Remembering the “Day of Infamy” by Ayhan Ozer

This year on December 7 this country will commemorate the 71st anniversary of the “Day of Infamy”. On that day, without any provocation and any formal declaration of war Japan dastardly attacked on the United States. There were no hostilities between the two countries to justify Japan to commit a surprise attack. Peace prevailed between the United States and Japan; the American public was aghast and outraged; President Roosevelt called that day “A Day of Infamy”.

On that day, Japan surreptitiously came from a distance of 8,000 miles with an armada of 350 planes, combined of fighters, bombers and torpedo planes. A Task Force of 28 ships, including six aircraft carriers provided support for this surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Navy Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. They created an inferno where 2,403 military and 68 civilians were killed, and 1,282 innocent civilians were wounded, 9 ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk, 21 ships were severely damaged. It was a cowardly assault unprecedented in the annals of history.  

This perfidious act deserved a severe retaliation, and a stern punishment was in order to teach Japan how to abide by the comity of nations, and respect the international law.  Japan had to learn those virtues in the hard way. One of the top Japanese admirals Nagumo assessed the situation wisely, he said, “We awakened the sleeping giant, now we have to face the consequences.” It took four years for America to respond to this craven aggression. On August 6, 1945 America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan which brought her to her knees, and forced Japan to surrender unconditionally. With her reckless behavior Japan had sought this punishment herself, so she had to bear the consequences.

This was not Japan’s first crime against humanity. On December 13, 1937, Japan occupied the Chinese city of Nanking, the then-capital of mainland China, and engaged in a policy of “Loot All, Kill All, and Burn All.” Over the next seven weeks the Japanese forces systematically murdered more than 300,000 people. This number is actually greater than the combined number of casualties of 210,000 from the atomic bomb blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Within three months, through March 1938 the Japanese troops carried out an ongoing orgy of killing, raping and looting. During this savagery  340,000 civilians and unarmed prisoners of war were massacred. At least 80,000 women were raped. Tokyo war crimes trials were held in 1946, and recorded that in the first six weeks alone, 20,000 women were sexually mutilated and murdered.

The Nanking episode is only a tip of the iceberg of the Japan’s war crimes. Between 1937 and 1945 the Japanese war of aggression killed an estimated 19 million to 35 million Chinese people. Throughout the war, under the euphemism “comfort women” the Japanese Imperial Army coerced more than 20,000 Korean, Chinese and other Asian, as well as European young girls into sexual slavery. Ninety percent of these young women died from abuse, disease, and desertion by the retreating Imperial troops.  The three-month pillage reduced a third of Nanking to dust.

In those years, Japan also engaged in germ warfare. From 1937 on, Japan inflicted more than 1,300 occasions of biological warfare over 14 provinces throughout China in which

untold thousands people perished. Twenty-six secret military laboratories existed in occupied China engaged in human experimentation, vivisection, and mass production of germs of various diseases, including the bubonic plague and cholera. One of these biological warfare death camps was the notorious Unit 731, whose use of human guinea pigs caused the death of over 3,000 captured Chinese, Korean, Russian, American civilians and POWs. The war crimes committed by Japan surpassed the crimes of Germany during WW II; yet Japan had never been brought to accounting – until her insane attack on the United States.

Japan was a fanatical and militaristic country; she was inflicted with delusions of grandeur, and figured she could get away with any crime with impunity. She looked down upon the whole world with contempt. She was isolated from the outside world with sui generis values shared with no other nation but her. In the neighborhood she was an implacable bully. Her audacity knew no border; she figured she could harass even the United States. When the U.S. hit Japan on the head she tamely toed the line. To her credit, however, with this metamorphosis, today Japan is a respected member of the international community.

In the final analysis, the U.S. was fully justified to use the atomic bombs on Japan for two reasons. First, Japan had committed a perfidious act, unbecoming any civilized nation, not to mention her previous criminal records. This mad, warmongering nation had to be stopped. Her colossal crimes should not have gone unpunished.

Secondly, the use of the atomic bomb considerably shortened the duration of the war. Otherwise it could have protracted beyond the years, wasting precious lives, time and resources, not to mention the aggravation of a drawn-out war of attrition. Therefore, it was a rightful decision on the part of the U.S. to use the atomic bomb on Japan. Doing this the United States did not want to finish off Japan entirely, and spared Tokyo, and targeted two secondary cities. This act was later appreciated even by Japan. Therefore, the U.S does not owe any apology to anyone. After the war, it was the United States who built up Japan anew and restored her dignity. This was a humane act on the part of the U.S.