Simms: Atrocities by Japanese raise problem of what to do with foe following war (1-31-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 31, 1944)

Screenshot 2022-06-20 213810

Simms: Atrocities by Japanese raise problem of what to do with foe following war

Decent, self-respecting nations needed in Far East; but can she be trusted with power?
By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor

Washington –
The atrocities have raised the problem of what to do with Japan after the war. A decent, self-respecting Japan is needed in the Far East, but it is seriously questioned whether she has progressed sufficiently in the ways of civilization to be trusted with power.

The truth is, Japan is a Jekyll-Hyde nation. Anthropologically, the Japs seem to be a highly explosive mixture – mainly of Manchu-Koreans, Mongols and Indonesians, with the second and third groups predominating. Thus, the relatively cultured and highborn Manchu and Korean strains hardly could do more than provide a thin veneer for the race as a whole, for the others were pretty savage.

On the surface, the average educated Jap is a suave and polished Dr. Jekyll. Given a strong whiff of war medicine, however, he turns into a monstrous Mr. Hyde. So the question now is:

Will Japan, after her defeat, remain savage, cunning and treacherous, or will the dope wear off and leave her an upright nation worthy of trust? If the former, the Allies will have no alternative but to keep her caged up, behind bars so strong she will be unable to break out. If the latter, a certain amount of latitude will be possible, and this would be better for all concerned.

There was a strong and growing liberal movement in Japan throughout the 1920s.

But all the time the military clique was champing at the bit, demand a “positive” policy – by which was meant a policy of force. During the Depression years, they saw their chance and grabbed it. They provoked “incidents” with China and invaded Manchuria. In 1932, they assassinated Premier Inukai and many other leaders who stood in their way, and seized complete control.

Jap liberalism now disappeared entirely. The warlords have set the clock back 600 years. The ways of the Samurai have returned, with a Shogun in the saddle, and the Emperor is a prisoner again to be used only when the masses need a fresh shot of fanaticism.

Today, many sincere friends of old Japan are wondering if she will ever be able to take her place among the great powers again. Everything, they believe, depends on whether or not Jap liberalism is dead or merely forced underground.

For the moment, at least, it looks as if Japan will have to begin her apprenticeship all over again. The last time was in 1853 when Cdre. Perry’s “black ships” breached her isolation and paved the way for her climb to greatness.

For seven centuries, Japan had been a hermit nation. Throughout that time her Mikados had been prisoners, the tools of the feudal warlords or Shoguns. Under the Shoguns were the Samurai and warrior class, and the Rōnin, or conscienceless stormtroopers who did their masters’ killing for hire.

The ways of Genghis Khan and his yellow hordes apparently came naturally to many within walled-in Japan. At the same time, however, there were some in silent revolt against what was going on. It was this minority that was given a chance by Cdre. Perry, and before the end of the century it had come out on top. The Emperor had been restored, a constitution written, a Diet set up and feudalism driven underground.


Interesting commentary for its time. I have some wonderful Japanese friends and have found it difficult to understand how their ancestors were so brutal during the war. I met the mother of one friend and he stated during the war she was part of a group of young girls who built the paper balloons that were sent towards the West Coast. As girls, they would sing songs against the terrible Americans, especially MacArthur. After the war with MacArthur in charge, she and others came to love him for the changes he brought to the Japanese.