Big Talk

Japan’s Fight in the Pacific War Brought Racial Equality to the World

Journalist Kazuhiko Inoue
Chairman, APA Group Toshio Motoya

Journalist Kazuhiko Inoue won the 2023 APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize for his book about the truth of the Greater East Asia War. He draws on his past career at a trading company in the defense field while directly interviewing domestic and foreign witnesses to clarify what actually happened in history. In addition to writing books, he also appears as a commentator on TV programs and other types of media. Toshio Motoya spoke with Inoue about topics including the historical truths that Japanese people must learn.

Winning the APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize for a book that overturns established theories


(M) Thank you for joining me on Big Talk today, and congratulations on receiving last year’s APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize.

(I) I’m so grateful for this wonderful award, and I will work hard to honor its name by helping restore Japan.

(M) You won the award for your 2023 publication, Distorted Truth: The Showa War (Greater East Asia War). Your book was highly appraised for astutely pointing out errors in established theories about the Greater East Asia War, which are taught in schools and reported in the media. It’s based on your interviews with former Japanese soldiers and other people. I believe Japan accomplished a great deal through the Greater East Asia War.

(I) Thank you very much. Japan played an important role in history; I think we can say it completely changed the world.

(M) Japan abolished colonial rule and achieved racial equality.

(I) Yes, exactly.

(M) It’s possible the world would still be controlled by Western powers if Japan hadn’t fought. There might still be colonial rule founded on the Christian, white-supremacist ideology. Japan lost the war, but its efforts helped break down Western global domination and create a world of freedom and equality. Traditionally, people haven’t spoken much about these extraordinary achievements.

(I) Distorted information has been spread about things that couldn’t have happened, making it seem like Japan did something bad and disregarding the most important parts of this discussion.

(M) That’s because the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ) implemented a brainwashing strategy during its occupation of Japan. Japan did an amazing thing by fighting against the global powers. Although it was defeated, the fact that it built the world of today means it was also victorious.

(I) I’ve been subjected to biased postwar education and warped news reports from a young age. After becoming an adult and making my way in the world, I realized the Japanese school system and media convey utter nonsense. TV programs, newspapers, and other media outlets constantly promote self-tormenting historical viewpoints and beliefs to make it seem like Japan did bad things, particularly around August 15, the anniversary of the end of the war. The same thing happens at schools. But different countries have entirely different views, including Asian nations where the Greater East Asia War was fought. I’ve traveled to dozens of countries, but I’ve never met a single person who criticized Japan’s actions before the war. I have no idea whom the Japanese media is interviewing and where they find them.

(M) The educational system and media have given many people these mistaken views. I publish Apple Town magazine to provide opportunities for them to learn the truth, as well as these Big Talk interviews and essays under my penname of Seiji Fuji. Did you have similar goals for Distorted Truth?

(I) Yes, I did.

(M) How did you become a military affairs journalist?

(I) I studied media in university, not history or military affairs. After graduation I worked at a trading company in the defense and aerospace field. I learned many interesting things by traveling around the world while seeing and hearing things for myself, back in the era before the Internet or social media. I was shocked by differences between what I experienced in other countries, and what the Japanese schools and mass media were saying. I took some time off to travel around Europe, starting with Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union back then. A coup d’etat took place in Moscow while I was on my way home, and the Soviet Union collapsed after that. I felt that Japanese people had a naive, complacent belief in continual peace, which wasn’t aligned with major changes around the globe. I became a journalist based on this strong conviction that I had to tell Japanese citizens what was really happening across the world.

The media is silent on positive aspects of Japan’s military government


(M) I hope this interview will inspire even more people to read your superb book.

(I) Thank you! For many years, it was taboo to voice suspicion about established theories in the schools and media, which made it difficult to learn the truth. For instance, there were no magazines like Apple Town in the rooms of Japan’s number-one hotel chain. I’ve learned about Japan’s true history from elderly people I interviewed in Taiwan.

