This year marks APA Group’s 43rd anniversary. At the time the company was founded, all employees took part in overseas study tours each year. Afterwards employees were picked to participate, and in recent years I have been touring World War II battlefields overseas via biannual joint study tours with members of the Shoheijuku school and APA Corporate Club (an association of cooperating companies). Last year I visited Taipei (Taiwan) in November, Manila (the Philippines) in June, and the year before last I visited Hanoi (Vietnam) in November.
I decided to visit Ho Chi Minh, which used to be named “Saigon,” in June 2014. Right before our departure, the July issue of Seiron magazine contained an article entitled, “South Korea has no right to complain about the comfort women: indicting South Korea’s genocide in Vietnam.” This report written by brothers Toshiaki and Masatoshi Kitaoka was astounding; it said the South Korean Army performed massive killings of women, children, the elderly, and other regular citizens at roughly 100 locations across Vietnam during the Vietnam War, killing between 10,000 and 30,000 people. The report also said there are memorials throughout Vietnam to ensure people don’t forget about these massive killings by the South Korean Army. I hurriedly changed our schedule in Vietnam to visit Binh An, a village in southern Vietnam where around 1,000 people were supposedly killed by the South Korean Army.
I didn’t think Ho Chi Minh and Binh An were very far apart, but when I researched the distance I learned it is more than 600 kilometers. There are no expressways and the road conditions are poor, so I decided we would fly there for a day trip. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and took the first flight to Qui Nhon in central Vietnam. After we arrived, we chartered a bus with a local guide to visit the monument in Binh An that was mentioned in Seiron. There, I saw murals depicting the barbarous acts of the South Korean Army. They showed naked women burned to death by the South Korean soldiers, young women who were victims of rape, angry mothers with their arms tied, and South Korean soldiers wearing uniforms with tiger marks throwing hand grenades at air-raid shelters where people had taken refuge.
Massacres took place at 15 villages near Binh An, and apparently there are some places where it is not even known that massacres occurred because all of the villagers were killed. According to the guide, during the Vietnam War the region near Binh An was controlled by the White Tiger Division of the South Korean Army (the government side) at daytime, but at night the Viet Cong came and distributed publicity flyers. In this way, there were different rulers during the day and night.
One day, two South Korean soldiers died in a trap dug by the Viet Cong. South Korean soldiers came to the village and harshly questioned the villagers about who had dug the trap and where the Viet Cong base was. They interrogated the villagers, partly for revenge, and people who did not answer were immediately shot to death. In the end, 380 people were killed in a single hour.
The Kitaoka brothers published a more detailed article, printed in color, in the August issue of SAPIO magazine. It described Binh An as follows: The South Korean soldiers slaughtered mainly the weak such as women, children, and the elderly. Their killing of women and children was particularly overwhelming; they raped women and cut open the bellies of pregnant women. There were many children from age zero to less than 10 years. They were subjected to inconceivable atrocities such as beheading, having their limbs cut off, or being tossed into fires. It was a scene of hell, a modern-day Guernica.
The younger a person was at the time of the massacre, the stronger his or her lingering malice regarding South Korea. There has been no compensation and no one has taken revenge. Even the patient Vietnamese feel simmering wrath and hatred. I also sensed tremendous anger from the guide who showed us around.
When we arrived in Ho Chi Minh, we visited the Cu Chi underground tunnels. Apparently, these tunnels were made by people using small shovels, and are laid out in a network like a beehive. They are said to have a total length of 200 or 250 kilometers, and vast living spaces were built underground. We learned about the do-or-die efforts of the Vietnamese farmers and saw various measures taken at great pains by these farmers.
Afterwards, at the War Remnants Museum we listened to an explanation by Win Loc Ban, the female head of the museum. She introduced us to Fam Ba Lu, an ex-servicemen of the Viet Cong. We heard stories including the fact that, when members of the U.S. Armed Forces were killed or wounded by the Viet Cong in guerilla warfare, they would torture Vietnamese to locate the masterminds. In the question and answer session afterwards, I suggested to the museum head that Vietnam should indict South Korea for these crimes against humanity – the women, children, and elderly people who were slaughtered by the acts of barbarity of the South Korean Army. She replied that Vietnam wants to receive an apology, but that the Vietnamese people wish to live in a forward-looking way without being fixated on the past. I immediately felt admiration for the open-mindedness of the Vietnamese people.
