as a hostage, America threatened Japan that they would make the Emperor sit in the dock of the accused and would not guarantee his life unless Japan obeyed whatever America demanded. So Japan had to agree to whatever America demanded.
America’s occupation lasted over 6 years, which is much longer than the three and a half years of war. America physically destroyed Japan and then tried their best to destroy the Japanese spirit. That is what America needed time for.
What is “Pandora’s Box”?
Thoughtlessly, Commodore Matthew Perry, opened “Pandora’s Box” when he came to Japan in 1853 in his Black Ships. I am sure that all of you know what Pandora’s Box signifies.
Pandora is a goddess from ancient Greece. She was the only goddess in the world. The Supreme god, Zeus, gave her a beautiful box on one condition—that she never open it; of course, she opened the box. The box contained all of the evil things in this world. The contents of the box burst out and that is what happened with Perry.
He had no idea what was coming. But this is what happened to him. Following his arrival, Edo has completely changed in a very short period of time. The peaceful, prosperous Japanese culture of the Edo Era and the people’s life style were completely destroyed.
Perry was so ridiculously insolent that he did not understand the outcome of what he had done: he destroyed beautiful Japan of the Edo Era. The only historical perspective he had was that of White Supremacy. He never understood the consequences of bursting open Pandora’s Box. In any event, one major outcome was the industrialization of this country. Japan made desperate efforts to imitate Western Powers in order to elude and survive from their poison fangs. The Japanese are a talented race, so quickly Japan succeeded in industrialization, and sought to build herself up as a Great Power to challenge China in the1890s and Russia in the decade that followed. Then Japan became one of the winning nations in World War I and finally confronted the United States, just 70 years ago, at Pearl Harbor. All of this began with Perry.
The Perry-like side of America brought about the US-Japan war which lasted for 3 years and 8 months in which a lot of descendants from the city of Edo were massacred.
In the end, after all of the evil had burst out of Pandora’s Box, what was left in the box was hope.
Human history was able to welcome an ideal world where equality of all races was realized and no colonies exist any more as Japan had stood up for the Great East Asian War.
Perry, in fact, triggered Japan to stand up to attain such an ideal. In talking about history, asking “If” may not be allowed, but if Perry had not come into Uraga with his Black Ships and insulted the pride of the Japanese, world history would have turned out in quite a different way.
If Perry had not come, Japan would never have been frightened by the threat of greedy Western imperialism, built up her country with the policy of becoming a wealthy and strong country, applying militarism as her national policy to become one of the Great Powers.
Japan was cornered up to December 7, 1941 once Perry’s Black Ships showed their shade of ill omen in the Bay of Edo, and, finally, the country was reduced to ashes.
But as a result, the colored races, for the first time in human history, were lit up by the candlelight of hope and the human dream of equality of the races came true. Many independent countries were born in Asia and Africa, disobeying the will of the Christian God.
Japan, by producing the 20th Century Myth of Equality of All Races, reproduced Japan’s ancient Myth of World Creation in the 20th Century. For all human beings not only for Whites, Japan created a New Mythology by creating a New World of Racial Equality. Japan was the Hope of the Human World. Yes, Perry opened “Pandora’s Box”.