(M) I was friendly with Lee Teng-hui, the former president of Taiwan who believed Japan played a hugely significant role in the world. He had a correct understanding, and was grateful to Japan for helping build Taiwan into the developed democracy and economy of today.

(I) Unfortunately, some Japanese people have negative views of their home country. I began to question this, and to see it as a problem. Bizarrely, people who criticize Japan and abhor its pre-war actions are regarded as wise. This makes absolutely no sense. Why don’t we praise Japan for the wonderful things it did? Why do we lack respect for our forefathers? I think the media and educational system have distorted historical facts. An example is the topic of Taiwan under Japanese rule. Japan governed Taiwan for 50 years after the First Sino-Japanese War. Taiwanese people who lived during that era appreciate and are thankful for the schools and infrastructure built by Japan. Southeast Asian countries where the Greater East Asia War took place – like the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar – also have favorable views of the war, and I’ve never heard a critical word from them about Japan’s fight. The same is true of Guadalcanal, Rabaul, and other island countries. I’m sure other Japanese people have encountered this, as well.

(M) There are two views: did Japan occupy Asia, or did it liberate Asia from colonial Western rule? Japan has believed in the former, and has constantly apologized to other countries based on its masochistic understanding of history.

(I) The Murayama Statement is a classic example. Japan didn’t fight against the people of Vietnam, Malaysia, or other Asian countries – it fought the armies of Western powers that colonized Asia. It is a problem that so many people lack this basic understanding.

(M) Another issue is that Japan didn’t actively promote its role in achieving global equality. The weak-minded Ministry of Foreign Affairs merely apologizes for doing “bad” things, which isn’t good at all.

(I) I agree entirely. We should also shine a spotlight on Japanese “holdouts,” the soldiers who voluntarily remained in Asia after the war ended – approximately 800 in Vietnam and 2,000 in Indonesia. They earned gratitude from locals by fighting for independence against the French and Dutch armies, which returned to Asia with the goal of ruling those colonies. When the former Emperor and Empress of Japan went to Vietnam in 2017, they were welcomed with great enthusiasm by the Vietnamese people, and they met with surviving family members of deceased soldiers. The current Emperor and Empress traveled to Indonesia last year and left flowers at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, with a warm welcome from locals. Among the 28 Japanese soldiers buried there, some married Indonesian women and some have living descendants. I don’t understand why more attention isn’t given to these facts.

(M) They should be remembered.

(I) General Hitoshi Imamura led the Japanese military to drive out the Dutch forces from Indonesia (then called the “Dutch East Indies”) in 1942 before World War II. Right after independence, Japan rescued Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, members of the independence movement who had been taken as political prisoners. It also built schools to educate Indonesian people. Some denounce Japan for conducting “imperialist” education in Japanese and “forcing” the Indonesian people to learn our language, but that’s a total misinterpretation. What other language could Japanese teachers have used with the locals who had never even been given the opportunity to attend school? I think Japanese was the only option.

(M) Different Indonesian islands had different languages. While providing education in Japanese, a committee was established to create a standardized Indonesian language for all regions.

(I) In other words, the Indonesian language came into widespread use thanks to Japan’s military government. Japanese was also used in Taiwan. The indigenous tribes (then referred to as the “Takasago people”) had many different languages. Japanese was their first common language, and it became a major driving factor in Taiwan’s modernization.

(M) It’s so strange how the Japanese media reports only on negative aspects of Japanese rule while remaining silent on the positive things that Japan did.

(I) I think so, too.

(M) Japan’s military administration in Southeast Asia was nothing like how Western powers governed their colonies. Western nations implemented policies for their own benefit and forced colonies to speak Western languages, but Japan saw the value of Indonesian and other local languages.

The Japanese military fought bravely until the Greater East Asia War ended


(I) The Russo-Japanese War was the first step in Japan wresting control from the white countries. The whole world was astounded when Japan defeated Russia, a major power, and started a momentum of independence among ethnic groups in Western colonies. It’s not an exaggeration to say this was a result of the Meiji Restoration, when Japan struggled mightily to modernize and avoid colonization. During the latter years of the Edo period, Japan faced the threat of becoming a Western colony. The samurai gave up their special privileges and carried out the Meiji Restoration based on their awareness of this serious danger. Without a proper way of thinking about national security, the Meiji Restoration might have failed, and Japan would not have beat Russia in a modern war.

