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2.The Japanese in the War

  In every cultural tradition there are orthodoxies of war and certain of these are shared in all Western nations,no matter what the specific differences。There are certain clarion calls to all-out war effort,certain forms of reassurance in case of local defeats,certain regularities in the proportion of fatalities to surrenders,and certain rules of be-havior for prisoners of war which are predictable in wars between Western nations just because they have a great shared cultural tradition which covers even warfare。

  All the ways in which the Japanese departed from Western conventions of war were data on their view of life and on their convictions of the whole duty of man。For the pur-poses of a systematic study of Japanese culture and behavior it did not matter whether or not their deviations from our orthodoxies were crucial in a military sense;any of them might be important because they raised questions about the character of the Japanese to which we needed answers。

  The very premises which Japan used to justify her war were the opposite of America's。She defined the international situation differently。America laid the war to the aggressions of the Axis。Japan,Italy,and Germany had unrighteously offended against in-ternational peace by their acts of conquest。Whether the Axis had seized power in Man-chukuo or in Ethiopia or in Poland,it proved that they had embarked on an evil course of oppressing weak peoples。They had sinned against an international code of“live and let live”or at least of“open doors”for free enterprise。Japan saw the cause of the war in an-other light。There was anarchy in the world as long as every nation had absolute sover-eignty;it was necessary for her to fight to establish a hierarchy-under Japan,of course,since she alone represented a nation truly hierarchal from top to bottom and hence under-stood the necessity of taking“one's proper place。”Japan,having attained unification and peace in her homeland,having put down banditry and built up roads and electric power and steel industries,having,according to her official figures,educated 99.5 per cent of her rising generation in her public schools,should,according to Japanese premises of hi-erarchy,raise her backward younger brother China。Being of the same race as Greater East Asia,she should eliminate the United States,and after her Britain and Russia,from that part of the world and“take her proper place。”All nations were to be one world,fixed in an international hierarchy。In the next chapter we shall examine what this high value placed on hierarchy meant in Japanese culture。It was an appropriate fantasy for Japan to create。Unfortunately for her the countries she occupied did not see it in the same light。Nevertheless not even defeat has drawn from her moral repudiation of her Greater East A-sia ideals,and even her prisoners of war who were least jingoistic rarely went so far as to arraign the purposes of Japan on the continent and in the Southwest Pacific。For a long,long time Japan will necessarily keep some of her inbred attitudes and one of the most im-portant of these is her faith and confidence in hierarchy。It is alien to equality-loving A-mericans but it is nevertheless necessary for us to understand what Japan meant by hierar-chy and what advantages she has learned to connect with it。

  Japan likewise put her hopes of victory on a different basis from that prevalent in the United States。She would win,she cried,a victory of spirit over matter。America was big,her armaments were superior,but what did that matter?All this,they said,had been foreseen and discounted。“If we had been afraid of mathematical figures,”the Japanese read in their great newspaper,the Mainichi Shimbun,“the war would not have started。The enemy's great resources were not created by this war。”

  Even when she was winning,her civilian statesmen,her High Command,and her soldiers repeated that this was no contest between armaments;it was a pitting of our faith in things against their faith in spirit。When we were winning they repeated over and over that in such a contest material power must necessarily fail。This dogma became,no doubt,a convenient alibi about the time of the defeats at Saipan and Iwo Jima,but it was not manufactured as an alibi for defeats。It was a clarion call during all the months of Japanese victories,and it had been an accepted slogan long before Pearl Harbor。In the nineteen-thirties General Araki,fanatical militarist and one-time Minister of War,wrote in a pamphlet addressed“To the whole Japanese Race”that“the true mission”of Japan was“to spread and glorify the Imperial way to the end of the Four Seas。Inade-quacy of strength is not our worry。Why should we worry about that which is material?”

