Monday, October 08, 2007

Japan and strategic history

I read this article in the press on Sunday, and even if there is a trade context in the back stage, I felt it would again cause uproar in the columns and the assemblies:

"A Shizuoka Prefecture railway firm on Sunday restarted regular operations of a Japanese-made steam locomotive used in Thailand until 1979 to mark the 120th anniversary of the signing of the 1887 Japan-Siam amity treaty. Oigawa Railway Co held a ceremony at the platform of its Shinkanaya Station to mark the restart of the Class C56 locomotive's operations, with its exterior color returned from black to green, the same exterior color when it was used in Thailand. Popular Thai actress Kanyarat Jiraratchakit celebrated the resumption of the operation at the ceremony by opening up a "kusudama" decorative ball which had been hung from the platform's ceiling."

Then I received an email from a friend who sent me this blog address Tokyonodoko: From there, here I quote:

"On entering the Yasukuni shrine, where some of the worst war criminals are enshrined, the museum foyer visitors are greeted by a Model C56 Locomotive 31, a large restored stream engine sitting peacefully next to the escalators, (the same type of steam loco as the Kanchanaburi Thailand River Kwai museum, Added by Jlk.)

"In the Yasukuni museum (Yushukan) a plaque informs the visitor that locomotive 31 was produced in 1936 by Nippon sharyo and operated in the Nanao region of Ishikawa prefecture until being commandeered to the ‘south’ for the Greater East Asian War. The engine played an important role in Thailand including the opening of the Thai-Burma Railroad.

After the war it was used by the Thai national railroad until retirement in 1977, where members of the southern forces field railroad section who were involved in the construction of the Thai-Burma railroad gave money to have the engine shipped back to Japan, restored, and placed in Yasukuni Jinja."

"A question arises whether it is important that the Thai-Burma Railway is also know as the Death Railway. It was built from Thailand to Burma (now Myanmar) by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II to complete the route from Bangkok to Rangoon and support the Japanese occupation of Burma. It was so called ‘The death railway’ because of the human cost of its construction.

About 100,000 conscripted Asian laborers and 16,000 Allied prisoners of war, 6,318 British, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch and the remainder from the USA or unknown died while being enslaved. And, theirs was no ordinary death. Most of the slave prisoners were weakened by malnutrition before succumbing to disease, medical treatment being withheld. Many were brutally murdered."

I know! People will think that Foreign round eyes look for the evil everywhere. But was it necessary to reactivate such infamous nightmares for millions of people around the world and in particular Asian nations who fell victims of the imperial armies whose heirs, among them some politicians, historians, right wingers of the worst caliber, not so much offending their "elites", pretend as if nothing else than an Asia liberation from the "whites" had happened? Preposterous. Comfort the sanitized sleepy society with an infamous strategic history is all it takes to build a modern society? Many would object.

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