Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II

Toshiyuki Tanaka, Author, Yuki Tanaka, Author, John W. Dower, Foreword by Westview Press $39 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8133-2717-4
In a shocking brief that's as much an intellectual artifact as a work of scholarship, Japanese historian Tanaka challenges the idea of Japan as a victim in WWII. The core of his thesis is that in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, an ""Emperor ideology"" based on the ""family state"" came to dominate Japan. Responsibility was seen as unlimited, while rights existed only in a collective context; this set the stage for various tragedies and atrocities. Tanaka offers several case histories to prove his point. They cover the massacre of more than 2500 Australian prisoners in a Borneo camp, widespread cannibalism by Japanese troops in New Guinea, the shooting of 21 Australian nurses in cold blood and the sexual enslavement of Asian women for the pleasure of Japanese fighting men. Also surveyed are the premeditated murder of 32 civilians, including German missionaries, in 1943; Japanese plans for bacteriological warfare; and the use of prisoners as medical guinea pigs. Tanaka insists that the perpetrators of these brutalities were ""ordinary"" men enmeshed in a criminal system; he also asserts that people of all nationalities commit atrocities in war. He depicts this era as a definable, relatively brief period during which Japan lost its way and ran amok. This seems no more intellectually acceptable than describing the Third Reich as a historical accident. In fact, Tanaka's study resembles German efforts during the 1950s to come to terms with the immediate past. As such, it is a beginning--no less and no more. Maps and photographs not seen by PW. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1996
Release date: 06/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-367-01015-7
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-367-16002-9
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8133-2718-1
Open Ebook - 307 pages - 978-0-8133-4663-2
Open Ebook - 268 pages - 978-0-429-70088-0
Open Ebook - 268 pages - 978-0-429-74090-9
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