  Of course,like any other nation preparing for war,they did worry。All through the nineteen-thirties the proportion of their national income which was devoted to armament grew astronomically。By the time of their attack on Pearl Harbor very nearly half the en-tire national income was going to military and naval purposes,and of the total expendi-tures of the government only 17 percent were available for financing anything having to do with civilian administration。The difference between Japan and Western nations was not that Japan was careless about material armament。But ships and guns were just the outward show of the undying Japanese Spirit。They were symbols much as the sword of the samurai had been the symbol of his virtue。

  Japan was as completely consistent in playing up nonmaterial resources as the United States was in its commitment to bigness。Japan had to campaign for all-out production just as the United States did,but her campaigns were based on her own premises。The spirit,she said,was all and was everlasting;material things were necessary,of course,but they were subordinate and fell by the way。“There are limits to material resources,”the Japa-nese radio would cry:“it stands to reason that material things cannot last a thousand years。”And this reliance on spirit was taken literally in the routine of war;their war cat-echisms used the slogan-and it was a traditional one,not made to order for this war-“To match our training against their numbers and our flesh against their steel。”Their war manuals began with the bold-type line,“Read this and the war is won。”Their pilots who flew their midget planes in a suicidal crash into our warships were an endless text for the superiority of the spiritual over the material。They named them the Kamikaze Corps,for the kamikaze was the divine wind which had saved Japan from Genghis Khan's invasion in the thirteenth century by scattering and overturning his transports。

  Even in civilian situations Japanese authorities took literally the dominance of spirit over material circumstances。Were people fatigued by twelve-hour work in the factories and all-night bombings?“The heavier our bodies,the higher our will,our spirit,rises above them。”“The wearier we are,the more splendid the training。”Were people cold in the bomb shelters in winter?On the radio the Dai Nippon Physical Culture Society prescribed body-warming calisthenics which would not only be a substitute for heating fa-cilities and bedding,but,better still,would substitute for food no longer available to keep up people's normal strength。“Of course some may say that with the present food shortages we cannot think of doing calisthenics。No!The more shortage of food there is,the more we must raise our physical strength by other means。”That is,we must in-crease our physical strength by expending still more of it。The American's view of bodily energy which always reckons how much strength he has to use by whether he had eight or five hours of sleep last night,whether he has eaten his regular meals,whether he has been cold,is here confronted with a calculus that does not rely on storing up energy。That would be materialistic。

  Japanese broadcasts went even farther during the war。In battle,spirit surmounted even the physical fact of death。One broadcast described a hero-pilot and the miracle of his conquest of death:

  After the air battles were over,the Japanese planes returned to their base in small formations of three or four。A Captain was in one of the first planes to return。After alighting from his plane,he stood on the ground and gazed into the sky through binoculars。As his men returned,he counted。He looked rather pale,but he was quite steady。After the last plane returned he made out a report and proceeded to Headquarters。At Headquarters he made his report to the Commanding Officer。As soon as he had finished his report,however,he suddenly it was found that it was al-ready cold,and he had a bullet wound in his chest,which had proved fatal。It is impossible for the body of the dead captain was as cold as ice。The Captain must have been dead long before,and it was his spirit that made the report。Such a mirac-ulous fact must have been achieved by the strict sense of responsibility that the dead Captain possessed。

  To Americans,of course,this is an outrageous yarn but educated Japanese did not laugh at this broadcast。They felt sure it would not be taken as a tall tale by listeners in Japan。First they pointed out that the broadcaster had truthfully said that the captain's feat was“a miraculous fact。”But why not?The soul could be trained;obviously the captain was a past-master of self-discipline。If all Japan knew that“a composed spirit could last a thousand years,”could it not last a few hours in the body of an air-force captain who had made“responsibility”the central law of his whole life?The Japanese believed that technical disciplines could be used to enable a man to make his spirit su-preme。The captain had learned and profited。

  As Americans we can completely discount these Japanese excesses as the alibis of a poor nation or the childishness of a deluded one。If we did,however,we would be,by that much,the less able to deal with them in war or in peace。Their tenets have been bred into the Japanese by certain taboos and refusals,by certain methods of training and discipline,and these tenets are not mere isolated oddities。Only if Americans have rec-ognized them can we realize what they are saying when,in defeat,they acknowledge that spirit was not enough and that defending positions“with bamboo spears”was a fan-tasy。It is still more important that we be able to appreciate their acknowledgment that their spirit was insufficient and that it was matched in battle and in the factory by the spirit of the American people。As they said after their defeat:during the war they had“engaged in subjectivity。”

