Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Japanese Aggression & End of WWII Remembered

On Japan’s Surrender and WWII Memories

Aug. 15, 1945 was the day when the Japanese Emperor Hirohito signed Japan’s surrender and officially marked the end of Japanese aggression in countries like Korea, China, Philippines, Australia, the United States, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. While it evoked bitter memories and emotions in some, others simply shrugged it off as another event to forget. While it is important to remember the past, we should not be enslaved to hatred on a forever basis. It is not good for the soul.

The Sufferers - victims
As a generation who hardly experienced what World War II was like, I can only share in the gut-wrenching horror through oral stories, books, media portrayal of Japanese cruelty and the historical documents of the ugliness of war, and how war has de-humanized people. My grandparents used to describe how the Japanese soldiers brutalized the common-folks and treated them as if they were animals. Stories of them casting babies into the air and stabbing them with their knives, shooting men in the head in a sea of blood at Changi Beach, torture, raping women, forcing everyone to learn Japanese, building informant networks to encourage people to tell on one another. Those stories can easily make one’s blood boil. I have not even mentioned the atrocities that occurred during the Japanese ‘Rape of Nanking’ and the tortures in Korea, which dehumanized millions of people in East Asia! If Pearl Harbour was considered a terrible act of unprovoked war, the East Asian Japanese occupation is clearly the 'Holocaust' of the Far East.

The Aggressors
Having said that, the terrible atomic blasts in the two Japanese cities have killed and destroyed the futures of many ordinary Japanese who lived in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How the nuclear radiation and the slow painful death affected the survivors of the bombing. Thousands of Japanese also lost their lives. As much as I despised the way the Japanese has treated my forefathers, the Japanese themselves also suffered immensely in the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. War is something that nobody wins and everybody loses eventually.

Living Peaceably
What we can all do in the present and the future is to remember truthfully our historical past and make all efforts to ensure it does not ever happen again. The country of Japan must be truthful to their own citizens and state correctly history as it is, not a censored or diluted form that painted Japan the Aggressor as the victim! Likewise, the countries which suffered under Japanese occupation should gradually learn to see Japan with eyes of forgiveness as a whole new generation of Japanese has not been a part of the atrocities of war. They should not carry the blame and shame of their ancestors forever. What can we do to promote peace?

Building Up A 'Peace-Pool'
A Peace-Pool is like a Bank Account which stores credits in terms of goodwill, good deeds, friendship and harmony. As long as this pool is continually filled, despite sudden debits due to misunderstanding, the Peace-Pool will be large enough to sustain any debits and remain healthy. This is an active process and everyone is a depositor. How else can we fill this peace-pool?

This can be done by cross-cultural sharing and understanding. There should be no room for ethnic isolation nor segregation based on differences in language or racial discrimination. Anything that seek to create unhealthy discriminations will only sow seeds of discord and feed war-mongering thoughts. Wars do not simply happen. They take many years of little irritations, growing into compilations of sporadic brutalities and eventually becoming a pile of explosives so large that it only takes a spark to blow it up. We must always build up a ‘peace-pool’ of memorable events of peace and goodwill to counter any negative moves towards dehumanizing acts of cruelty and unfairness. How do we build up this peace pool? I do not have an exhaustive list, but I think the following should get us started somehow:
1. Go visit friends and neighbours REGARDLESS of ethnicity or other visible differences
2. Remember that underneath our skin, the colour is similar – blood red
3. Make an effort to learn simple greetings in as many languages as possible
4. Watch movies, films or cultural shows in another language
5. Enjoy food together through ‘pot-luck parties’, BBQs and different tastes of the world
6. Establish as many common factors as possible, like speaking a common language, working together on projects, learning to speak and understand the other party’s point of views etc.
7. Educate one another about one's own history and culture.

It is possible to live at peace with everyone. The most difficult first step is ‘your willingness’. That is God’s will for us.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

Which is your preferred peace symbol?

Live Branch
Peace Candle
Painted Faces
Paper Dove
Hands with Dove in Center
Blue Palm
Children Holding Hands


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