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  • Writer's picturePauline Kok


There is enough written and known about W.W. II and the brutality of Hitler and his cohorts. That Japan was a force just as brutal and monstrous during that same war was much less known and carefully hidden. Most of Japan’s role in the South Pacific during the W.W.II period was destroyed by the Japanese Army or carefully hidden when Emperor Hirohito surrendered. To understand the needs, the desires, and the powerful commitments to achieve their goals at all costs, it is necessary to know more about Japan as it was before the war started.

Japan had undergone enormous progress in fast technological development for which it needed resources. Its islands were densely populated, without natural resources and its soil was rocky. It needed industry desperately and started building factories.

Japan had an emperor, Hirohito, who wanted to go in the direction of modernization. Although Hirohito was Japan’s Emperor, he was not the ruler. The ruler was the Imperial Army and it had the power, shared by an elite of high placed civilians.

The population considered the Emperor of Japan divine and Hirohito attempted and encouraged cooperation with Europe and the U.S.

In reality he had very little power. His role in Japan’s government during W.W.II remains highly controversial.

The soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army lived by the Bushido faith. For the Japanese soldier, dying for his Emperor meant the ultimate honor and secured him a place in heaven. Soldiers had a superior position in their families, where they were considered the most important person.

In the Japanese culture, the family-group was of more importance than the individual person. The woman was the ultimate server. She was the perfect hostess for the guest, the quiet mother for the children, the obedient mate for her husband.

When boys became 12 years old, they were taught military duty and discipline. Obedience to their officers was total. By the time W.W.II started, the Japanese Imperial Army had three and a half million soldiers and Japan had the most disciplined army in the world. The troops were fanatic fighters, hardened to undergo the most difficult circumstances without complaining and willing to die for their Emperor. This explained the “kamikaze” attitude, so noticeable in the attack of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

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