Monday, 3 November 2008

Japanese military chief dismissed following denial of Japanese aggression in WW2

This photographic image was published before December 31st 1956, or photographed before 1946 and not published for 10 years thereafter, under jurisdiction of the Government of Japan. Thus this photographic image is considered to be public domain according to article 23 of old copyright law of Japan and article 2 of supplemental provision of copyright law of Japan.
The chief of staff for Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, Toshio Tamogami, has been dismissed following his publication, on October 31st, of an essay in which he denied Japanese aggression before and during the Second World War. The essay won first prize in a competition called “True Perspective of Modern and Contemporary History”.

Tamogami claimed that:
"Even now, there are many people who think that our country's 'aggression' caused unbearable suffering to the countries of Asia during the Greater East Asia War. But we need to realise that many Asian countries take a positive view of the Greater East Asia War. It is certainly a false accusation to say that our country was an aggressor nation."
His allegations caused controversy both in China and in South Korea.

The generally accepted version of events is that Japan invaded China in 1937, where the military were carried out various acts of aggression and even war crimes. The rape of tens of thousands of women and the killing of several thousand others later became known as the 'Rape of Nanking'. Japanese forces also occupied South Korea from 1910 to 1945. In both countries the Japanese military forced girls and women to serve as sex slaves or, as they were known in Japan, 'comfort women'.

Two former Japanese Prime Ministers have apologised for Japanese aggression before and during WWII. In 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the war’s end, Tomiichi Murayama recognised and apologised for the damage and suffering Japan inflicted on its Asian neighbours. Ten years later, on the sixtieth anniversary, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reiterated the official apology and, in 2001, he issued a specific apology for the treatment of Koreans during the Japanese occupation.

Toshio Tamogami’s dismissal was announced by Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada who commented that:

"I think it is improper as the air force chief of staff to publicly state a view clearly different from that of the government's […]. Therefore, it is inappropriate for him to remain in this position and I will swiftly dismiss him."
In the exhibition Disposable People', on display at the Southbank Centre until November 9th, one series of photographs is dedicated to the 'sex slaves' of the Japanese troops in South Korea. Through the testimonies of some of the victims of the Japanese forces, it provides a particularly vivid and moving insight into some of the horrors of the Japanese occupation.

The exhibition will be on tour throughout 2009 at the University of Plymouth, in Newcastle, Nottingham, Carlisle and Aberystwyth.

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