(M) Absolutely.

(I) The ground-breaking Greater East Asia Conference took place 38 years later in Tokyo, from November 5 to 6, 1943. Representatives from the Philippines, Burma, Thailand, India, Manchukuo, and the Republic of Taiwan adopted the Joint Declaration extolling co-existence, co-prosperity, respect for tradition, independence, autonomy, economic growth, and above all, racial equality. Japan has been criticized for using the Greater East Asia Conference and joint declaration to justify its war, but I believe we should reevaluate the conference from an impartial standpoint.

(M) I think Japan did a truly great thing for the world by abolishing racial discrimination.

(I) As I wrote in my book, many falsifications have become accepted theories about history. The first of these regards the question of why Japan fought a war it could not win. Japan’s original scenario was a war resembling the Russo-Japanese War – it would deal major damage to the enemy in the early stage, then reconcile at the appropriate timing. All the top military figures and politicians were aware that the United States outstripped Japan in terms of national power. They are constantly criticized after the fact, including the individual tactics used and the battles fought. However, these battles actually reveal that the Japanese military put up a brave fight until the end and achieved good results. Although Japan lost, its methods terrified its enemies. Our forefathers fought well, including the initial blitzkrieg, Kamikaze special attack squad, defense of the main island, and postwar fights with the Soviet Union.

(M) The Japanese military put up a splendid fight, even during the last stage of the Pacific War. As I’ve said before, Japan did the great work of bringing racial equality to the world. The attendees at the Asian-African Conference (Bandung Conference) commended Japan in 1955. Fewer people praise Japan today because our foreign policy has involved so many apologies.

(I) Former Prime Minister of Thailand Kukrit Pramoj said, “Asian nations became independent thanks to Japan, our mother. She had a hard labor and suffered a great deal, but her children are growing into strong, healthy countries. Who made it possible for Southeast Asian people to speak on equal terms with the U.S. and United Kingdom today? The answer is Japan, our mother who sacrificed herself for our sake.” Japan has received many compliments, but Japanese people do not praise their country today.

(M) That’s true.

(I) As I mentioned, many people work backwards to criticize the leaders and results of tactical guidance from the Greater East Asia War. It’s like they think they are skilled military strategists. There are some ridiculous conspiracy theories as well. Of course, we should reconsider and reflect on the military operations used. But before that, I think we should be grateful to the young men around age 20 who gave their lives for the future citizens of Japan. Visiting Yasukuni Shrine is a way to pay respect to the spirits of these soldiers. It is absurd to say that this glorifies war. It’s also a national security issue – who would fight to protect our people and nation from invasion? Would Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officials risk their lives to fight off a foreign enemy if they knew their deaths would be seen as meaningless and unworthy of gratitude, like the soldiers who fell in the Greater East Asia War? The same applies to police officers, coast guard officers, and firefighters. Japanese people believe the smartest option is to voice idealistic ideologies and call for peace, but this is a flippant attitude to take while not showing any thanks or respect to the organizations working night and day while putting themselves in danger to keep us safe. I think Japan is the only country like this, anywhere in the world.

Defending Japan with a spirit of gratitude and respect for fallen soldiers


(M) Our educational system and media should encourage people to feel pride in their country. The occupation policy is one reason why Japan lacks a correct understanding of history. All people who learn the truth end up as conservatives. Japan should become a worldwide leader possessed of pride and self-confidence.

(I) I agree, and that’s why we should reappraise the Greater East Asia War and reevaluate its significance. I also want to take another look at Japan’s role in World War I. Before he passed away, author C. W. Nicol shared his analysis that the Allies would have lost if Japan hadn’t sent its fleet to the Mediterranean Sea. Postwar education includes almost nothing about the significance of Japan’s fight in World War I, how it contributed to the Allied victory, and the way it is evaluated by other countries. I think students only learn about the Siege of Tsingtao fought with Germany, at most. Because Japan made major efforts to help the Allies win, it became one of the five major powers and a permanent member of the League of Nations. This is why we need to rethink World War I. Another unprecedented thing was Japan’s proposal to include text about abolishing racial discrimination in the preamble of the Covenant of the League of Nations. We should share this widely as something we are proud of. Japan should also point out that its wonderful proposal was rejected by American President Woodrow Wilson.

