Richard Fernandez writes:
As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, try this quiz. Name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.
Donald Sensing links to this in his post, “Hiroshima Day”–World Council of Churches Gets It Wrong Again. He links to a recommended prayer service.
Let me be clear. I certainly have no problems with prayers for peace and justice. I pray them myself. But the order of remembrance (at the link) promulgated by the WCC is not one that I can in good conscience lead. One reason why is the inclusion of a, “Reading of an eye witness account from Hiroshima,” adapted from an account by Murakami Toshio. It is a compelling account, and what he endured was dreadful beyond description. I gainsay that not. But the reading’s conclusion is unacceptably incomplete:
We, the people of Hiroshima, crushed by nightmares, exasperation, resignation and hardships, have come to hate war, more than any other people, and above everything else. We have eagerly sought for peace, being so urged from the bottom of our hearts, from our very innermost core. …
I would like to know whether Mr. Toshio hates that war equally from its beginning as from its end. Does he hate what his country did to Nanking as much as what America did to Hiroshima? After all,
When Japanese forces conquered Nanking, for example, they killed at least 200,000 civilians and probably as many as 300,000 over a six-week period (or so) beginning in mid-December 1937.
Japanese atrocities in Nanking were so terrible that Nazi Germany’s Consul to the city personally intervened to save hundred of Chinese, especially women, tens of thousands of whom Japanese soldiers gang-raped and then, usually, murdered.
The list of Japanese atrocities during the war – which it started many years before it attacked Pearl Harbor – is literally too long to list here. For example, During America’s campaign to liberate the Philippines, the Japanese command declared Manila to be an open city, a term in international law with the specific meaning that it would not be defended and American forces could occupy it unopposed. This was treachery and deceit: the Japanese defended the city fiercely, resulting in the deaths of 100,000 Filipino civilians. The city itself was devastated just as completely as either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
During 1945, a half million civilians under Japanese occupation were being killed or dying every month because of the occupation.
Japan has never come to grips with its actions and has deliberately refused to face them. Germany, at least, went through such self examination after World War II, and indeed, repentance, that its Nazi past, though not erased, no longer strongly stains the nation of today. Indeed, Germans today have understood their special, historical obligation to face their past honestly and to stand for better angels of human nature today.
Japan, murderer of at least as many people as the Nazis, has never done this and will not do this. Its many years of atrocities: concentration camps, its biowar experiments on Chinese civilians, its deliberate programs of starvation and murder of prisoners, the rapacious pillaging of conquered cities and their peoples, its impressment of foreign women as sex slaves for soldiers – this and more all swept under the Japanese rug with even the barest pretense of acknowledgement that they ever occurred. …
I refuse on principle to pollute God’s ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC’s service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan’s blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.