Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
A foolish optimism about human nature can’t withstand even a nodding acquaintance with history. If you’re of a certain age you may well remember seeing this photo. It was published years ago in Life magazine, among other places. And once seen, it is not easily forgotten. The Scrapbook retrieved the copy reproduced here from the endlessly fascinating World War II Today website, maintained and curated since 2008 by Martin Cherrett (ww2today.com). Here is Mr. Cherrett’s description:
Leonard Siffleet was an Australian Special Forces radio operator, sent to Papua New Guinea to establish a coast watching site monitoring the movements of Japanese forces. He and two Ambonese comrades, H. Pattiwal and M. Reharing, were discovered and detained by local tribesmen loyal to the Japanese. After the Japanese had interrogated them for two weeks, all three were beheaded on Aitape Beach on 24th October. If Yasuno Chikao, the Japanese officer responsible, had not asked a comrade to take a photograph of him wielding the execution sword, it is very unlikely that their exact fate would have been discovered.
For several reasons, our thoughts turned to this photo when the president made his remarks last week about the brutal murder of an American journalist, James Foley, who had been kidnapped in Syria two years ago. It serves as a reminder, as a colleague put it, that this kind of madness is eternal and “not subject to taming by negotiation. It feeds on itself; loves itself.” YouTube may have been invented only recently, but the sick desire of a certain kind of killer to preserve a record of his crime, a trophy if you will, is nothing new. It bespeaks self-confidence, pride, a belief in the glory and rightness of the cause on behalf of which he kills. The swordsman in the photo is a man, you might say, who believes that history is on his side.
The president last week said of Foley’s killer, “people like this ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy . . .” We might wish that this were the case, but it isn’t. Civilizations are mortal, and many fine ones have been both built and destroyed. Those who built them kept them only as long as they defended them.
Something more will be required to defend our civilization than the belief, woven into this president’s Oval Office rug, that the arc of the universe bends toward justice.
We knew how to deal with an army of Yasuno Chikaos. For the existence of this photo, and the lessons it imparts, we owe thanks to the U.S. Navy and the American GIs who recovered it from a dead Japanese officer less than six months after it was taken. They were part of Operation Reckless, an amphibious landing of an entire U.S. Army corps on New Guinea.
5:14 PM, Jul 1, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
In 2007, during his first term as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe penned a work titled Toward a Beautiful Country, My Vision for Japan. The recent re-examination of the 1993 Kono Statement on the Imperial Japanese military’s use of “comfort women” during World War II (a euphemism for sex slaves), which was presented to the Japanese Diet on June 20, is the antithesis of the actions of “a beautiful country.” It represents a backward step, reopening a dark chapter in 20th-century history, which most of the world woul
Tiananmen Square and truth-telling. Jun 9, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 37 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
In a March 28 speech at the Körber Foundation in Berlin, China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for historical truth-telling. He had in mind the Rape of Nanking, the massacre carried out by Imperial Japan’s forces in 1937-38 during their occupation of the then-capital of the Chinese Nationalists (the city is now called Nanjing).
11:51 AM, Apr 28, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
President Obama spent only one night in Japan last week on his current swing through Asia, but the State Department estimated total "lodging nights" required by the president and his entourage could run around 2,172, and the use of "functional rooms" (presumably conference rooms and the like) could last up to 29 days.
8:09 AM, Apr 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama met some Japanese robots and didn't like it. "I have to say that the robots were a little scary, they were too lifelike.
9:20 PM, Apr 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama is in Japan meeting with the emperor -- and talking about his gray hair.
"I hope you and your family are well," Obama told the emperor, according to the pool report. "I have very fond memories of our last meeting four years ago."
The emperor responded, "We are pleased to welcome you."
According to the White House pool report, "The president told the Emperor that the last time they met, he did not have any gray hairs."
To which the emperor reportedly responded, "You have a very hard job."
Here's the entire pool report:
Is South Korea slipping away?Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
In 1916 London faced a dilemma. The British were hoping to bring American reinforcements to assist them and their beleaguered French allies in the trenches of the First World War. Woodrow Wilson, however, seeking to become the first Democratic president to win reelection since before the Civil War, was campaigning under the slogan “He kept us out of war.”
America’s Pacific ally displays confidence – and makes a needless slip.11:33 AM, Jan 21, 2014 • By JOSEPH A. BOSCO
Much good news is emanating from Japan, one of America's most important allies, though some of it comes with an unnecessary taint. After decades of economic stagnation and foreign policy reticence stemming from its postwar legacy of pacifism, Japan is back as a strong and confident alliance partner.
7:44 AM, Jan 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In recent days, the new U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, took to Twitter to express deep concern about the practice of a local Japanese tradition.
"Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries," Kennedy tweeted.
Jan 20, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 18 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
You would guess that an agreement between the United States and Japan to move a Marine air base from one location to another on Okinawa would be good news. And it is, for three reasons. First, because there has been opposition to relocating the base on the island, and negotiations had stalemated. And second, because the move is endorsed by Okinawa’s governor, who had initially opposed it.
7:26 AM, Dec 3, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden says that women are not "kinder and gentler" in the work place than men.
"I've never found that to be the case," Biden told a Japanese audience. "They're as tough, they're as strong, they're as everything as a man is - and vice-versa."
Via the Associated Press:
Dec 9, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 13 • By GARY SCHMITT
While Washington and the world have been focused on the nuclear agreement reached with Iran last week in Geneva, on the other side of the globe, one of the parties to that deal, China, was at the very same time making the peaceful resolution of its dispute with Japan over a group of small islands in the East China Sea even less likely.
Sep 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 02 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
'Japan PM Abe shakes hands with China’s Xi at G20” (Reuters, September 5, 2013).
A different cure for economic stagnation.Aug 19, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 46 • By CHARLES WOLF JR.
Whether by design or inadvertence, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans for reviving Japan’s economy after two decades of stagnation differ sharply from the stimulus and austerity policies pursued by the United States and the European Union to recover from the deep recession of 2008-2009. These differences augur well for Japan’s prospects.