Afterwards, when I mentioned this to our guide in Qui Nhon, I received a different answer. He said Vietnam does not complain about South Korea because “they are drinking tea together.” In other words, Vietnam is being bribed. Apparently, the high government officials receive enormous bribes from South Korean plutocrats. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Vietnam is a country ruled by a single Communist Party, just like China, so the high officials that are members of the Communist Party (the privileged class) use these bribes to lead extravagant lives. The guide said Vietnam’s economy has not developed because the wealth of this rich class flows overseas, rather than being distributed inside the country.
When South Korean President Park Geun-hye made an official visit to Vietnam in September of last year, she did not apologize in any way. The common people of Vietnam must withstand two types of anger: anger towards South Korea and towards the Vietnamese government that has sealed off the past.
The children of mixed blood who were born from the rapes of Vietnamese women by South Korean soldiers are called “Lai Dai Han.” It has become clear that roughly 20,000 of these people exist in Vietnam. To prevent attacks on regular women, the Japanese Army approved military brothels run by the private sector and allowed them to be built near army garrisons. In this way, it performed hygiene management for the army. The U.S. Armed Forces questioned Korean “comfort women” they were safeguarding in Burma in 1944. This record is stored at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Tony Marano, known by his nickname of “Texas Daddy,” sent away for a copy of this record and posted it on his website. According to this document, the comfort women were paid high salaries, and once they had paid off their debts they were free to leave. Some of them even married Japanese soldiers. In this and other ways, the questioning depicts a picture of simple war prostitutes who were vastly different from sexual slaves.
South Korea distorts this truth and censures Japan – saying these women were forced into prostitution and subjected to sexual slavery – but in Vietnam the South Korean army was not managed at all. It was allowed to roam around and commit rape and even mass killings. South Korea caused enormous damage in Vietnam, and because there is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity, it is not too late for this crime to be clearly exposed for the international community to see. In any case, South Korea has no right to criticize Japan. The July issue of Seiron and August issue of SAPIO introduce other sites of massacres by the South Korean Army that I was not able to visit, including photographs. I hope that many people will read these articles and learn about the truth.
Since World War II, Japan has been repeatedly censured for totally fabricated historical events – such as the death of 300,000 people in the Nanking Massacre and the forced transportation and sexual slavery of 200,000 women – by China and South Korea, who take advantage of the fact that Japan cannot refute these things because of the shackles of the press code. That’s why people across the world believe these incidents actually happened. Japan should create a “Ministry of Information” with 3,000 staff members and a budget of 300 billion yen; it should check the news reports in all languages across the world, 24 hours a day, and immediately refute any that aren’t true in the local language.
Moreover, now that 69 years have passed since the end of the war the number of people who actually experienced it is falling steadily. Therefore, the opportunity to revise the mistakes related to World War II is disappearing. Even more worrisome is the existence of “storytellers” who purposefully spread erroneous narratives.
Fumio Oda, the former head of the Army Accounting Department, spoke at the monthly meeting of the Shoheijuku Kansai Branch on June 24. His talk mainly focused on his personal experiences campaigning in China. He said the army’s policy was to use local procurement for everything except weapons and uniforms, so items such as food and clothing were all pillaged. This seemed ridiculous. He also said the Japanese Army suffered a crushing defeat in China and withdrew leaving behind tens of thousands of bodies of the soldiers that were killed in action.
I thought it would be terrible for the attendees to swallow this story, and that if I was silent it would seem like I accepted what he was saying. When I said it seemed illogical to loot all items such as food and clothing for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, Oda said they were purchased with worthless military currency, which is the same as looting. But even if this worked one time, it would not a second time. Military currency was circulated in the regions controlled by Japan and could be used to purchase goods. If not, the army could not have been supplied for eight years. When I pointed this out, Oda replied, “We did receive some supplies.”
Moreover, when I asked him which battle produced tens of thousands of causalities, he pretended to be unable to hear and then finally said, “The number of casualties was in the thousands.” Oda also said that each soldier was given one hand grenade in order to commit suicide, but why would hand grenades – which are used for offensive attacks – be needed to commit suicide when the soldiers also carried guns? I relentlessly asked Oda to correct the content of his talk and cautioned him to not spread these falsehoods again. He agreed, and I suggested that he leave the venue right away. Because he is so old I told him to take care on the way, and had an APA employee take him home. Up until now Oda has given hundreds of talks to people who wish to hear a specific ideology, so perhaps he falsifies the truth in order to gain sympathy from them, by which he has earned a small quantity of money as a storyteller. There are many storytellers of this type who propagate untruths in Honshu and Okinawa as well.
The tragic nature of warfare is described in many documents and by many people, and no one wishes to wage war. However, mankind has continually fought and has now obtained weapons of mass destruction such as atomic bombs and chemical weapons. Behind these wars there are merchants of death who profit by creating such weapons and causing wars to drag on.
