Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

email received...

I got an email that I decided to respond to here. I won't use the author's name. His writing in blue, my responses in red.

You write a small book on the topic of why it was necessary to drop nuclear weapons on civilians and kill hundreds of thousands. At the same time you devote the vast majority of your writing efforts to showing why the Japanese occupation of Korea was a terrible thing.

The Japanese occupation of Korea was a terrible thing. So were the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But in your mind one was a clear example of human brutality and moral depravity while the other was necessary and indeed morally justified.

This doesn't strike you -- in your haze of preconceptions -- as being the slightest bit contradictory, hypocritical, self-serving or in fact, wrong?

Not at all. Beside the fact that they are unrelated in any way, shape or form, I consider one of them evil and the other as salvation for the world.

Your book-length attempt to provide excuses for the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is an exercise in conjecture: how many US troops may have died had there been a land invasion of Japan, how many of the Imperial Japanese Army troops would have actually fought to the death, etc. Your entire book-length work is a just a string of subjunctives: probably would have, were thought to have, it would have been, others thought there would be, etc etc etc.

The bomb was dropped. So, discussing what might have happened is all we can do. Your problem is that you act like what I wrote was a big guess, wishful thinking on my part. That couldn't be further from the truth. What I wrote is based on events that happened prior to the bombing. It was based on writings of Japanese people from all walks of life that lived at that time. It was based on journals, statistics as well as estimates made immediately following the surrender of Japan. Most of what I wrote about isn't even close to be considered controversial except for casualty estimates which I wrote indepth on so people could understand why results were so different from what many have written.

Let us remember that a great deal of writing was done in Japan on the positive effects of the occupation of Korea. Indeed, book length works were produced showing the number and length of roads paved, the number of schools and other buildings built, the education of farmers who previously had none, the protection of the Korean people from Western invasion, etc. Anyone can write a book and choose to employ only those pieces of information that support his or her argument. The Japanese military did it, and so have you. Political debates make strange bedfellows, eh?

Of course what I wrote had an agenda, a bias. I never said that it didn't. ANYTIME someone writes something there is a bias to it. One of the main reasons I wrote about the occupation of Korea was because of the amount of misinformation that exists, especially on the net. I feel my writing is one of the more accurate pieces out there which I think is backed up by subsequent pieces that have been written. When a person writes with an agenda, deliberately leaving out information that would counter his argument, it is pretty easy to counter what he wrote. Unlike that, my writing has brought out others with information that supports what I wrote, not contradicting it.

And here are just two clear examples of mistakes you wrote.

1. "But, at the time, their [atomic bombs] destructive power was truly unknown. They were just a new weapon with no inherent evilness or goodness. It was only later, after their use, after the effects of radiation became known, the massive devastation they can cause became known that the bombs became the demons they are today."

>The so-called "Trinity Test" of the world's first atomic weapon (July 16, 1945) produced a vast amount of data. The destructive power of the new weapon was well known before it was used on civilians in Japan. Many on the team that developed the weapon had deep moral doubts about using the weapon on people and some suggested to the president that it be first used on an uninhabited area to demonstrate its power while giving the Japanese leadership time to decide to surrender without suffering the overwhelming loss of human life they knew would result.
(see, also see various references listed near the bottom)

Sorry, that is where you are mistaken. It was unknown what would happen when the bombs were dropped. All they had was one test, from a platform, under ideal circumstances. A great amount of time was spent just getting the bomb into position and making sure it would go off, again, something that couldn't be controlled with the actual bomb drop. Next is the radiation. That was a great unknown. Even years after the bombings radiation poisoning and exposure wasn't understood well. This is easy to show when you consider the amount of above ground nuclear testing that continued in the US near populated areas.

Next, you mention a test on an unpopulated area. If you had read my entire piece, you would see where I discussed this and why it was rejected. It was rejected by the scientist themselves as well as others. There were many reasons for rejecting the test option. I suggest you go back and read what I wrote about it.

So, no, this wasn't a mistake. I covered it quite completely.

2. "Albert Einstein said:
It should not be forgotten that the atomic bomb was made in this country as a preventive measure; it was to head off its use by the Germans, if they discovered it. The bombing of civilian centers was initiated by the Germans and adopted by the Japanese. To it the Allies responded in kind—as it turned out, with greater effectiveness—and they were morally justified in doing so."

>Alber Einstein spent most of his post-1945 life talking and working AGAINST atomic and nuclear weapons. He was one of the most zealous opponents of the military use of nuclear technology. Posting a single quote, without a reference no less, that mis-represents the man's overall thinking is clearly self-serving and disingenuous. Or perhaps you didn't know that Einstein was one of the most outspoken "peaceniks" of the 20th century? See for further information. I could quote Einstein as well:

"I believe Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence for fighting for our cause...."

Ummm... what I posted was Einstein's quote. Yes, I understand that he devoted himself to peace, that makes his quote even more important. He understood to situation the Allies were in at the time. While he was devoted to peace, he understood what was necessary to end the war. What would posting more of his quotes have proven? Nothing. What was important was his thoughts at that time, the time of the bombing and when the decision to bomb was being made as well as what he said about that afterwards. Think about it, if Einstein was that devoted to peace, what does it say about the bombing of Japan to know that he supported it being done?

I've read much on the topics of the Japanese occupation of Korea and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I've given much thought to the topics you write about and I've spoken with people in both Korea and Japan who hold a wide range of beliefs and opinions on these subjects.

That's wonderful, so have I. Although most of my discussions have been with Koreans.

Modern Japanese society has many problems. Some of them are serious, others are blown all out of proportion by observers both in and out of Japan. Reasoned analysis and discussion of events and policies is always a good thing.

Yep, that is important. People need to discuss subjects they feel are important and you are right, some subjects are blown out of proportion.

But the clearly lopsided, self-serving statements you post on your blog and elsewhere are doing more to sustain hatred, mistrust and prurient interest in "catfights" than they are contributing to mutual understanding and respect.

Another who doesn't understand. *sigh* Japan is the one nation in this part of the world that can lead the other nations around it and counter the influence of China. To do so though, Japan needs to atone for its past actions, make true apologies and gain the trust of its neighbors. Again, I've posted about this indepth. Japan also needs to clean up the social problems it is having. It needs to clean up the moral problems which have appeared and work to make a socially sound nation. Covering up these things and not discussing them only adds to the problem. Open, honest discussion leads to solutions. The problems come when insignificant things are blown out of proportion like a few individuals chopping off fingers and hands and the like.

The relationship between Japan and its neighbors isn't a bed of roses. It needs to be discussed. Whitewashing of atrocities and other issues of the past, important to discuss. The social problems in Japan are growing worse. Another situation to be discussed. Moral problems, suicide, generational respect and the lack thereof, all problems to be discussed.

Finger chopping. Stupid. Hand chopping, Stupid. Flag biters. Dumb. Yes, the occasional strange story can be humorous, but most of these are just divisive.

Thanks for reading.

No problem, I just wish you had understood what I had written better.