  Japanese ways of saying all kinds of things during the war,not only about the ne-cessity of hierarchy and the supremacy of spirit,were revealing to a student of compara-tive cultures。They talked constantly about security and morale being only a matter of being forewarned。No matter what the catastrophe,whether it was civilian bombing or defeat at Saipan or their failure to defend the Philippines,the Japanese line to their peo-ple was that this was foreknown and that there was therefore nothing to worry about。The radio went to great lengths,obviously counting on the reassurance it gave to the Japa-nese people to be told that they were living still in a thoroughly known world。“The A-merican occupation of Kiska brings Japan within the radius of American bombers。But we were well aware of this contingency and have made the necessary preparations。”“The enemy doubtless will make an offensive against us by combined land,sea and air operations,but this has been taken account of by us in our plans。”Prisoners of war,e-ven those who hoped for Japan's early defeat in a hopeless war,were sure that bombing would not weaken Japanese on the home front“because they were forewarned。”When Americans began bombing Japanese cities,the vice-president of the Aviation Manufacturer's Association broadcast:“Enemy planes finally have come over our very heads。However,we who are engaged in the aircraft production industry and who had always expected this to happen had made complete preparations to cope with this。Therefore,there is nothing to worry about。”Only granted all was foreknown,all was fully planned,could the Japanese go on to make the claim so necessary to them that eve-rything had been actively willed by themselves alone;nobody had put anything over on them。“We should not think that we have been passively attacked but that we have ac-tively pulled the enemy toward us。”“Enemy,come if you wish。Instead of saying,‘Fi-nally what was to come has come,’we will say rather,‘That which we were waiting for has come。We are glad it has come。’”The Navy Minister quoted in the Diet the teach-ings of the great warrior of the eighteen-seventies,Takamori Saigo,“There are two kinds of opportunities:one which we chance upon,the other which we create。In time of great difficulty,one must not fail to create his opportunity。”And General Yamashito,when American troops marched into Manila,“remarked with a broad smile,”the radio said,“that now the enemy is in our bosom……”“The rapid fall of Manila,shortly after the enemy landings in Lingayen Bay,was only possible as a result of General Yamashito's tactics and in accordance with his plans。General Yamashito's operations are now making continuous progress。”In other words,nothing succeeds like defeat。

  Americans went as far in the opposite direction as the Japanese in theirs。Ameri-cans threw themselves into the war effort because this fight had been forced upon us。We had been attacked,therefore let the enemy beware。No spokesman,planning how he could reassure the rank and file of Americans,said of Pearl Harbor or of Bataan,“These were fully taken account of by us in our plans。”Our officials said instead,“The enemy asked for it。We will show them what we can do。”Americans gear all their living to a constantly challenging world-and are prepared to accept the challenge。Japanese reassurances are based rather on a way of life that is planned and charted beforehand and where the greatest comes from the unforeseen。

  Another constant theme in Japanese conduct of the war was also revealing about Japanese life。They continually spoke of how“the eyes of the world were upon them。”Therefore they must show to the full the spirit of Japan。Americans landed on Guadalca-nal,and Japanese orders to troops were that now they were under direct observation“by the world”and should show what they were made of Japanese seamen were warned that in case they were torpedoed and the order given to abandon ship,they should man the lifeboats with the utmost decorum or“the world will laugh at you。The Americans will take movies of you and show them in New York。”It mattered what account with this point also was a concern deeply imbedded in Japanese culture。

  The most famous question about Japanese attitudes concerned His Imperial Majes-ty,the Emperor。What was the hold of the Emperor on his subjects?Some American au-thorities pointed out that through all Japan's seven feudal centuries the Emperor was a shadowy figurehead。Every man's immediate loyalty was due to his lord,the daimyo,and,beyond that,to the military Generalissimo,the Shogun。Fealty to the Emperor was hardly an issue。He was kept secluded in an isolated court whose ceremonies and activi-ties were rigorously circumscribed by the Shogun's regulations。It was treason even for a great feudal lord to pay his respects to the Emperor,and for the people of Japan he hardly existed。Japan could only be understood by its history,these American analysts insisted;how could an Emperor who had been brought out from obscurity within the memory of still living people be the real rallying point of a conservative nation like Ja-pan?The Japanese publicists who again and again reiterated the undying hold of the Emperor upon his subjects were over-protesting,they said,and their insistence only proved the weakness of their case。There was no reason,therefore,that American policy during the war should draw on kid gloves in dealing with the Emperor。There was every reason rather why we should direct our strongest attacks against this evil Fuehrer concept that Japan had recently concocted。It was the very heart of its modern nationalistic Shin-to religion and if we undermined and challenged the sanctity of the Emperor,the whole structure of enemy Japan would fall in ruins。

