An encounter that helped shape his life occurred in 1942, when he was a young boy in northern Japan. He met a group of U.S. prisoners of war who had been put to work on military trucks....
"It was the first time I spoke to a foreigner....The war was designed to separate people. But here, in the middle of the war, as a child, I had this feeling of solidarity and mutual understanding. It still says in my mind."
My copy of MirrorMask the script-and-storyboards book was waiting in the mail when I got home -- it's huge and heavy and, really rather wonderful. (Gaiman's law of picking up your first copy of a book you wrote held true: if there's one typo, it will be on the page that your new book falls open to the first time you pick it up. It never fails. It used to make me sad or frustrated. Now I half-expect it.)
The EditorOne example: Australian Brigadier General Arthur Blackburn, testifying at the Tokyo War Crimes trial on Wednesday 4, 1946, said: "I was frequently informed by Japanese officers that the policy of the Japanese government was to treat prisoners only under their principle of "Bushido;" that the principles of the Geneva Convention would be applied only when it suited them and that prisoners of war had no rights whatever." (Page 11,530)
As the son of a former British prisoner of war on the Railway of Death (Lt. Fred Rowland, MC, RA) I found The Time's review of Brian MacArthur’s Surviving the Sword (Feb. 19) seriously flawed by what appears to be, in the case of the reviewer, Alan Massie, a story of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.
Mr. Massie says that author Laurens van der Post promoted the idea that “the Japanese code of Bushido taught that it was shameful to surrender rather than die in battle, this, to their mind, justified their brutality towards their prisoners” and Mr. Massie claims that this idea is “bunkum.”
In fact, Brian MacArthur is absolutely correct about the Japanese attitude, but that idea did not come from Laurens van der Post or other prisoner memoirs, but from day after day of testimony at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (the Tokyo War Crimes trial) and the trials held by the British in Singapore and by the United States in Yokohama.
I studied those trials for a Master’s Degree for Law and History at York University in Toronto.
The Japanese Army Senjinkun or Field Service Code told soldiers: “You shall not undergo the shame of being taken alive. You shall not bequeath a sullied name” and thus surrendering was a violation of code of bushido, as interpreted by the Japanese of the time. The trial of the major defendants in Tokyo plus the “minor” trials of Japanese and Korean guards for keeping prisoners in “inhuman conditions” showed time and time again that their attitude and brutality was governed by their contempt for prisoners who had surrendered in violation of bushido.
As for Massie’s contention that the Japanese meekly surrendered, that is best answered by what General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the "Tiger of Malaya" told his American defence lawyers at the time of his trial in Manila. When asked why he surrendered, Yamashita replied that the Emperor Hirohito had ordered the army to surrender and he had obeyed the orders of the Emperor, just as he had when he was given command of the campaign to take Singapore.Robin Rowland
Time sometimes help to heal and contact helps understanding. My father's job in Kitimat was assistant property manager for Alcan. One of his jobs was to rent shops in the two company owned malls. Early on, a Japanese couple came to my father's office to rent a store. Not knowing my father's history, they casually mentioned during the interview that they had been interned in one of those interior camps. "And we did to them what they did to us," my father told me later, shaking his head. My mother always bought her dresses in their shop. For my father, the roundup in his new country was another example of government betrayal, of grand strategies that cause pain, that bring wounded memories.
Malkin argues for reviving the old notion of guilt by association....Fears and prejudices directed against minority communities are to easy to evoke and exaggerate, often to serve the political agendas of those who promote such fears.
Every high school student knows that most immigrants of German, Italian, and Japanese lineage conspired with their relatives in the "old country" to overthrow the U.S. government.For that I only reply not about the Japanese, but about the internment of Italians, that in the research for my book King of the Mob, I read almost all the declassified files on the internment of Italian Canadians during the Second World. For King, I was using the files to show that the Canadian government was using internment as an attempt to break Italian organized crime. But those files also showed that most of the men who were picked up and interned had no connection with Mussolini.
I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)
|A River Kwai Story
The Sonkrai Tribunal
|The Garret Tree
That tree can be seen outside the window of this garret.
An original photograph, filtered by a Photo Shop plug-in called India Ink.