17 October 2005

The New Japanese SAT

From the April 5 Washington Post: "TOKYO, April 5 -- The Education Ministry on Tuesday approved a controversial new series of school textbooks that critics say whitewash Japan's militaristic past. The move ignited immediate outrage among some of the country's World War II-era victims."

In this months' The Atlantic , Christopher Buckley writes a stinging satire on Japanese efforts to reframe their militaristic past into something akin to victimhood. Acting like picked on adolescents doesn't seem to fit into Japan's code of Bushido.

Here is an excerpt of the "exam" -

What historically significant event occurred on December 7?
a.) Woodrow Wilson declared war on Austria, in 1917
b.) Admiral William Bligh, of HMS Bounty fame, died in 1817, regretting he never had the opportunity to visit Japan.
c.) Charles Brooks, Jr became the first American to be executed by lethal injection, in Texas, in 1982.
d.) U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull flouted diplomatic protocol by speaking in a rude and disrespectful manner to Japanese imperial ambassadors in Washington, in 1941

"Bataan Death March" refers to:
a.) A Seattle grunge band.
b.) Hole no.5 at Osaka Golf Club
c.) A badly maintained highway west of Manila Bay
d.) A lesser-known funereal composition by F. Chopin

On a personal note, many former "aggressor" nations have adopted a "Who us?" mien. I spoke to a friend of mine who was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. He told me he was going to be off for a few days last May. Knowing that Germans enjoy 6 weeks of paid vacation year round, out of curiosity I asked him what this particular holiday was for. He replied, "It is to celebrate when the allies liberated the German people from Nazi occupation." Hmmmm, I thought. The poor Germans are so burdened with guilt over 'the war' that they turned their defeat into a liberation. Just goes to show how much your choice of words goes a very long way to impacting the perception of your actions. NewSpeak aside, if you (the State) remove the word 'revolution' from the language - then people won't be able to conceptualize the idea of revolting. Get it? But I'll take a deep breath and refrain from Ranting about the state of language in our country - with the influx of Spanish speakers who won't bother to learn English.

There is actually a website devoted to the 60th anniversary of Allied Liberation.

We see this dynamic all over the world - it's not just in Japan. Although for Japan to downplay and trivialize the extent of its atrocities in China, Korea and the Phillipines - is outrageous. Here is a site that documents all the massacres commmitted by the Japs while occupying China.

Just ask the 200,000 'comfort women' or the residents of Nanking. I doubt that they would be very supportive of the revisionist Japanese history books.

What's next? Russian textbooks with the title - "Joe Stalin - Just your everyday Guy: A guide to the Lies about this gentle giant."

1 comment:

Keith Gordon said...

I have not heard from you in a while. What's up?