(M) In the postwar era, problems have been caused by the pervasive Japanese value system that completely negates all wars. International law has prohibited warfare since World War I. The rules have become more elaborate since World War II, and today the United Nations Charter clearly allows for the use of military force against invasions. Postwar education simply teaches that warfare is bad, regardless of whether the fight is a just war or an invasion. But if we were invaded, we would have to fight to defend the country. We need military strength to deter wars for this reason.

(I) Yes, this has been simplified so much that people believe all wars should be avoided, even for self-defense. It’s like telling elementary school students that they shouldn’t fight for any reason. Would you tell Ukraine not to fight back against the Russian invasion? All countries accept that there are times when they must fight for self-defense. Japan is unfit to be called a nation because it even disavows defensive wars.

(M) Because Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fought without fleeing and successfully defended Kyiv, Ukraine was able to receive support from the European Union and U.S. to continue the fight. Japan should also fight on its own if an emergency occurred, with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty providing backup when necessary.

(I) That’s exactly right – the American military would never fight on behalf of a nation that didn’t defend itself against an invasion. We must be determined and prepared to protect ourselves. Japan should also be more vigilant about happenings around the world and have a stronger sense of involvement. Although the security environment is growing increasingly tense, Japanese news focuses on scandals and celebrities with little reporting about national defense. I am afraid of what might happen.

(M) The JSDF and U.S. Forces Japan used to be able to put pressure on the Chinese military, but this power relationship is changing along with China’s economic strength. A huge number of Japanese people belittle China, but they are incorrect. President Xi Jinping created his own empire by abolishing the presidential term (two consecutive five-year terms) of office, and will likely try to swallow up nearby countries if they seem weak. Japan must obtain sufficient military force to discourage this.

(I) Despite this, I saw an international public opinion poll in which just 13.2% of Japanese people said they would take up weapons to fight against an invasion – the lowest percentage of all participating countries. Although the U.S. is our ally, would it rush to help a country with this attitude?

(M) America’s War Plan Orange was premised on fighting with Japan. Even the U.S. might try to gain control of Japan if it seemed overly weak. French President Charles de Gaulle did not see Germany as the only hypothetical enemy. France obtained nuclear arms because de Gaulle believed all its neighbors could become adversaries. Japan may need a similar viewpoint, namely that all other countries could become our enemies.

(I) It’s important that Japan constantly display a strong will to retaliate if threatened, showing that any attackers would suffer great damage, both military and economic. That’s what deterrence means. In terms of security, it’s a serious problem that no current politicians have this type of spirit or strategy.

(M) I agree, and look forward to seeing what you do in the future. At the end of the interview, I always ask for a “word for the youth.”

(I) Japan needs sufficient defense capabilities if we want our current peace to continue for perpetuity. This is also the mission we must fulfill in the international community as a major economic power. We should remember to feel gratitude and respect to our forefathers who defended Japan. They gave their lives for the peace and prosperity we enjoy today. I hope young people will be aware of this as they work to protect Japan.

(M) Thank you for sharing such an interesting conversation with me today.

(I) Thank you.


Kazuhiko Inoue

Born in 1963 in Shiga Prefecture. Graduated from Hosei University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and began working at a trading company specialized in aerospace and defense. Based on this experience, he began speaking and writing about military affairs, security, foreign affairs, and modern history, and is a commentator on TV variety and news programs. Was awarded the Fujisankei Group’s 17th Seiron Shinpu Prize in 2016. His many published works include his latest book Distorted Truth: The Showa War (Greater East Asia War) (WAC), which won the 6th APA Japan Restoration Grand Prize in 2023.