  Many capable Americans who knew Japan and who saw the reports from the front lines and from Japanese sources were of the opposite persuasion。Those who had lived in Japan well knew that nothing stung the Japanese people to bitterness and whipped up their morale like any depreciatory word against the Emperor or any outright attack on him。They did not believe that in attacking the Emperor we would in the eyes of the Jap-anese be attacking militarism。They had seen that reverence for the Emperor had been e-qually strong in those years after the First World War when“de-mok-ra-sie”was the great watchword and militarism was so discredited that army men prudently changed to mufti before they went out on the streets of Tokyo。The reverence of the Japanese for their Imperial chief could not be compared,these old Japanese residents insisted,with Heil-Hitler veneration which was a barometer of the fortunes of the Nazi party and bound up with all the evils of a fascist program。

  Certainly the testimony of Japanese prisoners of war bore them out。Unlike Western soldiers,these prisoners had not been instructed about what to say and what to keep si-lent about when captured and their responses on all subjects were strikingly unregiment-ed。This failure to indoctrinate was of course due to Japan's no-surrender policy。It was not remedied until the last months of the war,and even then only in certain armies or lo-cal units。The prisoners'testimony was worth paying attention to for they represented a cross-section of opinion in the Japanese Army。They were not troops whose low morale had caused them to surrender-and who might therefore be atypical。All but a few were wounded and unconscious soldiers unable to resist when captured。

  Japanese prisoners of war who were out-and-out bitter-enders imputed their extreme militarism to the Emperor and were“carrying out his will,”“setting his mind at rest,”“dying at the Emperor's command。”“The Emperor led the people into war and it was my duty to obey。”But those who rejected this present war and future Japanese plans of conquest just as regularly ascribed their peaceful persuasions to the Emperor。He was all things to all men。The war-weary spoke of him as“his peace-loving Majesty”;they in-sisted that he“had always been liberal and against the war。”“He had been deceived by Tojo。”“During the Manchurian Incident he showed that he was against the military。”“The war was started without the Emperor's knowledge or permission。The Emperor does not like war and would not have permitted his people to be dragged into it。The Emperor does not know how badly treated his soldiers are。”These were not statements like those of German prisoners of war who,however much they complained that Hitler had been betrayed by his generals or his high command,nevertheless ascribed war and the prepa-rations for war to Hitler as supreme inciter。The Japanese prisoner of war was quite ex-plicit that the reverence given the Imperial Household was separable from militarism and aggressive war policies。

  The Emperor was to them,however,inseparable from Japan。“A Japan without the Emperor is not Japan。”“Japan without the Emperor cannot be imagined。”“The Japa-nese Emperor is the symbol of the Japanese people,the center of their religious lives。He is a super-religious object。”Nor would he be blamed for the defeat if Japan lost the war。“The people did not consider the Emperor responsible for the war。”“In the event of defeat the Cabinet and the military leaders would take the blame,not the Emperor。”“Even if Japan lost the war ten out of ten Japanese would still revere the Emperor。”

  All this unanimity in reckoning the Emperor above criticism appeared phoney to A-mericans who are accustomed to exempt no human man from skeptical scrutiny and criti-cism。But there was no question that it was the voice of Japan even in defeat。Those most experienced in interrogating the prisoners gave it as their verdict that it was unnecessary to enter on each interview sheet:“Refuses to speak against the Emperor”;all prisoners re-fused,even those who co-operated with the Allies and broadcast for us to the Japanese troops。Out of all the collected interviews of prisoners of war,only three were even mildly anti-Emperor and only one went so far as to say:“It would be a mistake to leave the Em-peror on the throne。”A second said the Emperor was“a feeble-minded person,nothing more than a puppet。”And the third got no farther than supposing that the Emperor might abdicate in favor of his son and that if the monarchy were abolished young Japanese women would hope to get a freedom they envied in the women of America。