During World War II, the Japanese Army stationed in French Indochina (Vietnam) was withdrawn when the Potsdam Declaration was accepted. To help the Vietnamese who wanted to take this opportunity for independence, around 800 former Japanese soldiers remained in Vietnam and fought with the people there, contributing significantly to Vietnam’s independence. The Ho Chi Minh administration gained victory in the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam concluded the Geneva Agreements with France and became independent. However, the U.S. established the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), a puppet regime, to oppose Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnam. In 1963 a Vietnamese monk burned himself to death in front of the American embassy to protest South Vietnam’s policy regarding Buddhists. In response, a relative of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem commented that the incident was a human barbecue show. This detonated the anger of the masses, caused President John F. Kennedy to feel great anger, and resulted in a coup d’état. The Viet Cong was an anti-American, anti-South Vietnam organization created shortly before this. It was supported by North Vietnam, by which it attempted to create a unified country and greatly expanded the front.
There are still many military goods remaining in the U.S., such as weapons and ammunition produced during World War II and the Korean War. The American defense industry purged its inventory by enlarging the war in Vietnam after France’s withdrawal, seeing it as a chance to sell military goods and also to develop and test new weapons. Some people think the defense contractors assassinated Kennedy – who hesitated to become deeply involved in the war – and caused the automatic promotion of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who went along with the intentions of this industry. This allowed them to become more involved in Vietnam. In every country, the people who try the most to avoid warfare are the soldiers who stand on the front lines, followed by the regular citizens. Yet war cannot be avoided because the defense industry wishes to fight. The U.S. has continued waging war as a type of public works project: World War II, the Korean War to prevent the communization of Korea, the Vietnam War to prevent the world from toppling to communization like dominoes by North Vietnam invading and annexing South Vietnam, the Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, etc. The defense industry may profit from warfare, but the victims are always citizens and soldiers.
In Japan many people know of Viet and Duc Nguyen, a pair of conjoined twins who were harmed by the defoliant used by the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam. When I actually visited Vietnam, I saw many deformed children even today – damage caused by the U.S. soldiers’ herbicidal warfare. The logic of the defense industry is that it only cares about profit; it doesn’t matter if deformed children are born in enemy nations or even if its own countrymen are harmed. We must clarify the truly tragic nature of war and defend against parties that want to set off wars.
People claim that Japan has known peace since the end of World War II thanks to Article 9 of the constitution, but this is mistaken. Japan has maintained peace only because it concluded the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty with the U.S., a mighty military power. But the U.S. constantly created points of conflict in the vicinity of Japan, and Japan has continually been forced to depend on the U.S. In the summer of 1945 the U.S. was the world’s only nuclear state; for instance, it could have prevented the Soviet Union from capturing the Northern Territories or caused it to withdrawal afterwards, which would have prevented the Northern Territories issue. The Takeshima issue with South Korea also could have been prevented if the U.S. opposed the willful drawing of the Syngman Rhee Line atop the ocean. Moreover, China is taking advantage of the ambiguous American stance on the Senkaku Islands issue. The U.S. is lately withdrawing its armed forces from locations around the world, which China has responded to with an expansion policy in which it enlarges its sphere of influence across the ocean, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands.
Japan should augment its defense capabilities as a type of deterrence – in cooperation with Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries – to maintain a balance of power and make maximum efforts to avoid war. To that end, we must establish an independent constitution, turn the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) into a national defense army, and allow the JSDF to act freely. I also think Japan should join the nuclear sharing arrangement concluded by four NATO member countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands) and the U.S. Japan should gain nuclear arms together with the U.S. and fill in the vacuums of power left by the withdrawal of the U.S. Armed Forces. No matter what, we must not allow China to commit barbarous acts in Japan of the sort perpetrated by South Korea in Vietnam. There is very little time left to avoid war.
To that end as well, Shinzo Abe must remain the prime minister for as long as possible, which will require a conservative party that is further to the right than the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The Japan Restoration Party has broken apart into the Toru Hashimoto group and the Next Generation Party, which has improved the situation. I hope the Next Generation Party and Toshio Tamogami’s new Japan Genuine Conservative Party will serve as icebreakers to ensure the LDP ship captained by Abe does not meet the fate of the Titanic. If they do not guide Japan in a correct direction, Japan has no future prospects. On my study trip to Vietnam, I saw the tragic situation in Vietnam with my own eyes and once again felt the importance of protecting Japan.
6:00 p.m., July 24, 2014 (Thursday)