The Knights of Bushido: A History of Japanese War Crimes During World War II

Автор: literator от 6-02-2023, 18:57, Коментариев: 0


The Knights of Bushido: A History of Japanese War Crimes During World War IIНазвание: The Knights of Bushido: A History of Japanese War Crimes During World War II
Автор: Lord Russell of Liverpool
Издательство: Frontline Books
Год: 2016
Страниц: 376
Язык: английский
Формат: epub
Размер: 10.1 MB

The war crimes trials at Nuremberg and Tokyo meted out the Allies' official justice; Lord Russell of Liverpool's sensational bestselling books on the Axis' war crimes decided the public's opinion. The Knights of Bushido, Russell's shocking account of Japanese brutality in the Pacific in World War II, describes how the noble founding principles of the Empire of Japan were perverted by the military into a systematic campaign of torture, murder, starvation, rape, and destruction.Notorious incidents like the Nanking Massacre and the Bataan Death March emerge as merely part of a pattern of human rights abuses. Undoubtedly formidable soldiers, the Japanese were terrible conquerors. Their conduct in the Pacific is a harrowing example of the doctrine of mutual destruction carried to the extreme and begs the question of what is acceptable and unacceptable in total war.

The uncivilized ill-treatment of prisoners of war by the Japanese was the natural outcome of the code of Bushido, which was inculcated into the Japanese soldier as part of his basic training. It was considered cowardly to show one’s back to the enemy, and to do so brought dishonour on the family name. The Japanese warriors looked upon it as shame to themselves not to die when their Lord was hard pressed . . . their own shame was the shame upon their parents, their family, their house and their whole clan, and with this idea deeply impressed upon their minds, the Samurai, no matter of what rank, held their lives light as feathers when compared with the weight they attached to the maintenance of a spotless name.1
The youth of Japan had been brought up, in accordance with this Bushido precept, to consider that the greatest honour was to die for their Emperor and that it was ignominious to surrender to the enemy. It was because it appeared to the Japanese to run counter to this view of military conduct that the Geneva Prisoner of War Convention of 1929 was never ratified by Japan.

The soldiers of all the Western powers who, having fought to the last round of ammunition, find themselves completely surrounded or facing hopeless odds are not disgraced if, in such circumstances, they surrender. By international agreement their names are taken and their relatives informed that they are alive and well.

In similar conditions the only honourable conduct for the Japanese soldier is to fight to the death. He should never surrender, rather he should keep his last round of ammunition for himself or charge the enemy in a final suicidal assault. Even were he taken prisoner after being wounded and unable to move or unconscious, he could never again hold up his head in Japan. He and his family would be disgraced for ever.

This concept of manly duty undoubtedly led to the Japanese soldier having a feeling of utter contempt for those who surrendered to the Japanese forces. They had forfeited all right to any consideration. When the first American prisoners of war surrendered in large numbers in Bataan the Japanese soldier was astounded when they asked that their names should be reported to their Government so that their families should know that they were alive.

Nor did the Japanese soldier make any distinction between those who fought honourably and courageously until an inevitable surrender and those who gave up without a fight. They were all the same to him, they were entitled to no respect for they had lost their honour.

This attitude of mind does much to explain, though it does not excuse, the Japanese Army and Navy’s treatment of Allied prisoners of war. As Prime Minister Tojo said when he gave instructions to Commandants of prisoner of war camps, ‘in Japan we have our own ideology concerning prisoners of war which should naturally make their treatment more or less different from that in Europe and America’.

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