  Japanese commanders,therefore,were playing on an all but unanimous Japanese veneration when they distributed cigarettes to the troops“from the Emperor,”or led them on his birthday in bowing three times to the east and shouting“Banzai”;when they chanted with all their troops morning and evening,“even though the unit was sub-jected to day and night bombardment,”the“sacred words”the Emperor himself had given to the armed forces in the Rescript for Soldiers and Sailors while“the sound of chanting echoed through the forest。”The militarists used the appeal of loyalty to the Emperor in every possible way。They called on their men to“fulfill the wishes of His Imperial Majesty,”to“dispel all the anxieties of your Emperor,”to“demonstrate your respect for His Imperial benevolence,”to“die for the Emperor。”But this obedience to his will could cut both ways。As many prisoners said,the Japanese“will fight unhesitat-ingly,even with nothing more than bamboo poles,if he so decreed”;“Japan would throw down arms tomorrow if the Emperor should issue such an order”;“Even the Kwa-ntung Army in Manchuria”-most militant and jingoistic-“would lay down their arms”;“only his words can make the Japanese people accept a defeat and be reconciled to live for reconstruction。”

  This unconditional and unrestricted loyalty to the Emperor was conspicuously at odds with criticisms of all other persons and groups。Whether in Japanese newspapers and magazines or in war prisoners'testimony,there was criticism of the government and of military leaders。Prisoners of war were free with their denunciation of their local com-manders,especially those who had not shared the dangers and hardships of their sol-diers。They were especially critical of those who had evacuated by plane and left their troops behind to fight it out。Usually they praised some officers and bitterly criticized others;there was no sign that they lacked the will to discriminate the good from the bad in things Japanese。Even in the home islands newspapers and magazines criticized“the government。”They called for more leadership and greater co-ordination of effort and noted that they were not getting from the government what was necessary。They even criticized the restrictions on freedom of speech。A report on a panel of editors,former members of the Diet,and directors of Japan's totalitarian party,the Imperial Rule Assis-tance Association,printed in a Tokyo paper in July,1944,is a good example。One speaker said:“I think there are various ways to arouse the Japanese people but the most important one is freedom of speech。I these few years,the people have not been able to say frankly what they think。They have been afraid that they might be blamed if they spoke certain matters。They hesitated,and tried to patch up the surface,so the public mind has really become timid。We can never develop the total power of the people in this way。”Another speaker expanded the same theme:“I have held symposiums almost every night with the people of the electoral districts and asked them about many things,but they were all afraid to speak。Freedom of speech has been denied。This is certainly not a proper way to stimulate their will to fight。The people are so badly restricted by the so-called Special Penal Law of War Time and the National Security Law that they have become as timid as the people in the feudalistic period。Therefore the fighting power which could have been developed remains undeveloped now。”

  Even during the war,therefore,the Japanese criticized the government,the High Command,and their immediate superiors。They did not unquestioningly acknowledge the virtues of the whole hierarchy。But the Emperor was exempt。How could this be when his primacy was so recent?What quirk of Japanese character made it possible that he should so attain a sacrosanct position?Were Japanese prisoners of war right in clai-ming that just as the people would fight to the death“with bamboo spears”as long as he so ordered,they would peaceably accept defeat and occupation if that was his com-mand?Was this nonsense meant to mislead us?Or was it,possibly,the truth?

