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Charles in Shanghai introduction

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Charles in Shanghai View Drop Down
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Joined: 03 Feb 2019
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    Posted: 03 Feb 2019 at 06:05
Dear reader,
I am preparing a book about a Dutch merchant and his friends living in Shanghai in the late 1930s and 1940s. It is historical non-fiction. Photographs related to my book can be found at:

Subjects you can expect to find in my book: economic & social history, colonialism, WW2, Japanese camp Chapei in Shanghai, personal stories, great photos.

Kind regards,
Pieter Lommerse
Charles in Shanghai
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franciscosan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2019 at 02:50
There is a mainland Chinese movie called 'Shanghai Triad'  Chinese movies are quite beautiful, they and the Russians bought up all the old American technicolor equipment.  JG Ballard the British author was a child in the Japanese Internment camps, his autobiographical book 'Empire of the Sun' was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg.  In his book on the Millenia (I forget the exact title), he writes about Hirohito who never acknowledged nor was forced to acknowledge his part in the atrocities.  The Japanese, as we say, "have swept that all under the rug," leaving quite a lumpy carpet.
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Charles in Shanghai View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Charles in Shanghai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2019 at 05:20
Thank you for you message. I will look up the Shanghai Triad movie. I have read JG Ballard's book Empire of the Sun and his autobiography. Also 'Lost Childhoods' gives a good view on the Japanese camps in the various countries in WW2. The people who have been in Japanese camps say, the movie is not very true to life and therefore I only read his books. Hirohito was of the older generation, let's aim at friendship and understanding between the new generations.
Charles in Shanghai
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2019 at 01:43
I studied Japanese language and culture for a few years, and have some admiration for it, but I do feel they have never come clean about WWII.  Being an American, we don't have much of a long term cultural memory, unlike, say, the Greeks and the Turks who sometimes seem like they are still fighting the Trojan War.  Japan is perfectly happy to let all the problems die off over time.  America in general has a positive view of the Japanese, its their relations with their neighbors that is fraught with difficulty.

Yes, I have heard that Spielbergs movie is a little too much like "disneyland" instead of the harrowing experience that it was.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Charles in Shanghai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2019 at 05:31
I have to agree there is a difference in the attitude towards the country's role in WWII in Japan vs let's say Germany. In China, the average European and American experienced a mild regime in the Japanese camps, compared to Japanese camps in The Philippines and Netherlands East Indies. The cruelties and death rates were much lower for instance. One of Charles' friends was made prisoner of war and spent years in captivity in Japan. In an interview in the late 1940s for the Dutch Centre of War Documentation, he tells about how he was treated quite humane and he finishes his account with the remark that he holds no grudges against the Japanese. After WWII however, many survivors of the camps in NEI protested heavily against Hirohito making a visit to the Netherlands.
Charles in Shanghai
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franciscosan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2019 at 18:56
Actually a big part of American positive attitude towards Japan is due to the post-war occupation.  Of course, MacArthur, being somewhat Imperial was a good choice to rule over Japan.  Another factor was racism (yes, racism), Germany a 'civilized' western nation was expected to do better than the atrocities, Japan wasn't.  So, Japan's barbarism was excused, whereas Germany's wasn't.  But, I believe Japanese POW camps were more atrocious than German POW camps, because the Japanese looked down on surrender, and treated POWs accordingly.  There is a movie about an US athlete who was captured by the Japanese, and with whom a Japanese commandant took a personal animosity towards.  The movie was directed by Angelina Jolie, and is called Unbroken (not Unbreakable, that is another movie).  It is fairly grisly, a triumph of the human spirit kind of movie.
The US was going to break up the Zaibatsu, the Japanese business conglomerates, which were partially responsible for the war, but then Korea happened.  And so the US put them back together.  Much of the Japanese auto industry was based on building Jeeps for Korea and Vietnam.  At least that is my understanding.  But, considering how brutal the Japanese were during the war, the US Occupation did not necessarily know what to expect.

The US has done okay with Japan over the years, first with Commodore Perry, and then with General MacArthur.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2019 at 21:39
Quote  But, considering how brutal the Japanese were during the war, the US Occupation did not necessarily know what to expect.

Yes, a somewhat amazing fact-the Western World knew not a lot about China and Japan at the commencement of WW2. The Samurai code was never surrender, surrender was dishonourable, and so the Japanese army treated POW's with contempt, often beheading or bayoneting them for no real reason.

IMHO, the Japanese should have been treated the same as Germans convicted of War Crimes.
It's not that I was born in Ireland,
It's the Ireland that was born in me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Mar 2019 at 00:10
Some Japanese were convicted of war crimes.  But, like I said, the Germans were expected to be civilized, the Japanese weren't, and so when they had acted in a barbaric manner, they were somewhat excused, because they did not have the tradition of democracy, and western civilization.

I think the US knew a lot more about the Japanese and Chinese than you give them credit for toyomotor.  For one thing, there were a lot of Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans living in the US, the Japanese Americans in Hawaii were too numerous to put into internment camps.  As far as propaganda was concerned, US propaganda was "hands-off" the Emperor, focusing on Tojo and his cronies instead.  That was an intentional strategy.

Taft and Teddy's daughter went on a mission to Japan, a generation before, in fact, in some ways Teddy's treatment of the Japanese, Korea and the Russo-Japanese War set the stage for Japanese/American conflict in WWII.
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