Editorial: Japanese should tell their troubles to our Marines (10-17-42)

Brooklyn Eagle (October 17, 1942)

Editorial: Japanese should tell their troubles to our Marines

Reports leaking through the Japanese censorship from the territories now occupied by the Nipponese, and from Japan itself, indicate that an intensive campaign is underway to increase the number of English-speaking subjects of the Mikado. The courses in the Japanese language opened in the schools of their newly conquered lands, especially in the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies, and in special columns of newspapers, are said to have fizzled out quickly and miserably.

The Japanese language is said to be the only one in which even a highly educated man may be able to pronounce more words than he can write. This is due to the fact that the letter signs used by the Japanese, which are adaptations of the Chinese root signs adopted by the Japanese centuries ago, are so complicated and difficult as to make anything like exact meanings almost impossible.

The Chinese letter signs, so Orientalists inform us, have three meanings at most, while the same signs in Japanese oblige the unfortunate reader to guess as best he may between 16 to 20 possible interpretations. Therefore, say recently-returned American experts in Far Eastern life and affairs, in order to carry on their task of ruling their conquered populations, the Japanese are driven to employ the English language, the common vehicle of intercommunication in the Orient, at least in the popular version called “pidgin English.”

Some of the Japanese propagandists supply an explanation of the dilemma that is more gratifying to Japanese pride and self-confidence. According to them, as it will be necessary not only to conquer and acquire their “Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,” but also to invade the United States, and dictate peace terms in the White House in Washington, DC, as Premier Tōjō has proclaimed, why, naturally, they must be forehanded in building up a corps of interpreters between the divine sons of the Sun Goddess and the democratic barbarians of the United States.

Perhaps they had better tell that story to our Marines! What the Marines will say, or rather do, is already being made plain – what they say, could hardly be repeated in a family newspaper. In Japanese Sign Language, we might escape the censor, but not in English.


A lot of countries have learned the hard way, that one thing is to conquer a country, but its another thing to rule it.