  All these crucial questions about Japanese behavior in the war,from their anti-ma-terialistic bias to their attitudes toward the Emperor concerned the homeland Japan as well as the fighting fronts。There were other attitudes which had to do more specifically with the Japanese Army。One of these concerned the expendability of their fighting forces。The Japanese radio put well the contrast with the American attitudes when it de-scribed with shocked incredulity the Navy's decoration of Admiral George S。McCain,commander of a task force off Formosa。

  The official reason for the decoration was not that Commander John S。McCain was able to put the Japanese to flight,though we don't see why not since that is what the Nimitz communiqué claimed……Well the reason given for Admiral McCain's decora-tion was that he was able successfully to rescue two damaged American warships and escort them safely to their home base。What makes this bit of information important is not that it is a fiction but that it is the truth……So we are not questioning the veracity of Admiral McCain's rescuing two ships,but the point we want you to see is the curious fact that the rescuing of damaged ships merits decoration in the United States。

  Americans thrill to all rescue,all aid to those pressed to the wall。A valiant deed is all the more a hero's act if it saves the“damaged。”Japanese valor repudiates such sal-vaging。Even the safety devices installed in our B-29's and fighter planes raised their cry of“Cowardice。”The press and the radio returned to the theme over and over again。There was virtue only in accepting life and death risks;precautions were unworthy。This attitude found expression also in the case of the wounded and of malarial patients。Such soldiers were damaged goods and the medical services provided were utterly inadequate even for reasonable effectiveness of the fighting force。As time went on,supply difficul-ties of all kinds aggravated this lack of medical care,but that was not the whole story。Japanese scorn of materialism played a part in it;her soldiers were taught that death it-self was a victory of the spirit and our kind of care of the sick was an interference with heroism-like safety devices in bombing planes。Nor are the Japanese used to such reli-ance on physicians and surgeons in civilian life as Americans are。Preoccupation with mercy toward the damaged rather than with other welfare measures is especially high in the United States,and is often commented on even by visitors from some European countries in peacetime。It is certainly alien to the Japanese。At all events,during the war the Japanese army had no trained rescue teams to remove the wounded under fire and to give first aid;it had no medical system of front line,behind-the-lines and distant recuperative hospitals。Its attention to medical supplies was lamentable。In certain e-mergencies the hospitalized were simply killed。Especially in New Guinea and the Phil-ippines,the Japanese often had to retreat from a position where there was a hospital。There was no routine of evacuating the sick and wounded while there was still opportuni-ty;only when the“planned withdrawal”of the battalion was actually taking place or the enemy was occupying was anything done。Then,the medical officer in charge often shot the inmates of the hospital before he left or they killed themselves with hand grenades。

  If this attitude of the Japanese toward damaged goods was fundamental in their treatment of their own countrymen,it was equally important in their treatment of Ameri-can prisoners of war。According to our standards the Japanese were guilty of atrocities to their own men as well as to their prisoners。The former chief medical medical officer of the Philippines,Colonel Harold W·Glattly,said after his three years'internment as a prisoner of war on Formosa that“the American prisoner got better medical treatment than the Japanese soldiers。Allied medical officers in the prison camps were able to take care of their men while the Japanese didn't have any doctors。For a while the only medi-cal personnel they had for their own men was a corporal and later on a sergeant。”He saw a Japanese medical officer only once or twice a year。

  The furthest extreme to which this Japanese theory of expendability could be pushed was their no-surrender policy。Any Occidental army which has done its best and finds it-self facing hopeless odds surrenders to the enemy。They still regard themselves as honor-able soldiers and by international agreement their names are sent back to their countries so that their families may know that they are alive。They are not disgraced either as sol-diers or as citizens or in their own families。But the Japanese defined the situation differ-ently。Honor was bound up with fighting to the death。In a hopeless situation a Japanese soldier should kill himself with his last hand grenade or charge weaponless against the enemy in a mass suicide attack。But he should not surrender。Even if he were taken prisoner when he was wounded and unconscious,he“could not hold up his head in Ja-pan”again;he was disgraced;he was“dead”to his former life。

  There were Army orders to this effect,of course,but there was apparently no need of special official indoctrination at the front。The Army lived up to the code to such an extent that in the North Burma campaign the proportion of the captured to the dead was 142 to 17166.That was a ratio of 1:120.And of the 142 in the prison camps,all ex-cept a small minority were wounded or unconscious when taken;only a very few had“surrendered”singly or in groups of two or three。In the armies of Occidental nations it is almost a truism that troops cannot stand the death of one-fourth to one-third of their strength without giving up;surrenders run about 4:1.When for the first time in Hollan-dia,however,any appreciable number of Japanese troops surrendered,the proportion was 1:5 and that was a tremendous advance over the 1:120 of North Burma。

