Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War lI

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This book documents for the first time previously hidden Japanese atrocities in World War II, including cannibalism; the slaughter and starvation of prisoners of war; the rape, enforced prostitution, and murder of noncombatants; and biological warfare experiments.The author describes how desperate Japanese soldiers consumed the flesh of their own comrades killed in fighting as well as that of Australians, Pakistanis, and Indians. Another chapter traces the fate of 65 shipwrecked Australian nurses and British ...

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Overview

This book documents for the first time previously hidden Japanese atrocities in World War II, including cannibalism; the slaughter and starvation of prisoners of war; the rape, enforced prostitution, and murder of noncombatants; and biological warfare experiments.The author describes how desperate Japanese soldiers consumed the flesh of their own comrades killed in fighting as well as that of Australians, Pakistanis, and Indians. Another chapter traces the fate of 65 shipwrecked Australian nurses and British soldiers who were shot or stabbed to death by Japanese soldiers. Thirty-two other nurses, who landed on another island, were captured and sent to Sumatra to become “comfort women”—prostitutes for Japanese soldiers. Tanaka recounts how thousands of Australian and British POWs died in the infamous Sandakan camp in the Borneo jungle in 1945. Those who survived were forced to endure a tortuous 160-mile march on which anyone who dropped out of line was immediately shot. Only six escapees lived to tell the tale.Based on exhaustive research in previously closed archives, this book represents a landmark analysis of Japanese war crimes. The author explores individual atrocities in their broader social, psychological, and institutional milieu and places Japanese behavior during the war in the broader context of the dehumanization of men at war—without denying individual and national responsibility.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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)
Booknews
Documents previously hidden Japanese WWII atrocities, including cannibalism, the slaughter of prisoners of war, rape and enforced prostitution, biological warfare experiments, and the murder of noncombatants, based on previously classified documents. Explores the social, institutional, and psychological milieu of individual atrocities, and places Japanese behavior in the broader context of the dehumanization of men at war. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Yuki Tanaka is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Author's Note
Introduction 1
1 The Sandakan POW Camp and the Geneva Convention 11
The Forgotten POW Camp 11
Establishment of the Camp and the Labor Issue 12
Escapes and Nonescape Contracts 18
The Sandakan Incident and the Kempeitai 23
The System and Purpose of Gunritsu Kaigi 29
Mistreatment of POWs and the Formosan Guards 34
2 The Sandakan Death Marches and the Elimination of POWs 45
The First Death March 45
The Second Death March 52
The Elimination and Crucifixion of POWs 59
Responsibility for Maltreatment and Massacre of POWs 67
Japanese POW Policy 70
The Psychology of Cruelty 74
3 Rape and War: The Japanese Experience 79
Rape and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal 79
The Massacre of Nurses a Banka Island 81
The Threat of Prostitution 88
The Establishment of Comfort Houses 92
The Universality of Rape in War 100
War, Rape, and Patriarchy 105
4 Judge Webb and Japanese Cannibalism 111
The Tokyo Tribunal and Cannibalism 111
Evidence of Japanese Cannibalism 112
Allied Victims of Cannibalism 115
Cannibalism of Asian POWs 120
Cannibalism of the Indigenous Population 124
Starvation and Group Psychosis 126
Responsibility and Reaction 129
Aftermath of the Tribunal 131
5 Japanese Biological Warfare Plans and Experiments on POWs 135
Unit 731 and Biological Warfare Plans 135
Biological Warfare Plans in the Southwest Pacific 139
POWs in Rabaul and Medical Experiments 145
Australian Responses to Experiments on POWs 157
The Ethics of Japanese Military Doctors and "Doubling" 160
6 Massacre of Civilians at Kavieng 167
The Japanese Invasion of Kavieng 167
Discovery of the Akikaze Massacre 171
Responsibility Under the Australian War Crimes Act 179
A Clue to the Discovery of the Kavieng Massacre 182
Reconstruction of Events at Kavieng 185
Japanese Soldiers, International Law, and Gyokusai 193
Conclusion: Understanding Japanese Brutality in the Asia-Pacific War 197
The Japanese Concept of Basic Human Rights 197
Japanese Moral Concepts and the Emperor Ideology 201
The Corruption of Bushido 206
Toward Further Research 212
Notes 217
About the Book and Author 251
Index 253
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