‘Tojo Hideki’, who caused and led the Pacific War, is known as Asia’s Hitler. For 64 years until he was executed in 1948, he lived his entire life as a bloodthirsty warmonger. During his term as a Military Commander, he established himself as a notorious symbol of the barbaric Japanese Army. From 1941, for 44 years, Tojo served as the 40th Prime Minister of Japan while also serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Army. In fact, he was the central figure who systematically ordered and organized the Pearl Harbor attack. Of course, the trilateral alliance (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan) was also his work.
After Japanese Army’s defeat in August 1945, Douglas MacArthur, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, ordered Tojo’s arrest. Following the order, five members of the United States Special Task Force invaded Tojo’s residence in suburban Tokyo. Upon the arrival of the arrest team, Tojo attempted to commit a suicide by shooting a gun to his chest, but he failed—he was later taken to the hospital and was resuscitated. On November 12, 1948, Tojo was sentenced to death as a Class A war criminal in the International Military Tribunal, and on December 23rd, he was executed for his war crimes. Until the day of his execution, Tojo never showed any sign of penance or contrition, and left a statement alluding to his Buddhist faith, “It is my honor and great pleasure to leave this earth full of greed and be in the presence of Mita” as his will, denying his responsibility as a war criminal. His body was transported to a crematorium for cremation in Yokohma and his ashes were sprayed across the Pacific Ocean by an aircraft. However, a portion of Tojo’s remains was surreptitiously collected by a chief priest at a Buddhist temple near the cremation site. Tojo’s recovered remains were hidden in a Buddhist temple of Atami, and was later transported for relocation at the top of the mountain in Aichi Prefecture in 1960. Later in 1978, Tojo’s remains were enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine along with 14 other Class A war criminals.
Having killed at least 12 million people, Hideki Tojo widely criticized as one of the most dishonorable and infamous dictators. Indeed, Tojo is the central figure behind the forcible conscription of many Koreans and the inhumane crimes committed against the ‘comfort women’. Unbelievably, in Japanese Parliament, there exists a group of followers who pay respect to Tojo Hideki. Although the official Chairman of group is Osuji Hidehisa, Hideki Tojo serves as the actual leader of the group, which currently consists of approximately 200 members, but the number continues to rise.
Currently in its second half of the administration, the Obama administration is taking a vigorous stance in foreign policy. Obama has shifted his foreign policy focus from a Middle Eastern/European one to an East/South Asian one. His Asia conscious foreign policy called “Pivot to East Asia” seeks to maintain the balance of power by strengthening bilateral security alliances between China and Japan. It is a political strategy to utilize Japan in order to place China as the central balancing force in the East Asian countries. The policy can also be interpreted that Japan is taking the place of the United States in terms of economic and military standpoints, and Japan is showing unwavering willingness and determination to substitute the United States with its presence. It is Japanese PM Abe administration’s political strategy to systematically maximize the situation so that the United States has no choice but to respond to the needs of Japan. In other words, if the United States accedes to Japan’s demands, Japan’s horrendous war crimes may possibly be buried unbeknownst to the world. Fortunately, many American intellectuals have begun to take notice of the situation and started to voice their opinions, claiming that Japan’s war crimes must be notice for the sake of historical justice and human rights. Recently, a number of U.S. mainstream opinion leaders have openly censured the lack of history awareness of the Japanese government. The Wall Street Journal published an article stating that PM Abe’s revisionist view of the past should not be treated as a parochial problem that merely involves the neighboring countries that were directly affected by Japan’s war crimes, but rather it is a serious problem that may adversely affect relations with the United States as well. Despite Japan’s current economic, political, and military stance as a powerful ally to the United States, its bold act of overlooking its past atrocities is provoking widespread criticism and discord within the United States.
Korean Americans should rightfully come forward to oppose PM Abe from addressing to the joint session of Congress. We must say that the Japanese government’s act of distorting its historical wrongs is equivalent to posing a frontal attack to the United States. PM Abe must make a public statement that “Tojo Hideki”, who ordered the Pearl Harbor attack, is a war criminal. Additionally, he must also ask “Who are the American heroes who died in the Pacific War?” to the U.S. government. If the United States had been in a passive, third-party position to Japan’s historical distortions, it is now in a direct victim’s position. PM Abe must admit the wrongdoings of Japan’s military regime, clearly identify whether ‘Hideki Tojo’ is a war criminal, and vow not to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine anymore.