  To the Japanese therefore Americans who had become prisoners of war were dis-graced by the mere fact of surrender。They were“damaged goods”even when wounds or malaria or dysentery had not also put them outside the category of“complete men。”Many Americans have described how dangerous a thing American laughter was in the prison camps and how it stung their warders。In Japanese eyes they had suffered igno-miny and it was bitter to them that the Americans did not know it。Many of the orders which American prisoners had to obey,too,were those which had also been required of their Japanese keeps by their own Japanese offices;the forced marches and the close-packed transshipments were commonplaces to them。Americans tell,too,of how rigor-ously sentries required that the prisoners should cover up evasions of rules;the great crime was to evade openly。In camps where the prisoners worked off-bounds on roads or installations during the day the rule that no food be brought back with them from the countryside was sometimes a dead letter-if the fruit and vegetables were covered up。If they could be seen,it was a flagrant offense which meant that the Americans had flaun-ted the sentry's authority。Open challenging of authority was terribly punished even if it were mere“answering back。”Japanese rules are very strict against a man's answering back even in civilian life and their own army practices penalized it heavily。It is no ex-oneration of the atrocities and wanton cruelties that did occur in the prison camps to dis-tinguish between these and those acts which were the consequences of cultural habitua-tions。

  Especially in the earlier stages of the conflict the shame of capture was reinforced by a very real belief among the Japanese that the enemy tortured and killed any prison-ers。One rumor of tanks that had been driven across the bodies of those captured on Guadalcanal spread through almost all areas。Some Japanese who tried to give them-selves up,too,were regarded with so much suspicion by our troops that they were killed as a precaution,and this suspicion was often justified。A Japanese for whom there was nothing left but death was often proud that he could take an enemy with him when he died;he might do it even after he was captured。Having determined,as one of them put it,“to be burned on the altar of victory,it would be a disgrace to die with no heroic deed achieved。”Such possibilities put our Army on its guard and diminished the num-ber of surrenders。

  The shame of surrender was burned deeply into the consciousness of the Japanese。They accepted as a matter of course a behavior which was alien to our conventions of warfare。And ours was just as alien to them。They spoke with shocked disparagement of American prisoners of war who asked to have their names reported to their government so that their families would know they were alive。The rank and file,at least,were quite unprepared for the surrender of American troops at Bataan for they had assumed that they would fight it out the Japanese way。And they could not accept the fact that Ameri-cans had no shame in being prisoners of war。

  The most melodramatic difference in behavior between Western soldiers and the Japanese was undoubtedly the cooperation the latter gave to the Allied forces as prisoners of war。They knew no rules of life which applied in this new situation;they were dishon-ored and their life as Japanese was ended。Only in the last months of the war did more than a handful imagine any return to their homeland,no matter how the war ended。

  Some men asked to be killed,“but if your customs do not permit this,I will be a model prisoner。”They were better than model prisoners。Old Army hands and long-time ex-treme nationalists located ammunition dumps,carefully explained the disposition of Jap-anese forces,wrote our propaganda and flew with our bombing pilots to guide them to military targets。It was as if they had turned over a new page;what was written on the new page was the opposite of what was written on the old,but they spoke the lines with the same faithfulness。

  This is of course not a description of all prisoners of war。Some few were irreconcil-able。And in any case certain favorable conditions had to be set up before such behavior was possible。American Army commanders were very understandably hesitant to accept Japanese assistance at face value and there were camps where no attempt was made to use any services they might have given。In camps where this was done,however,the o-riginal suspicion had to be withdrawn and more and more dependence was placed on the good faith of the Japanese prisoners。

  Americans had not expected this right-about-face from prisoners of war。It was not according to our code。But the Japanese behaved as if,having put everything they had into one line of conduct and failed at it,they naturally took up a different line。Was it a way of acting which we could count on in post-war days or was it behavior peculiar to soldiers who had been individually captured?Like the other peculiarities of Japanese be-havior which obtruded themselves upon us during the war,it raised questions about the whole way of life to which they were conditioned,the way their institutions functioned and the habits of thought and action they had learned。



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