Wow, the TAR RFF Senior Leadership Team just took over this thread...!
This is turning out to be an interesting discussion. Any conversation related to war is bound to be emotional. And just as I imagined, there will be people taking sides, justifying certain outcomes with facts. It's hard not to be biased. However, I'd like us not to fall into that trap.
The thing that was remarkable about Nakajo's "Grandpa ..." book wasn't just about the detail that he went into about the events of the time and the various debates among Japan's military leaders and the Emperor following the two bombs dropped in early August 1945 leading up to the Unconditional Surrender. It was about how he, as a teenager, felt during those years.
You just cannot debate over how one feels.
During the war, Nakajo believed that going into the military to serve the country and the citizens around him was the ultimate heroic act. Then the war ended, and faced something he hadn't anticipated. The very people that cheered him on as he left for military school turned their backs completely against him after the unconditional surrender. Just in a matter of 9 days, his world had been flipped upside down. What he had believed in was for years was no longer true.
Japan had a severe shortage of food and energy around that time, as the government had poured resources into the war. So he's depressed and starving.
And not-so-coincidentally, according to the book, the GHQ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Commander_of_the_Allied_Powers
) had instituted a War Guilt Information Program (WGIP), which Nakajo mentioned was employing the strategy of "The Peace of Carthage" (=the brainwashing the Romans did to make the people of Carthage believe they were guilty for the war).
There aren't a lot of details on WGIP in English, but there are several in Japanese including http://bit.ly/Jl0jAk
. Here's one that is written in English, but by a Japanese historian: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-11-10/news/1993314036_1_japan-war-guilt-war-of-aggression
And it doesn't stop there. There are other stories about how the GHQ had controlled Japanese media until 1952. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Commander_of_the_Allied_Powers#Media_censorship
) This resulted in a stripping down of the Japanese culture, which in many respects, still has an impact today (ever seen a Japanese person have a difficult time saying "no"? Especially in business?). And how the GHQ basically wrote the Japanese Constitution which is still in effect for the most part, including the controversial Article 9 (which prohibits a national military force for offensive purposes).
The Japanese were told that the war was their fault while being stripped of their cultural identity. And Nakajo got that message loud and clear. Life was very very difficult. He contemplated terminating his life.
Just think about the power that the US Government had over Japan during those 7 years.
Not saying whether the Japanese deserved it or not.
How would you feel if you were a soldier in training during the war? In Japan? In one of the Allied Nations? What would you have done after the war? Just let it all sink in.
I think it's rather remarkable that Nakajo found meaning in his life (if you read Japanese, you'll find out how in the book - I won't spoil it for you
) and later on became a CEO of a reputable company. Of course, he wasn't the only one who survived that era, but he certainly had a dramatic story to tell. His granddaughter certainly benefited from his story, which helped her get a glowing review from her history teacher, and her classmates at the Masters School got an insider's view at what it was like to be a Japanese in 1945.
(I really hope this book gets translated to English.)
And if one person can tell such a dramatic story, just think about the 20-30 million untold stories. It doesn't matter where those people are from or who killed them. It's just painful to think about it, but we must.
And I believe that's why TAR makes these kinds of tributes.
Thank you Phil, Bertram, Elise, the camera/sound crews, the staff members at WRP and at the City of Hiroshima.